This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Neatness Counts!

Live and learn! Owning a boat is that times ten. It is a combination of systems any one of which requires extensive knowledge to master its idiosycracies--the engines are a combination of several systems alone (and I have three--two 110 hp inboard diesels and a 2 hp outboard for the dinghy). Then there is the plumbing system (waste water, fresh water, hot water), the electrical system (110v and 12 volt), the electronics--chart plotter, radar, VHF radio, AIS...well, you get the idea. And I am not particularly adept at any of them.

Baby steps though have slowly brought me to a bit more awareness with the functioning of the aspects of each system.

So, I had a good laugh when it came to fixing a few easy to solve issues aboard the Key of Sea yesterday. I actually accomplished them all and no one had to be called to come in and fix my blunders.

Problem one: how to quickly move a fender when it is suddenly needed elsewhere around the hull of the boat, a problem more often than you might think. Suddenly another boat is drifting in your direction or vice versa. Or, you need to get away from a dock in a wind that doesn't want to let you go. Or a dozen other scenarios that an experienced boater has either seen or had first hand knowledge with.

Enter one of the least expensive fixes I've had in 5 years of owning our boat. The Davis Fender
Fender Tender II in place along the starboard rail
Tender, a simple piece of plastic designed to snap over the top of your railing. The line from your fender feeds through holes in the Fender Tender holding the line in place but also easily adjusted to allow for shortening and lengthening the line depending on the need. Now, instead of having to try and untie a line from the base of a stanchion placing the mate in a precarious position while the sea may be rocking up and down and the knot in the line nearly impossible to untie being wet, now you just pop the Fender Tender off the rail in front of you and move it where it is most needed. Presto!

Problem two: those nasty, very unship shape marks left by the accumulation of dirt and the green slime that grows under the shore power cable lying along the deck. It is a hassle to clean
Dirt and mold accumulated on the deck.
and makes the boat look awful. It stains the shore power cable and it looks very, well, unship shape.

The solution? I've looked at several but the one that struck me as being simple, efficient and least expensive was a Velcro strip that doesn't even go by a brand name. The strips come in several lengths and widths. I found them in the department where line is sold. On a spool, I just rolled off the number I wanted and walked to the counter.

The ones I chose were about an inch wide and maybe 8-10 inches long. The strip tapers at one end and has a slot the tapered end slides through to tighten it around the cable. The strip is covered with the Velcro hooks on one side and the loops on the other, so it sticks together when you wrap it around anything. I wrapped the strip around a spot along the shore power cable, slipped the tapered end back through the
slot. Then I held the cable just forward of a stanchion along the railing and wrapped the Velcro strip around the rail a couple times. voila! Several more of these strips along the railing and the cable was ship shape and best of all, up off the deck. Now when I clean up the messy deck, it'll stay cleaner.
Velcro strip and shore cable attached on the rail.

Problem three: smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.  There are very expensive ($60-70 each) solutions that must be hard wired into several locations around the interior of the boat. One in the galley and each stateroom. Then, every 5 years, they have to be replaced since the innards lose their sensitivity to smoke and the carbon monoxide. WHAT?

My solution? Buy the standard battery operated home Smoke/CO detectors. They are maybe $15-20 each and last as long as the more expensive detectors made for boats. Plus, no tedious wiring to do. Is that okay to do? I mean, the boat environment is hard on equipment. So boating equipment is often more expensive because it has to be made of materials that help it stand up to the caustc marine environment. Right?

The First Alert Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector 
Not always. Yes, stainless steel screws are a must to avoid having the tedious chore of removing one that has rusted to what it was intended to hold. Or, worse, a screw head that has corroded to the point that it snaps off when you attempt to loosen it.

But a device such as a smoke detector needs to be replaced every so many years anyway. Let's see, $70 for a device that gets replaced and rewired in 5 years, or $20 and no rewiring? Get the picture?

Up on the walls the new detectors went yesterday afternoon. Job done.

Problem four: how to be prepared for boarding by the Coast Guard here in the US or Canada? It does happen now and again and not because they think you're a drug runner or poaching fish. 

My solution? A binder containing all the boat's most important documents. I've placed each document in a plastic sheet protector. Included are:

--boat registration
--dinghy registration
--current vessel safety check
--FCC radio station license
--FCC individual operator's permit
--DTOPS decal documentation
--proof of insurance
--BR numbers
--phone numbers to call when entering Canada and re-entering the US
--fishing/crabbing licenses

There may be other documents to add later but that's all I have thought of so far. The point is to have your documents in order so that any inspections can be done quickly and efficiently and you can get back on your way. An organized skipper is also least likely to draw attention to themselves. "Hmmmm, I wonder what we can find to dink this guy for?"

I'll talk more about my experiences applying for and getting some of the items in my binder and why they are important in a later blog entry.

My next projects aboard will be considerably more complicated but I am looking forward to them. The installation of my new radar/chart plotter, AIS, and refinishing the cap rails in the cock pit.