Boating & Watersports Outdoor Adventures

How do noise and vibration affect you when operating a boat?

Imagine a day out in the sea where you can enjoy the vast distance of the horizon as you look far and watch the sun as it rises. Or perhaps you are out in the river enjoying the rich scenery of lush green trees around you and looking down the clear water, seeing fishes swim by.

It is simply invigorating to experience nature up close.

Whether you are out to experience different water forms on your own or with family, using a boat is the most convenient manner of traveling through water.

Although traditional boats are powered by rowing, modern boats today are powered by strong types of machinery. The motor that makes the boat run certainly creates a speedy journey that makes the experience even more exciting.

Fishing enthusiast often uses their boats to get to destinations in the vast water where they think they would catch the most fish.

While all the experiences pictured herein are exciting and inviting in many ways, there is one problem about using boats for water travel that must not be neglected. Why? Because your health depends on it.

So, how do noise and vibration affect you when operating a boat?

As a boat is powered to start its journey, there is one thing that may be undeniably annoying to some, especially for those who ride in a boat for the first time- and that is the noise that comes from the motor.

Most boat operators say that if this is the sound you wake up to in the morning, you will eventually get used to it. When this happens, you will hardly notice the sound anymore as you sail out into the sea or the river and enjoy the journey. Is this all true?

According to CDC or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continuous exposure to loud noise presents serious harm to the ear’s cochlea. The membranes within this part of the ear are thin and are responsible for producing sound waves that are to be interpreted by the brain. These membranes may be damaged with such constant exposure and cause serious problems to the person exposed to noise triggers.

The inner ear and the auditory neural system may also be damaged because of being consistently affected by the loud noise produced by the motorboat. When this happens, the damages can be permanent and can affect other systems of the body, which will eventually cause an imbalance in the health condition of the one suffering.

If you are someone who is consistently operating a boat for your livelihood or pleasure, then you should take this post seriously.

How the Ear is damaged by Exposure to Boat Noise and Vibrations 

Besides damaging the cochlea, there are other complicated ways by which the ears are damaged by consisting exposure to boat noise and vibrations. In this part of this discussion, some of these ways will be discussed in the simplest way possible.

The first to know is how the ear works. 

The ear has four primary parts that make hearing possible. These parts interact to detect sound through vibration and send signals to the brain for sound interpretation.

The outer ear is that part of the ear we see. This part funnels the sound waves that pass on through the ear canal. These sound waves travel through the canal and reach the eardrum, where the middle ear begins.

The middle ear is where the eardrum receives the sound vibrations. The eardrum is a thin membrane that vibrates to send sound waves through three tiny bones. These tiny bones are sound amplifiers. They increase the sound vibration until it reaches the inner ear.

On the other hand, the inner ear is a snail-shaped structure where cochlea is stored. The cochlea is a fluid where the sound waves are processed. At the peak of these waves, the tiny hair cells in the inner ear bend. This response by the tiny hair cells creates electrical signals from the vibrations. It sends them to the auditory nerve, which will be the final destination of the vibrations towards the brain for recognition and interpretation.

Next, how individual parts of the ear respond to loud noise and vibration 

So besides the cochlea, other parts of the ear get severely damaged when a person is consistently exposed to loud noise that produces intermittent and strong vibrations.

With enough impact, a loud noise, even when it was heard just once, can already cause great damage to the ear and cause gradual hearing loss. What more could a continuous noise do to the human ear?

There are more than 16,000 tiny hair cells within the inner ear. As defined earlier, these hairs are responsible for producing the electric signals passed on to the auditory nerve for sound interpretation by the brain. The role of these tiny hairs is critical to the function of the ears. Many of these tiny hair cells are damaged throughout a person’s lifetime. They remain strong and functional even when some are damaged. However, if the noise is too much and the hairs are exposed to continuous pressure, then evident damage will certainly affect the general hearing capacity of the ears.

If you are exposed to a loud noise source for a short period, such as in a concert, you may notice that your hearing is compromised for quite some time. However, the quality of your hearing will return to its normal quality for a few hours. However, if the source of noise is consistent when operating a boat, it is evident that the damages would be prolonged too up to the point of completely damaging your hearing capacity in the long run.

Other More Specific Effects of Boat Noise and Vibration to Hearing

Our auditory sense or sense of hearing does a lot more than aid us in hearing and interpreting sounds around us. In reality, the ear is responsible for aiding humans in concentration, making sound decisions, and proper balance. Hence, all of these functions are compromised when the ear is damaged.

These disturbances come with very distinct malfunction and a general sense of personal loss of balance in one’s daily living. Of course, these conditions do not happen immediately after being exposed to loud noise often; the damage occurs when prolonged exposure to loud sounds is put into the mix.

Among the individuals assumed to have the most eminent dangers of being exposed to distinct sources of ear-damaging noise include machine factory workers. Those who work in the airport, and those who operate with loud transport machines like trains and boats. This is why it is part of the workers’ protective gear, for those who work in these areas,

Some of the health disturbances that may occur as you continuously get exposed to these sources of noise include the following:

Disturbed Attention

When your hearing pattern is impaired, it is more likely that you will lose interest in listening. When this happens, your attention is also gradually disturbed. Depending on the damage in your ear, it will be hard for you to focus on whatever is being said by another person, especially when you are attending seminars or listening to the radio. This is because of the damages that have already occurred within the vital parts of your ear.


Would you believe that when you experience being indecisive within a specific period, it may mean that you have an imbalance in your ear, especially in the cochlear area?

Our brains’ processing is completely disrupted when your ears start developing a certain form of damage in either of the three primary parts of this organ, the outer ear, the inner ear, and the auditory canal.

At the same time, having to endure with extensively disturbed attention, your capacity to decide and specifically develop a more effective pattern of deducing situations to reach a single and effective decision will certainly be affected dreadfully.

Ineffective Communication

Because you cannot hear properly, it is just logical to expect that you will not be able to communicate properly and form meaningful conversations. This happens more especially during the early onset of hearing damage. Because the symptoms are not easily noticeable, you might not be able to notice the deterioration of your hearing easily. Because of this, there is a fair possibility that you will engage in conversations thinking that you still have your normal capacity of hearing.

However, because of the existing damage, it is more likely that you will lose control of the way you interpret the words being mentioned to you. Communication issues and misunderstandings cause problematic situations and strained relationships, especially with individuals who are closer to the one suffering from this condition.

Problem with balance and Vision  

The fluid in the cochlea offers a crucial role in containing our balance.

If there is damage in the cochlea and/or the small hair follicles situated within the inner ear, it will most likely be possible that you will experience a certain sense of imbalance and vertigo. Vertigo is defined as tunnel vision. This happens because the fluid in your ear has been disturbed, causing your vision to lose focus and your whole body to lose balance.


If you develop a certain discomfort in your ear or a condition wherein you consistently hear a disturbing sound, you might develop a certain state of insomnia. This is the state of having a hard time going into a deeper sleep state or the inability to stay asleep.

If you continually suffer from your condition above the ones listed above, such as being indecisive and losing your balance, you will certainly be in danger as you go about doing your usual chores while being strained by loss of sleep.


This condition is described as the state of hearing a noise in one’s ears at a certain level of decibel. There will be times when this sound would be louder or more controlled depending on the existing triggers in the environment. Experiencing tinnitus is certainly disturbing. And since the sound does not getaway, it can irritate that will certainly affect the way a person connects with other people.

There is a way to manage tinnitus. However, beyond management, this condition stays for a lifetime.

Look through this list of damages that impact that boat noise and vibration may have on your hearing capacity. Would it be worth it to lose your hearing just because you did not do everything or have worn the appropriate protective personnel equipment that can help you protect the integral function of your ears?

Oftentimes, even when there are rules and policies that boat operators have to follow, actually putting them into practical use is problematic, especially when boat operators often choose comfort over safety.

What Causes Noise in Boats? 

It is best to understand where the noise is coming from in a boat to address the situation. Listed herein are five of the most common sources of loud noise in a boat: 

Cutlass BearingsThis is a bearing located at the drive shaft of the boat. It is made of brass and has an inner rubber lining. It is lubricated by the water surrounding it as the boat moves. The water enters the grooves as it rotates.

When the boat is fairly new, the cutlass-bearing is generally silent. However, as the boat is used repeatedly, the cutlass bearing becomes quite noisy. After at least 4 to 5 years of being in constant use or with the boat in a stagnant position in the water, the cutlass bearing will become rusty and would lose its tight grip in the vessel. This is why when the boat starts to be in motion, the cutlass bearing would be quite wobbly, producing loud and irritating news that often gets even louder once the boat starts treading through the waters.

  • Shaft Lines 

The shaft line is attached to the propeller. This passes through a tunnel that connects with the propeller at the rear.

Once the connection weakens, the whole setup becomes problematic, releasing disturbing sounds that are considered loud and damaging to the ears with consistent exposure in consideration.

  • Bearings 

This is the rubber-lined composite where the propeller turns. The final component could be found at the drivetrain towards the prop.

Bearings are often cylindrical and have a grooved inner surface. This allows the water to flow through the shaft line for lubrication. When the bearing is properly placed and is in good condition, the boat becomes vibration-free.

Once the bearings become loose, the result is the emergence of a wobbly and loud boat. Often, the vibration becomes stronger and can directly affect everyone in the boat as it is in motion. The usual initial reaction that can be observed among boat passengers is throwing up, getting dizzy, and experiencing stomach aches during the whole ride.

The boat operator may often justify that he has already been used to these conditions, but in the long run, both the vibration and the loud noise would take a toll on his health.

  • Propellers 

This rotating fan-like fixture proles the ship by using power from the main engine. Often, boats have one to two propellers, depending on the weight and size of the boat and the purpose it serves. Fully-working propellers can push the boats at a faster speed.

Through consistent use, propellers often get detached from the boat. With a weaker connection to the main engine, a problematic propeller may cause loud noise and imminent danger to the boat’s passengers if it will not be able to control the speed of the boat as it is expected to do while it is in motion.

  • Engine 

The boat’s engine is the primary machine that makes it possible for the boat to operate and be in motion. There are different types of boat engines available in the market today. However, the most common factor among these machines is that they are practically smooth when new. However, with continuous use for many years, and engine wears off, which results in loud noise, depending on what part of the engine is affected by the damage.

A damaged engine should be addressed immediately. Even small damage that may cause your engine to make noise should be checked and addressed accordingly to avoid the possibility of your boat being completely damaged or even causing emergencies in the long run.

Resolving the Excessive Noise and Vibration from Boats

As noted earlier, the different types of damages that your boats may incur will certainly affect how you operate the way you travel through your boat, which may also affect your safety and health.

Even when it seems that you can likely get used to the noise and vibrations that your boat makes, it is still best to have everything checked before you keep on using your boat for water travels and adventures.

Based on the disturbances and problems discussed earlier on the different parts of the boat, as noted earlier, here are some solutions that you can consider:

  • Cutlass Bearings

When the cutlass bearings of your boat start acting up, there is likely no other option but to buy a new one to replace your old and work cutlass bearing. There are available cutlass bearings for as low as $55 to as expensive as $1700. When choosing the right cutlass bearing for your boat, you need to pick the right fit and know how long you would want it to last before changing it again.

Based on experience, boat operators who opt to buy the more expensive cutlass bearings can save more since they do not need to replace them every year or depending on the frequency of the use of the boat. The more expensive the cutlass bearings are, the longer their lifespan usually is.

  • Shaft Lines 

Regular maintenance is critical to keeping the boat’s integrity within a functional range of operation. If you happen to observe bent shaft lines, you need to invest in a new one. While repairs can be done on shaft lines to realign them and make them functional again, the repairs may not last for long. Buying new shaft lines is better than having to ask for repetitive repairs.

  • Bearings 

When bearings begin to loosen, it is best to buy new ones to make sure that the fitting is strong and can protect you from possible accidents in the long run. Accordingly, finding the right bearing for your boat should be done by picking the right fit and the most complementary bearing that can provide your boat the right boost for speed to the propellers. Both quality and long-term functionality of bearings could be confirmed by checking other buyers’ reviews.

  • Propellers 

Ensure that to protect and maintain the integrity and functionality of your propellers, you need to tune them often. The blades of the propellers are the most consistently in contact with the water. With the consistent turning along with the force that it is expected to push the boat with, it is expected that the propellers would be prone to damage.

When you feel that your propellers are starting to make a massive loud noise, you need to consider changing it immediately for better performance and faster speed.

  • Engine 

If your engine is damaged, your boat would likely be wobbly and make distinct noises that can be low or high in decibel, depending on where the damage is located. The first response to consider is to make sure that you have your engine checked by a boat mechanic if you are not used to checking your boat independently.

Depending on what your boat mechanic would suggest, you need to heed his advice not just to make sure that your boat would be functioning at its best but also to make sure that it will be safe to travel the waters with your boat without any disturbing thoughts in your mind or any disturbing noise in the background.

Key takeaways 

If you are a boat operator or a travel enthusiast who owns a boat, this post surely drags your attention to the most important considerations you must give attention to, especially when you decide to handle repairs.

IF you are a boat enthusiast, you would surely want to take matters into your hand to make sure that you get the proper feel of your boat and be engaged well with it as you travel. This will certainly make it easier for you to know what needs to be done, especially when emergencies happen.

It is best to give attention to the noise that a boat makes, no matter how low or how high the decibel of such noise is. In addition, the vibration you feel when sailing in your boat may range from slight to massive, which should not be set aside and should be given immediate attention.

As you sail in your boat on your own or with other passengers, remember that safety is pivotal to experiencing the joy and satisfaction of sailing. Never set aside a possible sign of damage in certain parts of the boat. If you can check the damage on your own, please do so. If you are not that familiar with the boat yet, make sure to call the attention and assistance of the boat mechanic to see through the situation.

In all these, take note that investing in a good boat and high-end boat parts is a worthy investment, especially if it means that you will be kept safe as you sail through the waters and enjoy the wondrous feel of nature as you tread through the see, through the rivers, or through other water forms you would want to explore.


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