October 2011 - Marina E-Newsletter
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It's All in the Fine Print
- By Gary Clausen - Twin Rivers Marine Insurance, Inc.
O.K. Class - Everybody gather around. Today, we're going to talk about something very exciting! - Boat Insurance!

Not that exciting? Well - I guess you got me there, but as long as you're here, I'd like to share some information about boat insurance that I think you'll find interesting and useful.

First of all, I want to disclose that our company is in the boat insurance business; in fact, our web site is www.boatinsuranceonly.com, and we call it that because that's all we do - boat and yacht insurance.

But the purpose of this article is to tell you about a trend in the insurance business that may or may not be right for you - it's called "bundling".

You've heard the pitch - "We're already insuring your house; your car; your life, and your dog - why not let us insure your boat too, and save you a 'bundle' of money".

Well - maybe so; maybe no. It depends on what kind of boater you are. You may be buying a "bundle" of trouble. Let me explain.

Many of these bundled boat insurance policies have exclusions that may be costly if you get caught up in them. Here's just a few:

  • Many have exclusions for loss or damage caused by humidity; mildew; mold; extreme temperatures; etc. - A situation not likely in a car, but all too possible in a boat.

  • Others have exclusions for loss; damage; or personal injury while using your boat to entertain business clients.

  • And a biggie in today's boating world; pollution. Many bundled boat policies limit the liability on pollution damages; cleanup; and legal liability; if covered at all. It may well cover only a fraction of your liability in today's environmentally sensitive waterways.

  • Then there's the subject of "agreed upon value" vs. "cash value" of your boat - perhaps the most important aspect of a vessel's insurance policy.

These are just some of the areas of concern to boaters when choosing a boat insurance policy. A comprehensive policy designed exclusively for boating will also cover many other water related issues including severe weather damage; coverage while other people use your boat; and even an accidental encounter with a friendly whale.

So the recommendation is - before you sign up for that tempting bundled insurance for your boat, you owe it to yourself to talk to a qualified boat insurance specialist; explain how and when you use your boat; and they'll give you the pros and cons you'll need to consider to make an informed decision.

Editor's Note: Gary Clausen has been in the marine industry since 1972. He has spent the major portion of his life working in and around the boating industry, including 22 years in the marine insurance business. He is a Past President of the Northern California Marine Association and current board member. You can email your boat insurance questions to Gary to gary@boatinsuranceonly.com.

Twin Rivers Marine Insurance
Newcoast Financial Services

An Unusual "Fall" Boat Story
- By Kells Christian
Part of our normal marine surveying business involves assisting with insurance claims, many of which result from accidents.

There are "normal accidents", like groundings, collisions, allisions (when only one boat is moving), fires, trailering accidents - and then there are the freak accidents. This is about one of the latter, an extremely unusual boating accident.

I will begin by relieving your anxiety, nobody died! There were two men aboard at the time, one had almost no injuries (call me lucky) and the other was bruised but recovered quickly. Fortunately no one was under the boat.

The story begins with a client asking us to survey a boat in San Carlos, Mexico. This is a coastal city on the northeast side of the Sea of Cortez, on the mainland, near the city of Guymas. The client had a 55' Californian power boat and needed a marine survey for insurance renewal purposes.

I traveled to the boat and accomplished the survey - the vessel had been hauled by an amazing hydraulic trailer, on a boat ramp, normally used for much smaller boats with much smaller trailers. Prior to my arrival, it had been blocked beside the boat ramp in a dirt lot.

While I was surveying the power boat, the owner of a 38' Globe, full keeled cruising sailboat, which was blocked beside the powerboat, asked if I would be able to survey his boat as well. He also required a marine survey for insurance. He was planning a world cruise and was applying for insurance through Lloyds of London. I accepted the job as it was clearly a win –win opportunity for all.

After completing the inspection of the powerboat, I began the inspection of the sailboat. I began on the bottom; bottom painting was in progress. After inspecting the bottom, we climbed a ladder and inspected the deck. The owner was with me and after inspecting the deck, I followed him into the cabin, that's when the accident occurred.

I was still on the steps in the companionway, leading from the deck down into the saloon. The owner was on the starboard side of the saloon when I felt a shudder and then it happened! - The boat fell.

It fell to port. It landed hard on its port side and the masts wrapped over the adjacent powerboat. My client fell to the port side of the saloon and all matter of debris rained down upon him. I was very lucky and steadied myself in the companionway, watching him become buried and then emerge from all of the large and small bits which had been dumped on top of him.

My first concern was his safety and health. He later said he felt like he just played a game of tackle football, but he had no broken bones, no concussion, and no serious injury. Our concern then was the bottom painters, and we quickly scrambled out to check. Everyone was unharmed.

The painters had moved the jack stands improperly and the boat shifted, allowing the jack stands to slide up the hull and the boat to crash down.

That evening I received two phone calls in my hotel room. One from each boat's insurance company, asking if I could assist with the damage claims. I accepted the first assignment, but was unable to help the second one professionally, due to a potential conflict of interest. The adjuster was a friend and long time client. She teased me for years about going down to Mexico and knocking a boat over to get work.

The call to the powerboat owner was interesting, I told him I had some good news and some bad news. The good news was the boat was in good shape; the bad news was that there were two aluminum masts wrapped over the top of it.

The sailboat was repaired and was one of the only boats I have been involved with that was "re-gelcoated" on one entire side. Gelcoat goes on smooth in a mold, but is very rough when applied externally like paint. It required several hundred labor hours to make it shiny again, but shiny it was and the world cruise was accomplished.

The lesson I learned was the importance of safety in the workplace and boatyard. There is a proper way to block and secure boats while hauled. There are dangers and we should all be aware of them, not just falling boats, but slippery surfaces, trip hazards, electricity, etc. The accident happened in Mexico at a very rudimentary haulout and blocking area, no pavement or concrete, no travel lift and no chains in use between jack stands, but even in the technologically advanced area of Southern California, boats fall and accidents happen.

Kells Christian has been an accredited Marine Surveyor since 1990. His expertise extends to both recreational and commercial vessels. Kells was Regional Director of Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) for 2 years and a prominent member of numerous other industry organizations. You can e-mail your marine surveyor questions to kellschristian@cox.net or Click Here to visit his web site.


Design A Deck
Sea Worthy
Aquarius Yacht Services Cabrillo Yacht Sales

Winter is Coming - Will Your Boat Be Ready?
- By Richard Benscoter
If you have ever lived in the northeast or central united states with your boat, you have performed the yearly ritual of decommissioning your boat and covering it for the winter.

During this annual rite of passage, the boat owner goes through their check list to ensure all is in order for the winter, and then reverses the process in the spring.

So what does this have to do with boating in San Diego and the Southern California sailing / boating lifestyle you ask?

Nothing really, but it does get cold in San Diego, not by Midwest standards, but by our standards, and some of us do not spend as much time on our boats and some of our boats sit for weeks or months with no use.

I am a believer that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, find a problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem and costs some major money, so I devised this twice annual check list to save my wallet some pain.

So take an afternoon and an in-depth look at your boat you might save yourself a few dollars, because a fix will cost you less, and the cure could cost many dollars!!

  • Check your batteries (use only distilled water - tap water is a death sentence to your batteries).

  • Wax and polish (Like a clean car, it just runs better, and the longer you put it off the more it takes for the cure).

  • Check dock lines (The wind does blow and we do get tidal surge, and you don't want to
    re-engineer the neighbor's boat because of a broken dock line).

  • Check your transmission(s) (check the manual for the correct fluid before topping off, if you haven't changed it yet this year, do so).

  • Lubricate seacocks (If you haven't done this yourself, get professional help the first time, please).

  • Change zincs ( don't forget the engine and gen set for zincs).

  • Replace raw water impeller ( do this once a year, if a piece is missing don't stop looking for it until you find it, it is somewhere in your engine's cooling system and will block water flow and engine overheating could occur).

  • Drain, and fill water tanks - water does have a shelf life. I drain one at a time into the bilge and have the bilge pump, pump it out. Make sure you have no fuel or oil in your bilge before you do this.

  • Lubricate engine and helm control cables ( check manufacturer's instructions).

  • Check flare dates - if they expire within 6 months, replace them. Check dates on the any you are being sold - if they expire a year or less from the purchase date, don't buy them.

  • Check fire extinguishers (annual weighing is required).

  • Lubricate winches (another item that if you haven't done this before, get help from a professional or old salt).

  • Standing rigging clevis pins (you are checking for cracks and disfigurement, if either one is found, replace).

  • Packing gland (there are many different types - check what is installed on your boat and follow manufacturer's instructions closely).

  • All hose clamps (thru hauls, engine, if seriously rusted, replace. Remember to double clamp all fittings - insurance if one fails).

  • Check engine oil and coolant (change both - remember acids build up all summer in the oil, so get it out of the engine. Coolant breaks down and does not protect the inside of the engine from corrosion and from overheating).

  • Test bilge pumps (do they work?).

  • Check anchor, shackle and windlass (this is your boat's emergency brake if the engine fails).

  • Check propane tank and lines (leaks are very bad as propane is heavier then air and will go to your bilge).

  • Check standing rigging (looking for large amounts of rust and cracks and broken wires).

  • Check running rigging (soak in clean water - get the salt out - soak in clean water with fabric softener to make like new).

See you on the water!

Richard BenscoterEditor's Note: Richard Benscoter is a long time avid sailor. He's a member of the Silver Gate Yacht Club and owner of the Mariners Woodshop. If you have a sailing question for Richard, send e-mail to richard@BlueSkyNews.com.
Editor's Note: Richard Benscoter is a long time avid sailor. He's a member of the Silver Gate Yacht Club and owner of the Mariners Woodshop. If you have a sailing question for Richard, send e-mail to richard@BlueSkyNews.com.

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