One of the best things about
owning boats for 50 years is that I've had a lot of fun buying
boat stuff. I own much more boat stuff now than I did in the
good old days-not because I'm older and wealthier, but because
my boats haven't been sinking as much lately.
Even though my present Chez
Nous is 6 inches down on her waterline, I still love to hang
out at boat shows to check out the latest neat stuff. I recently
took a trek through the IBEX show in Ft. Lauderdale and the
Miami International Boat Show and found some items to lower
her a few more inches.
Getting Back On Board
Losing someone overboard is perhaps one of the worst nightmares
of couples (and everyone else) at sea. ACR has asystem
to help. The person at risk wears the Mini B 300 EPIRB (ACR
Product # 2766.6). If he goes over, he pushes a quick-release
button, its antenna pops up and it begins sending signals.
These cause an oscillating warble on the Vecta 2 direction-finder
(Product #2769.4) aboard ship, which can serve as an alarm.
The person aboard uses this unit to home in on the person
in the water. The kit includes a training video and an off-frequency
learning beacon, which allows you to practice without violating
FCC regulations. ACR: 800.4320.ACR. Youll probably pay
around $1,600.00 for the Vecta 2 and one Mini B.
of the best things about owning boats for 50 years is that
I've had a lot of fun buying boat stuff. I own much more boat
stuff now than I did in the good old days-not because I'm
older and wealthier, but because my boats haven't been sinking
as much lately.
Even though my present Chez
Nous is 6 inches down on her waterline, I still love to
hang out at boat shows to check out the latest neat stuff.
I recently took a trek through the IBEX show in Ft. Lauderdale
and the Miami International Boat Show and found some items
to lower her a few more inches.
The worst problem with getting
a blister job is that you can pay a lot of money yet the yard
and product manufacturers tell you they can't guarantee a
thing unless your hull is "sufficiently dry." I've
seen boats stored in low-humidity, climate-controlled sheds
for more than a year while the infamous moisture meter still
detected an apparent rainforest between the laminates.
No more waiting for so long.
As I was leaving IBEX, I saw an old friend, followed by a
box that looked like R2D2, complete
with hoses, nozzles, plugs and pads. I asked him what it was
and he told me that it dries hulls. He explained that large
pads are put against the prepared hull. Coils in the pads
raise the temperature to 100 degree C of even heat to dry
and vaporize the moisture within the laminate. At the same
time, moisture, acids, glycols and other organic compounds
are sucked into the pads, drawn in by a pump in the box. It
can be used for solid glass and balsa cored hulls, and a 40-foot
non-cored hull can be dried in about a week and a half; balsa
coring can take longer. Labor cost is minimal, as once the
pads are applied, yard workers let it alone, so long as they
change pads when required.
The importer estimates that
drying costs should be about $50 a linear foot. Ask your yard
if it has HotVac: 44.1394.282033. www.Hotvac.com.
I've seen some pretty bizarre
dinghy anchors, both in appearance and performance. Some seem
to think a dinghy anchor doesn't have to perform like the
main anchor, perhaps as a rationalization for the fact that
most dinghies don't have a way to store a regular anchor and
I disagree. There's nothing
like jumping over to get a grouper and looking down to see
some chunk of metal furrowing across the bottom as your tender
sails away on the wind, just a bit faster than you can swim.
There's nothing like standing at the end of a long furrow
in the sand in which you set your cute dinghy anchor before
your walk, and squinting out toward the horizon looking for
your way home. And there's nothing like a jolly bouncing inflatable
ride during which you hear that sudden "whoosh"
as some pointed part of the anchor digs into a pontoon.
Fortress has resolved these
problems with its Commando package, which includes the tried-and-true
Guardian G-5 anchor (2.5 lb.); 6 feet of 3/16-inch high-tensile
galvanized chain; 150 feet of 3-inch braided nylon line; a
1/4-inch galvanized shackle and a tough bag to store it all.
Fortress: 800.825.6289. www.fortressanchors.com.
Prices range from $81.95 to $104.99.
Pulling Out The Impeller
Getting an impeller out of a
raw water pump on the side of the engine has to be one of
the most exasperating jobs on
the boat. On most pumps one literally has to dig it out with
screwdrivers, marring the faceplate lip in the process. There's
seldom room for pliers and they seldom work anyway. Sherwood
displaying a solution that made so much sense, I stood there
Sherwood threaded the interior
surface in the face of some of its impellers. Into that you
simply screw a matching bolt with handle (patented, the brochure
says). The bolt pushes against the shaft and pulls out the
impeller. This requires little working space. Sherwood offers
this with its 18000K, 22000K and 1700PK impeller kits, and
is considering expanded to the rest of the line. For this
feature alone, I'd buy an entire pump and go to the expense
of a retrofit if my engine would take it.
Shut Down The Pump
What do plastic bags, jellyfish
and bodies have in common? They all can clog a raw-water intake
and destroy a pump used for air conditioning, watermaking
and other things. NOFLO by Groco is designed to
shut down the pump if it detects the absence of water for
more than 30 seconds.
Unlike other dry pump devices, NOFLO doesn't rely on the
moving parts of a pressure switch, but rather by measuring
conductivity in the water through what it describes as electrodes
located in the sides of the tube. No protruding probes to
frequently become fouled.
Groco: 410.712.4242. www.groco.net.
Suggested retail price $199.
No More Snake Nests
When we dock I never can find
the dock lines under the cruising stuff in the deck box, and
when I do, I pick it up by the wrong coil, turning it into
a Medusan mess. Now I've got a solution. Knight Corporation
of Toronto has an impressive looking stainless retractable
dock-line storage assembly.
It's probably best installed
when a boat is built, but it can be added later. When you
dock you push a lever, pull the line out of a deck plate in
the gunwale and lock it at any length desired by releasing
the lever. When taking off, you release the lever and it coils
up neatly below. It's easy to change the lines on the drum,
and is available for boats up to 100 feet. Knight Corp: 416.503.3833.
Price varies with specifications.
Sorting Out The Power
Yacht owners traveling to other parts of the world must be
concerned constantly with plugging into power that is reliable
and appropriate for their systems. This is important today
with the proliferation of sophisticated electronics aboard.
Xantrex says its shorepower
converter enables boaters to plug into almost any type of
shorepower found around the world, shut down the generator
and achieve a seamless conversion. This is important when
one considers what slight hiccups in power can do to computers
and chips. This converter also warns if something is wrong,
and measures incoming power so one can verify "metered"
Xantrex has been in the power-electronics
industry for about 20 years: 604.422.8595. www.xantrex.com.
I remember studying in high
school about the "inhospitable environments" of
other planets, such
as Jupiter and Mars.Little did I know then that the word "inhospitable"
would take on a new meaning later in life, when applied to
I don't know what things live
down there and I don't want to know. But I do know that my
bilge pump must survive among them.
Shurflo has a series of new
bilge pumps, which it apparently named for my bilge specifically:
The Piranha Series. The
body is made of high-density nylon, not plastic, and the base
can be screwed down and swivel so the heavy-duty motor and
pump core can be turned to mate easily with existing hoses.
The core snaps into the base for easy removal. The company
also makes a solid-state switch (not mercury) that attaches
to the pump, with a two-second time delay so it won't come
on from slight rolling. Each component comes with 6 feet of
marine-grade tinned double-insulated wire, so you can make
connections in a friendly environment. Shurflo: 800.854.3218.
range from $15.99 to 32.99. Switches are $29.99.
Night Time Is Show Time
If you've ever wondered what
was lurking in those dark waters under your hull at night,
we've found an answer. A fiber
optic cable runs from a light box containing a 12-volt 50-watt
halogen bulb to a through-hull fitting. The fitting allows
one to install and remove the cable without hauling the boat
(like a traditional depthfinder transducer).
When it's time to change the
bulb, it's a simple task. Mounting location is up to you,
but most would place it at the stern, so your crew can hang
out in the cockpit and see a really great show-or go fishing.
Kara Underwater Lighting of
Italy is imported by Imtra. Check out:
MSRP is $1,305, complete.
I've got at least two dozen
aboard my 53-foot boat, most hidden from my wife who thinks
enough is enough. But two
more never hurt, especially when you need a light to find
where you hid your older ones. I beamed in on Golight's handheld
spotlight called the Profiler. Its flyer included pictures
of policemen and fire fighters using it (and we all like to
use what they use). But what attracted my attention was that
the guy at the booth seemed reluctant to let me turn it on
After I assured him I wouldn't point it
at anyone, he handed it over. I aimed at the ceiling on the
opposite side of the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center, about
800 feet away. The center's floodlights were on. Nevertheless,
the Profiler cast a beam of light, without any dark spots,
all the way across the huge hall!
The company says it has 1.3
million candlepower and the company says it will last 30 minutes
in continuous high-beam mode, casting a spot up to a half-mile
away. The nickel metal-hydride modular battery pack is rechargeable
in two hours. (The charge will last much longer at lower power
with a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb for close work, and
you can also plug it into the ship's 12VDC power.
I've seen a lot of handheld
spots with claims of huge candlepower. I've even bought a
few, but have had my share of disappointments-were they talking
about one candle at a time?
So I took the Profiler and
some of my other spots up on deck and had a quick test on
a far shore. I discovered two things: The Profiler is my best
handheld spot, and it's amazing what people do ashore at night
when they think no one's watching. The company also makes
a new LED floodlight called the Epoch 4, with four very bright
white LEDs, capable of 110,000-hour life with lithium batteries
providing 25 hours of continuous use. It's great for lighting
up work areas, and you don't have to worry about running down
the battery in a few hours.
Now all I need is to find another
hiding space for two more lights. Golight: 800.557.0098. www.golight.com.
Prices range from $35 to $179.
Light Up Those Mature Yachts
I own a properly aged yacht,
and I've noticed that interior lighting has come a long way
since the dark ages when Chez Nous was built. But I
get the impression that I'd almost be better off buying another
boat by the time I buy all new light fixtures. So I was happy
to see some halogen adapters by ABI that simply screw or plug
into old fixtures.
You then can use those new
high-tech bulbs that provide more light for less power. ABI:
About $4.99 each.
Vicious Circle Canned
Everybody knows you oil tools,
so they get slippery, so you drop them over, so you have to
oil them again. Is there a conspiracy here?
Well, CRC is on our side. I
discovered a new spray can called Tool Guard anti-corrosion
tool protector. This oil formula is said to be better at repelling
dirt, oil and moisture and penetrating (as in a socket wrench).
It leaves a dry hard film that isn't oily or slippery. CRC
also has a new marine electronics grease that is non-conductive
and keeps moisture out of connections. CRC: 800.872.8963.
Priced at about $4.