Blog August 2018


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Posted On: August 29, 2018

Round & Round We Go

Studies have shown that when cut off from sensory input, such as in a small boat in heavy fog, most people tend to circle clockwise. A working compass is invaluable in keeping you on a straight heading. If yours is out of order, try trailing a line astern as a reference point. You'll still tend to bear off to starboard, but knowing that you aren't really traveling in a straight line might be enough to keep you out of trouble.



Posted On: August 22, 2018

Get Ripped

Wait a sec — what exactly is a rip? In its most basic form, a rip is simply an area where the water is disturbed. Usually, though not always, the cause lies beneath the surface: some form of structure interrupts the flow of the water and causes turbulence, which creates small standing waves or ripples. You know those little waves that form on either side of bridge pilings, when the current is moving against them? Those are rips. The visible ripples formed where a pipe discharges water? Rips again. The swirling vortex you see behind a boulder in the river? That, too, is a rip.

What is it, exactly, that makes it easier for the fish to eat in such spots? There are several reasons. First off, if the rip is created by a solid object in the water, that object may attract baitfish and prey critters, just as any other structure would. Second, temperature differences, oxygen level, and turbidity can all be affected by the turbulence of water, and for a number of different reasons, these factors can make a rip or the area around it attractive to fish. Finally, all that turbulent, churned-up water tends to dislodge and disorient those small baitfish and prey critters, making them easy pickings.

Anatomical Corrections

So you see a bit of disturbed water, label it a rip, cast there, and load your cooler with fish, right? Not so fast. While many fishermen catch plenty of fish from rips, a few basic misconceptions keep them from attaining high-liner status. First off, you have to comprehend the anatomy of the rip itself. To simplify matters, for now we're just going to address the most common form of rips, those created by a solid structure in the current. (We'll get to the less common rips in a moment.) Whatever structure causes the disturbed water is going to be upcurrent from what you see on the surface. In shallow water that's just four or five feet deep, the actual cause of the rip may be only a few feet away. But in 20 feet of water, the cause may be significantly farther away from the visible clues. So if the fish are oriented to the structure, casting directly into the middle of a rip isn't the best way to catch fish. Instead, focus on the beginning of the rip, and probe upcurrent from there.



Posted On: August 15, 2018

Make Sure The Boat Is Prepared

If you are asking a surveyor to come to your boat to perform an insurance survey, make sure that the surveyor has access. Don't expect him or her to empty out lockers of heavy anchors, bags of sails, and boxes of spare parts. The surveyor needs to look at the mechanical parts of the boat, and it causes delays to have to move tons of stuff out of the way. If in doubt, ask the surveyor what he needs before he arrives. He won't expect everything to be off the boat, but he will appreciate reasonable access.

Once a client asked me to survey his 33-foot sailboat, but it turned out that the entire contents of a small apartment seemed to have been crammed aboard. If that wasn't bad enough, the boat also had a big dog aboard!

Most surveyors like it when the buyer is at the survey. They can answer questions and point out things of interest on the boat that may not find their way into the survey report. That being said, it makes the job slower if you hover. Allow the surveyor to do his job — you'll get a complete written report about everything he sees.



Posted On: August 08, 2018

Based on article from Boat US Marine Insurance

To the untrained eye, there's not much wrong with this alternator connection. You might notice that there's too much conductor showing between the connection lug and the insulation, but that's about it. Looking closer, though, things start to get complicated.

Instead of using properly crimped connections between the lug and the conductor (blue arrow), whoever made up the cable used a soldered connection. It looks like the cable got hot, possibly due to a high current draw, and the solder melted, allowing the cable to slide from the terminal lug on the alternator. Look carefully, and you can see blobs of solder in the bottom of the picture when this melted (yellow arrow). American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) guidelines explicitly state that solder should not be the sole means of connecting cables.

But wait, there's more! That terminal should be covered with an insulating boot to prevent potential short circuits, and it looks like that lug terminal is not marine-rated judging by the amount of visible corrosion. Last but not least, we dread to think what could have happened had the cable fallen out and made contact the grounded engine block. This would have led to a short likely resulting in a disastrous fire or even a total loss.



Posted On: August 01, 2018

Marine Battery Maintenance

Based on an a article by Mark Corke

According to TowBoatUS, one in 10 calls for help is due to a dead battery or other electrical issues. Look after your battery, and it will serve you when you need it.

If a boat's wiring is the lifeblood of your boat's DC electrical system, then the battery is its heart, and your boat needs a healthy heart. But unlike the battery in your motor vehicle, which is probably used (and charged) fairly frequently, boat batteries can sit dormant for weeks or months at a time, which can lead to a dead battery when you want to use your boat.

Batteries 101

One of the main components of a battery is lead. A true deep-cycle battery will have thicker plates, therefore containing more lead. If comparing two similar batteries of the same size, the heavier one will most likely be of a better quality.

There are essentially three types of marine batteries: absorbed glass mat (often called AGM for short), gel cell, and lead-acid. By far the oldest and most common type, and least expensive, is lead-acid. In these batteries, lead plates are suspended in a solution of sulfuric acid, called an electrolyte.

AGM and gel batteries each have an electrolyte, too, but instead of being in a liquid form, it is retained as either a jelly (gel cell) or in an acid-saturated fiberglass mat (AGM). One advantage to these is that there's no need to periodically top up the electrolyte as with conventional lead-acid batteries. Other advantages to AGM and gel batteries: they're deep cycle, have a low self-discharge rate, and are safe for use in limited-ventilation areas because they're closed. But they cost two to three times more than lead-acid models.

Topping up a lead-acid battery is necessary because, as the battery is charged, some of the electrolyte is converted to hydrogen gas and the level diminishes. The battery must be topped up using distilled water, and extreme care should be exercised when performing this maneuver. First, never look directly into the battery when the filler caps are removed, especially if the battery is being charged. Bubbles rise to the surface, and a popping bubble could splash acid into your eye. When working around any batteries wear eye protection, don't smoke, and remove jewelry. A battery may only be 12 volts, but a short across the terminals will produce enough energy to melt metal. To get the most power from your battery, it's essential that the connections to the terminal posts are clean and well made. Poor connections will increase electrical resistance causing voltage drop, which results in your electrical equipment – including your starter motor – not working as designed, or in some cases, not working at all.