Blog January 2018

CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND YOUR CONTROL... AKA BOATING

Posted On: January 30, 2018

At some point you're probably going to have to remove a fine threaded fitting.

Even if you're not hands-on, you may be stuck with the job due to circumstances beyond your control, commonly known as "boating."

Exceptionally fine threads seem to be used in the most strategic of circumstances, meaning if you strip them you're really screwed, pun intended. Typically you run into this problem on a diesel, and it's usually on the very high pressure injector pipes where they mate to the injector or the injector pump. Once you free two such fittings they're going to be difficult to rethread, particularly, as with diesel fuel pipes, if they're misaligned. And you're almost sure to misalign them at least a little if you need to bend the pipe back to separate the fitting. Avoid bending that pipe at all costs, even if it means disconnecting at both ends to avoid the bend. Better still, avoid completely unscrewing the threads. Typically this issue arises if you're bleeding your diesel, but you don't need to completely unthread the connection to accomplish the bleeding. But if you're not careful, you'll strip those threads when you're trying to re-mate them and end up spending a lot of money.

To get your parts rejoined, don't try to screw one part on to the other. Screw it OFF the other. Make sure your surroundings are quiet. Mate the two parts carefully, have the threads touching, press them together gently, and unscrew part A from part B as you press it toward part B. Listen closely. When you hear the threads quietly click it'll mean that they're probably just in place to mate and then, without reorienting the parts, start screwing the fitting on with fingers only. This is a precise operation, but if you do it carefully it can save a lot of time and perhaps a lot of money

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SAIL SAFE

Posted On: January 25, 2018


A Sailing Safety Alternative

Smart sailors know that in rough weather or at night it's wise to wear a tether or safety lanyard, especially when the crew has to leave the safety of the cockpit to reef the mainsail, change sails, or work on the exposed foredeck.

It's common to rig jacklines — lines strung along the deck from bow to stern that allow a harnessed crewmember to clip a tether on while still in the security of the cockpit and then move forward. But that very thing that protects you could be a hazard.

Many sailors like to use stainless-steel wire for jacklines, which, although undeniably strong, can roll underfoot, potentially throwing the sailor off balance.

Instead, try using 1-inch-wide nylon webbing. It's plenty strong enough, won't roll underfoot, and best of all won't make a noise or scratch your deck like stainless-steel wire can.

One drawback is durability from UV exposure. Plastimo, one manufacturer of nylon webbing jacklines, recommends replacing them after a cumulated period of two years of outdoor exposure.

Still, it's a simple idea worth considering

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RUN AGROUND? HERE'S WHAT TO EXPECT

Posted On: January 23, 2018


What Lies Beneath

So what can you expect when you run aground? It's quite likely that sooner or later you will. Boat design and build have everything to do with damage when it comes to groundings. Let's start with sailboats. As new sailboat designs evolve, they are made from lighter materials, which results in a higher proportion of damage. Simply stated, the more we're making keels thinner to go faster, the higher the rate for damage there is. It's a matter of the geometry involved. Thinner, deeper keels that strike objects tend to have the aft end of the keel pushed up into the hull, while the leading edge is pulled down in somewhat of an equal but opposite reaction. Both actions can and often do result in hull damage.

When it comes to what lies beneath the water's surface, there are regional differences, of course. In New England, the Great Lakes, and on the West Coast, there are granite ledges and rocks — completely unforgiving of a skipper who neglects to pay attention to his or her depth sounder. New Jersey's waterways, along with most of the southeastern states, ICW, and Florida (some Gulf Coast, too) have more of a sandy, silty bottom. This is much more forgiving when it comes to running aground. But hit a coral reef, for example, and not only will your pride and your boat be hurt, your wallet may be hurt as well from fines associated with the reef damage.

Sailing Toward Damage

Let break down some typical grounding scenarios, starting with a hard grounding on a solid reef or ledge. With the rugged bottom of a full keel with heavy laminate, you may get lucky and bounce off. In many cases like that, a haulout and external repair of the damaged area is all that is needed. On occasion, there may be damage to ballast or laminate, but rarely does the damage become a structural game-ender.

This is not the case for the lighter, faster, and deeper keelboats discussed earlier. For boats with deep-fin keels, spades, or skeg-hung rudders, with a keel step mast, the keel (typically a nice big piece of shaped lead) is attached to your hull with a series of keel bolts. Usually there is one bolt in the front, a series of pairs following that, and then one in the aft end above the trailing edge (back) of the keel.

If the impact is significant enough, your mast and rigging may be damaged from movement of the mast step and possible compression and tension damage to the rigging. For this reason, a sailboat that's taken anything more than a bump needs to be inspected by a professional.

For our powerboat brethren, grounding damage is typically simpler to inspect, diagnose, and repair than on sailboats. Let's take a look at a few issues facing powerboat owners and repairers with today's powerboat offerings.

As with full-keel sailboats, the powerboats out there with a full keel (displacement trawlers, single, or double screw) usually avoid too much trouble at 8 knots since they're protected by a massive chunk of fiberglass (although old fashioned, heavy solid-laminate construction has pretty much gone the way of the landline telephone). Aside from hull gouges, straightforward damage includes shaft, strut, propeller, and cutless bearing damage. There is the potential for transmission damage from a hard hit. I've inspected many boats that hit so hard that the engine-transmission case or bell housing broke, and a few that even pulled the engine right off its mounts.

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SEASICKNESS

Posted On: January 18, 2018

A great friend of mine who'd sailed across oceans several times once said, "Everyone gets seasick. We just have different thresholds." When someone says they've never been seasick, I always finish their sentence with "... yet!"

Seasickness is caused when the fluid in your inner ear tells your brain one thing (we are moving!) while your eyes tell your brain you are stationary (especially true if you are down below in the boat). The conflict creates nausea. When someone is seasick, the first order of business is to ensure their safety and that of the boat. Many times, the ailing person wants to go below and hang over the head, which is not the best idea because being down below can contribute to seasickness. Instead, get them up in the fresh air of the cockpit, wearing a life jacket (and life harness if you're offshore). The benefit of this is that you can keep an eye on the sick crew and still be aware of what's happening around you. Never let the victim heave over the side of the boat! If he or she were to fall overboard, that would turn a bad situation into a life-threatening one.

If possible, get the person to stand at the helm and steer. The action of being up and staring at the horizon, and having your brain and your eyes experience the same movement, helps alleviate the seasickness.

Signs Of Seasickness

Look for these giveaway signs, so you can help prepare or even prevent someone from becoming sick:

  • Lack of hunger or thirst
  • Going quiet or becoming lethargic (easy to spot with children)
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Repeated swallowing
  • Mouth watering

Seasickness Prevention

Don't be fooled. Even though most people suddenly feel better after being sick, many will become sick again within the hour if they don't take precautions. Over the years that we've lived aboard our boat with our children, we've come to better understand what causes seasickness and developed a wide range of options to fight it. Some options are simple and don't require any type of medication; others require a prescription from your physician and come with side effects. The key is to find the right combination for you and remember simple things you can do while on the water.

Peppermint. One of our favorites, especially for kids. Peppermint naturally calms the stomach. We keep candy canes on board. An extra benefit is that the action of sucking on the candy seems to take the victim's mind off the motion.

Ginger. Often considered one of the best ways to avoid being sick or to calm a stomach, ginger can be purchased in large-milligram quantities at many nutrition/drug stores. Or make ginger cookies. The carbonation of ginger ale can help, but we haven't found it to contain enough ginger to be effective.

Bonine/Dramamine. These may make you sleepy.

Wristbands for motion sickness. Some people swear by them. They're worth a try.

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WINTER STORAGE

Posted On: January 16, 2018


It's no surprise that when freezing temps blast an area where annual winterization isn't the norm, damage claims are sure to follow. If your winter storm-prep plan consists of hanging a garage drop light in the engine compartment and calling it good, you may want to beef it up with some of the following tasks. Just because its not freezing all winter down here, doesn't mean you should ignore these tips.

Engines:

Because the engine is likely the most expensive piece of gear you'll have aboard, proper engine winterization is crucial. From cracked blocks to fractured manifolds and risers, engines are particularly susceptible to costly freeze damage. Review your engine manual so you correctly complete all manufacturer-recommended steps for protection against freezing weather.

Sanitation System:

Properly dump and clean portable, self-contained toilets. Flush and completely pump out permanently installed toilets and holding tanks. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for additional winterization guidance.

Air-conditioning System:

Drain or purge all water, including the raw-water strainer. An alternative is to flush the system with antifreeze; just be sure the entire system is protected (the seacock, strainer, pump, and all downstream plumbing).

Canvas:

Remove all canvas (including bimini tops and curtains) where appropriate and store ashore. Don't wait until it's too cold to do this, as the material may crack or be too stiff. Ensure that any canvas or covers left in place are robust enough to withstand high winds, ice, and snow. In many parts of the country, storm winds exceed what a bimini top is designed to endure.

Sails:

Ideally, sails should be removed and stowed ashore before a storm. If that's not possible, however, they should be secured to prevent unfurling and flogging

Remove and stow sails ashore to prevent damage. If you can't, securely lash them in place to prevent unfurling/flogging. A flogging sail can damage not only your rig but also your neighbor's.

 

Hauled/Stored Ashore:

Check the condition of cradles, support blocks, and jackstands. Ensure that each is positioned properly and that your boat is properly supported.

Place strong, stable plywood sheets under jackstand bases, and ensure that safety chains are in use. Boats can rock in high winds, causing unchained jackstands to move and allowing the boat to fall. Make sure your boat is level, to promote proper drainage. Never tie covers to jackstands or support blocks. Flapping canvas can yank them out in high winds, causing the boat to topple over. Remove all bilge drain plugs.

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THE POLAR VORTEX

Posted On: January 09, 2018


What is a polar vortex?

Its been freezing lately, and the question that comes up is why?

Here's an article based on an interview in Vox, explaining some of it.

The vortex is a swirl of cold air that sits over the Arctic region. It's full of swirling eddies that, during winter months, can grow and extend farther south. It represents the boundary of cold, polar air and warmer subtropical temperatures

Polar vortexes are bordered by the "polar front jet stream" that's constantly shifting.

A polar vortex outbreak in farther southern latitudes can have damaging impacts on regions' transportation and agriculture practices, and scientists aren't quite sure how these outbreaks will be influenced by climate change.

Is this storm different from a regular Nor'Easter?

 Not really. What's happening now is just way more intense.

In an interview with Vox, meteorologist Ed Vallee noted this week's storm would be the first Nor'easter of the year and larger—spanning from Maine to Florida—than normal.

The term Nor'easter simply refers to a midlatitude winter storm. Many Nor'easters form when that same polar jet stream collides with warm currents from the Gulf jet stream.

What role does climate change play in all this?

It's well known that climate change can influence weather. The effect is known to exacerbate natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, and warming Arctic regions may even be making U.S. winters colder.

But linking one specific extreme weather event to climate change is tricky.

 Henson notes that these types of multi-latitude storms vary greatly year-to-year, saying, "There are some indications these storms have become stronger and more frequent across the Northern Hemisphere in the last 60 years, but there isn't strong evidence of any major change in impacts along the U.S. East Coast."

"What we simply have here is a strong trough in what we call the atmospheric longwave pattern, or, as some might say, there has been a strong southward excursion of the polar vortex," said Serezze in a recent email to National Geographic.

 

Simply put: "It is winter. This happens."

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HOW TO EXPERIENCE A HASSLE FREE SURVEY

Posted On: January 04, 2018

THINKING OF A NEW ADDITION?

Time and additional expense can be saved by preparing the vessel for inspection and making her more accessible.

IF YOU WANT TO SAVE AND HAVE THE INSPECTION GO WELL CONSIDER THIS.


Arrange to present a clean, shipshape boat, and have all papers and miscellaneous gear ready. If applicable, you will need to make arrangements with the marina to haul the vessel for bottom inspection, and retain a captain for sea trials. Lockers and cabin areas should be cleared of all miscellaneous gear.

The surveyor should never be asked to prepare a boat for inspection. The surveyor may request minor dismantling of interior ceilings, headliners, flooring, etc. in order to gain access to the suspected areas. Random removal and examination of below-the-waterline fasteners on wood boats may be required. Any dismantling and re-installation of parts should be performed by qualified personnel and is the responsibility of the person ordering the survey.

Written authorization from the owner may be needed to board and/or to remove part of the vessel. 

ONCE YOU RETAIN THE SURVEYOR, HE OR SHE WORKS ONLY FOR YOU AND REPORTS TO NO ONE ELSE. THE SURVEYOR IS THERE TO PROTECT YOUR INTERESTS!

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STAYING HEALTHY

Posted On: January 02, 2018


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

If you’re not in a warm climate, and need to get some place a fair distance away, you will be flying. So, whether it’s a vacation, business, personal, or all of the above, here are some tips to stay healthy in the New Year when you fly!

Thanks to  Morning Consult

Flying Tips:

DON’T DRINK THE WATER.

A survey sampling of 327 airplanes found that there was a high amount of E. coli in the on-board drinking water. You really need to bring your own water because even coffee and tea has shown traces of E. coli. For safety reasons, the water on a plane won’t be heated enough to kill off the bacteria. So, buy a bottle of water after you go through security. When you’re on board, only drink bottled water- one for every hour that you fly. This will help you be less hungry and will help you avoid feeling dehydrated when you get off the plane.

AVOID THE SEAT-BACK POCKET.

We’ve all done it- tuck our iPads in the seat-back pocket before we read the Sunday NY Times, or watch a movie. Or, we stick that crossword puzzle in there when we decide to take a nap.

Don’t.

That place is a haven for cold and influenza viruses. The reason: not everyone washes their hands, which is one of the top disease contributors in the entire world.

WIPE DOWN YOUR TRAY TABLE.

Always bring a pack of anti-bacterial wipes. A staphylococcus lives on these things and kills 20,000 Americans every year. Don’t think, “Hey, Susan- it’s not that manly to be carrying around a pack of wipes.” Trust me; I would be more worried about having a clean place to work over anything else.

 

EAT YOUR OWN FOOD.

FDA inspectors went into the kitchens of planes from major airlines and found the Listeria virus as well as swarms of cockroaches. But, forgetting that, even from a general nutrition perspective, airplane food is not good for you. These types of meals are packed with sodium and loaded with preservatives. When I travel I bring a natural protein bar, raw almonds, raw walnuts and even a piece of food. Avoid fast food when waiting at an airport terminal. What’s good is that a lot of larger airports these days offer a variety of food options.

BRING YOUR OWN BLANKET.

Many airlines won’t even provide blankets anymore, but if they do, use your own! There’s an Aspergillus virus that can cause pneumonia and lives in these blankets. The Wall Street Journal did a study in 2007 that revealed that blankets were only washed once every five to 30 days. How disgusting is that? If you forget a blanket, use your own jacket.

WASH YOUR HANDS.

Avoid airplane bathrooms at all costs. The CDC found that H1N1 and SARS epidemics may have been perpetuated throughout the United States by airplane bathrooms. Here’s why: when you flush the toilet air sprays up particles from urine, to airplane matter, and germs and other viruses. When someone doesn’t wash their hands, all of that material gets spread throughout the plane. If you’re on a longer flight and you can’t avoid the bathroom, close the toilet lid with a paper towel before flushing and then use hand sanitizer to “wash.” That dirty sink water will do you no good either.

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