Trailer maintenance

Trailer maintenance keeps it rolling

While a friend was trailering his boat to a boatyard, the trailer collapsed from a broken axle, damaging the boat as well as the trailer. Looking closely at pictures, I could tell that the trailer had been poorly maintained.

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Woman to Woman

How to tell if you’re on a collision course

By Capt. Katherine Redmond

How can you tell if you are on a collision course with another vessel?

Let’s suppose you’re taking a little cruise on your local waters, and you see a boat off your starboard side, about 1,000 feet away. It’s angled slightly in your direction, but you cannot tell if there’s any eventual danger of collision.Read More

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Tips for older boaters

By Gino Mottino, M.D.

With the average age of Americans advancing and the cost of boats increasing, most new engine-powered boats are bought by older boaters. Regardless of age, a skipper must be responsible for the safety of the boat and everyone onboard.

As an operator, you must be aware of your abilities, limitations, and health, including sight, hearing, mobility, stamina and mental acuity. You must also keep in mind the abilities and limitations of your crew: As we get older, so do all our family and friends.

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Woman to Woman

Make anchoring out a pleasure

By Capt. Katherine Redmond

In my opinion, anchoring out is one of the greatest pleasures of boating. Whether relaxing near the beach, rafting up with friends, or hiding out in one of the little coves that can only be reached by water, anchoring out is awesome.

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Boating and COVID-19

By Gino Bottino, MD

As a member of the US Sailing Sports Medical committee, I have been working on plans to reopen sailing centers for sail training and Olympic sailing, as well as big boat sailing, amid the pandemic. Here are a few recommendations that can be made applicable to recreational boaters as well:

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isopropyl alcohol could prevent water-contaminated fuel

Isopropyl alcohol could prevent water-contaminated fuel

By Dave Osmolski

With the coronavirus pandemic squarely upon us this spring, boating was curtailed during the worst possible season. With marinas and public and private boat launch ramps closed, many boats languished in boatyards and driveways.

I wonder how many boat owners, like me, were faced with water in our gasoline fuel tanks. Water collects due to condensation and ethanol additives absorbing water from the atmosphere, which has been going through periods of heating and cooling.

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Woman to Woman

How to avoid trouble when docking

By Capt. Katherine Redmond

Try, try again

If you start the docking process wrong, begin again. Many boaters feel embarrassed to back off an improperly aligned docking attempt, so they stay with it, vrooming forward, shrieking into reverse, banging into this, dinging that, haplessly attempting to correct the uncorrectable.

It’s much easier—and more professional—to abort the ill-fated maneuver and start over.

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Stay safe from ticks and tick-borne illnesses

By Gino Bottino, M.D.

Unique among arachnids, ticks suck blood to survive. Some are as small as a sesame seed. Like tiny vampires, they latch onto mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. There are soft ticks and hard ticks. A hard tick has a hard plate on its back and is more likely to bite and feed on people and animals, transmitting dangerous diseases. Hard ticks thrive in wooded areas, tall grass, and trees and shrubs. Some, such as dog ticks, make their way indoors on humans or canines.

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Keep your boat from drifting at the beach with picnic anchor

Keep your boat from drifting by backing down

By Dave Osmolski

Last fall, I was on the beach enjoying a swim and watching the other boats passing. Before long a very new, very expensive center console boat at least 35 feet with three 300-horsepower engines came up to the beach. The captain and his crew—wife, daughters and granddaughters—wanted to swim and walk on the beach. There’s lots of beach on Pine Island, and on a weekday, before the snowbirds descend, there’s more than enough for all.

As I watched, the captain pulled close to shore bow first. He had a plough-type anchor deployed from the bow and was looking for a place to anchor. As I watched him drop the anchor straight down and tie it off, I commented to my wife how amazing it was that folks had enough money to buy an exquisite boat with all that power but didn’t have enough time to learn how to use it properly.

Long story short, his crew soon tired of swimming and walked up to the beach. He left the boat, came over, introduced himself and began a conversation. I was looking out to the water, and he had his back to the water. The tide was coming in. There was a light offshore wind, and sure enough, his boat began to drift away from the beach. Before it went too far, I told him it was adrift, and he waded then swam to the boat to retrieve it.

Knowing how to anchor your vessel is every bit as important as knowing how to drive and dock it. This is especially true at the beach. In my years at the beaches of southwest Florida’s barrier islands, I have seen three boats filled to the gunnels with sand and shells. These boats had evidently been run bow first onto the beach. I almost suffered the same fate by foolishly going on to the beach bow first to pick up a passenger—just for a minute, you understand. Boats were just not designed to go stern into the waves. Not even for a minute. Especially in the shallows off the beach.

Back down on the beach

If you love going to the beach, the proper sequence is to choose your spot and back down on the beach slowly. When you feel you are close enough (for me, 20 or 30 yards is close enough), deploy the bow anchor, set it and let out enough rode to put you in water deep enough for your lower unit or prop, but shallow enough so you can wade to the beach, and close enough that you can carry your chairs and umbrellas.

Anchoring this way keeps the bow pointed into the waves, allowing it to ride smoothly up and over even some pretty rough seas. Be aware though that in many anchorages a current parallel to the shore may cause your boat to drift sideways into water that’s over your head. This makes retrieving the gear you took out to the beach difficult.

Use a picnic anchor

You can overcome this sideways drift by using a picnic anchor. Smaller than your main bow anchor, a picnic anchor is attached to a 75–100-foot nylon rode. (Mine is three-eighths inch, three-strand nylon rode with an eye splice on the bitter end.) Attach the picnic anchor to your boat’s stern, carry it to the beach and set it in the sand. This will keep your bow headed into the waves and the stern in water shallow enough to comfortably carry your gear to and from the beach.

Consider adding a picnic anchor to your boat if you don’t already have one. I use mine as my main bow anchor while tarpon fishing. When I hook up, I have a fender with my boat name on it attached to the bitter end of the rode that I toss overboard so I can follow the fish until I land it. Afterward, I return and retrieve the fender, anchor and rode. Double duty!

If you haven’t already, take America’s Boating Club’s Anchoring Seminar. It can save you as well as your vessel.


David H. Osmolski of Charlotte Power Squadron/27 has been repairing boats since high school when his first boat, a canvas-covered canoe with cedar ribs, leaked in gallons per minute and required constant repair.

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Woman to Woman

Zen and the art of docking

By Capt. Katherine Redmond

A student in my Boat Docking Tips Course said he feared entering his slip because he didn’t know how long it would take his boat to stop. This made me realize how scary it would be if every time I pulled into my garage, I didn’t know how far my car would travel after I stepped on the brake.

Before you can dock your boat successfully, you must know how it responds to your commands, while keeping in mind that external forces can alter your boat’s reactions a little or a lot depending upon conditions.

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Sun exposure on board

By Gino C. Bottino, M.D.

Although it’s winter, I’d rather talk about the sunny boating season to come.

At the turn of the 20th century, people endeavored never to be exposed to the sun (especially women), and doctors recommended sunbathing for good health. After World War II, sunbathing and deep tanning became popular and remain so today.

Medically speaking, although some sun exposure is required for good health, getting a suntan is not. Anyone who spends time on or near the water gets plenty of sun without sunbathing. As a doctor, I believe sunbathing is almost as bad for you as smoking and should be totally avoided.

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