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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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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Rig your own emergency lightning protection

Rig your own emergency lightning protection

By Dave Osmolski

In my 14 years as a vessel examiner, I have rarely seen a set of jumper cables on a boat, and I don’t carry jumper cables on mine. I carry four batteries, any one of which is capable of starting my engine. The odds of all four being depleted at the same time are minuscule.

Talking with my brother-in-law, a former sailor, got me thinking of sailboats and equipment. The day was stormy, and we were discussing a sailboat’s predilection for lightning strikes. We talked about using jumper cables as emergency lightning protection by directing the current from a lightning hit to the water. While not a perfect solution, it would be better than having lightning blow out a metal underwater fitting.

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Connect your GPS to your VHF radioa

Connect your GPS to your VHF radio

By Ron Schwiesow

Modern VHF marine radios include Digital Selective Calling, a semiautomated method of making radio calls. DSC allows mariners to send instant, digitally coded distress calls to the U.S. Coast Guard and other vessels within transmission range. It also allows selective, digital communication with other DSC-equipped vessels. When a GPS receiver is connected to the VHF radio, your vessel’s location is automatically included in the transmissions—distress or otherwise.

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A flare for safety

As a boater, you should have the required flares on board, but do you know how and when to use them?

flare-copywebWhen to use flares

  • You want to use your flares when you are in distress and in a location where they can be seen by someone. If you have radioed or called for help, you may be asked to fire a flare to pinpoint your location, so you can be spotted at sea and from the air.
  • If searching for you, the U.S. Coast Guard may ask you to set off a flare or an orange smoke flare in the daytime. Lighted flares are effective for short time spans (some for 8–10 seconds, others for 2–3 minutes), so use them efficiently with foreknowledge and practice. Don’t wait until the need arises before preparing for action; it could make the difference between life and death.

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