Maintenance All Articles


Boat scratch fever

I remember the scene vividly. The just-painted battlewagon was being brought into her summer slip. As the captain expertly backed the vessel, a burst of wind suddenly threw her bow to port. At least there was a dock wheel to catch the aft starboard corner. Otherwise that brand new shiny hull side would’ve laid up against the knarly slip corner. Unfortunately, the dock wheel collapsed and the

Getting your engine ready for launch in the spring


Question: I’ve always wondered if there was anything special I should do when getting my boat ready for launch in the spring. My mechanic says no, just start her up, but I wonder.

— M.C.K.,
Tidewater, VA

Professor Diesel: The best advice I can give anyone is to start with the engine’s operator’s manual.

Alloy At Risk

When it comes to metals in marine applications, most boaters think of stainless steel. But aluminum is also a good choice. It’s lightweight, relatively inexpensive and strong, and doesn’t rust, which is why it’s used for T-tops, tuna towers, ladders, railings, and hulls. But even marine-grade aluminum is no match for the saltwater environment unless it receives proper care. And though aluminum

Separation Anxiety

Ever find yourself wondering if the fuel you're taking on is of good quality, or whether it might be contaminated by dirt, water, rust, or worse? Well, you should, especially if you travel to third-world countries, which can be notorious for selling sub-standard fuel, especially marine diesel.

Since your fuel options are usually quite limited when you're in the middle of nowhere, your

Encounters With Ethanol

In 2003 several states switched their on-the-water gasoline from the traditional methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) blend to one containing ten-percent ethanol, called E10. Ethanol is derived from agricultural products such as corn and sugar cane, and its purported ability to reduce greenhouse gases has led, in part, to its use at both on- and off-highway

PROS and CON-verters

The most controversial component of the decade eliminates the emissions from your boat's engine and hopefully not the money from your pocket.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans spend more than 500-million hours pleasureboating each year and...


Here Comes the Sun

If you're reading this magazine, chances are you're not a tree-hugger: You burn lots of fossil fuel to push your boat at high speed through a relatively unyielding...

Movin' On Up

Having owned countless smaller craft, the D'Ascanio family was ready to step up.

For as long as Florida Keys native Franco D'Ascanio can remember, being on the water has been part of his family's life.

At a very early age we started fishing, diving...

Show Me the Paper!

Next time you take your yacht to the yard, look for proof the crew knows what it's doing.

When you sign a work order with a yard, how can you be sure the person who'll do the job has the skills? The proof is in the paper: Demand to see certification from a recognized marine-industry...

You or the Yard?

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

The Refit of <i>Lauren L</i>

Andreas Liveras had a problem. The Greek owner of Monaco-based Liveras Yachts had made his name in large charter yachts, having refit some 15 vessels since 1985 (including gutting the 189-foot Princess Tanya) and having built a couple of skyscrapers from scratch (the 280-foot sisterships Annaliesse and

Water, Water Everywhere...

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,

Truck It!

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

America America

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

Watching the River Flow

FloScan's TwinScan shows you how much fuel burn is occuring with both engines.

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

Twelve-Volt TLC

This cutaway of a conventional wet battery shows individual cells.

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 Nose Knows

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

Oil Be Seeing You

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

Beat the Heat

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

Servicing the Circuitry

The screen looks complicated, but updating a Raymarine E-Series is easy.

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

Varnishes, Oils, and a Little Heresy

What finishing technique is best? These suggestions may surprise you.

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

Bye Bye, Blisters!

A bad case of blisters can penetrate the skincoat and go deeper into the laminate.

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

The Lowdown On Lubricants

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.

Caulk the Line

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

Wonder Board

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

Vetus Maxwell Tip of the Week

Hot Today

Featured Brands

Greenline logo MCY logo
HMY Yacht Sales logo Volvo Penta logo
Absolute logo Sunseeker

Boat-Name Generator

cube puzzel Thinking of a unique name for your new boat can be tough, that's why we created a Boat Name Generator.
Try it here. ▶

Select Brokerage