Archive for the Safety Category

Three Ways a De-icer can Protect Your Boat and Dock this Winter

Three Ways a De-icer can Protect Your Boat and Dock this Winter

Jack Frost can pack quite a bite, especially for boats that spend the winter in harbor. That’s why it’s important for boat and dock owners to do all they can to keep their vessels shielded from the snapping jaws of winter. In more temperate climates, where ice is not as much of a concern, simple insulated covers and a good gel-coat layer could suffice. However, if your boat or dock is exposed to frigid temperatures, you’re looking at freezing water and ice – and that can present a whole iceberg of issues.

De-icers are commonly used by many boat and dock owners during the winter, and for good reason: They ward off the formation of ice, which can be devastating to boat hulls as well as the structural integrity of the dock. De-icers are motorized devices that keep the cold water churning so it can’t freeze as easily, drawing warm water up from the bottom and pushing it to the surface. When a de-icer is used, the watercraft and dock remain safely protected from the cold shoulder Jack Frost inflicts.

Here are three winter disasters a de-icer can prevent:

1. Hull Damage

Normal current and wind speeds naturally make water rigs tip, rock and pitch in the water. When freezing temperatures and a layer of ice are added to the equation, the result is a nasty grinding action that can scratch and tear away the gel-coat along the waterline of fiberglass boats. This allows water to sneak into the laminate and further damage the hull. Ice can also get into the plank seams or the bilge of a wooden boat and cause anything from minor cosmetic damage to major leaks.

2. Dock Lifting

Ice, wind and current are no friend to docks, either, especially if all three elements are thrown together. Because ice expands during the freezing process, the water levels will fluctuate, making it difficult for dock piles to stay firmly in place. Heavy ice flows and ice pressure can shift the dock pilings – or worse, pull them out of their footings entirely. Any watercraft near the dock could be damaged as the dock shifts.

3. Ice Expansion

Like most substances, water at ordinary temperatures contracts, increasing in density as it cools. At about 4 degrees Celsius, however, water reaches its maximum density and then decreases in density as it reaches its freezing point. Because of this, ice forms on the top of the water first, allowing it to freeze and float, and then the rest of the ice forms below. This simple sequence can be disastrous for both docks and boat hulls. The pressure from ice expansion can crush a hull or dock, causing major damage and compromising the structural integrity of the craft.

Jack Frost can try as he may to freeze lakes and rivers, penetrate boat hulls and crush docks – but he’ll have a much harder time succeeding if a de-icer is on hand to protect your goods during the winter.

Note from Mark Nicholas:  We don’t take many guest blogs, but this is a matter of interest and there is no better resource than people who deal in the goods they are writing about. the truth here is that this is a matter of importance to me. boats and ice do not mix, and cold climates do run the risk of crushed hulls. safety precautions are essential. if you are in a cold climate, take this opportunity to think about how you will stay safe and secure.  Its time to gear up for the cold!

This blog post is courtesy of SavvyBoater, which carries a wide selection of de-icers, boat covers, bimini tops and boat propellers.

Boating Safety Season Early Reminder

A quick look at the news and another boating accident in the headlines. Usually, people die. This time, miraculously, everyone lived. See:

Boating Accident News Story

In this case, charges will probably be filed, but it could be so much worse. As we all get ready to untie and head out, just remember… autopilots and GPS are tools – but keep your eye on your horizon.

That’s it. Just something that was on my mind today.

Clear skies, fresh breezes and a great season to all…

– mark

Winterizing Your Boat: A Checklist (from Chris Birch)

Here is the awesome checklist put together by Chris Birch (and reposted with his permission).  To all those of you whose season is coming to a close, I hope you had an awesome season.  Hope that this checklist really comes in handy.  Chris is one of the top marine technicians – so if you’re in Boston, MA, contact him if he can help. Otherwise, his contribution is incredibly nice of him.

Winter work order:  De-commissioning from Chris Birch / Birch Marine

To Do       Project

Phase 1 – near the end of the boating season:
∆                Fall varnish
∆                Clean & wax topsides from waterline to the rail
∆                Clean & wax deck, cockpit & house
∆                Interior cleaning including storage lockers and contents there of
∆                Bilge cleaning

Phase 2 – Just prior to haul out:
∆                Fuel:  fill tank(s)
∆                Add fuel stabilizer and biocide to fuel tank(s)
∆                Canvas: remove, send out for service & storage
∆                   Sails:  remove, send out for washing, minor repair & storage
∆                Main engine(s):  winterize
(Change engine oil, oil filter, fuel filter(s), & engine zinc. Flush, fog & seal)
∆                Generator:  winterize
(Change engine oil, oil filter, fuel filter(s), & engine zinc. Flush, fog & seal)
∆                Batteries:  clean, service, charge, hydrometer test
∆                Head(s): winterize toilet, macerator pump and holding tank.
∆                Fresh water sys.:  winterize tanks, water heater, taps, showers & shower sumps
∆                Ice maker: winterize
∆                Bilge & bilge pumps:  test & flush all electric and manual bilge pumps
∆                Air conditioning / heat: winterize
∆                Refrigeration:  winterize
∆                Water maker:  winterize
∆                Windshield spray system:  winterize
∆                Salt water wash down pump(s): winterize
∆                Winterize & stow dingy outboard engine
∆                Clean, deflate and stow inflatable dingy
∆                Full systems check

Phase 3 – After haul out (or final move to winter slip for in water storage):

∆                Shrinkwrap.   White plastic?   Or clear plastic for $100 Surcharge?   Zipper door?
(note: Sails and canvas must be removed prior to shrinkwrap)
∆                Set out dehumidifier containers
∆                Send prop(s) out for tune and service
∆                Diver to change zincs  if boat is to winter in the water
∆                Other:

Winter projects

To do       Project

∆            New electronics installation
∆            Interior varnish or painting project
∆            Exterior varnish or painting project
∆            Wiring project
∆            Rigging project
∆            Plumbing project
∆            Carpentry project
∆            Flexiteek decking project

Preventative maintenance suggestions:
∆            Replace engine control cables
∆            Replace old hoses and hose clamps
∆            Add a bilge pump and/or high water alarm
∆            Service your steering system
∆            Service your winches
∆            Service or renew your sea cocks
∆            Send prop(s) out for tune and service
∆            Renew your cutlass bearing(s)
∆            Re-bed some or all of your deck hardware & ports
∆            Cabin sole varnish
∆            Repaint your worn anchor chain markings
∆            Renew your running rigging
∆            Renew your standing rigging
∆            Renew your dock lines and /or fenders and/or fender covers
∆            Bleach clean your interior lockers and bilge spaces
∆            Renew your head(s)
∆            Upgrade or renew your DC wiring system
∆            Upgrade or renew your AC wiring system
∆            Send your engine alternator(s) and starter motor(s) out for service
∆            Clean & paint your engine
∆            Other:

FINALLY – Re-Commissioning Checklist

To do       Project

∆                Remove & recycle winter cover
∆                Bottom paint.  Interlux Micron CSC is standard choice.  Alternative paint?  Color?
∆                Zinc: install new shaft/tabs/rudder/hull/thruster zinc(s)
∆                Clean shaft(s) & prop(s) and thruster tunnel(s)
∆                Diver to clean bottom and change zincs if boat wintered in the water
∆                Clean wax topsides (waterline to the rail)
∆                Clean wax deck (from the rail up)
∆                Polish stainless
∆                Interior cleaning
∆                Bleach clean interior lockers and bilge spaces
∆                Varnish:  exterior varnish or other wood finish
∆                Tune rig
∆                Bend on sails
∆                Install dodger and / or bimini
∆                Main engine(s):  commission
∆                Generator:  commission
∆                Fresh water system:  commission
∆                Ice maker:  commission
∆                Head(s):  commission
∆                Air-conditioning / heat:  commission
∆                Refrigeration:  commission
∆                Battery:  clean, service, load test & charge
∆                Check and grease sea cocks
∆                Service stuffing boxes on shaft(s) and rudder post(s)
∆                Service winches
∆                Inflate and check and clean inflatable dingy
∆                Summerize dingy engine
∆                Full systems check
∆                Other:

Safety Reminder! Missing couple feared dead in Squalicum Harbor boat fire – On Patrol – bellinghamherald.com

Here is a reminder of one of the worst things that can happen aboard.  Fire.

Boats can transition from romantic havens to death traps with fire.  They offer limited exits and surround the occupants with toxic and flammable kinder.  Here, there were limited firefighting capabilities.

Security is more than lifejackets.  It is a level of awareness of surroundings, and broad preparation.  Yet even in the best of circumstances, tragedy may still occur.  Our prayers are will everyone involved.

Missing couple feared dead in Squalicum Harbor boat fire – On Patrol – bellinghamherald.com.