When it comes to onboard water tanks, we prefer stainless, fiberglass, and even roto-molded tanks (in that order) to aluminum ones. Aluminum tanks tend to pit and corrode over time, often needing to be replaced. The insides of the two 60-gallon aluminum water tanks in our 30-year-old Valiant 40 were more like a nasty moonscape than a drinking source. Their surfaces were pitted and rusted from what looked like a reaction to long-time use of chlorine.
Practical Sailors May 2008 issue looked at green practices in marine maintenance outside the hull. This spring, we look at eco-friendly products and techniques for the boat interior. We focus on areas belowdecks where we can reduce our impact on the environment. Proper disposal of petrol fluids used in most inboard engines-fuel, lubricant oil, and transmission fluid-is paramount. Preventing engine fluid spills by using careful filling techniques is key, as are careful preparation for a possible spill and proper cleanup should a spill occur. The best products we found for preventing oil spills and cleaning up oil spills include 3M Sorbent Pads and MDR Oilzorb Engine Pads; Jabsco Oil-Changing System; and the Vetus Bilge Water/Oil Separator. We recommend RydLyme Marine and Barnacle Buster for a green descaling of a boats heat exchanger.Eco-friendly bilge cleaners that we recommend include CRC Industries Big Bully Natural Orange Bilge Cleaner, Clean Water Solutions Microbial Powder, Star brites Sea Safe Biodegradable Bilge Cleaner, and Star brites Super Orange Bilge Cleaner. Eco-friendly soaps and detergents recommended for green cleaning include Dr. Bronners Sal Suds and some cleaners in the Simple Green, Spray Nine, and Thetford Marine lines. And, don't forget plain old blue Windex.
Each winter sailors must tackle the project of winterizing their potable water system. Our preferred method is to dry the system completely (see PS September 2014, Step-by-Step Winterizing tips. If thats not possible we completely empty the tank and then treat the plumbing with the correct concentration of anti-freeze. The online version of this article provides all the details you need to carry out this process, as does the recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post, The (Cold) Case of the Frozen Anti-freeze.
Although we’ve tackled our share of varnish with a heat gun and scraper, we’ve never used them to strip bottom paint. The obvious concerns would be marring the gelcoat and the noxious fumes created by heating paint solvents and active ingredients. Our first choice for removing antifouling would be sodablasting (PS, October 2011), but as that’s not an option for you, we’d consider chemical stripping (PS, April 2008 and March 2009), wet-sanding, or vacuum sanding.
The modest mug, basic in shape and function, finds its way aboard all but the most elegant or the most rudimentary of vessels, because it is so useful. Equally at ease with soup or stew, coffee, tea, or chocolate, bread sticks, spoons, or even flowers, it serves faithfully in rough water and smooth. While almost universally carried aboard boats, the stowage of mugs varies as much as their uses. On some boats they rattle about in the galley sink, while in others they may be neatly nested in a drawer, hung from hooks, or (best of all) resting in proper racks.
An easy way to compute the do-it-yourself labor commitment involved is by timing how long it takes to scrape clean two 1-square-foot patches. The first is in the center of the least well-adhered paint; the second is in the midst of an intact portion of the bottom. Dry scrape each section with a thin-bladed putty knife and a sharp drag-type scraper, noting the time it takes to remove about 90 percent of the coating.
Whether by choice or force of circumstance, increasing numbers of us are sailing out of marina slips rather than off moorings. For anyone using a slip or dock as home base, a dock box is a handy receptacle for spare lines, fenders, paint, varnish, tools, and miscellaneous gear. Also, a solid dock box can make a useful, if low, work bench, and sometimes serves as a step for a boat with high topsides. The smallest, lowest priced, commercially available dock boxes sell at discount for nearly $200, and the cost can go up to over $300. Hence, making a box yourself can save you a good deal of money. The illustration shows the construction of a basic, plywood-skinned box with notes on material sizes or scan't- flings. As you can see, construction is simple enough so that even a beginner can make a good job of it.
The paint samples were applied to 6-foot-by-2-foot fiberglass panels for testing. Testers follow the makers’ instructions for preparation and application. There were 11 samples per test panel. All but four samples had two coats of paint.
Practical Sailor finds the Alado Nautica headsail furler to be easy to install and a worthwhile sail-handling tool. One feature that sets the Alado apart from other jib or genoa furlers is its staggered slotting of five-foot foil sections that slide together and interlock over a conventional wire or rod headstay. This design allows the do-it-yourselfer to fit each foil section over an attached headstay, and simply push the formed furler up the wire or rod. Mainstream headsail furlers tend to be assembled on the ground and installed with the mast horizontal. The Alado furlers design uses integral halyards to place a compression load on the foil, eliminating the need for Loctite, set screws, and a top swivel. We tested the Alado over five months of coastal cruising and daysailing.
There are three basic types of transparent plastics used on boats: clear vinyls, acrylics (the best known is Plexiglas), and polycarbonates (the marine standard is Lexan). Each has advantages and disadvantages, which is why most boats include some of each. Vinyl is actually plasticized, stabilized polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It’s the plastic of choice for any window or clear screen that rolls, folds, stretches or needs to be sewn to fabrics.