Blog August 2019

USING A GENERATOR SAFELY

Posted On: August 28, 2019


When you are affected by storms, many turn to generator use. Here's some safety tips .....

Generator Safety Tips

  • Use proper care. Proper ventilation is critical to reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator’s engine exhaust. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a common, serious danger that can cause death if generators are used improperly; this is particularly true when the fuel is not burned completely.
  • Placement is key. Never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents, or air intakes that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Keep other items clear. Maintain plenty of air flow space around the generator.
  • Pay attention. Get fresh air immediately if you begin to feel sick, dizzy or light-headed or experience flu-like symptoms.
  • Buy CO detector. Because CO is invisible and odorless, it makes sense to buy a CO detector (similar to or sometimes combined in a smoke detector) to warn of rising CO levels.
  • “Ground” your generator. Carefully follow all instructions on properly “grounding” the generator.
  • Keep the generator dry. Short circuits may occur in wet conditions, which can cause a generator fire. If needed, place the generator under an open canopy–type structure.
  • Be prepared. Always keep a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Leave it to the professionals. To avoid electric shock or electrocution, do not try to fix or otherwise work on a generator.
  • Organize your cords. Keep cords out of the way to avoid injury, but keep them in plain view to keep track of cord damage (such as fraying or cuts) that could cause a fire.
  • Do not “back feed” power. Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet. Back feeding will put you and others, including utility line workers, at serious risk because the utility transformer can increase low voltage from the generator to thousands of volts.
  • Know local laws. Some states have laws making the generator owner responsible for taking steps to make sure that the generator’s electricity cannot feed back into power lines; additionally, owners of commercial, industrial, or residential generators must notify the local utility of their locations.
  • Don’t touch. It’s hot. The exterior portions of a generator, even if operated for only a short period of time, can become hot. Avoid touching the generator without protective gear and keep debris clear to avoid a fire.
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OVER NIGHT BOATING

Posted On: August 21, 2019


Begin any overnight adventure with a game plan and lots of prep. Beyond going through your preflight checklist to make sure everything on board is working, here are our own tips from many happy nights sleeping aboard boats both large and teeny:

Pre-start. If you're anxious about your first night on the boat, plan at least one overnight at the dock as practice. Pretend you can't go ashore.

Practice makes (hopefully) perfect. Sure, you know your way around your boat, but practice anchoring, docking, and tying off in the daylight before trying it at night. You don't want to drop the anchor for the first time when it's dark and you're stressed.

No moonshots, please. Don't go too far. Make it an easy, safe, stress-free trip. Avoid a harbor with poor holding, big surge, lots of current, or traffic.

Watch the weather. Of course you will. But forecasts change daily, if not hourly. You don't want surprises.

Plan B. Be ready with alternate destinations if wind, current, or weather make your chosen spot unfavorable.

Check (and recheck) your supplies and lists. The last thing you want is to be snug and secure at anchor, then realize your phone charger is still on the bedroom nightstand. Or you forgot the coffee. Consider how good your favorite pillows from your bed will feel on this adventure. If you're going to overnight at another marina, make sure you have a shore power cord. Check to see that what you're going to use is working (stove, potable water pump, anchor windlass, lights, head).

Provision wisely. Think through your menu. Fully prepare as many meals as possible at home (especially smart on a small boat). Chili that just needs one pot to warm up, poached salmon that you can put on mixed greens and serve room temperature. Keep it easy. And spice it up! Zipper bags are great for a few favorites from your spice rack.

Consider two coolers. If you don't have an on-board fridge, one cooler for frozen goods and a second that will be opened more frequently for cold goods should more than cover a long weekend. Frozen half-gallon jugs provide extra (and cold) freshwater when they finally melt. For longer stays, consider getting dry ice in your frozen cooler. Bottom line: Take plenty of water.

Safety first. You should already have your safety gear aboard. Check your life jackets, including a throwable, first-aid kit, flashlight, signaling device, fire extinguisher, Unlimited Towing from BoatUS (just in case). Create an emergency plan, and be sure to tell key people where you're going, how to reach you, and when you plan to return.

Stay put. Do you have the proper-sized anchor to hold if the wind pipes up? Be sure your anchors are right for the bottom where you plan to visit. Consult charts or other resources to learn the bottom and what anchor holds best to that bottom. Check if your anchor light is in working order, and use it every night.

Which boat is ours? Can you "see" your boat at anchor from a dinghy? Consider applying removable reflective safety tape in conspicuous places so that it's easy to find your boat from a distance with a flashlight.

Don't be afraid of the dark. Add battery-powered lanterns, a high-beam flashlight, and a bright LED headlamp — invaluable for a trip to the bow to check the anchor (to keep both hands free) or even just for a walk to the marina's bathroom. Bring extra batteries.

It may be colder than you think at night, so bring loose pants and a fleece sweater, even in warm climes.

Start the trip in daylight. As it gets gradually dark, your eyes will adjust. Turn down the brightness on instrument displays. What's good during the day will be blinding at night. Preserve night vision by using a red or blue light to look at the chart or pilot book.

Protect yourself from bugs. Mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and other bugs are not invited!

Do you have an extra handheld VHF? Bring it.

Head games. Make sure you know how to use (and unclog) the head. If not, it's the quickest way to cut short an overnight.

Night light. Bring a little LED camping light to give ambiance to the cockpit without using onboard power.

Bring a sun-shower bag for easy hot-water cockpit showering.

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WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY

Posted On: August 14, 2019


REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY, TRAINING IS NEEDED

According to 2013 statistics, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that collision with another vessel, flooding, collision with a fixed objects, grounding, and skier mishap are the top five types of boating accidents.

The  Top 10 contributing factors to accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, inexperience of the operator, speeding, machinery failure, alcohol use, violation of navigation rules, force of waves, hazardous waters, and weather.

How many of these accidents are because pleasure boaters don’t possess the necessary knowledge and training?

Though not mandatory, a course or courses , which includes personal survival techniques, personal safety and social responsibility, first aid and CPR, and basic firefighting would be a huge tool in lowering that statistic and making the waters safer.

A personal survival technique course involving both classroom and practice in the water  would be hugely effective. Some basic knowledge on how to abandon a ship, what to do if involved in a rescue, and swimming techniques with life jackets and immersion suits on could save lives. Also, knowing how to turn over a life raft and how to get in and out of one, should be mandatory.

A personal safety and responsibility course focused on emergency procedures, who is responsible for what on board, marine pollution, and courtesy aboard all should be basic mandates before you ever leave port. A first aid and CPR course would teach how to resuscitate someone, what to do in an event of allergic reactions, heart attacks, strokes, broken bones, and other casualty events.

Some Basic firefighting knowledge including what types of fires there are and what to use and do to put out those fires is highly beneficial. Practice wearing real gear to maneuver a hose or fire extinguisher, and putting out fires in a timely basis. Lastly, learn techniques on how to save a person in a smoky part of the boat.

I recommend that all boaters take courses that involve both operation and education about all the responsibilities ownership involves. It is crucial to know what to do to avoid accidents; equally important is knowing what to do in the event of an emergency away from the shore.

 Put safety first, even if the law doesn’t require you to.

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CONTEMPLATING A MOVE FRESH WATER?

Posted On: August 07, 2019

Here's an article by Rich Armstrong about moving from freshwater to salt.

A change of maintenance habits — and anodes — is the key to transitioning from inland to coastal waters.

When moving from freshwater to salt, your boat's engine and anodes require special attention to keep everything running well.

You don't need census statistics to tell you that plenty of lifelong freshwater boaters eventually head south to spend their retirement in warmer climes, such as coastal Florida and the Gulf Coast. Your beloved sterndrive powerboat that carried your family on adventures up and down rivers and across local lakes has been well cared for, and you have the maintenance routine down to a science. Now, that routine is about to change — or it had better, for the sake of the boat and your wallet.

"Salt is tenacious stuff. The guy who's boated on Michigan lakes all his life, retires to Florida, and thinks he can just bring his boat down there had better do his due diligence or he's going to pay the price," cautions Ed Sherman, vice president and education director of the American Boat & Yacht Council.

Saltwater is not your boat's friend, and there are plenty of horror stories to illustrate that point. But moving a boat from fresh- to saltwater shouldn't generate anxiety. The most important thing going in is to change your habits — and change your anodes (more on that later).

Your docking routine will now include spending more time washing everything down with freshwater after coming in. Over time, you'll need to be more vigilant about spotting signs of galvanic corrosion in aluminum components or mechanisms with dissimilar metals, such as stainless screws in aluminum fittings.

It doesn't matter what propels your boat — inboard, outboard, I/O, jet drive — nothing on your boat that comes in contact with saltwater is immune to its corrosive powers. Different propulsion systems may be attacked in different spots, but your power plant needs protection.

One thing that many people overlook is that all saltwater is not equal. The salinity of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, for example, is nowhere near as great as that of the warmer waters of coastal Florida or the Bahamas. Salinity is different from region to region and sometimes even from rainy season to dry season. The greater the salinity, the faster the corrosion. Here's a checklist of what you should know before you jump into saltwater, though also check and follow the manufacturer's warranty instructions.

Anodes

The magnesium anodes that work better in freshwater need to be changed to aluminum (if you can find them for your boat) or zinc (if you can't) for saltwater use. Corrosion is less of a problem in freshwater, so you'll now need to be more vigilant with routinely checking anodes. They should be replaced yearly or any time they're more than half wasted. Preventive protection is the key to living in saltwater.

Outboard

This is the easiest engine to transition to salt. But you'll now have to religiously flush the unit with freshwater when getting back to the docks. Every ime. Modern outboards come with built-in garden-hose attachments, making the job a cinch. Using freshwater at the dock, with the engine off and trimmed out of the water, simply run water through the engine. The rule of thumb is for five to 10 minutes, but you should consult your manual or a qualified outboard mechanic.

Additive products such as CRC Salt Terminator, which cleans internals and inhibits corrosion, can further add to peace of mind. For trailer boats without garden-hose attachments, use ear muffs (or flush muffs) attached to a running hose once the boat is out of the water. With muffs, the engine must be started to flush properly. Check your manufacturer's instruction before flushing.

I/O Or Sterndrive

By contrast sterndrive engines may require more to transition to salt. Most modern marine engines have an enclosed-loop cooling system that uses a combination of raw (salt) water and coolant. Some have built-in garden-hose attachments. But even closed-loop engines cool the enclosed water, and perhaps the tranny fluid and oil, with a raw-water heat exchanger that may require extra attention, particularly at the end caps. These engines also often have raw water cooling the manifold and injecting into the riser. Keep in mind that while in freshwater, a manifold can last 10 years or more; in warm saltwater its lifespan can be as little as 3 to 4 years.

Sterndrives often don't tilt out of the water, so unless your boat is trailered, stored on a lift, or in a rack, the outdrive (lower unit) may sit in saltwater. So be extra vigilant about anodes. The drive part of the engine should be thoroughly sprayed and flushed according to manufacturer instructions. With a trailer boat, you can attach muffs to a garden hose and flush the engine while on the trailer. Regardless, be prepared to replace components more often in saltwater, particularly risers, manifolds, and water pumps.

Jet-Drive Boats

As they tend to be trailered, jet drives can be maintained similarly to outboard boats with a thorough freshwater washdown and engine flushing after each saltwater bath. Flushing agents, such as Salt Terminator or Salt Away, leave a protective coating on the inside and outside of the engine and jet-drive components. Regular inspection and replacement, as needed, of the zinc or aluminum anodes are also essential to preserving the aluminum housing and certain other components.

Bottom Paint

You may go bare in freshwater for a couple of weeks, but antifouling paint is a necessity in salt, unless you rack store or have a boatlift. For the best advice for your situation, go to the bottom-paint manufacturers for advice on what you should use depending on the type of boat and where you're boating. Ask your new boat neighbors what they use, too. Location is key, as marine growth in Florida, for example, is very different than the Northeast or Pacific Coasts.

Fiberglass/wood: Salt is an abrasive, so don't expect the shine or polish on your hull to last as long as it did in your freshwater days. Salt, coupled with foot traffic, is also more likely to scratch the deck. Dry crystals also act as miniature magnifying lenses for the sun and will damage brightwork if they're not washed off with freshwater.

Hardware/Electrical

Marine-grade quality counts. Automotive-grade hardware, popularly used in inland areas, won't last long in Florida waters. "It might work on Lake Ontario but it's not going to work on the Gulf of Mexico," Sherman says. The corrosion can also lead to unsightly brown rust weeping from mounting screws.

Salt in the bilge is more corrosive than freshwater to metal and electrical connections, so keep the bilge as dry as possible. Bilge-pump connections in particular may corrode quickly, and you may need to reseal them.

Don't Forget The Trailer

Saltwater trailer boaters dunk their rig every time they launch, and again when they retrieve. Although the exposure to seawater is relatively brief, trailers need the same freshwater wash down as the boats they transport. Frame: Boat-trailer frames are constructed of either galvanized steel or aluminum, with the latter being far more resistant to saltwater corrosion.

Hardware

The hardware that bolts the aluminum frames together, however, should be made from stainless steel rather than galvanized. Corrosion will occur quicker with cheaper materials.

Brakes

Drum brakes are less expensive to install and cheaper to maintain than disc brakes, but their design allows water to pool inside the drum every time it's submerged and will remain there until it evaporates. Specially designed flush kits are recommended and will extend the life of your drum brakes. Disc brakes, on the other hand, can be accessed and flushed easier.

Maintenance

When the day on the water ends, wash down the boat and trailer as soon as possible (within a few hours at least). When the boat is clean, move onto the trailer. Hose down the trailer frame and hardware, lights, under the wheel fenders and axle underneath. Give extra attention to the brakes, springs, wiring connectors, and other vulnerable areas. A dab of silicone grease can keep connectors from corroding. Visual inspection of your trailer should be a routine, checking for worn parts, rust, and corrosion — and don't forget the trailer lights. Besides a rinse after each launch, periodically remove the lenses and check for signs of corrosion.

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