Boat Maintenance

Boating Safety the Easy Way


Every year, we hear about one, two, or even ten boating accidents. Some of them make the headlines; some never end up in writing. Rather than a lecture, a few quick hints may save you time, money and aggravation.


Know Your Insurance

Know what your boat insurance covers, but more importantly, find out what it doesn’t. If your boat catches fire because you didn’t have a flame arrestor in place on your carburetor, it’s an odds-on bet the insurer will find out, even if the boat sinks.

Hint: Every time you fuel, make sure the flame arrestor is in place. If you don’t know what a flame arrestor is, ask your boat dealer.

Hint #2: Know where your fire extinguishers are and know how to use them. Have them inspected once a year and refilled if necessary – make this part of your springtime “fitting-out” ritual.

Know where your fire extinguishers are and how to use them.

Does your insurance cover you against your own errors and omissions? Hurricanes are a fact in South Florida and along the Gulf Coast. What does your insurance cover, if your boat is tied in a slip when a Category III rolls over it?

Hint: Draw a mooring plan (there’s one in the blog post dated September 14, entitled “The Right Way to Tie Your Boat Up in a Storm”) for your boat, both for mooring in a slip and for laying alongside a dock. Run it by your insurance agent and have him include a copy in your file.


Boating and Drinking

There’s no way you can avoid the Coast Guard or the State Police if you’re boating drunk. There’s a whopping state fine in all 50 states and, if the U.S. Coast Guard catches you offshore, boating while blasted, you face a stiff federal fine, time in a federal penitentiary and a federal record as a felon. If you work on the water, kiss your livelihood goodbye, too.

Hint: Don’t drink while you operate and don’t operate if you plan to drink. The idea of a designated driver works at sea, too.


Do an Equipment Check

Your boat is probably equipped with an EPIRB unit – an Electronic Position-Indicating Radio Beacon – that sends a signal to the Coast Guard when your boat sinks. It floats and continues broadcasting until someone comes for you. If it has a working battery, that is.

It sends out a locator signal, even when you can’t, that’s picked up by boat, airplane and coastal stations. Some even broadcast your location and some include a VHF radio.

Hint: Every year, before you put the boat in the water the first time, put a new battery in it and press the test switch. It’s cheap life insurance. Should you go over the side, carry the EPIRB with you. It has an on/off switch as well as a test switch. Don’t take chances on it activating automatically.


Don’t Forget the Lifejackets

You are supposed to have a lifejacket for every person on the boat. How many people can your boat carry? There’s a yellow sticker on the starboard, inside of the transom, that tells you how many people or how much weight you can safely carry. This is one worthwhile way the government spends your tax money: it tests boats to determine how much weight or how many people they can carry.

Hint: Make absolutely sure you have one lifejacket for everyone that’s on your boat when you go out, plus three extras. You might end up the hero who makes a rescue. If they’re aboard and don’t have a lifejacket (because they didn’t read this hint), you need to cover yourself.

Hint #2: Do a “show and tell” on lifejacket use every time you go out. Don’t trust other people’s memories. Even professionals go through a lifeboat/lifejacket drill every week they’re at sea. Make sure the batteries in the strobes are in good shape — turn the strobe light on for a few seconds, if you have strobe lights on your boat’s lifejackets – and replace them if they aren’t.

The best lifejacket you’ll ever wear is the one that saves your life.



It’s the holiday season and we at Boats Direct USA hope that yours is a happy one. Remember, though if it looks like you’re boat is getting into a situation, pull the throttles to neutral or even reverse, and stop before you get into trouble. We want to see you around next year.


Next Year: Fitting Out! 

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