Blog June 2016

FIRE SAFETY - PREVENTING EXPLOSIONS

Posted On: June 30, 2016


The weather is nice, the holiday weekend is approaching, so take a little time and make sure your time aboard your boat is safe.


Fuel Leaks

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably know that during last several years, ethanol has been added to gasoline. This can degrade older fuel lines much faster then anticipated. Even newer hoses don't have quite the same lifespan. Degraded fuel lines get brittle and will eventually leak — and a leaking fuel line is a disaster waiting to happen. If your hoses are more then ten years old (proper USCG-approved hoses are date-stamped when they were made), bend them, squeeze them, and see if they move or rotate on the fuel fittings. If so, they're loose enough to leak. Sometimes fuel hoses are accidentally stepped on and damaged during routine engine maintenance. Run your hand along the hose or use a clean white rag and see if you smell gasoline (or worse, see it). If so, replace the hose using approved fuel line. While there are different types for different purposes on a boat, I recommend using only USCG-approved A1-15 hose. This hose has passed rigorous testing and can withstand a 2.5-minute burn test, which is designed to be enough time to put out a fire or abandon ship before the hose begins leaking. Most fuel-line manufacturers suggest that their fuel lines should replaced every 10 to 15 years even if there are no indications of leaks or damage. Proper fuel-lines are marked as shown, below.

Other places gasoline can leak are where hoses connect to other fittings. Fuel-fill spuds, fuel-tank lines and gas-tank gaskets, as well as carburetor and fuel-pump fittings can leak. Use the clean dry-rag method for these areas too.

Preventing Ignition Fire

Gas fumes by themselves are relatively harmless. But the slightest spark can ignite the fumes with great power, enough to blow the deck off of a large boat or throw crew in the water. The other side of preventing explosions is to have no way to ignite gas fumes that may have built up. Any starters, alternators, or pumps — or any other electrical equipment — in your engine room or generator compartment must state that they are "Ignition Protected." Ignition protection is a standard that makes a product, such as a starter or alternator, safe to be installed in an environment that could become explosive. It means it won't spark, which is all that gas fumes need to ignite. Don't listen to the kid at the auto parts store who says auto and marine parts are all the same — they're not. It costs more to make marine ignition-protected parts, but they may just save your life. If you have any reservations about whether something is ignition protected, replace it. Some pumps that you might consider safe because they're installed on your boat are not necessarily ignition protected. Electric raw water pumps, for example, as well as some pumps used for pumping the bilge may not be ignition-protected. A previous owner could have installed a non-ignition-protected pump that could spark on startup. So check that all electrical parts that go on a gasoline engine (or in a gasoline engine space) have a label that says "Ignition Protected." Note: even power tools used in a gasoline engine space can cause a spark sufficient to cause an explosion! Don't take chances.

 

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WANT BETTER CONTROL? A BOW THRUSTER MAY JUST BE FOR YOU

Posted On: June 28, 2016




What They Are — Pros & Cons

Need some freedom to move?

A bow thruster is simply a propulsion device located at the bow that provides lateral (port and starboard) thrust, making the vessel more maneuverable. Bow thrusters often come as standard equipment on newer pleasure boats over 45 feet, but almost any midsize vessel can be retrofitted. The benefits of having a bow thruster are many, particularly for boaters who must routinely deal with gusty winds, strong currents, or crowded docking spaces. Maneuvering in tight areas is much easier, as a thruster allows the operator to turn the vessel to port or starboard without forward motion. This is particularly helpful with high-windage powerboats or sailing vessels with long, full keels.

Another benefit is the greater level of independence and confidence a thruster can offer, both to beginner and experienced boaters alike. Novice operators are more likely to actually get underway in more challenging conditions, while experienced captains can expand their options (sailing solo, for example) with greater safety. In both cases, installing a bow thruster is like recruiting a trusted crew member, one that's always ready to lend a hand when pushing (or fending) off from a dock. A wireless control unit adds more convenience, allowing you to move around the boat while controlling the thruster. Imagine picking up that mooring ball with minimal effort (and shouting) or boarding without having to pull on a single dockline, bringing the boat to you with the push of a button.

As a final plus, you're also likely to enjoy a financial benefit when it's time to sell. Having a bow thruster will make your boat more attractive than similar boats on the market. This is particularly true for new or less experienced boat owners, who may not be comfortable handling larger boats in less-than-ideal conditions. And unlike other major upgrades such as engines or generators, most buyers don't care when a bow thruster was installed, as long as it works.

While the benefits of having a bow thruster installed are numerous, so, too, are the concerns with installing them. The first is cost. Although this will vary widely among the different makes, models, and styles (traditional tube units versus externally mounted ones, for example), you can expect purchase and installation of even the smallest, most economical unit to be around $5,000.

In lockstep with the above is the complexity of your particular installation. What's the best location? Will that water tank under the V-berth have to be shifted aft or relocated altogether? How powerful should it be? Will the extra weight in the bow affect performance? Will the installation void my hull warranty? All of these are valid concerns you'll want to research and review when considering any installation.

Finally, while thrusters are certainly helpful, they do not excuse you from mastering basic boat handling skills. You'll still need to know how to maneuver your boat in a wide range of conditions should your extra "crew member" ever go on strike.

 

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ARE YOU FULL OF HOT AIR?

Posted On: June 23, 2016

Why Ventilate your Boat?

Based on an article by BoatUS

 

Unattended boats generate humidity and moisture below because of water, air, and hull surface temperatures that are never identical and always changing. While true even in a "dry" climate, this process accelerates in a humid climate and in cold water.

When you ventilate your boat, you want to do more than simply move air — you want to equalize the humidity levels inside and outside the boat, including areas between hulls, behind paneling and other enclosed areas that you don't normally see. When you close off your boat's cabin to "protect" it from humidity, you may actually cause the humidity level below deck to rise. And no matter where your boat is docked, humidity and temperature levels vary, and there is a differential between air temperature and water temperature that's constantly changing.

When there is a difference in temperature, moisture forms. You see this happen in a rainstorm, when a hot air mass and a cold air mass meet, reducing the humidity in the atmosphere into water, or rain. Although not as extreme, the same phenomenon is constantly taking place on your boat, due to the temperature difference between the cabin (which is affected by water temperature and heat build-up during the day) and the air temperature outside. It is that humidity (or condensation) in the cabin that will do the most damage.

 How Much Ventilation is Required for Your Boat?

Ideally, the air in the interior of a boat should be circulated once every hour. A typical 30' boat contains approximately 800 cu. ft. of air. The general guidelines for providing maintenance ventilation for living areas are outlined in the chart below.

Boat Size Recommended Ventilation

Boat Size

Recommended Ventilation

Up to 24'

1 Exhaust Vent*

24'-40'

1 Exhaust Vent & 1 Intake Vent

40'+

2 Exhaust Vents & 1 Intake Vent

*One vent assumes there will be access for air to get into the cabin (i.e., cowl vent, clamshell vent, or louvered panel.)

To specifically calculate your boat's air volume, use this simple formula:

A x B x C x 70% = Boat Interior Volume

A = The interior length (excluding cockpit)

B = The boat's width

C = The average interior height

.

Don't overlook enclosed spaces mentioned at the beginning. Unless you have a better method for ventilating these spaces, open drawers and cabinets and other access panels below deck when you leave the boat.

Always beware of the risk of and take caution concerning induction of harmful fumes, exhaust or otherwise. For example, if a boat nearby is running its engine and/or generator, odorless but lethal carbon monoxide may be present in sufficient quantity to be taken into any vents, and capable of causing death. Also, far too many deaths have occurred caused by onboard generator or engine fumes finding their way inside living areas through vents.

Always keep in mind the likelihood of boarding seas, driving rain and other water intrusion when installing vents. Dorade vents can be quite helpful as passive vents forward.  If properly designed and installed, water which finds its way into the vent scoop "pipe" is prevented from going below by a built in dam inside the vent box and the water drains out holes in the side of the box (unless you take on too much water). With these vents you can also rotate the vent pipe so that it sucks air out and remove it altogether, covering the hole with a plate when expecting bad weather. Don't install vents where people will be walking or in a manner that will allow them to become broken while docking or in other activity.

 

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HOW AND WHEN THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD

Posted On: June 16, 2016

I recently was called in to examine a vessel which had suffered some malady while in transport. The trailer tires in the incident appear to be the culprit.  It reminded of an article I saw in USBoat a few years ago.

What To Know About Trailer Tires

If there is a common question to be found in the Q&A trailering section of BoatUS.com, it's about a boat trailer tire. While there may be many reasons for this, there's also this, as explained by Legendary Trailer Repairs owner Dustin Hoover, one of more than 10,400 service providers for BoatUS Trailer Assist: "Boat trailers are always behind the driver so they are forgotten." So it stands to reason that a majority (44%) of the calls to BoatUS Trailer Assist come from Members having problems with their tires.

BoatUS Trailering spoke with experts at two trailer tire manufacturers: Goodyear (maker of Marathon radials) and Kenda (maker of Karrier ST Radials and Load Star bias ply tires). As you will see, there are differing opinions with some issues, although there is much helpful agreement.

Passenger Tire or (ST) Special Trailer Tire?

There are too many Internet sites with "experts" telling readers that a passenger car tire works fine on a boat trailer. But despite the stories about "always using passenger tires with no problems at all," a single fact remains: Boat trailer tires (identified with ST on the sidewall) are designed to handle the load of carrying a boat around turns and corners at highway speeds. Passenger car tires aren't built to do that.

Trailer tires are designed for heavy-duty, free-rolling applications with emphasis on tread wear, rolling resistance, stability and ease of towing. They normally have a heavier construction than passenger tires in order to meet the additional load-carrying requirements of trailer applications. Passenger tires are designed for passenger car applications and may not meet all the service requirements of trailer tires. — Goodyear Tire Company

Passenger car tires and boat trailer tires are designed differently because they are used for different purposes. It becomes a safety issue. We do not recommend the use of passenger tires on trailer applications. — Kenda Tire Company

Bias Ply or Radial?

There are two kinds of tires: bias ply, made with layers of nylon textile cords placed on top of each other at 30-degree angles, and radials, composed of a single layer of rubber-coated steel cables with more steel belts placed at the crown of the tire (the part that touches the road). Bias ply are less expensive than radials but are more vulnerable to developing "flat areas" after sitting in one place for a long period of time. Radials are preferred by many for use on long highway trips as they run cooler than bias ply.

Radial tires offer many advantages for trailer applications including less heat buildup, better ability to carry loads, less rolling resistance (better fuel mileage), longer wear and softer ride. Bias tires offer stiffer sidewalls, which may be beneficial in some applications, but usually not in "trailer" (free rolling) service. — Goodyear Tire Company

Radial tires cost more and some tire makers push for it because they don't have bias ply to offer, but the fact remains that bias ply tires have stiffer sidewalls that will be more stable on the highway and give better comfort performance on off-road condition. Bottom line: Either radial or bias ply tires are fine as long as they are designed for trailer applications. — Kenda Tire Company

Inflate Tow Vehicle Using PSI on the Driver's Side Door or the PSI on the Sidewall?

This can be confusing since many times the psi (pounds per square inch) recommendations will differ from what is listed on the door to what is listed on tire. That said, use the driver's side door psi (if it isn't on the door, some models will have it on the fuel door). The psi on a sidewall indicates the maximum inflation for that particular tire.

One common mistake is thinking the psi for the tow vehicle tires will be the same as the psi for the boat trailer tires. Very rarely is this ever the case. In a very general sense, tow vehicle tires will have a lower psi than trailer tires.

For trailer tires, inflating near the max pressure indicated on the tire sidewall is a good option for cooler running, lower rolling resistance and load-carrying capacity. If the load the tire is carrying isn't near its capacity, lower-than-maximum psi can be used (see load and inflation tables for proper inflation) and this may give a slightly better ride, but never allow the tires to be under-inflated (lower than what the trailer manufacturer recommends). — Goodyear Tire Company

Single Axle vs. Tandem Axle and Tire Maintenance?

The psi should be checked before the trailer (single, double or tandem axle) is used. During long trips, check it every morning. The rest of the time, inspect the psi once a month.

All tires should be balanced to ensure proper tire wear and to reduce vibrations.

Rotation is normally not required on single-axle trailers. On tandem-axle trailers, rotation is also not normally required unless fast wear is noticed on the front or back tires during normal inspection. In that case, tires should be rotated front to back. — Goodyear Tire Company

We recommend using what is called an "X" type rotation. — Kenda Tire Company

Nitrogen?

Used in the tires of bikes in the Tour de France, NASCAR, the Indianapolis 500 and Formula One racers as well as aircraft and the military, nitrogen is being used more and more by the public for tire inflation. Unlike air, psi from nitrogen isn't affected by air temperature so the tire actually runs cooler. Nitrogen is dry whereas air contains moisture. As a result, nitrogen has found its way to boat trailer tires. Any tire filled with nitrogen is marked with a green valve stem. So, should it be used for boat trailer tires? Tire manufacturers aren't saying "yes" or "no."

Goodyear does not offer nitrogen filling of tires at its 750 company-owned stores, although some independent Goodyear dealers offer it. Proponents of nitrogen filling of tires claim there is better retention of tire inflation. Goodyear suggests consumers check their tires- both the physical condition and the inflation pressure — at least monthly or before a long trip, whether the tires are filled with nitrogen or air. Consumers should practice good tire care and keep their tires inflated to vehicle manufacturer recommendations. — Goodyear Tire Company

There is lots of research about nitrogen and certainly it has more benefits than just using regular air, the major one being that less is lost over a period of time than air (one study shows that in one month, air loses 1.5 pounds per square inch while a tire filled with nitrogen loses that amount in six months). This is why nitrogen is a hot topic today because 85% of people don't check air pressure regularly.

As for the purity level of nitrogen, most of the research to date shows all the benefits begin when the tire is filled with 93 ~ 98% of nitrogen. The air used to inflate your tire at a service station already contains 78% of nitrogen. But not all the pumps can get the purity level needed and it's still a service option at most tire dealers. Regardless of whether air or nitrogen is used, check the tire pressure regularly. — Kenda Tire Company

How Fast?

Industry standards dictate that ST tires are restricted to a speed of 65 mph unless a different speed restriction is indicated on the tire sidewall. If speeds from 66 to 75 mph are used, the tire cold inflation pressure can be increased by 10 psi without any increase in load. — Goodyear Tire Company

Like a passenger car tire, which has a speed rating, trailer tires are also designed with a certain speed rating. However, the trailer tire is used to sustain the higher loading weight and will generate higher heat than the tire going at the same speed on a car. Since heat build up will potentially degrade a tire's structure and cause either a blow out or separation, trailer tires are usually designed at lower speed rating. — Kenda Tire Company

How to Understand "Load Rating"?

Every tire, be it for a car, light truck, motorcycle or boat trailer, has a load rating, with the lightest being "A." Most boat trailer tires have load ratings of B, C or D. For example, a small single-axle boat trailer may use tires with a B load rating which may have a load capacity of 590 pounds. Since there are two tires on the trailer, the total capacity of the tires being used is 1,180 pounds so the boat, trailer engine, fuel and equipment can't weigh more than 1,180 pounds.

For single-axle trailers, tires can handle 100% of their load rating. For dual-axle trailers, loads must be reduced by 12%. — Goodyear Tire Company

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IS BIGGER BETTER?

Posted On: June 14, 2016

Buying A Larger Boat

A bigger boat may give you more room, but there are many other factors to consider when upsizing.

It's easy to be seduced, and impossible not to compare every boat you get aboard to the one you already own. It's hard not to picture the whole family heading out for a long weekend on a comfortable cruiser. If you have a weekend sailboat and step aboard a robust coastal cruiser, you'll find yourself daydreaming of a long adventure beyond your traditional sailing grounds.

If you want to upgrade, let's look realistically into the ways that size really does matter as well as the benefits and challenges of a jump up the size ladder.

Space = Stuff

On a powerboat, going up from a 25 footer to a 35-footer, the length increases by 40 percent, but the "cubic" living space increases by at least 50 percent, and your storage space increases by even more. On a sailboat, going from 25 feet to 35 feet, length increases by 40 percent, but interior volume almost doubles. This means you'll have room for the guests or grandkids — more cabins, more heads, more room around the salon table, more cockpit space — and for all their stuff. You'll be able to carry more water toys, more fishing or diving gear, more computers and cameras, and more water, fuel, and food. That last translates into being able to go farther between grocery stores, pump outs, and fuel docks, which means more boating fun on your weekend getaways, and taking along more people with whom to share it.

Stability = Comfort & Safety

Proportion is a beautiful thing, but the smaller the boat, the harder that is to achieve. To have much usable volume on a small monohull boat, it has to be wide. But a wide boat doesn't move through the water as efficiently. The "length-to-beam ratio" is used as a measure to compare hulls; a 20-foot runabout with an 8-foot beam has a length-to-beam ratio of 2.5. Going from a ratio of 2.5 to 3.5 (think of a 28-foot boat with an 8-foot beam) increases stability; makes the boat easier to handle, making it more comfortable to run at speed for long distances; and makes it more capable when dealing with chop or waves, translating into less seasickness, less pounding, and more fun. But you'd have to reduce the beam to six feet on a 20-foot runabout to get to a length-to-beam ratio of 3.5. A longer boat can have a wider beam without hurting performance. The same is true on monohull sailboats — smaller sailboats tend to be very narrow; otherwise they wouldn't sail well. The sweet spot on the length-to-beam ratio for a monohull is somewhere between 3 and 4, translating into about a 10-foot beam for a 35-foot boat.

Speed = Distance

On a displacement hull, which includes trawlers and most sailboats, the boat's speed is limited by the length of its waterline, so length translates into additional speed in a mathematically precise way (hull speed = 1.34 times the square root of waterline length). When my husband Evans and I went from a 37- to a 47-foot sailboat, our theoretical hull speed increased from 7.3 to 8.4 knots. We thought that extra knot would make a huge difference on offshore passages, but in fact it made much more of a difference during coastal cruising. In a leisurely half-day of sailing, we could go 35 miles instead of 25. Over the course of a week's cruise (three days out, three days back), we could go 30 miles further, opening up anchorages we'd never explored before. Length also translates into distance on planing hulls, though not in the same way. Most planing hulls are comfortable somewhere between 25 and 35 knots, but the increased comfort level means you'll be willing to go for much longer than on a smaller powerboat. On a 35-foot boat with a flybridge or protected watch-keeping station, you'd enjoy an hour's run just to eat dinner at your favorite restaurant. That might not be the case in a 25-foot runabout. And on the 35-footer, you could take a half-dozen of your best friends along and everyone would be comfortable.

Size = Cost

A bigger boat costs more than a smaller one, and costs increase disproportionately with length. Slips and haulouts are charged by the foot, and other costs go up with surface area, volume, or displacement, and increase even faster — bottom paint, canvas, anchors, line, chain, and fenders, to name a few. When Evans and I went from a 37-foot sailboat to a 47 foot one, the 30-percent length increase doubled our costs of owning and running the boat.

How much will it cost you to go up in size?

The absolute dollar amount varies, depending on the boat's age, how much fancy equipment it has aboard, and how you use your boat. A bigger, more complex boat may mean you can no longer do the routine maintenance yourself. Ownership costs jump when you start paying professionals. One rule of thumb from industry experts is to assume you will need to put in about 10 percent of the acquisition cost each year in maintenance to keep up with depreciation. That means 10 percent of the total purchase price of a new boat. For a used boat, it means 10 percent of the TOTAL of the purchase price PLUS the cost of any new systems you invested in to bring that used boat up to speed. So, you'll pay for those extra feet — but you'll be able to go farther, in more comfort, and take more people along for the ride. If your boating family has expanded, or if you're getting tired of the same old cruising ground, those extra feet add a whole new dimension to your boating life. 

 

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ARE YOU IN THE KNOW?

Posted On: June 09, 2016

HOW WELL DO YOU SCORE?

Safety is a must, and not knowing is not acceptable. Your life and that of others could be at stake.

Test your boating knowledge on the most commonly missed questions from the US boating foundation’s boating safety course.

Whether you've been boating for 20 days or 20 years, many boaters around the country are now required to take some form of boating education in their state.

How well did you do?

1. Which of the following is required on federally controlled waters for boats less than 39.4 feet (12 meters)?

a) A VHF radio
b) Whistle
c) Paddle or oar
d) First-aid kit

2. According to the Navigation Rules, which of the following is true?

a) A boat under power is always a stand-on boat.
b) A personal watercraft is always a give-way boat.
c) An overtaking boat always gives way to the boat being overtaken.
d) A boat under sail is always a stand-on boat.

3. Which of the following must follow Navigation Rules for a powerboat?

a) Any sailboat equipped with an engine
b) All sailboats under sail alone
c) A sailboat with sails up but no engine
d) A sailboat with its engine engaged

4. A float plan should contain what information?

a) A date and time to contact the authorities
b) A national weather service storm advisory signal listing
c) Coast Guard emergency radio frequencies
d) A pre-departure checklist

5. Which of the following will increase the effects of alcohol and drugs when boating?

a) Food
b) Vibration
c) Spray
d) Temperature

6. What is the USCG-approved meaning of "serviceable condition" for life jackets?

a) The ability to turn a person face up
b) Proper size and fit
c) Straps and zippers work
d) Must be within easy reach

 

 

Answers:

B,C,D,A,B,C,

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GETTING RIPPED

Posted On: June 07, 2016

What exactly is a rip?

In its most basic form, a rip is simply an area where the water is disturbed. Usually, though not always, the cause lies beneath the surface: some form of structure interrupts the flow of the water and causes turbulence, which creates small standing waves or ripples. You know those little waves that form on either side of bridge pilings, when the current is moving against them? Those are rips. The visible ripples formed where a pipe discharges water? Rips again. The swirling vortex you see behind a boulder in the river? That, too, is a rip.

What is it, exactly, that makes it easier for the fish to eat in such spots? There are several reasons. First off, if the rip is created by a solid object in the water, that object may attract baitfish and prey critters, just as any other structure would. Second, temperature differences, oxygen level, and turbidity can all be affected by the turbulence of water, and for a number of different reasons, these factors can make a rip or the area around it attractive to fish. Finally, all that turbulent, churned-up water tends to dislodge and disorient those small baitfish and prey critters, making them easy pickings.

So you see a bit of disturbed water, label it a rip, cast there, and load your cooler with fish, right? Not so fast. While many fishermen catch plenty of fish from rips, a few basic misconceptions keep them from attaining high-liner status. First off, you have to comprehend the anatomy of the rip itself. To simplify matters, for now we're just going to address the most common form of rips, those created by a solid structure in the current. Whatever structure causes the disturbed water is going to be upcurrent from what you see on the surface. In shallow water that's just four or five feet deep, the actual cause of the rip may be only a few feet away. But in 20 feet of water, the cause may be significantly farther away from the visible clues. So if the fish are oriented to the structure, casting directly into the middle of a rip isn't the best way to catch fish. Instead, focus on the beginning of the rip, and probe up current from there.

Whether a rip is in the middle of the ocean, a clear-running river, or an estuarine bay, one thing is for sure: once you understand the features of a rip and how to apply that knowledge, you'll catch more fish.

Thanks to my friends at www.Boats.com

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WHY DID THE ENGINE GO?

Posted On: June 02, 2016

Your Engine is Shot

Even when a boat owner has followed a rigorous maintenance schedule, a marine engine won't last forever. Quite the contrary; shelling out thousands of dollars to replace a marine engine after only a few seasons of hard use (or neglect) isn't unusual. Pushing a prop through water is much tougher on an engine than pushing tires on a highway. Winter is also tougher, since most marine engines must be idle for several months.

The cost of replacing a worn-out engine isn't covered by an insurance policy. Boat owners typically take a careful look at other options — rebuilds and partial rebuilds — before shelling out thousands of dollars for a spanking new engine.

CHOOSE WISELY AND WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.

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