Boat Batteries

Photo by: National Boating College

A common cause for breakdown on the water is due to battery problems. Batteries are the centre of your vessel’s electrical system. If they stop so does everything else.

Boat battery checklist:

  • Do you have the correct size battery for your engine? The size of your vessel’s engine and the compression ratio required to turnover and start your engine determines the size of marine battery you need. Talk with your local marine dealer or a specialist battery retailer for advice.
  • Do you have dual battery system on board? One for engine cranking and one for auxiliary power use such as navigation lights, VHF radio and general lighting. A dual battery is the safest option as it ensures that the engine cranking battery is fully charged for the sole purpose of starting the main engine.
  • Make sure you fit a dual battery isolation switch to alternate from bank to the other. Isolate (turn off) your battery bank at the end of each trip.
  • How old are your current boat batteries? The life expectancy of a marine battery is approximately 2-3 years. Signs of battery failure include; sides bowing out, corroded terminals, fluid inside battery has become milky or oily. Don’t forget to mark or record the date you purchased your batteries. For peace of mind have your “battery plate” tested by a qualified electrician annually.
  • Don’t install anything but marine grade batteries on your vessel. Marine grade batteries are designed specifically for the marine environment and are constructed with extra supports to accommodate vibrations and movement at sea.
  • Check that your battery cables are the correct size, terminals are firm and lightly lubricated with vaseline or light-grade grease to help prevent corrosion and salt build up.
  • Check battery water levels every three months. Fluid should just cover the plates.
  • Do not overcharge your battery by trickle charging continually. If your battery has completely discharged you may need to replace it.
  • Make battery checking part of your pre-departure check list. Keep a hydrometer in your tool kit to check the state of the battery charge for each battery cell.
  • Batteries on board should be well ventilated, housed within a box and secured firmly with straps. Take the batteries out of their box at least annually to clean the inside of the box, checking that the battery ties downs are still in good working order.

Battery servicing
Battery checking should be part of your 100 hour engine servicing program. Keep a servicing log. Don’t hook up an old battery with a new one as the ability of the new battery to recharge maybe affected by the old battery. It’s a good idea to buy your battery banks at the same time.

Attention to your batteries will help to ensure a trouble-free boating experience.

Why is it green for starboard?


Starboard and Port Marks

Here’s how starboard became green

Ships of the City of Dublin Steamship Company were equipped with white masthead, green starboard lights and red port navigation lights.
The P&O Company of Southampton had a different arrangement; green for port, green and red for starboard.
The British Admiralty ordained that starboard was to be green and port red.
The Prussian Ministry of Trade prescribed the British lighting rules for its steamers.
France, Austria, Hungary and the North German seaboard countries also signed up.
27 other seafaring nations followed suit and adopted international maritime regulations ( known today as the International Collision Regulations ColRegs )

This colour code also applies to lighthouses. Lighthouses on the  starboard side of harbours (when coming in from sea) are always green. Except for the Americas, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines which are opposite.

Protecting the marine environment

Australia’s waterways are some of the world’s best, but if we neglect them they won’t stay that way.There are marine environment protection rules which all boaties are required to comply with. Native mammals, birds and reptiles are protected and it is illegal to pollute the waterways in any way.

Waterway protection checklist

  1. Take your rubbish with you when you leave a beach.
  2. Don’t throw rubbish or food overboard. Take all refuse ashore with you on your return.
  3. Refuel ashore on land well away from the water and shorelines.
  4. Check that your bilges have no leaks, are clean and free from oil and fuel.
  5. Stay clear of Seagrass areas.
  6. Watch your wash and wake.The larger the wake the greater the damage to the shorelines.
  7. Keep an active lookout to avoid harming protected marine life.
  8. Be mindful of your noise levels. Noise disturbs wildlife and people.

Whale season

Every year, humpback whales and southern right whales migrate along the NSW coastline. They head north throughout June and July, and return southwards from around September to November.

Skippers remember, whales are protected animals. When you sight whales you should follow the regulations for whale watching.

Want to go whale watching?
Whale watching Sydney
Whale watching Gold Coast

If you want to help ensure Australia’s coasts and oceans remain healthy join the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australia’s only national charity dedicated solely to protecting ocean wildlife. They tackle the issues like overfishing, inappropriate development and pollution.