Monthly Archives: May 2014

Photo Op

Photo Op

Hey Captain Ken! It’s me, Alicia, sending you another bird picture. It’s a Great Egret and it is looking for lizards and insects to eat right out in front of my house. Yuk! But I guess if you are a bird like this one, that kind of food is most likely exactly what it likes. I see it and others almost everyday when I look out my window before going to school. This time, I went out through the garage so I would not scare it away. I hope you like this picture and if I see any other interesting things, I will send it to you. Thanks Captain Ken! -Alicia M., Riviera Beach, FL



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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Photo Op


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BoatUS Report

BoatuslogoTowing vs. Salvage: What Boaters Should Know

The Advantage of BoatUS Membership

Ahoy all hands! My good industry friend Scott Croft, who handles all media and information for BoatUS, has often sent in many important and relevant postings to the Boat & Yacht Report. Here is his latest. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with this kind of situation but should you be faced with it, you just might be able to avoid further entanglements. -Capt. Ken

On the water breakdowns, running aground or other mishaps can ruin a day of boating or fishing. But when a boat offering assistance arrives on the scene, how do you know if the service is a “tow” or a “salvage” job? If you’re ever in doubt, ask the boat’s captain. That’s because there could be a big difference in the cost of each service and who will pay the bill, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

While there is sometimes a fine line between the towing and salvage, there are a few clear indicators that point to each. With salvage, it is the existence of “peril.” Historically and legally, salvage is any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat and/or its cargo from a peril at sea. Today that definition also includes avoiding or reducing damage to a marine environment.

Providing voluntary and successful service to vessels hard aground, on rocks, taking on water or sunk is generally considered salvage, as are rescues necessitated by collisions, fires, breakaways or other types of immediate peril. Salvage may also come into play when specialized equipment such as pumps, air bags, or divers are called for – even if the boat is at the dock.

Is this a towing job or a salvage job? Boats that are hard aground like this cruiser are most likely to be declared salvage, which is not typically covered by a towing service plan, says BoatUS.

Is this a towing job or a salvage job? Boats that are hard aground like this cruiser are most likely to be declared salvage, which is not typically covered by a towing service plan, says BoatUS.

On the other hand, when there is very little or no peril or damage to a vessel – you have a towing situation, which is far more common. Technically, this service is still salvage but of a “low order,” meaning minimal peril. A typical example is when you run out of gas or have a dead battery, and have subsequently dropped anchor to await assistance. Waters are calm, you’re no threat to navigation, and your crew and boat are fine. Ninety-nine percent of the 70,000 requests to BoatUS 24-Hour Dispatch Centers for on the water assistance last year were for routine towing services.

BoatUS members benefit from a special agreement with the TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist on the water towing fleets that treat some low order salvage situations as towing services. For example, if a boat is soft aground, this agreement ensures that if there is little peril, no damage to the member’s disabled boat, and no special equipment such as pumps are needed it’s a simple towing job. BoatUS cautions this service is still technically salvage and that other commercial towing companies may not honor this agreement.

All TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist companies are committed to informing the owner or operator of a disabled boat – before beginning any work – if the services they are offering are towing or salvage. If the owner/operator is not on board or the conditions are so perilous and the rescue of the boat requires immediate action, they will be notified as soon as possible after saving the boat.

Nationwide, towing and soft ungrounding costs average about $600 and $800, respectively. These are either paid by an annual towing service plan or out-of-pocket by the boater.

Salvage services are generally covered by insurance or out-of-pocket if self-insured and are much more expensive than a tow. Salvage awards are the legal system’s way to award a rescuer who risks their boat and themselves to save a boat in peril. Salvage charges can be calculated based on the length of the vessel saved or a request for a percentage of the boat’s post-casualty value. While it’s a reward for successful and voluntary service, the dollar amount awarded factors in, among other things, the degree of peril as well as the risk to the salvor and their crew.

There are significant expenses in operating and maintaining a professional towing operation such as captain’s and staff salaries, insurance, equipment maintenance and increasing fuel costs, not to mention capital expenses such as towboats and other specialized recovery equipment – and it must be available at a moment’s notice.

Time and circumstances permitting, if your on the water assistance provider says it will be a salvage job, boaters should try to call their insurance company so they may attempt to negotiate with the salvor before the operation gets underway. If circumstances don’t allow this, ask the salvor for a fixed price and try to get it in writing.

Boaters should review their boat’s insurance policy to ensure it fully covers salvage. Some policies have limits, high deductibles, or may not include environmental damage – all of which would have to be paid out-of-pocket.

BoatUS also suggests having a copy of the BoatUS Open Form Yacht Salvage Contract aboard, which assures that any salvage claim will go to local binding arbitration if negotiations between your insurance company and salvor fails. Designed to be more understandable, relevant to US laws and potentially money-saving for all parties, the BoatUS Open Form Contract is available free of charge at

For more information on towing and salvage, go to:


About BoatUS Towing Services: Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with a wide array of consumer services, including on water towing assistance provided by TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist. Combined, these two towing fleets offer boaters, anglers and sailors the world’s largest network of towing ports with over 300 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels — three times larger than the closest competitor.


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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in BoatUS Report


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The Devil Is In The Details

Knowing what kind of corrosion can be present aboard will help save your boat from disaster.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Great floods have flown from simple sources.” So said William Shakespeare and is a fitting opening for our conversation on the potential negative effects of corrosion aboard your boat and the possibility of big troubles because of it. How big? Great floods indeed.

Let’s jump right into this by getting a few facts straight. Steering clear of any chemistry

This kind of damage, and much more, can occur when your underwater metal is not protected.

lesson, electrolysis involves only one metal and a major change occurring in an electrolyte with chemical properties that make it capable of conducting an electric current. A good example would be when a lead-acid battery discharges and produces a significant alteration in the concentration of the battery acid.

So when, years ago, one of my dock mates called me on the VHF asking for a tow, he was wrong when he stated, “Electrolysis caused that blade on my prop to weaken and finally break off.” No shipmates, his problem was most likely brought about by galvanic corrosion or, in part and sometimes in collusion with, its equally evil relative, stray current.

With galvanic corrosion the deterioration occurs between the dissimilar metals as they react while immersed in salt water. This is caused by the current—the movement of an electric charge—that flows between the two, each acting as anode or cathode, depending on its place on the galvanic chart of metals in sea water, and as a result of either being physically or electrically connected.

The easy-to-read galvanic chart.

The easy-to-read galvanic chart.

The long and short of it here is not so much with the why of the process but more of preventing the result. For example, my buddy’s bronze propeller blade gave up more of itself, corroded as it were, then let’s say the stainless steel shaft it was attached to because it is a less noble, or more reactive metal than that of the shaft’s material.

While the effects of galvanic corrosion will more than likely occur over a protracted period of time, the serious effects of stray current can be seen in as little as several days. Should you have, for example, some faulty wiring lying in the bilge or a damaged float switch sending current into the water, or the same condition existing on another vessel in your marina, and even with issues from the dockside shore power, regardless if you have a galvanic isolator in use, your boat is in serious danger. A shaft, rudders, props, outdrives, lower units, and bronze through hull fittings are all at risk.

If you even suspect this may be the case, and unless you are an ABYC certified marine electrician, the best advice is to take a big step back and get the experts in post-haste. (

The all too familiar bolt-on zinc anode is necessary for protection against galvanic corrosion.

The all too familiar bolt-on zinc anode is necessary for protection against galvanic corrosion.

Protection against galvanic corrosion is a bit simpler and yet comes with its own set of rules. “With fiberglass boats, Mil Spec A-18001K Zinc alloy sacrificial anodes are most suitable for the saltwater environment if the underwater metal you are trying to protect is bronze, stainless, and Nibral,” said Bob Olsen, President of “With brackish water, aluminum anodes (Mil Spec A-24779), which also provide saltwater protection as well, work best. “If you use your boat only in freshwater, magnesium anodes (Mil Spec A-21412) is what you will need.” If you run a stern drive or outboard boat, use aluminum protection. It’s best to check with your manufacturer for any special needs. In addition, with inboard engines, always make sure to check your pencil zincs twice a year.

The size of the anode is a function of how many square feet of metal is being protectedmil-spec and if you are re-zincing, make sure you confer with your yard or marina service manager. “And but for a few situations, you cannot over protect your boat,” Olson added so feel free to collar your shafts as well as long as your boat is properly bonded. Any questions on this, call in the right technician to have a look.

Making sure your boat’s metal fittings are properly protected against both galvanic and stray current corrosion is one of the most important preventive maintenance regimens aboard your boat and one you should always be aware of.

For more information, please contact

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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Maintenance


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