RVs and OHVs , Camping and Survival

Information on recreational vehicles (RVs) and Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs), Camping, and Survival


This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles),camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills.But even experienced RVers and campers willenjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective.Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Towing Tips

Those of you who regularly pull a boat or travel trailer probably already know about all you need to know about towing.  But for those who only tow boats or trailers occasionally, you might find some value in the tips in this post.

First of all, proper preparation of both the towing vehicle and the towed vehicle is critical.  Towing puts an extra load on just about all parts of the vehicle doing the towing:  engine, transmission, differential, brakes, cooling system and even the suspension and the frame.  ALWAYS be sure the vehicle and the hitch are rated to tow the weight being towed.  I have seen the results of attempting to tow a trailer larger than the towing vehicle is rated to handle.  They range from overheated engines and transmissions to spectacular accidents that totally destroyed both tow vehicle and trailer.  I saw a half-ton pickup towing a 28' travel trailer flipped by high winds like it was light as cardboard.  You've all likely seen overheated vehicles pulled over on long grades, often the result of overloading.  Overloading will significantly increase fuel consumption and create very real safety hazards, especially when negotiating mountain roads.  Make sure all the tires on all vehicles are properly inflated and have a safe amount of tread.  Verify engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant levels on the tow vehicle.  Know the condition of the brakes and wheel bearings on the trailer.  Make certain the hitch you are using is rated to handle the load you'll be towing.  Hitch pins typically come in both 1/2" and 5/8" diameters.  Using a 1/2" hitch pin in a hitch with a 5/8" hole will result in unwanted movement and clunking of the hitch, possibly creating excess wear that may cause a premature failure.  Secure all loads so they won't be blown around at highway speeds or tossed around during changes in speed or direction.

Towing means you will need to make adjustments to your normal driving patterns.  First of all, you combined vehicle length and weight will be greater than you are used to and you need to compensate, slowing down earlier, giving  yourself more room for accelerating, turning, and stopping.

You also need to pay attention to what you are towing.  A significant change in the angle may indicate a flat tire.  Flat tires may also cause smoking and the a rumbling feeling transmitted through the hitch.  If you suspect a flat tire, slow down and find a safe place to pull over as soon as possible.  Better safe than sorry.  If you don't find anything wrong,  you will have only lost a few minutes, but if you fail to pull over you will greatly magnify the potential damage.  Left unattended,  a flat tire can cause significant damage to a trailer and perhaps to other vehicles following or passing you.  One careless driver started wildfires all across Idaho and Washington because he continued to drive with a burning tire!

Slow down!  The extra weight puts more strain on your tow vehicle and can seriously affect handling.  Trailers are more likely to sway or fishtail at higher speeds.  Maintaining a slower speed reduces the risk of fishtailing.  If you see or feel your trailer start to swerve behind you slow down right away!  You may have seen the speed limits U-haul imposes when you rent their trailers.  That has come from years of experience and hundreds of thousands of miles of towing.   In some states, such as California, vehicles towing trailers are limited to 55 mph, even on freeways with much higher normal speed limits.

State laws governing towing may differ so be you understand the limitations before you find yourself getting pulled over.   Some states have limitations or restrictions on passengers riding in a travel trailer.   Where is allowed it often requires two-way communication such as walkie talkies or come kind of intercom between the trailer and the driver of the tow vehicle.  Overall length and weight limits may also vary.  Some states prohibit towing more than one trailer while in others it may be permitted.  California, for example, prohibits towing more than one trailer but when I moved to Utah it wasn't unusual to see a large pickup pulling a travel trailer pulling a boat.

When is a trailer not a trailer?  In California I saw one-wheeled trailers being legally pulled behind travel trailers.  That is because the "trailer" was not "articulated", that is, it was connected to the tow vehicle in at least two places, making it an extension of the tow vehicle.

Trailer licensing varies from state to state also.  Some states required license plates on all trailers.  Some only required them on trailers over a certain loaded weight.  Trailer licenses typically follow the same renewal pattern as motor vehicles, but not always.  When I lived in California they introduced a "Perpetual Trailer License" that did not have to be renewed each year.  Typically you will be OK if the license status of your trailer is proper for the state of your residence, allowing, for example, an Oregon resident to tow a light weight, unlicensed trailer with his/her Oregon licensed vehicle and driver's license in another state.

Tow away!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Boat Insurance

Boat insurance is usually required if you keep your boat in a marina and, like auto insurance or rv insurance, provides liability protection in case of an accident, and may protect your investment in your boat.  Insurance protects  you and the marina operator and your fellow boaters if there is an accident in the marina.  Requiring insurance also protects you by making sure other boaters have coverage should they cause an accident that damages your boat or injures you.   So the insurance requirement is both understandable and reasonable.

One thing I noticed when I purchased our boat insurance was it asked for a "declared value" for the boat.   The declared value will be the most the insurance company will pay out if your boat is totaled.  You may want to verify the value of your boat from time to time.  I used what I had seen as asking prices for similar boats to determine the value of my boat, but that was prior to investing a considerable amount of time and money in fully restoring both the boat and the trailer.  Once that was done I should have increased the "declared value".   A couple of years later a problem with the trailer dumped our 24' sailboat onto the pavement on the way to the lake, destroying both the mast and the swing keel.  Since it is a vintage boat, replacement parts are somewhat difficult to come by and the estimated cost of repairs quickly exceeded the "declared value" of the policy.   Re-evaluating the value at the time of annual renewal to account for the reconditioning might have given us a larger margin for repairs.   The real market value of a boat is likely to change over time.  Usually, like most other personal assets, it will probably depreciate.  A lower declared value might lower your annual premiums.  If, by chance, your boat increases in value due to improvements or market demand, you will want to increase the declared value to ensure adequate coverage to replace it if something does happen to it.

Boat  insurance may also include an allowance for personal property.  This allowance covers anything you might have in the boat -- clothing, bedding, tools, special equipment etc.  It would behoove you to keep a record of the personal property together with receipts or other proof of cost in case it is lost or damaged in an accident.

Making a claim is about the same as making a claim on your auto insurance.  Call the phone number on your insurance card.  You will need your policy number, the year, make, and model of your boat, the date, time, and location of the accident, a detailed description of the accident, and the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.  You may also be asked for a police or law enforcement case number so the incident should be immediately reported to the proper authorities.

Insurance is good to have if something unexpected happens.  But, of course, it is always better to avoid accidents in the first place.  Keep all of your equipment in good repair and inspect it before each use.  Avoid operating your boat or towing it when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication or when you are unusually tired or stressed.  Always be alert to conditions around you and plan ahead for what you will do if something threatening occurs.

Ensure that you are properly insured!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

COVID-19 and camping

The dangers created by COVID-19 are real and the precautions being set forth are necessary to minimize the spread and protect us.  The threat level and risk assessments and recommendations seem to be changing all the time but some things remain fairly constant.  Hand washing and social distancing are the two primary things you can to do protect yourself and those around  you.  That being said, what about camping in this perilous time? As a volunteer firefighter and EMR I receive regular updates on what is going on with COVID-19 and thought I might share some insights with my fellow RVers and OHVers.

Many developed camprounds have been closed by government "lockdowns", but in most cases, dispersed camping is still possible.  Dispersed camping is generally more accessible in the Western Untied States where there are many areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  There is also some dispersed camping available in state and national forests.  However, for your own safety and the safety of everyone around you, you should still maintain appropriate social distancing.  Unfortunately, that puts some major restrictions on one of the  most iconic camping activities:  the campfire.  Traditionally we like to gather close around the campfire to enjoy the flames and one another's company.  You can still do this in relative safety IF you maintain proper social distancing.  The "official" spacing is a minimum of 6' but some health professionals suggest it should be 10'.  Also wearing a face mask outside of your own living space is strongly advised.  Yes, face masks can be hard to come by during this crisis, but even wearing a bandana to control the spread of moisture will help.

Camping, hiking, and other traditional outdoor activities can provide a welcome respite from the "cabin fever" that comes with being confined to our homes.  Outdoor activities (except for contact sports!) generally allow for appropriate social distancing and provide opportunities to get some fresh air and much needed exercise.

Will wearing a face mask keep me from getting COVID-19?  Sadly, the answer is "NO".  But it can help reduce the chances.  Your skin does a pretty good job of protecting  you from COVID-19, but in can get in and infect you through your eyes, nose, or mouth.  That is why face masks and googles are important. Face masks are essential for reducing the spread of the virus, more by restricting contaminated vapors from being passed along to those around the wearer, than by protecting the wearer.  So, if your  mask slips off in public, don't panic -- unless someone without a mask coughs or sneeze on you!  Think of it this way:  My Mask protects You; Your Mask protects Me.

What's with the hand washing?  Proper hand washing can remove the virus from your hands, minimizing the chance of getting it in your mouth.  On average, people touch their faces about 16 times a minute!  Every touch with a COVID-19 contaminated hand, could introduce infection.  Did you know that viruses are not actually alive?  They  are lumps of protein wrapped in fat.  They can't reproduce on their own.  They must get into a living cell where they modify its DNA to produce copies of themselves.  Proper hand washing removes the fat layer and makes the protein vulnerable.  Not long before this COVID-19 outbreak I read that hand washing was the single most significant factor in medical safety EVER!  Hand washing has saved more lives and reduced the spread of disease more than anything else in medical science!

The bottom line:  keep on camping!  Just do it safely.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Boondocking Myths

There are several fairly popular myths floating around about boondocking, many of which tend to deter campers from trying it and most of which are flat out FALSE!  Here are a few of the most common mis-undertandings.

Myth Number 1:  Boondocking means your are "out in the boonies".  Boondocking simply means the same as "dry camping" or camping without hookups.  While perhaps the best boondocking opportunities let you escape most of the hassles of modern urban living, you don't have to be hundreds of miles from nowhere to enjoy a boondocking experience.  Some people even consider stopping overnight in a  Walmart parking lot or freeway rest stop to be boondocking.  Obviously  you don't get the best camping experience in locations like that but there are many opportunities for dry camping in state, county, and local parks near many communities.  If you are new to boondocking, you should be able to find a spot that is still within, say, 10 miles of shopping should you  run out of some critical supplies.  That being said, boondocking opportunties are more accessible west of the Mississippi River and get fewer and further between the closer you get to the east coast.  BLM lands in the Western states are prime places for boondocking.

Myth Number 2:  Boondocking is dangerous.  The truth is boondocking is no more dangerous than any other outdoor activity.  Some people are scared that they will be robbed or worse if they are out camping by themselves but statistics prove otherwise.  In addition, if you are concerned about personal safety, they are things you can do to minimize the risk.   One is to camp near other RVers. There  is safety in numbers.  You might  have to choose whether added safety or escaping civilization is your top priority.  If you are still worried, you might consider acquiring personal protection skills.  If you chose to arm yourself, be sure you understand the laws where ever you and learn the safe and proper use of any weapons you select.  We boondocked on BLM lands in the Mojave Desert for many years without any problems with theft or assault.  We were almost but not always, among a fairly large group of RVs.  After of day of dirt biking we often enjoyed a little skeet shooting, which in addition to being fun and offering a rare chance to practice marksmanship let any would-be intruders know they would be facing an armed camp!

Myth Number 3:  There isn't anything to do!  Boy, is this one off the mark!   There are lots and lots of things to do when boondocking.  Depending on where you go you will find numerous places to hike and explore.  Some state parks even offer guided tours that are educational and lot of fun.  An evening around the campfire is always a lot of fun.  Often getting away from urban areas gets you out of light pollution that ruins star gazing, so boondocking usually a wonderful chance to view the night skies.   Many urban  dwellers  have NEVER seen the Milky Way and will be astonished to see how many stars there are!  In addition,with modern RV facilities and even the electronics available to tent campers, you can enjoy almost all the electronic toys you play with at home.   Of course, if you are truly seeking an "off grid" experience you can choose a really remote destination where even cell coverage is scarce or non-existent, but there are many places to boondock that are well served if that is important to you.

Myth Number 4:  Boondocking is expensive.  Many places you can go boondocking are actually free, especially in the Western United States where you can camp free on BLM lands.  You are in total control of what you chose to invest in equipment and supplies.  I know people who go camping in the desert with just a small  tent, sleeping bags, and an ice chest.  It doesn't get much simpler than that.  But if you want more creature comforts, that is an option.   With fairly low cost, quiet, efficient and reliable generators, even tent campers can have electricity any where they go.  If you are camping  in and RV you can usually enjoy, quite literally, all the comforts of home.

For more details on Boondocking Myths, see the Youtube video by Driving and Vibing.  They go over 9 boondocking  myths in detail.   The video runs about 12 and a half minutes and is entertaining as well as educational.

Get away!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Off Season Camping

Off season camping can  have a lot of advantages, especially if  you loath crowds and enjoy solitude!  However, there are reasons it is the "off season" and they are usually centered around climate.  The human body is most comfortable around 72° F and as temperatures go much above or below that favored target, things go beyond uncomfortable to intolerable to dangerous or even fatal!  Therefore, we tend to avoid circumstances where we have to contend with excessive heat or cold.  The off season in most temperate climates will be winter, when temperatures drop near or below freezing, but in some places, constant high temperatures make summer the off season.  Off season usually discourages many people so often you will find reduced crowds and greater personal access to many popular venues -- if you are willing and able to adjust to the off season climate!

Camping in the off season, regardless of whether it is defined by low or  high temperatures, means adapting to the seasonal changes.  Some adaptations may allow you to continue to frequent popular spots, some may require you to change your destinations.  When living in Southern California, we spent almost every 3-day weekend dirt biking in the Mojave Desert.  However, when mid-summer temperatures hovered near 100° F we switched to riding in higher mountain areas where it was cooler.  On one trip, the temperatures on the desert floor were too hot (well over 100° F) to even sleep comfortably in our RV at 5:00 in the morning.   A few hours later, having ascended about 5,000 feet into the mountains, it was cool enough that we needed winter jackets when unloading our dirt bikes and setting up camp!

Hot weather camping.  Sometimes we braved the heat and adapted our facilities and activities to make things more acceptable.  On at least one summer outing we brought along an extra 55 gallon drum of water and a plastic wading pool.  Our original intent was to provide a place for the kids to play and cool off but we soon found it also appealed to even the burliest dirt bikers in camp!  The only downside was that is also attracted every sweat bee within miles!  Another useful adaptation was installing a mist system under the patio awning on our RV.  To avoid burning out our RV pump or emptying our drinking water system I set up a separate water tank and pump for the mist system.  It was truly amazing what a difference that mist made!  You might have enjoyed a similar system while standing in long lines at popular amusement parks in hot weather.  Other hot weather preparations including making sure the air conditioners, both automotive and roof top units, were in top shape and working properly.  And don't forget fans!  Fans don't cool but by moving air and speeding evaporation of perspiration they make you feel cooler.  Powered RV vents and 12-volt fans can make hot vehicles much more comfortable and batter powered portable fans can be used anywhere -- in tents, hammocks, or just sitting in the shade.   And don't ignore manual, hand-held fans.  Even a paper plate can provide a surprising amount of breeze to speed evaporation and help cool you down.   For added cooling put some water in spray bottle and give yourself a refreshing spritz when you get too hot.  Adjustments activities included scheduling our dirt bike rides for earlier in the mornings or later in the afternoons to avoid the hottest part of the day, which we spent under the misters, sipping cool drinks or eating sno-cones.

Cold weather camping.  In addition to  personal comfort in cold weather you may have to prevent freezing of water and other supplies.  Some off season opportunities occur before freezing weather sets in, giving you a chance to explore some popular destinations with minimal adaptations in clothing and heating your domicile.  Early fall outings will often find some camp ground facilities already closed for the winter so you may have to plan on "dry camping" even in a developed campground.  If the weather isn't too cold simply dressing warmer and adding a blanket to your bedding or turning up the heat in your RV may be all the adjustment needed.  However, if you are dealing with temperatures below freezing you will have to take measures to prevent freezing of water systems and provisions.  There are a few RV campgrounds that stay open all winter.  If you go to one of these, be prepared to wrap your fresh water supply hose AND the campground faucet with heat tape.  If  you don't, your hose and quite possibly the faucet will freeze and you will be responsible for the cost of the repairs to the faucet.  When you aren't using water, disconnect the hose.  Leaving it connected keeps the frost-free faucets from draining and they can freeze.  That can be a costly mistake, which most campground owners will pass along to you if you are at fault.  You must also protect dump valves and any other exposed plumbing on an RV against freezing.  It is often suggested using a skirt around the bottom of an RV to reduce  heat loss, minimize fuel usage, and help protect plumbing.  Foam panels will provide the best insulation to preserve heat but even a light weight tarp to block the breeze beneath the unit will help.  If you are tent camping  you will need to prevent  your provisions from freezing.  Sometimes simply storing them in a camp cooler in your tent will be enough.  If that doesn't work you may have to seek safe storage in a heated environment such as a cabin or RV.  A tent  heater can add a lot to your comfort and convenience, but be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to avoid problems.  Some potential problems are obvious, such as fire potential if the heater is too close to the tent to other flammable materials.  Another serious concern is ventilation.  Even an indoor rated catalytic propane heater will consume oxygen and, without adequate ventilation, you will suffocate.  Avoid cooking inside a tent. There are too may risks associated with this task to even consider it.  If necessary, find a somewhat sheltered place outside to do your cooking.   I have seen  people cook safely in tents, but it requires careful regulation of the heat source, keeping flammable materials away from the heat source, and always being alert and careful with fuel and cooking implements.

As the temperatures drop below freezing you will need to adjust your clothing and your activities.  An RV or even a good tent base camp can be a good base of operations for winter sports -- skiing, sledding, skating, ice fishing, snowmobiling, etc.  After some time out in the cold you will welcome having a comfortable place to get in out of the weather and warm up.  Some OHVs lend themselves to winter use:  ATVs and side-by-sides are by nature more stable on snowy terrain than dirt bikes, especially if they are equipped with 4WD.  Dirt bikes will be more stable if the tires have spikes added to improved traction and grip.  Not matter what  you are doing you will want to dress in warm layers so you can adjust to changing temperatures, weather, and levels of activity.  While it  may seem counterintuitiver, avoid getting TOO warm and sweating.  It can cause hypothermia!

In some rare instances there may be an off season that isn't defined by weather, but such situations are few and far between.  Some activities may be based on things like animal migrations or sporting events and if you aren't there at the right time, you will miss out.  However, if  you are simply seeking a pleasant, natural experience,  you may be able to take advantage of the time when fewer people will be there to simply get away from it all and relax.  The biggest adjustment you will have to make in cases like that is to adjust your expectations.   Don't camp out on the beach at the wrong time of the year and still expect good viewing of whales, birds, or other wildlife.

Get off!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Are You Ever Too Old to RV or OHV?

This is a question that comes up more and more as we get older.  However, the calendar is not going to tell  you when  you have to quit camping in your RV or riding your OHV.  One of our favorite OHV quotes is:  "You don't stop riding because you get old; you get old because you stop riding."   Am will be 75 soon and my lovely wife is 72 and we still love to ride our dirt bikes.

My Mom and Dad didn't even buy their RV until Dad was approaching retirement age.  For many years my Mom's Mom traveled with them too until she was well into her late 80's at least.  I have a dirt biking friend who continues to organize and lead week long rides in Mexico even though he is in his late 70's.  My wife and I logged 50 off road miles on our dirt bikes on my 70th birthday.  I was already 73 when we got our sailboat!

How can you tell when its time to quit?  Unless acquire some dangerous health condition, there is really no reason why you can't keep camping and riding as long as you feel up to it.  I know many older folks who have had their driving privileges suspended but I also know plenty who keep going and going.  My own Mother, now 94, voluntarily quit driving only a few years ago when she felt her eye sight and reaction time made her feel uncomfortable behind the wheel.  I was very impressed a few years ago with my then 85 year old step dad's driving.  Unlike many elderly drivers, he maintained a youthful level of awareness and never fell into the over-cautious pattern many older drivers adopt.  On the other hand, we have seen some family members loose their driver's licenses relatively early due to failing eye sight or symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.  They weren't happy about it, but we agreed with the DMV, especially have we had to go find the family car one had abandoned and walked home (or been brought home by police) more than once.

My Grandfather always said "A man will rust out quicker than he'll wear out."   I definitely believe that is true.  I have seen men retire and just plop down in front of the TV with nothing to occupy their minds or exercise their bodies except the remote control.  In many cases instead of pushing the buttons on the remote control they were soon pushing up daisies!  Publications for retired folks are promoting volunteer service as a way of improving retirement.  Volunteer service gives people something productive and rewarding to do and often includes more physical activity than they would otherwise pursue on their own.  Camping, boating, and OHVing are activities that also fulfill many of the same needs.   Even in our 70's my  wife and I are active volunteer firefighters and EMRs in our rural community.

All this being said, we need to behave responsibly.  We need to measure our strength and stamina and adjust our schedules and expectations accordingly.  We need to remember that our bones are more brittle and that injuries will take longer to heal than when we were young.  That may mean being a little less aggressive in our off road pursuits or turning in a little earlier and/or sleeping in a little later when camping.  If we are taking prescription medications, we must remember to bring them along and take them during our outings -- and to consider any possible side effects or restrictions associated with them.

So, don't let the calendar or some arbitrary number of birthdays determine when you have to stop camping, boating, or riding your OHV.  After all, having more birthdays is a good thing:  the more  you have the longer you live!  Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes good nutrition and adequate exercise.  Exercise doesn't have to be daunting or expensive.  Personally I use the 5BX program developed for the Canadian Air Force in the early 1950s and adopted by the  US Air Force.  You can stay relatively fit working just 11 minutes a day.

Just Do It!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Boat Clutter

A boat or camper, like any other form of abode, will  collect clutter if you don't make a conscious effort to avoid it.  It is just about as easy to accumulate clutter in a boat, an RV or camper as it is at home.  Fortunately, at least for us, there are usually fewer opportunities to collect unnecessary souveniers out on the water than in campgrounds or while traveling, but it is still way to easy to bring aboard items for a single outing that seem to never find their way back home.  And, while it may not be as likely to accumulate a lot of unnecessary stuff on a boat, it is likely to be more important to get rid of excess weight.  Excess weight in an RV can impact gasoline mileage and, if heavy enough may affect performance and safety.  On a boat, any excess weight is going to affect displacement -- how deep your boat sets in the water and that will definitely affect both performance and safety.

Just like an RV or a set of camping bins, boats will benefit greatly from routine inventory and organization.  Often you may find it even more important to be sure you have everything you need on board and aren't carrying around a lot of extra weight.  Extra weight usually means a drop in performance for both power boats and sail boats and can affect handling too.  Because there aren't as many places you can acquire more "stuff" out on the lake or the ocean, you might not accumulate excess as quickly as you would in an RV or even when tent camping, but it is way too easy to "bring along" something for a specific outing and leave in on board indefinitely.  Over time that can amount to a lot of extra weight and a lot of stuff you have to move or sort through when you need something.

There are very likely at least as many ways to organize your boat as there are sailors but there are some general guidelines that can make life easier.  Unless you have a really big yacht, space is going to be at a premium and you will want to make use of every bit  you have and do it efficiently.  Some things, like cooking utensils and food related supplies obviously belong in the galley.  Things like boat hooks should be stored somewhere topside so you don't have to dig them out when docking.  Tools should be easily accessible.  My Venture 24 sailboat has a small compartment right where you step down through the companionway into the cabin that I found to be a good spot for my tools and spare parts.  They are out of the way of normal activity but quick and easy to get to when they are needed.  Things like life jackets and other flotation devices should always be within easy reach.  You want to be able to don your life jacket at the first sign of turbulent conditions and throwable flotation devices (used to aid passengers who fall overboard without a life jacket) must be immediately available.  Coast Guard regulations require you to have a life jacket on board for every passenger and it is not a bad idea for everyone to wear one at all times.  Throwable floation devices, like life preservers and throwable cushions should be readily accessible from the cockpit.  Many boats have storage under the cockpit, accessible through one or more hatches in the cockpit.  Throwable cushions are a good way to add both comfort and safety to the cockpit.  This is also a good place for other things you might need while underway.  Some things need to be right at  hand, like the winch handle for sailboats.  When the boat is docked in port or the marina you might want to stow the winch handle inside to avoid it being stolen, but when sailing it is good to have it in a holster attached to the cabin bulkhead next to the companionway hatch.

Tool kits are essential to maintain your boat and effect emergency repairs out on the water.  However, you should try to limit your tool kit to just what you might need -- and know how to use -- to get back to the dock -- any dock -- if something goes wrong.   I have seen articles that suggest having cordless drills on board, but personally I think that, unless you have a large, powerful boat, they are likely to add too much weight and take up too much room for the few times you will actually find your need them.  And, most of us don't get out on our boats as often was we would like and the batteries are likely to be dead by the time we need to use the drill/driver.  I would recommend sticking with a basic set of hand tools that will let you take care of most routine tasks and basic emergency repairs.  Such a tool kit doesn't have to take up a lot of room or add a lot of weight.  And, as always, look for multi-use tools that can help minimize what you need to bring along.

After you've had your boat for a while it is a good idea to take time to go through and take inventory of everything you have on board.  Over time some needed tools or supplies will get lost or used up and need to be replaced and you will tend to accumulate miscellaneous items you don't need on every trip.  Taking time to take inventory lets you get rid of unnecessary stuff, replace important missing or damaged, and, in general, refresh your memory of what you have and where it is.  If you find stuff you never use, seriously consider taking it home unless it is a critical tool or survival item.  When you find damaged or missing tools, replaced them.  Outdated supplies should be discarded and outdated or used up supplies replaced.  It might also be a good time to consider how effective your current organization plan is and to relocate frequently used items to where they will be more easily accessed.  However, because we are creatures of habit there is sometimes great value in keeping things where "they've always been".

Boats can also accumulate unwanted stuff on the hull below the waterline.  A buildup of barnacles, algae, and/or other materials will add weight and resistance.  Boat bottoms require special paint.  Usually it contains copper to reduce growth of barnacles and is designed so ablation helps keep junk from adhering.  While that helps keep the bottom clean, it does mean the bottom must be repainted on a regular schedule to maintain protection, performance, and appearance.  The same applies to rudder, propellers, center boards, and any other equipment that resides below the surface.

Clean it up!
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