Blog July 2016


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Posted On: July 27, 2016

I get asked all the time how practical is it to live aboard a boat.

Can anyone live aboard your boat?

Yes, if you are of the right mind and as long as everyone else who lives with you really wants to live this lifestyle as well. A boat can be a very viable alternative to any land based residence although the differences can be dramatic. As written above, life aboard is not all glamour. They move. They’re close to neighbors. And they offer less space than land based residences. Everyone aboard should want to be there or life in these close quarters can become very difficult very quickly

What is the first thing I should do if I want to live aboard?

It might seem a bit backward, but once you have a general idea what kind of boat you’d like to call home, it is usually better to research your marina options. In some markets, there are no available slips for liveaboards and in others space is not an issue. There are too many people that end up with boats and no place to put them. Some people will even pay for a slip when it becomes available while they continue to locate and buy their boat.

The second thing you should do, after you know where you can put your boat along with any possible limitations (such as boat size) is choose your boat and clearly develop an understanding of the costs.

Is it cheaper to live on a boat or on land?

Like everything else, it depends. There are hidden costs everywhere and luckily there are multiple resources available online to assist you but one important question is how many amenities do you want or need, and how much work can you do yourself. Still, no matter how much work you do yourself, some things will be at the whim of those marinas/yards that will haul and launch your boat.

Typical costs include your monthly boat payment, slip fees, extra/live aboard fees, insurance and general expenses of life (cable, internet, telephone, etc.). Then there is routine and special boat maintenance and operating costs

Generally, if you have to ask the question about cost, then reducing costs and finding ways to live a manageable lifestyle is probably something you care deeply about.

How big a boat do I need to live aboard?

Some people suggest that a live aboard have a boat that is at least 33 feet in length (10 meters). And yet, one of the biggest complaints from liveaboards in large vessels is that the maintenance of their large boats is too much and that their boats are too big, and that a smaller boat would have been more desirable. I know of a marina that has two liveaboards that live happily in their tiny 26 foot sail boats (I can’t stand up straight in them). Many liveaboards with multiple heads and staterooms will actually shut down or even dismantle their second heads and unused staterooms to cut down on maintenance or use the space for storage. In general… make your own decisions, but most experts suggest that you consider the smallest boat that you’d be happy and comfortable in, particularly if money is an issue.

So can living aboard save you money versus an apartment or home purchase?


Will it save you money?

 That depends.

Some folks choose this lifestyle for the sole purpose of saving money. Others love the lifestyle. Still others seek the luxury of a multi-million dollar yacht with a full time crew. Some are comfortable with few amenities.  Some allow maintenance to slip. Others are much the opposite.

Thanks to Mark Nicholas for the inspiration. Check out his site at




Posted On: July 25, 2016

Lots of boaters have three-foot-itis — the need to get just a little bigger boat.

Over time, that condition might cause you to get a pretty sizable boat. If you happened to crack the 12-meter length (about 39 feet) there are suddenly some legal requirements that smaller boats don't have.

One of them is the USCG requirement that you carry a copy of the Navigation Rules (also known as the COLREGS). The law actually says this: the operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules. Hopefully, the owners of boats 39 feet and over already know this. But what they might not know is that now, the USCG allows electronic copies to be carried if you don't want to have an actual hard copy aboard.

But there are two caveats:

                                    1.  A digital copy has to be corrected to the latest notice to mariners and

                                    2.  it must be readily available.

The unwritten rule of thumb for readily available is that you can get to the Rules within two minutes.

You can find the newest electronic version at



Posted On: July 20, 2016

Most boat owners like a clean vessel.

The trick is to get the cleaning and maintenance finished so you can maximize your time on the water.

Fresh Water & Woolite

Eisenglass (clear flexible vinyl) should not be cleaned with an ammonia-based glass cleaner because the ammonia breaks it down and will dry it out. The best approach is to wash eisenglass with fresh water, add some Woolite for a second wash, then rinse. Dry the eisenglass with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth and apply 210 Plastic Cleaner or Plexus for long-lasting protection.

Waterline Wars

Nothing's worse than leaving the boat ramp with a dingy waterline stain, but there's no reason to let that nasty stain linger. After hauling the boat, soak a sponge in vinegar and wipe down the water stains. Some will disappear immediately; usually what remains will be gone by the time you get home. Some stains require other products

Skin Deep

Surface rust can be taken off metal and fiberglass with a paste made of water and baking soda (50-50). Rust that's more than skin deep, however, requires a potent cleaner containing oxalic acid. Find several to choose from at West Marine. Always remember to thoroughly rinse it away after the rust disappears because the acid can damage metals and fiberglass if left on too long.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Use Rain-X on your boat's exterior glass. Once Rain-X is applied, the glass doesn't attract or retain hard water spots as easily, and unless in a downpour you  don't need to run the wipers because the water simply slips off the glass.

Tart Up Aluminum

Dissolve two tablespoons of cream of tartar in one quart of hot water, and use it as a polish with a soft cloth.

Preventive Maintenance

If you want a clean windshield when you arrive at the boat ramp after a long haul down the road, simply cover your windshield with a strip of plastic wrap before leaving home. Secure it well. When you arrive at the boat launch, peel the plastic wrap off and unavoidable bug splatters and road grime will peel away with it.

Cockroach Killer

Use equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. The sugar attracts them and the baking soda kills them. Editors' Note: Cockroach hotels are another option.

Clean And Green

Save major cleaning jobs for when the boat is out of the water. When using cleaning products keep them near the center of the boat to reduce the chance of an overboard spill, and when performing bigger jobs on land, try to conduct the work as far from the water's edge as possible.

Don't Forget The Canvas

Every time you wash your boat with a soft deck brush, use the same brush and soap on the boat cover or other canvas, which will keep canvas clean for a long time.

Fog B Gone

When acrylic windscreens and opening ports become foggy looking from countless tiny scratches, buff them out with regular toothpaste (not gel). It has just the right amount of abrasives to buff out those scratches without making a bunch of new ones. All it takes is time, elbow grease, and lots of circular motion with a cotton rag. Try out on a small spot first.

Stain Magic

Magic Eraser, a Procter & Gamble Mr. Clean product, is a great tool to have on the boat. It gets rid of stubborn stains, skid marks, and streaks on just about any surface. I use a Magic Eraser pad for nonskid deck areas. You'll need to rinse your work area as you go; if it remains in contact with an area for an extended time, its "magic" will remove a waxed finish.




Posted On: July 18, 2016

Keep these signs of heat exhaustion in mind this summer to avoid health hazards

As the temperatures rise, they pose a threat to people who are unaware of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when your body overheats, causing a variety of symptoms. As you and your family enjoy the summertime heat, it is important to remember these causes, symptoms and treatments of heat exhaustion to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.


When the temperature rises in the summer, the body is made to cool itself in a variety of ways. The body’s main method of self-cooling is through sweating. As sweat evaporates, it allows your body temperature to stay regulated; when sweat production is unable to cool the body down enough, heat exhaustion sets in.

Heat exhaustion is typically seen in people exercising strenuously in hot weather. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also be caused by dehydration, which reduces the amount of sweat that can be produced; alcohol use, which affects the body’s ability to change its temperature; and wearing too many clothes.


Symptoms of heat exhaustion can occur quickly or can develop overtime, depending on what is causing the heat exhaustion. Typically, though, the symptoms are easy to catch if the person is aware of what heat exhaustion is. The symptoms of heat exhaustion typically consist of the following:

Moist, cool skin with goose bumps
Faintness or dizziness
Heavy sweating
Weak, rapid pulse
Nausea or vomiting
Muscle cramps
If the person suffering from heat exhaustion has a high body temperature above 103°F, call 911 immediately. This high temperature means that the person is past the stage of heat exhaustion and is suffering from a heat stroke, which can be life threatening.


The first step to treating someone with heat exhaustion is to call a doctor or medical professional. As the CDC points out, heat exhaustion can sometimes lead to the much more severe heat stroke illness, which is considered a medical emergency. It is important to have a medical professional determine whether or not the victim of heat exhaustion is in danger of developing heat stroke.

Once a doctor determines that the person is not developing heat stroke and is instead suffering from heat exhaustion, then move the person to a cooler location. This can be into an air-conditioned building or simply into the shade. Once there, apply cool, wet cloths to the person’s body and have them sip water. If vomiting occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat exhaustion is easily preventable if you know the signs. Make sure to remember these warning signs of heat exhaustion as your family enjoys the summer weather. It can be a lifesaver.



Posted On: July 13, 2016

Yesterday I witnessed yet again, the lost art of boating communication. Now I’m not a counselor, but these few tips could save some hurt feelings and lots of embarrassment.

Communication is an art form, and on a boat it can also be a source of entertainment. I'm talking about couples who yell while docking, negotiating a lock, or trailering. All of us (myself included) have been guilty of this. I recommend a simple solution. Have a quick review about your intentions, expectations, and procedures before you leave or approach a dock, drop anchor, secure or release the boat from its tether, or conduct difficult navigational chores. This is the time to ask questions and bring up other concerns or options. For example, before leaving a dock, knowing in what direction the captain will pilot the boat away from the dock helps the first mate know what to expect and how to prepare. Unforeseen circumstances can occur. Wind can kick up or current may be swifter than anticipated. Without ongoing communication, the docking procedure becomes just a guessing game, which can lead to wrong decision making, regretful harsh words, and hurt feelings.



Posted On: July 11, 2016

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are all too common these days; your laptop and cellphone have them, and billions are sold every year. For the most part, they've got a pretty good safety record. But not long ago, the entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners was grounded due to Li-ion battery fires, and there are frequent reports of smaller fires from devices that use these batteries. As we all know, the recreational-boating market has begun offering these batteries to boat owners; sailors in particular like the weight savings of as much as 75 percent. But because these batteries are a new technology, no maritime standards yet exist specifically addressing how to install or maintain lithium-ion systems in recreational boats, and some owners are blithely installing them without regard to their unique properties.

Li-ion batteries require sophisticated battery-management systems and unique over current protection — they can't simply be dropped in to replace conventional wet-cell batteries. Doing so can cause the batteries to experience "thermal runaway," which is a polite way of saying they can catch on fire and be almost impossible to extinguish.

An ABYC committee is working to develop standards that boat builders and boat owners can use to safely install Li-ion battery systems, including specific requirements covering installation, battery-management systems, and safety features to prevent fires on board.

The new standard will be completed in 2017, giving manufacturers and owners important guidance on how to install these potentially hazardous new products.



Posted On: July 06, 2016

Hey, did you see this timely article in this month's Boating Times addressing those nasty, pesky, irritations?

 Bye-Bye, Summer Buzzkills!

We picture summers as non-stop fun, but bothersome joy-spoilers are everywhere. Nothing wrecks a day like a tossing deck, floating creature, swarming insect, broiling sun, or proliferating bacteria. However, we know simple ways to ease the summer blues… and reds… and greens.

Bug Bites

Make your own repellent with oils (such as citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, or catnip) or buy a commercial bug spray (though many experts advocate for DEET, we’re not fond of it for many reasons, including that it lowers the effectiveness of sunscreen). Wear light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and long pants. And for an extra measure of protection, serve foods made with lots of garlic!

Should a biting bug get through anyway, treatment depends on the wound (and if there’s a stinger left behind). In general, wash the area and stop swelling by holding ice cubes or an ice pack against the bite for up to 15 minutes. Then apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream or anti-itch lotion. Other remedies include a paste of water-moistened baking soda, salt, meat tenderizer, or crushed aspirin (adults only) over the dampened area.


When you bang into something (or vice versa), apply ice immediately. If the skin is broken, cover with gauze. Elevate the area whenever possible and don’t put weight or pressure on the spot.


Rest and drink water with a pinch of salt. Once you’re feeling better, keep drinking water.

Jellyfish Stings

The best prevention is to avoid going in the water or wear protective gear if you do go in. If you’re stung, treat immediately by rinsing with sea water before coming back aboard. If there are tentacles in the bitten area, use a stiff piece of cardboard or a credit card to rub them up and out. Then apply vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to neutralize the toxins (we hear cola works in a pinch). You may also take an oral antihistamine or apply a cortisone ointment.

Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac

The best treatment is complete avoidance, so familiarize yourself with the plants you should never touch before you leave the boat to explore the shore. If contact was made with the leaves, remove and bag up any clothing that may have made contact and rinse the area with cool water and soap (some swear by apple cider vinegar) but don’t spread the rash-producing oil around. Ice the area and then apply cortisone cream, calamine lotion, aloe gel, a banana peel, or a mashed-up cucumber. Do not rub on an antihistamine cream.


Those who are prone to motion sickness should start treatment before heading out for the day. Pick up an over-the-counter antihistamine, get a prescription for a pill or a behind-the-ear patch, stock up on ginger capsules (soda, snaps, or tea help, too), and/or acupressure bands that block nausea. Wear, take, and nibble on whatever you need to keep queasiness at bay.

If seasickness strikes while underway, position yourself outside towards the middle of the boat (a breezy, shady spot is best). Breathe deeply and either close your eyes or fix your gaze on a specific spot on the horizon. Slowly sip a cool drink to avoid dehydration.


You knew you shouldn’t finish a sandwich you started two hours ago, after you left it on the deck to go swimming and then take a nap. But you did, and now you’re in distress. Sit up, breathe deeply, apply a warm compress, take an over-the-counter stomach-soothing medication, or drink peppermint tea or water with lemon either iced or warm.


Treatment won’t be necessary if you take steps to prevent skin damage before you leave home. It’s unwise to wait to apply sunscreen until you leave the dock — you’ve already been exposed to harmful rays while in the car,  walking to the boat or riding the launch, and loading on supplies. Apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed, and once you’re outside, reapply at least every two hours (more often if you get wet). If you miss a spot and become sunburned, apply a soft cloth soaked in cool water, vinegar, whole milk, or unsweetened green tea to the affected area. Relief can also come from aloe vera gel, an over-the-counter cortisone cream, or one containing menthol or camphor. Place raw cucumber or potato slices over your well-done areas or mash up some strawberries and rub them in. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen may also ease some of the swelling and pain.

Sun Sensitivity and Heat Rash

Certain medications and treatments can cause sun sensitivity and rashes. Tell your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about your boating plans or look at the warning label on over-the-counter treatments. If there’s a risk, apply sunscreen, wear sun-resistant clothing, and remain in the shade. If you suffer a mild reaction, apply cool compresses and then let your skin air dry.

Ensure that the mouth and nasal passages are clear. Swallow cool water slowly and nibble on bland food as tolerated. Follow tips for seasickness and stomachache.



Posted On: July 04, 2016


So its the 4th of July weekend, you have a few days off finally. Time to finally get the boat out of the driveway, and into the water. Well, not so fast. Time a little time now and save some grief later.

Here's an article from US Boat.

Don't Forget To Check It!


By The BoatUS Editors


11 points worth checking before you hit the road.

While this may look like a lot to do — it might just save you a whole lot of trouble.


    Run the engine at home on flush muffs before you venture to the ramp so you're very confident that your motor will start. Troubleshooting a motor that won't start can cause long delays at a ramp. This is especially common during the first warm days of the year.


    Safety chains or cables need to be crisscrossed between the trailer and the tow vehicle, not simply attached. When this is done, if the trailer disconnects while you're driving, the tongue falls into the crossed chains instead of dropping to the pavement and causing an accident.

    While you're down there, make sure the coupler is secured with a pin and locked onto the hitch ball. Take a second to determine that the receiver is locked into the tow vehicle.

    Check the brake-fluid level in the actuator, if present. At the same time, take a look below the actuator for any signs that brake fluid has spilled or leaked. In fact, when you do a walk around of the trailer, look for any indication that brake fluid has leaked from the brake lines. Attach the emergency actuator cable to the vehicle.

    Make sure that the trailer is level with the tow vehicle.

    Check the inflation on trailer tires when they're cold. Don't forget the spare tire. The recommended psi is on the sidewall of each tire as well as on the trailer's Vehicle Identification Number plate.

    Raise the outboard or the I/O and lock it up. If you have a transom saver, attach it.

    Inspect the trailer lights by having a helper turn on the tow vehicle's lights and trigger the turn signals and brake lights while you stand behind the trailer and eyeball that everything works.

    Check that tie-downs and transom straps are secure. Hook the winch strap to the bow eye; also hook a safety chain from the trailer frame to the bow eye.

    If a seal is starting to fail, bearings may throw grease under the fender or along the trailer frame. If you have oil hubs, inspect the level and fill if necessary. Inspect wheel-bearing protectors for dryness at the zerk fitting, which feeds grease. Add grease if it's needed.

    Search the boat for items that might blow away during the drive to the ramp. Life jackets, clothing, flotation cushions, and sail bags are the usual suspects that often end up along the roadside. Put them in the tow vehicle or secure them before leaving the driveway.

    Make sure to distribute weight evenly inside the boat, both fore and aft as well as side to s