Sailing News

Tire Failures Top The List Of 2004 Boat Trailer Breakdowns
Burdened by the weight of their loads, infrequent use, pot holes, the sun's blistering UV rays, winter's freezing temperatures and submersion in water, boat trailers don't have an easy life. Of the thousands of requests for roadside assistance made by BoatU.S. Trailering Club members in 2004, the number one call for assistance was for flat tires, more than twice as many as the next runner up. But according to the February issue of BoatU.S Trailering Magazine, trailer boaters can take a few steps to ensure a smooth run no matter whether it's to the lake just across town or a 500-mile, long-distance trek to the shore.

To start with, make sure your bias ply or radial trailer tires were made for trailering. A "ST" designation on the sidewall indicates "special trailer" used for boat trailers. These tires have stronger sidewalls than "P" (passenger) and "LT" (light truck tires). Also never mix bias ply (commonly used for short trips or when a trailer is parked for long periods) with radial tires (preferred for high-mileage trips).

Inflation is the most basic tire maintenance issue. Tires should be inflated while cold, before the trip -- not during. And if all else fails, having a spare tire is key, but unfortunately most trailer manufacturers neglect to include one as standard equipment. Be sure to bring a tire and rim combo when shopping for your spare as not all are alike. Ensure your jack can handle the trailer as well.

A tire's worst enemy is dry rot caused by the UV rays. If you store your boat and trailer outside during the winter, remove the tires and keep inside if possible. Tire covers can also help.

Moisture can also doom a tire, especially if the trailer sits idle for a long time on grassy, damp ground. Again, removing the tire is best but parking on plywood can also help. If parking on a hard surface such as concrete, ensure that water freely drains away from the trailer after a rainstorm.

Lastly, ensure that you know your boat and trailer weight, as overloading can lead to premature wear and potentially dangerous blowouts.

The BoatU.S. Trailering Club offers members a specialized, affordable 24-hour Trailer Assist & Tow program for boat trailers and tow vehicle - with up to $150 paid per trailer breakdown incident. For more information: or call 1-800-245-6923.

Lettertech Expands Large Format Ad Banner Capabilities
Lettertech, Inc. of St. Paul, Minnesota, has provided quality Custom Vinyl Graphics for over 21 years to individuals and companies from the Upper Midwest and Nationwide.

Their most recent addition now incorporates the capability to make large ad banners in house, from a wide selection of materials. They are able to print full-color photos that promote customer products.

For more information contact Mark Polski at 651-292-0738 or visit

BoatU.S. Tax Time Tip: Boat Loans Deductible
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) wants boaters to know that as long as your vessel meets the criteria for a second home, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a deduction for you.

"For tax purposes, many boats qualify as second homes just like land-based vacation condos and mobile homes," said Elaine Dickinson of BoatU.S. Government Affairs. "If you have a secured loan on that vessel and it meets the criteria of a second home, the IRS allows the interest paid on the loan to be deducted."

The IRS defines a second home as having "basic living accommodations such as sleeping space, toilet and cooking facilities." A secured loan is one where a lending institution holds the boat as collateral for the loan.

Interest paid on the qualified loan should be reported on the federal income tax return Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Boat owners who received a 1098 form from their lender should enter the amount of interest paid on line 10. If they did not receive a 1098 form, they should enter the amount on line 11 and provide the lender's name, address and tax identification number. For more specific tax information, boat owners should consult their own financial or tax advisors or visit the IRS Web site at IRS Publication 936 also covers rules for interest deductions.

BoatU.S is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters and provides its 580,000 members with a wide array of consumer services. Including discounts on fuel slips and repairs at over 775 Cooperating marinas. For membership information visit or call 800-395-2628.

Barge Explodes and Sinks in Chicago Ship Canal Killing One
The cause of the blast has yet to be determined, but three surviving crew members said they were trying to light a diesel-fueled boiler, which might have ignited and caused the explosion. The barge was transporting 588,000 gallons of byproduct from an Exxon-Mobil refinery in Joliet.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed parts of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal until it was deemed safe for vessel traffic.

U.S. - Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Set to Open March 25th
The U.S.-Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway officially opens to commercial ships on March 25th. The world’s longest waterway annually accounts for billions of dollars in revenue and supports tens of thousands of jobs in the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

“We’ll be ready for the safe and reliable movement of international and domestic marine traffic on opening day,” said Albert Jacquez, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), the Department of Transportation organization that owns and operates the two U.S. locks in Massena, NY.

Jacquez noted that critical winter maintenance on the locks continues at this time in Massena but will be finished before the Seaway opens. “We’re extremely careful about deciding when to open the Seaway. Weather and water conditions, the completion of lock maintenance, and the anticipated need for the Seaway’s services are all considered when it comes to deciding an opening date,” Jacquez said.

The Seaway’s top priority is ensuring the safety and security of one of North America’s premier inland waterways, the surrounding communities and the families living along its shores, he added.

To stay prepared, Jacquez said the Corporation provides emergency response training to its employees and regularly reviews and revises its Emergency Response Plan (ERP). The Corporation recently made several improvements to both its ERP and vessel regulations that were recommended by those emergency workers who responded to last summer’s tug/barge incident, he said.

“These changes are designed to improve the coordination and effectiveness of first responders and enhance the safety of vessels moving through the Seaway System,” he said.

Jacquez predicted the growing American economy will ensure continued strong demand for the Seaway in 2005, adding the impact would be good news for the marine industry.

Invasive Species Continues to Plague Great Lakes
The vessels are called “No Ballast On Board” (NOBOBs). They enter the Great Lakes after little more than filing paperwork with the Coast Guard. However, these NOBOBs may carry tons of residual ballast water and/or sediments that can mix with new ballast water while on the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Coast Guard intends to solicit suggestions for a new ballast water program in May, but environmental groups want faster action. Currently, ships are required to file reports concerning residual ballast water, but face no regulations on how to manage it.