-Have you checked your roof and cabin walls for
As houseboats age, we are seeing more cases of
roofs that have taken on large amounts of moisture for a prolonged period of
time. Before the owner begins to suspect a problem, the damage has been
done. In some cases, many 4' x 8' sheets of plywood, and roof supports have
to be replaced, to bring the roof back up to strength. It only takes a small
hole to allow the water in, and once inside it can travel from roof support
to roof support, and even down the side walls. Check all roof rail supports
where screws are attached. Make sure caulk is completely sealed, and screws
have not begun to back out. Also check around flybridge and roof bar mounts.
Don't just trust your eyes to inspect. Use your foot to step along all
support areas, checking for any sign of weak areas. You will hear a cracking
sound, and feel soft spots. Inspect around windows, checking for loose
caulk, and soft areas in side walls. If you see any signs of "delamination"
(the gelcoat pulling away from the wood) you have moisture getting in
somewhere. Check bottom of cabin walls and make sure there are no gaps in
caulk between trim and wall. You should also crawl along port and starboard
sides of hull, shining a flashlight along floor supports, and plywood,
looking for any signs of dark discoloration in the wood. It's better to find
a small leak now, than walk into your boat in the spring and smell a damp
-Have you checked your batteries lately?
Batteries should be checked often, and at the least
going into each new season. Check water levels, and look for signs of
corrosion in hull from battery gases. Battery corrosion can be your worst
enemy to an aluminum hull if they are not vented properly, and stored in an
enclosed battery box. How long has it been since your batteries were
replaced. If you're not sure, your luck may be running out. There is nothing
worse than finding your MMC shifter's will not work because your battery is
dead, and your generator will not start to charge the batteries up, because
that battery is dead. Since these batteries were originally installed at the
same time, they seem to all begin failing at the same time too. Batteries
are one of the cheapest insurance policies you will ever buy.
-Should I check on my boat in the winter?
It's always a good idea to check on your boat during the off season. You
should ask neighbors to check your boat when there down at the dock as well.
If a CO detector is losing power, it will make a loud beeping sound, which
can be heard by anyone walking past your boat. Chances are your batteries
are either not charging, or going bad. If they are not charging, you need to
find out why. It could be your shore power cord has come loose from the
strong winter winds at either the pedestal, or your boat connection. The
inverter may save you if you have one and catch the problem in time.
Otherwise plan on a stinky fridge, and possible busted water lines, if those
were not winterized.
-How do I store my canvas deck enclosure.
You should clean your canvas enclosure before
taking it down for the season. Label each section, and even draw a diagram
if you desire. Start on one side, either port or starboard, and number each
sequential section. This will make it a snap to re-install the enclosure in
the fall. It's best to store the sections individually inside old
sheets. Place the sheet on the canvas and isinglass, and loosely roll up.
Never fold. Store the sections in a clean, dry area of hull, inside the
cabin. This insure many years of enjoyment of your enclosure.
-How do I display the U.S. flag on board my
Generally, the national ensign should be
displayed at the peak of the gaff, i.e., the outer end of the spar extending
aft from the mast of your boat—if you boat has a gaff. If it does not, fly
it from the flagstaff at your boat's stern. If your boat has an overhanging
boom or an outboard motor, your flagstaff may be offset to starboard
(preferably) from your boat's centerline.
Click here for a more detailed description.
-Bought a new boat? Time to wax? Maybe not!
Conley Bottom Resort rental houseboats still shine like new 10 years after
going into service. What is amazing about this is they have never been
waxed, not once. They are washed with "Murphy's Oil Soap" and a little dish
detergent. The "Murphy's Oil Soap" puts the natural oils back into the pores
in the gelcoat, and keep it from becoming dull and dry. *Just remember this
can only work on new unwaxed boats. If the boat has been waxed, the pores
are permanently sealed, and the "Murphy's Oil Soap" will not be able to
effectively penetrate the pores.
For die hard waxer's, you might want to give it a try. You may be pleasantly
-Don't winterize your own engines. Why not, I
am mechanically inclined, and I enjoy working on my own boat.
This is why-Mechanics are loyal to you, when you are loyal to them. Giving
them your business in the fall, can pay big dividends on a holiday weekend,
when your guests have arrived, and are ready for a cruise on your boat.
Wait, now you have a mechanical issue, and who are you going to call. The
mechanic you don't use in good times. Don't expect him to go out of his way
to show up and save the day. It won't happen, unless you have developed a
relationship with him before hand. There is no price that can be put on
saving the weekend with family and friends.
And as an added bonus, when the mechanic winterizes your engines, in
most cases they guarantee their work.
Can you say that about your work? Tom & Terry Miller
-Buy everything you can from your own marina.
Why, they are much more expensive than my local
Running a marina takes the talents of many. You walk into the marina one
day, and ask the owner if he knows where you can get a part like this made.
Example 1: Marina owner rarely ever sees you purchase anything from his
ships store. He may tell you the name of someone who could help you, and
even help find you their phone number.
Example 2: You frequent your marina often. You purchase all your dock lines,
bumpers, ice, fuel from them. You walk into the marina one day, and ask the
owner if he knows where you can get a part like this made. He hands the part
to a dock worker nearby, and asks him if he can make that. The dock worker
says no problem, and has it ready for you the next day (no charge)! Your
boating life is made easy! So how much are you really saving by being a
tight wad? Tom & Terry Miller
-Boat Cleaner-One of the best all purpose boat
cleaners, we have found is "Spray Power", available at Wal-Mart in the
cleaning section. It works great on carpet, fabric, clothes stains, mold on
vinyl cushions, gelcoat stains, and stainless steel. (Caution: Not to be used on wood, because it will remove finish,
and keep from coming in contact with aluminum surfaces, (i.e. hulls and
rails), because it can stain aluminum.)
Tom & Terry Miller
-Selling-Don't strip the boat! Meaning price
the boat so you can leave non personal items, such as towels, dishes, pots &
pans, trash cans, wall hangings, decorations, etc. If you are moving to
another boat, it will be nice to have new things, and if you are getting out
of boating, you won't need most of that stuff. It sure makes for a nice
transaction when the buyer feels like they are getting a good deal, and the
boat hasn't been stripped. Our first nice houseboat purchase, included all
the stuff, a sparkling clean boat, complete with a peach cobbler baking in
the oven. We always sang high praises of the sellers, and learned a valuable
lesson how to sell a boat with class.
Tom & Terry Miller
-Heads with Type 2 Waste Treatment Systems-To
keep your Type 2 waste treatment system working problem free: 1-Pump out
2-Only use an approved cleaner for toilets. Cleaners with bleach will kill
bacteria, and cause system to fail.
3-Oxygen is the key to success, so make sure aerator is working at all
times. It should be connected to your inverter. Insure air hose is not
4-Add chemicals once per week.
5-Some boaters never put paper in their toilets, and that is fine. However,
single ply toilet paper can be used in Type 2 systems, as long as a single
sheet will dissolve in a glass of water overnight.
Tom & Terry Miller
-Heads with Purasan Waste Treatment Systems-When leaving
the boat for an extended period, flush head at least 3 times. This insures
there are no impurities remaining in the system, and the treatment system
has filled all hoses. This will give you a fresh smelling boat when you
return. Refrain from ever "dry flushing" heads capable of that, since it
removes all chemicals from the system, and will cause obvious problems.
-Preheat switch on Westerbeke Generators-When
you press the preheat switch it does a couple of things. First it activates
the fuel pump to prime the system and second it by-passes all of the safety
shut down switches until the unit starts and gets oil pressure.
by Tom Miller
-Generator-Always carry an extra fuse, and
impeller kit on board. Even new boats can ingest debris into the water
filter, and damage the rubber fins of an impeller. Having an extra impeller
or fuse on board can save your outing.
by Tom Miller
installing an impeller, lubricate with dish detergent first before
inserting. This will protect the new impeller fins until water reaches the
by Chris Owen
April, 2002 Kentucky along with 26 other states, began enforcing new
regulations requiring an overflow protection device on propane tanks. You
can easily tell if your tank has the new device by the shape of the handle.
The old tanks have a star shaped, or more round knob, while the new tanks
have a triangle shaped knob. You will not be able to refill your old tanks
in Kentucky any longer. You may exchange them for a fee running as high as
$25.00 (Ouch)! Sources say Wal-Mart will exchange the tanks for only $4.00 +
the price of the gas to fill the tank, ($12.95 in Somerset).
by Terry Miller
caution should be used when storing extra propane tanks on board. They
should be secure according to A.B.Y.C. Standards, and never stored in engine
by Tom Miller
-Mosquitoes a problem-Try
rubbing Bounce dryer sheets on your skin before exposing yourself to those
pesky bugs. Though the dryer sheets are a bit rough feeling to your skin,
they smell pleasant, and they seem to do a great job repelling mosquitoes.
by Terry Miller
-Wet cove ropes-Try
storing your ropes in plastic clothes baskets. They have holes in them,
which allows the ropes to air dry easily, as well as make a neat way to
leave the dock without first checking the weather. In addition, turn off
your radio or CD player every hour or so, to check the weather radio for
fast approaching thunderstorms, which can pop up quickly this time of year,
and spoil your day.
Captain you are responsible for your ship. Never take your passengers word
that all lines and hook-ups are removed, before throwing her into gear. This
could save you an embarrassing moment, not to mention possible damage to
and flying share a common interest, the wind! To avoid windy docking
situations plan to leave or return to your harbor before 10am or after
6pm. These are calm periods that exist before the heat of the day begins
producing thermals (wind).
check wind direction before approaching your slip. Dock neighbor flags are
your best resource to determine which way the wind is blowing, how hard, and
which side of the slip you should aim for.
have the ability to turn the key off from the station you are driving from
in case there is a throttle emergency. Hydraulic shifters can become
disconnected in the engine compartment, and MMC electronic shifters have
been known to lose their memory. In both cases forward becomes reverse, and
you could find yourself in an extremely dangerous situation, if you cannot
quickly reach up and turn the ignition keys off.
by Tom Miller
turn your engine(s) off until the boat is completely stopped. Many large
cruisers, and houseboats are more than a man can hold onto, or push away in
a wind gust. Never relinquish your ability to control your boat until you
are safely stopped, and dock lines are secured to your boat.
by Tom Miller
Captain of your ship you are responsible for the safety of every person
aboard. Put together a quick orientation as guests board your boat that
show them where all safety gear is stored (LIFE JACKETS etc.), your
expectations and needs as the captain, and how to use the heads just to
name a few. Your trip will be much more enjoyable, and everyone will
arrive back to the dock safe.
outdrives should be parked in reverse, to protect the shift cables which
recede up into the housing, and are then not exposed to potential water
-Not using your boat much? #1-If
so, you should be aware that the rubber water pump impellers can become dry
rotted and brittle from lack of use, which could cause your water pump to
fail, your engines to overheat, and you to have a very expensive engine
repair facing you. Short of driving your boat more often, you should at
least start your engines once a month and let them warm up to temperature
for at least 30 minutes. by Tom Miller
-Not using your boat much? #2-You should
inspect the engine compartment before starting the engines, and leaving the
dock. Look for signs of fuel leaks, oil leaks, and steering fluid leaks, in
bottom of hull and along transom. A quick fix, could prevent a serious
problem. by Tom Miller