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ABA Boat Maintenance & Repair Questions and Responses

The information contained herein is the opinion of ABA member and marine mechanic Tim Harrington of Madison Marine Service, Harwich, Massachusetts. Tim is responding to a question solely based on the information an ABA member provided. Neither ABA, nor Tim Harrington, nor Madison Marine Service assume any responsibility or liability for events that occur due to actions you or others on your behalf take based on the information given in Tim's response.  You are proceeding at your own risk.

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Docks

Q. I recently purchased a lake home and have a dock situation that doesn't allow mooring whips. Prior to this I always kept the boat on a trailer. Any suggestions on how I can protect my boat from continuously hitting against the dock beyond adding an edge protector or boat bumpers that would only rub on the boat. Any suggestions or recommendations on covering the boat? I'm going from a trailer tie down to unsure now what to use?

Also any suggestions on keeping the algae buildup off the bottom of the boat?

A. I received your question regarding your dock problem. Docks, whether on the ocean, rivers, streams, lakes or marinas have been a source of problems since the beginning of the time. Trying to get around some of the bumper problems and the damage to composite finishes on hulls is a constant battle. There is no easy answer, you need to have bumpers and bumpers cause damage.

I do like some of the composite bumpers better because they do less damage. To try and minimize the damage, I take industrial wax (in cube form) and rub the wax in layers onto the dock bumpers. I have also made a small spring device that hangs from a dock plate. I use foam padding to cover the spring, and use a heavy covered plastic material for the exterior. I keep putting wax on during season and that also works well.

You may find some other ideas at the following websites, www.tmpmarine.com and www.leecomposites.com/docksavers.html.

Now about your bottom growth, there are many bottom paints on the market. You need to select a brand that fits your needs. If you want to try a lighter color you may find you will have less growth. Ponds, lakes, rivers and streams will generate and promote growth just because of how warm the water gets. During the summer when your enjoying your new purchase, take a swim around your boat with your boat brush and you will find most of the bottom growth will come off.

Q: What do you think about using ground fault interrupters on docks?

A: Thank you for your question. In most instances if you have an existing dock or are planning to build a dock, engineering is the key. If you are building a dock, most state and local codes require the use of a GFI in systems being installed for outdoor use. You will have to check with your local authorities to find out your local and state codes.

Personally, I would want one anyway. It makes sense to have a GFI in place for the breaker box. If your ground on your external electrical hookup to your boat was broken, chances of troubles or electrocution are high!

My advice is to contract a licensed electrician to do the work who is aware of any and all state and local codes to be met. In addition to having the job done right, by using a licensed electrician, you will probably add a measure of protection from an insurance standpoint. I hope this saves you some time and is helpful in deciding what should be done. Stay safe and have a great boating season!

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