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Old 05-02-2017, 10:46 PM   #1
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While you're away

We're launching this weekend and we'll be storing our boat in a slip all season. While I've kept it in unattended for a week before, this is our first time keeping it in the water all year. I'm fairly anxious about it since I'll be 4+ hours away and may wind up being away for up to 3 weeks.

I have a couple basic, stupid questions. While we're away what can we leave on safely? I'm thinking battery charger of course, and I'm assuming people leave their refrigerator on. What about heat? It's still very cold (near freezing) at night. Anything I should make certain is off?

Also what should my expectations be from the marina in terms of keeping an eye on things? Lots of storms in the spring, maybe even a bit of snow - how far amiss should things have to get before I should expect a call from them? They say they pump out dinghys for you after a storm (but I don't have one yet) so they're clearly walking around. I'll definitely have the conversation with them too of course.

Lastly, any other general advice I should hear? I'd like to avoid making rookie mistakes if I can.

Thanks for the patient assistance!
BD
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:53 PM   #2
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Put your phone number in a window where it can be seen from the dock. That way your neighbors can call if they see something wrong.
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:41 PM   #3
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Make friends with all the live aboards near your slip. Meet all your dock neighbors and let one or two know where you keep the key.
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:53 PM   #4
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Leave battery charger on, bilge pump on (possibly with back up) I leave the fridge on in summer, so there is always a cold beer waiting, but that is a personal preference.

Make sure your water pumps and/or shore water are turned off.

I close all below water level seacocks if I'm going to be away for more than a few days.

Some people like a fan or dehumidifier on to reduce the chance of mildew issues.

In regard to heat on or off, and potential freezing, you best get advice from someone in your area.

I leave my keys in the ignition with a tag saying the raw water seacock is closed, just in case the boat needs to be moved in an emergency, but some people aren't comfortable with that. I lock the cockpit door, but the sliding windows are open to grab the ignition keys if someone needs them. As they say - Your mileage may vary.

I'd suggest introducing yourself to as many dock neighbours as possible. Every marina is somewhat different, but I'd rely on on my dock neighbours before the marina management. (not that I've had any issues so far)
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Old 05-03-2017, 05:17 AM   #5
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All good advice, particularly the liveaboard neighbors. Consider a Ring or SimplySafe remote video monitoring system or similar.
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:50 AM   #6
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I leave a night light on too, and made friends with the live aboards.

Everything is on my boat. I don't take anything off. I just lock her up.

Do a system check and make sure important systems remain on. See above post.
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:59 AM   #7
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Alarms and Cameras, part of a good security system. Alarms sending text messages. Cameras allowing you to quickly see what is going on.
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Old 05-03-2017, 07:44 AM   #8
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Ok great advice! We did a few transient stays here before we decided, and there was only live aboard on our​ dock. Fortunately they're only two boats from us, and we've already made good friends with them! The marina is very friendly and we've kept in touch with several friends we made last year so I think we're on our way there!

I also like the idea of posting my number in the window, although with an Express cruiser I'll have to think about where that should be. I don't really want to leave the canvas up while we're away until it's a bit warmer, so the cover will be on for now.

Seacocks. Of course I've read that here before but it's never applied to me so I've ignored it. I really appreciate the reminder and that's now on the list.

Regarding security cameras etc, that's right up my alley as my home is full of automation, sensors and cameras. I'm not so confident in the WiFi service at this place, but I have an extra camera so it can't hurt to set it up. I'm not sure where I'd put it though. I'm hesitant to invest a lot in tech for this boat because we're planning to move up to a real boat next year if this works as expected.

Thanks again for the tips!
BD
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:30 AM   #9
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Ok great advice! We did a few transient stays here before we decided, and there was only live aboard on our​ dock. Fortunately they're only two boats from us, and we've already made good friends with them! The marina is very friendly and we've kept in touch with several friends we made last year so I think we're on our way there!

I also like the idea of posting my number in the window, although with an Express cruiser I'll have to think about where that should be. I don't really want to leave the canvas up while we're away until it's a bit warmer, so the cover will be on for now.

Seacocks. Of course I've read that here before but it's never applied to me so I've ignored it. I really appreciate the reminder and that's now on the list.

Regarding security cameras etc, that's right up my alley as my home is full of automation, sensors and cameras. I'm not so confident in the WiFi service at this place, but I have an extra camera so it can't hurt to set it up. I'm not sure where I'd put it though. I'm hesitant to invest a lot in tech for this boat because we're planning to move up to a real boat next year if this works as expected.

Thanks again for the tips!
BD
Security systems can send messages by text if any cell service as well as through Wifi. A camera isn't what I'd be talking about. At least two or three (Bilge, ER, Electric, etc.) plus all your bilges should have alarms. You can have decent protection for a modest price. Monitoring electric and bilges are the two most critical areas. Also, monitoring the temperature.

Now, unlike others who are hesitant to depend on the marina, I do enter into an agreement with the marina to insure they check on the boat. That's not instead of other boat owners, but in addition. I'd have them board and do a good check at least weekly.

Perhaps I overlooked it but is this an open or covered slip? You mentioned keeping the cover on the boat. All the more need for security. Covers protect but they also hide. I'm not a huge fan of covers for a boat in the water, especially if snow is a possibility.
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:51 AM   #10
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In all the years that me and my family have had boats year round in slips, we have never had any issues with theft. Many of the marinas have been really sketchy. Of course, our boat was never the biggest or shiniest on the dock so maybe that helped. Anyway, I lock my boat up but not my on deck lockers or lazarettes. I've never locked my dock box either. I don't worry about it because partly it never has been an issue and partly because I refuse to spend time worrying about extraneous stuff.

On my sailboats I made sure that all seacock were closed every time I left the boat. I don't do the same on the power boat.

Charger is on, bilge pumps and shower sump pump are left on, refrigerator is on, the power to the salon light circuit is left on. I leave the 120v system on and I keep 1 fan and three small dehumidifiers running, 1 7W lamp on in the salon, and my oil pan heater on. I also have 2 of the round Camfro dehumidifiers running 24/7. (I like a dry boat in our wet climate). The other night I found out that my dockmates use the lamp left on in my salon to help guide them in on dark nights.

We don't leave the diesel furnace turned on and never leave the small electric fan heaters on. Not only are they banned for unattended use in our marina, they are dangerous if the fan fails or locks up, then the elements can overheat causing a fire. I've seen those fans fail personally.

A phone number is good. I know that in my current marina, the dockmaster walks the docks at least 3 days/week and I have called him twice in the last 5 years to let him know about issues on other boats that I've seen. I've also been called by a dockmate when a heavy snowfall put my canvas at risk. Generally if you are friendly you will find that fellow boaters will be happy to let you know of any problems.
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:36 AM   #11
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Put your phone number in a window where it can be seen from the dock. That way your neighbors can call if they see something wrong.
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Make friends with all the live aboards near your slip. Meet all your dock neighbors and let one or two know where you keep the key.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:57 PM   #12
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I'm very interested in the electrical monitoring, but I'm not familiar with any of the products. I'll have to search the forum for some recommendations. I'm less concerned about security (famous last words) but Bayfield is a town of 500 people, and the marina is 3 miles outside of it. Nobody is generally just "walking by". Of course that's no guarantee, but it's better than a marina right in the middle of a busy populated area.

Hopefully I don't need to worry about snow after next weekend, and even if we get some it shouldn't stick around. I was more concerned about the isinglass cracking in the cold so I figured it was safer to just have the mooring cover on. I'll chat with some dock neighbors this weekend to get their take on it, and the heat question, too. Heat in our case is reverse cycle AC.

I'm starting to be less worried and more excited about this. Thanks for all of the help.
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Old 05-03-2017, 01:00 PM   #13
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Since you are in the land of truly cold weather, I wonder how efficient the reverse cycle heat will be when the temps drop to below freezing? I don't know those systems at all.
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Old 05-03-2017, 01:25 PM   #14
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I suspect not very effective at all. We're bringing down sleeping bags this weekend!
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Old 05-03-2017, 02:38 PM   #15
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I'm less concerned about security (famous last words) .
When I refer to a security system, I'm including cameras and alarms of all types, monitoring the boat, including for water ingress, temperature, electricity, and intruders, but intruders in most areas being the least concern.
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Old 05-03-2017, 02:41 PM   #16
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When I refer to a security system, I'm including cameras and alarms of all types, monitoring the boat, including for water ingress, temperature, electricity, and intruders, but intruders in most areas being the least concern.
Understood. Do you have a recommendation on monitoring? Especially electricity monitoring?
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Old 05-03-2017, 03:04 PM   #17
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Understood. Do you have a recommendation on monitoring? Especially electricity monitoring?
Excellent moderately priced systems and recommended.

Security, General Alarm : AQUALARM, Warning Systems For Land And Sea

Definitely more than you'll want to spend is https://www.yachtprotector.com/

One that I've heard of but know nothing about it's quality is https://boatcommand.com
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Old 05-03-2017, 03:22 PM   #18
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I would not be comfortable with leaving the reverse cycle heat on unattended. The A/C is pumping water into your boat. If a hose breaks or a clamp lets go, can your bilge pump keep up? Also, if everyone around sees water coming out of your boat regularly will they notice that it is bilge pump water and notify someone or will they assume it is reverse cycle discharge and think everything is ok?

I would have really good dock lines with any necessary chaffing gear on them. Good fenders also.

We used to keep one of our boats 420 miles from home. I never had any problems. I did make friends with everyone I could as mentioned. Some insurance companies don't like you living too far away from your boat and may ask you to have an absentee plan in place. I had a quote from one that wanted such a plan, but BOAT/US did not seem to care.
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Old 05-03-2017, 03:30 PM   #19
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I would not be comfortable with leaving the reverse cycle heat on unattended. The A/C is pumping water into your boat. If a hose breaks or a clamp lets go, can your bilge pump keep up? Also, if everyone around sees water coming out of your boat regularly will they notice that it is bilge pump water and notify someone or will they assume it is reverse cycle discharge and think everything is ok?


One of the two times I called the dockmaster about another boat this was the situation. Not too many reverse cycle systems around me and then there was a sailboat, new to our marina, that I noticed was pumping a lot of water out of a thruhull. I called the dockmaster late at night. Turns out it was just a reverse cycle system that was left on. My concern was a leak that a bilge pump was keeping up with.

From then on I ignored any water pumping from that sailboat.
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Old 05-03-2017, 04:36 PM   #20
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Excellent points on the discharge. But in southern climates don't people leave the AC on while they're away to keep temps and humidity down? It seems like this is the same risk. On the other hand, with potentially freezing temps it's more likely that a hose could split with unfortunate consequences.
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