A perfect day on the water can exist, as long as you know how to avoid these common boating mistakes!
We sat down with two Sea Tow Captains to learn more about the five most common boating mistakes people make that result in a call for assistance. Hopefully, this will help you avoid doing the same.
- Engine or equipment breakdown. “The biggest reason why we tow people is because of mechanical failure,” says Capt. Mike DeGenaro of Sea Tow Charlotte Harbor. “It all comes down to proper maintenance. That means having the boat looked over by a professional mechanic on a regular basis… and don’t forget to change your water impeller.”
- Fuel-related issues. “We always suggest a pre-season, spring inspection, and maintenance on the fuel system. This means changing all fuel filters and inspecting the fuel lines and fuel bulbs,” says Capt. Chris Ward of Sea Tow South Mississippi. “We also recommend that you put 100% ethanol-free gasoline in your gas-powered boat’s tank. If you must use ethanol fuel, we suggest using a fuel additive and using all ethanol-resistant fuel components.”
- Out of gas. “Don’t trust your boat’s fuel gauge. They’re all different. Know your average fuel burn per hour and track the hours of use in-between fill-ups. Be sure to also take the weather into account,” says Capt. Mike. He’s made fuel deliveries to scores of boaters who thought they had more fuel in the tank than they did. “Go by the “Rule of Thirds” – one-third of the tank going out, one-third to get back, and one-third in reserve.”
- Dead battery. “Battery issues are our second largest call in the springtime, even on the newer boats,” said Capt. Chris. “I suggest plugging in a marine trickle charger during winter months and installing a new battery every three to five years. Most of the newer four-stroke engines require much more amperage for cranking and electronics. We also recommend checking that all battery connections are clean and tight. Remove the wing nuts that come on some marine batteries and replace them with lock nuts to ensure there’s a solid connection.”
- Ran aground. “Boaters unfamiliar with the area will call Sea Tow and ask for local navigational assistance,” said Capt. Mike. “We’re happy to help and recommend that boaters skip the shortcuts and unmarked passages until they have that local knowledge. By staying in a marked channel, you generally don’t have to worry about shoaling or shifting sandbars.”
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