When I was a kid, most boat owners I knew handled fitting-out and laying-up jobs themselves. Caulking and painting bottoms (boats were built of wood back then), winterizing engines and tuning them up in the spring, laying on a glassy coat of topsides paint—all were do-it-yourself jobs. Owners who hired yards to do such tasks were either deficient in manliness or too wealthy for their own
Maintenance All Articles
Maybe it's because I spent my early boating life in a warm climate that I've never bought into the idea of hauling my boat out of the water, shrink-wrapping her and leaving her up on the hard for six months. It wasn't the expense that bothered me, nor was it the hassle of applying, removing, and discarding all that glorified Saran Wrap. More than anything, it was that the whole exercise seemed
Heading south for the winter? Life's great under the swaying palms—until you get thirsty. Too often the drinking water in tropical paradises tastes funky. (Maybe that's why so many folks in the Caribbean drink Mount Gay rum for breakfast.) Protect yourself by turning bad water into something you'll actually enjoy swallowing with an onboard water-treatment system.
In the United States,
Now that fuel is almost as expensive as vintage cognac, it's time to keep closer tabs on how much your boat is using: A fuel-management system is an affordable way to do this and relatively straightforward to install. The simplest systems consist of an
Who knew? I mean, at the start of the project, I was under the impression that installing an autopilot would be a piece de gateau. You know, something akin to, say, toggling a new DSC VHF into an ancient GPS plotter. Or changing the vital fluids in the genset. Or maybe even convincing my wife BJ of the absolute
Most boats alternate between the genset and the yellow cord, so it's easy to overlook the batteries—but lead and acid need love, too. Taking care of your batteries usually demands little more than visual inspection and a quick wipe down with a rag. Ignore your
The weather is getting warmer, and the sweet smell of sewage is wafting through your cabin. Why? Maybe you took a winterizing shortcut last fall and failed to clean the holding tank thoroughly, leaving a sewage/antifreeze mix that became a smelly sludge glued to the tank bottom. Or maybe you've never rinsed your tank after pumping it out. Whatever the reason, your nose knows that this problem
You don't know what quiet means until your diesel goes "clunk" and dies—silence may be golden, but it rarely bodes well. "Clunk" is what a snapping crankshaft sounds like, for example. I once lost a crank halfway across the Gulf Stream, leaving me adrift on a moonless, star-filled night. Mea culpa: If I had included oil analysis in my regular maintenance program, it probably would
Ask any ten boaters how they protect the wood on their boats, and you'll get ten different answers, sometimes at length. There is no question that the deep, lustrous look of 12 coats of gloss varnish on a caprail epitomizes boating elegance, but living with that
When you go through your boat this spring, show your marine electronics some love, too.
Let me acknowledge right up front that I got help with this column from the Web. While I already had a lot of notions about commissioning marine electronics, asking
A fire on land is bad enough; at sea it can be disastrous. Since most fires start in the engine room, if you don't have an automatic fire-extinguishing system, it's time to install one. When fire breaks out, such a system will do the dangerous work for you, without anyone having to enter the compartment until the fire is out. (That's doubly important because opening a hatch introduces fresh air
Pessimists have been known to argue that engines are nothing more than constantly degrading machines. It's a somewhat depressing characterization to be sure, but it's also a truthful one. From the day you start your engine up, parts corrode, sludge forms, bearings wear—things are beginning to break down. To slow down the process, man created lubricants.
Except for one dispiriting little detail, the boat was exactly what I'd been looking for. She was meticulously maintained, reasonably outfitted, and cosmetically impressive—a perfect example of the model I'd been lusting after for years. In
There are four chief types of boat adhesive sealants: polyurethane, polyether, polysulfide, and silicone. Knowing which sealant is best for each project and its proper application procedure can be the difference between a seal that lasts and a seal that fails.
Choosing the Right Sealant
Polyurethane is the strongest
You PMY readers are never satisfied. From the time you take delivery of your latest boat, you're thinking about just two things: the next one you're going to buy or ways to improve the one you just bought. We know you don't need advice on how to shop for a new boat—you're veterans at that—but if you're looking for a few projects to either do
Most fishermen lug blocks or bags of ice onboard until every insulated box is filled before they leave the dock and hope it will keep their catch cold until they get back. But this is the 21st
Here's the situation: You're in the market for an engine rated at 1,000 hp. But before committing you wonder, is that rating accurate? The answer is, sort of. The numbers on an engine spec sheet are formulated according to a set of conditions that may or may not reflect those your engine will face. It's your responsbility to understand the caveats that can affect
Okay, my education concerning things mechanical has not been formal. Indeed, you might say I've extracted the whole shebang from the School of Hard Knocks—meaning I've typically learned about things by having to either maintain or fix
You've heard the mantra before, but it bears repeating. A diesel engine basically needs just two things: clean fuel and air. If it's missing either, it's dead. That's why troubleshooting a diesel usually involves tracing the air and fuel systems from start to finish, always beginning with the simplest and least-invasive potential cause and ending whenever your expertise reaches its limit.
When did you last spend quality time with your propeller? I'll bet it was a long time ago, if ever—not many of us obsess over our props like we do our engines and electronics. But when it comes to performance, your propeller is arguably
Any shellback will tell you that ships don't run on diesel, they run on coffee. If the coffee's no good, the ship won't be a happy one. And the coffee won't be good unless the water that brews it is good—free of unpleasant tastes and
Even under ideal storage conditions, E10 gasoline has a "shelf life" of just 30 to 45 days. After that the ethanol and gasoline start to go their separate ways. During the season this isn't a problem as long as you use your boat often and run the tank as low as you dare before refueling so the gasoline is always fresh. But winter is almost here. What'll happen to the E10 in your tanks between now
Fifty years ago no gentleman left the house without a hat, and no yacht spent the winter outdoors without a fitted canvas cover. Supported by a sturdy frame, the cover not only protected the yacht from snow and ice damage, but also from winter winds that would dry the wood planking, ruining the topside paint job, and opening the bottom seams. Drying's not a
Late last winter, my crew and I were faced with a dilemma: sell our faithful 1987 48-foot Viking charter vessel, and be forced to purchase the best boat we could find, or refit her. Canyon Runner had more than 10,000 hours on her engines, and while they'd served the boat well, they were downright tired. But at the time the expense of a comparable vessel that could do 150 fishing trips a
My trawler spends plenty of time sitting in a slip with her fuel tanks semifull and her powerplant twiddlin' its thumbs. To deal with the consequences, I installed a fuel polisher last year to remove contaminants, a savvy move in retrospect because I've since been able to keep my go-go
Eventually the day will come when you have to bare your bottom. No, I don't mean your college reunion or Mardi Gras—I'm talking about stripping your antifouling paint, taking your boat's bottom down to bare surface to prep for fresh primer and paint, to find and repair