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Systems & Propulsion

Extra Anchor Lighting

When summer comes, a dozen or more sparkling white lights will adorn every popular anchorage. Visible from miles away, they promise to provide good warning to approaching boats that something is anchored there. In practice, they have manifold shortcomings. They all look alike, distance is impossible to gauge, and they can be difficult to distinguish […]

Portable Fuel Tank Update

Everyone hated the first generation of CARB gas cans. Intended to reduce volatile emissions by recovering vapors and reducing spills, they did exactly the opposite. The nozzles were cumbersome, hard to control, and fragile. Pouring was slow and spills increased dramatically. Many, like us, resorted to hoarding older non-CARB cans with user-friendly spouts, collecting them […]

Green Boating From a Practical Perspective

Before diving into the topic of responsible boating, we’re required to say something about global warming and carbon. Primordial carbon was sequestered by several mechanisms. Fossil fuels seem the most obvious, but in fact that represents only a tiny portion of the total. Most found its way into carbonates sediments, including limestone and sandstone. Plants, […]

Watertight Connector Test

Oh, for a good standardized 12- volt electrical connector. I’ve never had a boat without multiple connector failures, and most of them involved proprietary designs that were either platinum-priced or out of production. The notorious cigarette lighter has long been the standard. It was designed for the single purpose of powering a pop-out lighter, but […]

Dissecting the Desiccating Head

Our first cruising boat had a conventional portable toilet. We didn’t like it, but we made peace with it, cruising for up to two weeks at a time. Using the best treatment helped (see PS September 2018, “Controlling Porta-potty Odor). Our next boat, a PDQ 32 cruising cat, had a holding tank system. We replaced […]

DIY Desiccating Head Options

No standard dry toilet, even the CHead Shorty, would fit the available space on our Corsair F-24, so we decided to build our own. We considered building the base from plywood and fiberglass, but we found a pair of surplus fiberglass battery boxes we could cut and join for a perfect fit. Since the exterior […]

Packing Extraction Tool Tested

The packing material encircling your shaft and tucked out of sight inside the packing nut is truly your boat’s Achilles heel. Installed improperly it can damage the prop shaft or even sink the boat. Getting it replaced at least biennially should be on your list. On a mid-size cruiser it’s a job that ranks just […]

Rhumb Lines: The Diesel Engine Dilemma

As the threat of global warming is forcing policy makers around the world to explore ways to wean their economies off carbon based energy...

The Front Line in Filtration

Wire mesh screens are a pain to clean. Fibers push through neighboring holes, resulting in what is known in the industry as “stapling.” They jam in the corners and between the wires of the weave. Wiping, scraping, and even wire brushing only pushes the fibers farther into crevices, securing them ever more tightly. In the […]

Avoiding Kinks in Flexible Hose Plumbing

When plumbing a boat's pressure water system, flexible tubing, with all its imperfections, is inevitably part of the equation. It is simple to install, and the connecting hardware (hose clamps) and fittings are readily available. Before beginning any plumbing project, the do-it-yourself should be careful to use the right hose for the job. Correct hose and coupling methods should be carried out as outlined by EPA, ABYC, and other regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard. But which tubing best withstands the bending needed to lead the water lines through the torturous routes they often must take?