Fall Boat Buddy

check your boatSummer has again come to an end and some boaters are preparing for haulout. For many who are continuing to enjoy fall boating, the weather isn’t as dependable, so trips to the boat aren’t as frequent.

Most marinas keep watch over your boat; but, in some harbours, there is no one to check your boat at all. With fewer fellow boaters around, the chances of problems going unnoticed, increases. To put your mind at ease, there is a simple solution.


As kids, we were taught the “buddy system” for safety. We always had to hold hands with our “buddy”. It worked then and it can work for boaters now. Team up with a “Boat Buddy” and watch each other’s boats. Make a list of items to check. Here are a few suggestions and consequences:

  • Is the shore cord disconnected? If so, the frig and bilge pumps stop working resulting in bad food or bilge full of water.
  • Is the shore cord in the water? Stray electrical current in the water can cause electric shock drowning.
  • Are there rain puddles on the canvas as in picture #1? If so, the canvas could leak causing water damage and mildew or broken canvas supports and further damage.
  • Is the boat floating lower than normal? This means it could be taking on water.
  • Is the furling partly unfurled as in picture #2? Wind damage will most likely result.
  • Are the halyards loose? Continual beating against the mast or shrouds wears the halyards and annoys other boaters—especially at night.
  • Are any fenders loose or missing? Hull damage can result if all fenders aren’t hung properly.
  • Are the dock lines loose, untied or chafed? If they are, you could end up with scratches and gouges like picture #3.
  • Is the glass or isinglass plastic damp? This could be a sign of a bigger water problem inside.
  • Is the canvas unsnapped? This could be an indication of an intruder, or left unsnapped could tear and unsnap more as in picture #4.
  • Are there any signs of entry by humans or rodents? Either could be bad news.  
             1 canvas puddle2 unfurling  
 3 missing fender hull damage4 canvas loose  

Depending on your boat’s size and your marina’s customer care, you may have a longer or shorter list. Give your Boat Buddy your contact information and get his, then agree on a procedure to follow when and if you find something. When you know who to call and what to do, it will be easier for both of you.

After haulout, you and your buddy can continue checking each other’s boats. Boats stored outside under a tarp or shrink wrap should be checked after severe wind and heavy snow. Noticing a small tear on a sharp point and dealing with it, will avoid the damage of a tear developing into a huge problem.

As adults, watch your kids and grandkids. They are always taking and sending pictures of “stuff” on their smart phones. They are always sharing information.

When inspecting your buddy’s boat, grab a picture or two and email or text him—even if everything is okay. He will appreciate knowing the good, as well as any bad, you may have to send him, the same as you would appreciate anything he sends you about your boat.

Having a Fall/Winter Boat Check Buddy out there keeping an eye on your “pride and joy” when you are away, will certainly reduce the stress and worry until next spring.

Do you have a fall/winter story about your boat in your absence that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below:

See also the following related articles:

Fall Boating Tips you need to know

Don’t Forget Your Boat This Winter


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