The very first project tackled on my new-to-me catamaran a decade ago was to wrap the helm wheel with line. Our delivery trip home took place in late December on the Chesapeake Bay, and I didn't want to spend the next three days with an icy stainless steel wheel sucking all of the heat from my fingers. Instead, I spent a productive hour before dinner wrapping the wheel with line.
Probably nothing can make or break the appearance of a fiberglass boat more quickly than the appearance of the exterior teak trim. Contrary to popular belief, teak is not a maintenance-free wood that can be safely ignored and neglected for years at a time. Though teak may not rot, it can check, warp, and look depressingly drab if not properly cared for. Although it is not immune to neglect, teak is incredibly resilient, and can be brought back to life after remarkable amounts of abuse. Therefore, there is no excuse for drab, ugly exterior teak on any boat. Unlike other woods used for exterior trim, the grey weathering of teak rarely extends very far below the surface of the wood.
Improperly mounted stanchion and pulpit bases are a major cause of gelcoat cracks in the deck radiating from the attached hardware. The cracks are usually the result of unequally stressed mounting fastenings or inadequate underdeck distribution of hardware loads. Frequently, a boat is received from the builder with local cracks already developed. Once the deck gets dirty enough, these minute cracks start to show up as tiny spider webs slightly darker than the surrounding deck gelcoat While repairing these cracks is a fairly difficult cosmetic fix, the underlying problem - poor mounting - is fairly easy to correct in most cases.
A wildly flailing boom is one of the most dangerous objects aboard a sailboat. If you could completely control the boom at anchor and under power, and while raising, lowering, and reefing the sail you'd avoid worry, save energy and be much safer. For this reason, many serious cruising boats have traditionally carried permanent boom gallows. They usually take the form of metal pillars bridg ed across the top by a wooden cross member. Bolted to the deck at the aft end of the cockpit or on the aft deck itself, they serve several functions: holding the boom firmly when the sail is down; catching the boom easily as the sail is lowered; and, perhaps most importantly, keeping the boom steady during reefing operations.
With the increased demand to have all the electrically powered comforts of home onboard, it should come as no surprise to boaters that the majority of AC-related electrical fires involve overheated shore-power plugs and receptacles. Prime Technology, aims to change all that with the introduction of its Shore Power Inlet Protector (ShIP for short), a monitoring and alarm device that automatically disconnects AC shore power when excessive heat is detected at the power inlet connector. We reviewed the ShIP 110 designed for use with a 110-volt, 30-amp system. The company also offers a similar unit (the ShIP 220) for use with 220-volt, 50-amp service. Charred plugs and receptacles are the result of resistance build-up (due to loose or corroded connections), which generates heat and the potential for fire, a problem especially prevalent among vessels that continually run high energy loads such as water heaters and air-conditioning units. In addition to monitoring the temperature of your vessels shore-power inlet plug and its wiring, the ShIP system automatically disconnects AC shore power when an unsafe temperature is detected, providing visual and audible alarms. (The audible alarm shuts down after five minutes to avoid prolonged disturbance to surrounding boats.)
Athough falling off a ladder or cutting yourself with a sharp tool are the most common boatyard injuries, damage from the foul air we breathe is more insidious. Marine paints contain solvents that can make you dizzy at best or increase cancer risk at worst. Dust from sanding wood is usually only a nuisance, but sanding bottom paint or grinding fiberglass presents serious health risks. Fortunately, theres a wealth of industrial experience with contaminated air…
When deciding on a process for clearing antifouling paint and coatings off the bottom of your boat, first define your goals and try to be as minimally invasive as possible. If your boat bottom needs more than a scrubbing but less than a full peel, sodablasting is a technique that will strip bottom paint but leave gelcoat intact. The unique softness of the calcium carbonate powder in sodablasting is effective, and the tented setup keeps the old coating contained. This report outlines the sodablasting process, calculates the cost in time and money, and compares its performance and cost-effectiveness to other bottom-stripping techniques we've tested.
Responsible boatyard work requires dust collection. Whether its toxic bottom paint or ordinary sanding dust, it still makes a mess and can ruin a neighbors paint job-in-progress. Dustless sanders have hose connections leading to vacuum cleaners, but unless it is a sophisticated vacuum with multi-stage dust separation, those filters clog and dust flies.
For many seasonal sailors, the winterizing routine is already well underway. But there are more than a few diehard sailors in the mid-Atlantic regions, on the West Coast, and even in New England, who plan to spend all or part of the snowy season afloat. Some, we daresay, look forward to the quiet of winter. If youre toying with the idea of keeping your boat in the water during the winter, heres a short rundown on some of the more important steps to take.
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.