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Boating Articles

Doug and Brenda Dawson boating on georgian bay

Every couple of weeks, Doug and Brenda write seasonal articles informing boaters of new products, regulations, checklists of things to do for summerizing and winterizing, and covering topics like canvas, head, holding tank, cleaners, upholstery, teak, ropes and numerous other boating activities.

Here you will pick up tips and tricks to help make your boating easier and more enjoyable.

leaking hoseFall is definitely here, and it’s time for many boaters to prepare their boats for winter. Some have the marina staff haul, winterize and cover or store their boats (inside or outside) for the winter months; while others prefer to do some or all of the winter preparation themselves.

But, every year, there are some boats that suffer damage because things were missed, or done incorrectly. I remember, during the many years at our family marina, our service department being overloaded in the spring when owners, who had winterized themselves, brought in their boats for repair. We had to repair motors with cracked blocks and split water hoses, when the owner hadn’t drained them properly. We also had to replace cracked toilet bowls and on and on. All of these things could have been prevented.

Bringing in boats for repair in the spring puts a huge strain on the service department that is already busy enough summarizing and launching customers’ boats and new boats that had been sold over the winter months. This means there could be a long wait time for boats brought in at the last minute.

For those boaters who want to do their own winterizing, I would recommend that.....

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colourful shorelineWow! Tomorrow is the last day of summer and haulout is on the horizon.

For some, it has already happened; but, for others (us included) boating continues well into the fall taking advantage of every good day.

Accommodating the shorter, cooler days requires a change in boating routine.

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dog houseThe last thing a Captain wants to do is end up in the Captain’s Dog House!

But, unfortunately, it does happen and it puts a real damper on boating.

Just the other day another Captain ended up in the Dog House.

You may find this scenario familiar to what you may have seen in your harbor.

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thumbs downA Skating Pro knows before a skater jumps, that it will be a bad landing, by the way the skater enters the jump.

A Golf Pro knows before a golfer hits the ball, that the outcome will be into the rough, by the way the golfer stands and swings.

A Boat Docking Pro knows, when a boater enters a harbor, that it will be a bad docking.

One of the many early signs, that a docking will be entertaining is, when a crew member is on the foredeck with a boat hook.

Using a boat hook as a docking aid, just isn’t safe for a First Mate and is more often a hindrance than a help.


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first mate hatRecreational boating has been a big part of my life and all of Doug’s life. He was born and raised at the family marina, Dawson's Marina Limited on Lake Simcoe. I have had the opportunity to talk to thousands of First Mates at the marina, on the water and at the Boat Shows I’ve worked, since the mid 60’s.

Doug and I have been boating together since our teens in the 60’s. He is 5th generation and has been boating since he was tall enough to see over the windshield. During our years at the family marina, Doug and I had the opportunity to holiday in inventory boats and deliver boats both new and used—everything from daycruisers, cruisers, houseboats, trawlers, motor yachts and sailboats up to 48’. We even spent our honeymoon on a boat.

This sounds like an envious position to be in. But,

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man-questioning-use-marine-toiletBoat builders design boats to accommodate boaters’ needs; most with a head and galley. Some are small, but all are fully functioning.

Galleys have running water, cooking stove of one kind or another, frig/ice box and storage so that you can prepare meals and clean up afterwards. Galleys are meant to be used.

Heads are the same. Builders install a marine sink with running water and a toilet connected to a holding tank for the black water that is later pumped out through a fitting on the deck (similar to motor homes). Heads are fully functioning and they also are meant to be used.

Many owners of bowriders and outboards are eagerly waiting to trade up to have a boat with a head and galley, so they don’t have to use facilities elsewhere or wait.

So, why do we hear from boaters around the world that they don’t use their heads?

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friends enjoying boatingEntertaining and taking family/friends for a cruise, is part of the fun of having a boat. But, far too often, the Captain ends up doing all the work and the family/friends just get to enjoythe ride.

I’ve watched Captains bring their boats back to their slips, with guests in the cockpit texting and oblivious to all the docking preparatory work while the Captain is running around hanging fenders, preparing lines and trying to be at the helm as well as entertaining—all at the same time.

There is one tip that will make your dockings so much easier.

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jason jumping harbourKnowing where the dangers are and how to check for leaking AC electricity in the water could be a lifesaver. Spring is the time to do it, before you put boats and people in the water.

Sadly, each year there are numerous accidents in the waters around boats and docks where AC electrical power is in use.

Last year, at least six deaths and 15 near misses (where the potential victim escaped death) have been identified.

Boat US has several articles on this topic that every boater should be aware of. We encourage you to visit their site at https://www.boatus.com/magazine/2017/april/avoid-electric-shock-drowning.asp

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one legI witnessed an incident where one lucky lady gets to enjoy boating this summer instead of lying in a hospital bed without her severed foot!

I was on the other side of the harbor watching boaters come and go as they eagerly launched, docked and prepared for the season.

I am always looking for ideas for articles and to add to our docking lessons to help other boaters.

On this day, conditions were perfect for docking—no wind, no current and no audience. (I was too far away to be seen or to help).

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laughterWhen you execute a flawless performance launching your boat, you turn to bow to the crowd watching, only to find there is no one there; but the slightest screw up will almost certainly bring out one or more smart phones capturing it all on video then sharing it around the world in a matter of seconds. You will never live it down.

You can avoid all this embarrassment by perfecting your launching skills with one good lesson—just like you do to drive a car, golf, play tennis, dock your boat, play a musical instrument, etc. Be prepared before you get to the launch ramp, so you can launch your boat flawlessly.

Investing a little time in learning the procedures and tips to avoid screwing up is well worth it. “Ramping Your Boat” e-lesson covers what you need to know to get your boat in and out of the water, without embarrassment, wet feet, yelling or being laughed at. Nobody videos a flawless performance!

Ramping your Boat

Tying and Using Knots

Soaked Ego

Launch Ramp Screw-Ups


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