Blog May 2017

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GOING GREEN WITH BOAT PAINT

Posted On: May 18, 2017

GOING GREEN

A byproduct of boatbuilding is the release of Volatile Organic Compounds, better known as VOCs. These organic compounds easily evaporate into the air (hence they're "volatile") and are regulated at many  levels, including federal air-quality standards and indoor air standards. If you grew up using oil-based paints in your house and remember when water-based latex paints began to be used, you were witnessing a move away from solvents and the VOCs they contained. There are many sources of VOCs in industrial applications, but you're probably very familiar with the resins used to make fiberglass boats and the paint and finishes used on boats. Bottom paint, in particular, is going through a revolution right now, with the introduction of water-based paints.

Solving The Solvent Issue

Remember the last time you painted your boat's bottom?  It's a messy, uncomfortable process for many of us, but with new, water-based anti-fouling paints, such as Hydrocoat from Pettit and Micron Optima from Interlux, you've gone from a paint that could eat through a roller to ones that clean up with soap and water. These low-odor paints feature dramatically lower VOCs, often a reduction of more than 50 percent, compared with paints with traditional solvents, so you can even paint indoors in some circumstances. It should be noted these are still multi-season ablative paints. Once dried, they are no different than traditional paints. In fact, you can apply them right over your old paint.

By switching to using water as a solvent, instead of harsher (and regulated) solvents, bottom-paint manufacturers are preserving your ability to continue to paint your own hull.

Closed Molding Is The New Black

In the not-so-distant future, closed-molding techniques, like vacuum bagging, will be the standard across the boatbuilding industry, at least for builders of any significant volume. Some VOCs cause smog and other serious problems. Therefore they are regulated at the federal level. But poor air quality isn't equally distributed across the country. If you live in the Northeast, your air is already subject to strict scrutiny. Ditto California, or in parts of Texas. But eventually, the gradual tightening of regulations regarding toxins will impact the whole country.

"There will come a day where every drop of resin a builder brings into the plant will need to be accounted for, whether it goes into a boat or is spilled on the floor," says Peter Frederiksen of Viking Yachts. The New Jersey-based builder of sportfish yachts vacuum-bags just about every hull already, even their 92-footer (left). And while the prep for vacuum bagging — the time required to lay up the materials that will go into the hull, seal the mold under plastic, run the hoses, hook up the manifolds, and attach vacuum pumps — seems quite involved, there are a lot of benefits. First, the plant has less odor and harmful chemicals in the air. Second, the precise metering of resin means the right amount is always used throughout. Not too much, which adds unnecessary weight, nor too little, which can make the hull brittle. And the vacuum pressure virtually eliminates voids, those hidden places where no resin flows into the fiberglass. These things mean a better boat. Plus, of course, allowing the resin to set under seal prevents those VOCs from escaping.

 

 

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GET YOUR GRILL READY

Posted On: May 16, 2017

Seven Steps To A Season of Eating

 

Cleaning  Tips to Get Your Grill Party-Ready

It's about time to fire up your grill for another season of outdoor cooking.

What Materials You’ll Need  

  • heavy-duty grill scraper
  • abrasive grill brush
  • scouring pad
  • sponge
  • microfiber cloth
  • dish soap
  • warm water
  • large, plastic bucket
  • latex gloves or work gloves
  • natural grill degreaser (optional)

 

Assess the Mess

Determine if you need to simply clean or replace the grates and burners. Rusty or crumbling grates require disassembly and replacement.  Be sure to check your owner's manual, and take a photo before you pull the grill apart. And, always turn off the gas when disassembling a grill

Warm It Up

For a basic deep clean, keep the burners in place and focus your attention on the grates. First, turn on the grill to warm up the unit.

Start Scraping

Once warm, use a heavy-duty grill scraper to remove the top layer of cooked-on grit and grime.

Scrub Warm Grates

Scrub the heated grates with a wire grill brush. If you need more power, opt for a battery-powered model. When you're finished, turn off the grill.

Soak Grates

Once the grates are cool to the touch, place them into a bucket of warm, soapy water. Soak the grates for a few hours, then scrub off any excess grime using a scouring sponge.

Degrease

Use a degreaser to clean up the grates as well as the grill’s exterior. Wipe clean with a damp sponge, then dry with a fresh microfiber cloth.

Shine It Up

Shine up the exterior with a stainless-steel cleaner or equivalent if not stainless; this will also help protect the exterior in the coming months.

 

 

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LESSONS LEARNED

Posted On: May 11, 2017


I run across a lot of confident boaters, some deservedly experienced, and some naive to the real hazards of the water.

Too much confidence can get you in trouble.

Here's an article I read from April's Boaters. 

I Learned About Boating From This: A Hard-Won Lesson of Tide and Current

An experienced boatman reflects on the perils of overconfidence and a failure to keep a weather eye.

By Bill Schlatter April 5, 2017

I have been boating on the south shore of Long Island, New York, for 25 years. But, back in 1992, I was still a novice. And on a calm Sunday afternoon, I made a novice blunder that could have been tragic.

Six months of boating experience coupled with the completion of a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety course gave me the confidence I needed to head out into the ocean with a friend. NOAA weather radio informed us there were 3-foot seas — certainly, my boat could handle that! It was a 1987 25-foot Renken cabin cruiser with a 200 hp sterndrive.

Nearing the Jones Inlet, I was a bit perplexed to see a few smaller boats just inside the inlet, but no boats heading out. We slowly threaded past the smaller boats and cruised toward the inlet mouth. I felt comforted that some of the smaller boats followed as we headed out. Soon, as ­expected, we began hitting some swells. The swells were predictable, smooth and fun, and we continued heading south toward the open sea.

Hazy conditions made the horizon difficult to discern, making it tough to see the 4-, 5- and then 6-foot swells that were quickly upon us. The ride was a lot less fun now, and I found myself intently focused on the water directly in front of the boat. A few seconds later, my friend asked, “What’s that?” as he pointed forward. White water! Large, roiling, angry waves were directly ahead.

I had a limited number of swells to traverse before hitting the enraged seas, so I prepared to turn around. Looking aft, I noticed only the sterns of the other boats. The 6-footers were less organized now, tossing around my 25-footer like a toy. I needed to turn around now, but I couldn’t find a wave that I felt safe pivoting on.

The white, roiling seas were two swells away when I had no choice but to turn hard after a crest passed. The next 10 seconds were an eternity. The underpowered ­Renken came about, but it didn’t have enough power to climb the back side of the wave. Stuck in the trough at full throttle, it was all I could do to keep the boat straight. As the swell behind lifted our stern, an image of my Coast Guard Auxiliary instructor teaching about pitchpoling popped into my mind. My heart raced, and I prayed and loudly encouraged my little V-8 to give us the power to climb the crest. Luckily, we barely crested the top and were able to ride that wave in. The angry white water never caught up to us.

My friend and I gained instant respect for Mother Nature. We learned to be more prepared for future boating situations. For example, we now understand the impact of tides on an inlet — in Jones Inlet that day, the tide rushing out exacerbated the effect of the swells ­moving in. Furthermore, in 1992 we had little technology at our disposal. Today, with sophisticated marine electronics, it’s much easier to prepare for Mother Nature. There is just no excuse for being uninformed.

Finally, the underpowered Renken has been replaced with a twin-engine Formula. Never again will I attempt to coax a boat with too little motor through conditions it cannot match.

 

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WHAT IS AN EXPERT MARITIME WITNESS?

Posted On: May 04, 2017

What Is a Maritime Expert Witness?             

 A maritime expert witness is a person who possesses knowledge of matters relating to the construction of ships, marine shipping, or navigation and who offers this expertise in a court of law. They prepare an analysis of situations and present the information to attorneys, judges and juries. They offer general insight on the cause of an accident, reconstruct the events of an accident and determine environmental threats. They also may be called upon to analyze the cause of personal injury suits and product liability suits. 

An expert witness is a person who has specific knowledge in a given field and is called to testify in a court of law. The court permits this person to testify without having been present at the scene of the crime due to specialized training or experience in a given field. Unlike other witnesses, who are only permitted to give testimony based on observed facts, an expert witness gives technical testimony based primarily on expertise and opinions. The court allows either the prosecuting or defense attorneys to use such testimony to support claims made by the prosecution or the defense.

A maritime expert witness analyzes the cause of marine causalities and personal injuries during litigation for either the defendant or the plaintiff. An maritime expert witness may also be called to testify in environmental cases and offer analysis on the threat of hazardous materials such as lead, toxic PCBs and other toxic metals either aboard the ship or at the ship yard.

A maritime expert witness may be called upon to recreate the technical events causing an accident. An expert witness can provide testimony and analysis on the design, construction, and operations to determine the cause of the injury. A maritime expert witness is instrumental in product liability cases and can help determine whether an accident was due to faulty ship design or construction, management of the ship, or maritime operations.

Our services are available to offer expert witnesses when maritime accidents occur and the cause is unclear. An exceptional maritime expert witness service will provide the knowledge of fundamental maritime principals to advance the case and demonstrate the probable cause and effect necessary to the courts. The service will always include an analysis either supporting or defending claims and prepare reports for litigation. The analysis should cover each phase of the design, maintenance and operation of either the ship yard or the ship.

 

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GETTING YOUR BOAT IN THE WATER THE RIGHT WAY

Posted On: May 02, 2017


Well it's inevitable as the boating season gets underway, you will hear about some  incidents of boat ramp adventures.

Here's an article about getting that boat in the water safely.

By Michael Vatalaro
Published in the Spring Edition of Boat USA Trailering

It's as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4. But there's a knack and an order to getting it right.

1. Set The Stage

Before you even think about backing down the ramp, take 10 minutes in the staging area to load all the gear into the boat, attach lines to the bow and stern cleats, check that the plug is in, remove the rear tie-downs, put the key in the ignition, and unplug the trailer lights.

If you have surge brakes, unplugging the trailer lights will also depower the circuit that prevents your trailer brakes from locking up when you reverse. You'll need to use the manual brake lockout to prevent this. Also, if you know the ramp well, you can lower the motor or outdrive now, if you're sure it won't hit bottom.

2. Back It Up

Back down the ramp till the stern of the boat floats. If you can't tell when the stern is floating, have a crewmember positioned on the dock beside the ramp signal you when to stop. Put the vehicle in park and engage the parking brake, but leave it running. If you have trouble backing straight, place your driving hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. That way, whichever direction you move your hand, the trailer will turn in that direction.

3. Unhook The Bow

Depending on how steep the ramp is or how athletic you're feeling, you may be able to scramble along the bumper or step up onto the tongue of the trailer and not get your feet wet. But it's advisable to wear water-friendly shoes or rubber boots so you can wade in to reach the bow eye and winch handle. Many boat ramps are slick with algae during summer months, so don't be surprised if your feet start to slide.

Once you can reach the bow eye and handle, unhook the safety chain, then back the winch off to get enough slack to release the bow strap as well. Pass the line on the bow cleat to a crewmember on the dock, then push the bow of the boat up and off the trailer. If you've backed down far enough, this should be relatively easy, and the boat should float gently off.

4. Nice Going!


Now, Keep It Moving: While you head back to the driver's seat to park the tow vehicle, make sure the crew is walking the boat down to the far end of the dock to free up the ramp for the next boater.

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