In The Wake

by: Capt. Jim Kalvin

Greetings to the New Year – glad to see the last one fade away in the wake. Here’s to a great season, fair winds, following seas, and good times.


I’ve had a run on service calls over the past few months that have all been “emergency” in nature. They haven’t been for service to the vessels, but for service on the boatlifts that hold the vessels. Not that I care – a service call is a service call. But it brings to mind an important tip that could save you a bunch of money. Regular service to your boatlift is every bit as important as service to your boat. In fact, even if your boat is in pristine shape, you won’t be able to use it if your boatlift fails. I can’t pinpoint the reason for the sudden surge in calls, but it seems like a good time to mention this fact. What I used to preach to folks about their boats holds true for their boatlifts – there is a distinct difference in the cost of the words “repair” and “maintenance”. Remember that we do “maintenance” to avoid having to deal with “repairs”. Maintenance can be scheduled at your leisure and costs are known up front. Repairs happen only at the worst times and are generally dramatically more expensive.

close-up of a man repairing a boat engine under sunny day

Believe me when I say that I prefer to perform maintenance service calls rather than the emergency repair. Sure, the profit margin on a repair is better, but the work is harder, the work can be dangerous, and the client is never glad to see us in that circumstance; even though the situation has nothing to do with anything I did. Rather, I prefer scheduled down-time to lubricate chains & shivs, inspect cables, check belt wear, fix crossed cables, and run through a maintenance check list for whatever make of lift you may have. It’s a cost of our life-style and the lift seems to be generally out of mind until something breaks. When something on a boatlift breaks, it can make for a real bad day. Give us a call if you have any questions about the last time your boatlift was serviced. We work on all brands and have experienced field techs that can identify any pending or potential problems.

With the new season firmly in swing, the Calvin & Kalvin Mariner Construction crew would like to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable year with lots of fair winds and following seas.

As a final safety tip for the month, I like to use a line from the late Captain Dick Bradley, who was a “Live-aboard” columnist for Motorboat & Sailing Magazine years ago. He said, “…my answer to seamanship is to avoid getting into situations which call for it!” So, keep a sharp eye on the weather, keep and maintain a proper lookout, and make sure that your speed is safe for traffic situations in your immediate location. Another quote that I’ve used over the years is, “a collision at sea can ruin your entire day.” Use Captain Bradley’s quote, and you won’t ever have to worry about the second one!

Captain Jim Kalvin is a Florida native, a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed 100 Ton Master, and a local Marine Contractor. He is available at 239-280-6054, through, or at