Blog July 2018

QUICK TIPS TO KEEP YOU FUNCTIONING ON BOARD

Posted On: July 31, 2018

Some of the best ideas are cheap but will save you loads in the long run. Here are a few you can bank on.

It's In The Bag

A crisp, neat, straight paint line is a delight to the eye and is easy to achieve with careful application of masking tape. Your efforts unfortunately can be marred by paint creeping under the edge of the tape, ruining the effect. This is often caused by minute pieces of dirt sticking to the edge of the tape as it is laid down. Avoid this by storing tape in a resealable zipper storage bag when not in use. The bag will keep dirt off the tape and prevent half-used rolls from drying out between uses.

Zap The Tape

Nothing is more maddening than a roll of masking tape that won't unroll, but only comes off in little bits. Before tossing it in the trash, an ornery roll of tape can often be brought back to life with a quick blitz in the microwave. Don't overcook it: 5 to 10 seconds is often more than enough to revitalize the adhesive and return the roll to taping nirvana.

Keep It Solvent

Boat owners use lots of expensive caulks and compounds in cartridges. Half-used tubes that sit for more than a day or two often dry up, then get thrown in the trash. To avoid wastage, cover the end of the cut nozzle with a good dollop of petroleum jelly. It will keep the air out and prevent the contents of the tube from hardening. Next time you need the caulk, thoroughly wipe off the jelly and squeeze out a little bit of caulk to be sure the inside of the nozzle is clear of jelly.

Cheap Hand Cleaner

Many jobs on the boat can leave your hands filthy. For a fast-and-effective hand cleaner that's good at removing grease and grime, pour a little olive oil on your hands along with a sprinkling of sugar. Wipe with a paper towel, then wash your hands with soap and water.

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DON'T GET THE SHAFT

Posted On: July 26, 2018


Shaft Nut Configuration

Want to start an argument in most any boatyard?

Find a boat where the shaft nuts are in this configuration (thick nut first, thin nut last) and tell the owner or yard manager who installed it that they're backward. It seems like a no-brainer that the larger nut against the prop would do most of the work and that the smaller nut should go on second, to kind of hold it in place.

In truth, however, it's the smaller nut that should always go against the load because it is the "jammed" nut, not the "jam" nut. When the second, outer nut is tightened down, it compresses and deforms the inner nut a tiny bit, rotating it a fraction of a turn. This effectively unloads the threads of the first nut and engages the threads of the second nut. Thus, the top or outer nut actually takes all the load. As the larger nut has more thread area (and more holding power), that's the one you want as the outer nut. I see prop nuts installed backward all the time while surveying. Will the prop fall off because of it? Not likely. But who wants to find out?

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CORROSION

Posted On: July 24, 2018

Corrosion

Shaft zincsPhoto: Mark Corke

Anodes are essential to protect submerged underwater metals from galvanic corrosion. Normally they should be replaced every year or when they are 50 percent wasted. How long anodes last depends on many factors, such as where you keep and use your boat and whether it stays in the water between uses or is stored on a trailer. Inspecting anodes on a trailered boat is pretty easy, but for boats stored in the water, things are a little more complicated. And because you can't easily see the anodes that are clamped to things such as shafts, line cutters, and bow thrusters, they tend to get forgotten. In some cases, it makes sense to hire a diver to check the condition and, if necessary, replace worn anodes. Doing so may be even more cost effective than hauling the boat out of the water.

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DON'T GET TWISTED

Posted On: July 19, 2018



Wrapping It Up

Prop tangled in netting

Get a rope or even some fishing line wrapped around the prop and it can be more than just a little aggravating; it can land you in big trouble and calling for a tow. The majority of ropes and lines are made from synthetic fibers, and while these may be great at tying things up, like your boat to the dock, they can be a real headache if they get wrapped around the prop. A moment's lack of concentration and fishing line can get wrapped around an outboard's propeller, where it will swiftly work between the gear housing, damaging critical oil seals and melting into a solid lump that will require considerable time and effort with a sharp knife to remove. It's bad enough on an outboard, but wrapping a rope around the shaft of an inboard-powered boat may require an expensive haulout to get things sorted. Be aware of lines on your boat that may be trailing in the water, just waiting for a spinning prop. And watch the water ahead for floating line as well as other problems.

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BOAT COOLERS

Posted On: July 17, 2018

Boat Cooler Basics

Here's an article by Michael Vatalaro in BoatUS about coolers, the unsung staple of boating.

No matter the size of your boat, a cooler is essential.

Here are a few ways to get the most out of yours.

Photo of cans on ice

Nothing shouts Summer Boating! like an ice-cold drink on a sticky-hot day. But if you find yourself short of ice after a long day on the water or constantly shelling out for a fresh bag from the dockside store each morning of a long weekend, you may need to upgrade your chill chest. Four factors determine the effectiveness of your cold spaces aboard: Size, insulation, gasketing, and drainage. Let's tackle them one by one.

Size

Bigger isn't necessarily better. The more volume your cooler or insulated box has, the more ice you'll need to chill down all the stuff in it, and all the air in any empty space. This is why a full cooler holds ice better than one that's mostly empty — you're not wasting thermal energy cooling down all that air, some of which, by the way, gets exchanged every time you open the lid. The ideal cooler or box will be just big enough for your normal weekend's use. If you need more space on occasion, you can always employ a soft-sided cooler bag as needed.

Photo of a Pelican 80-quart Elite coolerCoolers with wheels and handles, like this new 80-quart Elite from Pelican, make it easier to get your food and drink from the car to the boat.

Insulation

This might seem obvious, but more is better in this case. Ideally, it's thick foam, and the lid is as thick as is practical. If you don't have an insulated box on board currently and you're considering adding insulation yourself, the first consideration is how much space there is around the box (on all sides) to add foam — without it contacting the hullsides or the bottom of the boat. The second issue is drainage.

Gasketing

Just like the weather stripping around the doors of your house, a good thick gasket prevents air from leaking in or out of your cooler, in this case, stealing your precious cold air and melting your frozen H2O. If the lid of your box or cooler doesn't have a gasket, consider using a $4 roll of foam tape or door kerf to seal the gap. It won't hold up as well as the proper rubber gasketing of a high-end Yeti or Engel cooler, but it should get you through a season or two.

Photo of an Oxygenator cooler kit

No livewell? No problem! An old cooler makes a great portable livewell. A simple 12-volt
aerator kit, which can be bought for around $30, will transform a cooler into a bait keeper. (Photo: Dan Armitage)

Drainage

Yes you need to be able to drain your box or cooler, but not at all times. You want a removable plug so you can spill excess water and weight at the end of the weekend, or leave it open to melt and drain in your absence, but until then, that chilled water is your beverage's best friend. Water transfers thermal energy way more efficiently than air, so when your ice melts and becomes an icy bath, your drinks will never be colder. The flip side of this is that your sandwich will never be soggier. But rather than drain that cold water away to keep your foodstuffs dry, pack them in zip-top bags instead.

If you're considering adding insulation to a box on board, make sure it drains overboard, but also figure out how you're going to plug that drain while the box is in use. And while you're at it, figure out a way to stow the plug so you always know where it is when you need it on Saturday morning

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QUICK THINKING CAN STOP YOU FROM SINKING

Posted On: July 12, 2018


How To Stop A Boat From Sinking

Based on an article by Michael Vatalaro

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

Fishing with lots of water coming into the boat

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

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

Yellow 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

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GETTING RID OF STAINS

Posted On: July 10, 2018


Based on an article by Natalie Sears an owner of a boat-detailing company in Seattle.

That half-full spray bottle of glass cleaner you grabbed on your way out, just in case you needed to do a bit of cleaning on the boat, isn't going to cut it! Here are some tips for getting your boat shipshape quickly and easily.

Wash Your Boat

Wash your boat, or at least hose it off well — the last thing you want to do is grind dust and dirt into your gelcoat while cleaning! This will also take off the main layer of dirt and bird droppings so you have a better idea of what condition your boat is really in and the areas that may need extra work. To clean off all of Buck's shoe marks and other scuffs on the nonskid, wet a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pad in your bucket of soapy water and use it to remove marks and stains. These work well, but never use them on smooth gelcoat or you'll remove all wax and shine and leave a noticeable faded spot. They're great, however, on rubber, plastic, and vinyl.

Clean The Canvas

Now's a good time to tackle the canvas while you still have your wash gear out. Wet down the canvas and run your deck brush over it to lift and remove loose dirt and bird droppings. Rinse well. Then use a mildew remover/cleaner spray to treat any sections where mildew has grown. Spray it directly on the mildew, scrub it in with a brush, then rinse well. If you live in a wet or humid climate, use a mildew treatment (such as Yacht Brite's Mold Away) that can be left on the canvas to prevent mildew from coming back. Spray the treatment lightly over the canvas and around the edges, and leave it on. It will keep mildew at bay for several months.

Cleaner Wax Touch-Up

The stains you'll find in smooth gelcoat can easily be removed with cleaner wax. This includes scuff marks from shoes, bird droppings, leaf stains, water streaks on vertical surfaces that didn't completely come off with the wash, and gray-water stains on horizontal surfaces. To remove these stains, squeeze a small amount of cleaner wax on a cotton rag, then rub it on and around the mark or stain until it comes off. Use a microfiber rag to wipe off the hazy wax residue. This is a great way to remove stains in between annual wax jobs. Not only are you keeping your boat looking good; you're also adding a bit of wax back to extend the life of your wax job.

You can also use cleaner wax to clean and polish your stainless steel. Use a waxy terrycloth rag to spread the wax over all the stainless steel, then use a clean microfiber rag to wipe it off. This will remove salt spray, rust, and dirt and will protect your stainless from the elements.

Exhaust stains can turn a white transom gray and make an otherwise clean boat look dirty. As you probably already know, exhaust stains don't always come off in the wash. Some spray cleaners are strong enough to remove exhaust stains; however, if they're strong enough for that job, then they're probably also strong enough to eventually strip that area of wax, only making it harder to clean the exhaust stains off over time. The best way to remove exhaust stains from gelcoat is to wax them off. This is something that can easily be done by hand with cleaner wax. Use a terrycloth rag to apply the wax, and wipe or rub it in until the exhaust stains are gone. Then use a microfiber rag to wipe the hazy wax residue off. If the exhaust stains cover a large area, you'll want to use several terrycloth rags as you go, so you're not rubbing the exhaust soot from the rag back onto another section of your boat. When you're finished, you'll be left with a clean, white surface, and it should be a little easier to wipe exhaust stains off next time because they'll be sitting on top of freshly waxed gelcoat.

Clean Vinyl, Rubber, And Plastic Surfaces

Clean vinyl seats with soap and water using a wet sponge or rag. Lightly use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pad to remove any stains or marks. Then use 303 Aerospace Protectant to protect them and give them a light sheen. 303 Aerospace Protectant sounds like something you might use to keep your rocket ship shiny, but it's actually intended for boats. It offers the same kind of UV protection as Armor All, but it packs a bit more of a punch and lasts longer. It can be used on vinyl seats, the rubber pontoons of your tender, plastics and plastic windows, leather, and the dashboard area of your helm station. It helps keep dark colored plastics, such as the helm station, from fading. Those little black specs of spider droppings on vinyl seats can also be removed this way. Spray with water or a multipurpose cleaner spray, let it soak in for 30 seconds, then wipe off


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PICKING THE RIGHT SURVEYOR

Posted On: July 05, 2018


Get The Right Surveyor

You wouldn't hire a plumber to rewire your house; the same goes for surveyors. Finding a qualified marine surveyor or a specialist is a matter of knowing where to look.

  • Marine surveyors are not regulated or licensed, so virtually anyone can call himself a surveyor, and many unqualified people do. A good indicator of competence is a surveyor who has professional affiliations with the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), plus either the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS).
  • Choose a surveyor who is familiar with the type of boat you're interested in. Some specialize in power, some in sail, others in wooden or metal boats. A surveyor should have absolutely no affiliations with boat brokers, dealers, boat repair shops, or others whose living depends on the sale or repair of boats — especially the one you're about to buy.
  • Don't rely upon a survey prepared for a previous owner, even if it was done recently. A survey is a snapshot in time and a boat could have run aground or suffered other unnoticed damage since the last survey.
  • Engine surveys are typically performed by someone with vast experience in repairing gas and diesel engines. The best bet is to hire a certified technician who works for an authorized dealer. That way, they'll be able to research the boat's warranty and dealer service work, too. Hire an engine surveyor with experience on the make and model of the engine you need inspected.
  • Rigging surveyors tend to be a little harder to find, but most marine surveyors can recommend one. They typically make their living building and repairing masts, booms, and associated rigging.
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