Blog June 2016


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Posted On: June 29, 2016

Staying Cool Aboard

Here's some great solutions for keeping the air flowing in and out of your boat this summer.  Thanks Carolyn Shearlock.

Port Visors

For those of us in rainy areas, Port Visors allow us to keep ports open in all but the nastiest squalls. Admittedly, in nice conditions they may block a little airflow, so you have to balance how often they'll improve ventilation versus how often they'll restrict it. Port Visors are made of UV-resistant Lexan (it's practically unbreakable) and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There's no metal to rust, and because they attach fairly easily with adhesive, there are no screw holes that have to be sealed. They're permanent, and they're tough enough that lines slide off them. Another advantage is that they have a bronze tint that provides some shade — it's sort of like wearing sunglasses. They won't block all splashes, so you'll still need to close your ports in most conditions while the boat is underway.

Simple Exhaust Fan

An exhaust fan is a wonderful thing in a galley or head, but most are through-deck, not very efficient, and not safe for offshore journeys. The Basic Port Fan is cheaper, quieter, requires virtually no installation, and can be put away in bad weather. It requires only about 6 amp-hours per day on low when running full-time, and it's rated for 70,000 hours — that's almost eight years of continuous use. This fan moves about four times as much air as a computer fan, and it can be positioned to pull in air from the outside or exhaust the interior. At five inches square, several can be mounted around the boat for good cross-ventilation. Position the fan using bungee cords or hook-and-eye fasteners, then run the 6-foot cord to a cigarette lighter or 12-volt plug, or hardwire it. There's no hole in the boat to leak!



Posted On: June 27, 2016

Getting Your Boat In Gear

 I watched all afternoon this weekend, as boater after boater, struggled to navigate a crowded marina restaurant, Some simple gear control could have eased the burden. So here's an article by Chris Edmonston on working the controls.

A quick review of shifting gears and smoothly working the controls and throttle.

Shifting gears and throttle control are two skills that, in conjunction with steering-wheel control, will dictate how well you handle your boat. If you drive a car, you're used to working the gears and using a gas pedal, so it's tempting to ask, how different can it really be? Well, if you've ever been to a busy dock area, especially on a windy day, you already know the answer. There are a variety of shift and throttle controls on boats; some have separate controls, some combine them. Here we'll use a control that combines both functions into a single lever.

Shifting gears is all about smoothly and decisively working the controls to avoid lurching or picking up too much speed. Sudden or excessive throttle adjustments can lead to loss of control and cause your boat to strike the dock or another boat, so your goal is to shift into gear without exceeding idle rpm. Remember, "slow is pro," and everything you need to do to properly control your boat can be done at idle speed. Shifting from neutral should be done decisively, but without exceeding idle throttle. If you shift too slowly, you'll probably hear the gears grind. If you shift too far and begin to throttle up too quickly, you'll make the boat lunge and give your passengers an unwelcome surprise (or worse, an unexpected swim).

If you're moving from forward to reverse (or reverse to forward), always allow for a pause in neutral, long enough to say "one-one-thousand," before shifting to the next gear. Shifting too quickly can cause the engine to stall or damage the transmission.

Practice makes perfect and one simple first step you can rehearse is to find the wheel and throttle by hand, without looking. This will help build muscle memory for the ergonomics of your boat. You should also pay close attention to the sound of the transmission as you shift gears, and the change in sound of the engine as you raise or lower the throttle. Watch how your boat responds to your shift and throttle movements, and feel where the throttle changes from forward to neutral to reverse.

In close quarters, staying in gear too long or using too much throttle results in more boat speed than necessary, which forces the driver to take corrective action, and can easily turn into a series of over-corrections. By using short applications of throttle, you should be able to maintain better control of your boat's motion, and give yourself time to maneuver. Short shifts buy you the time to decide what you need to do next.

Practice Low Speed Control

Engage forward gear at idle speed for one second only, then return to neutral to assess your situation.
Engage reverse gear at idle speed for two to three seconds only, then return to neutral to assess your situation. (Boats aren't as efficient in reverse as they are in forward; that's why you can be in gear for a slightly longer time.)
When in neutral, pause several seconds so that you can assess your situation before shifting into gear.
When in gear, do not raise the throttle; stay at idle rpm



Posted On: June 22, 2016

Teak Care

Based on an article by Don Casey

In clean air untreated teak weathers to an attractive ash gray, but where most boats live, the assault of modern-day air pollutants quickly turns bare teak nearly black. Scrubbing tends to leave behind an unattractive mottled look, neither golden nor gray. Most boat owners eventually find themselves unhappy with either look and decide that some treatment is essential.

If we want the natural beauty of the wood to show, we must apply a clear coating.


Before teak can be given any coating, it must be completely clean. Your expensive teak is literally dissolved by strong cleaners, so always use the mildest cleaner that does the job. A 75/25 mixture of liquid laundry detergent (such as Wisk) and chlorine bleach may be adequate, perhaps boosted with TSP (trisodium phosphate). Apply this mixture with a stiff brush, scrubbing lightly with the grain. Leave it on the wood for several minutes to give the detergent time to suspend the dirt and the bleach time to lighten the wood, then rinse the wood thoroughly, brushing it to clear the grain.

If the teak is still dark or stained when it dries, a cleaner with oxalic acid is required. This is the active ingredient in most single-part teak cleaners. Wet the teak and sprinkle on the cleaner. Spread it evenly with a Scotchbrite or bronze wool pad, then give it a few minutes to work. While the wood is still wet, scrub it with the Scotchbrite pad or bronze wool. (Never, ever, ever use steel wool aboard your boat--it will leave a trail of rust freckles that will be impossible to remove.) Oxalic acid will dull paint and fiberglass and damage anodized aluminum, so wet down surrounding surfaces before you start and keep them free of the cleaner. Rinse the scrubbed wood thoroughly--brushing is required--and let it dry completely.

Two-part teak cleaners are dramatically effective at restoring the color to soiled, stained, and neglected teak, but these formulations contain a strong acid--usually hydrochloric--and should only be used when gentler cleaning methods have failed. Wet the wood to be cleaned. The cleaner will dissolve natural bristles, so use a nylon brush to paint part one onto the wet wood. Avoid getting the cleaner onto adjoining surfaces. Remove the dissolved surface by scrubbing the wood with the grain with a stiff brush or a Scotchbrite pad.

Part two neutralizes the acid in part one, and it usually has some additional cleaning properties. Paint a sufficient amount of part two onto the teak to get a uniform color change, then scrub lightly. Flush away all traces of the cleaner and let the wood dry.


Oiling teak on boats is a time-honored tradition. Oil intensifies the colors and grain patterns of wood and gives the wood a rich, warm appearance. Because it simply enhances the inherent beauty of the wood--more like salt than sauce--oiling is arguably the most attractive of all wood finishes, and it restores some of the teak's natural oils and resins. Unfortunately, the benefit of oiling exterior teak is extremely transitory. The sorry truth is that teak will last just as long if you don't oil it--longer really, since repeated between-coat scrubbing wears the wood away. But oiling teak isn't about protecting the wood; it's about recovering and maintaining that golden glow that made us want teak on the boat in the first place.

Teak oils are primarily either linseed oil or tung oil, bolstered by resins to make them more durable. Linseed oil tends to darken the teak, but it is significantly cheaper. Tung oil doesn't darken the wood, and it is more water resistant than linseed oil--a notable advantage for boat use. However, a month or two after application, it may be hard to discern that much difference since both oils carbonize in the sun and turn dark. Proprietary teak oils address this problem with various additives, including pigments, UV filters, and mildew retardants. Some that perform admirably in one climate are reviled in another. If you are going to oil your teak, make your teak oil selection based on the recommendations of other boatowners in your area.

Apply teak oil with a paint brush. Immediately wipe up (with a spirits-dampened cloth) any drips or runs on fiberglass or painted surfaces, or the resins the oil contains will leave dark, nearly-impossible-to-remove stains. Watch out for sneaky runs below the rail.

Oiling requires multiple coats. The wood will initially "drink" the oil, and thinning the first coat about 20% with mineral spirits or turpentine encourages it to penetrate the wood more deeply. By the third coat, oil will begin to stand in some areas. Wipe up excess oil with a cloth. Continue to brush on the oil and wipe away any excess until the wood is saturated. The wood should have a matte finish without any shiny spots.



Posted On: June 20, 2016

The Jersey Shore got a surprise visitor and its one they hope leaves fast.

Tiny But Very Dangerous Clinging Jelly Fish Are Vacationing in New Jersey This Summer

By Jen Kirby

Time to meet the clinging jellyfish, a tiny, invasive sea creature that's coming to ruin your summer. These clinging jellies are not particularly big, but their sting is very, very nasty. They've been spotted in the rivers and inlets in a few New Jersey towns for the first time.

One New Jersey man, swimming in the Shrewsbury River, came across one of these clinging jellies and had to be hospitalized this week. One other New Jersey man who thinks he got stung described the aftermath as if "every single muscle in my body had a Charlie Horse in it. Every muscle felt like it had a knife in it. I couldn't even lay down, just laying down hurt." People have also reported that the sting felt like "bizarre paralysis," or as if “somebody had taken five hypodermic needles ... all at the same time and injected them into my lip." But good news is, at least, is that one person in Massachusetts reported that after “two to three hours of ceaseless pain I started to feel better."

These little guys are from the Pacific Ocean, but ended up in the East Coast sometime in the late 1890s near Martha's Vineyard, probably dragged along with a fishing boat. They've apparently been found elsewhere on the East Coast, including the Long Island Sound. But this is the first recorded instance of one popping up in New Jersey. Clinging jellyfish don't like rough waters, usually preferring to hang out in bays and calmer waters — so Jersey Shore goers are probably safe. And swimming in the Shrewsbury River doesn't sound the greatest, but if you're doing it, definitely stay away from there at night — that's when the hungry clinging jellies come out to feed.



Posted On: June 15, 2016

Boat Security Systems

Whether it’s for your own slip at home or when you pull into ports away from home, your boat is an investment, and securing it and how, is a decision you need to make.

Here’s an article addressing some of your security options.

Safety, Security & Peace Of Mind For Your Vessel

By Tom Neale

My first boat security system cost around 10 bucks. It came from RadioShack and wasn't just for boats. Two little components were fastened to my hatch and hatch frame with sticky tape. When their magnets separated, an alarm sounded. It always let me know when the sticky tape came unstuck, except when I wasn't onboard. If I were a thief, I'd have simply pulled the alarm component off and thrown it overboard. Today, boat security systems have gotten much more sophisticated and can cost anywhere from $100 upwards. They can tell you anything you want to know (but perhaps wish you didn't). It's simply a matter of what you need, and how far you want to go for protection.

Types of Systems

Simplistically put, notification of alarm events can be at three different levels.

  • Local alarm only: alerts those onboard or on a nearby pier that there's an alarm event.
  • Remote communication: alerts a distant owner or monitoring center via cell phone or satellite, using text, voice, or email.
  • Interactive: systems that allow owner to effect responses.

The last two require an appropriate communications capability on your boat — either cellular or other Internet access device, and/or a satellite communications device. These may be a part of the system you purchase. With some systems, you pay a one-time fee to build your system, or a fee to establish a basic system, which you may add to later. With systems that communicate, you also pay a recurring fee for monitoring and communications.

Types of Sensors

Systems can utilize multiple sensors, depending on what you wish to monitor and how much you're willing to pay. The sensor is the device that detects an alarm event, then communicates via the system to a local alarm or monitoring service or owner. That which a sensor monitors is often referred to as a "zone." For example, a hatch may be referred to as "zone 1."


When shopping systems, ask about the price of the system and the monthly charges to get an accurate picture of the true cost.

We're all familiar with high-water, fire, and intrusion sensors. But even these have different levels of sophistication. For example, there are sensors not just for high water but also for irregular bilge-pump cycles, which would indicate future flooding. We're also familiar with "burglar sensors," which tell that a door or hatch is open. Sensors can now detect deck vibration to indicate that someone has stepped aboard. Motion sensors can alert to motion within the secured cabin spaces. Sensors can also tell you if the engine has been started, if there is a dangerous noise such as glass breaking, or even if the boat has moved away from the dock, or from a GPS-determined perimeter around a mooring. You can even get sensors that let you know if a cockpit cover or bimini has been unsnapped.

There are also sensors that can detect when a component such as a radar or chartplotter or outboard has been disconnected. At this point, it may be too late for a remote owner to intercede, but you can buy systems that can track the boat or outboard using GPS. Many systems include cameras that record, like a typical security camera in a store, or also broadcast so that you can see what's happening aboard even though you're not there. This may allow you to make a more informed decision as to the action you'd like to take.

The information "sensed" must be effectively communicated. Do you want just a bilge alarm that sets off a horn so that those at the dock know you've got a problem, or do you want it to let you know even if you're on another continent? And do you want the ability to "do something" remotely? The range of possibilities is huge.

Talking Back

When you can respond to your boat, you can do things such as turn on floodlights. This is handy for scaring off boarders and also handy when you're going to arrive at the marina after dark. You can kill your engine(s) if you've been notified that the boat has moved beyond its designated perimeter. You can switch to a different battery bank for more pumping power, or release deterrent gases inside the cabin spaces.




Posted On: June 13, 2016


 Whether on the water, in your driveway, or tied up to a dock with no one aboard, it's easier for a fire that gets started on a larger, inboard boat to gain some serious momentum before somebody notices it. Most fires can be traced back to maintenance issues in the DC electrical system, the AC electrical system, and the engine (particularly the engine cooling system); a regular maintenance schedule combined with attention to critical components in each of these systems can have a huge impact on reducing the incidence of fire aboard inboard boats.

But what causes the fires in these different areas?

DC Electrical Fires

In a fire study, Thirty-five percent of the fires that originated were caused by problems in the 12-volt DC electrical system but the fire that starts in the wiring under the headliner or behind a panel in the galley is the exception, not the rule. More than half of DC electrical fires, or 19 percent of all fires originating on inboard-powered boats, were associated with either the engine or the batteries, both of which tend to be in the engine room. That's because there are so many things that can burn in the engine room — fuel, oil from a slow leak, or even, in the case of a gasoline engine, gas fumes — once a DC wiring problem creates some heat.  In addition, starting the engine and charging the batteries generate significantly higher amperages than those in most other areas of the boat. These higher loads create more heat where there are undersized wires, lose or corroded connections, or intermittent shorts. Finally, the vibration from the engine increases the likelihood of chafe in such vulnerable areas as the wiring harness and connections to the alternator and the starter.

Preventing these fires comes down to good electrical maintenance on every component of the DC system associated with the engine and the batteries. Regular maintenance — on a monthly basis during the boating season — should include ensuring all connections are tight from the batteries to the starter to the alternator, making sure wiring is supported and secured to minimize the impact of vibration, keeping battery terminals clean, and inspecting wiring for signs of chafe.

Beyond good maintenance, there are three other steps owners can take to prevent DC electrical fires on inboard boats. Wiring harnesses and starters account for the majority of DC electrical fires on boats 25 years old or older. If you have an older boat and the starter and wiring harness are original, consider replacing them. Another problem area has to do with hooking up the batteries at the beginning of the season. Every year, we see cases where the battery cables were reversed or the batteries were hooked up in parallel instead of in series. See Alerts for some suggestions on ways to avoid this slap-yourself-in-the-head mistake.

 AC Electrical Fires

To have 120-volt, alternating current (AC) to run our air conditioners, our refrigerators, and our water heaters aboard, we usually have to plug in to shore power. Even if you don't have any of these luxuries on your boat, you quite likely still plug in to charge the batteries. In the marine environment, the plugs and inlets/outlets in the shore power system are vulnerable to dirt, corrosion, and moisture, any of which can cause arcing that damages the contacts and eventually leads to increasing resistance and heat buildup.  In addition to the cord itself, the data pinpointed a particularly vulnerable link in the shore power chain: the shore power inlet on the boat. And not the entire inlet, but the terminals at the back of the inlet where the boat's wiring is connected. These inlets are particularly vulnerable to water intrusion, and the connections are subject to vibration and corrosion and are often surrounded by material that ignites easily. They should be pulled out and inspected at least every five years. If there's any sign of corrosion, replace them.

Electric heaters, another hazard continue to be a major source of AC electrical fires aboard. While safer heaters have been developed that are less prone to being tipped over or to igniting anything combustible that falls on them, they still draw a great deal of power, and any corrosion in the shore power system (or worse, household extension cords powering heaters) will tend to build up heat somewhere that can result in a fire.

Automotive-style battery chargers don't have the safeguards to protect your boat while the battery is charging, especially long-term. Battery chargers are much like heaters, but in addition to the demands they make on the shore power cords and connections, using an automotive battery charger instead of a proper marine battery charger can easily lead to fires aboard. High-quality marine battery chargers are not only designed for the marine environment with potted components that resist water intrusion, but they also use multi-stage charging regimes and temperature sensors to make sure the batteries get just the right amount of current at each stage of the charging cycle.



Posted On: June 08, 2016

Docking makes boaters nervous. Throw a little wind and current in the mix, and you can find yourself overwhelmed with things to worry about. Your technique shouldn't be one of your worries. Coming alongside a dock or bulkhead can be accomplished in just four steps. But first, you need to know a few things about your boat.

I see the results of not docking appropriately all too often. So please, read this.

This procedure is for outboard- or sterndrive-powered boats. Hopefully you've had enough time at the helm to know how your boat pivots when you throw the wheel hard over in either direction. Many beginning boaters are surprised at how much the stern swings or slides out when they initiate a turn. If you're not familiar with your boat's tendencies, to get a feel, practice by approaching a buoy or crab pot marker as though it were the dock. Once you've got that down, choose which side you want to tie up, deploy fenders, and you're ready to make your approach. These instructions are for a portside tie.

Step 1: Line Up Your Approach

Steps 1 and 2
Slowly approach center of desired berth

When approaching the space on the dock where you want to come alongside, first judge wind and current. If the wind or current will be pushing you toward the dock, a shallow angle will help you keep control and not strike the dock with the bow of the boat. If the wind and/or current are conspiring to keep you off the dock, as so often seems to be the case, you'll need a steeper approach to carry enough momentum to get you into the dock. Start with a 30- to 45-degree angle as you learn what works best for your boat. Aim your bow toward the center of your landing point.

Step 2: Come In Slowly

There's an old saying, "Never approach a dock any faster than you're willing to hit it." Bump the boat in and out of gear to maintain slow progress toward your chosen spot. On twin-engine boats, use one engine at a time to creep in.

Step 3: Time Your Swing

Step 3
Wheel to starboard, engine in forward

When your bow is within, say, half a boat length, swing the wheel over hard to starboard (away from the dock). This is where knowing your boat becomes important, particularly regarding where it pivots. Turn too soon, and you won't end up parallel with the dock. Too late, and bang. With the wheel hard over, bump the engine into gear for an instant to kick the stern to port. This will
also swing the bow away from the dock (to starboard) so you won't hit it.

Step 4: The Flourishing Finish

Step 4
Wheel to port, engine reversed

As the boat glides toward being parallel with the dock, swing the wheel all the way back to port, and kick the engine into reverse (on twins, use the engine farthest from the dock for maximum effect). This will simultaneously stop your headway and pull the stern of the boat to port and closer to the dock. When the boat has stopped moving forward, put it in neutral. The boat should continue side-slipping right up to the dock, allowing you to simply reach out and grab a
line or piling. 

Thanks to Michael Vatalaro, BoatUS Magazine's executive editor



Posted On: June 06, 2016


It appears the waters off the Island may be a breeding ground for great white sharks. Now, experts are planning to launch a expedition to try to pinpoint an exact location.

A marine research group is looking to launch a great white shark expedition off Long Island.

OCEARCH says it plans to find and tag juvenile great whites in the waters off the Island.

The organization says sharks are the key to our ocean's ecosystems, yet very little is known about their migratory patterns, and mating and birth sites.

OCEARCH has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed for the expedition. This expedition will be unique among all of Ocearch’s other endeavors though, as Fischer and his team have opted to crowdfund it. Utilizing Kickstarter, Ocearch has so far raised over $30,000 of the $150,000 needed for their vessel to set sail in New York waters for the first time. If the funds are successfully raised, Fischer and his cohorts hope to tag juvenile great whites, in an effort to better understand the exact area that serves as their nursery.

Researchers say the sharks are a sign of a healthy ecosystem, but swimmers should be cautious.

The sharks follow their food supply — which is great for Long Island's fishermen — but a tagged great white named Mary Lee was recorded swimming close to East Hampton last month.

 We’ve tagged five great whites on the east coast of the U.S., and based on some of their migratory patterns, we suspect Long Island, New York may be a birthing site.”

What do you think?