It’s boating season once again in Florida and at Chapman Insurance, we couldn’t be more excited to get back on the water and enjoy some fun in the sun! Keep in mind these basic maintenance measures that will help extend the life of your boat and ensure safety while onboard.
Proper boat maintenance means being actively involved in all aspects of your vessel. Look for everything from loose fittings, to fraying ropes, to any other areas of your watercraft that may need special attention or replacement. Many times, damages incurred could easily have been prevented by following a preventative watercraft maintenance routine. Keep a fire extinguisher onboard, too, in case of emergency.
Also, you can also have an official vessel inspection and safety check performed for FREE by US Coast Guard certified volunteers, with no penalties for any “infractions.” Request yours here today.
Cleaning and Care
Wash your boat regularly to prevent the long-term effects of wear and tear. Routine waxing and using anti-fouling paint can also help protect your boat. Invest in a quality cover to keep your boat clean and free from dirt, water, falling leaves and bird droppings, and to prevent UV rays from breaking down hoses and fading carpets and upholstery.
Depending on the type of battery your boat uses, check to ensure that it is properly charged and that it has the correct fluid levels. Always keep your battery clean, as dampness and dirt can drain your battery.
Flush your engine after every outing, and check everything from your fuel tanks to the clamps on your fuel line for rust, damage or corrosion. Also check your oil for correct levels, proper filtration, and cleanliness. Keep an eye on your engine’s cooling system to make sure it’s functioning correctly.
A crucial aspect of boat maintenance is ensuring that your bilge pump is functioning properly. There’s not much that can cause more irreparable damage to a boat than having it sink. In the event that you need to use your pump, you’ll want to make sure that your battery system contains enough power to run the pump for a prolonged period of time.
Many boating failures occur as a result of corroded electrical systems, so keeping electrical components dry should be a regular part of your watercraft maintenance routine. Electrical fittings can be protected with a water-repellant, non-conductive grease or corrosion inhibitor.
Responsible Boating Courses
Responsible boat maintenance means taking the time to familiarize yourself with all aspects of watercraft care. Consult your owner’s manual for in-depth guidelines. If you’re new to boating, your boat dealer may know of helpful watercraft safety and training courses that deal specifically with your type of watercraft. Become comfortable with boating terms and definitions. And while it’s always important to take the time to learn how to do things yourself, don’t be afraid to seek the help of professionals when needed.
Wear Life Jackets
It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board. You and your passengers must wear them. The U.S. Coast Guard reported in 2011 that drowning accounts for 70 percent of all boating fatalities; and in those cases, 84 percent of victims were not wearing a life jacket. New lighter, more comfortable and attractive life jackets are available today, making it even easier to get passengers to suit up. This PDF has some useful information about how to choose the proper life jackets (download here).
Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Turn off your engine when there are people in the water, especially when they’re using the rear swimming deck of your boat. Teak surfing, or holding onto the back deck of a boat while it’s moving, can expose people in the water to dangerous and even fatal levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless. A swimmer exposed to carbon monoxide from your engine could pass out and drown before anyone notices. You can install a carbon monoxide detector on your boat for less than $100.
Don’t Drink and Boat
Over 50% of boating-related deaths involve alcohol or drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) study and the results showed that a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a car driver, drink for drink. A BUI conviction can result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. In addition, some states will revoke your driver’s license if you are apprehended for boating while intoxicated. Never operate or ride a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Stay green on the water – protect the environment
Maintain a clean bilge – don’t pump oily water overboard. Clean safely – Use detergent sparingly and look for environmentally responsible boat cleaning products. Observe all local and federal sewage regulations. Chart your course responsibly – prevent damage to sensitive sea habitats and reduce fuel waste due to misdirection. Take your garbage home, including fishing line and cigarettes, and recycle your waste – properly dispose of your batteries and other waste materials. Carry a spill kit onboard and report any pollution you may see.
Now is a good time to give your Chapman Insurance agent a call to discuss your boat insurance coverages.
Or if you’re in the market for a boat, we can chat about what specific policy —like personal watercraft insurance, jet boat insurance, sailboat insurance, fishing boat insurance, or house boat insurance — you will need.
This information provided in part by Safeco, Progressive, and The US Coast Guard. Images courtesy of The US Coast Guard.