Boat Insurance

Boater'sCustomers who are buying a boat are always asking about Boat Insurance. Who they should choose, what they should look for in a policy, etc. With all of the big insurance agencies out there competing for your attention and money, it can be hard to choose which one to go with and who will provide you with the best policy.

There are a number of things to look for when choosing Boat Insurance and we wanted to touch on a few of those things in this article.

What to look for in a Boat Insurance Policy

When shopping for insurance, if you have no mortgage on the vessel, you have the ability to choose how much and what kind of coverage you want. There are quite a few options depending on the agency. There’s towing, salvage, pollution liability, personal effects, and even coverage for your four-legged friends.

All marine lending institutions require ample insurance coverage on vessels over 26’ in length. Basic marine insurance includes coverage for hull damages in the water or on the land. Also, P & I, or protection and indemnity, for injuries resulting in claims or for property damage claims, is included in the marine insurance. Insurance binders naming the loss payee are due prior to or at the time of the vessel closing.

Many boaters might not realize that their policy only covers their boat when it is in a certain region, i.e. Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. There is insurance coverage called coastal extension that will cover your boat if you plan to travel somewhere outside of your area. It is increasingly popular to find marine insurance companies who offer to pay for haul out fees when a named hurricane is imminent. If you plan to keep your boat on coastal waters, be sure and find out how your insurance company views hurricane haul outs.

Some Additional Factors in Boat Insurance

Your boat can be too big or too fast!! Well, for some insurance agencies at least. It can also be too old, however there are some agencies out there who enjoy the classics. ;) Size, Age, and Speed can be determining factors in your policy. You also want to make sure that you are properly insuring your type and size of boat. You don’t want to be paying for a 50 Center Cockpit sized policy, when you’re only scooting around in a little Snark sailboat.

Finding the best price

Now we’re at the part that often matters the most to some boaters. “How much is this going to cost me?” and “Can I save money?” are questions that come to mind. In order to get the best price, consider the following:

Wintertime Blues- You can also ask if there is a discount for your off-season time of the year. In other words, is there a lay up period?

Get a few more Electronics- Extra safety equipment on board may reduce the cost of the premium. Certain safety electronics may be worth buying and installing to reduce the premium. Do a cost analysis and see if the additional electronics are worth getting to reduce your payments. You always want to be safe on the water.

Take a Class- Just like auto insurance, a boater’s education can reduce the risk level and the cost of their insurance.

Safe Driving Record – Boaters with excellent driving records will typically qualify for a lower insurance premium. Just like with car insurance, a safe driving record often translates to better marine insurance rates. If your driving record is not good, expect to pay more for marine insurance, too.

Make sure to shop around before settling on one policy. Some quotes may vary by as much as $200.00. Talk to other boaters about their vessel insurance and how claims were addressed. Saving a little money is always a good thing, but you also want to be sure that you get the right coverage so it doesn’t cost more in the end.



Solar Panels On Your Boat

Solar Panels

Why have them?

A full charge on the battery is an absolute must-have when doing long distance cruises, but when you are enjoying a beautiful, QUIET day sailing, you don’t want to have to turn on an engine just to juice up your batteries to ensure you have necessities down below. Why not take advantage of all the sunshine around you, and harness some solar power while using that wind power?

There are many types of solar panels out there. You can have fixed solar panels that attach to your davits, there are flexible solar panels with grommets that can be attached to your Bimini, and even roll-out panels that make it easier to maneuver and transport them.

Solar Panels are an ideal addition to your boat for keeping your batteries up to snuff. Most boaters use more battery power than they realize. If you are stuck at the dock with your battery charger on waiting for a full charge, know that solar panels can keep your batteries charged. The solar panels produce the charge and batteries store the energy created by the solar panels.

Sometimes Solar Panels (depending on their size or a lot of sunlight) work so well that they require regulators to keep them at a cool 12V so they don’t overload a battery. Regulators have a set of load terminals to dump excess power to a resistive load. Some people use that diverted load for their water heater.

Norton’s Marine Service Center has used the brand Kyocera in the past when installing Solar Panels on our customers’ boats, but some other brands include Powerfilm and RDK Products.

If you are interested in finding out more about Marine Solar Panels on your boat, contact us at

Upcoming Boat Shows


The final weekend of April and first weekend of May are going to be very busy for boaters with two major events happening!

The countdown has begun for the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show where Norton Yachts will be promoting their Special Show Incentives and exhibiting a Marlow Hunter 37, the largest volume boat on the market under 40 feet. The Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show will be held from 10:00AM to 6:00PM April 24th-26th at City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. Tickets can be purchased at

Afterwards, Norton’s will return to Deltaville to display ALL of their NEW Jeanneau Yachts, NEW Marlow Hunter Sailboats, Brokerage Sailboats and Powerboats for all event-goers where the Special Incentives will continue. Norton’s will also be giving out door prizes to attendees, as well as providing some tasty snacks, and Sea Trials (weather permitting).

Norton’s Annual Open House will be held during Deltaville Dealer Days from 10:00AM to 4:00PM at Norton Yachts located at 97 Marina Drive, Deltaville, VA 23043. If you would like to know more about either event, you can call 804-776-9211 or email


Also, Norton’s would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to the sponsors who make Deltaville Dealer Days possible!
Thank you!
Upcoming Boat Shows

Planning an Extended Cruise

Plan.PLAN. PLAN. (1)Our good friend, Dave Hope, is the author of a fantastic book titled Summer Heat. The book talks about his life as a sailor and a Chesterfield County Police Officer, as well as recounts his experience of being caught in a storm aboard his boat “Summer Heat”.

In this article, Dave discusses the necessity of planning. Planning and Sailing always go hand in hand and you can never over-plan a voyage. Many “unplanned” things can happen on an extended cruise, and it is always better to be prepared for many possible events than none at all.

As obvious as it sounds, planning for any trip, whether a day trip, a trip across the bay, a coastal cruise, or an ocean voyage, requires planning to be successful.  Just last week, actually March 31, 2014, S/V Southern Heat began her long journey home to Colington Harbour on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our last scheduled day at the Vinoy Resort and Marina, St. Petersburg, FL., was to be April 1, 2014.

I began watching the weather approximately one week earlier, to get into the rhythm of studying the weather once again. I use a number of sources such as Passage Weather, Long Range Weather Planning, Chris Parker’s weather routing service, and local TV. They all provide a little different slant on the upcoming weather, but, I place most of my confidence in Chris Parker as he is a professional weather router for sailors all over the U.S. east coast, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean Sea. Further, he is a sailor himself who lives in FL. and understands the nuances of coastal and oceanic weather systems.

The entire week was looking good for departing St. Pete and heading south toward Cape Sable and Key West. Why wait until April 1?  March 31 had favorable wind, light though it was, so let’s get started. Having said that, was Southern Heat ready to go? What about the crew, were they ready?

Earlier, Camilla had rented a car and on March 30 we drove to the down town Publix grocery store to replenish ship’s stores. We believe in eating good wholesome meals when underway, even in the ocean. We often use pre-packed beef or pork meals that can be microwaved while underway. Camilla adds onions and green peppers to these dishes and serves at least one side dish such as a baked potato. I must say that these meals” go down” really well when sailing on an over nighter. Being well nourished is important when sailing shorthanded on an overnight trip.

Last minute laundry chores were completed and boat concerns such as taking on fresh water, checking the engine oil, filters, running and navigation lights, charging up battery operated devices, and general ship inspection were completed. Oh, and very importantly, a diver scrubbed the boat’s bottom to free her of slime and accumulated barnacles.   After having sat in St. Pete for several months, she definitely needed a clean bottom, which increased our speed by about a knot and a half! The shaft zincs had eroded away and had to be replaced as well. I carry two spare zincs at all times as well as fan belts, impellers, engine oil, diesel cans on deck, extra device batteries, etc.

I had planned to sail down Tampa Bay to the Manatee River and anchor out just inside the river for the night, giving us a good jump toward Venice, FL the following day. Venice is approximately 47 nm distance from St. Pete and the trip down to the Manatee would have shortened the next day’s run. The more I thought about it and with Camilla’s gentle prodding, I decided to leave at first light in the morning and go all the way to Venice, thus saving us a day’s travel. Leaving at first light means getting up in the dark, walking the dog in the dark, stowing the shore power lines in the dark, and slipping the dock lines when it is felt that one can safely leave the slip in limited light.

The trip down Tampa Bay and onward down the Gulf of Mexico was uneventful and happened on a beautifully sunny day. The wind was nearly non-existent, so we motored. Venice Inlet turned out to be a “piece of cake” and we continued for one mile or so to the Fisherman’s Warf Marina where we stayed for the night. Anchoring out is not as much fun as it used to be since we must walk Rider twice a day and we would be leaving at first light again the following morning.

Cruisers religiously check the weather and I checked my sources that evening; it all looked good. Early in the AM, Camilla walked Rider as I got on the single side band radio to talk with Chris Parker about the weather for our overnight Gulf trip from Venice to Key West. The wind would be light and from the south west during the day and would clock around to an easterly quadrant during the night and increase to 15-20k. We were ready.

Southern Heat slipped her lines just after first light and headed for Venice Inlet once again and on down the Gulf toward Key West. It was another beautiful day and we pulled out the main and jib sails to motor sail toward Key West. This stretch of the Gulf of Mexico is infamous for the number of crab pots, seemingly everywhere. They were even 25nm off shore! The crew of course remained vigilant, checking constantly for pots. The fear of wrapping one around the boat’s shaft was palpable. The real fear was that the pots would still be present during the hours of darkness, when they cannot be seen, thus dodged or not. Late in the afternoon, somewhere near Naples, FL, I saw the beginning of a crab pot line heading east toward shore; we were 23 nm out in the Gulf at the time. I thought that might be the last of the pots as we were so far out and the line started out there and headed inshore. Other than an errant pot once in a while, that thought proved to be true. A huge sigh of relief!

At about the same time, we heard a boater on a 28’ fishing boat declare over the marine vhf radio that he was “out of gas” and about 15 miles out in the Gulf, off of Naples. He called to “any boat” but no one answered. He sounded close by; his radio signal was quite strong. I answered his call, but he did not hear me. He continued to call for assistance from any boat and I answered him several more times. Finally he called the U.S. Coast Guard who replied to him and he did not hear their call either. I contacted the Coast Guard, all the way back up in St. Pete and informed them that I had called the boater several times to no avail. They asked that I try again, so I did; no answer. The coast guard and I concluded that not only was the boater out of gas, his radio was not functioning properly either. Soon, the boater issued a “may day” declaring that he was out at sea and out of gas. The Naples coast guard station got involved and could not raise the boater. Another sailor who had left St. Pete the day before and was now in the area tried several calls, to no avail. Finally the coast guard triangulated the distressed boater’s radio signal and sent a “small boat” out of Naples to conduct a “rescue.” A couple of hours later the coast guard related that the boater had been located and rescued. No one ever could get the boater to hear a radio call.

The planning on that particular day trip did not go far enough. If you are going off shore, doesn’t it make sense to check your fuel level and conduct a quick radio check on one of the automated channels, in that geographical area, channel 27 and 28, before leaving dock?

There was a fantastic sunset shortly after the distressed boater incident. I told Camilla that we might get to see the green flash as we were pretty far south and the sky was clear. It’s only for a partial second if it happens at all and as the sun sunk into the west, at the last second there it was, the green flash! Yes, we both saw it. I have been fortunate enough to see the flash nine times throughout my sailing life.

More planning; the wind had increased and we were motor sailing with low rpm’s on the engine while maintaining 6.5 to 7 knots. I told Camilla that the wind would most likely increase during the night as predicted and said that as much as I hated to, we should reef the sails so that we would not have to do it later, in the dark, with more wind already present, and we would be fatigued. The reefed sails slowed us between 6  and 6.2 knots while motor sailing. We had to watch the angle of heel while motoring as the Yanmar engine is not supposed to be heeled more than 17 degrees for any significant time so I have been told by mechanics over the years. Fortunately, I had purchased a new inclometer in St. Pete, just before our departure, as the old unit had “frosted” over with sun damage.

Early in the morning the wind did increase to 15-20k gusting a little over 20 and I was glad to have the reefs in place.

Of course, before we left St. Pete, I plotted our trip on the multifunction display, marked with waypoints along the way. The way points were incorporated into a route, one that led us directly down the main shipping channel for NW Key West and directly to the Conch Harbor Marina. I knew that I would be tired by then and did not want to leave anything up to using my brain if I didn’t have to. We stand three hour watches throughout the night which works well for us, but one is still very tired the next day.

I had made reservations at the Conch Harbor Marina before departing St. Pete, and Camilla verified that information the day before our arrival. Leave nothing to chance. We are now sitting in Marathon, FL waiting for the head wind to turn so that we may continue our trek homeward; looks like more planning in my future.

Fair winds,

Capt. David P. Hope

S/V Southern Heat


Choosing Bottom Paint : Ablative Vs. Non-Ablative

Choosing Bottom Paint Choosing Bottom Paint

Anti-fouling Bottom Paint

Antifouling paint is a coating that repels the unwanted attachment of barnacles, plants, and other organism’s to the bottom of your boat. The paint is able to repel these things with the help of “biocide”, and the more biocide contained in the paint the more effective it is. For years, this biocide was Tin, which has now been replaced by copper due to the harmful environmental effects of the tin. Now with more environmental concerns towards copper, you are finding more bottom paints claiming to have less, little, or no copper.

Ablative or Non-Ablative

A customer recently asked which type of bottom paint is better: ablative or non-ablative? To answer that question for everyone, we wanted to first define the difference between the two.

Ablative paint can be defined as self- polishing paint, meaning that it gradually wears away a little at a time to expose a fresh layer of biocide underneath as your boat is moving through the water.

Non-Ablative is opposite in the sense that the paint gives the bottom a hard coating that doesn’t wear easily and remains there until all the biocide has been used up.

Because Ablative bottom paint wears away with more movement through the water, it doesn’t leave a buildup of bottom paint on your hull, but it is not recommended for racers who move quickly and often through the water.

Non-ablative will remain on the boat no matter the amount of movement through water, but will need to be re-applied on top of the previous layer in order to replenish the anti-fouling qualities of the paint.

Which one is for you?

The best thing to do is call Norton’s Marine Service Center, and discuss your method of boating with our Service Manager. Depending on whether you are power or sail, racer or cruiser, he will help you figure out the best type of anti-fouling paint for your boat. We offer the best brands and best service in the business. Call 804-776-9211 or email


Having a dog onboard a sailboat

Should I have a dog onboard my boat?

That is a legitimate question with no easy answer. I will limit my discussion to cruising boats, particularly cruising sail boats. Day cruises are similar, but without some of the problems or concerns related to destination cruising.

If you already own a pooch, then the die is somewhat cast. If you are preparing for a seasonal cruise to, say, the Bahamas or even Florida, I emphatically say do not get a dog to take with you. It is patently unfair to the dog andHaving a dog onboard a sailboat to the human sailors onboard. Assuming that you don’t listen to that bit of sage advice, read on.

I love dogs, but sort of like children in that I love MY dog. I had been dogless for approximately ten years due primarily to a sailing and seasonal cruising life style. Then, my first mate and fiancée said that she wanted a dog. She had sailed with me twice to the Bahamas for the winter and understood the ramifications of having an animal onboard. She pressed the issue and because I love her and do love dogs, I relented, but said that if we were to get a dog it must be a water dog. That, my friends, was the beginning of the slippery slope.

I wanted an English springer spaniel for the temperament, size (for the boat), and the fact that they love the water. After a lengthy search we found a pet quality springer in the far western part of North Carolina. The four month old pup bonded with the first mate on the six hour drive back home to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The dog never whimpered, not the first time. He was so glad to get away from the “puppy mill” that had been his beginning.

Mr. Spaniel’s full name is Wind Rider of the Outer Banks, shortened to Rider for everyday use. He seemed to be a pretty good pup; maybe this would be OK after all.
Within six to seven months we were to head to the Bahamas for our third winter sojourn. I knew that the dog must be trained to urinate onboard my beloved sail boat, not something you really want for your boat, but, something that had to be. My neighbors must have laughed themselves silly watching me run around behind Rider the pup, attempting to collect his urine for training purposes. I did collect samples on several occasions and poured them on to a 3’x4’ piece of outdoor green mat. I had previously affixed grommets to the corners of the mat and tied short lengths of polypropylene line to the corners. I tied the mat to the boat’s bow and then lead Rider to the mat. He bent down to sniff the mat and quickly jerked his head up, turned away from the mat, and looked up at me as if to say, “ It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it Dad!” Well, I collected more samples and applied them to the mat, to no avail. We purchased scented “Pee pads” and scented spray from the pet store in hopes that one of those items might convince Rider to do the deal. Noooooo, no way that was going to happen.

Here is the problem, when traveling by boat for any distance; we all have to relieve ourselves from time to time. Humans have options. Dogs do not. A well trained dog is not going to “go” in his home and when traveling via boat, the boat becomes home to the pooch. Sailing from North Carolina to the
Bahamas or Florida, or even a week end trip on the Chesapeake Bay for example requires stops along the way, or a lengthy ocean passage. Anchoring out becomes very difficult with a dog onboard who will not do his/her business onboard. Why? Often we are anchored along some marshy area with no place to go ashore. At other times we are anchored alongside someone’s very expensive property with no place to go ashore. Onboard Southern Heat we find ourselves taking a slip for the night much more often than I like. On a three to four week trip to the Bahamas that can get very expensive when paying transient fees for slips along the way.

Once in a while, we have had to anchor out, no marina available, in an area where the dog cannot go to shore. That means that he cannot find relief until the next evening when we stop where he can get off the boat. That may sound cruel, but it is fact. Worse is ocean sailing where we might be out for three days and two nights before we reach land again.
Rider has his own safety gear to include a doggie personal floatation device (pfd or life jacket), dog overboard strobe light (water activated), and tether. When sailing the ocean, he is required to wear his pfd at all times, even when below. If an emergency were to happen, there would be no time to collect the dog and put his vest on him.

Many times while at sea I have escorted Rider to the bow to encourage him to urinate on the pad. We are both geared up with our safety gear. He just won’t do it. He enjoys being up on the bow, but he just won’t “go.” I have gone to the extreme of urinating on the pad while he watched.” Nope, not gonna do it!” After hours and hours have passed, it becomes obvious that the dog is uncomfortable. Duh, no brainer. I have done risky things such as escort him to the bow of the boat in the dark, even when Camilla was down below. That was a very dangerous thing to do and I am uneasy in reporting that behavior, all to try to get Rider to relieve himself. Folks, he has lasted 48 hours twice before he finally gave in. The first time was at 0400 (4AM). He was extremely anxious and I had taken him to the bow while Camilla was down below (no excuse, but we were desperate) about 30 minutes earlier, to no avail. Camilla came up on deck to stand her watch and as she did, Rider asked to go out on the aft deck of our center cockpit Hunter 420 where he dropped his head in apparent shame and finally urinated. He was tethered in and wearing his pfd. We made a big deal of the event and celebrated with him, hoping that he would get the message that what he did was good. No, he did not get it. He still refused to “go” on the boat.

The second time was no better and after about 48 hours, Rider was asleep in the cockpit when he started urinating in his sleep. He jumped up and sprayed the entire cockpit, cushions included, like a fire hose. We couldn’t complain, we again celebrated and cleaned up when Rider was not looking. HE STILL DID NOT GET THE MESSAGE. To this day he will not “go” on the boat until he is in dire straits. Yes, he did get a bladder infection and had to be treated in the Bahamas.

Some few dogs can be trained to “go” onboard, but, I read of one pooch that was so trained to “go” onboard that he would not “go” on land. Another boater wrote about a dog that as soon as the boat pulled into a slip in front a fancy water front restaurant did a bowl movement on the bow of the boat, just feet away from diners. What are you going to do?
Socialization on docks can be problematic too. Docks are narrow and some dogs just don’t like other dogs. It can be challenging to keep them separated. Some dog owners think all dogs must love their dog and do nothing to keep the animals apart. Many allow their pet to approach any leashed dog. That is just plain bad form.

Another point to consider is that any medications that your pet needs must be brought along, oh and where are you going to store all of that dog food? Have you ever carried a 30lb bag of dog food ½ mile back to the boat from the store? Going to the Bahamas? Your dog needs a health certificate before arriving.

Disappointingly, we have found that in Florida dogs are not allowed on most beaches, even when on a leash. A few jurisdictions have “dog beaches”, but they are generally far away from the regular public beaches and not in walking distance at any rate. I have yet to find a place where it is legal to allow a dog to run off leash in Florida. Yes, there are dog parks in some locales, if you or your pooch can tolerate them.

The last issue that I wish to bring forward is that of what to do with the dog when leaving the boat for a few hours or even longer. If you are in a marina and plugged in to shore power and you are running your boat’s air conditioning system, it might be OK to leave Fido for a few hours, but you had better hope that the AC does not fail for whatever reason. In the Bahamas, we have witnessed boaters leaving their dogs, yes plural, in the cockpit while they get in the dinghy and motor to shore for the afternoon/evening. It can be unbearable when two dogs feeding off of each other’s emotions begin to bark/moan incessantly for hours on end. Yes, that really does happen.

One last story, a number of years ago, we were in a transient slip in Crisfield, Maryland for a week end visit. A nice new looking sport fisher with two couples and a large dog took a slip and few spaces away. We had to walk by that boat to get to land. When we returned from a nice sea food dinner, we again had to walk past the sport fisher to get to our boat. What we saw was unbelievable except for the fact that we saw it with our own eyes. The sport fisher folks had left the dog on board while they too went to supper. What we saw through the double sliding glass doors of the sport fisher was sad and hysterical at the same time. The large yellow lab style dog had shredded the couch and the couch’s stuffing was emulsified in the air. Yes, the air inside the boat was thick with couch stuffing and the dog was still at it. Wow.

Having said all of that, Camilla and I love our dog. He is good for me in the aspect that I take him walking at least twice a day and we truly enjoy some of his antics. He loves to run and he is a very good swimmer. Here in St. Petersburg, FL, he would love for us to unleash him so that he could catch just one squirrel, just one.

Capt. David P. Hope
S/V Southern Heat
Author, “Summer Heat”— and Barnes and

USCG Vessel Safety Check

Have a USCG Vessel Safety Check before you shove off!


Like most boaters, you are probably daydreaming about the weekend. We wanted to share with you a way to ensure you have a great time, and potentially avoid being detained too long with a vessel check USCG Vessel Safety Checksby the marine police on a day where you would much rather be cruising.

In 1939, Congress establish the Coast Guard Reserve, and just three years later all of the reserves were moved into active duty. They needed support, so the reserve was redesignated the Coast Guard Auxiliary. They are managed by the Coast Guard, and their mission is to support them in three ways:

The Auxiliary is there for administrative support. They will help out with standing watch, maintenance and repairs, and even provide food for the Coast Guard.

They are there for support in Search and Rescues, as well as keeping watch at events like Regattas to make sure everyone is safe and sound.

The Auxiliary is also there to Promote Safety, and they do this in a couple ways, such as their Public Education and Safe Boating Courses. The main thing we wanted to touch on for this topic is their USCG Vessel Safety Checks.


A USCG Vessel Safety Check is meant to give boaters Peace of Mind while they are out on their boat. With a Vessel Safety Check, you can feel comfortable knowing that you are compliant, and that all of your equipment is there and working. The Coast Guard Auxiliary likes to make these checks Fun and Informative for boaters. No information goes back to the government afterwards because it is just a simple check to prevent future citations. A few main things they look for that sometime bring up questions are:

Registration and Documentation- Because sometimes they just don’t make it from the pile of mail on the kitchen table to your boat.

Life Jackets- They like to make sure you have the correct amount and types on board.

Visual Distress Signals and Fire Extinguishers

You can find a checklist for a Vessel Safety Check here.

A Coast Guard Vessel Safety Check is no cost to you, and when you have successfully completed your check, you will receive a sticker that will go on your mast on the port side. The sticker is there to show that you passed a Safety Check and will keep you from being stopped on a beautiful day on the water.


Annapolis Spring Boat Show & Norton’s Spring Open House 2015

Finally! The snow is melting, the birds are singing their songs, and it’s even started to feel a little warmer outside. Our favorite season is almost here! Spring? No, not Spring!

Annapolis Spring Boat Show 2015

There’s nothing more exciting than Boating Season, and we can’t think of a better way to start it off than looking at boats! Start the season off right by attending the 2015 Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show this April 24-26, and follow it up with Norton’s Spring Boat Show the weekend after: May 2-3. Two weekends in a row of nothing but boating!

sailboat show

Norton Yachts has been a Hunter Dealer since 1975, and at the beginning of 2015 we became the Marlow Hunter Dealer for all of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as North Carolina! Norton’s will be bringing a Marlow Hunter 37 to the Annapolis Spring Show for the Marlow Hunter exhibit. One of our brokers, Mike Lynch, will be working at the exhibit, so stop by and let him give you a tour.

Norton's Spring Boat Show

After the Annapolis show, be sure to get your rest, and then head down to Deltaville the next weekend to attend Norton’s Spring Open House. We will have our NEW Marlow Hunters and NEW Jeanneaus open for tours, as well as our many brokerage boats. There will be snacks and door prizes. You can also sign up for an upcoming sailing class or schedule a charter vacation with us. This is always a fun event with many new faces and familiar faces, and lots of conversations about boating. You can sign up for emails regarding this event here: 

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Gelcoat Repair Tips

Gelcoat Repair TipsGelcoat Repairs

Repairing Gelcoat


During our recent Seminar, Norton’s Marine Service Center’s Yard Foreman, Sid Simmons discussed some of his tips on Gelcoat Repairs for star cracks in your boat.

Gelcoat is a Polyester Resin with Pigment in it. This means Gelcoat will not flex like fiberglass because it is a lot more brittle. There are various types of gelcoat repairs, but star cracks are the most common. They are caused by impact or stress, and when left to the elements, moisture can penetrate. In colder temperatures, like we have had lately, that moisture can freeze and make the cracks even larger.

When repairing gelcoat, it is always important to remember to wear appropriate eye and skin protection, like gloves and safety goggles, because gelcoat requires methyl ethyl ketone to activate, which is highly caustic.


To begin the repair, you will want to Dremel out v groove shape to the area.

Then, scuff sand with 400 grip.

Tape around the area and put down extra masking plastic to protect the area that does not need repair from what may be on your hands, feet, etc. Sid prefers to use 2 layers of tape and plastic around the void.

Wipe down the area with acetone.

Create a paste with your gelcoat and Cab-o-Sil to get a constistency of butter, then use a squeegy to fill the void in.


Block sand the fillers and then prepare them for spray by covering around the area with masking plastic, an using foam edge tape around the perimeter to give a feathered edge to final result.

Gelcoat Repairs
There are two types of tools to use for spraying:

A PPS System consists of a collapsible bag with an O-ring that sits inside a cup and hooks up to a siphon feed gun. The gun compresses the bag up to get every last drop of spray.


Another option is a Preval Sprayer; however, this will Gelcoat Repairssometimes leave little craters in your final product due to propellant.






When spraying, it is important to not over-catalyze your gelcoat. Catalyst Oxidizers will yellow, and most white gel coats contain blue pigments to give a brighter look. When over-catalyzed, the blues mix with the yellows, and you will end up with a green spot on your pretty white boat.

Once you have finished spraying, you will just clean up the area with acetone.


When it comes to serious repairs, like that on non-skid, it takes some serious patience and art. We do not recommend battling this type of repair on your own because it could drive you mad. If you are looking to have any gelcoat repair done, Sid Simmons is a master at what he does, and you will not even know it was ever there.

We also would like to point out that while doing work on your own may save you some money and give you a sense of accomplishment, we have seen situations where a quick fix by the owner resulted in major bucks in repairs down the road. So the best option is to leave it to the experts. Give Norton’s Marine Service Center a call the next time you have a project: big or small.

TransAtlantic on a Sailboat

TransAtlantic on a Sailboat

Conquering a TransAtlantic


TransAtlantic on a Sailboat

Steve Runals is a well-seasoned sailing instructor at Norton’s Sailing School in Deltaville, Virginia. He has a wealth of knowledge in all things cruising and navigating. Steve’s presentation this year was a detailed report on his TransAtlantic to Portugal on a 1982 Skye 51. His presentation includes some great tips for conquering a TransAtlantic, including some of his personal observations and take-aways.

Runals goes into detail on many of your most popular boating questions: everything from using AIS to Single Side Ban Radio. He discusses many communications tips to utilize on any cruising trip, as well as some tips on weather routing.

If you are considering a TransAtlantic in your future, we highly suggest taking an ASA 105 Navigation Course and ASA 106 DELMARVA Course with Captain Runals or any of our talented and knowledgeable instructors at Norton’s Sailing School right here on the Chesapeake Bay. You should also watch this TransAtlantic Video to get an idea of what is involved and learn a few tips from an experienced skipper.



We have included some of Steve’s helpful links below:

  • WX/Gulf Stream (GS):

–NOAA Wx Fax Atlantic::

–NOAA Ocean Prediction Center:

–Bermuda Wx Service:


–Bob Cook: Ocean-Pro Weather and Routing


–Wx & GS:


–GS and sea temps:



–NOAA Pilot charts:

  • Navigation:

–Imray RCC Pilotage Foundation Cruising Guides for the Atlantic Islands and Portugal and Spanish Coasts . Imray charts for the North Atlantic and Azores.  Imray catalog:

–NOAA on-line chart viewer:

–Active Captain:

  • Communications:

–Dockside Radio:

–Instructional videos on ICOM 802 operation at:

–Cruiseheimers Tech Net: