Give your boat a mid-season checkup

By Frank Barron

It’s mid-summer. Everything’s going well. You’ve had some good cruises and weathered a storm or two. What could go wrong now? To keep Murphy at bay, it’s prudent to spend a half-day giving your boat a mid-season checkup without the pressure of a journey. Begin by noting any obvious problems and their importance.

Stand back and observe: Do you see anything amiss? Start with this simple mid-season checklist and modify it to fit your needs.

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DIY inexpensive propane storage

Store propane cylinders safely on deck

By Dave Osmolski

Summer’s here! Now’s the time to get in the boat, visit your favorite cove and drop the hook. Before long, you’ll get out the propane grill and throw a couple of steaks on while you enjoy a glass of wine with the sunset.

Propane grills that attach to a boat rail or a fixture inserted into a fishing rod holder are popular and provide additional enjoyment on day trips and cruises; however, their use raises the question of how to store the steel propane cylinders that fuel the grill.

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Use proper anchoring etiquette

Use proper anchoring etiquette

By Jim Dunn

Most good anchorages tend to be crowded, so you need to use proper technique and etiquette to keep the neighbors happy.

Generally, the first boat to anchor has seniority. This means that if you anchor near another boat and that boater thinks you are too close for the conditions, you should be polite and move farther away. In general, if you can stand on deck and have a conversation with your neighbor without shouting, you are probably too close. Move on! In addition, if your neighbor has two anchors set, you should do likewise.

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Waterproofing canvas with wood conditioner

Waterproof canvas with wood conditioner

By Dave Osmolski

Nearly every boat has some canvas to provide shade, act as a windbreak, and protect us from spray and rain. New canvas has a waterproof coating. Although the coating doesn’t actually seal the pores in the fabric, it does make the fabric hydrophobic, so water beads up and runs off.

Like nearly everything having to do with boats, the waterproof coating deteriorates with exposure to salt, sun and wind. Pretty soon, the canvas top is leaking onto your latest smartphone or all over your charts.

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Keep your boat fungus-free in winter

Keep your boat fungus-free in winter

By Dave Osmolski

You’ve winterized your boat, perhaps wrapped and sealed it against the elements so it will be clean and ready to sail come spring. Or will it?

Most boaters pull and winterize their boats before the onset of cold weather. If your boat has been shrink-wrapped or has closed-off areas with little or no ventilation, the trapped air contains much more moisture than the cold winter air will hold.

If you’ve taken the USPS Weather course, you understand relative humidity. For example, air at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit will hold more water vapor than the same volume of air at 36 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that when you seal up your boat at 70 degrees in the fall and the temperature drops to 36 degrees in January, the excess water vapor condenses as it does on the outside of a glass of iced tea.

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How to retrofit a laptop to a nav station

How to retrofit a laptop to a nav station

By Scott Mackenzie

Convergence can mean the capability of a piece of electronic equipment to perform more than one function or activity. For instance, today’s multifunction chart-plotters can function as GPS-driven chart-plotters as well as displays for radar, engine or sailing instrument data. However, all this capability comes with a hefty price tag.

I chose a different route. When loran-C was decommissioned, the nav station on our 36-foot Morris, Salty Spouse, had a gaping hole that cried out for attention before my wife, Inza, and I took our next cruise.

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5 tips for safe docking

5 tips for safe docking

By Bill Gesele

  1. Always make sure the slip isn’t too small or too large for your boat. A too-small slip spreads the poles and may affect the boat next to you. In a too-large slip, your boat could swing past the bow poles and damage neighboring boats.
  2. Always have your stern lines attached to the cleats before docking. This sounds basic, but haven’t we all been tossed an unattached line while the boat flounders?
  3. Never (and this happens all too often) allow anyone to stand on the swim platform or outside the boat while docking. One wrong move could put that person in the water and in the path of the running gear.
  4. Have fenders, not hands, ready to avoid the boat next to you. Fenders and boats can be replaced—limbs, not too easily.
  5. Keep the engines running until your boat is securely tied to the dock. You may have to give a short forward burst if your boat gets too close.

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Know your VHF channels

By Art Steinberg

If you carry a VHF radio onboard (and you should), you must maintain a watch on channel 16 when the radio is on and not being used to communicate. You may also maintain a watch on VHF channel 9. Note that urgent marine information broadcasts, such as storm warnings, are announced on channel 9 only in USCG First District waters (northern New Jersey, New York and New England).

Most radios have a memory scan option where you can add specific channels to the memory and press scan. The radio quickly switches through and listens to each channel, pausing if someone is using that channel and then resuming the scan.

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4 steps to fix a leak on your boat

4 steps to fix a leak on your boat

By Keith Dahlin

Back in the early ’90s, I lived aboard my Columbia 28 while attending university. I often walked down the dock like a kid in a candy store, making note of the boats I liked (and wanted). One in particular always made my mouth water. A few slips down from me floated September, a classic, beautifully lined Cal 40.

While walking to the marina early one morning, I found September 6 feet deep. Only the mast and spreaders placed the boat within its slip. Shocked and bewildered, I later found out that a seacock or hose connection failure had caused the boat to sink. I imagined it silently sinking in the middle of the night.

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