Small Stuff

Anchor symbol Ah, the liveaboard lifestyle! The freedom of living on a boat, awesome views, interesting neighbors, and … not a lot of space. Over the years, your Seaworthy editors have spent a lot of time living on their boats, and one of the benefits we've found is having no yard — no mowing or raking leaves. Unfortunately, it also means no gardening, and that's the part we missed. But boaters tend to be pretty innovative, and one liveaboard couple on a 38-foot sailboat in Hampton, Virginia, found an ingenious way to have a portable garden. This clever "lifeline" garden can even be brought below when things get a little dicey. Fresh tomatoes, anyone?

Anchor symbol Most of the time (fortunately), insurance claims at BoatUS are pretty routine — a banged up hull from a docking mishap, or a bent prop from an unexpectedly shallow bottom, for example. But once in a while, things get a little more exciting. Last summer, William Buell and his wife Sheryl Moller, along with their two dogs, were enjoying a nice sail on their Soverel 36 into Glen Cove Harbor off Long Island Sound, when it was time to start the engine to head home.

William, who's been insured with BoatUS for 16 years, said the diesel fired right up, but almost instantly quit in a way that didn't sound right — never a good sign. He went below to see what was wrong and discovered two things: A rod that held up spare lines in the engine compartment had fallen, allowing one of the lines to strangle the spinning propshaft to a stop — the reason for the sudden silence. But worse, water was now gushing into the boat at an alarming rate from a split stuffing-box hose. Faced with a substantial leak and no engine, Buell called for assistance on the VHF. Within minutes, the US Coast Guard and TowBoatUS, City Island, arrived and quickly got the boat to a local marina where it was immediately hauled. Lesson learned: Anything stowed near machinery needs to be well secured, and lines should be stored elsewhere.

Anchor symbol So there you are on a Friday afternoon, trying to decide if you'll go camping or boating this weekend. One company in Germany wants to make that decision easier by letting you do both with one rig. The maker of the aptly-named Sealander Swimming Caravan says the boat/camper comes equipped with a sunroof, bed, and sink and has the "aesthetics of boat-building combined with the flexibility of a mobile home." Maybe so, but we wonder if people — landlubbers and boaters alike — might be tempted to call rescue services when they see this bobbing on a local lake.

Anchor symbol Anyone who's been in a marina at night lately has probably seen the water lit up by underwater hull lights. They can be useful for night fishing, and some boaters think they look pretty cool and can even help you safely board your boat in the dark. But just because you can put an underwater light on your boat doesn't mean you should. Surveyor Steve Mason recently sent this photo of an underwater stern light to Seaworthy, which looks like an accident waiting to happen. If the boat strikes something in the water, goodbye underwater light, hello underwater hole.

Anchor symbol As boaters, we're becoming used to having information at our fingertips (thank you, smartphones). And now boaters have the free "United States Coast Guard" app that can provide all this: State boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water. The app also features an Emergency Assistance button, which, with location services enabled, will call the closest Coast Guard command center. The Coast Guard is careful to point out that the app was not designed to replace your VHF radio. Speaking of clever apps, if you want to call TowBoatUS, the best way is to use our new towing app.

Anchor symbol Here's a sobering statistic: Almost half of all reported boating accidents involve alcohol. Most states — Michigan being the newest — have standards for intoxication that match their state highway laws for operating a motor vehicle, which is typically a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. Some states may revoke your boating privilege and charge points on your driver's license if you're arrested for boating under the influence. And while there is no "safe" BAC on the water, it's now easy to find out someone's level of intoxication if you have a smartphone. The Alcohoot ($99), snaps into your smartphone's headphone jack and works by blowing into the device for about four seconds, after which time, a reading pops up displaying your BAC — a fun party trick at home. Keep in mind, though: If you're a skipper, anything over 0.00 percent is too much. 

— Published: October 2015

Seaworthy, the damage-avoidance newsletter, is brought to you by the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program. For an insurance quote, please call 1-800-283-2883 or apply online at BoatUS.com.

To comment on this article, please contact Seaworthy@BoatUS.com


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Here's our newest photo to challenge you to find out what could possibly go wrong. They may be American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) standards violations, USCG violations, or just things that make you say, "Really?"

We'll post the answer in the next issue, along with a new challenge. For those who can't possibly wait for the next issue, we'll also post the answer on the Seaworthy magazine website.

Photo of a blige pump Photo: Alison Mazon