IT’S WINTER — DO
YOU KNOW WHERE
YOUR BOAT IS?
You probably know where your boat is, but do you know how your boat is? For those of us in colder climates, we may think
our boats are safely tucked away for winter, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t
check on them occasionally. Take a trip to
the marina and open up the boat for a few
minutes. While you ponder next season’s
adventures, check the bilge for water, look
at the port lights and hatches for evidence
of leaks, sniff for mildew, and generally
get a feel for how the boat is doing. The
sailboat in the picture needs to have the
snow brushed off the cover before the
weight damages something on deck or
destroys the cover. Show your boat a little
love over winter so you won’t face any
unpleasant surprises next spring.
BATTERY CHARGER CAUTION
Here’s a dramatic example of why you shouldn’t use a standard automo- tive battery charger in your boat. The battery here was being charged with such a charger fed by an older 100-foot extension cord. The old charger, fine for topping up a battery in your car, was left on to charge
the battery for weeks. These old devices simply keep pushing current into the
battery until it’s full. Then they’re supposed to be manually disconnected. If
they’re not, they’ll keep pumping current even if the battery is full. Eventually
the battery overheats and the electrolyte boils away. Continued charging then
heats up the battery even more until it starts to melt and eventually catches fire.
Two takeaways: First, only use a marine-rated battery charger. Marine
chargers sense when the battery is fully charged and either turn off or go into
“float” mode to keep the battery topped off. Second, don’t use an old, beat-up
extension cord because the current draw from a charger can cause defects in
the cord to overheat and catch fire as well. And a 100-foot extension cord
shouldn’t be used for anything that will take a lot of current for a long time.
Instead, use a shorter cord or a long cord rated for high current.
Mistaking a haulout well for a launch ramp could be a disaster – especially in a place with a 12-foot tide range. Fortunately, as scary as this looks, no one was hurt, and aside from the trailer frame, a ladder at
the haulout well, and the owner’s pride, there was no damage.
The marina operator in Everett, Washington, was able to use
a Travelift to retrieve the boat. Luckily, the boat was attached
to a beefy truck. But even so, with a slicker parking lot, the
boat could have easily pulled the vehicle into the water. It’s
a mistake any of us could make if we’re in a hurry to launch,
especially at a new facility. Take the time to walk through
your launch before you back in – you might be saving yourself
from an unpleasant surprise.