Boater Alerts And Warnings

From BoatUS Marine Insurance

Wrap It Up

Prop tangled in netting

Get a rope or even some fishing line wrapped around the prop and it can be more than just a little aggravating; it can land you in big trouble and calling for a tow. The majority of ropes and lines are made from synthetic fibers, and while these may be great at tying things up, like your boat to the dock, they can be a real headache if they get wrapped around the prop. A moment's lack of concentration and fishing line can get wrapped around an outboard's propeller, where it will swiftly work between the gear housing, damaging critical oil seals and melting into a solid lump that will require considerable time and effort with a sharp knife to remove. It's bad enough on an outboard, but wrapping a rope around the shaft of an inboard-powered boat may require an expensive haulout to get things sorted. Be aware of lines on your boat that may be trailing in the water, just waiting for a spinning prop. And watch the water ahead for floating line as well as other problems.

Rigging Failures

Sailboat rigging failure

Sailboat rigs are subject to very high loads but are often rarely inspected by owners, especially the parts that can't be easily seen. Chainplates that are bedded into the deck; tangs, turnbuckles, clevis pins, swaged terminals, and other parts that hold the mast up are all subject to wear and corrosion. It's a great idea to do a visual inspection of the parts at deck level every month or two (binoculars may be a reasonable substitute for inspecting the upper rig if you don't want to climb), but to do a proper inspection of the masthead, the rig usually needs to come out of the boat. Many marine surveyors recommend that the mast be pulled from the boat for a thorough inspection at least every five years and the standing rigging replaced every 15 years, depending on use and location.

Corrosion Conundrum

Shaft zincsPhoto: Mark Corke

Anodes are essential to protect submerged underwater metals from galvanic corrosion. Normally they should be replaced every year or when they are 50 percent wasted. How long anodes last depends on many factors, such as where you keep and use your boat and whether it stays in the water between uses or is stored on a trailer. Inspecting anodes on a trailered boat is pretty easy, but for boats stored in the water, things are a little more complicated. And because you can't easily see the anodes that are clamped to things such as shafts, line cutters, and bow thrusters, they tend to get forgotten. In some cases, it makes sense to hire a diver to check the condition and, if necessary, replace worn anodes. Doing so may be even more cost effective than hauling the boat out of the water.

Equipment Theft

Stripped powerboat

BoatUS Marine Insurance sees a spike in insurance claims related to stolen equipment during the summer with thieves targeting easy-to-remove equipment like dinghies, outboards, fishing rods, and electronics. Although it's not possible to prevent all thefts, if you make it harder for equipment to be stolen thieves are more likely to go after easier targets and leave your stuff alone. Most equipment that is stolen is resold, so indelibly and visibly marking your stuff makes it much harder to sell. Lock outboards onto the dinghy and lock the dinghy. Don't leave electronics as open-air enticements in marinas. Remove them or lock them. Record serial numbers and take pictures of all equipment on the boat. If something does go missing, you'll be one jump ahead and able to give law enforcement complete details of the missing items.

Warm And Toasty

Boat fire

Nothing beats food straight from the grill, but each year boats get damaged and even destroyed and people get burned because they don't follow simple commonsense rules when grilling aboard. If using a charcoal grill, only use lighter fluid made for the purpose. Anything else (gasoline, alcohol) is extremely dangerous. Ensure that the grill is clear of the boat when in use, which generally means that it should be hanging over the gunwale so any drips or hot ashes fall into the water and not the boat. The wind must be blowing (if at all) away from your boat so that flames and ashes go downwind and away from the boat. Be alert for wind shifts or boat shifts as the tide turns. Keep in mind that many marinas prohibit grilling on the boat or on the dock, so check with management before lighting up. Always read, understand, and follow the instructions that come with your grill. 

— Published: June/July 2018

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