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Author Articles

by Mike Smith

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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Is Your Prop Up to Spec?

By Mike Smith | Posted December 2007 | Add a Comment

As seen here at Hale Propeller, measurements get fed into a computer for precise analysis.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

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The Ozone Zone

By Mike Smith | Posted November 2007 | Add a Comment

An ozone generator can be connected to any existing water tank that has an access plate.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

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Fountain of Youth

By Mike Smith | Posted October 2007 | Add a Comment

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

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