FROM THE BoatU.S. INSURANCE FILES BY BETH LEONARD
DOING HARD TIME
Fight the winter blues by paying your boat a visit and making sure all is well.
Whether it’s stored on the hard or in the water, you may just forestall some spring problems
THIS IS THE TIME OF YEAR when you can’t help wondering if win- ter will ever end. The days don’t seem to be getting any longer, and the sun barely climbs high enough to provide a bit of warmth before slinking back down to the horizon. As the sound of water lapping against the hull and the feel of a cool breeze tickling your
face fade into fond memories, it’s easy to settle into a midwinter funk. Shake off
those winter blues by visiting your boat. Better yet, organize a rendezvous with
boating buddies near your marina so you can swap some sea stories after making sure your
boats are weathering the winter without problems. Not only will reminiscing about summer
help get you through the winter doldrums, but a thorough midwinter inspection that uncovers some developing problems may well get you back on the water faster in the spring.
THE WALK-AROUND, IF YOUR BOAT’S IN THE WATER
Take a close look at the waterline. Is there a change? If the boat looks lower on its
lines than the last time you saw it, or if it’s down at the bow or the stern, check for water
Rick Varley from Solomons Island, Maryland, (finalist, “Scenics”) took this interesting winter landscape. boating photos of 2013 our BEST
in the bilges when you get aboard.
Check docklines along their entire
length for security and any signs of chafe.
Adjust the chafe guards if necessary (heavy
hose, fire hose, or commercially made chafe
guards will keep your lines from shredding
during bad weather). Smaller boats can get
caught under a dock at low tide and then
be overwhelmed by the rising tide and sunk.
Make sure docklines are tight enough to
keep the boat off the dock, but loose enough
to allow for variations in water level.
Make sure your fenders haven’t
wandered and look for any marks on the
hull that might signal a problem that occurs
only at low or high tide or in high winds.
Fenders that are tied to lifelines tend to slide
around and bend stanchions — attach them
to cleats or the toe rail if possible.
Are all above-water thru-hulls still above
water? The weight of snow and ice can submerge above-waterline thru-hulls, including
the exhaust. If any are underwater, start
Inspect the shore-power cord from
the dock pedestal to the inlet on your boat.
Look for flat spots, kinks, or chafe marks
where the cord may have gotten pinched
between the boat and dock, or corrosion on
the plug’s blades. Either can cause overheating and lead to fire. Make sure the cord can’t
get into the water or get crushed against the
dock. And don’t leave a heater plugged in
when the boat is unattended; that’s a leading
cause of fires in the winter.
Secure your wheel or tiller to prevent rudder damage from boat movement.
THE WALK-AROUND, IF YOUR
BOAT’S STORED ASHORE
To minimize theft if your boat is stored
on a trailer, make sure the tongue is fac-