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Safe at Sea: Part II: Boating facts that are not facts

By Staff | Jul 7, 2020

Last week’s Safe at Sea column listed a few commonly-assumed “facts” that mariners have learned simply are not “facts” at all. This week’s column continues with additional “facts” that have sometimes resulted in hard-earned lessons.

– Paint only when it is between 50 and 80 degrees outside.

True: The temperature must be in this range. However, keep your eye on the humidity. If it is over 65 percent, put the brushes and rollers away. (You do not even need to be a seaman to benefit from this “fact.”)

– Black wires are always negative.

This “fact” can lead to big trouble. In AC circuits, the color black is also used for live wires.

– Short-shaft outboards allow you to run in shallow water.

Short shafts are meant for transoms that are under 15 inches high. “It’s all about the prop.” The prop must be submerged enough to get a clear stream of water, no matter how short or tall the length of the shaft or transom height is.

– Twin outboards handle close quarters as well as twin inboards.

Outboards are placed closer together, so they cannot pivot the boat on its axis as easily as widely-spread inboards (which also have more torque).

– The heavier boat is always better.

Heavier does not always mean more stable or smoother riding. All it means is more weight.

– All gas is the same.

(Like “fact” No. 1 above, this rule works for water vessels and “land” cruisers.)

This one is classic: “Gas all comes from the same tankers.” Truth is, there is a difference, and the big companies do provide a better product, if only because when you buy from a busy station or marina you get fresh(er) gas with little sediment.

– A vacuum works on boat carpeting.

To do a thorough job, use a stiff brush to loosen all the sand and grit and then vacuum. Repeat.

– Sailboats always have the right of way.

Only if they are not under power and, in order of priority, there are: 1) no vessels not under command, 2) no vessels restricted by their ability to maneuver, 3) no vessels constrained by draft, or 4) no vessels engaged in commercial fishing.

– Tides go in and out.

Not on this planet. Currents go in and out; tides go up and down.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and its boating education courses, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.