Good for You?

Good for You?

March 1, 2002

By: Scott Smith, Marketing Manager

I was watching T.V. the other day, subconsciously brainstorming for a good Boat Care article, when a commercial came on. It’s one in a campaign you may have seen whose theme is “Not good for you” (“Driving after a Dukes of Hazard marathon? Not good for you.”). I thought it would be an interesting perspective on boat care. Rather than just presenting a ‘To Do” list, I’ll give a few examples of all-too-familiar causes of easily-prevented bad things that happen to good boats.

The first thing for this list of “preventable maintenance” is The Uninformed Visitor. This menace is of your own creation. It is the guest on your boat whom you haven’t taken the time to coach on the basics before coming aboard. How, for example, is this guest supposed to intuitively know that tromping around in black-soled shoes on white gelcoat just isn’t done? Or how about the landlubber out for their first day-long boat ride? You’re tickled that it’s you giving them their first taste of big water; but you’re not going to be so thrilled when your newcomer chucks something down your vacuum head that they wouldn’t think twice about at home. As you dismantle the vacuum pump, is it appropriate for you to be angry when you didn’t explain the basic rules of using a marine toilet? Of course not

When someone comes aboard, take the time and effort to find out the extent of their boating experience and bring them up to speed accordingly. Some queries and/or suggestions you may want to pose:

  • Have they ever been on a boat before? How big or small? Did they get a chance to operate the boat? How was it equipped? They may even own a boat, but if it’s a jon boat, they certainly won’t be familiar with all your Formula has to offer.
  • Give them the old “if you didn’t eat it or drink it at some point (other than marine sanitation system toilet paper), it doesn’t go in the head” lecture.
  • Walk them to the locations of all fire extinguishers aboard. Explain how to unlatch and activate them. The extra half-minute you take will make it worth your while.
  • Look at their feet If you see black-soled shoes or high heels, I suggest asking them nicely to remove their footwear for the duration.
  • If they are going to be assisting you in taking on fuel or freshwater; you might want to make sure they understand why deck fitting caps have the words ‘WATER ,” “WASTE,” and “FUEL” cast into them.

I trust that you are beginning to get the idea. In the same way The Uninformed Visitor is missing vital information, The Poorly-Equipped Boat is missing vital gear and equipment that is needed to protect and care for your Formula! What can’t your boat do without? Here are a couple of good examples:

  • Dock lines. If your boat is in the water; it needs dock lines to hold it in position. This concept is pretty much universally agreed upon; however; where we often run into trouble as boaters is in trying to spend as little as possible doing it. The trouble comes when savings are realized by A) compromising on quality, and/or B) getting by with as few lines as possible.

Poor quality lines will fray or break, rendering them useless, or perhaps become stiff, making them difficult to work with or store. You can even feel the difference between a cheap line and a good line, and it is certainly more enjoyable to handle a line with good material and a good weave.

As for skimping on quantity, if you go through life depending on two lines to keep boat secured, then your fiberglass man is going to deserve the Ivy League tuition you’re going to provide for his kids. Have at least five lines of sufficient diameter and length aboard at all times. There will come a day when you back into a slip with a dock or pier on three sides. If the weather starts getting rough, you will need to secure your boat, and you won’t want to simply rely on the kindness of fenders to keep your boat and the dock apart.

  • OK, now that I’ve asked you not to rely on fenders, I think it’s a really good idea to have a couple of them handy. They are good to use when you’re tying up at the fuel dock, but to my mind, they are indispensable if you need to keep the boat from striking a dock or fending off another boat in open water. It is very difficult to stop a moving multi-ton object in motion through the water, and even with good rubrail, damage can easily occur. And if The Uninformed Visitor (or an experienced boater who ought to know better) sticks a body part where the fender ought to go, you might very well have other problems. Not good for you!

You can see that equipping your boat properly is imperative. There are universal basics, and there are items you will want to keep aboard, depending on the way you boat and where you boat. Ask around the marina and keep your eyes open. See what others are using; you may get some great ideas.

The final player in preventable maintenance is The Orphaned Boat which has no one who is willing to take care of its most basic needs. This was the beautiful new boat a couple of slips down just a few sea­ sons ago…now it’s the grimy barge that smells like a wet towel forgotten in the back of a gym locker. What happened? Terminal neglect, that’s what happened. This is something we in the boat business sometimes see. Someone buys a new boat and gets all wound up about it. Usually, the boat is cleaned and waxed regularly; even when it hasn’t been taken out–the pride of new ownership is enough for a good cleaning! Then, one day after an outing, the boat is put in the slip and tied up, but there is an appointment to catch. The boat is covered, but not rinsed. On another occasion, the cockpit cover isn’t snapped on. The weather forecast looks good, so it’ll be OK to do it once…and sure enough, a pop-up thunderstorm drenches the cockpit (and, dang it, someone left· the cabin door cracked open!). Waxings become more intermittent and soon the gelcoat shows signs of UV damage because it hasn’t been protected. The transition to orphaned boat status is now complete. The boat is perpetually dirty and smells mildewy. It doesn’t have that clean, smooth “feel,” and now it has become a chore to fix up rather than a pleasure to enjoy!

Your Formula can and should be one of the great escapes and joys of your life. The secret is to ·think of it as being as worthy of your regular attention as your home. You wouldn’t leave your windows and doors open to the elements, nor would you leave a corrosive film covering the house for the rain to rinse off. Does it make any sense, then, to leave your boat without the cockpit cover on, or not to take five minutes to rinse off the salt water? As long as you keep it up regularly and take pride in it as your property, it will be a thing of joy for you and your family.

Remember, boat care is regular care, both before and after boating. Think ahead and you can save yourself a lot of work and enjoy the Formula lifestyle. Get the most out of this season, and happy boating to all!

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