Blog February 2020


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Posted On: February 27, 2020

Keeping The Yuck In

Aluminum is great for a lot of applications, but, like stainless steel, it's susceptible to corrosion when there's no oxygen present, and especially when exposed to holding-tank waste. For the most part, there's not a lot of maintenance on the tank itself, but it does require periodic inspections.

For example, look at this hose connected to a spud that's welded onto the aluminum holding tank. When aluminum corrodes this way, it tends to bubble up. In this case, the metal swelled enough to split the hose, which could become a very unpleasant problem if not caught quickly. Take a look at all the hoses and clamps on your holding tank, and if there's any question, have it addressed right away. Your nose (and wallet) will thank you



Posted On: February 22, 2020
Why do we celebrate Fat Tuesday?

Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", reflecting the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. Related popular practices are associated with Shrovetide celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent.

What does Fat Tuesday stand for?

Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. It is also known as Mardi Gras Day or Shrove Day. ... So, Fat Tuesday is a celebration and the opportunity to enjoy that favorite food or snack that you give up for the long Lenten season

Tuesday became known as Shrove Tuesday, The eggs, butter and fat was used to ensure it was all gone for Lenten season. ... The traditional of celebrating Shrove Tuesday and eating pancakes began because people wanted to use up the tempting food that they were giving up for Lent



Posted On: February 20, 2020

Using the engine's tilt function to properly trim a planing-hull boat while underway increases stability, fuel efficiency, and safety.

Most boats handle best when running parallel with their at-rest waterline. Accordingly, outboards and stern drives feature a power trim adjustment that allows you to change the engine's angle of thrust by tilting it "out" or "in" in relation to the transom in order to maintain the proper running angle.

That adjust-on-the-fly capability is important because optimum trim position is determined by load and water conditions, and will change as passengers move or seas vary. Experienced boaters learn to adjust their trim even as their craft powers onto plane, tweaking their engine's tilt angle to optimize their "hole shot" and quickly reach peak efficiency. A properly trimmed boat offers the most comfortable ride and the most efficient running angle — one that minimizes the amount of hull in the water creating drag — and maximizes your mileage.

Trimming the angle of the engine's thrust too far down (drive in) will force the stern up and cause the bow of the boat to drop. This is called plowing and can cause what is known as "bow steering" when the vee of the bow digs into the water and makes the boat difficult to control. A boat with its thrust angle trimmed too far up (drive out) will cause the stern to squat and the bow to rise, creating problems with hull pounding and visibility forward. Extremes in either attitude can cause the boat to swamp.

Here are the steps to properly trim a planing-hulled powerboat:

  1. With the engine in neutral, use the trim switch to tilt the drive down as far as it will go. Monitor the engine trim gauge (if present) or note the change in sound from the tilt motor that signals that the engine is trimmed fully down.
  2. Put the engine into forward gear and throttle up steadily to cruising speed, noting the reading on your speedometer, GPS, or tachometer.
  3. Using the trim switch, slowly tilt the engine up. You should feel the boat's attitude toward the water change, with a slight rise of the bow, a lift of the entire boat, and an increase in speed.
  4. Continue to tilt the engine up until you note a slight drop in speed from the GPS or speedometer, a sharp rise in the engine's rpm, or until you hear your propeller begin to ventilate. The boat may also begin to "porpoise" or pound the water in a rhythmic pattern when the drive is trimmed too far up.
  5. Tilt the engine down in small increments until the maximum speed/consistent rpm is again reached, and/or no ventilation is noted. At that point, the boat is properly trimmed and operating at maximum efficiency.

From there, you may want to make adjustments to the trim to offer a more comfortable ride. For example, trimming the bow down a bit in a chop may decrease pounding from waves — but may also increase the amount of spray. Experience and experimenting with the engine's trim functions will soon show you the best attitude for your boat and its load on a given outing



Posted On: February 18, 2020

Aren't Inspections the Coast Guard's Job?

Unlike for cars or airplanes, there are relatively few federal regulations regarding the construction of boats.

The Coast Guard has rules regarding flotation and stability, plus engine-ventilation requirements for gas inboards, but these have little to do with how a boat is built and more to do with meeting minimal safety requirements. As a matter of fact, if your boat measures longer than 20 feet and sports diesel power, there are virtually no federal regulations that apply to its construction.

The federal government doesn't dictate how far away a steering wheel should be from a throttle lever, or how much of the view through a windshield can be obscured by supports, or any of the dozens of other safety considerations. Boat-building is largely self-regulated.

To ensure that boating remains safe and enjoyable — and to make it unnecessary for government to step in — the boat builders had to come up with an effective way to police them-selves at a high standard.

Standards + Certification

Boats are paradoxical vehicles in that, largely in pursuit of pleasure and at considerable expense, we buy them in order to drive them into a challenging environment. We take for granted that much of the responsibility for getting safely home lies on our shoulders and on our practice of good seamanship, and we put our trust in our vessels that they won't let us down when we need them.

The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) strives to make sure that a boat's construction is not at fault if something does not go according to our plan out there. "

In 2003, the NMMA and ABYC joined forces when the NMMA decided to start enforcing ABYC standards through their certification process. Prior to that, the NMMA relied on their own standards, similar to the ABYC's. Now, NMMA's boatbuilder members are required to participate in the certification process. Thanks to their efforts, more than 180 boatbuilders now build to the standards, and NMMA reports that around 85 percent of the boats sold in the U.S. today are certified.

Top To Bottom

The certification process starts with designating someone at the boat building plant as the point person for the venture — a significant role. That person is responsible for knowing all 58 of the standards, inside and out, and for educating the builder's workforce how to comply.

The NMMA makes this easier by hosting annual training seminars on the standards, taught by NMMA and ABYC staff, the independent inspectors that travel to each plant, and other industry experts. At the end, there's an open-book test that challenges the builder's rep to apply the standard to real-world boat building examples. "The inspectors have been authoring the exams," says Carrier, an independent inspector hired by the NMMA to inspect boats for certification. "Test takers must dig into the standards and think."

The NMMA compiles a list of those that meet the requirements, deems them "type-accepted," and allows builders to use such components without further testing.

Boating Benefits

Builders that are not NMMA members may still build to ABYC standards, but they are not inspected, or certified. Adey says many low-volume builders do their best to comply and build to the standards. Smaller builders do so knowing that the ABYC standards exceed the minimum requirements of the federal government.

Used-boat buyers can look for the "NMMA-Certified using ABYC standards" logo on the capacity plate of boats measuring 26 feet or less, or look for a "Yacht Certified" plate, typically metal and permanently affixed, if the boat is longer than 26 feet. This indicates the boat was certified to the standards in effect at the time of construction; however, any repairs or changes made by a prior owner may or may not have been made according to ABYC recommendations.



Posted On: February 13, 2020

Regardless of how adept you are at routine repairs and maintenance work, the time will come when you need the services of a marine mechanic or carpenter. Don't wait for a breakdown! The best time to find a good technician is before an emergency occurs.

If your boat and engine are still covered by the manufacturers' warranties, your local dealer will be your first stop. Even if the problem isn't covered by warranty, it's a good idea to discuss the problem with the dealer because work done by a non-dealer might void the warranty. If warranties aren't an issue, ask boat-owning friends or consult with a local marine surveyor to get recommendations for a carpenter, marine electrician, and engine mechanic. A repair shop with a mobile unit will make life easier if your boat can't be moved from its berth. Talk with the technician beforehand to get an idea of labor rates, travel charges, and other considerations.

When There's A Problem

Your first step should be to prepare a written outline of what needs to be corrected. This will form the basis of your work order when repairs begin. Particularly with engine problems, describe symptoms, rather than making a stab at what's wrong if you're not sure. Next, get several quotes for the job. Written estimates are essential for all high-ticket repairs. Be aware that only a handful of states have vessel repair laws that require written estimates. Reputable companies will have no problem working with you on this. For complex repairs, such as structural hull work, consult with a marine surveyor and consider having the surveyor serve as a liaison with the repair shop.

Boat repairs can be complicated, so unforeseen obstacles are common. For example, what appears to be a minor leak through the cabin portholes can cause unsuspected rot in wooden structural members. Ask your repair shop how much similar repairs have cost in the past, and what kinds of problems are possible along the way.

Your repair list will become more detailed and may expand as you discuss the project with the shop or mechanic. Be sure the mechanic has a copy of your work order when the project begins.

To keep your sanity and checkbook reasonably intact, keep in mind the following:

  • If your budget is tight, make this clear before the job begins. The shop may be able to suggest ways to complete the project in stages.
  • Get a written estimate before work begins. Even so, an estimate is only an approximation of how much repairs will cost if unforeseen problems crop up later.
  • Ask for a target completion date and write this into your work order.
  • Ask if the repair shop will warrant its work — there's no requirement that they do — and get a clear explanation of what this entails; 30- or 60-day guarantees are the norm and may only cover parts, not labor.
  • When tackling large jobs, boat repair shops often require payments at various stages of the project. Be sure to verify that each stage has been completed before paying. If you can't be on hand yourself, consider hiring a marine surveyor to make periodic checks.
  • Ask the shop to obtain your authorization before proceeding with unforeseen repairs or when work goes beyond the estimated price. Ask to have old or damaged parts returned to you.


Posted On: February 11, 2020

Why You Should Use A Checklist

Checklists verify that you've done what you need to.
They save time when you have repetitive tasks.
Checklists free up mental memory for other things.
They provide concrete evidence that you didn't forget anything.

When you do something that involves multiple steps, it's easy to forget one or two of them, and sometimes missing even a simple thing can have major implications.

Checklists counteract our forgetfulness.

Many professionals, such as airline pilots, use checklists several times each flight. Airline pilot Brian Koda, who also flies military aircraft as a Naval Reservist, says there are no fewer than six checklists that pilots use just to get the airplane from the gate to the runway. Some checklists, he said, are "written in blood," which means they were developed after a catastrophe to prevent it from happening again. Surgeons also use checklists to make sure they don't forget something critical in the operating room. Checklists for boaters can include mundane predeparture routines to those that help you in an emergency, such as what to do if your boat is sinking.

To make them more useful, checklists should be more than just a few things jotted on a scrap of paper. You'll want to first focus on the essential stuff that is frequently overlooked or skipped that may potentially sink your boat or endanger your crew. Next, what can damage your engine or electrical system? Finally, include a couple of small things that tend to slip through the cracks (see samples below). Checklists should ideally have no more than 10 items and should be able to accomplish in 1 to 2 minutes or they may start to feel like a distraction, which is when people often start "shortcutting," thus reducing their effectiveness. As the pilot told us, you can't spell out every single detail; a checklist cannot fly a plane. If you need more items, just make a separate checklist. For example, if your "leaving the boat" checklist is too long, make one for "locking up the boat" and another for "returning to the dock."

You'll want to use your checklist, test it, and refine it a few times as needed. If something changes on your boat, like you add a washdown pump that you want to remember to switch off at the panel, add it, though you may need to combine it with other similar tasks so the list doesn't get too long. In this case, you can add turning off the washdown pump to, say, turn off the cabin lights. For most uses, checklists should be a simple, one-page document printed in an easy-to-read font and a place to clearly check off each item.



Posted On: February 06, 2020

How To Make A Mayday Call On A VHF

When you need help, every second counts.

The goal is to broadcast the most important information as quickly and clearly as possible.

If you have a DSC-equipped radio, flip up the cover on the DSC button and press the button for 3 to 5 seconds. Some radios will allow you to choose your problem from a list (Fire/Explosion, Flooding, Collision, Grounding, Capsizing, Sinking, Adrift, Abandoning Ship, Piracy, Man Overboard) so that vessels receiving your transmission will automatically know what happened. After the radio transmits your position, MMSI number, and the nature of your distress, it will revert to Channel 16 so you can make a voice transmission.

Icom IC M422 VHF marine radio

The regulations require a two-step process to send a DSC distress call, so most radios will have a spring-loaded red cover over a red button. Press and hold for 5 seconds.

If you don't have a DSC-equipped radio, select Channel 16 and high power (25W), press the transmit button, and say the following:

"Mayday!, Mayday!, Mayday!" (Urgency word three times.)

"This is the vessel Surprise, Surprise, Surprise." (Vessel name three times.)

"Mayday Surprise."

"We are located at ..." [insert latitude and longitude of your location]

"Surprise is a 38-foot yawl with a blue hull and a tan deck." [Description of vessel.]

"We are taking on water, and we cannot find the leak. We request immediate assistance." [Nature of the emergency.]

"There are six crew on board. We have a life raft, EPIRB, and life jackets." [Number of crew and information on safety equipment.]

"This is the vessel Surprise standing by on Channel 16."



Posted On: February 04, 2020

There are three emergency procedure words that carry extra importance when you're communicating by radio. In order of decreasing severity, they are mayday, pan-pan, and sécurité.

Emergency Words

WordDerivationMeaningWhen To UseComment
MAYDAYFrom the French "m'aidez," which means "help me"A vessel and/or crew is in grave and imminent dangerLife-threatening medical emergency; possibility of losing the boatUse for imminent danger only
PAN-PANFrom the French "panne," which means "broken"A vessel requires urgent assistanceSerious mechanical breakdown; urgent but not life-threatening medical issuesBecause it handles such a wide range of difficulties, details can be added to the transmission: "Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan, this is the vessel Surprise requesting medical advice, over."
SÉCURITÉFrench for "safety"Important safety information followsInformation that could be important to another vessel's safetyCovers a wide range of issues: hazards to navigation, pyrotechnic demonstrations, Coast Guard Marine Safety Broadcasts, large vessel traffic alerts"

Through the use of these words, you will alert all mariners to the seriousness of your transmission, and to the possibility that they might be involved in lending assistance. All three are anglicized versions of French words, and each is repeated three times in succession so that those who hear the transmission understand that they're hearing an actual call for help and not a discussion of another vessel's distress call. (See additional comments on mayday relay below.)

When you hear a transmission that uses one of the three emergency words, what action should you take?

A lot depends on your proximity to the vessel or incident in question.

It also depends on your ability to respond and give assistance. If you hear a mayday and you are the most appropriate vessel to respond, you are legally and morally required to lend assistance, if you can do so without endangering your crew or vessel.