7 Tips to Protect Your Boat in the Wintertime

7 Tips to Protect Your Boat in the Wintertime

For many, boating is more than a passion – it often feels more like an essential part of their lives. When so deeply invested in such a hobby, both in terms of personal interest and from a financial perspective, it’s best to look out for your vessel at all times. This is especially important in the colder months of the year here in Canada, which can be brutal and unrelenting at times, meaning an increased risk of damage to your boat of choice. 

Today, let’s help you look after your investment. Here are several tips for protecting your boat from winter weather, howling winds, and the bitter cold. Some of these will apply specifically to when your vessel is stored in the water, such as those focusing on pumping and bilge systems.

Close the Seacocks (But Not All of Them)

Seacocks are among the most important components on a boat, and they can be found on most vessels. This is a small valve below the waterline that allows for water to flow inside in a tightly controlled manner, which can be useful for cooling down the engine. It also consists of extremely meticulously arranged internal threads that can lead to excess water ingress if compromised or left open indefinitely. You’ll want to close all onboard seacocks except for the one in the cockpit area. Verify that this is done before storing your boat away for the winter, as you won’t need their functionality when the vessel isn’t in use. Also, for the cockpit, it’s a good idea for the cockpit to ensure the scuppers aren’t full of debris such as leaves, twigs, or seaweed. 

Examine the Bilge Pump

Next, you’ll want to ensure your bilge pumping system is capable of operating throughout the winter. It should be able to function correctly even if the built-in battery switch is set to the off position. Double-check to ensure that it works as it should, as this system is designed to eject excess water from the hull in the event of a penetration. It’s not a guarantee that the boat will remain afloat, especially if the hull has been gashed open severely, but it should provide a little peace of mind.

Proper Ventilation is Key

Of course, damage from snow and ice storms isn’t the only risk; protecting your boat from winter weather also means safeguarding it against mould and mildew. This can be caused by excess water or moisture accumulation onboard, such in conditions with high humidity leading to condensation buildup over several months in indoor storage. Wherever you’re planning on storing the vessel for the winter, ensure it is fully ventilated and cycles the air thoroughly, as this will help to prevent the buildup of excess moisture and stagnant air.

Remove All Valuables

Not only can electronics be inadvertently damaged by temperature fluctuations or moisture, but if someone happens to take a fancy to your vessel and target it for a robbery, they won’t be stolen. The same goes for any highly valuable items that can be removed easily, such as irreplaceable documents, valuables stored in a compartment, and watersports equipment stored onboard.

Winterize Your Boat from Bow to Stern

There are several sub-steps associated with winterization. For starters, fill your vessel’s onboard fuel tanks and add a stabilizer to help look after the engine while inactive. Don’t forget to drain water from the engine as well. You should also change the engine oil, replace any fuel filters, and ensure that your coolant levels are ideal for months in storage. Lastly, for added protection of your engine if it uses gasoline, you might want to consider fogging your cylinders so moisture doesn’t accumulate.

Now that the “dirtier” work is out of the way, it’s a good idea to winterize the rest of your boat’s deck and interior spaces. Examples include removing all perishables like food, draining your water heater and onboard holding tanks, ensuring no water is pooling on-deck where it could otherwise freeze and cause damage, and turning off all heating systems, including propane tanks. The only thing that should be left on is your bilge pump, which should, again, be cleaned out and dry prior to saying goodbye to your vessel for the winter. 

Cover Your Boat and Lock it Up!

We can’t emphasize this step enough. Covering your vessel with a properly fitting tarp that isn’t too loose or tight can prevent snow, ice, and water from getting on the deck, into navigation equipment, and elsewhere including in the cabin or head (if applicable). This also protects the hull itself, which is especially important if yours is made of fibreglass and/or has a coating applied to it. 

Of course, no matter where you plan on storing your boat, it’s just good practice to lock everything up before storing it for the winter. If storing at a secure marina, hand over an extra set of keys so your boat can be looked after without you having to stop by. 

Locking doesn’t only apply to doors, storage cabinets, and other similar areas; it also extends to the navigational equipment. Tying down your steering wheel or tiller is one such example, which prevents the rudder from moving about and getting damaged. It can also apply to tying up the boat in a manner that centres it in the slip, a crucial step that must be done properly. Lines should be able to hold indefinitely without excess slack as the vessel may otherwise shift, snap one or more of them, and subsequently break free.

Secure a Boat Insurance Policy with Storage and Year-Round Coverage

Lastly and most importantly, you should always be prepared for the unexpected, especially when it comes to owning, operating, and storing a boat of any size. Customized boat insurance coverage options are typically the optimal approach, such as ours offering increased coverage for personal effects, recovery costs, and agreed value. We’ll also provide new parts for any repairs needed from winter storm damage, and without any frustrating betterment fees. Additionally, boat insurance policies like ours offer 12-month-a-year coverage, including when being transported on the road, taking to the water, and stored, meaning your investment is always financially safeguarded. Generally, filing a claim should be easy and straightforward, and you should look for a reputable provider specializing in boating insurance as they tend to offer more comprehensive coverage. 

If you’re seeking peace of mind when it comes to protecting your boat in the winter months or any other time of the year, we’re happy to assist here at Portside Marine Insurance. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized policy coverage options.

5 Reasons Why You Need Boat Insurance

5 Reasons Why You Need Boat Insurance

You’re required to have insurance to cover your home and car from damage and liability, but not your boat. So does that mean you shouldn’t purchase boat insurance? Over the course of these five essential reasons why boat insurance is still worth getting, we’ll reveal the importance of financially protecting yourself and your aquatic assets.

Why Get Boat Insurance?

Boat insurance may not be required by law but it’s an absolute necessity. An accident could not only destroy your boat, but it might also cause bodily injury and damage to other property. Without insurance, you would be on the hook to pay for all the repairs, medical bills, funeral expenses, lawyer fees, and any other costs associated with the incident. Considering the average boat insurance claim is in the five-figure range, it quite literally pays to have insurance to protect you and your investment.  

Let’s look a little closer at some of the main reasons why you need boat insurance in Canada.

To Protect Your Investment

A boat is an expensive vehicle, often costlier than the average car on the road today. Similar to your car and home, your vessel is an investment that is worth protecting. And the only way to protect your boat and the people who ride inside it is through insurance. 

Similar to how car and home insurance will cover any damages that occur to your vehicle and property, boat insurance will provide damage coverage for the loss of your vessel and equipment. Property coverage is designed to kick in for the boat on land and water, not to mention reimbursement for theft or vandalism. 

When choosing a policy, you’ll need to decide between actual cash value or agreed value coverage if the boat is stolen or destroyed in an accident. The agreed value coverage will come with a higher premium because it does not factor in the depreciation of the boat over time. With this type of coverage, you will be reimbursed for the amount of money it would take to replace your vessel with a similar model, or to restore it to the same condition it was in before the accident. With the actual cash value of your boat, depreciation is factored in, and the insurance company will determine the current value and pay you based on that amount. 

You should also look at the coverage and how it pertains to the boat while it’s being trailered. If yours is damaged when being transported, you will need to understand what the insurance will cover versus your auto insurance, and whether all damage costs can be reimbursed.

Other things to consider include the personal items you had on your boat. If it is severely damaged and needs to be towed, is the cost included and will the insurance provide you with a rental boat until it’s repaired? Or, if the vessel sinks or leaks fuel, will the policy cover for wreck removal and/or environmental liability?

To Protect Other Property

Most boating accidents involve another boat or property. In the event that yours damages someone else’s property, such as their vessel or dock, the liability coverage in the insurance policy would pay for those damages. That said, you’ll also want a guarantee that it will cover those damages if your boat is out of water and in transport. 

To Protect Your Financial Health

Liability coverage will also pay for any bodily injury that results from an accident. This includes any swimmers, water skiers, or other boaters. In addition, it will compensate for any legal fees you incur if you are sued.

You’ll need to consider exactly how much liability coverage you will need. The policy will come with a standard liability insurance amount, but we recommend having at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage. For those with more expensive vessels that have bigger engines and can carry more people, you might want to consider purchasing up to $2,000,000 in liability insurance to financially protect you and all your passengers.

If you are docking your boat at a marina or you are leasing or financing a vessel, you may be required to have a certain amount of liability insurance as part of your agreement. Be sure to read the fine print before you settle on a policy to ensure you have all the coverage you need.

To Pay for Medical Expenses

Medical payments coverage can pertain to a range of medical services, medications, and treatment plans. It’s always important to look at the fine print to determine exactly what is taken care of by the policy and up to what amount. Not all insurance companies provide the same amount of medical payments coverage; some will offer better options than others. 

To Cover You if the Person at Fault is Uninsured

Not everyone on the water has boat insurance, which can put you at risk. If you do not have any and are hit by another boater who also does not have insurance, you would only be eligible for compensation if you were to sue that person. And without insurance, you could only sue them for what they are worth. The rest of your medical bills, damages, and otherwise would have to come out of your own pocket including expensive legal fees. 

Our recommendation is to double-check that your policy includes uninsured boater coverage. This will ensure that, if you are involved in an accident and the other person is uninsured, you will be eligible to receive the maximum amount as stated within it.

So, why get boat insurance in the first place? Because it’s the only way to protect your investment and finances, all while giving you peace of mind that your passengers and others in the water are also looked after financially. Let us help you get the ideal coverage for your boating needs at the lowest rates available. Contact us today at Portside Insurance for further details or assistance.

Ontario Boat Registration: An Overview, Plus a Comparison to Licensing

boat on water

If you own a boat of any kind, it’s in your best interests to register it. Ontario boat registration, in particular, has a specific set of steps that need to be followed. With that said, we’ve had plenty of folks reach out to us wondering not only whether registration is even a necessity, but also how to go about doing so. 

Today, let’s explore the fundamentals of Ontario boat registration in more detail. We’ll also compare it to a boat licence – something completely different yet often confused with registration – along the way. With our help, we hope you can make as informed a decision as possible regarding your investment. Let’s get started!

What is Ontario Boat Registration?

Boat trailer insurance falls under the greater umbrella of trailer insurance, as you’re First, the basics. Boat registration is exactly what it sounds like: the registering of a vessel under the owner’s name. It serves the same purpose in any province or territory in Canada. In addition, a designated port of registry will be included (think of the city name found on the stern of a cruise ship or other vessels you’ve likely seen – that’s what this is). It’s handy for demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that you indeed own and operate the vessel in question, which means your registration can be used in situations like obtaining boat insurance in Ontario, signing up for a marine mortgage, or otherwise.

The Ontario Boat Registration Process

In order to register, you must first complete an online application. This is a remarkably streamlined and efficient process compared to how it used to be! With that in mind, when submitting your application, there are important elements that you need to include in order to register a boat in Ontario specifically. These include the following:

A high-quality photograph of your vessel

This must be taken in a way that shows the entire boat in a side profile (in other words, with the camera facing either the port or starboard side of the hull). Only your boat should be visible in the image – never anyone else’s.

One valid piece of government-issued photo ID

The scan should be high enough in quality so any identifying numbers and letters – as well as your photograph – are not distorted or unclear.

Any proof of ownership that you have in your possession

Depending on how you ended up owning the vessel, this may include a will if it was inherited, a divorce agreement if you retained ownership when dividing assets, or a standard receipt and/or quote confirming your purchase.

Third-party authorization letter

This is only required if someone is applying for the boat licensing on your behalf. This would be in a form of a signed letter stating that the owner has authorized the third party to represent them.

Registering a Boat Versus Licensing it

There’s a common misconception that registering a boat in Ontario and licensing it are the same thing. However, that’s not the case. As explored in detail on Transport Canada’s dedicated Frequently Asked Questions page on boat licensing and registration, there are clear differences that make these two terms unique from one another. 

First, as per the Canadian Shipping Act, registration is optional for pleasure craft of any variety and size, unless an exception warrants registration as a requirement. For example, a vessel needs to be registered if you ever plan on leaving Canadian waters in it, such as on an excursion to ports in the United States. 

Second, should your vessel be under 15 tons of gross tonnage, you have the option of entering it into either the Canadian Register of Vessels or the Small Vessel Register. Third, you will need to pay a registration fee, but it’s valid for as long as the vessel being registered remains under your ownership. With a licence, you’ll need to renew it every ten years.

Lastly, you must always keep your registration paperwork aboard the vessel along with any other relevant documents related to your ownership. As noted by Transport Canada, this is to protect you against complications related to fines, customs, or otherwise. It’s also important to note that commercial registrations are more complex with more unique terms and requirements. We recommend viewing the Frequently Asked Questions on Transport Canada’s website we linked above to further explore those details.

What if You Want to License and Register Your Boat?

Once again, referencing Transport Canada’s website, you cannot obtain a license and register your boat. It must be one or the other. This might sound confusing as many individuals have asked us, “Don’t I need a licence to operate a boat?” but it’s not exactly the case. In fact, you only need a pleasure craft licence if your boat has a total motor output capability of 10 horsepower or more (in wattage, this is 7.5 kilowatts). Bear this in mind when considering the type of boat you intend to purchase if you haven’t done so already, as personal pleasure craft are also subject to this rule.

So, what is a Boating Licence Exactly?

To help you further understand the importance of registering a boat in Ontario, let’s clear the air a little more on what exactly a boat licence is. For pleasure craft in particular, a licence is essentially a unique number assigned to the vessel in question. Like with the registration of the owner, designated port, and other similar details, a licence needs to be kept on board at all times and can also be applied for online purposes. If you go with a licence instead of registering your boat, this identifying number needs to be displayed clearly on the port and starboard sides of the hull.

This was just an overview of the fundamentals, but we hope our exploration of boat registry in Ontario – and clarifying how it differs from a licence – helps you make the best possible decision for your pleasure craft of choice. For assistance with marine insurance policies and protecting your investment, the Portside team is happy to help you ensure smooth sailing and years of peace of mind. Get in touch with us today or request a quote!