By Bill AllenMany trailering accidents could be eliminated by selecting the proper tow vehicle, trailer and hitch for your boat; performing routine maintenance; and practicing before taking out a trailered boat for the first time.
By Dave OsmolskiWhen you’re out cruising this summer, you may find yourself at a marina slip wanting to use shore power to charge your batteries and run those devices you wouldn’t normally run through your inverter.
Discover how to replace the worn carpeting on your trailer bunks
By Dave OsmolskiAs simple as boat trailers seem, they are fraught with problems. If it isn’t the lights, it’s the wiring; if the lights work, the wheel bearings need replacing, or tire belts have given up the ghost and are ready to separate in the first 40 miles of your vacation trip. If it isn’t one of these things, it’s probably the carpeting on the trailer bunks.
Trailer bunks are the pieces of wood fastened to your trailer that your boat hull rests on. The wood is usually covered with special carpeting that won’t mar the hull’s gel coat but allows the boat to slide on and off with the proper degree of friction.
By Dave OsmolskiBoats of all sizes have canvas and clear vinyl panels to keep the weather out. During the boating season, these panels have a place and use, but storing these relatively fragile panels in the off-season can become a problem. Although it’s summer now, winter is coming.
Sun exposure deteriorates both canvas and vinyl. Cold, windy weather makes vinyl brittle, and the wind can cause it to crack and break. Unless you wrap your boat, exposing these panels to the elements in winter drastically decreases their useful life.
By Dave OsmolskiOne of the most neglected pieces of safety equipment on a small boat is the first-aid kit. As a vessel examiner, I have asked many boat owners if they carry a first-aid kit. Many say “yes,” but when I ask to see it, the kit usually consists of a few adhesive bandages, a couple of dried-up alcohol wipes and a roll of adhesive tape in a plastic box.
A daunting environment, a small boat can move erratically from wave action and passengers shifting positions. Combine this with wet gel-coated decks and bare feet, and slips or falls are inevitable. They often result in only a little bruising and embarrassment, but some accidents can be much more serious. Are you prepared for a bad fall, the sting of a sea creature or a severe allergic reaction?
By Bill IsenbergFor below-the-waterline maintenance, epoxy barrier coating is one of the best measures you can take to preserve a fiberglass hull. It prevents water from migrating into the fiberglass, thus adding weight to the boat and causing possible delamination or osmosis of the fiberglass.
By David OsmolskiIn fall we begin to think about putting our boats away for the winter. We fog the engines and put anti-freeze in the water lines, but how many of us prepare our trailers to spend several months sitting in the cold? Let’s look at the many things you can do to extend the life of your trailer before putting it up for the winter.
If you do a lot of saltwater cruising, I’m sure you hose down the boat and trailer afterward. Some boaters even go to the carwash to use the high-pressure freshwater spray. I prefer to find a boat ramp on a lake and dunk the whole rig. That will thoroughly rinse even the trailer’s most remote corners. While you’re at it, run the engine for three minutes or more.
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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Every year, I have trouble remembering where I put stuff the season before. I still cannot find the repair kit for the inflatable dingy.
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