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Old 08-02-2014, 02:49   #1
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Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

What are the worst ways to ruin a boat, or sink it, or get into big trouble with it, that are also the most common, & also caused by lack of knowledge? What are the worst dangers a boater could get himself into through ignorance, lack of knowledge or just not paying attention? Can you share from first-hand experience? I'm mainly looking for things I cannot guess. I don't need the obvious stuff, like don't sail to sea without checking the weather, or don't throw the anchor w/out making sure it's tied.

For instance:
There are big harbors that do not allow anchoring due to "Underground cables", such as the Houson Harbor. I consider places like that a trap. You can sail up into the safe-harbor if the weather is bad, but, the marina is, naturally, very expensive. Don't get me wrong, the harbormaster there is a delightful man with integrity, & his staff is great, but that place isn't cheap, & when you cannot anchor, who can blame them? The other option if you're in the harbor & it's getting late is to head out to sea, but the entrance to the Houston harbor is very busy, with huge skyscraper ships coming from many different directions. If you don't have radar, bright lights, & radar reflective devices you could easily end up wrecked. Don't go anywhere near that entrance of a busy harbor near dark. You have to give yourself time to clear the jettys. The Jettys can become invisible at high-tide as they submerge. What other harbors are dangerous due to it being illegal to anchor out, busy with huge freight ships, unbouyed ICW w/ random high grounds nearby...?

The intracoastal waterway near Houston is very narrow, with an unbouyed channel. You cannot tell which place is deep & which is shallow without a depthsounder, or chartplotter. The deep & shallow spots are constantly shifting & there's no indicator of what's what. But the worst part is that there are these huge skyscraper barges constantly going through there & when you have to get out of their way, it's very easy to run aground. You have to have a generator, or some way to get a lot of consistent power to supply the GPS chartplotter or depthsounder, or you have to have a good chart.

You just cannot rely on solar panels or a windgenerator when out on the ICW. There's not always places to anchor or moor down that are legal. A backup generator, or the inboard's alternator is very helpful at times. If you get grounded & it's late & you decide to sleep, why not set the anchor alarm & drop anchor before the tide rises while you're asleep? Also wake up often & keep a steady watch.

Test your outboard engine before heading out with you newly bought gas! The gas that's in the tank may be high octane & your just-purchased gas may not and it might not run with regular gas. Test to see if your outboard will run on the fuel before the purchase.

Anchoring near jettys (those huge pile of rocks piled up in a straight line along the entrance to harbors) is a sure way to sink boat. When the harbor entrance is busy and it's at night, the shallows near the jetty may seem like a safe place to not get hit by the huge boats, but anchors drag, and jetties will bash shunks from a hull and after a few hours of bashing, sink a boat entirely. One way to get out of a lee shore, if all the backups have failed, is to use your dingy as a towboat. You got to have a working dingy.

Keep a sharp lookout when you frist drop anchor! Look every minute or so, but be vigilant. You could be moving & not hear your anchor drag, or lift & it might not make a sound. You could be rifting & be entirely unaware. The sounds of the water & the movement of the boat may give NO indicator that your drifting into a lee shore. You have to watch the shore & use 2 reference points in a straight line on land. For instance, a tower that is a few hundred feet in front of a house. Line those up and if they move apart alot, your drifting, or you're boat is trning, or sailing at anchor, which is common. Always save battery capacity for your GPS anchor alarm. Those things are priceless. Make sure it works before you take off! On mine you have to hold the powerbutton for a considerably long time before it turns on. You don't want to figure this stuff out when you're out there.

About your jib, it's easy to shred to hell if you don't know what you're doing. When the wind is blowing hard that is the WORST time to remove the sheets (rope) so that you can untangle it. If you remove your sheets when the wind is blowing hard, the tip corner of the jib (front sail) will flap back & forth violently and tear your sail to tatters in a heartbeat. It doesn't take long. Keep your jib corners anchor down! If it tangles up in a wind, consider untangling it later when the wind dies down & just tie some knots around it as best you can, but whatever ou do, don't untie it's ropes & let it flap in even moderate winds (20 mph).

The Coastguard is there to rescue you, NOT your boat. Be prepared to lose your boat entirely if you call for help. They are not a tow company. Tow companys have charged $250/hour both getting to your boat, hooking up and hauling it. I've heard about sailors refusing to leave their boat, even after being ordered to. Always obey authorities (if it's the law) & don't call them unless it's a real emergency. When they command/order you to leave your boat & then haul you away by helicopter, what will happen to your boat?

When grounded, if there's plenty of wind, try backwinding the sail. Take your boom and manually move it to the side that it normally wouldn't be when sailing & move it way out to get a broad reach to grab a lot of that wind and you might find yourself sailing out of your stuck position. It's sure easier than the other techniques, but doesn't always work.

If you don't know about corrosion, look into it. It could save you a lot of money. Any 2 dissimalar metals in seawater acts as a battery and will slowly corrode, or eat away one of the metals. To solve this, you have to ground all your metals to the negative post on your battery, and to each other, and also put a big chunk of anode on the metals that are outside of your boat. I'm certainly no expert, but this seems to be the most important part. Also, don't let different metals fall into the bilge water.

Marinas charge an arm & a leg, & not all anchorages have free dingy docks. Do your homework if you're looking to liveaboard. Make sure you don't pick an anchorage next to an airport, police station, firestation, & construction crew & also has a $5 per use dingy dock. Oh, it has a (the mysterious & well kept secret) free dingy dock, but it's only of use at high tide, & no one really knows how much of a window you have :P... "Oh yeah, the free dingy dock, of course, it's right around the corner (pointing that way) just past ramp. Everyone uses it, it's at the Benetau boats." Well, no, there is no free dock there. When moored there, you get a nice little note telling you that, basically, you're trespassing & a nice little map to the $5 dingy dock.

If the anchor drags, put a kettle on the line, or a 15' 1/2" chain to hang half-way down the anchor line, and also a long snubber.

You can't rely on a fishing pole to catch food. I don't know if there is a reliable way to catch seafood when out at anchor.

Get a strong flashlight for those foggy nights on the ICW when you cannot find a safe anchorage, or for sighting the huge ships if you find yourelf stuck in a busy harbor.

Seasickness! Get the accupressure wristbands. They sell them at drugstores for motionsickness (airplane rides). People who get seasick often will go days without even drinking water to avoid vomiting it back up! Very dangerous when sailing. Those wrist bands can save your life.

Any others?
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:00   #2
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

Worst way to ruin a boat, Take your wife on board
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:07   #3
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

Lots of "advice" there.

I especially like the advice about the ropes on the tip corner of the front sail so that it doesn't tear itself to shreds in a heartbeat in 20mph winds. That's a real scary possibility.

To say nothing of the idea of hanging a kettle on the line. Should I put tea bags in it?
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:17   #4
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

Yes, black tea, please, with extra sugar, & the company of your wife too, kick our feet up in the cabin w/ the anchor alarm on & we'll have it made.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:41   #5
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

I'm not sure if anyone has the lawful authority to order you off your boat.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:48   #6
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pirate Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

Quote:
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I'm not sure if anyone has the lawful authority to order you off your boat.
Nope.. but they can give you a choice.. and then absolve themselves..
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:50   #7
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

In Gorge Harbour last summer, we watched a group of large (40-50 foot) power boats anchored and stern tied to shore. Several more joined the group until there were about 5 boats rafted. In the morning, all were aground. Two managed to get off, but the remaining three were left high and dry when the tide went out. 5 skippers, and not one of them checked tides and depth? likely, they all assumed the others had checked, and with safety in numbers, assumed all was well. It may be they dragged anchor, but It didn't appear so.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:52   #8
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

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I'm not sure if anyone has the lawful authority to order you off your boat.
USCG does. They can declare your vessel a hazard and/or your voyage a (and I'm paraphrasing here) a really stupid idea that will end up killing you and/or us when were called on to rescue your dumb ass. All kidding aside, you can be lawfully ordered off your boat while at sea by the CG. Failure to comply can result in your boat's documentation being cancled and your captains's license (if you have one) being revoked. In addition to massive fines.

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Old 08-02-2014, 09:09   #9
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

interesting. I wonder if the Canadian Coast Guard has the same authority? What about Police? There are Police afloat here in Vancouver, really good guys, but do they have the authority to order you off your boat without any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity?
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:25   #10
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

... And I thought this thread was going to be about things like loose hose clamps and sinking at the dock.
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:27   #11
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

Title should read: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from "Arrogance".


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Old 08-02-2014, 09:27   #12
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

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Marinas charge an arm & a leg, & not all anchorages have free dingy docks.
Any others?
Personally, if a dock is really dingy, it ought to be free.
Often, one must pay to use a well maintained one.

My Avon rigid inflatable dinghy is 31 years old and I don't use it with my current boat.
It just sits on my dock and it is admittedly a pretty dingy dinghy.
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:29   #13
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

I just saw a report in Panama City where two men collected a 40' power boat that they just purchased, and motored it 40 miles or so offshore before the engine completely broke down.

They then floated for three days until a boat came by close enough see their signal and to contact via radio, and contacted the Coast Guard to rescue them.

So, there's that.
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:40   #14
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

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USCG does. They can declare your vessel a hazard and/or your voyage a (and I'm paraphrasing here) a really stupid idea that will end up killing you and/or us when were called on to rescue your dumb ass. All kidding aside, you can be lawfully ordered off your boat while at sea by the CG. Failure to comply can result in your boat's documentation being cancled and your captains's license (if you have one) being revoked. In addition to massive fines.
Cite, please.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:16   #15
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Re: Worst, Most Common Boating Mistakes Caused from Ignorance

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Cite, please.
Give me a min and I'll look it up. I should also clarify, they only have that authority with a US flagged (or US state registered) vessel. I'll look up the regs, but the CO of a USCG cutter I've served on told me that they have the authority to order a vessel abandoned in extreme circumstances. For an example, look up S/V Satori . The CG ordered her abandoned during the Perfect Storm.

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