Mallard my Golant Gaffer has been sold. After 10 very happy years we have decided to search for another boat with more living space. I'm thinking of a Grand Banks 32. Comments or suggestions would be most welcome.
Maintaining a good view from inside an enclosed pilot house is essential. If you cannot see out well you will be straining to see what is ahead, what other vessels around you are doing and this could compromise your safety. The mantra that was drummed into use when I was studying for my master ticket was that you should keep a sharp lookout and this is indeed spelled out in the international regulations for collisions at sea (COLREGS). Essentially this means that you must do everything in your power to avoid a collision. You may be the stand on vessel and technically have right of way but if you do not take avoiding action in good time you are just as much at fault as the skipper of the give way vessel. Not just that but poor visibility from inside a wheel house has other effect too and leads to increased fatigue and can actually make you feel seasick if you cannot clearly see the horizon.
Of course the design of the boat has a lot to do with the lines of sight, the overall visibility from the wheel house and all the other ergonomics of the vessel that either make boating a pleasure or a chore.
Many boat manufacturers seem to have forgotten that you need to know what is behind you as well as in front and have resorted to cameras to see what is behind. I think that restricted visibility is why many owners take to operating their boats from the fly bridge even in poor weather even though they would be far better off at the lower helm where they can stay warm and dry.
It may seem like stating the obvious but keeping the windscreen clean will go along way to helping see where you are going. On navy ships the screens are cleaned everyday. I love using Rain X on glass windscreens (aka windshields) as the water runs off and you hardly if ever have to use the wipers if these are fitted. Also it is worth noting that many vessels only actually have wipers on the helmsman's side the crew often do not get a wiper thus restricting their view. Wipers are good when they work but can become overwhelmed in bad weather when they are expected to clear not only rain but large amounts of salt water spray that may be coming over the bow and hitting the pilot house. Keeping wiper blades in good shape helps, but the salt water is abrasive and can soon take the keen edge off the blade which is so important for clearing the water away efficiently.
I don't think that I would be overstating it to say therefore that I was excited to see a 'Clearscreen' on a boat that I recently surveyed. These gadgets are a central circular window inset into the main screen which are driven round and round by an electric motor water is then flung off by centrifugal force and they do a fine job. Although the bit you look through is somewhat small the helmsman's vision stays remarkably clear no matter what the weather or how much water gets chucked a the screen.
I think that many boats out there are more concerned with image and although I could see you might not one of these on your 'Sundecker 54' that spends it entire life at the marina dock I can see the attraction of these on boats that actually travel off shore. Having become familiar with these devices in the 70's they seem to have fallen from favor in recent years which is a shame because I do think that many serious yachtsmen should give these nifty gadgets a second look.
The MILBTREC adaptor from Prospec electronics is neat wifi adapter that works with any stereo that has a spare set of RCA phono inputs in the back. About the size of a match book hooking up the gadget is simple and requires plugging in the phono connections and connecting to a suitable fused 12 power supply. After entering the supplied four digit code into your smart phone or other device you can wirelessly stream tunes to the stereo. On the site it is selling for a penny under $70 but you may be able to find it cheaper by doing a web search.
Ask around the average marina and the chances are that most outboard motor owners have no idea when the water pump was serviced on their engines, in fact some owners are not even aware that their engines have pumps at all! But a water pump is a very important part of any outboard, a pump that is blocked or working improperly will cause the engine to overheat which can lead to permanent damage to the motor. If you suspect that the engine is running hot it could be time for a water pump service. This basically consists, in most cases at least of replacing the water pump impeller, it's not a complicated job and the average DIYer is likely to have the necessary tools already. Don't try to do this with the boat in the water, either have the boat hauled if it's large or do it when it's on the trailer in the driveway that way you won't loose anything vital.
The engine that we serviced was a 1996 115 hp Mercury hung on the back of a aluminum Starcraft of a similar vintage and the pictures refer to that but all outboards are very similar and although the pictures may not look exactly like what you have the sequence will be the same.
I took the pictures as Adam Conte at Portside Marine in Danvers, MA serviced the pump. Working thoroughly and methodically he did the whole project in less than an hour so a competent owner should be able to do the job from start to finish in under two hours.
Here's how to do it.
The first step is to drain the oil from the gearbox. Unscrew the drain plug with a large screwdriver and the oil will start to run out. Make sure that you place a suitable pan under the motor to catch all the old oil. Unscrew the upper oil level plug too which allows air into the gearbox and ensures that all the oil is evacuated. There are small washers under each screw head which often get stuck in the threads, if they do not come off with the screw you may have to pick them out with a small screwdriver or other tool. Let the oil drain as you move onto the next step.
Loosen and remove the nuts that hold the lower unit in place, almost all outboards have four nuts holding this in place. A socket will not fit so use a ring wrench to give good purchase on the nuts which will almost certainly be stiff to undo.
The lower unit should now theoretically be free but in practice it almost invariably sticks and will need a few taps with a soft mallet. Do not hit the flange cavitation plates at the sides or they are sure to break, a few taps on the after end of the gearbox unit as shown here are acceptable however.
Once a crack opens up the battle is won and you can insert a broad screwdriver and carefully pry it apart being very careful not to damage the castings of the mating surfaces.
Lift the unit clear and place it on a suitable bench or jig designed for holding it. They service outboards everyday at Portside marine so had a proper jig on hand which is ideal but you may have to prop it upright in the corner of the garage, it works but is just not as convenient and you will be working at floor level.
With the unit clear of the top half of the outboard leg we can get to work on the pump proper. The first thing to do is to slide off the seal which sits atop the pump housing.
Unscrew the bolts that hold the pump housing in place. We needed an impact wrench as this pump had not been serviced for some time but a ring wrench will work in most cases. Avoid using an open ended wrench, if you round over the bolt heads you will have a bad day for sure.
Separate the housing and slide it up the shaft. You can see in this picture that the bottom plate is coming off with it. We need to remove this plate also so if it stays stuck in place you may need to pry it up very carefully.
All in all the pump was in pretty good shape, all the vanes on the impeller are intact. Note the old impeller on the right next to the new one on the left. The vanes should be straight, they develop a set to them after they have been in the pump for several months.
Before reinstalling the pump clean up all the mating surfaces to ensure that there will be no leaks. A sharp razor blade can be used to scrape off the larger bits of old gasket and sealant, then some fine emery paper will get rid of the remainder. Wipe down with some clean rags when you are finished. Everything should be clean and bright.
Wipe out the interior of the pump housing checking to make sure that there are no score marks or gouges, if there are water may leak past the vanes of the impeller and the pump will not work as efficiently as it should. If there is any doubt as to the condition of the housing then it should be replaced.
In addition to the impeller all the parts that are required for a routine service; gaskets, O rings and seals are included in the kit.
After cleaning up everything reassembly can start. Smear on a little gasket cement. Adam swears by Permatex Form a Gasket sealant liquid but any other proprietary brand should be fine.
Lower the gasket into position making sure all the holes line up. The gasket is asymmetrical so if something looks wrong you may have it upside down. Next install the new bottom plate (shown) that comes in the pump kit, we used a little more gasket cement before dropping this on.
Install the smaller gasket which seals the joint between the top and bottom sections of the pump housing. This gasket has a neoprene bead built in so no cement is required or should be used.
Install the new key which sits in the flat on the shaft.
Then slide down the new impeller making sure that the key-way in the hub lines up with the key previously fitted.
A little glycerin or dish washing liquid makes getting the pump cover on that little bit easier and provides some lubrication for the second or two until the water gets into the pump and lubricates the vanes. Do no use oil or silicone which can attack the composition of the impeller and lead to premature failure.
Slide the housing down and ease it over the vanes as you twist the shaft in a clockwise direction with the other hand. This bends the blades and allows the body of the pump to sit fully down onto the base plate gasket.
Reinstall the bolts and tighten them till they are just snug.
Slide the new seal down over the shaft until it just rests against the pump housing.
A setting tool is included in the kit and this is pushed down on top of the seal and does double duty of spreading it out and ensuring that it is not compressed too much. With the seal thus set the compression tool is then removed.
Smear a little engine spline coupling grease onto the top of the drive shaft.
Then a little more on the gear shift coupler which should still be on the gear shift shaft inside the leg, it is a fairly loose push fit so it may have fallen off onto the floor if it is not where it ought to be.
Refill the gearbox with the correct oil. Note that contrary to what you might expect the oil is forced in from the bottom until it comes out of the upper level hole, then both screw plugs can be replaced with a new washer under each. Portside marine service lots of engine so that have a big tub of oil but the average DIY boater is more like to use the oil that comes in squeezable quart bottles but the technique is exactly the same.
Reinstall the lower unit onto the leg, it helps a great deal to have a helper rotate the engine by hand a little to get the splines to mesh. Then replace the nuts and washers that hold the two parts together, there are torque settings for these but Adam does them up so they are just snug. As long as you don't swing on the wrench it is difficult to over tighten these.
With everything back together the job is complete. We ran the engine in a barrel to make sure all was well. You can use muffs on the water pick up but the pressure of the hose tends to force the water into the engine, running it in a barrel ensures that the suck from the pump is correct. Note that there should be a healthy spout of water coming out from the telltale in the engine housing.
the boat out of the water is a time filled with trepidation and
enthusiasm in equal measure. The former because it has been some time
since I have last seen the underside of the boat and the second
because it means that I shall soon have a nice clean bottom and will
be on the water again very soon. I have always found that it pays to
have a plan before the boat is hauled whether doing the work yourself
or trusting it to a yard it makes good sense to have an action plan
that way nothing is overlooked and you can be confident when the boat
touches the water again nothing will have been over looked. It is all
too easy I have found to convince yourself that you will remember all
the things that need attention when the boat is out of the water. I
have learned the hard way that the best course of action is to make a
note even if it is not urgent as an aide memoir. A note in the log to
the effect of ‘vibration from port engine at 1500 rpm’ or ‘speed
log under reading’ should do it. In an effort to help with your own
boat I have put together a check list covering many of the things
that should be given attention too. It might seem like a long list
but not everything will be applicable to every craft and additionally
many items just require a visual check.
soon as the boat comes out of the water the bottom should be power
washed with a pressure washer. Don¹t put this off thinking that
you¹ll do it later, leave it couple of weeks and the critters on the
bottom set like concrete.
yards pressure wash the boat the moment it comes out of the water and
the boat is still in slings. A pressure washing also washes off some
of the antifouling paint so many yards have a designated area, which
collects run off and filters out the solids before they can run back
into the sea. While you are blasting off the bottom take time to get
any crustaceans and other debris out from the paddlewheel log if this
inspect the hull
all the dirt removed now is good time to visually inspect the hull
for damage. Mark the hull with a wax crayon of a contrasting color
around any areas that require further investigation or repair. Look
for dings and gouges and make sure that unless these are anything
more than superficial they are repair before the boat goes back into
the water. Prime areas are the stem just below the waterline, chine
knuckles and leading edges of rudders and keels. Check the hull for
blisters which could be a sign of osmosis, a prime site for these is
just below the boot stripe. If you discover anything resembling a
blister get it checked out right away, leaving it will only make
things worse and they will not go away and the repair bill will be
that much larger next year.
on the boat you will most likely have an anode on each prop shaft one
on the rudder(s) and a couple bolted somewhere onto the hull. These
must never be painted and should be replaced at least once each
season or sometimes more frequently. Anodes can wear at an alarming
rate if you keep your boat in a marina where the shore power
connections are less than perfect. If they look more wasted than in
previous years come haul out time it may not be a problem with your
boat at all but could be stray current from a neighboring boat in the
marina, in which case get the marina staff to check the slip wiring.
you count up the number of through hulls on the average boat it is
somewhat alarming. Every one has the potential to sink your boat
should they fail. Check bronze fittings for corrosion, scrape them
lightly with a screwdriver and if they look pink rather than brass
colored this is sign of galvanic corrosion, which requires
investigation. On the inside of the boat check the bonding wire is in
place and is firmly connected to each and every fitting. Make sure
that every hose is double clamped, replace any hose clamps that are
corroded or missing. Operate seacocks where these are fitted and pump
in some waterproof grease if a grease nipple is fitted. Marelon
fittings are not susceptible to corrosion but can become clogged.
Make sure that the handle operates smoothly.
depth and speed transducers will not work properly if they are not
clean. Check for leaks around the back nut on the inside of the boat.
Any suspect transducers should be removed and rebedded or replaced if
they have stopped working.
inspect propellers for signs of damage and corrosion. If they have
been on the boat for longer than a couple of years consider getting
them removed professionally checked, polished and balanced. If you
have hit anything then a blade might be bent or a lump might be
missing from a tip leading to out of balance running and vibration.
you have a MF/HF radio make sure that the ground plane is in good
condition and the connections on the inside of the boat are secure
and corrosion free. Green verdigris is a good indication of bad
connections, which will result in poor radio transmitter performance.
that the cutless bearings are in good condition have replaced any
that are cracked or worn, this is not always easy to tell as struts
and the ends of bearings are often covered in anti fouling paint. Any
suspect bearings should be replaced; it is surprising how only a
slightly worn bearing makes itself felt with increased vibration and
noise. A worn bearing will also cause the shaft to ‘chatter’ at
certain revolutions leading to wear of the prop shaft.
of the projects that owners and yards often put off is the
replacement of the stern gland packing. Often a difficult job this is
only something that can be done with the boat out of the water. A
traditional packing is meant to leak slightly, it’s lubricated by
seawater but anything more than a drip each minute means that
attention is needed. Sometimes a tightening is all that is needed
often though the packing needs to be replaced. A failed shaft seal
will let water into the boat at an alarming rate so only trusted this
work to a competent trained mechanic.
and outdrive legs
leave outboard legs with old oil in them for any length of time
especially if the weather turns cold. Gear housings should be emptied
and refilled with the correct oil, also replace any anodes and last
but not least replace water pump impellers which are often
the boat on a cradle get someone in the boat to operate the trim
tabs while you watch what happens. They should move freely with no
sticky patches from fully up to fully down. Get oil seals and or rams
replaced if they do not work correctly. Likewise with stabilizers
which should operate smoothly without any jerking.
all the routine repairs and maintenace has been carried out the last
thing to do before the boat goes back into the water will be to
reapply a fresh coat of antifouling paint. Talk to your yard to find
out what they would recommend for your boat. Not only will you have
to choose a color but the yard might also want to know what type of
antifouling you wish to use given your choice of cruising grounds and
where you keep your boat and how often you use it.
the boat out of the water now is good time to get the boat surveyed
especially if you are considering changing insurance companies who
may require hull survey anyway. A surveyor may also be able to spot
things that you or the yard have missed or overlooked.
I have been using my iPad as a navigation tool almost since the
time that I got it and I have to say that I like it although it does
have some short comings in one or two areas. The first of these is
that the iPad is very difficult, no make that impossible to see in
bright day light and secondly the it is not water proof or even
splash proof come to that. For that reason I do not use my iPad as a
main navigation tool but as a secondary unit either at the chart
table or some other area on the boat where it will be protected from
water and sun.
I attach the Ipad to the boat with a Sea Sucker mount which I wrote about here. One of the best $99 that I ever spent.
Many of the charting apps that you can use on your iPad can also
be used on the iphone but the small screen size of the phone reduces
the functionality of the charting somewhat. It is useful to
understand a little about electronic charts which come in two basic
forms depending on the manufacturer; raster and vector charts. Raster
charts are scanned images of paper charts, a picture if you will
over which the little cursor or icon of you vessels position moves.
Vector charts on the other hand are for the want of a better word
full electronic charts where additional information can be added or
subtracted to the chart without affecting the base layer. With a
raster chart as you zoom in you just get a bigger image of what is on
the chart and thus at very large magnifications details will start to
get lost as the coastline edges, depth contours and other information
starts to become pixelated, a bit like looking at a newspaper through
a powerful magnifying glass. These problems are somewhat alleviated
with a vector chart and as you zoom in additional detail may be
revealed to the user such as spot depths and other data which is not
shown when zoomed out. You also have the option of turning layers on
and off so you can thus show and hide some information depending on
your personal preferences.
Although I have not tried all the charting apps that are out there
I have been using three regularly; Navionics, Jeppesen and the
I started using the Navionics app almost as soon as I got my iPad
3 years ago and have to say that I like it a lot. The cartography is
virtually identical to that found on my aging Raymarine unit it is
easy to use and is not burdened with two many functions that you will
never use. Navionics is a vector chart app and although you can't use
a 3D display like you can with the Jeppesen and Nobletec I am not too
fused about that. In concert with the other apps you can choose to
overlay Google earth so that will give you some idea of the
surroundings, especially useful if you are trying to make out some
landmarks approaching a strange harbor for instance. Another cool
feature which to be honest is not one that I have used a lot is to
take a picture with the Ipad while the app is open which is then
geotagged to the location that you took it. In other words you could
take a shot of a harbor entrance and then a little camera icon pops
onto the screen of the location to show that you have a picture then
anytime you touch the icon the shot pops up, very nifty. $55
The Jeppesen has 3D viewing meaning that you can by sliding your
fingers up the screen lay the horizon down to give you some idea of
perspective. The Jeppesen uses there own C map cartography and in may
ways this is more colorful than the Navionics charts if you like that
sort of think. However I do find the screen a little fussy and there
are a ton of small button icons along the bottom of the screen which
I still do not understand all of what they do and exactly what their
function is. What is useful however is the compass function which
displays a compass rose on the bottom of the screen and rotates in a
very lifelike way just like a proper magnetic compass does.$30
The latest app to me at least is the Nobletec time zero which like
the Jeppesen has 3D capability, route planning, real time tidal
updates, tidal vectors and currents and weather data. What is cool
about this is that it is free to try, it comes with chart of Miami
so you can fiddle with it a bit and find out if t is for you and if
so you can download the charts for North America for $40 which is a
real bargain. Charts are saved on the device itself so even if you do
not have a wifi or cell connection you can still use it for
navigation. The screen shot is actually from last weeknd when I was aboard and as you can see it is a very clear and easy to understand chart. Click on it to make it larger if you like.
House kitchens often have the same basics but vary greatly in
their size and complexity. This is no more true than when it comes to
the galley area aboard a boat. I have sailed on some very lavish
yachts which have all the comforts of home and then some and at the
other end of the spectrum I have been on much more modest vessels
where the kitchen arrangements have consisted of a single burner cook
top and water from a jug. What I have found out over the years
however is that the quality of food aboard often has less to do with
the facilities available and more to do with the resourcefulness of
the ships cook.
In the summer months it can be fun to cook on the barbeque which
is often clipped to the back rail or slipped into a rod holder in the
cockpit. Just like firing up the grill at home this can make a great
social gathering and the person doing the cooking can be part of the
fun and not tucked out of the way below decks slaving over a hot
stove. What I like about using the grill is that smells, grease and
heat are kept out side and clean up is often easier, but if you are
grilling do keep an extinguisher handy in case of sudden flare ups.
When the weather is less clement cooking is more often done on the
cooker inside the boat. On many boats propane is the fuel of choice
and with good reason; it is widely available, has a high calorific
value and is relatively cheap. It's major drawback is that it is
heavier than air has no smell so it can collect in the bilge of the
boat and under the right circumstances cause and explosion although
gas detectors and other safety devices go along way to mitigating
such disasters. Other types of stoves can be operated on
electricity, alcohol, kerosine even solid fuel. Whatever the cooker
is powered with it has to be suitable for marine use. Unlike the
kitchen at home boats move so only appliances designed for marine use
should be installed.
What and when you eat depends on the type of boating that you do.
If most of your trips are just day outings then time can be saved by
doing some prep work before you leave home or leave the dock. In calm
weather making meals whilst at anchor or underway similar to what you
you would normally be eating at home is entirely possible but things
get more trouble some when the wind picks up and the boat is bouncing
around. If a rough passage is expected I like to cook in one pot. A
hearty soup is always appreciated by the crew, easily prepared and
ensuring everyone is well fed and warm will go along way to making
everyone feel happier.
One item that is vastly overlooked in my opinion is the pressure
cooker. With the lid on the contents cannot spill and because of the
nature of pressure cookers the contents cook faster and you use less
fuel. A stew prepared before you leave home can be cooked easily and
quickly. In fact as much thought should be given to the utensils as
the cooker itself. Knives with rounded ends are frequently safer
than pointy ends. If you do a lot of eating while the boat is
underway consider serving dinner in bowls rather than fancy plates
that way food is less likely to end up on the cabin sole if the boat
Regular readers of this column will know that I am a big believer
in lists; organizing your thoughts on paper is great way to ensure
that nothing is overlooked, and so it is with meals on board. For
anything more than a half day trip my wife Rita and I plan out the
menus listing down what will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner and
including the odd snack or treat here and there. We can then
provision the boat knowing that we will not run out of food when we
are miles from the nearest shop. My boat does not have refrigeration
and so we have to make do with an icebox. This works well enough and
the ice lasts for several days even in the heat of summer but for a
longer trip we plan on using up the milk, butter and other fresh
produce before it spoils. We do like coffee in the morning so if we
keep some long life milk in cartons on hand so that we can still have
our java even if we are some distance from the nearest grocery store
and our fresh milk has run out.
Found this old railway poster in a shop while on a family visit back to the UK. These posters were very popular before the war and encouraged travel at a time when few people had a car to far off parts of the country. Somewhat full of artistic license they promised idyllic countryside or seaside destinations but are nonetheless lovely works of art as this one shows. In case you haven't guessed it only caught my eye because of the boat under construction.