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Stray Electric Current Hazards

Lethal stray electric current is a common risk that marina operators, boat builders, and yacht clubs need to take steps to prevent. Even with precautions, there is always some level of risk. Boaters need to be aware of potentially dangerous areas and be especially cautious about keeping children from water that they may find irresistible.

This insidious threat can very quickly pose a risk at marinas. Aside from fatalities or bodily injury from electric shock, some electrical incidents can also wreak costly damage to boats and yachts. So what does a vigilant marina, club, or other waterfront business watch for to mitigate risk and liability?

First, it’s important to understand two dangerous current types in the water. These are:

  • Stray Direct Current (DC) – which quickly damages boats, particularly if there is an aluminum hull or any metal hull fittings
  • Stray Alternating Current (AC) – which emits potentially fatal electrical impulses into the water

Suppose a person encounters stray AC while in the water. Even low levels can paralyze muscles and result in injury or even death by drowning. Higher levels could, of course, electrocute anyone unfortunate enough to be immersed in the electrified water. Too often, the victims of electric shock drowning are children or teens swimming nearby.

Marine business owners will want to watch for the two most common sources of electric current entering the water: Electrical wiring from the shore power system or the connection between a boat and the onshore power supply.

Here are some ways to minimize the risk of stray electric currents:

  • Ensure that all electrical equipment is installed properly and meets required federal and local safety standards
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for safety
  • Regularly review the power system for any defects or issues
  • Make repairs and maintenance a priority
  • Require all boats or yachts at the marina to meet the fire protection standard
  • Ban swimming at or near the marine facilities or operations
  • Forbid diving operations without approval, and be sure to use the appropriate safety precautions for the duration of the dive

Stray Electric Current Safety Checklist for Marinas and Yacht Clubs is available upon request. You can refer to this tip sheet for more information about stray electric currents and preventative measures to put in place.

Want to minimize your exposure to risk onshore or on land? Contact the marine business insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to discuss your needs. We offer marine industry expertise, broad coverage offerings, and tailored solutions.

Boat & Yacht Sea Trials

If you are seriously considering buying a boat or yacht, our yacht insurance specialists strongly recommend you take it for a sea trial first. 

Why? Seeing a yacht where it’s docked or in a showroom is not the same as understanding performance. A sea trial is a perfect opportunity to feel how the vessel operates at cruising speed, check for vibrations, practice hard turns, and experience riding in rough waters.

Here’s how to get the most out of the experience:

  • Only ask a broker or dealer for a sea trial when you’ve pretty much made up your mind. In some cases, the seller may require a 10% deposit before a sea trial.
  • If you’re buying new, you might take a demonstration model out for the sea trial. In this case, be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples! Confirm that the engine has the same power and that other specifications match.
  • Remember that when you take a boat or yacht out, it may not be as loaded as when you’re heading out on a voyage. The weight of supplies, guests, and possibly crew can significantly impact performance.
  • How is the speed when taking the boat for a trial run? How does it handle under different conditions? Was the fuel economy as expected? Consult the owner’s manual for the recommended maximum rpm, and then see how it compares to what you experience when you go top speed.
  • Take note of safety features (this is important to know when you check your yacht insurance coverage rates before you put in an offer). What is there, and what’s missing?
  • Regarding speed, remember to check not only how FAST the vessel can go but also how she handles at a minimum planing speed. You’ll want to determine how well you can control it at variable speeds.
  • Check all the electronics on board, especially if it’s pre-owned. Not only should everything power on all right, but the screen visibility should also be adequate, whether it’s dark outside or there’s a lot of glare from sunshine. Does everything work as it should? Test it – don’t be shy.
  • Investigate other elements. What is the visibility like from the helm? Open and shut cupboards and storage areas to see if things stick or latch properly. Similarly, check how windows, doors, and skylights open and shut in case of any issues. Take a look at the cabins while you’re out on the water and see if things are quiet and smooth or if passenger areas are comfortable.

Trust your instincts. If you’re not happy after the sea trial, keep looking. If you are happy with the experience, determine if a vessel survey is appropriate. Only make an offer if you can see yourself enjoying many voyages without regrets.

If you’re ready to make an offer, check yacht insurance coverage rates before you buy. Contact the yacht insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance for a boat or yacht insurance quote.

Other articles that may be of interest:

Pricing Your Yacht to Sell

Yacht Purchase Mistakes

Boat Auction Tips

Winter Boating Safety

Boating safety is especially important in the winter when even strong swimmers can experience great difficulty surviving in cold water. Hypothermia is a risk in water below 70′ F, and “cold shock” can occur in frigid water. Winter storms may create hazardous conditions, while low temperatures can tax batteries. Depending on your vessel and the water conditions, the risks vary greatly. However, if you take safety precautions, winter boating can allow you to get out on the water during more of the year, visit areas overpopulated in the summer, and have a new experience. Here are some tips for staying safe on the water this winter.

Check the Weather

Before boating, check your local weather for dangerous conditions. It takes a lot less rain and wind than you probably expect to cause significant damage to a boat. Winter storms can take a heavy toll on boats and even result in sinking.

File a Float Plan

Tell someone staying ashore where you are going and what time you expect to return. Make sure you take enough clothing to dress in layers and stay dry and warm. 

Don’t Overload

Review the capacity plate on your boat and do not exceed any of its limits when loading the vessel. Exceeding the weight limit can compromise the vessel’s performance and increase your risk of submersion. If you bring more gear, supplies, or people than usual, ensure you are within the recommended weight limits. 

Wear a Life Jacket

While on the water, always wear a life jacket. About 75% of boating fatalities involve capsizing, boaters falling overboard, or flooding or swamping boats. Sudden immersion in frigid water can cause people to experience temporary paralysis and drown. Also, thick clothes often worn to protect against cold air temperatures become heavy in the water, making it difficult for those wearing them to stay afloat. A life jacket will help keep your head above water in an immersion accident until you can control your breathing and dramatically increase your chances of survival. It can also serve as thermal protection against hypothermia while keeping you afloat until you can rescue yourself or someone else can help you.

Avoid Alcohol

It is best to avoid drinking alcohol while boating to prevent placing yourself and others in dangerous situations such as leaning over too far, jumping from vessel to vessel, and moving around too much or standing, leading to passengers falling overboard or a boat capsizing. Also, keep a sharp lookout, maintain surrounding awareness, and advise other passengers about general boating safety tips. During boat launching and recovery, you should pay close attention to docks and the ground near shorelines for any ice so you do not end up slipping and hurting yourself.

Check Your Boat or Yacht Insurance

When was the last time you reviewed your boat or yacht insurance coverage? Do you have a lay-up period? Lay-up is a period that the boat will not be used. These policies are typically for boats located in climates with cold winters. During a lay-up period, the boat insurance coverage includes damage that may occur while stored but not navigated. A lay-up period is an opportunity to save on boat insurance premiums, but you’ll want to verify that you are not boating without adequate yacht insurance coverage. 

For more boating safety tips, visit the United States Power Squadrons️️ website.

Avoiding Common Yacht Insurance Claims

If you subscribe to the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure philosophy, knowing what the most common yacht insurance claims we assist with can help you take steps to mitigate your risk. 

Here are the most common types of yacht insurance claims:

Striking submerged objects: What lurks beneath the water can cause quite a bit of damage to a yacht. Yacht insurance claims due to collisions with submerged objects are not unusual. Rocks, coral, submerged trees, stumps, floating logs, and other debris can become serious hazards. It pays to be cautious while in unfamiliar territory and vigilant in looking for possible threats. Download the latest marine navigation charts to ensure you know what to expect regarding safety depth contours and tides – and talk with other owners and captains who are more familiar with your planned route. If there’s been a recent storm, be especially careful to look for wreckage and debris in the water.

branch in water - yacht collision danger

Adverse weather events: Mother Nature is responsible for many yacht insurance claims, unleashing high winds, big storms, hurricanes, lightning, and deep freezes. If you’re on the water or your yacht is moored when a storm hits, being tossed around can result in extensive damage. Lightning claims seem to be on the rise in the last few years. We’re seeing lightning deductibles on policies now as the cost and sophistication of electronics affected by power surges drive up claims.

It is essential to check the weather in advance and monitor it while you’re on the water. When docked, take steps to secure your yacht safely, perhaps investing in quality bumpers, a boat lift, or a suspension system to protect your marine investment during stormy weather. 

Create a storm plan. Docking in a protected cove, stipping excess gear from the deck, and doubling up on dock and mooring lines is helpful. If there is a hurricane or tropical storm, hauling your vessel from the water is likely the safest plan. Ask your yacht insurance specialist about hurricane haul-out coverage. It reimburses all or some of the expense of having your yacht hauled out due to an impending tropical storm, tropical depression, or hurricane. 

Collisions with other boaters: Many times, one of the vessels involved in a collision was moving too fast, or the captain was distracted. Sometimes a yacht will collide with a motorboat or someone riding a jet ski. In addition to property damage, liability is frequently part of the yacht insurance claims process when there’s been an accident of this nature. It’s wise to ensure whoever is operating the yacht is attentive, doesn’t speed, and understands boating safety. Taking a course that covers boat safety for larger vessels is very helpful.

Vandalism or theft: Luxury vessels are unfortunately a common target for vandals and petty thieves, generally when a yacht is moored. Thieves are typically after quick-sale items like electronics, jewelry, and sports equipment. Keep these items securely stored and away from easy view through windows. Covering your yacht when you’re not using it can deter would-be vandals and thieves, who generally look for easy access. Similarly, a sound security system and docking where there is full-time security can also mitigate your risk of vandalism or theft.

Fires on board range from faulty wiring or ignited fuel to mishaps in the kitchen or decorative candles left unattended. Fire can quickly spread on a yacht, causing significant damage from the fire and smoke. Be vigilant with fire safety and ensure that you follow guidelines for fire extinguishers on board. Inspect your vessel routinely for any problems or deterioration of wiring or the engine.

Do you have adequate yacht insurance coverage if any of these things happen to you? Contact the yacht insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance today for a complimentary review of your marine insurance needs.

Inspiring Long Distance Yachting Stories

When quoting yacht insurance before clients embark on voyages, it’s always compelling to hear their plans for long-distance yachting. Have you been thinking about a once-in-a-lifetime trip?

Here’s a little inspiration we’ve found online for long-distance yachting adventures:

sailboat with orange sunset

A dream couple’s getaway

Husband and wife Peter and Antonia shared their experiences of sailing from San Francisco to New Zealand. They were both already experienced sailors with years spent out on the ocean. Antonia, who shared she had taken a crew position as a cook in the Caribbean, grew up sailing with family in San Francisco Bay.

They made their way from the US to New Zealand without mishaps. In hindsight, Antonia said she felt they were overprepared with food stores. The most important thing for their adventure was knowing they were a good team and they had a good vessel. Supportive family members bought them a life raft and an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to have on board.

Unforgettable youth experience

A group of 10 young people in the United Kingdom got to experience yachting as part of a program by Youth Action Wiltshire and the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

The students, aged 12 to 15, got to try their hands at crew positions on a trip from Plymouth to Swansea aboard the famous 72ft Challenger 4 yacht that has circled the globe twice as part of the Global Challenge Races.

While on the Challenger yacht, the youth got to try steering, food prep, and of course, cleaning. It was a life-changing encounter with practical life skills and learning they could work as a team to accomplish a goal.

Choose Your Adventure

We have quoted yacht insurance for motor yachts heading out to explore the Florida Keys or traverse the ocean. If you were to write your own yachting adventure story, where would it take you? And remember, before you head out on the water, check in with the yacht insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance for the most comprehensive coverage and superior service.

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