Seaworthy Magazine - July 2011

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Like most storage buildings, they probably appeared to be sturdy but upon closer inspection, they lacked diagonal struts. There were gussets on the frames but gussets didn't provide the support needed to withstand a strong hurricane and the structures were blown over. There were several hundred boats stored inside and all but a few were a total loss.

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Collapses of rack storage buildings bring with them several other concerns, including the potential for fuel leaks, fires, and explosions. That's why the area around a collapsed building must be secured by first responders. After Hurricane Andrew in , the standards for marine storage buildings were strengthened so that a newer building is far more likely to survive a hurricane than an older, pre-Andrew facility.

There have been at least a dozen of these older buildings destroyed in recent hurricanes and there are plenty of them still being used that are packed with boats. It's almost guaranteed one or more will be blown over whenever a major storm comes ashore. If I were planning to dry-store a boat in a building, I'd begin by asking the manager when it was built and how much wind it was designed to withstand. I guarantee you that if it's a relatively new building in a hurricane-prone area, he or she will be able to answer those two questions.

Of course there are no guarantees; if the eye wall of a Category 5 hurricane were to hit the rack — just about any rack — then all bets are off. And I have seen some buildings withstand the wind only to fall victim to storm surge. If it's a well-constructed building, you boat will be much more likely to weather a storm than if it were at a dock.

If you keep your boat in an older building that's likely to be vulnerable, your hurricane plan should be to put the boat on a trailer and take it inland.

Jack Hornor: Those of us who have spent weeks and sometimes months sorting out the maritime aftermath of hurricanes are seldom surprised by what we find when we visit a site for the first time. It's not long before all marinas and boatyards start looking alike, but there is one that stands out for me. It stands out not for the damage and destruction — although there was plenty of that, too — but for the lack of damage to many vessels there due to the forethought and planning of conscientious boat owners and a forward-thinking marina owner. When I first arrived at Sebastian River Marina following Hurricane Frances in , the entrance at the north end of the property was blocked by cranes, boat lifts, and equipment, so I turned around and parked along the eastern shoulder of US1 adjacent to the marina.

I climbed down the brush and tree-lined embankment to discover a row of powerboats standing as proud and erect as Terra Cotta Warriors. None had any damage and all had been secured, with straps and lines, to anchors embedded in the concrete pads. Anyone who had dealt with the aftermath of a hurricane knows that the greatest damage, by far, is done by storm surge, water, and waves, and not simply the force of the wind. Boat owners preparing for a storm need to get the boats out of the water and onto high ground.

Tying boats down is an added preventative measure and seems to be gaining in popularity among many marinas.


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When recently searching out a location to store my own boat in Ft. Pierce, Florida, both Harbortown and Riverview marinas offered the tie-down service for boats in storage. Needless to say, mine is now strapped down. Invaluable lessons on how best to prepare marinas and boats for the worst during hurricane season. Boat Insurance. Boat Towing. Boat Lettering.

Boat Loans. Gasoline fumes are highly explosive and even a quick whiff of gasoline needs to be investigated immediately. Fuel tanks are a common leak area. Aluminum fuel tanks don't last forever and a tank that is over 10 years old should be the prime suspect if gas is smelled.


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Owners have often reported fuel tank leaks just after a particularly rough outing; corroded sections can open up after being severely jostled. Fuel hoses age and can begin to leak as well. Hose manufacturers say that fuel hoses are designed to last about 10 years USCG-approved hoses are stamped with their manufacture date. Take a clean rag and run it along your fuel hoses. Put your nose to use: If the rag smells like gasoline, the hose is due for replacement.

Or — using your eyes — look for cracks or bulges that indicate the fuel line is due overdue for replacement. Fuel line connections are another common source of leaks. In one claim , a large sailboat was destroyed in a dramatic explosion that blew the skipper into the water. The cause appeared to be gasoline from portable containers stored on deck that dribbled down the mast step.

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The owner reported smelling fumes when he arrived the day before and had opened the hatches, and even thought he may have also smelled gas just prior to the explosion. Unfortunately, he did not take the time to investigate the source of the fumes and eliminate the hazard. If you smell gas, don't discount it — trust your nose. If you can't locate the source of a fuel leak but still smell gas, call in a professional before using your boat. Propane is another odor that humans can detect easily, thanks to the distinctive smell manufacturers add.

Even the slightest odor of propane should be cause for alarm since it's under pressure and will continue leaking until the leak is found and eliminated. Propane is heavier than air and will sink to the lowest part of the bilge — the slightest spark can ignite it. If you smell propane, turn off the main valve, open hatches and get off the boat until the leak is found and repaired.

The most common propane leaks are from old, cracked, or cut hoses and connections. Propane installation should follow ABYC standards and for that reason, any work should be performed by an ABYC-certified shop with a technician who is experienced in all phases of propane repair and installation.

The next time you board your boat, take a deep breath. Does it smell fresh or is it phew dank and musty? While mildew can't destroy your boat like a gas leak can, it can nonetheless be very expensive to eliminate. Smelling mildew the fuzzy stuff that is produced by mold means there is a lot of moisture down below. The moisture could be coming from a leaking portlight or hatch; on a sailboat, chain plates and stanchions are common areas for leaks.

Clogged cockpit scuppers can spill water into the cabin. Leaks can cause rot in wooden bulkheads and deck cores, so smelling mildew means making a careful inspection of the inside of your boat to find the source of the water. Mildew is encouraged by poor air circulation and condensation, which can usually be remedied by adding traditional dorades or low-profile vents. An even better remedy would be to add solar-powered vents, which move a surprising amount of air and can even run at night using a small battery. Chemical dehumidifiers can be used in confined spaces.

They're cheap and easy to use.

Seaworthy Magazine - August - BoatUS

Some sounds are obviously trouble — a loud bang or crunch. Some noises are more subtle — a squeal or rumble. Any unusual noise, especially a noise that changes or gets louder, should be checked out. Last year, the owner of a foot powerboat and his girlfriend were nearly killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while they were sleeping at anchor with the generator running. The boat was well kept, with only hours on the engines.

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The owner noted that he had been hearing an unfamiliar noise coming from the generator when it was operating, but had never investigated. The noise, it turned out, was a leak in the generator's exhaust system, which was the source of CO that was entering the cabin. Had the gas tank not run dry, it's likely that both people would have died.

Here's another noise associated with CO that you should not ignore: the CO detector blaring. It sounds obvious to pay attention to an alarm, but many older detectors are prone to false alarms and owners either ignore them, or worse, unplug them. Newer detectors are far more accurate and when they sound, it's critical to get everyone out of the cabin and into fresh air until the source of the CO has been repaired.

Electronics Equipment Maintenance Techniques.

Changing of the guard

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