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The Boat Market and Possible Force Majeure Situations

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Explore the boat market and learn ways to handle difficult situations on board. Gain insights into current market trends and discover essential tips for navigating emergencies, ensuring safety, and maintaining control during challenging circumstances. Perfect for boat owners and enthusiasts.

Learn about market trends, buying tips and practical solutions to common problems boaters face.

The New Boat Dealer

The boat dealer may represent many manufacturers or engine dealers, but they do business in a similar manner as the new car dealer. They depend on both service and repair to both hulls and engines in addition to selling new boats and equipment. They usually have an agreement with the boat manufacturers to sell a certain number of hulls each year and you may have a better chance at a discounted price during the Fall or Winter seasons.

If you stop at a boat dealer’s location frequently, you may notice a particular model has been there for many months. If this boat fits your needs, the dealer may be anxious to sell it at a reduced price. Like any retail business, the dealer wants to sell his inventory as soon as possible. Sometimes, the dealer may not be able to reduce prices due to inventory loan commitments, but he may offer free dock space or oil changes for a short period of time as an incentive to purchase the boat.

The advantage of buying from a factory authorized dealer is primarily the warranty offered on new products they represent. However, some equipment bought for your boat may only have a warranty from the manufacturer and not necessarily from the boat dealer. It is wise to be a comparison shopper and investigate the hulls offered by many different boat dealers. If there is a boat show in your area, it always provides an opportunity to see exactly what is new on the boating scene. The manufacturers and dealers are usually very anxious to sell boats during the boat shows.

The Used Boat Brokers

Comprehensive Boat Sale Agreement: Essential Clauses, Documents, and SamplesBoat brokers work in a similar manner to real estate brokers. They try to find the boat that will exactly fit your needs. Usually, they deal with boats over thirty-five feet, either from domestic or foreign custom builders or manufacturers. This means they are looking for a boat for a very selective buyer who has already seen what is being built by manufacturers and who wants something very different.

Boat market
Yachts at the pier
Source: wikipedia.оrg

This does not mean the boat broker is indifferent to small boats. They are usually willing to talk with you about any type of hull and possibly suggest a dealer or a friend that may find what you want. The broker is always thinking you may become a client sometime in the future, or at least refer other boat buyers to his office. The broker will certainly try to locate a boat you want as he collects a fee from the seller equal to five or ten percent of the selling price.

Used Boats Other Sources

The Buying a Used Boat: What to Look for, Tips for the Buyerused boat will not have a warranty on the hull or engine and it is absolutely necessary to hire a surveyor and engine mechanic to check both, no matter where you find the boat. You may read advertisements in the newspapers and boating magazines or you may hear of a boat from a friend. Whatever the source, find out all you can about the history of the hull, in addition to the survey. Try to talk with the boatyard manager where the boat was repaired and stored. This may be the most accurate source of information on the hull in question. The boatyard will normally be very helpful as they want to have you as a future customer.

It is always good if you buy a boat from a friend when you know they have taken good maintenance procedures for many years. On the other hand, the friend may take offense if you say you want a professional survey before considering the hull. At the start of any discussion, it may be best to say the insurance company requires a survey and you will make the arrangements on a convenient date.

We have been talking about glass fiber hulls in this book as they are the most popular and possibly have the greatest longevity. Wood boats are difficult to sell as the maintenance is much higher, and you must really want to work on your boat, and have the necessary skills. Very old wood boats in reasonable condition are sometimes considered collector’s items and are worthwhile restoring, but this is a very limited and specialized form of boat ownership. Aluminum hulls are very good and many large, custom, hulls are built of this material. You must be very careful to prevent corrosion on aluminum hulls from stray electrical currents in the water. There should be a hull potential meter, a 1:1 isolation transformer in the shore power, and many zinc blocks located on the keel.

Situations the Owner Would Rather Forget

Loss of Steering

The mechanical or hydraulic steering system sometimes has a failure which might be repaired with minimum delay. Otherwise, some means can be rigged to turn the rudder blade directly by securing lines to both sides of the rudder or lower unit housing of an outboard motor or stem drive. If you are really prepared, you could carry a steering oar that can be rigged on the transom in just such an emergency. It may seem laughable, but steering oars have been used for a thousand years.

If an inboard engine installation, there should always be provisions for an emergency tiller. The rudder post extends up to the main deck, with a square top machined on the post. When a deck plate is opened, a steel tiller arm can be set on the rudder post and the boat steered, with effort, from the main deck. With a twin engine installation, the boat can possibly be steered with one rudder, and with variations in engine RPM. Sometimes, a broken tie rod between the two rudders can be temporarily repaired using wood splints and the all-important baling wire.

Assuming an inboard rudder, the lazarette should be checked to insure all connections are:

  • secure and nothing has broken on the tiller (steering quadrant);
  • tie rod between rudders;
  • steering cables;
  • or hydraulic cylinder.

If there is a cable and sheave system or a push-pull cable, be certain everything is intact, especially the clamps that secure the cable to the hull.

If the rudder has dropped, the rudder collar and support plate has failed to take the weight of the rudder and the entire assembly must be rebuilt. It is wrong to allow the weight of the rudder to be borne by the stuffing box whose only purpose is to keep out water. If this is allowed to continue, the constant rudder movement will wear the packing in the stuffing box and water leaks will increase. A temporary repair may be made by tightly wrapping wire around the rudder post, inside the boat, and securing this wire to the deck beams. The loss of steering is a serious situation, especially when approaching a crowded docking space, and alternate procedures should be kept in mind.

This might be the best time to mention what to do in a panic situation with the loss of steering while approaching a dock. You don’t want to hurt your boat, yourself, or anyone else, so you must stop all forward motion. Put the engine in reverse until you are stopped and then take time to reflect on the best solution. If you are about to be in close contact with other hulls, put over the fenders, and tie up to the other boat until you can be towed to the boatyard.

If you lose steering in open water, you might stop the engine, or reverse, or turn 180 degrees on a reverse course if you can turn with an engine. Sometimes the best option is to anchor until you can call for assistance, or attempt to make repairs. You will need a good assortment of tools to make your temporary repairs, and the following a just a short list of additional equipment for many situations.

  • Wood plugs for all through hull fittings.
  • Collision Mat and Ropes.
  • Rags for stuffing in cracks.
  • Steering Oar.
  • Underwater Epoxy Putty.
  • Rowing Oars & Oarlocks.
  • Cloth backed tape (Duct Tape).
  • Plastic Buckets (4).
  • Aluminum and Steel Wire.
  • Tools for the Engine.
  • 1×2 and 2×4 wood; 6 FT long.
  • Engine spare parts.
  • Hand Drill and Bits.
  • Boat Hook.
  • Boarding Ladder.
  • Three plastic flashlights.
  • Dock and Anchor lines.
  • Batteries in a plastic bag.
  • Two or three anchors.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Spare Compass.
  • CPR Airway.
  • Radar Reflector.
  • EPIRB
  • Flares.
  • VHF radio.

Theft on Your Boat

If someone cuts your dock lines and tows your boat with another, there isn’t much you can do to stop them, as this is an example of a professional theft where that particular boat is being taken specifically for resale in some foreign market. The thieves risk being seen by watchmen, bridgetenders, and by yard workers, especially in these days of high security marinas. There are some precautions you can take to minimize this event as it isn’t too difficult to outwit a low life criminal.

The installation of a security system specifically designed for boats is always a good idea as the thief will turn away if sufficiently frightened or if they think the job has become too difficult. A good security system sounds an alarm at a watchman’s office or at a police station, which cannot be heard on the boat, in addition to turning on a light and an alarm at the scene. The system can also be wired to open the starter switch on the boat so the engine cannot be run.

There is usually a main battery switch close to the batteries that selectively directs the alternator’s charge to a certain bank of batteries. If this is turned to the OFF position when at the dock, it may discourage any thief to the point of leaving the scene. An additional switch in the starting circuit, plus the normal key switch, really confuses anyone who is not familiar with the boat. This switch can be hidden in a locker between the helm and the engineroom and will stop anyone from starting the engines unless they are a member of the crew.

When you leave the boat, turn off the fuel valves at the engineroom and at the tanks, wherever they are located. This will require a few extra minutes to start the engines for the next trip, but the security will be worthwhile. A thief will not want to spend the time to try and find the fuel valves and will leave before starting the engines.

Expensive electronics are often the target of boat thefts, but they can usually be bolted to their shelves at the time of installation. Anything you can do to make a theft more difficult will probably deter a thief. Criminals look for the easy way of stealing, without much effort and without much thought.

  • Jewelry;
  • cash;
  • important papers;
  • and portable items such as binoculars;
  • GPS;
  • cell phones,

can be placed in a hidden safe that is bolted to a bulkhead inside a locker. There are literally hundreds of places to hide items on a boat. If you hide items in safes or lockers, make sure it is below the main deck, and probably below the cabin flooring. This confuses any thief as they will have to kneel on the floor to try to find any valuables. Trying to hide items on the bridge or in the main dining area makes it too easy to search, just like looking in a living room at home.

If a boat is kept on a trailer, all loose gear and valuables should be locked in the car or in a house. If you are leaving the boat for more than a few days, and the boat is in the driveway, you might jack up one wheel of the trailer to put it on blocks and remove one wheel. An outboard motor can be chained and locked to the trailer around the lower unit assembly. Also, the motor mounts can be chained and locked to the hull.

It is always money well spent to have a good insurance policy that covers the replacement cost of a boat when a theft occurs. Unfortunately, boats are seldom recovered after a theft, as they are quickly removed from the state and often out of the country to be easily sold for half their value. If a trailer is at a storage yard or at a marina, it is important to know there is 24 hour security that checks each boat and knows when a space or slip is supposed to be empty. People are often too busy to be on their boat every weekend, but the boat should be checked every few days for theft and for bilge water.

In today’s world of identically manufactured boats, hull identification numbers on the transom and state registration numbers on the bow are sometimes the only distinction, in addition to the name of the boat. All of these are easily changed by a clever thief and it may be of some value, after a theft, for the owner to have some other distinguishing features. An owner might sand some part of the laminate on the glass hull before placing an unusual design, phrase, crest, or logo under a new glass laminate. This would make a permanent identification in the hull as the glass laminate is essentially translucent.

Is the Boat Really Seaworthy

The word seaworthy is a general term often used to describe boats in advertising brochures. We can’t really say any open boat, without a deck, is really seaworthy. It is hard to find a boat less than 23 feet in length you can really call seaworthy. All of the above hulls will take water over the bow when there are waves of 2 or 3 feet in height, and when it rains. Most boats will take water on the decks when in rough seas and especially when driven fast in choppy water. You will have to remove this water on deck, or in the hull, with a bucket and sponge. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and seaworthiness is in the eye of the experienced sailor. It is a judgment call, and when efficiently operating a boat, you have to be very judgmental to be seaworthy. A large part of being seaworthy is not taking a boat into very rough waters.

Unusual wind strengths and wave heights will damage many ships, no matter how many oceans they have crossed. After every typhoon, hurricane or whole gale, boats and ships have been damaged or lost. Does this mean they were not seaworthy, or were the losses just unavoidable accidents?

If the hull laminate is adequate, if the deck to hull joint is watertight, and if there are stiffeners to prevent the hull from flexing, the hull is usually a quality product. If the deck or cabin side flex when you push on the laminate, it is usually a sign more stiffeners are required. Windows and hatches must be watertight, and a few short trips in rough water will make any leaks obvious. Everything about the hull must be designed and installed to resist the effects of fatigue and the repeated application of high loads, such as pounding into a seaway.

If the boat is used primarily on protected waters, rivers, and lakes, and is not used on rough waters, it will probably have a long life without any structural problems. However, if a powerboat is run at high speeds into 5-foot waves, one might expect the forward areas to be stressed repeatedly to the point of glass fiber failure. These same areas may not be over stressed if operated at medium speeds.

It is easy to see, the longevity of any hull is greatly determined not only by the quality of construction, but by temperate operation in rough seas. Many Key Points for Buying and Selling a Boatrecreational boats sit at the dock for extended periods and are used less than 200 hours each year. Fiber glass boats will last a lifetime if they are used for only a few hours each season. The same general thinking applies to sailboats, as the experienced skipper will know when to reef the sails and change to a smaller jib as wind strength and wave height increase.

Safe operation of all types of boats is the key to both longevity and enjoyment. The owner must know the capabilities of his boat and crew and provide for prudent sailing in the weather conditions that exist. Many boat owners stay in the enjoyable waters of:

  • Biscayne Bay;
  • Chesapeake Bay;
  • Albemarle Sound;
  • or Delaware Bay;

and they have as many memorable experiences as any other part of the USA. Boating gives many fine opportunities no matter where it is enjoyed.

The Boat Sunk at the Dock

There are unfortunate accidents, even at the dock. A glass fiber hull had just had an air conditioning system installed where the condenser was water cooled with sea water. The heat exchanger was made of Monel tubing and there was a brass valve in the sea water line to the outside of the hull. No one was living on the boat when it sunk one night.

When the boat was pumped dry, the brass valve was found to be completely disintegrated. Apparently, there was an excessive amount of zinc in the brass alloy and there was galvanic corrosion with the Monel tubing. Brass and bronze alloys should not be used with those metals that are protected from corrosion (Carbon, Mercury, Monel, Inconel). In fact, none of these metals should be used with steel and aluminum. Bronze alloys, which are used for many items of marine hardware, can be used with passivated stainless steels and plastic fittings.

This situation with the air conditioning obviously did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A plastic ball valve was probably the best solution for the problem. Certainly, there should be a valve on all through hull fittings, not only for repair and replacement, but in the event a fitting fails inboard of the hull surface. You can’t be too careful when using different metals in the marine environment.

Don’t Locate Tanks in the Stern

Most small to medium size hulls have a small water tank in the bilge of the engineroom and have the fuel tanks outboard of the engine(s). This is a correct installation as the tanks are close to the middle of the boat and the trim of the boat is not changed when the tanks are full or empty. A problem arises when an owner wants greater fuel capacity for long cruising. The easy, and wrong, solution is to look at all the open space in the lazarette near the rudder, and conclude the tanks should be located aft.

If this is done, the trim of the boat will be permanently changed, the running attitude of the boat will be adversely affected. The exhaust will likely be under water, resulting in higher back pressure when starting.

If one or two tanks of small size, are located in the stem, they could be used during the first part of a long cruise and kept empty at all other times, thus limiting the deleterious effects of having the weight at the stem. Actually, the best, and most expensive, solution is to remove the existing tanks in the engineroom and replace them with wider and longer tanks in order to achieve the required capacity. There should be no fittings on the sides or bottom of any tank.

The Boat Rolls Excessively

We don’t see many problems with rolling on boats less than thirty-five feet in length unless they have a fishing tower or other high weights installed. In fact, the main cause of excessive rolling in longer boats is there are too many weights located above the main deck. There seems to be a false impression among small boat builders that they can pile any amount of equipment on top of the main deck.

Careful attention should be given to the stability calculations for new motor yachts. There is a tendency to locate:

  • fishing towers;
  • masts;
  • cranes;
  • small cars;
  • boats;
  • and motorcycles on the bridge deck above the main deck.

All of this gear raises the center of gravity of the entire boat and makes the ride more uncomfortable for the passengers.

Some years ago, there was excessive rolling on a large motoryacht even in a small seas and a high center of gravity was suspected. When the boat was inspected, there were staterooms below the main deck forward of the engineroom. This was normal, but on the main deck there were many heavy carbon dioxide cylinders for the installed fire extinguisher system. There was also a large walk-in refrigerator and freezer along with the heavy compressors. In addition, a large hot water heater was also located on the main deck!

It was obvious all of this heavy equipment was misplaced and should have been located in the hull, just above the keel, and one stateroom should have been moved to the main deck. Corrections were recommended and outside ballast was added by welding to the steel hull. Aluminum angles can be welded to an aluminum hull and steel angles can be bolted through a glass fiber keel if ballast is necessary.

No Opening Ports in the Hull Side

A motor yacht had opening portlights in the side of the hull, only twenty-four inches above the waterline, thus producing a very dangerous situation. It was careless to have these ports open when underway. Murphy’s Law always produces unusual situations and this boat ran aground in a crowded river, heeling the hull over about seventy degrees. Water poured into the open portlights on one side. The hull filled with water and capsized.

After the SCUBA divers closed the portlights, the water was pumped out and a very costly rebuilding of the interior was started. The obvious question is why the opening ports were ever installed. The boat did not have fans for air circulation nor did it have air conditioning. Apparently, it had been thought the opening ports would bring in some fresh air, but with no regard for safety.

Air intakes above the main deck should be used for ventilation of the interior and especially the engineroom. Fans inside duct work can distribute the air to all compartments, and the traditional cowl ventilator can be used in many parts of the deck if forced air fans are not necessary.

Gasoline Engine Stalling

I have has experienced unexpected gas engine stalling at slow to idle speeds after starting and running the engine without difficulty. These embarrassing events have occurred repeatedly on an engine that has been well maintained and with over 500 hours of use, both with carburetor and with electronic fuel injection (EFI) engines. The engines usually restarted and ran well after two or three attempts.

Good mechanics have agreed the cause of stalling is probably fuel contaminated with both water and dirt. In the case of the carbureted engine it may also be a buildup of foreign deposits on the internal surfaces. In most cases, the carburetor must be removed and chemically cleaned before further use. Sometimes a periodic spray with a carburetor cleaner may be sufficient. The installation of an additional fuel filter and the use of premium grade fuel may also be necessary to assure clean operation.

The fuel injected gasoline engine is also afflicted with problems if there is dirt or water in the fuel. A damaged fuel sensor may cause erratic running as well as clogged emission control valves. Fuel filters will ease the problems in many cases, and it may be necessary to use premium grade fuel with an additive in every tank of fuel for EFI engines.

Exhaust Installations on a V-Drive Gas Engine

We always learn from the mistakes that happen in the industry, and it is an unusual situation that often causes the mistake. Some years ago, an owner had a gas engine that was definitely not producing the rated horsepower. It was a V-drive installation where the exhaust came out of the forward portion of the engine block. The exhaust was an iron pipe that made a U-tum over the top of the engine and continued aft to the transom. This pipe was covered with insulation to keep it from burning the crew, until the cooling water was put into the exhaust.

Close inspection of the running engine revealed this iron exhaust pipe was within two inches of the row of spark plugs and some of the plugs were arcing to the exhaust pipe. Heavy duty rubber spark plug caps may have solved this problem, but the proper solution was to relocate the exhaust line to another location.

Stay Away From Ships

It seems people with small boats are fascinated with ships and like to steer close to them just to see what is happening. This is fine if the ship is at the dock, but it can be deadly if the ship is underway. Ships cannot maneuver quickly, especially in crowded channels, where they must stay on a prescribed course, as noted on the charts. Many ships are single engine and it often takes them 2 miles to stop from a slow speed of 5 knots.

It is very dangerous at night, as the ship may not see you on the radar, and may not be able to stop in any case. It is always prudent to stay out of ship channels at any time. The following are anecdotes of close encounters of the shipping kind that will serve to illustrate why boats and ships are kept completely separate, even though they use the same ocean. The small boat owner must keep alert and maneuver as necessary.

I was helping a friend sail a thirty-foot wood sailboat across the Gulf Of Mexico and 0200 found us plodding along in calm seas. Without any sound, light, or warning I was suddenly aware of the smell of diesel fuel and the unmistakable low hum of ventilation fans. I tacked immediately away from the odor and looked back only after getting the sails in proper order. It was an aircraft carrier that had no lights of any kind, and with no moon was barely discernible from a 100 yards away.

Apparently they were on night landing maneuvers and their radar could not pick up a small and close object. It took about three minutes for their patrol boats to locate us and blind us with large search lights. There was no conversation, and we sailed blindly along without further incident. It could have been a disaster if the carrier was underway.

Some time ago, a boat show was held at a commercial port facility, with a cargo ship moored just a few hundred yards away. On a busy show day with hundreds a people in attendance, the ship cleaned the outside of the boiler tubes (blew tubes) and deposited a heavy layer of black soot over all of the boat show and the attendees. This procedure involves blasting steam over the boiler tubes and is never allowed in any port in the world. Blowing tubes is only done when well at sea.

This event shows the disdain ship operators have for other people, whether in port or underway. Recent news events relating spilling of oil or garbage close to the beaches confirms the incompetence continues.

Several years ago, three USCG ships were traveling in a line in the open ocean, with about one mile between each ship. They were moving about 10 knots and were being overtaken by a cargo ship traveling about 16 knots. There was a twenty degree difference in courses between the cargo ship and the USCG cutters and the cargo ship crossed between two of the ships without changing course or speed.

This was a very dangerous situation where the cargo ship was required to keep clear as it was overtaking. There can be no excuse for this type of conduct at sea. Probably, the cargo ship was on autopilot and there was no one on the bridge. This is a common although unsafe practice.

Is Your Boat Speed What You Expected?

The modem, manufactured powerboat owner usually doesn’t have any complaints about boat speed as they normally have large engines that produce more than adequate speed. Very few people question whether the boat is cruising at twenty or 25 knots. We discussed measuring boat speed in “Professional Advice Consultations on the Marine Boat Survey”this article, and this section will emphasize the reasons your speed check may be faulty.

It is always good to check your installed speedometer, or at least have a chart of engine RPM that produces a particular boat speed. Make sure the measured mile is accurate and the electronic radar gun has been recently calibrated. When the boat is new and the engine is in top shape, you probably will find the best speeds attainable.

The following list shows what can be out of line when conducting a boat speed test, and are events that can easily happen:

  1. Barnacles are on the hull bottom and propeller.
  2. One or more of the propeller blades is bent or nicked.
  3. The shaft bearing is worn to the point where the shaft is not rigid.
  4. The boat is not in level trim.
  5. The propeller may be the wrong size. Make sure you can achieve maximum rated engine RPM.
  6. The engine may not have sufficient air for proper fuel combustion.
  7. The fuel may be contaminated with dirt or water.
  8. If gasoline, the spark plugs may be fouled.
  9. The fuel filters may need replaced.

Always give yourself the best advantage when conducting a boat speed test. Go out in calm water with not more than a half load of fuel and water. Usually two people are sufficient for crew. It doesn’t help boat speed to have a vinyl top or side curtains flapping in the breeze.

Probably just as important as boat speed is to know how much fuel is really in each tank and how far you can cruise at a moderate RPM with a certain amount of fuel. Electronic fuel gauges are often not accurate. Use a wood dipstick through the fill pipe to check the fuel level.

Don’t Stop Unless an Elbow Stops You

We were on a pleasant cruise from Florida to the Bahamas when we encountered a twenty-three foot boat about twenty-five miles offshore. Two men were on board and apparently looking over their single engine. We asked if we could help or if they wanted a tow to shore. They said they were just fishing and they wouldn’t need assistance. With this rebuff, we proceeded on our way, thinking this strange situation was something no experienced seaman would allow to happen.

Photos of sailboats
Sailing boats in the harbor
Source: wikipedia.оrg

It is doubtful a small boat would be fishing far offshore in the 3 knot Gulf Stream Current, as the fish are normally in shallow waters. Possibly, they were waiting for someone or something clandestine. Later, we thought we were fortunate to be relieved of any obligation to the small boat, as the ocean is sometimes not as friendly as it seems.

A few hours after this incident, the generator sounded a high temperature alarm. We didn’t need the A. C. power to get to an anchorage, but the problem was immediately researched when the boat was comfortably secured. It was obvious the generator was not getting adequate cooling water and the question became the source of the mechanical problem.

The seacock at the through hull fitting and all the other valves were open and the sea water strainer was clear of any weeds or obstructions. The only recourse was to dismantle all the water inlet piping in the 130 degree engineroom. We finally found a reducing elbow fitting on the inlet side of the sea water filter was plugged with sea grass and not allowing water flow to the generator. This fitting was used to change the piping size to fit the sea water strainer.

The lesson to be learned from this experience is, reducing elbow fittings should not be used in any part of the sea water piping. If there are different piping sizes, straight reducing fittings, not elbows, may be used in the straight sections of piping. No mechanic, owner, or surveyor would catch this error in installation. Hopefully, the relating of this occurrence will alert owners and builders so the situation will not be repeated. The piping for the main engine, air conditioner, or watermaker could have the same problem.

We All Go Aground

It is embarrassing and frustrating to be aground but it is a common occurrence most owners don’t want to discuss. The author has been aground many times in the middle of a marked channel in the Intracoastal Waterway with a boat having five foot draft, and also aground many times on a boat with four foot draft. You have to be especially careful in Northern ports were there is a large difference in the heights of tides and the charts must be carefully analyzed in order to keep out of trouble.

Going aground at a high boat speed can be very dangerous to you and your crew no matter what the consistency of the bottom material. Obviously, if you hit a rock you may damage the hull, but you may only ooze to a stop if you go into mud or soft sand. It is not wise to use high boat speeds in waters where you may go aground. On Biscayne Bay, at South Miami, there is a notorious sand bank stretching completely across the bay, with only a narrow channel for access. The Featherbed Bank is deceiving in that the sand bar is not visible in most tidal changes and it has been the stopping point for many boats each year with bent propellers, rudders and propeller shafts.

When you do go aground, you put the engine in reverse and try to back off into deeper water. If the hull is aground over most of the length of the keel, you may have to try backing the boat with the rudder hard over. Another maneuver, is to heel the boat toward the deep water side by putting all the crew on one side of the deck. Sometimes this reduces the draft by an inch or 2 and the hull may be backed off the shoal.

If you are aground, in a small boat, in less than five feet of water, you might jump in the water and try to push the bow off by using your shoulder. Make sure you are attached to the boat with a line and have a boarding ladder set out so you can get aboard before the hull drifts away. When jumping in the water, always wear a pair of old sneakers as there could be glass or sharp rocks on the bottom. Pushing on an oar or long pole may also work.

When the above maneuvers don’t get the hull free, you can take an anchor out in a dinghy to deep water (kedging) and try a strong pull on the anchor line. It helps to have a deck winch or an anchor windlass in this situation.

Try Not to Hit the Dock

Every boat owner hits the dock or pilings now and then, and hopefully this is done at slow speed so no damage is done. People who are not familiar with boats need to gain experience in handling a boat in and out of the dock, no matter what their age. This experience can only be gained by practice over a period of many hours, preferably with a small boat less than thirty feet in length.

Read also: 10 Steps Guide – How To Buy A Sailboat

Usually, you can find an open dock, or set of pilings, away from the marina traffic where you can slowly and methodically approach the dock. It would be ideal if you can have the boat stopped, almost parallel to the dock, so you can reach out and drop a line on a dock cleat. Try to analyze each attempt so the next try will be an improvement.

Often, a harbor will have mooring buoys which may be used to practice landings when not occupied. Try to put your bow, or amidships portion, about two feet away from the buoy when the boat is completely stopped. If you hit the buoy, it is the same as hitting the dock. If there is a current in the area, or a fairly strong breeze, try to get the feel of how they affect the boat at slow speeds.

Having the ability to maneuver the boat around the docks in any wind or current is the essence of being an experienced owner. It is more difficult to get the boat tied to the dock when alone, but the fenders can be put out and the boat hook made ready long before the marina is approached. One of the finest deeds an owner can do is to take the younger generation on your boat and give them the opportunity to learn boat handling in and out of the docks.

Summary

The anecdotes in this chapter have been real events and are just a few of the problems an owner may encounter. They have been presented in an objective manner, hoping they will not be repeated. We all learn from the experiences and mistakes of the entire boating industry, which we hope will be very few in the future.

Author
Author photo - Olga Nesvetailova
Freelancer
Literature
  1. Cruising World, Subscription Service Dept., P. O. Box 953, Farmingdale, NY 11737.
  2. Motor Boating & Sailing, P. O. Box 10075, Des Moines, IA 50350.
  3. Multi-hulls, 421 Hancock St., N. Quincy, MA 02171-9981.
  4. Nautical Quarterly, 373 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016.
  5. Sail Magazine, P. O. Box 10210, Des Moines, IA 50336.
  6. Sailing, P. O. Box 248, Port Washington, WI 53704.
  7. Small Boat Journal, P. O. Box 400, Bennington, VT 05201.
  8. Soundings, Soundings Publications, Inc., Pratt Street, Essex, CT 06426.
  9. The Practical Sailor, Subscription Dept., P. O. Box 971, Farmingdale, NY 11737.
  10. Wooden Boat, Subscription Dept., P. O. Box 956, Farming-dale, NY 11737.
  11. Yacht Racing/Cruising, North American Building, 401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19108.
  12. Yachting, P. O. Box 2704, Boulder, CO 80321.
  13. Beiser, Arthur. The Proper Yacht, 2nd ed. Camden, Maine: International Publishing Co., 1978.
  14. Chapman, Charles F. Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling, 56th ed. New York: Hearst Marine Books, 1983.
  15. Coles, Adlard. Heavy Weather Sailing, 3rd rev. ed. Clinton Corners, N.Y.: John De Graff, Inc., 1981.
  16. Pardey, Lin and Larry. Cruising in Seraffyn and Seraffyn’s Mediterranean Adventure (W. W. Norton, 1981).
  17. Roth, Hal. After 50 000 Miles (W. W. Norton, 1977) and Two Against Cape Horn (W. W. Norton, 1968).
  18. Royce, Patrick M. Royce’s Sailing Illustrated, 8th ed. Ventura, Calif.: Western Marine Enterprises, Inc., 1979.
  19. Kinney, Francis S. Skene’s Elements of Yacht Design, 8th ed. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1981.
  20. Street, Donald M., Jr. The Ocean Sailing Yacht, Vols. I and II. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973, 1978.

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