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Author Articles

by Mike Smith

Put a Lid on It

By Mike Smith | Posted September 2008 | Add a Comment

  They used to say a man wasn't well-dressed without a hat, and maybe that's true of boats, too. A hardtop provides a place to mount the radar and antennas and keeps the sun off your hatless head. It provides better shade than a bimini, lasts a heck of a lot longer than canvas, doesn't thrash around in choppy weather nor billow like a parachute when the wind gets

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Water, Water Everywhere...

By Mike Smith | Posted August 2008 | Add a Comment

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,

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Watching the River Flow

By Mike Smith | Posted July 2008 | Add a Comment

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

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Twelve-Volt TLC

By Mike Smith | Posted June 2008 | Add a Comment

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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The Nose Knows

By Mike Smith | Posted May 2008 | Add a Comment

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

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Oil Be Seeing You

By Mike Smith | Posted April 2008 | Add a Comment

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

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Beat the Heat

By Mike Smith | Posted April 2008 | Add a Comment

Afire 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

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Weight-less Anchoring

By Mike Smith | Posted March 2008 | Add a Comment

After many seasons of raising his 35-pound CQR anchor with an old-fashioned manual windlass, the owner of this Downeast cruiser got tired of cranking. So he decided to equip her with a state-of-the art electric windlass, one that would not only drop and weigh his anchor effortlessly, but do so via a wireless remote control.Windlasses are matched not to

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Keep Your Cool

By Mike Smith | Posted March 2008 | Add a Comment

While most sportfishermen now come with ice makers, retrofitting an older boat with one is a no-fret, no-sweat way to keep your catch fresh.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

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Floating Alone

By Mike Smith | Posted January 2008 | Add a Comment

Better to be prepared for the worst than to have to face the consequences.Most of us visit our PFDs only once, when we take them out of their plastic wrappers and stow them somewhere out of the way. We don't think we'll ever need them, unless the U.S. Coast Guard pulls alongside for an inspection. And in most cases that's

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