Every beaching operation should be planned in advance and executed calmly and deliberately. Prudence and anticipation will guarantee that your boat stays clean and dent-free. The structure of a fibreglass boat permits beaching if it is done with care, but you should steer clear of the rockiest beaches to be safe.
Clear division of responsibilities
You should choose your beaching spot in advance and establish a clear division of responsibilities on board. The crew often functions best when the skipper pilots the boat while the rest of the crew assist in beaching according to rules and guidelines agreed upon in advance. A controlled and well-planned beaching does not require idle chatter, and can even be managed without a word if everyone on board knows what to do.
Easy does it
You should adapt your beaching speed to the prevailing conditions to enable safe and controlled stopping. When nearing the beach, you should lower your speed in good time before approaching the shoreline. You can also trim the outboard engine up to ensure that it will not touch bottom. This will also minimise the effects of your own wake and enable you to beach the boat in style, without undue bobbing and moving about.
Size does matter
You should think carefully before trying to beach boats with an unloaded weight of more than one thousand kilogrammes in shallow waters, as heavy boats can easily become stuck in sand, making them hard to launch again. In any case, large boats must always be beached very carefully and in a planned fashion. Check the location, the equipment required for beaching and the division of duties before beginning the actual approach. The wake created by a large boat also requires careful consideration, since it can have a significant effect on other boats moored or beached at the same beach.
Safety from hand signs
Finger and hand signs are handy for indicating distances during beaching if the skipper does not have a direct line of sight to the water at the bow or stern. Being able to anticipate the potential effects of wind and seas on the boat is also important. A competent skipper is also able to take upcoming changes in the weather into account when choosing a beaching spot.
You can use the anchor provided with your boat to moor the boat when a pier or other fixed mooring place is not available. The boat can also be anchored to maintain position, for example in open waters. There are a variety of different anchor types, and there is a perfect weight and type for each boat. The anchor should be sufficiently heavy and have adequate lengths of chain and anchor rope. If the anchor rope is not long enough, the mooring line can rise at too steep an angle, in which case the anchor will not function properly.
Formula for choosing an anchor
If no anchor was supplied with your boat, you can calculate the appropriate weight with the following formula: Anchor weight (KG) = boat length (m) + boat width (m) + boat weight (t). For example, a Bella 600 BR would need an anchor weighing 9.5 kilogrammes.
The winter storage of a fibreglass boat requires care in order to ensure that the boat and its accessories will stay neat and tidy for as long as possible. The first thing to do is to wash and clean the boat as carefully as possible. You should move any cushions or other textiles into a dry place so that they will not absorb moisture during storage. The boat should be taken out of the water a few weeks before the temperature dips below freezing.
Protect your electrical systems
The boat’s electronics and batteries should be placed in dry and warm storage if possible, since the cold and damp outside air is not good for them. A recommended additional measure is spraying the boat’s fixed electrical connectors and grounding points with an anti-corrosion agent such as WD-40. If you intend to store the batteries in the boat over the winter, you should charge them fully in the autumn.
Support with care
Boats should be stored on purpose-built trestles or stocks and supported so that the boat’s load is evenly distributed, preferably along the entire length of the hull and keel. This will prevent nasty concentrated loads on the boat’s hull.
Protect it from the rain and snow
You should also protect your boat from the rain, snow and sunlight, for example with a tarpaulin. The protection should nevertheless be installed to ensure maximum ventilation inside the boat. Also, make sure that the tarpaulin will not flap in the wind. A rough tarpaulin slapped by the wind against the boat’s hull all winter can leave nasty abrasions on the boat’s paint. You should, therefore, minimise and protect the points of contact when securing your tarpaulin. Erecting a suitable tent or shelter over your boat is a good way of protecting it for the winter. To maximise ventilation, you should also leave all hatches and compartments as open as possible.
To prevent stuffiness and mould, you can supplement careful ventilation with moisture absorbers that will absorb any condensation.
Remember the engine
You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the winter storage of your outboard engine. If the engine is to remain mounted on the boat for the duration of storage, you should have it checked and serviced before cold storage. The engine’s water jacket should also be completely drained in order to prevent freezing and corrosion. We recommend emptying the fuel system where possible. If this is not possible, you should mix a seasonal storage or stabilising agent in the fuel to prevent slime or lime from clogging the nozzles and pumps.
Inboard engines should also be prepared for winter storage as carefully as possible and, to prevent freezing, you should ensure that no water remains in any systems. Anti-freeze needs to be added to the cooling systems of some boats and removed in the spring.
Prepare for freezing
The bilge, septic, fresh and other water systems of all boats must be drained before winter storage, since water expands when it freezes, which can cause damage.
Going boating is always a meaningful activity. You should nevertheless remember to take the right equipment with you and ensure that it is in working order. Careful planning and proper preparation assure the success of many boating trips.
Consider the weather
Remember to check the weather forecast before setting out on the water. Suddenly changing conditions can spoil your trip or even pose a danger. If a general storm warning has been issued, you should postpone your trip if at all possible.
Check your equipment
Checking the equipment and taking care of the boat are part of the routine of every boater. You must check that all equipment required by law or necessary for safety is on board and is in working order. Such equipment includes lifejackets for passengers, extinguishing and drainage equipment, signalling devices, oars or a paddle, an anchor and ropes. You should also bring a chart of the area and calculate that you have enough fuel to reach the destination. Every boat should carry some extra fuel for reaching the nearest shore if the weather or other factors change the calculated fuel consumption.
Loading and the proper placement of items are important considerations that have a material impact on safety and the boat’s handling. Boats should be loaded so that their centre of gravity is located as low and close to the centre of the hull as possible, so that the boat will not heel unnecessarily in rough seas. You should also check the engine and electrical devices and have them serviced if necessary before setting out.
If your boat is equipped with an electrical engine trim, you should familiarise yourself with its use in order to obtain all the benefits offered by the device. Trim can have a major impact on the boat’s handling and fuel economy. By trimming the engine out when driving, you can reduce water resistance until you reach the optimal running speed. To prevent the engine from cavitating and racing, you should trim the engine in a little and reduce revolutions and speed before turning.
Rising to plane
The boat will rise to plane best if you keep the engine completely trimmed in. As you gain speed, you should also trim the engine out to reduce resistance. The best way to discover the best cruising speed for your boat is experimentation. When you reduce speed or encounter rough seas, you can trim the engine back in to lower the bow and prevent the waves from pummelling the bottom of the boat. As an exception to this general rule, you can be instructed to trim the engine out in following seas, as this will lift the boat’s bow and prevent it from cutting the waves too easily.
The propeller is essential to the boat’s operation. Normally functioning propellers rotate without vibration and provide the best handling and fuel economy. Dented or damaged propellers, on the other hand, are uneconomical and can even damage the engine in the worst case.
You should carefully inspect your propeller every spring and autumn during boat maintenance and keep an eye on its condition throughout the boating season. You should always check the propeller and its condition if the boat or engine has touched bottom or been subjected to some other impact.
Modern propellers are extremely durable and will not corrode easily even in challenging weather conditions. You should nevertheless detach the propeller and grease the propeller axle with high-quality, water-resistant Vaseline in connection with boat maintenance. You can file away small scuff marks on the propeller blades yourself, but propeller repairs should be left to professionals in order to maintain the balance of the boat. In case of major damage, the propeller must be replaced if a significant quantity of material is missing from the blades.
Follow the engine manufacturer’s instructions for reattaching the propeller. When remounting the propeller, you should also check the oil level and radial shaft seals of the outboard engine’s angle transmission and the condition of the engine frame and anti-corrosive zinc anodes.
You must ensure that your boat carries the basic safety devices required by law. Such devices include lifejackets for everyone on board, a bilge pump or baler, oars or a paddle and an anchor with rope. Motor boats with a power of more than 25 kW are also obligated to carry a portable fire extinguisher with a minimum capacity of 2 kg.
In addition to the statutory devices, carrying the following equipment is recommended:
- Distress flares
- Nautical chart or other reliable map of the surrounding waters
- Radar reflector or mirror
- Spare fuel
Also remember to ensure that your boat is registered, inspected and insured. Having your boat inspected will also save money, since insurance costs less for inspected boats. Before setting out, tell your family or another person where you are headed and how long you will be. This will prevent those remaining on shore from worrying unnecessarily. You must also remember to wear a lifejacket and other required safety devices and to act sensibly on the water, take other boaters into consideration and stay on safe lanes.