Blog July 2016


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Posted On: July 19, 2016

I often get asked what is the best way to remove bottom paint?  

For me, there's no good way to completely remove bottom paint. Every method risks damaging the underlying gelcoat. Sanding works until you reach the fiberglass, then you're sanding the gelcoat, which you don't want to do unless you are repainting. Chemical strippers can be even  worse. The kind you find in paint and home-supply stores cannot tell the difference between paint resin and polyester resin, so when they get through the paint, they will literally start dissolving your boat. So-called fiberglass-safe strippers can work, but are only safe if you're meticulous in how long you leave them on, which is often insufficient to fully remove the paint. That brings you back to sandpaper. Boatyard staff may recommend sandblasting, but sandblasting fiberglass boats damages them, no ifs, ands, or buts. Blasting with a softer medium, such as baking soda, is probably the gentlest removal option, but you're going to have to find someone who does this and it will not be cheap.

So typically I recommend not removing the bottom paint just because you no longer need it. If the color bothers you, then prep the bottom and paint it with white bottom paint (Pettit Vivid). This will be virtually undetectable except by close inspection, and can actually make the bottom easier to keep clean, and that could be beneficial if you use your boat for vacations where it stays in the water for days rather than hours.



Posted On: July 14, 2016

How To Stop A Boat From Sinking

Great article By Michael Vatalaro for BOATUS

Quick action — and these three items — can keep your boat afloat in an emergency.

Putting Archimedes' "Eureka!" moment aside, a boat can be said to float because there's more water on the outside than on the inside. And while the concept of displacement might baffle some of us, it's a safe bet that every boater knows when the water on the outside starts becoming water on the inside, something has to be done, and quickly. Here are three ways to stop a sudden leak, before your boat ends up looking more like Archimedes' bathtub.

Cram It: TruPlug                                                  


Designed as a replacement for traditional wooden bungs, which often need to be hammered into place to staunch the flow of water, TruPlug is made from closed-cell foam, the elastic type that springs back into shape after you compress it. Like foam earplugs, TruPlug is designed to be installed by hand.

Yes, in a perfect world, should a hose pop off your raw-water intake, you'd just close the seacock. But in reality, these valves are frequently neglected and stuck in the open position. Or perhaps, in a truly disastrous turn of events, a heavy battery or piece of equipment breaks loose and shears off an aged, corroded, or fatigued seacock. In such a case, you'd be glad to have the flexibility of TruPlug's foam, which can conform to somewhat irregular shapes.

But you don't have to imagine a worst-case scenario to find a reason to keep this $20 item in your toolkit. The plastic "mushroom"-style thru-hulls through which scuppers, bilge pumps, and livewells drain overboard are notorious for cracking and leaking after years of UV abuse. Having a plug handy to jam into one of these openings might just get you back to the dock without having to bail all the way home.

Wrap It: Rescue Tape


I've had an engine-cooling hose burst while underway. It's not pretty. When I opened the engine-compartment hatch, water — under pressure from the engine's circulating pump — was spraying from a gash in the hose all over the engine compartment. The boat in question was a twin-engine cabin cruiser, so the solution was to shut down the port engine and continue on one engine. But if I'd had Rescue Tape aboard, I could've wrapped up the busted hose and been back underway at normal speed.

Rescue tape is self-amalgamating silicone. It comes with clear backing that you have to peel back as you go. To repair a leak, stretch and wrap the tape over the hose and itself, overlapping each wrap by about half. Don't be shy on the stretching — the tighter you pull the wraps, the better the seal. Using the tape to cover an extra few inches on either side of the leak should allow you to seal just about any leaking hose or pipe in an emergency, even high-pressure hydraulic lines. However do read the packaging for limitations, such as for common rail pipes or pipes from injector pumps to injectors. For $10 to $12 per roll, this tape is cheap insurance.

Mend It: Epoxy Sticks

These epoxy putties can be mixed by hand to create a self-hardening patch for repairing small holes or gashes in the hull or an outdrive. They even cure underwater, though you may have to hold it in place for 5 to 10 minutes to give it time to set up. It's easier to find uses for this type of repair tool when your boat is out of the water. But if your boating takes you to remote places or you value self-reliance, throw a $24 package of this in the toolbox, just in case.




Posted On: July 12, 2016

Smoke Detectors

The American Boat and Yacht Council, ABYC, recently issued a Technical Information Report,  typically written when the subject doesn't rise to the level of a requirement, concerning smoke alarms — a great idea, especially for boats with cabins, engine spaces, and other enclosed areas where there might be sources of ignition. The time between ignition and detection of a boat fire is critically important.

Unfortunately, no "marine-approved" smoke alarms are currently available. It's a chicken-or-egg scenario: Manufacturers don't make them because the industry doesn't require them, but they can't be required unless someone makes them. It's too expensive for a manufacturer to build a marine smoke detector, unless they are required, because it has to pass numerous UL tests specific to boats. The marine industry hopes that by modeling smoke alarms used in the RV industry, which already have to meet some of those requirements, they can be made to sell at a reasonable price for boats. Due to this work, boaters will likely soon see another life-saving device designed specifically for boats.

But why wait?



Posted On: July 05, 2016

Remembering how we got the Star Spangled Banner

The Defense Of Baltimore

After Washington, D.C. was burned by the British, the British headed for Baltimore, home to pro-war fervor, innovative clipper-ship builders, and privateers responsible for capturing more than 500 British merchant ships. Long expecting an attack, Baltimoreans had fortified land approaches to the city with earthworks, guns, and cannons. Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead and his troops readied Fort McHenry, which protected Baltimore's harbor, for a naval assault.

Early on September 11, lookouts spotted 50 British warships approaching Baltimore. The British were preparing a two-pronged attack that would unfold over the next three days. Ships anchored just out of range of Fort McHenry's guns would pound the fort with cannons, mortars, and rockets. Another force would land at North Point to take Baltimore. On September 12, those troops met fierce resistance. The British commander was killed, and facing American defenders numbering 10,000 strong, his troops later withdrew.

The bombardment of Fort McHenry fared little better for the British. Armistead flew an enormous flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars above the fort. As long as it swayed in the wind, no one doubted that Fort McHenry remained in American hands. Anchored not far away were Americans detained by the British, among them Francis Scott Key. They watched the bombardment all day, heartened at the site of the large flag above the fort. Then nightfall came and with it suspense: Would the flag be flying in the morning? At daybreak, Key not only saw the stars and stripes still flying above the fort, but the British weighing anchor. The city of Baltimore remained free. Key was so moved he wrote a poem on "The Defense of Fort McHenry," and our national anthem was born.

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail links historic sites important to the Battle of Baltimore and the Chesapeake campaign. Among them are North Point State Park and the star-spangled buoy that marks the spot where Francis Scott Key spent the night at anchor, just north of the Key Bridge. Boat ramps at Turner Station Park and Southwest Area Park offer access to the Patapsco River. Marinas in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Fells Point, and Canton provide transient dockage. Water taxi service is available to Fort McHenry.