Maintenance All Articles


Toss the Sawzall!

So a guy walks into a boatyard and says, “Hey, I gotta have a bow thruster.” In a few days, an open-ended job begins, with the bill contingent upon the yard’s hourly rate, expertise, and the man-hours worked. When the guy returns he finds his boat starring in a veritable horror show. A couple of first-time thruster installers have blundered into a foam-cored transversal while cutting a hole in

Swap or Not?

I explained to Joe Galati of Galati Yacht Sales that PMY was looking for a cruiser with incandescent or halogen lighting that we could swap for LEDs from Imtra Marine. We had four objectives:

The Creepin' Crud

Like lots of folks, I’ve got two diesel powerplants onboard, one for propulsion and the other for auxiliary power. And just a few months ago, the latter began showing signs of the creepin’ crud—it was overheating, sounding hoarse, and exhaling a greasy gray smoke under load.

The most telling symptom, however, seemed to be that the cooling water that was supposed to be

Wax On, Wax Off

Remember “Wax on, wax off?” It was Mr. Miyagi’s discipline-building anthem in Karate Kid. For years, I figured it was merely a figment of some movie maker’s imagination—it couldn’t be applicable to boat detailing, right?

Wrong! As part of my campaign to do my maintenance chores myself, I recently detailed my trawler Betty Jane and made her literally sparkle. But I had to cheat.

How to Break in a New Inboard Diesel

I’ve just purchased a new diesel inboard. What’s the best way to break it in without damaging it? -- Walt Reid

Most manufacturers list procedures for break-ins in their operations manuals. Stick with these but also bear in mind the following routine. Remember, the first 50 hours of operation can significantly affect your diesel’s life expectancy.

Examine the basics: Look for

The Bottom Line

Although I’m loathe to acknowledge my naivet concerning such matters (especially since I’m 61 years old and have owned boats all my life), my approach to in-water bottom cleaning was plain as dirt—if not downright cavalier—until recently. It went something like this: When growth on chines and running surfaces slipped past the faint-slime stage, I’d simply dial up a marina-recommended dive

Walking the Plank of the Charles W. Morgan

Keeping a 19th-century whaling ship afloat requires a combination of old-world craftsmanship and new-age planning, especially when that ship is the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s only surviving whaling...

Maintenance Headache

Maintenance issues are constantly stalking boaters. The simple fact is that on a boat stuff breaks and things leak. Boats are complex mechanisms with dozens of systems and hundreds, if not thousands of components. But three issues seem to account for the majority of problems afloat. Here’s what they are and how to deal with them.

Arguably, the most important component on your boat is her

Confirming continuity

An inexpensive multimeter like this is one of the few tools you'll need to verify the integrity of your boat's bonding system.  It’s a fair bet that every PMY reader knows about galvanic corrosion—or at least the basics of it: Drop two dissimilar metals into...


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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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

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

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