Like nearly everything having to do with boats, the waterproof coating deteriorates with exposure to salt, sun and wind. Pretty soon, the canvas top is leaking onto your latest smartphone or all over your charts.
Most boaters pull and winterize their boats before the onset of cold weather. If your boat has been shrink-wrapped or has closed-off areas with little or no ventilation, the trapped air contains much more moisture than the cold winter air will hold.
If you’ve taken the USPS Weather course, you understand relative humidity. For example, air at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit will hold more water vapor than the same volume of air at 36 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that when you seal up your boat at 70 degrees in the fall and the temperature drops to 36 degrees in January, the excess water vapor condenses as it does on the outside of a glass of iced tea.
I chose a different route. When loran-C was decommissioned, the nav station on our 36-foot Morris, Salty Spouse, had a gaping hole that cried out for attention before my wife, Inza, and I took our next cruise.
By Bill Gesele
- Always make sure the slip isn’t too small or too large for your boat. A too-small slip spreads the poles and may affect the boat next to you. In a too-large slip, your boat could swing past the bow poles and damage neighboring boats.
- Always have your stern lines attached to the cleats before docking. This sounds basic, but haven’t we all been tossed an unattached line while the boat flounders?
- Never (and this happens all too often) allow anyone to stand on the swim platform or outside the boat while docking. One wrong move could put that person in the water and in the path of the running gear.
- Have fenders, not hands, ready to avoid the boat next to you. Fenders and boats can be replaced—limbs, not too easily.
- Keep the engines running until your boat is securely tied to the dock. You may have to give a short forward burst if your boat gets too close.
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If you carry a VHF radio onboard (and you should), you must maintain a watch on channel 16 when the radio is on and not being used to communicate. You may also maintain a watch on VHF channel 9. Note that urgent marine information broadcasts, such as storm warnings, are announced on channel 9 only in USCG First District waters (northern New Jersey, New York and New England).
Most radios have a memory scan option where you can add specific channels to the memory and press scan. The radio quickly switches through and listens to each channel, pausing if someone is using that channel and then resuming the scan.
Every year, I have trouble remembering where I put stuff the season before. I still cannot find the repair kit for the inflatable dingy.
While walking to the marina early one morning, I found September 6 feet deep. Only the mast and spreaders placed the boat within its slip. Shocked and bewildered, I later found out that a seacock or hose connection failure had caused the boat to sink. I imagined it silently sinking in the middle of the night.
Talking with my brother-in-law, a former sailor, got me thinking of sailboats and equipment. The day was stormy, and we were discussing a sailboat’s predilection for lightning strikes. We talked about using jumper cables as emergency lightning protection by directing the current from a lightning hit to the water. While not a perfect solution, it would be better than having lightning blow out a metal underwater fitting.
The “What’s on My Boat?” iPhone app may help. The developer, Intelligent Maintenance, has a series of inventory-oriented applications for boats, attics, closets, etc. The iPhone app lets you back up the database to Dropbox and download it to your other Apple devices.