Let’s admit it. We’ve all made mistakes. And when it comes to boating goof-ups that can cause a little pain, the folks at BoatUS Marine Insurance have seen them all, handling hundreds of claims each year. So here’s a look inside the claims files for some of the more preventable mistakes that cause injuries around the boat yard every springtime, and some tips to avoid them:
#1 Don’t overload the ladder: At any marina each spring, ladders are as common a sight as channel markers on the ICW. Up. Down. All day long, boaters scramble on ladders to bring up supplies, fix things and prep their boat. Carrying heavy things, however, sometimes causes ladders to buckle. Lesson: have your own ladder and know its safe carrying load. It is also good to never face forward or have two persons on one at the same time, and understand that loose footwear such as flip-flops can snag on a ladder rung quicker than dragging a treble hook over Grandma’s shag carpeting.
#2 Jack stand missing: Painting the bottom of the boat to prevent marine growth is a common task for coastal boaters. However, there’s always a section on the hull where you can’t paint, usually where the jack stand supports the hull. Removing the jack stand to finish the paint job, however, almost always leads to an unstable boat, and using your shoulder to hold up the boat will get you to the emergency room pretty quickly. Lesson: Have the yard put the boat in a sling to finish the last few spots, or ask to have them add extra stands first (do not do this on your own).
#3 Trailer tires not blocked: A trailer boater was working on his boat at home in the driveway when the trailer suddenly lurched forward due to the man’s weight shifting on deck, causing him to fall – ouch! – to the pavement below. Lesson: Block the wheels every time, all of the time.
#4 All come tumbling down: Every boater likes a shiny, waxed boat. What we don’t like is to have to constantly move the ladder while using a heavy buffer on the gel coat. So we reach, we stretch, we lean so far out that the unbalanced ladder now tips sending us tumbling down, resulting in broken bones. Lesson: It’s worth the extra time to ensure the ladder is always on a solid footing and secured to the boat, and don’t over extend.
BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money-saving services including towing services and boat insurance. Its Damage Avoidance Program, a BoatUS member benefit, helps boaters learn how to prevent injury or vessel damage using real-world examples from the BoatUS Marine Insurance claims files and other boating safety resources. For membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.