One issue that may not occur to boaters until it happens is a stalled boat. When a larger boat loses power, it usually has to be located and towed back to harbor/shore. Tows are typically quite expensive. Towing charges are usually based upon the time the towing firm takes to depart from port, reach the boat needing assistance, and returning to port (portal to portal). Charges may reach hundreds of dollars per hour. Further, if your boat is grounded, additional charges apply.

While some equipment breakdowns are unavoidable, most calls for towing are due to events that are quite controllable, such as dead batteries and empty fuel tanks. As a precaution, boaters should keep their tanks full, besides avoiding running out of fuel; fuller tanks also avoid water condensation build-up that can cause fuel line blockage and motor failure. Stalling problems can be minimized or prevented by use of following tips:

  • Use one (marine starter) battery for starting outboard motors and another for running onboard electronics
  • Use a set of bilge pumps rather than a single pump which may be inefficient and overwhelmed
  • Do not use items such as small appliances (particularly refrigerators) that can quickly drain batteries
  • Avoid continuous use of non-essential boat powered electronics – portable devices with their own power is a smarter move
  • Check batteries to assure that they are maintaining peak power, replace batteries when necessary

When a problem does occur, rather than depend on cell phones, it is more useful to have a boat equipped with a marine radio (which rescue services can track to aid in vessel location) or a GPS unit (which gives precise boat location). A cell phone may run out of power or, even when available, may delay rescue if the user cannot provide accurate location information.

You can keep the use of boats safe and fun by taking steps necessary to reduce the chances of being dead in the water.

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