December 22, 2016 – While Sea Tow membership gives you the peace of mind on the water of knowing towing is included and available 24/7 you should need it, we realize you would prefer to avoid it if possible! For boaters whose New Year’s resolution is to keep their boat off the other end of our tow lines, here are tips from Sea Tow Captains on how to prevent the five most common issues that result in boaters calling Sea Tow for help.
1. Engine or equipment breakdown. “Most of the reasons we tow people are due to mechanical failure,” said Capt. Mike DeGenaro of Sea Tow Charlotte Harbor (Florida). The cure? “What it all comes down to is proper maintenance, and that means having the boat looked over by a professional mechanic on a regular basis.” He added, “Be sure to change your water impeller as well.”
2. Fuel-related issues. “We always suggest full spring maintenance on the fuel system. This means changing out all fuel filters and inspecting fuel lines and fuel bulbs,” said Capt. Chris Ward of Sea Tow South Mississippi. He also recommends putting 100 percent ethanol-free gasoline in your gas-powered boat’s tank. “If boaters do insist on using ethanol fuel, we suggest a fuel additive such as Star Tron, and using all ethanol-resistant fuel components.”
3. Ran out of gas. “Don’t trust your boat’s fuel gauge. They’re all different. Know your average fuel burn usage per hour and track your hours of use in-between fill-ups. Additionally, take the weather into account,” said DeGenaro, who has made fuel drops to scores of boaters who thought they had more fuel in the tank than actually was there. “Go by the Rule of Thirds: Use one third of the tank going out, one third to get back, and keep one-third in reserve.”
4. Dead battery. “Battery issues are our second largest call in the springtime, even on newer boats,” said Ward. “I suggest having a marine trickle charger plugged in during winter months and getting a new battery every three to five years. Most of the newer four-stroke engines require so much more amperage for cranking and the computer. We also suggest making sure all connections on batteries are clean and tight, and we recommend removing the wing nuts that come on some marine batteries and replacing them with lock nuts to ensure a solid connection that will not vibrate loose.”
5. Ran aground. “Boaters unfamiliar with the area will call us at Sea Tow and ask for help with local navigation,” said DeGenaro. “That’s great; we are happy to help. But our advice is, don’t take shortcuts or unmarked passages unless you have local knowledge. If you stay in a marked channel, you generally don’t have to worry about shoaling or shifting sandbars.”
Ward added, “Familiarize yourself with local charts and make sure they are up to date. If you are running at night, have a handheld light, a proper lookout, and maintain your vessel at a safe and manageable speed. If in doubt, stop, get your bearing and then resume your trip.”
With these tips in mind, you can enjoy the other benefits of Sea Tow membership — including deals and discounts — while keeping your New Year’s resolution to avoid being towed.