Steer Clear Of These No-Go Zones
Contributor: Carefree Boat Club of Southern CT
Over the last number of years we have found that a majority of boat damage to Carefree’s fleet happens at a few, very specific sites in Long Island Sound.
During our 2020 season,19 boats were damaged or had totaled lower units (the lowest part on the engine that holds the prop and shaft that drives the prop). Depending on the engine manufacturer, a new lower unit costs between $4,200 and $7,500. Replacing a lower unit puts the boat out of service a minimum of 2 days, if we have a replacement in our inventory, and up to 30 days if we need to order a replacement. On top of that, it requires 6 man hours to complete the replacement. As you can imagine repairs like this create severe stress on the club’s staff and its boat availability.
Of the 19 damaged lower units in 2020, we noticed that 90% of them occurred in the rocky shallows surrounding the clearly marked Cockenoe Island. In July, we notified members of a no-go zone around Cockonoe and placed gps trackers that would notify dock staff should the boat enter the no-go zone on 5 of the boats in Westport. This practice reduced instances of lower unit damage by 100% on those 5 boats
In 2021, we will be using these trackers in all Carefree boats and will be placing no-go zones around all of the hazardous areas that we have identified over prior seasons. By using the trackers and no-go zones we hope to reduce all lower unit damage by a minimum of 50%, and also encourage all members to be entirely aware and conscious of their location AT ALL TIMES. It only takes one second of not paying attention to cause thousands of dollars in damage, risk the safety of yourself and your passengers and ruin the plans of members who have the boat reserved after you.
To further encourage this situational awareness, we will be putting in place strict consequences should a no-go zone be violated. Should you enter a no-go zone, either knowingly or unknowingly, your ability to make reservations will be suspended for two weeks and you will be charged a $250 fee to cover the cost of hauling the boat for lower unit and hull inspection.
I have included a list of said no-go zones below, as well as charts of each one. However, I highly encourage you to talk to dock staff about local no-go zones prior to each outing so that you can plan your course accordingly. Even better, would be to have a float plan and Navionics course charted prior to your departure, which you can share with your dock master to ensure that you do not accidentally enter a no-go zone. We are aware that Penfield Reef is a popular fishing area. If you would like to enter this area for fishing purposes we ask that you create a float plan and present it to your dock master prior to departure.
This season we aim to impress upon every single member that they are their own Captain, and while using a boat, the Captain is entirely responsible for absolutely everything that occurs during the time they have that boat, whether in motion or not.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the no-go zones please contact me directly.