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Boating Tips

Many of you have proven ideas and tips, that make your boating life easier.
If you would like to share your tips with your fellow boaters, this is the place to do it.

You can e-mail your tips to us at boatwings@yahoo.com.
If you would like, we can include your name and state following your tip.


-Preparing to take your boat away from the dock?
Always, Always test all systems that you think you will be using while away from the dock, before releasing your lines. PWC winches, Windlass, thrusters, generator, 12 volt system (water pump, lights, etc). It will be twice as easy to address the problem now, than when you are ready to spend the night out.

-Have you checked your roof and cabin walls for leaks lately?
As houseboats age, we are seeing more cases of roofs that have taken on large amounts of moisture for a prolonged period of time. Before the owner begins to suspect a problem, the damage has been done. In some cases, many 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood, and roof supports have to be replaced, to bring the roof back up to strength. It only takes a small hole to allow the water in, and once inside it can travel from roof support to roof support, and even down the side walls. Check all roof rail supports where screws are attached. Make sure caulk is completely sealed, and screws have not begun to back out. Also check around flybridge and roof bar mounts. Don’t just trust your eyes to inspect. Use your foot to step along all support areas, checking for any sign of weak areas. You will hear a cracking sound, and feel soft spots. Inspect around windows, checking for loose caulk, and soft areas in side walls. If you see any signs of “delamination” (the gelcoat pulling away from the wood) you have moisture getting in somewhere. Check bottom of cabin walls and make sure there are no gaps in caulk between trim and wall. The plastic dryer vent mounted on the outside cabin can become brittle, and begin disintegrating. Check it’s integrity, and the caulk that surrounds it. This is an easy water entry point if not in good condition. (Don’t ask me how I know). You should also crawl along port and starboard sides of hull, shining a flashlight along floor supports, and plywood, looking for any signs of dark discoloration in the wood. It’s better to find a small leak now, than walk into your boat in the spring and smell a damp musty smell.

-Have you checked your batteries lately?
Batteries should be checked often, and at the least going into each new season. Check water levels, and look for signs of corrosion in hull from battery gases. Battery corrosion can be your worst enemy to an aluminum hull if they are not vented properly, and stored in an enclosed battery box. How long has it been since your batteries were replaced. If you’re not sure, your luck may be running out. There is nothing worse than finding your MMC shifter’s will not work because your battery is dead, and your generator will not start to charge the batteries up, because that battery is dead. Since these batteries were originally installed at the same time, they seem to all begin failing at the same time too. Batteries are one of the cheapest insurance policies you will ever buy.

-Should I check on my boat in the winter?
It’s always a good idea to check on your boat during the off season. You should ask neighbors to check your boat when there down at the dock as well. If a CO detector is losing power, it will make a loud beeping sound, which can be heard by anyone walking past your boat. Chances are your batteries are either not charging, or going bad. If they are not charging, you need to find out why. It could be your shore power cord has come loose from the strong winter winds at either the pedestal, or your boat connection. The inverter may save you if you have one and catch the problem in time. Otherwise plan on a stinky fridge, and possible busted water lines, if those were not winterized.

-How do I store my canvas deck enclosure.
You should clean your canvas enclosure before taking it down for the season. Label each section, and even draw a diagram if you desire. Start on one side, either port or starboard, and number each sequential section. This will make it a snap to re-install the enclosure in the fall.  It’s best to store the sections individually inside old sheets. Place the sheet on the canvas and isinglass, and loosely roll up. Never fold. Store the sections in a clean, dry area of hull, inside the cabin. This insure many years of enjoyment of your enclosure.

-How do I display the U.S. flag on board my boat.
Generally, the national ensign should be displayed at the peak of the gaff, i.e., the outer end of the spar extending aft from the mast of your boat—if you boat has a gaff. If it does not, fly it from the flagstaff at your boat’s stern. If your boat has an overhanging boom or an outboard motor, your flagstaff may be offset to starboard (preferably) from your boat’s centerline. If you fly 2 flags, the U.S. flag should always be on the starboard side. 
Click here for a more detailed description.

-Bought a new boat? Time to wax? Maybe not!
Conley Bottom Resort rental houseboats still shine like new 10 years after going into service. What is amazing about this is they have never been waxed, not once. They are washed with “Murphy’s Oil Soap” and a little dish detergent. The “Murphy’s Oil Soap” puts the natural oils back into the pores in the gelcoat, and keep it from becoming dull and dry. *Just remember this can only work on new unwaxed boats. If the boat has been waxed, the pores are permanently sealed, and the “Murphy’s Oil Soap” will not be able to effectively penetrate the pores.
For die hard waxer’s, you might want to give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.

-Don’t winterize your own engines. Why not, I am mechanically inclined, and I enjoy working on my own boat.
This is why-Mechanics are loyal to you, when you are loyal to them. Giving them your business in the fall, can pay big dividends on a holiday weekend, when your guests have arrived, and are ready for a cruise on your boat. Wait, now you have a mechanical issue, and who are you going to call. The mechanic you don’t use in good times. Don’t expect him to go out of his way to show up and save the day. It won’t happen, unless you have developed a relationship with him before hand. There is no price that can be put on saving the weekend with family and friends.
And as an added bonus, when the mechanic winterizes your engines,  in most cases they guarantee their work.
Can you say that about your work?
Tom & Terry Miller

-Buy everything you can from your own marina. Why, they are much more expensive than my local Wal-Mart.
Running a marina takes the talents of many. You walk into the marina one day, and ask the owner if he knows where you can get a part like this made. Example 1: Marina owner rarely ever sees you purchase anything from his ships store. He may tell you the name of someone who could help you, and even help find you their phone number.
Example 2: You frequent your marina often. You purchase all your dock lines, bumpers, ice, fuel from them. You walk into the marina one day, and ask the owner if he knows where you can get a part like this made. He hands the part to a dock worker nearby, and asks him if he can make that. The dock worker says no problem, and has it ready for you the next day (no charge)! Your boating life is made easy! So how much are you really saving by being a tight wad?
Tom & Terry Miller

-Boat Cleaner-One of the best all purpose boat cleaners, we have found is “Spray Power”, available at Wal-Mart in the cleaning section. It works great on carpet, fabric, clothes stains, mold on vinyl cushions, gelcoat stains, and stainless steel.  (Caution: Not to be used on wood, because it will remove finish, and keep from coming in contact with aluminum surfaces, (i.e. hulls and rails), because it can stain aluminum.)
Tom & Terry Miller

-Selling-Don’t strip the boat! Meaning price the boat so you can leave non personal items, such as towels, dishes, pots & pans, trash cans, wall hangings, decorations, etc. If you are moving to another boat, it will be nice to have new things, and if you are getting out of boating, you won’t need most of that stuff. It sure makes for a nice transaction when the buyer feels like they are getting a good deal, and the boat hasn’t been stripped. Our first nice houseboat purchase, included all the stuff, a sparkling clean boat, complete with a peach cobbler baking in the oven. We always sang high praises of the sellers, and learned a valuable lesson how to sell a boat with class.
Tom & Terry Miller

-Heads with Type 2 Waste Treatment Systems-To keep your Type 2 waste treatment system working problem free: 1-Pump out tanks yearly.
2-Only use an approved cleaner for toilets. Cleaners with bleach will kill bacteria, and cause system to fail.
3-Oxygen is the key to success, so make sure aerator is working at all times. It should be connected to your inverter. Insure air hose is not kinked.
4-Add chemicals once per week.
5-Some boaters never put paper in their toilets, and that is fine. However, single ply toilet paper can be used in Type 2 systems, as long as a single sheet will dissolve in a glass of water overnight.
Tom & Terry Miller

-Heads with Purasan Waste Treatment Systems-When leaving the boat for an extended period, flush head at least 3 times. This insures there are no impurities remaining in the system, and the treatment system has filled all hoses. This will give you a fresh smelling boat when you return. Refrain from ever “dry flushing” heads capable of that, since it removes all chemicals from the system, and will cause obvious problems. Cub Jamison

-Preheat switch on Westerbeke Generators-When you press the preheat switch it does a couple of things. First it activates the fuel pump to prime the system and second it by-passes all of the safety shut down switches until the unit starts and gets oil pressure. by Tom Miller

-Generator-Always carry an extra fuse, and impeller kit on board. Even new boats can ingest debris into the water filter, and damage the rubber fins of an impeller. Having an extra impeller or fuse on board can save your outing.
by Tom Miller

-Generator Impeller-When installing an impeller, lubricate with dish detergent first before inserting. This will protect the new impeller fins until water reaches the impeller. by Chris Owen

-Propane Tanks-In April,  2002 Kentucky along with 26 other states, began enforcing new regulations requiring an overflow protection device on propane tanks. You can easily tell if your tank has the new device by the shape of the handle. The old tanks have a star shaped, or more round knob, while the new tanks have a triangle shaped knob. You will not be able to refill your old tanks in Kentucky any longer. You may exchange them for a fee running as high as $25.00 (Ouch)! Sources say Wal-Mart will exchange the tanks for only $4.00 + the price of the gas to fill the tank, ($12.95 in Somerset). by Terry Miller

Propane Tanks-Extreme caution should be used when storing extra propane tanks on board. They should be secure according to A.B.Y.C. Standards, and never stored in engine compartment.  by Tom Miller

-Mosquitoes a problem-Try rubbing Bounce dryer sheets on your skin before exposing yourself to those pesky bugs. Though the dryer sheets are a bit rough feeling to your skin, they smell pleasant, and they seem to do a great job repelling mosquitoes. by Terry Miller

Wet cove ropesTry storing your ropes in plastic clothes baskets. They have holes in them, which allows the ropes to air dry easily, as well as make a neat way to store them.

Thunderstorm seasonNever leave the dock without first checking the weather. In addition, turn off your radio or CD player every hour or so, to check the weather radio for fast approaching thunderstorms, which can pop up quickly this time of year, and spoil your day.

Leaving PortAs Captain you are responsible for your ship. Never take your passengers word that all lines and hook-ups are removed, before throwing her into gear. This could save you an embarrassing moment, not to mention possible damage to your vessel.

-Docking-Boating and flying share a common interest, the wind!  To avoid windy docking situations plan to leave or return to your harbor before 10am or after 6pm.  These are calm periods that exist before the heat of the day begins producing thermals (wind).  by George Karambellas

-Docking-Always check wind direction before approaching your slip. Dock neighbor flags are your best resource to determine which way the wind is blowing, how hard, and which side of the slip you should aim for.

-Docking-Always have the ability to turn the key off from the station you are driving from in case there is a throttle emergency. Hydraulic shifters can become disconnected in the engine compartment, and MMC electronic shifters have been known to lose their memory. In both cases forward becomes reverse, and you could find yourself in an extremely dangerous situation, if you cannot quickly reach up and turn the ignition keys off. by Tom Miller

DockingNever turn your engine(s) off until the boat is completely stopped. Many large cruisers, and houseboats are more than a man can hold onto, or push away in a wind gust. Never relinquish your ability to control your boat until you are safely stopped, and dock lines are secured to your boat. by Tom Miller

Boarding GuestsAs Captain of your ship you are responsible for the safety of every person aboard. Put together a quick orientation as guests board your boat that show them where all safety gear is stored (LIFE JACKETS etc.), your expectations and needs as the captain, and how to use the heads just to name a few. Your trip will be much more enjoyable, and everyone will arrive back to the dock safe. by Donna Fridenmaker

Volvo outdrivesVolvo outdrives should be parked in reverse, to protect the shift cables which recede up into the housing, and are then not exposed to potential water corrosion problems.

Not using your boat much? #1If so, you should be aware that the rubber water pump impellers can become dry rotted and brittle from lack of use, which could cause your water pump to fail, your engines to overheat, and you to have a very expensive engine repair facing you. Short of driving your boat more often, you should at least start your engines once a month and let them warm up to temperature for at least 30 minutes. by Tom Miller

-Not using your boat much? #2-You should inspect the engine compartment before starting the engines, and leaving the dock. Look for signs of fuel leaks, oil leaks, and steering fluid leaks, in bottom of hull and along transom. A quick fix, could prevent a serious problem. by Tom Miller

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