10 Maritime Myths

It's just a “Mythsunderstanding”

July 2022 Feature

We've all heard our share of boating myths and firm beliefs that are told and then retold like a childhood game of “telephone.” Whether you're hearing stories of bad luck to set sail on a certain day of the week, or someone unsure of maritime rules and regulations tells a story about illegal weight distribution, there seems to be an endless torrent of boating fables and here-say. While some of these stories can easily be debunked with some simple research into the law, others are personally relative beliefs that can be neither proved nor disproved, while some yet are so silly they’ll have you raising an eyebrow in confusion.

Myth: Naming your boat

If you search through the forums and blogs, you're bound to come across the subject of naming or renaming a boat. Anyone who's spent enough time on the water will hear about the “proper” ceremony to naming a boat and how not taking the time to perform the ceremony will lead to angering Neptune, which can lead to inclement weather, shipwreck or anything in between. Maybe people jump into the belief because of the excitement of becoming a boater and feeling like a part of the team. Maybe they have firm beliefs in the existence of Neptune. Whichever the case, you can find any number of ceremony rituals for properly naming a boat and the people who strictly adhere to them. So is this a tried and true practice? No one can really say. If you ask a believer, of course it is, but your standard run-of-the-mill skeptic is sure to give you a different take on it. In fact, some people don't even name their boat. It may be hard to believe, but they're out there. That may be tempting fate, or Neptune, but who can really say?
Fact or Fiction: Unknown

Myth: Boating on certain days
Take five minutes to look through the Internet, or simply talk with people at the marina or on the dock and you're bound to run into someone who firmly believes that boating on certain days of the year are a big no-no. Some unacceptable days of the year are rooted in religious beliefs, while other days may be from coincidence. Maybe the sailor you talked to just happened to run into bad weather on his Saturday trips, so obviously there's some bad luck tied to that. Some folks have very religiously founded beliefs that forbid them to sail on certain days of the year. Are they mistaken? Well, no. Belief is a very strong and sincere dedication to something that feels true, and since there's no way to prove or disprove these ideals, the truth remains a mystery.
Fact or Fiction: Unknown

Myth: Boating is too expensive
Moving on to some of the less fantastical mythology, the myth of boating being too expensive is next on the list. Let's face it, if you're reading this article then one of two things has occurred: you have been setting some income aside to get into your first boat, or you already own one. If you own one, you can probably attest to the expenses of boating. While the initial startup may be a little intimidating, financing plans are available to help ease the stress of it all. Now, boating may not be accessible to everyone. What I mean to say is, minimum wage at the local fast food chain isn't going to cover the cost, but a steady income and some good financial managing can get you on the water before you know it. So, with that being said, the myth is neither true nor false, but both. A stable income is more than enough to get you into your first boat, but it's not advisable to take any risks if your money flow is more of a trickle than a steady stream.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction (but be realistic)

Myth: Boating takes up too much time
There's a belief in the world of boating that getting everything together for a day on the water is way too time-consuming. Granted, there are a few necessary things to get together before hopping on the boat and going for a ride, but it's not as labor intensive as one may think. If you trailer the boat to the dock, it's really as simple as hooking the boat to the trailer hitch (which most family-sized vehicles can easily accomplish) and navigating the trip to your lake of choice. The only step left is to lower your boat down the ramp and presto, your work is done. For boaters who rent a slip or own lakefront property, there's really no work to do at all. Now, it's not advisable to try and get some fishing done before work (unless fishing is your work), but as far as boating being time-consuming, this myth is just plain old wrong.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Myth: Always load up on spare parts
It never hurts to be prepared for worst case scenarios, but try to be a little conservative on what you pack away onboard. Carrying spare parts for potential repairs is a common practice for all sorts of vehicles, including boats, but loading up on everything you could possibly need will undoubtedly weigh the boat down and tarnish its performance. On top of that, storing heavy parts onboard leaves less room for the more enjoyable things, like fishing gear, or that expensive bottle of champagne. Boats have weight ratings to give owners an idea of how much weight can be effectively stored, but go over that and your smooth-cruising luxury ride becomes an over encumbered fish-out-of-water. Never hesitate to take what's necessary with you like a spare prop and tools, but be careful not to pack an entire spare boat onboard.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Myth: Pontoon boats can’t tow a wakeboard/skier
Believe it or not, there have been rumors flying around that a pontoon boat doesn't have the speed and maneuverability to tow wakeboards or skiers, which is just flat out wrong. Pontoon boat engineers have worked hard over the years to give 'toons as many capabilities as any other boat on the water. In fact, many manufacturers have created lines of performance pontoons that handle turns better than a Maserati and have more speed than the Millennium Falcon (well, almost). Performance pontoons have been specifically engineered to provide boaters fast, responsive power, as well as the luxury and spacious room of a pontoon, and can easily tow any wake boarder for a fast-paced thrill on the water. So if you're looking for a fast, maneuverable boat, pontoons are deceptively powerful and will surely please even the toughest critic.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Myth: Ocean weather is more dangerous
Because lakes and rivers are smaller bodies of water, there is a train of thought that they are less dangerous. Don't be fooled! Dangerous weather happens all over the globe, and although you won't find a hurricane on the lake, you can still find yourself in some serious weather conditions. On a river, strong winds can push a boat into any number of hidden hazards and leave your boat looking like the S.S. Minnow (hopefully your first mate is more competent that Gilligan). Weather can be just as rough on the lakes and rivers as it is on the ocean, so remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions needed for any weather condition you may face.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Myth: Modern technology will keep me safe
To a certain extent, every boater has to put a little faith in their boat. Radar, GPS and warning systems have been designed to make waters more navigable and help keep boaters safe, but that doesn't make water travel foolproof. There's a reason boating accidents still occur. Some people have the misguided notion that the boat will take care of everything for them. Unless it is a sentient robot, it still needs a captain with some navigation skills and common sense to keep the boat and all of its passengers safe. Remember the Titanic? We certainly don't need another repeat of that. Let better judgment prevail and take every precaution necessary for a safe trip.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Myth: Markers are more of a guideline than a law
Water markers are put out for boaters to follow, not consider. Put it this way: there are speed limit signs and stop lights on the road. What happens when people “consider” them but do not follow? Same thing applies to water markers. Aids to navigation are integral to the sailing experience and must be followed to maintain safety on the water. There's the old saying, “Rules were written in blood.” Be thankful that blood wasn't yours and follow all water markers to the letter. No exceptions. Also, if you find a marker that you've never seen before, be sure to reference the U.S. Coast Guard's marker identifier list and become more aware of them.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Myth: More propeller blades will make my boat faster
More propeller blades on your boat will add more speed just like more tires will make your truck faster. If that were the case, then semi trucks would travel as fast as bullets. The fact is, more propeller blades help reduce vibrations felt as the propeller spins in the water. Each blade makes water move more evenly through the propeller, thus reducing the intensity of vibrations and making the ride more comfortable. Higher horsepower engines will give you more speed, but that should be common knowledge. You could always strap on a few rockets or hire on a competitive rowing team, but the safest bet for increased speed is just investing in a bigger engine.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction

The Final Word
There are a lot of boating myths in the world today, and it's almost certain that list of myths is growing. Whether the myth is steeped in superstition, or just a simple misunderstanding of federal maritime regulations, there are people out there who firmly believe them and others who just find them outright silly. With so many myths out on the water, you've assuredly heard one or two in your day. If you've got a good one to share, go to, www.facebook.com/PDBMagazine and be sure to tell everyone all about it.

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