BoatUS Report

BoatuslogoBoatUS Fire Facts: Claim Files Show Six Ways Boat Fires Happen

Anything we can do to raise the awareness of fire prevention aboard your boat can help to avoid something terrible from happening. Here is some excellent advice from our friends at BoatUS. Be safe. – Capt. Ken

Fire ranks number five among all boat losses according to the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program claims files. Dig a little a deeper, and those claims files also tell you the six specific areas that lead to most reported boat fires. If every boater paid attention to these six things, over a third of all fires aboard boats would be prevented. So what are the top six ways boat fires happen, and some lessons to take home?

26% of fires are due to “Off-the-boat” sources: Over a quarter of the time, a BoatUS member’s boat burns when something else goes up in flames – the boat next to theirs, the marina, their garage, or even a neighbor’s house. It’s every boater’s responsibility to prevent fires, but when all else fails, having a good boat insurance policy is the last backstop.


This shore power pedestal inlet and cable aren’t that far away from sparking a major boat fire.

20% of fires are due to “Engine Electrical”: For boats older than 25 years, old wiring harnesses take a disproportionate chunk of the blame here. A good electrical technician can put one together for you as most boats of this age had relatively simple electrical systems.

15% of fires are due to “Other DC Electrical”: The most common cause of battery-related fires is faulty installation of batteries – reversing the positive and negative cables or misconnecting them in series (when they should be in parallel). So take a picture. Label the cables. Use red fingernail polish to mark the positive lug. By gosh do everything to hook it up right the first time.

12% of fires are due to “AC Electrical”: Most AC electrical fires start between the shore power pedestal and the boat’s shorepower inlet. Inspecting the shore power cord routinely (connector ends especially) and for boats older than 10 years, inspecting or replacing the boat’s shorepower inlet, could prove wise.

9% of fires are due to “Other Engine”: This one is all about when an engine overheats due to blocked raw water intake or mangled impeller, the latter of which can also happen after experiencing a grounding or running in mucky waters. Be sure to check the engine compartment after getting underway and replace impeller every other year.

8% of fires are due to “Batteries”: This fire fact is for the outboard folks to pay attention to. On older outboards, by far the most common cause of fires is the voltage regulator. At 10 years of age, failure rates on these important electrical components begin to climb. Once it hits 15 years old, it’s time to replace.

Does your boat insurance cover boat fires? Get a free boat insurance check up and quote by calling the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program experts at 800-283-2883. Or get an online quote at

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS): Celebrating 50 years in 2016, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with over a half million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We help ensure a roadside breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins, and on the water, we bring boaters safely back to the launch ramp or dock when their boat won’t, day or night. The BoatUS Insurance Program gives boat owners the specialized coverage and superior service they need, and we help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the non-profit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit

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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in BoatUS Report


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Green Dock

Green Dock

Centek BilgeKleen™ Filter System
Prevents Overboard Discharge of Oil & Fuel

An easy to install filter will help keep pollutants from being transferred to the water.

Continuing in our endeavors to bring you information from those companies who focus on issues concerning products and systems than can and will impact the environment, Centek Industries has consistently been in the forefront of the movement towards helping the boating industry deal with these issues.

The Centek Industries BilgeKleen™ filter system automatically removes oil, gas, diesel fuel and other hydrocarbon pollutants from bilge water before it is discharged overboard.


The patented system uses a filtering medium that binds to hydrocarbons and allows water to pass through freely. As a result, over 99.9% of the hydrocarbon pollutants are captured, with no increase in pressure to the bilge pump. Installs easily to the bilge pump discharge line and includes an absorbent pad for the bilge sump area to capture harmful contaminants where they form.

A variety of BilgeKleen system sizes are available from Centek’s worldwide dealer network to fit almost any bilge space or application, from runabouts to megayachts and commercial vessels.

More info: Centek Industries web site or call 1+229.228.7653.

Centek Industries – 116 Plantation Oak Drive – Thomasville, GA 31792 USA

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Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Green Dock


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The Fuel Measure

What you need to know about fuel conditioners, additives, and stabilizers.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Let’s get a few basic facts down before we open up the fuel fill and dump some mystic conditioning brew into our tanks.

Oil, the result of the detritus of once living organisms, has spent millions of years ‘cooking’ under intense pressure beneath both land and sea. Fast-forward a couple of thousand epochs, eras, and millennia…well, you get the idea, to when the first oil well finally popped the cork.


The present lifeblood of our industrial world, getting oil out of the ground is just the first step in a multifaceted process that will eventually see the product in our fuel tanks.

It’s a dirty business getting the dirty product refined and to market in its many forms to run the world as we know it. During the refining process at those expansive plants with their cloud-spewing towers, seemingly miles of above ground pipes, and fields of storage tanks, the crude oil is processed into the lifeblood of just about everything we use in our everyday lives. And, among all the other products that come out of the spigot, there is the stuff that we are most concerned with: gasoline and diesel fuel.

The ‘problem’, and the reason why you might want to use a fuel additive or conditioner, begins with the refining process. “Because the refiners are trying to get as much out of a barrel of crude that they can, today’s aggressive process of splitting open the molecules, using catalysts and high temperatures is far different that the distilling methods of years ago, and can create more instability in the after products,” said Barry Sprague, chemist and consultant to NJ-based Technol Fuel Conditioners (

NJ Storage Tanks

With fuel sitting around in storage tanks, degradation and contamination are ever-present ills.

But wait, as said in those obnoxious infomercials, there’s more! Moving downstream from the refining process are a host of ills waiting to be visited upon our precious gasoline and diesel.

For example, with those of you who use gasoline in your inboard and outboard engines, the government- mandated fuel contains oxygenated additives, offshoots of methyl and ethyl alcohol. Add some heat and moisture along with the sometimes lengthy storage time the gasoline is sitting around, from refinery tanks to tanker trucks to your marina tanks, and not only are you liable to get less efficient fuel but a bit on the dirty side as well. “With those who run gasoline engines, you might want to consider a treatment with every oil change,” said Sprague. “You really want to help control that moisture as the alcohol can separate out with only the minimal amount of water.”


Using a conditioner can help keep your fuel in top shape.

For diesel fuel oil, and along with the same issues associated with gasoline storage, there are the low sulfur levels—also courtesy of the EPA—combined with the products’ affinity for water, sludge, and bio-growth (bacteria and fungi), that can also present problems. “What we want to do here is even out the playing field for performance, how the fuel is handled once it gets to the end user in regards to its stability, and trying to control any contaminants,” said Sprague.

So, here’s where our additives, stabilizers, treatments, and conditioners come into play. The first thing you want to do, is keep a careful watch on your primary and secondary fuel filters. Drain your Racors or similar systems should any sign of water be present. If you have to change the elements a bit more often, or if you begin to notice a drop in rpm levels, you more than likely have a fair amount of gunk in your tanks that is getting roiled up as you use your boat and is clogging the free flow of fuel to the engine(s). “With severe problems in this area, such as obvious plugging, it’s best to take some time out and have those fuel tanks professionally cleaned,” suggested Sprague.

Dirty fuel filters

Dirty filters can cause clogs and plugs that will stop your engine dead in the water.

For you diesel users, this filter problem can be a direct result of using a biocide additive. As the juice begins to do its work and kill the ‘bugs’ at the water/oil interface, which is where the organisms live, the accumulated buildup of dead bodies will be added to the already sludgy bottom layer of the fuel tank resulting in a Stephen King-like, totally non-combustible mass getting sucked up into the fuel system. “If you think you might have something growing, you should use a biocide treatment but be aware of the consequences,” offered Sprague.

Fuel stabilizers do their work by scavenging and removing oxygen that may get into the fuel by several means including the ever-present motion and agitation as the boat moves through the water. “Even trace amount of oxygen present in the fuel can cause problems,” said Sprague.

To simplify the chemistry, the additive can help repair the hydrocarbon chain that was ‘damaged’ at the refinery and/or chemically remove most of the trace oxygen making it more stable and therefore, more efficient. They also work to emulsify, or blend, any water droplets present in the fuel oil thus helping to impede the growth of bacteria. Other positive results include breaking down of particulate matter that can be safety filtered out, and the shattering of larger contaminants that can be burned off during combustion.

However, there is a caveat emptor attached to using any fuel additive: Make sure you check with your engine manufacturer before adding any of these products to your tanks as they can void a warranty that is currently in effect. In addition, many OEM’s offer a recommended product line for use with their power plants and fuel systems. And as with any product such as additives, always follow the directions on the container or bottle as to the correct amounts that need to be added per gallon. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer.


Keeping your fuel clean and your vessel’s fuel system operating at peak proficiency will result in a more enjoyable and safer boating experience.

With today’s highly advanced engines, and because of the aggressive refinery processes that result in a more unstable end product, using a fuel treatment can help you get the best possible grade of gasoline or diesel fuel into your system and have you running more efficiently with the added result of a positive effect on the environment.

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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Maintenance


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Sea Trials

CapKenA Personal Matter

Always taking its custom work seriously, Jarrett Bay brings it to a new level with this 64-foot Carolina beauty.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Photos courtesy of Jarrett Bay

Jarrett Bay 64

This Jarrett Bay 64, Builder’s Choice, is the fourth personal statement from this builder for the owner and delivered by company president Randy Ramsey and his crew of fine craftsmen.

“If I felt any better about this boat, I’d be triplets,” remarked Jarrett Bay president Randy Ramsey, his words flavored and seasoned with that most appealing and special North Carolinian cadence. “You see, this is the fourth boat we built for the Huddle family and well, when you have established that kind of relationship, it not just about the job.”

Indeed, Builder’s Choice, one of the latest to splash at the company’s sprawling 175-acre marine park right off the Intracoastal Waterway in Beaufort, North Carolina, is more than another beautiful custom build from Mr. Ramsey and his veteran crew of designers, fabricators, technicians, workers, support staff and all the others that have helped put Jarrett Bay in the rarified air of this particular sector of the industry.

With this particular boat, and given the Huddle’s involvement as their exclusive contractor in the early days of Jarrett Bay’s growth, the project was all very personal. “This was about family,” said Ramsey. “And we set out to deliver a beautiful and functional boat.”


That personal touch is quite evident inside Builder’s Choice and the attention to detail and excellent fit and finish shown by Jarrett Bay’s on-site Crystal Coast Interiors that was provided here is exceptional.

Jarrett Bay 64 interior

The main salon aboard Builder’s Choice is exactly what the owners were looking for.

No matter where one looks, the hand picked black walnut motif stands out and is in beautiful contrast with the light colored couches, each with plenty of storage space beneath, found to either side. And a beautifully crafted Release table, not only expands for additional surface area, but also opens up for extra storage below. With the Huddles, that most likely will be used for fishing related items.

The island galley is forward and to port with a dinette just opposite. The veneer work found throughout and well, the eyes don’t lie; everything matches perfectly. For weight saving, honeycombed Nomex is used with all the doors and cabinets.

Jarrett Bay rod storage closet

Given her profile as a no-nonsense, tournament boat, she has abundant rod, reel, and fish equipment storage. Here, a hallway closet shows off some of her wares.

In the living accommodations, reached via a centerline stairs from the salon and galley area, there is a three stateroom, three head layout. Surrounding both the Huddles and their guests in elegant and comfortable quarters, the staterooms also provide plenty of storage space for those times Builder’s Choice will be traveling to far-flung ports in search of the boat’s prime directive. In addition, there are full-length tackle closets on both sides of the hallway with dedicated space allotted to rods and reels and makes for a very impressive showing.


“While we always look to make our boats lighter and more efficient, we never sacrifice quality, safety, and the kind of outstanding build we have become known for,” said Ramsey. To that end and instead of a molded house, Builder’s Choice features closed cell foam throughout the entire topsides.

Jarrett Bay 64 framed

Like all of Jarrett Bay cold-molded boats, Builder’s Choice starts out with a perfectly shaped wood frame over which her fiberglass exterior will be fashioned.

As far as Jarrett Bay’s cold mold process, the boat is triple planked with significant amounts of fiberglass and extra planking in high impact areas. This same beefy technique is used in sections like the struts and rudders.

“Unlike some builders we not only glass the exterior of the hull but instead, encase its entire interior as well including the stinger system, grid, bottom and side planking,” continued Ramsey on this topic. “The end product is an encapsulated wooden hull that should last indefinitely.” And finally, to get that beautiful Atlantic Blue paint job on Builder’s Choice, Jarrett Bay uses Alexseal coatings on all its boats.


For all her beauty and obvious boat builder’s artistic quality, this is a hard-core fishing boat and one that fulfills all the needs of the Huddle family’s legacy of claiming their place in this particular, and highly competitive arena.


Ready for action of any kind, the cockpit offers captain, crew, and anglers all they would need for serious fishing.

As they usually fish with a large group of anglers, she offers 140 square feet of effective space. The teak work underfoot, and that on both upper and lower mezzanine areas, including the coamings, is exceptional. One would be hard pressed to find a line in the sole that does not demonstrate the definition of straight.

As expected, there are the requisite ice and chill boxes, storage areas, transom door and baitwell, stunning Release chair, and easy access to the engine room.


For any hands-on owner or skipper, the engine room aboard Builder’s Choice is as functional as it is a spacious. With a pair of big CAT C32’s at 1,925-hp each sharing the space with a duo of 29.5-kW CAT gensets, I found getting to all critical maintenance areas as well as all pumps, switches, hoses, systems, and just about anything else that needs tending to, to be not only easy but provides all the working space in which to swing any tool without getting a knuckle busted or an elbow bruised.

Jarrett Bay 64 engine room

A great engine room makes a great boat and aboard Builder’s Choice, hers is as good as it gets.

Also of note was finding the pump room aft, this to alleviate any noise, whether it is harmonic vibration or the actual sound of the various pumps and systems cycling off and on, enabling the owner and guests to not be disturbed when settling in for the evening. And as with the engine room space, with many of these systems under cover and in cabinets, I found everything also had easy access for not only checking but for any necessary maintenance work or clean up.


The bridge totally reflects the boat’s fishing profile and is truly worthy of admiration. With its Bausch American hardtop, this deck presents a thoughtfully planned layout and easily places the captain and any guests watching the action from up on high, right in the bite. For the skipper and co-pilot there is a pair of Release pedestal helm seats with additional seating along the starboard side. A comfortable L-shape couch is forward and to port of the helm. Freezer and refrigerated storage areas are also found here as well there being further cargo space beneath the seating.

JB 64 bridge.jpg

Well laid out with all controls and electronics within easy reach, the bridge affords maximum efficiency while Builder’s Choice is under operation.

Using the expertise of Offshore Marine Electronics, Builder’s Choice has an extensive array of Icom, Northstar, SiTex, Garmin, FLIR, Simrad, and JL Audio systems resulting in a helm design affording maximum control with ease of use.


The analogy of driving Builder’s Choice across the waters off of Palm Beach, Florida, as being like taking the wheel of a finely tuned sports car is spot on.

This boat is power personified and due to the balance between those high horsepower, twin CAT diesels and that spectacular fine entry with its sharp attack angle that transitions to abundant planning surfaces, she easily jumped out of the hole, spooled up to 2000 rpm and reached a cruise speed of 35.6 knots. When hooked up, we flirted with 41 knots. I found her to bank easily into turns at speed, track straight and true, back down with all the expected nimbleness she was designed for, and was as compliant and responsive to the most finite of helm commands during the close quarters docking maneuvers at the Sailfish Marina.

JB 64 running

With her Carolina flare showing off her perfectly balanced profile, this Jarrett Bay 64 is an awesome performer.

How do you balance the art of custom boat building with power and performance and the right amount of Carolina Flare? As with Builder’s Choice, you get Jarrett Bay to put it all together for you. It will be very personal. Just ask Randy Ramsey.


Length Overall: 64’

Beam: 18’ 6”

Draft: 5’ 10”

Waterline: 58′

Cockpit: 140 sq. ft.

Mezzanine: 65 sq. ft.

Freshwater Capacity: 275 gal.

Holding Tank Capacity: 125 gal.

Fuel Capacity: 1800 gal. plus 425 gal. auxiliary tank

Power: Twin Cat C32s @ 1925 hp each

Generators: Twin Cat 2.2t @ 29.5 kW each

RPM                             GPH                   SPEED(kt)

1000                              36                         11.9

1250                              66                         20.0

1500                              88                         24.4

1750                             124                        31.9

2000                             152                        35.6

2325                             200                        40.8




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Posted by on February 14, 2016 in Sea Trials


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Exhaustive Knowledge

An awareness of what is going on with your exhaust system can keep your engine running at peak performance and avoid costly repairs.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Years back, a friend of mine, short a mate for a late afternoon, early evening six-pack charter, asked me to work the deck for him. Fishing was good and on the way back to the barn, with just a few minutes to his dock, I noticed we were riding a bit low in the water and that the bilge pumps were now discharging fairly regularly. I told him about it and decided we would check things out as soon as we were shut down and our fishermen were on their way.

We discovered there was quite a bit of water below as well as having collected forward. I asked him to hit the starter button and as the engine turned over, I was shocked to see raw water pouring out from underneath the hose connecting to the riser. Instead of being discharged out the exhaust pipe, it was bucketing into the boat. When we took things apart, we discovered the riser itself was totally corroded from the inside with very little material left being held by the hose clamps. We had dodged a very big bullet and one that neither of us would ever forget.

Just like any other critical part of your boat’s engine, the exhaust system needs proper attention to ensure safe and smooth operation. Besides the chance of being exposed to noxious fumes, not doing so can lead to severe engine problems and yes, even sinking.


Checking out your boat’s exhaust system should be a part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen. Photo: DeAngelo Exhaust Systems

We usually take the exhaust system for granted and expect there is little if anything that can go wrong. First mistake. This is a very important maintenance component and while you should call in the experts if you suspect there is a problem brewing, there are some things you can look for to help you head off the sticker shock of a major engine overhaul.

By now, we all know that when an up stroking cylinder compresses atomized diesel fuel—or when a spark goes off in a gasoline engine—there is detonation. Once that occurs, the resultant gases given off need somewhere to go. And it is during the exhaust phase of your engine’s operation that this is accomplished. Not being able to efficiently do so will result in backpressure problems, the first of many that can occur.

“Most people don’t worry about it until something goes wrong; and when it does, it can be pretty bad,” says Jorge Lang, Operations Manager at Ft. Lauderdale’s DeAngelo Exhaust Systems. “Think of it as a human being; it has to inhale, through the air intakes, and exhale through the exhaust.”

Basically, backpressure is the inability for your engine to breathe properly and as easily as it should and results in poor performance, a cut in fuel economy, and decreased speed. In addition, there can be consequential damage to internal engine parts such as valves, stems, injectors, and critical gaskets. “If the exhaust is running straight out, you have no backpressure. But if it has to go through a ninety degree turn or through a muffler, or you’re going to throw water into that gas flow, your adding resistance.”


A corroded riser, left unchecked, can cause problems no one needs. Photo: BoatUS

Given the fact that diesel engine manufactures do not supply exhaust risers with their engines, this critical piece of equipment is therefore, an after market component where improper system design and sizing, that being the diameter of the exhaust pipe, can worsen the problem. “If the material used is also not of the proper grade, what you wind up with is a lethal combination of metal, exhaust fumes, and salt water that does not get along very well,” said Lang. “We’ve seen it all; some even thinking a Home Depot pipe job will suffice.”

Poorly designed exhausts can also allow water to flow back into the exhaust manifold, especially during large following sea conditions, and make its way into the engine. “There are a number of factors that determine how long a riser will last. Some of these include the quality of the welds, materials used, if the riser holds water when the engine is shut down, and how well it is supported.” Lang also suggests a regular inspection underneath your engine bed and stringers to look for rust spots, indicating a possible leak coming from somewhere.

Just as with your other important engine parameters, it’s best to have a base line for your exhaust system including correct operating temps for both cooling and exhaust systems, the right amount of visible exhaust flow should you not have an under water system, and of course, taking regular back pressure readings from your engine monitoring data. OEM’s have different predetermined backpressure limits based on critical internal features, so it’s best to check your engine manual or have the discussion with your engine manufacturer. Remember, the higher the backpressure, the more restricted the exhaust system will be. “Exceeding those limits will lead to problems,” said Lang.

Salt Deposit

A salt deposit on a muffler indicates a weeping spot where water is escaping. Photo: Centek Industries

But what if your running bottom and props are not fouled and your backpressure is within acceptable limits? “This happens a lot, especially with boats up north that are stored for the winter,” says Mechanical Engineer and Manager of Centek Industries’ Product Design & Engineering Bert Browning. “Something may have made its winter home in the exhaust pipe and either died or made a nest or some other kind of living space.” A careful check for obstructions before getting your boat back in the water should be part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen.

“While backpressure issues can result in higher exhaust temps you don’t necessarily need to have backpressure problems for this to result,” offered Browning. You can have some cooling water issues as a result of a faulty water raw pump or failed impellers. These should also be checked regularly. If that impeller is degraded or damaged, not only will the proper amount of cooling water be diminished but, should any of the vanes break loose, the rubber material can be pushed all the way through the cooling system and severely clog the water flow. Or, you may have picked up a plastic bag or some other debris through the intake hose. In this case, make sure you shut off—and open once done—the seacock before attempting to have a look. And always make sure, just as you check your oil and fluid levels before starting up, to have a look at your raw water strainer and clean the basket if any debris or fouling is present.

Another area to check is the condition of the blue and black hoses and the clamps, especially those connected to the riser and the mixing elbow. With high temperature ratings, blue hose, rated at 350F if preferable. Any telltale problems will show up as a discoloration on some portion of the hose, usually at the clamp site. And it’s a given that hoses should be double clamped. Other revealing signs, such as those with fiberglass, gelcoated, or even Awlgripped systems, will be a yellowish-brown discoloration and ‘flaky’ deterioration. “With fiberglass, over time, the resin will ‘cook out’ and start weeping resulting in salt deposits forming on the exterior surface of the exhaust pipe,” said Browning. “Losing the resin will cause the pipe to eventually soften and compress under the clamp force.”


A well-maintained exhaust system will result in better engine performance, improved fuel economy, and less impact on the environment. Photo: Ken Kreisler

Keeping tabs on your exhaust system is as important as any other aboard your boat. Check with your yard manager during yearly haul out time and have the risers inspected as part of your maintenance regimen. Besides the fact that exhaust fumes are noxious and can cause health problems, your engine will not be running as efficiently as it was designed to do and, allowed to continue operating under diminished conditions, will lead to costly repairs.

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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Maintenance


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The average US boat owner spends fewer than 12 days per year enjoying time on his or her vessel, but pays expenses for all 365. Maintenance, dockage, fuel and storage add up quickly.

Thousands have discovered a safe and seamless way to offset the costs of boat, the online community where they can safely share their vessels with others. It creates not only an income opportunity, but also a way to enhance the overall ownership experience.

Akin to AirBnb and Uber, boat sharing created a marketplace for both owners and boaters. While relatively new, it’s taking the boating world by storm and quickly gaining traction among those whose vessels often sit for months unused.

Before Boatsetter, if someone without a boat wanted to get out on the water, they turned to a commercial charter company. It was a lucrative time for these businesses, even those with less than pristine fleets. Now, private owners have a safe and easy way to earn income by sharing their well-cared-for vessels with renters seeking a better rental experience. It creates a win-win for both groups.

cru22453h.jpgBoatsetter, the leader in the boat sharing space, touts that it offers people a way to own a better vessel. The company was founded by boaters and marine industry insiders who truly understand that a vessel is more than just an asset to its owner.

The Boatsetter model provides peace-of-mind to its owners in the form of world-class insurance from the beginning to end of every rental. It also offers the largest available network of US Coast Guard-licensed captains, something that can be required if the owner prefers. In fact, all the details from rental price and availability to final approval of the rental request remain in the owners’ control at all times.

Boat sharing is not just about the rental income that owners generate. The program also allows them to keep their vessels active and in good working order for when they’re ready to go boating themselves.

Listing a boat is similar to creating a profile on social media. Posting a few pictures, the vessel details, and setting the calendar and price is quick and easy—as well as free.

“At Boatsetter, we’ve built our reputation on creating a platform that allows people to get more out of boat ownership in a worry-free way,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, Boatsetter founder and CEO. “They can trust that we’ve taken care of all the details.”, the leading boat sharing company, is dedicated to creating better boat ownership experiences. The South Florida-based company has career opportunities for licensed captains who want to drive their own schedules, and boaters, with or without boating know-how, who want to spend time on the water.

Contact Boatsetter, 2890 NE 187th St., Aventura, FL 33180. 844-262-8738;;

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Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Dock Buzz


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Not having a maintenance plan can keep you at the dock instead of enjoying your boat.

The first of several posts by industry insider Cam Collins on his personal experiences out on the water.


Cam and Nancy Collins aboard Megabites. Photo: Cam Collins

It had finally arrived. Our 34-foot Intrepid, aptly named “Megabites,” would be shuttling my family and some friends from Stuart, Florida, to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, for a weeklong trip. All our gear and provisions were loaded. Among other things, I had brought aboard spare props, extra filters and a self-inflating life raft. I even topped her off with fuel the day before.

When I arrived at the marina first thing in the morning I pumped the fuel balls, switched on the batteries, turned the key and all I got was “click, click, click.” Yes, the dreaded CLICK CLICK CLICK! The engines would not turn over. With my wife, kids and friends staring at me, I scrambled around to try and figure what was wrong. Were the batteries going bad or did something drain them over night?

Start battery switches

The all-important battery switches: Always make sure they are in the proper position when shutting down or starting up. Photo: Cam Collins

Turns out that instead of switching my start batteries to the off position, I had mistakenly switched them to the house circuit. As luck would have it, a light was left on in the forward cabin and that little sucker drained my batteries completely. I had a spare battery on board but I needed two, so I replaced one with the spare and charged the other while everyone wondered if the guy who couldn’t even start his boat had what it took to carry everyone safely over 200 miles of ocean to our destination.

House switch

The co-conspirator for this experience was the house switch. But in reality, it was not making sure it was in the off position before leaving for the day. Photo: Cam Collins

The point is, small errors can wreak havoc on a boating experience. I had shut down the boat many times before, so I really didn’t feel I needed a formal checklist that afternoon prior to our trip. But not having a mental list impeded our big trip.

Preparation is critical when it comes to increasing the odds that our time spent on the water will be without hitches. However, amid our fast-paced, digitally distracted lives, we find we’re more often overlooking those simple checklists that could help us prepare for a great day on the water. We learn from our mistakes and I’ve made most of the mistakes that come from not having a solid maintenance plan in place and sticking to it.

I learned the hard way that staying atop of a boat’s care requires that you have a plan in place. Every boat on the water will have a slightly different maintenance regimen depending on the size of the boat, the equipment installed and how the boat is being used (e.g. cruising, fishing, wake boarding, etc.) This approach is effectively a list of things that are required to ensure that your boat is properly maintained and ready to go. Preventative maintenance is the goal as this greatly reduces the need for costly repairs.

There is a difference between regular maintenance that occurs after a period of time has elapsed or after certain systems have been used for a period of time, and random tasks that have to be completed. And as well, there are a number of ways to get reminders of when your boat and the equipment it contains need regular maintenance.

Here are few tips:

  • Create a maintenance plan for your major systems and equipment – Your maintenance plan will be roughly based upon the manufacturer recommended maintenance intervals on your equipment like engines, generators, HVACs, etc. These are typically recurring tasks that should be done after a certain period of time or use. Examples include a 100-hour service, an annual haul-out or a monthly inspection. The trick is to put a system in place that will automatically remind you and/or your service center or boat yard when these tasks become due.


    An annual haul out will keep your boat ‘healthy’ and should be part of your preventive maintenance regimen. Photo courtesy of BoatUS

  • Use check lists and reminders to maintain the basic components of your boat – Using checklists on a recurring basis or to perform a particular task can help insure that you perform things the right way in the right order. A checklist can be created for start-up and shutdown procedures, every time you store your boat and on a recurring basis as well. The following items should be included in your checklist:
    • Batteries (check ventilation, corrosion and leakage)
    • Bilge Pumps (check float switch and proper water flow)
    • Cooking Equipment and Refrigeration (spilled oils, gas leaks, ice build-up, etc)
    • Electrical Systems, Lights, Wiring and Zincs
    • Fire Extinguishers and Safety Equipment (check expiration dates)
    • Fuel and Oil System (check for leaks, odors and fumes)
    • Ground Tackle (e.g. anchors, chain, shackles, etc)
    • Inspect Sea Valves (should be exercised regularly) and Hoses
    • Count and Inspect Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and Life Jackets
    • Props, Shafts, Bearings, Rudder Fittings, Through Hulls, Strainers, Exhaust and Exposed Fasteners (check for corrosion and proper operation)
  • One-off tasks. These are the tasks we run across or think about during the day. Having a punch list or a to-do list of things that your boat needs is a common experience for boat owners. The trick is to ensure that these ideas or tasks effectively go from your brain to your list. If you think of something and don’t write it down, it will pop back into your mind and continue to nag you until it gets properly noted in task management system.

Battery maintenance is crucial to proper engine operation and includes regular charging cycles and keeping terminals clean. Photo: Cam Collins

Most boat owners know that the to-do list of things to fix, update, purchase or adjust on a boat never ends. That’s what we love about boating right? Well if you are a DIYer, you might get a kick out of working on the boat, varnishing the teak, polishing the handrails, etc. The rest of us hire or task these to-dos to others. But at the end of the day, your boat will “produce” a to-do list and so don’t ignore these items and let them fester unresolved, as it will mean more days “on the hard” and less days on the water.

We did make it the Bahamas in one piece and had an extremely memorable trip. But we also ran into some other problems while there that could have been avoided if I had followed a maintenance plan.

In the next post I will share the rest of the story and ways to use a smartphone and/or tablet to track all of the tasks that will help you spend more time on the water and less time at the boatyard.



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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Maintenance


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