Monthly Archives: May 2011



 The Inside Scoop on Battery Chargers

 Tech Doctor Investigation into the Mysterious World of Battery Chargers

By Don Wilson
TECH DOCTOR DON WILSON has worked in technical capacities in the automotive, RV and marine fields and for the military since 1989 and has extensive experience in designing and troubleshooting onboard electrical systems. A former customer service manager dealing with electronic issues, Wilson currently serves as a technical instructor for the RV industry’s RVIA Trouble Shooter Clinics and is a full-time sales application engineer for Xantrex Technology USA Inc. THE INSIDE SCOOP ON BATTERY CHARGERS is the seventh installment of TECH DOCTOR articles being presented by the Boat and Yacht Report

“Why is my battery not charging?” is a common question that plagues many. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut, one-stop shop on answers as the reason varies widely. Many folks simply don’t understand how batteries work, not to mention the broader scope of battery technology, chargers and electricity.

So … how exactly does a charger work?
There are many different types of chargers with different technologies, algorithms, sizes and options, but the bottom line is that a charger works because its voltage is higher than the battery voltage which causes current to flow to the battery. In most simplistic terms, the voltage differential causes current to flow from the source (charger) to the load (battery). However, I’m the first to admit that the devil is in the details. For instance, while a lead-acid 12-volt battery needs exposure to at least 14 volts in order to fully charge, if the voltage is higher it will cause it to gas out, drying the cells which will, eventually, cause damage.

What is multi-stage charging?
In the above example, the 14 volt threshold is not only critical, but also potentially dangerous. So, the term multi-stage charging means that the voltage differential changes throughout the charging cycle. We’ll use the typical 12-volt liquid lead acid battery as an example.

The first charge stage would be the BULK stage which gets as much current into the battery as fast as possible without damage. The charger will attempt to discharge 14.4 volts at its maximum current in order to achieve the charge. Anything higher can cause heat build-up; lower will slow the charge rate. With this in mind, once the voltage differential equalizes (battery voltage meets the charger voltage, approximately 85% charged), we enter the absorption stage.

In the absorption stage, the charger maintains the 14.4 volts, but the current will slowly drop as the battery increases in resistance (caused by an increase in charge level). Absorption stage will top off the battery state of charge. Once the battery is “full,” the charger will drop its voltage to 13.4 and transition to the float stage. The float voltage level is high enough to keep the battery “full,” even if DC loads are turned on, but low enough to prevent persistent gassing of the battery which can cause long term damage.

Why do some chargers have a battery temperature sensor?
The examples I have used are for the absolute ideal scenarios using a liquid battery, a proper sized charger, and a moderate temperature. However, the battery’s reactions to voltage differential changes with different temperature levels. When a battery is warmer, it has an easier time accepting current, but when it’s colder, it has a higher resistance to current. So, more complex chargers utilize a battery temperature sensor to determine the ability of the battery to accept a charge and will adjust the voltage (higher voltage when cold, lower voltage when warm) to give an optimum charge, and to regulate the temperature of the charging battery. The voltage difference is minimal (typically .03 volts for every degree variance from moderate temperature), but makes a difference in the battery’s longevity.

How large of a charger should I have?
With limited knowledge of battery charging, one might believe that a 400ah battery bank, charged by a 400-amp charger, should fully charge from a completely discharged status in about an hour. However, a charger that large would cause so much heat build-up in the battery that it would be completely destroyed before too long. On the other side of the spectrum, a 5-amp charger would not damage the battery, but would take over three days to charge! So … what’s the optimum charger? The general rule of thumb is C/5, or Capacity (in amp-hours) divided by 5. So an 80A charger is the right size for a 400Ah battery bank (400/5=80). When rounding is necessary, always round down because your battery bank will degrade over time and your C/5 rule will eventually meet.

How do I match my battery to my charger?
Actually, in a new installation, the battery should be specified first, before even considering the charger. Why? If the charger is determined first, it may limit your battery choices. On the other hand, there are so many charger types that you can always find one (or stackable charger units) to match your battery bank.

First consideration is the size, next is battery chemistry. If you decide on a gel battery or an AGM, ensure your charger has the algorithm to match the battery type, and the temperature compensation to effectively charge the bank.

Another consideration is input voltage. If you plan on using the charger in a worldwide environment, ensure you select a charger that can operate on a worldwide voltage range. A US-only charger (120V 60Hz input) would certainly be damaged by plugging into European (230V 50Hz) power. However, there are some that can take a wide window of input voltages and still function as designed.

How do I know if my battery needs charging or not?
Most people use battery voltage as an indicator as to the battery state of charge. This gives a broad indication, but is far from accurate. For instance, a battery under little loads that measures 11.5V would be considered heavily discharged. However, a battery under heavy load measuring 11.5V would rebound to a much higher voltage when the load turns off. The only truly accurate way to confirm the state of charge is to measure total amperage being drawn from — and charged back into — the battery. The best device to use is a shunt-based battery monitor which measures the amperage and uses voltage readings and complicated equations to accurately display a state of charge of the battery. Once the monitor shows the battery around 50% charged, it’s time to charge your battery bank (batteries should not be discharged below 50% State ofCharge).

What should I consider when planning a charger installation?
The first and most important thing to consider is the location of the charger. Higher voltage AC travels better over long distances, where the DC does not. Due to this situation, the charger should be mounted as close to the battery as possible. If the AC source is 30 feet from the battery, your voltage drop of 30 feet of AC wiring will be much less significant than the voltage drop of 30 feet of DC wiring.

Next on the priority list for consideration is the charger size. Your maximum charger amperage should be 20% of your battery bank size (in Amp Hours). If you have a large bank, you can use one of the chargers on the market that are ‘stackable.’ This means that you can install two 40 amp chargers to get 80 amps of charge. The most effective way is to have the chargers synchronize (or stack) with each other so the charge algorithm works efficiently. This prevents one charger from assuming a fully charged battery because it mistakenly ‘reads’ the voltage of the other charger.

Next you must consider the future of the system. If you plan to eventually add an inverter, you might consider the benefits of an inverter/charger combination unit. Since an inverter and a charger share many of the same components, installing a combination unit in your system allows a cost savings realized from duplicating redundant components. When using separate units, one will always be idle while the other is in use. So for hardware weight and size efficiencies, a combination unit is recommended.

What is Power Factor Correction, and how is it important?
While challenging to explain, Power Factor Correction (PFC) and PFC chargers require less incoming energy to provide the same output of their non-PFC counterparts. PFC is measured by how efficiently the AC sine wave is used.  In a non-PFC charger, the circuitry has a delayed reaction to the alternating current in the incoming sine wave. When PFC is utilized, the circuitry ‘anticipates’ the rise in voltage, eliminates the delay and allows the circuitry to use the incoming AC more effectively.

Here’s an example to try and clarify this concept. When two 80A chargers were compared at full output, the non-PFC charger was drawing over 14A where the PFC charger was just over 9A. The end result of the PFC advantage is more amperage available for the other AC devices installed in the system.

NEXT UP FROM DON WILSON: Inverters vs Generators






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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


Dock News


From rockers Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi to actors Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Danny DeVito, to a long list of other notable people who have contributed to all the strata of society, the Jersey Shore is also famous for what could very well be the classiest and most exciting extravaganza of its kind, that being the annual Mid-Atlantic $500,000 billfish tournament.  Anglers will gather the week of August 21-26, and the lucky ones will experience the thrill of competition without the discomfort of boat roll. With the purchase of its advanced Gyro Stabilization System, Seakeeper will pay the entry fee to one of the world’s greatest tournaments.

Seakeeper allows sportfishermen to venture into waters others shy away from, providing the chance to land more fish with more time on the water, in comfort.  Seakeeper’s powerful gyro reduces boat roll at zero and low speed, as well as underway.  The completely internal system does not impede a vessel’s speed, while eliminating fatigue and seasickness for those aboard.

Seakeeper is offering to pay the tournament’s base $6,000 entry fee for anyone who purchases a Seakeeper gyro by August 26, 2011.  The 20th annual “Mother of All Marlin Tournaments” will be hosted by the Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey, and the Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland.

At both venues, anglers will have the opportunity to experience the amazing steadying effects of Seakeeper gyros.  In Cape May, a Dean Johnson 57 entered in the tournament will be available for demonstration when not fishing.  As a bonus, Seakeeper is giving away a $25 gift card to Lucky Bones restaurant for all who sea trial the Dean Johnson boat. In Ocean City, Seakeeper’s 43′ Viking Sportfish will be available for demo rides.

The inaugural Mid-Atlantic tournament offered an unprecedented upfront prize of $500,000.  Calcutta entries added up to make the tournament the first bona fide million-dollar contest.  This year’s total prizes are expected to top $1.75 million.

Whether fishing in rough waters at zero speed, trolling at low speed or running wide open to a hot spot, the Seakeeper gyro virtually eliminates boat roll.  It delivers unmatched comfort, safety and fish-fighting effectiveness—all without drag-producing and damage-prone external fins or appendages.

Contact Seakeeper, P.O. Box 809, California, MD  20688.  410-326-1590; Fax: 410-326-1199.,

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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized



Necessity Is The Mother of Invention

Whether due to the ongoing energy crisis, the global economy, or a host of other factors all working together to exert a strong tidal pull on the boating industry, there are several forward thinking designers and engineers out there whose ideas may warrant a closer look by the status quo.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

The origin of this most recognized of proverbial sayings chosen to be the title of this discussion is, for the most part, unknown. While some scholars, who often spend lifetimes studying such esoteric endeavors as tracking down the undeniable source of said adage and others —and kudos to them—however shipmates, I choose to follow yet another path in my own pursuit of accumulated knowledge, passing neither pro or con judgment on these donnish deeds. In fact, and in praise of said dedicated and erudite study, we have such recognizable and attributable sayings as the treasured, “ A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom,” by none other than Richard Wayne “Little Richard” Penniman; or the emotional, “Yo, Adrian,” flawlessly delivered by Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 film, Rocky; and just to drive things home, who can forget this memorable gem from Charles II (1630–1685), who was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland: ‘Let not poor Nelly starve,” referring to one of his many mistresses, the actress and commoner Nell Gwynn, as he lie on his death bed. Or as my good friend Capt. Chris Kelly would say, “Go no further.”

The point here readers is that we seem to be entering an era where the way things were, are not necessarily the way things are going to be. For example, let’s take a quick look at moving a boat through the water. (Sailboaters need not read any further; the technical information that follows really has nothing to do with what they do. However, I humbly and respectfully beseech and request my ragbagging brethren to push on if merely for the enjoyment of partaking in my wordsmithing.)

For most of us who enjoy our fishing, cruising, or however we involve ourselves in the lifestyle, getting from Point A to Point B, perhaps on to Point C and the rest of the alphabet and back, means we have to consider our fuel consumption. And to address this important concern, I would say that most of the established and respected boat designers, builders, and engine manufacturers around the world have taken this cause under careful scrutiny and thought: To wit, the enthusiastic acceptance of Volvo Penta’s IPS and the Cummins/Mercruiser Zeus systems.

Now, I’ve just begun to do some digging is this area and came up with three companies that  appear to be into technology and a way of thinking that might be the start of something new. Just have an open mind. Think iPad, okay, and what a gizmo like that will eventually lead to.

The first up here is the M Ship Company out of San Diego, California. Founded in 1998 by Chuck Robinson and Bill Burns, M Ship is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business specializing in the design, development and delivery of innovative marine concepts for the military, commercial and recreational markets.

The M Hull underway takes form and function to a new place.

To say they are inventive falls far short of the reality of their products. Case in point; The M80 Hull. Known as The Stiletto, the twin M-hull vessel is 88 feet in length with a 40 foot beam, providing a rectangular deck area equivalent to a conventional displacement craft 160 feet in length. The vessel’s draft fully loaded is three feet and is designed for a speed of 50-60 knots. Right now, it’s in military and drug interdiction use but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see a yacht version slipping down the ways.

According to the M Ship Company, the M-hull’s advanced planing-hull technology provides superior advantages over the more traditional designs. As shown in the illustration here, the M-hull’s geometry is unique because it consists of three interrelated features that improve ship performance-the Central Displacement Section, the Planing Tunnels and the Rigid Skirts.These include ride quality, speed, stability, range and the ability to carry payloads. The reduction of the “drag hump” offers very efficient cruising speeds not normally associated with planing craft and M Ship has done extensive studies with government and academic support in order to validate these benefits. Its test data and video are available upon request.

Next is the Axcell 650, a boat I had the opportunity to pay a short visit to while at this past Palm Beach Boat Show. From the outside, the Axcell 650 Catamaran Sport Yacht offers a sleek, eye-catching low profile design with distinctive ‘gill-slit’ intakes on each side, which, by the way, and as I would soon find out, have been specifically designed for an additional and important performance function. But what really began to interest me was something written on the banner that stretched across the transom: “With Patented HybridAir™ Technology.” Now that was something that pinged my radar and waiting my turn to get aboard, listened carefully from dockside as I started to pick up some buzz words from someone wearing an Axcell shirt.

Brian Barsumian, who along with his dad Bruce, are the principals in the company responsible for this daring design and technology. They call it MACS Research Inc., the capital letters standing for Multi Air Cavity Ships™ and have been at it for some 13 years now with the result of their research and work sitting right there in the dock.

The 650, designed by J.C. Espinosa of Stuart, Florida-based Espinosa Inc., is a beautiful looking boat both inside and out. That’s my opinion. Some simply do not like the catamaran styling nor the lines. However, I found her to be a head turner and mine was going back and forth, looking here and there as I got the cook’s tour with Brian. I hope to get back on with both Bruce and Brian at a later date for a comprehensive sea trial and walk through, and perhaps a sit-down with Mr. Espinosa as well, but for now, I noted how well this prototype is finished off in yacht quality fashion with copious amounts of room available enabling her owners and guests to be away from the dock for long periods of time. And there’s a 16-foot, 90-hp RIB tender tucked into a garage in the stern.

The lift fan canister (rear) is clearly visible in the 650’s engine room.

With lots of folks queuing up on the dock for a look-see, and realizing of course that the Barsumians were eager to show their boat, I slipped into the starboard sponson’s engine room with Brian for a quick tour. I got the layout and technology very quickly. The boat has been designed to pump low pressure air, much like a hovercraft does, via a pair of automated lift fans working off the twin C-18 Caterpillar 1,150-hp turbo diesels. And yes, those ‘gill slit’ intakes are all part of the technology that gets this 59,000 pound vessel cruising, according to the Axcell literature, along at a 38-knot cruise speed. This is a very cool boat and one that I am definitely coming back for. Stand by. I’ll let you know when it’s happening.

My third offering on this topic is by Effect Ships International (ESI) AS of Sandefjord, Norway, who also seem to be playing with the hovercraft—or ASV, for air supported vessel—technology as well, and have come up with a prototype they call the M65. And here’s where you have to put in some visionary work and ignore the boxy, unadorned test vessel pictured here. As with the iPad analogy, think Patrick Knowles design or something out of the Trinity yard.

With that said, ESI has sunk some $10 million into its research and development of the M65, garnering the Innovation Award at the 2011 European Powerboat of the Year contest. In a nutshell, the concept calls for a special underwater shape to the running bottom of the hull complete with a large cavity to trap the blown in air, courtesy of a fan mounted in the bow. At the stern, a special flap closes off the cavity, trapping the air within. For this prototype, ESI used a fan driven by a D3 Volvo Penta diesel but envision using electric power from a genset or from a hybrid

Bow intakes allow air to be drawn in.

main propulsion system. The illustration above also shows the side rails that prevent the air from escaping. According to Ulf Tudem, the company’s general manager, the propulsion system can be pods, jets, outdrives, fixed-shaft, or surface piercing. When the main propulsion system is engaged, the M65 accelerates and gets on plane much faster than conventional boats because it doesn’t need to get over the proverbial hump. Below is a side-by-side test ESI performed between a Princess 62 and the M65 equipped with IPS. While there are obvious give and takes, there is a marked difference between horsepower, range, and fuel consumption.

                                     Princess V 62                                            ASV Mono 65 IPS

Length w/swim platform:      63.6’/19.39m                                              65.6’/19.98m

Beam:                               16.3’/4.99m                                                17.7’/5.40m

Tested displacement:          23 tons                                                      22.5 tons

Engine volume:                   2 x 17.8 liter                                               2 x 5.9 liter

Horsepower:                     2400 HP                                                     870 HP

Fan power:                         N/A                                                            80 – 120 HP

Top speed:                         42.6mph/37kn                                             38mph/33kn

Fuel @ 33 knots:               3gal/11.3 ltr/NM                                         1.5gal/5.7 ltr/NM

Fuel @ 27 knots:               2.8gal/10.7 ltr/NM                                      1.5gal/5.6 ltr/NM

Safe range at 27kn:             255 NM                                                      480 NM
900gal/3410 ltr tank

Trim angle @ 30kn              4.5 deg                                                       0.5 –1 deg
(bow up)

Wrapping this one up for now, do you think Orville and Wilbur Wright ever envisioned the Space Shuttle and imaginative risk-takers like Sir Richard Branson? We’re going to try and get some of the experts to wade in on this ASV technology so standby. Until then, my final thought here is a simple one: “The dog would have caught the rabbit if he didn’t stop to take a leak.”

Fair winds, shipmates. –Cap’n Ken


Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


Redbone Fishing Tournaments

Redbone’s “Fruits of our Labors” Cookout Celebrates $1,400,000 Year For CF Research Funding

 Huge impact “to catch the cure” launched by small Florida Keys events  

(L to R) Capt. Gary Ellis, Capt. Jeff Johnson, Susan Ellis

ISLAMORADA, In-The-Florida Keys – “Wow,” exclaimed Capt. Gary Ellis when told their Redbone fishing tournaments had raised $1.4 million for cystic fibrosis research in 2010; a single event Ellis and his wife Susan started 23 years ago that’s spawned nearly 30 more tournaments.  “We knew our research funding last year raised over a $1 million like it has for each of the previous six years, but when all the figures were given to us we were amazed,” said Ellis.

The announcement was made Sat., May 14, during the Redbone’s 22nd annual “Fruits of our Labors” BBQ cookout at the Lorelei, to celebrate the hard work and money raised through its 2010 series of tournaments. The $1,400,000 was raised from last fall’s Redbone trilogy of Keys tournaments plus 25 other Redbone fishing events in the U.S., the Bahamas and Mexico.

The Florida Keys charity in cooperation with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has raised over $15 million since the Redbone’s inception in 1988.

Big Man jams with Big Richard

Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band saxophonist, singer, and frontman Clarence Clemons (The Big Man) added to the Redbone celebration jamming with Big Richard and the Family Fun Band. Clemons is a popular celebrity angler in many of the Redbone tournaments across the nation.

Virginia angler wins $28,000 Dragonfly boat in Redbone drawing

Joe Viar of Alexandria, Virginia, a long time supporter and angler in the Redbone tournaments was the winner in the raffle drawing for a Dragonfly Boatworks 16-ft. Emerger skiff complete with a 40 hp Evinrude outboard, Power-Pole and a Float-On Trailer.

Background on tournaments “to catch the cure”

The Redbone (REDfish and BONEfish) began as a small local Keys tournament to help CF patients like Gary and Susan Ellis’ young daughter Nicole. The late Major League Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Ted Williams, then an Islamorada resident, helped the Ellis’ attract many of his celebrity friends and through the efforts of guides, anglers and volunteers they raised $16,000 at that first event. Within four years it had grown to three fall tournaments in the Keys. Two decades later the Redbone tournaments have grown to four distinct series. The first is the original Redbone points trilogy in the Keys’ 125 mile chain of islands. Five southeastern states are home to the Redbone Red*Trout series for redfish and sea trout. Three more Redbone@Large events are held in the Bahamas Celebrity Bonefish series and 17 more for a wide array of fish species in the Redbone@Large Celebrity Tournament series which crisscross the U.S., Bahamas and Mexico.

Anglers fishing as a team or with a celebrity are professionally guided for a select group of game fish in the local waters which they catch, photograph and release. At many of the 28 tournament sites around North America, CF chapters host the Redbone formatted tournaments under the guidance of the Ellis’.

“When we started the Redbone,” said Ellis, “the life expectancy of CF patients was the early teens. Now with the remarkable strides in gene research CF patients are living into their mid 30’s. But there’s still no cure, and the work is not complete until the cure is found.”

For more info call the Redbone at 305-664-2002, or go online at Or contact Pete Johnson  – PR counsel for The Redbone at Johnson Communications, Inc., Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Ph: 480-951-3654   e-mail:

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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


The Salty Life

The Salty Life

There’s Something About Fishing

Or…How A Mullet Becomes A Grander

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Unlike most fish stories, this one is absolutely true.

fish-158662_1280As a lead for an article on a new sportfishing boat, I quoted the venerable Sir Izaak Walton (1593-1683):“I have laid aside business, and gone a-fishing.” Sir Izaak, whose classic The Compleat Angler, first published in 1653, is considered to be a mainstay in any serious fisherman’s library should that person want to be thought about, well, as a serious fisherman. Or so they will tell you. “The Compleat Angler? Oh sure. Sure I have it. Great book! Great!”

This brings me to the point. What is it about fishing that makes exaggeration, hyperbole, and embellishment—one word would have sufficed, yes?—come so naturally? For those of us Alpha Male, chest thumping, barnyard strutting roosters, who still retain our hunter/gatherer genes—or pretend to—it’s most likely a way to make up for failing to bring home the bacon in front of our brethren Alpha Male, chest thumping, barnyard strutting roosters.

To examine this phenomenon in the wild, I, under the convenient guise of marine journalist, booked myself aboard the aforementioned sportfishing boat during a recent angling showdown between two fine boat builders.

The event, an ongoing 10 year, two-fishing-day-weather-permitting offshore adventure promotes amiable competition between the boats and crews. This year’s drew 70 decked-out-to-the-nines vessels ranging in size from 48 to 72 feet. And before I put my spin on the day’s events, let me say this: The crew I fished with was comprised of some of the nicest, most sincere folks I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a day offshore with. But there’s something about fishing.

All right, so let’s start with the fish. They’re dumb. There’s not too much there friends. I mean, after all these thousands of years of being caught, you’d think by now they’d have it figured out. But no, you wiggle a worm in front of them or drag a dead fish for miles, and they take the bait. Artificials included!  Oh sure, sharks are at the top of the finny food chain but hey, they haven’t changed in 300 million years. Didn’t have to. That walnut size brain has two basic functions: Eat and make more sharks. Dolphins–of the mammalian Delphinidae and not the the fishy Coryphaena hippurus–are a different story. As stated, they’re not fish. Catch my drift here? But I digress.

So there we are, heading out at some ungodly hour of the morning—say, what’s with that 4 a.m. stuff anyway?—on a many multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art vessel, whose powerful diesel engines suck up the fuel at an alarming rate to get us many miles offshore to, catch fish. There are 13 souls aboard my boat and during the next 18 hours, I will get to interact, observe, and share this watery experience with them.  

The mate, a stoic chap whom I will refer to as Mr. Quiet for this narrative, has a plug of chewing tobacco neatly tucked into each cheek, making him look a little well, chipmunky. In the early morning light he is preparing our baits, tying lines, and doing all those matey things mates do. He has a tattoo of a billfish on the calf of his right, uh I mean starboard leg. Yo ho ho.

Our captain, a.k.a. Our Captain, I’ve met before and while I have never fished with him, recognize from my own captaining experiences that he knows his stuff. We captains have our ways. The Force is with us. Comes with the territory. Alpha Male. No doubt. Big Guy—there’s always one on board—The Kid, Invisible Man, Dude, The Boss, Mate Too, Mate Also, The Others, and finally Me, make up the rest of the crew. 

The GPS tells us we’ve arrived and we see bait fish jumping because a whole lot of something-biggers are chasing them. And there are birds circling, wheeling, and diving into the water to pick up the leavings of those jumping baitfish that are being chopped to pieces by those something-biggers chasing them. All good signs. But we’ve had our many thousands of dollars worth of electronics turned on for hours anyway to come to that same conclusion: There are fish here. Brilliant. See how this works?

Mr. Quiet, Mate Too, and Mate Also get our eight lines out; three each on a pair of massive outriggers and two from either side of the cockpit’s requisite beautifully varnished fighting chair. There’s some hand clapping from Big Guy and a nod of approval from Invisible Man before he finds a bunk below and goes back to sleep. A few of The Others apply sunscreen. Lock and load. The radio crackles with the news that other boats have already hooked up. And so it begins. I mean the chances of hooking up so fast are as good as finding one natural ingredient in Cheez Whiz.

It takes us almost an hour and a half to get a hit. Mate Also grabs the rod and gives it to The Kid while Big Guy slips a fighting belt on him. “Wind. Now pump. Wind. Pump. Dip. Wind. Pump,” he is told. He falters, missing the cadence. Dipping when he should be winding. Pumping instead of dipping. The rod tip suddenly points skyward. Gone. But for the drone of the engines, silence reigns. While the stories of other dropped fish begin to surface, Me decides it’s time to begin grazing through the ship’s stores in the galley.

About half an hour later we see a blue marlin surface, swipe at one of the baits and disappear. “A buck and a half,” someone says. That means 150 pounds. I couldn’t tell though. Only momentarily glimpsed the fish’s bill and part of its head. By the time I finished a fistful of chocolate chip cookies, that marlin had beefed up to 200 pounds. “A deuce at least.”

Two on. A small tuna surfaces and throws the hook. The other stays around to tussle with Big Guy and winds up popping the line. Never did get a look at it. Then come the stories. “Like I felt, BAM! A hit on the line. Like it wasn’t that fish on the line. Know what I mean?” he laments. I’m getting interested in those gummy bears I spied during one of my forages. Another hit. Oops. “That’s quality sushi right there,” Dude chimes in. Where? It’s gone. Never got one wind on the reel. Is this getting any clearer? Another hit. Another drop.

“And we did the Ho-Ho-Hee on that right rigger too,” chortles one of The Others. Unbeknownst to anyone, I had secretly let out some extra line on that right rigger. Ho-Ho-Hee.

In desperation out comes Suzie Rockets a.k.a. the Jiggin Piggy; a good luck charm pig-304125_1280whose swiny-physiognomied, hula-skirted, suctioned-cupped, bobble-headed presence is quickly secured to the port side arm of the chair and is sure to change our luck. The only thing we raise is a moustache on one of our dead mackerel baits. Meaning we picked up some weeds on the line.  

By the time it’s lines up, the tally is Fish 8, Humans 0. A few minutes before the official end of the day, the radio crackles to life: “Boat 32, fish on. Boat 17, hooked up. Boat…” Amazing how that happens during the final seconds. Cheez Whiz anyone?

The ride back to terra firma is filled with other fishing stories from Cancun to Walker’s; from both sides of the Panama Canal and everywhere in between. And they are good stories, which like now have been taken out again and again and told with a smile that pleases everyone and are meant for nothing more than enjoyment. Which is the way it should be. 

And as for losing those fish, well let me just quote the venerable Sir Izaak again: “No man can lose what he never had.” Enough said. Fair winds shipmates.

anthropomorphized-animals-2026588_1280.pngIf you have a favorite fishing story for THE SALTY LIFE, send it on in. If it’s good enough for posting, I’ll send you two dozen of my world-famous, hand-made chocolate chip cookies. Promise. Just let me know if you have any food allergies such as those associated with nuts and I’ll avoid loading them up with walnut, pecan, or macadamia. You’re gonna love ’em!- Cap’n. Ken

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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in The Salty Life





Shocking News About Inverter/Charger Installations!

Five Big Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make.

By Don Wilson
TECH DOCTOR DON WILSON has worked in technical capacities in the marine, automotive and RV fields and for the military since 1989 and has extensive experience in designing and troubleshooting onboard electrical systems. A former customer service manager dealing with electronic issues, Wilson currently serves as a technical instructor for the RV industry’s RVIA Trouble Shooters Clinics and is a full-time sales application engineer for Xantrex Technology, Inc. SHOCKING NEWS ABOUT INVERTER/CHARGER INSTALLATIONS is the sixth installment of TECH DOCTOR articles being presented by the Boat and Yacht Report

When asked questions at my technical seminars, I often find they begin with, “Should I do this…” or “Should I do that?” As you might expect, these are always hard questions to answer regardless of the topic, because each individual RVer or boater will have different needs and experiences that are unique to their situation. However, when it comes to questions regarding the installation of inverters/chargers, my responses apply universally, particularly those that fall in the “should not” category. Some of this issue’s content may seem rather obvious, or a bit tongue-in-cheek. I hope I don’t cause shock waves (yes – all puns intended!), but follow the logic presented and hopefully, you’ll quickly get up to speed.

Q: Should I rate my fuse based on the inverter size?

TECH DOCTOR: NEVER rate your fuse according to the rating of the inverter. I can’t tell you how many times I have to re-emphasize and repeat this point. Your fuse is not there to protect the inverter, or the electrical load in any circuit. It’s there for one primary purpose: to protect the circuit itself. A 3000W inverter with a 350A fuse seems appropriate, unless it’s wired with 4 gauge wire. At a perfectly acceptable load, the wire will burn well before the fuse fails. The fuse is there to protect the wire (or electrical path) from which can cause damage or fire.

Q: Should I put a washer between the cable terminal and inverter, or battery connector?

TECH DOCTOR: NEVER put a washer between the conductor and the connector! All the ground wires in our cars/trucks have those star washers to make a ‘better electrical connection.’ However, that is acceptable in this circumstance because of paint and the low current needs of a 14 gauge wire. On the other hand, when you’re putting 4/0 welding cable on a 3000W inverter, and you put a steel (high resistance) washer between the copper, tin, or brass cable ends and connectors (lower resistance), you create an electrical bottleneck that will get extremely hot. I’ve seen tons of inverters in repair with melted insulators around the DC connectors which is a sure sign that the flat washer, or lock washer, was placed between the connector and the cable. The lock washer, or star washers, are intended to be in direct contact with the bolt-head or nut to reduce the chance of loosening.

Q: How do I determine the right cable size?

TECH DOCTOR: NEVER blindly follow the recommended cable size, regardless of the installation. If the manual calls for 3/0 wire for lengths over 5’, don’t assume that it includes installations where the battery is 25’ from the inverter. Voltage-drop calculators are all over the internet and if you can ensure a voltage drop under .25VDC, you’re in good shape. Consider the recommendations as a ‘minimum’ and use your math skills to figure out the proper cable to eliminate excessive voltage drops. After that, don’t be afraid to upsize the cable again. Proper performance is the desired result of any installation, and voltage-drop management is the key to performance.

Q: Can I install an inverter/charger in the engine compartment or battery bay?

TECH DOCTOR: NEVER put your inverter/charger in an engine compartment, battery bay or any location containing fuel or flammable or corrosive vapors. If the only close location is in the battery bay, get bigger cables and move the inverter further away.

Q: What should I know about neutral and ground connections?

TECH DOCTOR: NEVER, EVER, tie neutral and ground together, manually, in any installation, period! Neutral is tied to ground at the source of AC power simply to allow the ground wire to be an alternate path for return current during a failure where the hot wire touches the chassis of a device or vehicle. This is intended to trip the breaker. However, when neutral is tied to ground on the boat, there’s a voltage potential between the ground plane of the boat, and the ground plane on the dock. If there’s resistance on the ground and neutral wires, the current will find some other potential path back to earth ground and that path may be you as you step on the boat.

NEXT UP FROM DON WILSON: The Inside Scoop on Battery Chargers

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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


Yacht Spotting and New Launches

Carpe Diem, Trinity’s Acclaimed 191’ (58.23m), Delivered & Underway

Tri-Deck Motoryacht Features Trinity’s New 33’ (10m) Beam Series & A Fully Flexible Stateroom Layout

All photos credit: Jim Raycroft

10 May 2011, Gulfport, Mississippi: Trinity’s newest superyacht, the 191’ (58.23m) tri-deck motoryacht Carpe Diem, has delivered to her owner, a repeat Trinity client. Featuring a 33’ (10m) beam—the second hull in the new series—Carpe Diem’s striking exterior styling represents a new design for the acclaimed builder, one which keeps the promise Trinity delivers to all clients: to build a yacht as specified by her owner.

From her Trinity-designed naval architecture and styling—and her impeccable interior design by Carol Williamson & Associates (CW+A)—to her enormous sky lounge, massive swim platform and customized ‘Tenders and Toys’ for outdoors enjoyment, Carpe Diem is the embodiment of both flexibility and ability to access exotic destinations. With a cruising speed averaging 18.5 knots, she reaches destinations quickly. Her 8’ (2.43m) draft enables her to access shallow water settings more readily than yachts of a similar length and width.

Carpe Diem Master

Carpe Diem features a main deck full-beam king master suite with walk-in closet, sofa and arm chairs, and ensuite his shower/her Jacuzzi and shower. Guests luxuriate in the full-width aft king VIP lower deck stateroom with four additional staterooms. For flexibility the two forward guest staterooms are easily converted to an additional full-width forward king VIP; if used as twins, one easily converts to a gym. Crew quarters provide direct access to guest staterooms and a private crew stairway leads to the galley and the pilothouse level. With dumbwaiter, pantry and galley designed specifically for ease of use by crew, Carpe Diem’s owner and guests are treated to impeccable, seamless service.

Carol Williamson’s touch is evident throughout the interior, is rich with the masculinity of hand-wrought hard woods and urbane with the femininity of light soft goods and stylish accents. While Carpe Diem ‘fully incorporates the careful play of architecture, light and complex sophisticated color’ CW+A is widely recognized for, she also boasts tremendous living space featuring a magnificent main salon, expansive dining salon, main aft deck with wet bar and air conditioning, dual staircase to her extended swim platform and passerelle—which even includes modular furniture—a full-width sky lounge, upper aft deck, Portuguese bridge and sun deck.

Carpe Diem Skylounge Deck

All-teak decks, stainless steel and plenty of alfresco relaxation and dining spaces are paired brilliantly with an interior color scheme perfectly complemented with striking black and white photography and priceless art throughout. Technology for owner and guests features the most relevant products available today with Kaleidescape, WiFi, iPod docking and multi-system surround sound throughout.

For day excursions, Carpe Diem comes fully equipped for elaborate beach outings and port visits. With three custom tenders, beach landing craft and even a tent with draw curtains, parties on the beach are a regular pastime. Four waverunners and SCUBA gear are available and two hidden life rafts (above her sun deck) are standard.

Carpe Diem accommodates an owner’s party of twelve (12) in six (6) staterooms and twelve (12) crew in six (6) cabins. She is also available for charter.

M/Y Carpe Diem—Primary Specifications

Name/Hull Number

Carpe Diem/Trinity Yachts Hull No. T047


Tri-Deck Motoryacht


Aluminum Hull and Aluminum Superstructure


191’ (58.23m)


33’ (10m)

Draft, Half Load

8’2” (2.4m)

Displacement, Full Load

548 L.T.


2x Caterpillar 3516 Series II-HD: 3,384hp each at 1800 rpm

Maximum Speed

20.6 knots, approximately


4,361 nautical miles at 10 knots

Fuel Capacity

23,190 gallons (87,784), approximately


ABS Maltese Cross A1 Yachting Service, AMS, MCA, over 500 IGT

Naval Architect

Trinity Yachts, LLC

Interior Designer

Carol Williamson & Associates


Twelve (12) in six (6) staterooms


Twelve (12) in six (9) cabins



About Trinity Yachts, LLC
Trinity Yachts, LLC, the world renowned builder of custom steel and aluminum superyachts up to 400’ (123m), was founded in 1988 with historical roots dating back to the famous Higgins Shipyard. Featuring the flexibility of incorporating both client-generated and in-house naval architecture and design, Trinity’s exceptional team also includes marine engineers, estimators, purchasers, production and program managers located in two shipyards on 100 waterfront acres (40.5 hectares) with 20 acres (8 hectares) under cover for production, fabrication and outfitting. Fit and finish represent quality, integrity and diversity while Trinity is unrivalled in its technological dexterity, the result of continual innovation for offshore commercial and military contracts. For more information, visit Or contact William (Billy) Smith, 504.723.8089,

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


The Salty Life

The Salty Life

Maybe The Filthiest Engine Room Ever


By Capt. Ken Kreisler

I found this unattributed quote on the Internet: “I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?” Indulge me here dear readers, as I flex some wordsmithing chops and try to explain how this fits in with the title of this installment of THE SALTY LIFE.

While musing one day, as I am often inclined to do, on how I got to travel on this life’s watery journey, and for whatever reason things like this happen, this particular time out I had a most peculiar thought; no, it was more like an image. Actually it was a complete sensory experience that while involving all of the senses had in fact isolated and excited the neural synapses of my olfactory and optical memories. Smell and sight shipmates; a little deep-gray-matter tap on the shoulder that asked, “Hey, remember this buddy?”

Now, allow me some leeway here in laying out the foundation for this essay. I promise you, I will try to make it an entertaining read which hopefully, will begin to materialize in your own consciousness and perhaps unfold your own similar memories as the words line themselves up and the images appear in the narrative. Peeling the proverbial onion as it were.

For those of you who have been following some of my past writings, you know I was born and raised on the inner city streets and in the environs of that most fabled of New York City boroughs known as Brooklyn, and for most of my growing up years, made a weekly family pilgrimage, usually on Sundays, to the Sheepshead Bay area where both my maternal and paternal grandparents resided. The mornings were spent with my father’s parents while the afternoons were set aside for mom’s kith and kin. For those of you who don’t know this, well, now you do and are up to speed with everybody else. And so, I take up again.

In those days, the stretch of waterfront along Emmons Avenue was still a bona fide fishing village and not the over developed neighborhood it is today. I clearly remember it, sans the Roll N Roaster’s, RB’s, and any of a number of ‘those kinds of places’ that now dot its length. In my youthful days, it was the original Randazzo’s Clam Bar—yes, with the hot sauce, please—and of course the not-so-sublimely iconic and Spanish Colonial revival-inspired building on the corner of Emmons and Ocean Avenues, that was an anthem, nay, a holy of holies shrine to some of the finest sea food found anywhere; that being the fabulous and wondrous Lundy Brothers.

lobster-1662978__480It was said that in its heyday, the cavernous restaurant, always bustling with the noise of its waiters in constant motion, rushing here and there, huge trays of food, stacked skyscraper-high and held up in the air, seemingly and miraculously defying the laws of gravity and balanced on one hand, as they threaded their way through the always packed room, served as many as 2,800 meals per day.  Also once known as the largest eatery in the United States, local urban legend has it that on one particular Mother’s Day, its kitchen and staff served some 15,000 meals by the time the doors closed late that evening and the lights went out behind the beautiful leaded glass windows. The huckleberry pie, the biscuits, the incredible raw bar where I watched in utter amazement as shuckers, their fingertips and the inside of their thumbs wrapped with white tape, opened and served up many a plateful of Littleneck clams in seconds, complete with lemon wedge, little fork, and a packet of those round, salty crackers; the incredible Shore Dinner, the whole Gestalt of the thing was truly, the stuff that legends are made of.

Sadly, like so many other things, the restaurant is gone. The landmark building is now subdivided into separate stores. Even the head boat fishing fleet across the street that ran along the waterfront, at one time one of the most prestigious and hardy found anywhere, and where things started for me, has shrunk to a mere shell of its former self.

The once proud line up, many of the them refurbished WWII U.S. Navy vessels, sometimes tied up three to a pier and stern to bow, their jaunty and salty mates with faces, arms, and necks wind and sunburned, the white outlines of their sunglasses clearly visible around their eyes and across the bridges of their noses on their five o’clock stubbled faces, suitably garbed in rubber boots and either yellow or black rubber bib overalls, perhaps one shoulder strap hanging rakishly loose from one arm, and out on the concrete walk, hawking and urging you aboard for a day’s fishing, are for the most part gone now, replaced by a cadre of dinner cruise boats.

But back then, in those halcyon days, it was one of the most exciting things in my life and I looked forward to going down there each Sunday afternoon, first as a young boy with my grandfathers, and then on my own when I got older. Hang in there, we’re getting real close now.

I remember always trying to be there about three o’clock in the afternoon when the boats came back, their horns blaring, announcing their return with fish, soon to be laid out for sale on the sidewalk in wooden crates packed with ice. They had names like Dorothy B, Grace, Brooklyn, Rainbow, Ranger, Wahoo, Eagle, Sea Wolf, Rocket, Amberjack, and many others. And then there was the Carrie D II and her skipper Capt. Sal Dragonette.

How I had first come to go fishing on her, and then wind up as an occasional mate, splitting my time aboard with mostly working as a yard snipe at the nearby Schatz Brothers Marina during one summer off from my junior year in high school, is a fairly messy mélange of memories and foggy recollections. But I do remember being hawked aboard one early morning back then for a day of drifting for fluke as I strolled the quay front with a friend of mine, our fishing rods seated with Penn 60 reels swinging from one hand, a small duffel held in the other containing extra sweatshirts, hooks, sinkers, a 100-yard spool of monofilament line, a couple of bottles of Hires root beer soda—one rolled up in the sweatshirt so as not to break against the other—a package of Hostess chocolate cupcakes—you know, the ones with the white squiggle across the chocolate fudge top, often a pb&j sandwich, and usually a piece or three of some chicken of sorts wrapped in tin foil and placed in a brown paper bag along with some candy and a couple of Tootsie Roll pops. Unlike today’s disappointing confection, back then there was still a fair amount of Tootsie in the pop. I digress.

“Five bucks a piece, ten for the two of you.” We got a wink and a smile from the wind- and salt-weathered mate, and I noticed the odor of fish and something else emanating from him even though he stood a good distance away from us. “Two spots left. Whaddya say, fellas?”

She was an old wood tub, painted with some kind of orangey-brown color on the trim with what still passed as a white hull and superstructure, given the rust stains and whatever else tinted her exterior. She had her pilothouse way aft and a very long foredeck, where on port and starboard sides most of the fishermen had already staked out their territories. There was some kind of boom apparatus forward that I assumed worked back when she did whatever it was she did before being put into head boat service only to find out later that it was a steadying sail. Whatever. I’m sure it didn’t work now either. I had already seen the movie version of The African Queen and by the looks of what I had paid my hard-earned five bucks to go fishing on, the Carrie D II could have been that vessel’s grandmother. But my friend and I could care less. We were going out to sea on a warm early summer’s day, to go fishing, and that was all we were thinking about when I heard a voice coming from the open forward windows of the pilothouse.

“Okay, let’s get it out of here,” it said, raspy, gruff, croaky, thick and husky, a disembodied and bellowing declaration from inside that pilothouse. Our captain, like Ahab in Melville’s Moby Dick, was unseen so far but yet whose presence, I now sensed, pervaded every bit of the boat. What had I gotten myself into here for five bucks a piece, two for ten?

“Get them lines off…an’ watch you don’t let ‘em drop in the water like you did last time, you knucklehead. Almos’ caught a wheel, fer Chrissakes.” And then the boat shook, making some kind of rumbling noise as if it were a great beast being rudely awakened from a seasonal sleep and now in a most foul mood and undoubtedly, quite hungry.

Thick black smoke coughed and belched from her exhaust ports as the mate skipped fore and aft, slipping and flipping the lines from the port side and up on the pier, each one of them landing with a soft thwacking sound and heralding the signal of one blast of the boat’s horn indicating all lines were off. The craft was quickly enveloped in smoke, what with the wind softly blowing from stern to bow as I now clearly recognized the aforementioned fragrance complementing the mate’s fishy odor. Lube oil and diesel fuel. Unmistakably a burned and acrid variety of Eau d’#4 Home Heating.

We started to slip down the pier as three more blasts of the horn were sounded—engines in reverse, but you knew that, right?—and by the time we had cleared the end and our phantom skipper had swung the bow to starboard and picked up the channel markers indicating the preferred narrow passage seaward through the bay, its outer sides dotted with many mooring balls, the breeze, now on our port, carried our smoke and scent landward from whence we came. As we turned the corner of the bay and headed for the buoys that would take us across the Coney Island flats and out to the fishing grounds on the edge of the Ambrose Channel shipping lanes, I noticed the trail of the now dark-gray smoke we were leaving behind.

sole-2057110__480Fishing was good that day with every long drift producing a flurry of activity for those with the right touch and feel even though, and more than once, someone managed to get themselves all tangled up resulting in a series of salty epithets delivered in various languages and dialects. Two got seasick, most likely from the pervasive exhaust smell as the sea conditions were barely noticeable, and were most emphatic is consigning verbal wills to their friends, adding several addendas at various times during their explosive episodes of mal de mer.

It was almost time to head back to the barn when I noticed the door on the port side of the pilothouse opening and out stepped Capt. Sal for what I was sure was the first time. He seemed as wide as he was tall with a red-flushed round face littered with a two-day stubble, a headful of wild hair, and big, meaty hands. I had to look back and forth between him and the pilothouse while trying to judge his girth with that of what I perceived was the interior dimensions of his inner sanctum. I had a most disturbing thought then: There was no head—a nautical bathroom for those not in the know—that could not have had any chance of even remotely fitting in there. Armed with that information, it was no wonder I quickly willed not going any further with that notion and instead, put that part of my mind under lock and key but not before I just managed to imagine the fleeting image of a five gallon bucket. Like not wanting to look at a train wreck…well, you know the rest.

He hitched up his tan khaki pants, and adjusted the tan khaki web belt that hung way below his ample stomach; the cinch that seemed to help prevent said gut from hanging to his knees, and tried to tuck in the back of his khaki shirt. He then gave a shrug of his shoulders, as if the whole ritual was a big waste of time. On his feet he wore some kind of bone-colored, paint spotted and oil-stained, and much worn boat shoes. Capt. Sal, I gathered, was an earth-toned kind of guy.

“How we doin’there, boys?” he croaked to some of the guys fishing at the rail as he flipped the butt of a cigarette up, out, and into the water and promptly lit another one. Not waiting for an answer, he waddled aft, totally at ease with the gentle roll of the drifting boat, looking at each fisherman’s catch, sometimes nodding and other times not until finally reaching a point on the other side of the boat just opposite where my friend and I had been fishing all day. And we knew where the head was.

“Hey,” I heard him say, after which he gave a quick, wet sounding cough and promptly took a big drag on his cigarette.

I didn’t know the mate’s name was Hey; I thought it was Dave or something like that. But he answered, “Yeah Cap?” as he made his way forward after netting a fish for someone near the stern.

“Go on down there an’ check the earl, will ya. I’ll be kicken’ them over and this’ll be the last drift.  It’s almost time. Hiyadoin there boys?” he said to me as I looked over to where Hey had now joined him.

“Got some nice fish,” I said as my friend brought up a very big sea robin, swung it up over the rail and plopped it down on the deck. The hook came out fairly easily and he stood up and was about to throw it back overboard.

“Don’t be trowin’ dem big ones like dat back in. I got some Portogeese guys taken ‘em,” he said.

“What?” I think my friend said as the fish wriggled and slipped out of his hands and splashed into the water.

“Fer Crissakes,” Capt. Sal said as he shook his head towards the deck, the cigarette now dangling from his mouth. “Ah, what the hell. Go on now, check that earl so’s we can wrap this up,” he said to Hey and, brushing past him, made his way aft, down the starboard side to the other door that led to the pilothouse and in he went. A moment later, a cigarette butt launched itself out of one of the side windows and I had no doubt, another was promptly lit up.

As Hey emerged from the depths of what I gathered was the engine room, wiping his hands on an oil-stained rag, and looking towards the pilothouse, he gave a thumbs up sign after which came three quick toots of the horn signaling all lines up. The Carrie D II, heretofore under the influence of the somewhat hypnotic and low decibel rumble and vibration of the generator, constantly emitting its own noxious fumes from a hull vent, suddenly reverberated with the sound and shuddering of the main engines. First one, then the other, and then the billowing black smoke.

There was some sort of announcement that came over what passed for an amplified sound system aboard, but with the hanging rusted speaker secured by some piano wire and duct tape to keep it from dangling and banging off the side of the pilothouse from the lamp wire that snaked its way out of a disastrously drilled-out hole there, the words and message were wholly unintelligible.

“Pool fish in the stern,” heralded Hey, acting as interpreter for the other-worldly, public address, static-laden communication as he made the rounds of the deck. “I clean the fish too, for fifty cents each.” By the time we docked, the trail of dark gray smoke that had been following us around finally dissipated into the late afternoon sky.

I think by now I’ve painted a pretty clear picture of what kind of boat the Carrie D II was and how she was an unfortunate reflection of her skipper. I would imagine that in her hey day, those first few years after her launch, she was a pretty tidy craft. And while my friend and I continued to fish on her—that five buck a piece/two for ten deal to a pair of soon-to-be high school seniors suited us just fine—and even managed to win a pool or two, I would not realize the full extent of what I had only imagined was below decks until one mid-summer trip. Just as I was about to get off, Capt. Sal, leaning out of the lowered window of the pilothouse’s port side, and flicking a butt into the water, said: “Hey kid. I notice you’re pretty much a regular. I may need an extra deck hand. Wanna make a few bucks an’ fish for free?” he said as yet another cigarette appeared and was as quickly, lit, a cumulus cloud of smoke momentarily blocking out his face. ‘Well, whaddya say. Yes or no. This ain’t no math test.”

“I have another job over at Schatz. In the yard. I’ll have to check what days I work each week. It changes,” I remember saying, already with the lure of free fishing and a couple of extra bucks in my pocket presenting some tantalizing low hanging fruit to me.

“I know dem guys. Sommtimes when I got to get a wheel dinged out, I go there. Out and in the same day. Haven’t been since last year though. Okay den, you let me know. But don’t wait too long. I got a lot of guys want to work this boat,” he croaked, coughed, and took in a long drag.

“Okay,” I said and turned and got off the boat and looked back one more time.

“Free fishing an’ you get tips an’ the boat gives you a few bucks,” he said.

I managed to get a schedule that gave me Tuesdays off and since the yard was a short walk from the fishing boat piers, I left a message for Capt. Sal that I could give him Tuesdays for the rest of the summer.

Hey—his real name was Brad and for as long as I worked the decks, I never heard Capt. Sal refer to him by another other handle—and I got along just fine and I had no problem in acknowledging that he was the Alpha mate on board the Carrie D II. None whatsoever. But now being the new guy, I was relegated to perform all the slop jobs Hey/Brad was doing before, like Ishmael, I signed my soul over to Capt. Sal Dragonette.

Shape up was at six, and we usually tried to pull out of the dock by seven a.m. While Capt. Sal was out getting bait or whatever, Hey/Brad and I started to square things away for the day’s trip as a few of the regulars started to show up and grab their usual spots. I was shown the engine room hatch and, with a dirty old Boy Scout flashlight—you know, the olive-green one with the ninety degree bend to it, this one so oily I could feel the residue on it—stuck in a back pocket of my jeans, descended into the dark inner domain of the Carrie D II.

Now, in those days, my entire knowledge of working machines and wiring and pumps and filters and couplings and generators and harnesses and transmissions and expansion tanks and head gaskets and well just about anything that concerned making this boat move through the water was as nil as could be, making me as dumb as a bag of hammers when it came to its operation.

As I made my way down the slippery metal ladder, my hands getting oil stained as I went from rung to rung, until finally alighting on the engine room deck, still feeling that slippery, sliding effect underfoot, I looked around. The only light was that from the open hatch above and I scanned the densely packed space for a switch or a cord that would illuminate the place.

“Hey,” I yelled up at the open hatch above, smiling as I did and then adding, “Brad!” Only a few minutes aboard and I was already taking on Capt. Sal’s persona. I wondered about how Hey/Brad’s mind had so far been affected what with him being, more or less, permanent ship’s company.

“Yeah,” he said, peering down into the hold.

“There a light switch down here?”

“Port side. Behind the generator. But if it don’t work, maybe the bulb is out. Use the flashlight. Dips’re on the inboard sides of the engines. Also, check the oil in the generator too. But it’s on the outboard side so you’ll have to do some climbing over it. Sal’ll be back soon and want to fire it up, so let’s get going. If you need to add any oil, look under each engine. There’s a space there where we keep it. Fill it just past the top mark on the dips.”

There was a good reason the switch didn’t work; there was no bulb in the overhead socket. Actually, the screw-in neck was there but the bulb was not and I found a few remnants of broken glass underfoot as I stepped between the main engines. I took the flashlight out of my back pocket.

Suffice it to say, Dr. Frankenstein’s lab had nothing on the engine room space aboard the Carrie D II. The overwhelming smell of oil and diesel fuel, mixed in with a rather raunchy bilge odor, permeated everywhere and, with the hatch open, most assuredly wafted upwards. I was already enveloped in its bouquet and quickly realized how it followed Hey/Brad wherever he went. Now, I too was so anointed.

All three engines, the two mains and that of the generator, with their weeping cylinder covers streaking the blocks, needed oil and as I scanned the underneath areas under the now yellowing glare of the Boy Scout flashlight, the only things I could find there were about a half-dozen, oil-stained quart milk containers. I lifted one, feeling the weight of some liquid and, pinching the lid open, looked in. It was oil alright and even under what I knew was the quickly fading light of the flashlight, I could see it was very black and thick. I found a funnel and fitting it in the oil fill, started to pour the viscous liquid in. It only took a few minutes, even with having to climb over and then waist-straddling the generator, to get it done. Before climbing up and out of what surely was the inspiration for one of Dante’s rings of Hell, I gave each engine a quick coolant inspection as instructed in the recent past by one of the mechanics at the yard. I twisted the cap off, stuck my finger in and if it came up wet, it was okay. Today, all was fine.

children-968121_1280Finally getting back to the surface world, after what seemed an eternity, I realized I was now covered with the kind of dirt and filth quite unlike that which I picked up while fishing, with the latter being totally acceptable. The spaces under my fingernails were black and there was a wide swath of gunk across my gray high school sweatshirt that also covered the waist area of my jeans. There was a black smudge across the top of my right hand and a matching one that ran across my brow. The palms of my hands were dirty and oily and I felt as if I were walking on a film of it as well. And of course, there was the smell.

Capt. Sal waddled aboard a short time later. He wheeled a rusted hand truck piled high with about 24 white rectangular boxes, 12 of each containing a frozen block of squid and spearing, from the beat up van he parked in his usual spot opposite the boat and left it on the dock as he let himself, step by step, down the boarding ladder—it was dead low tide and with no floating docks along the entire waterfront, it was the boats that rose up and down. By the water trail it left, that was now puddling up under the rusted conveyance, the bait was already beginning to thaw. Capt. Sal did not drive a van with a refrigerated compartment.

“They ain’t gonna get aboard by themselves,” Capt. Sal said to me as he tried to hitch his pants up above his ample belly, gave a ‘thumbs over there’ signal, and disappeared into the pilothouse. (Think what you want about the Carrie D II, but we always had plenty of bait aboard, what with the leftovers being added exponentially from the day before, albeit some of it, by the time the later part of the week rolled around, was getting a bit ripe and added to the overall multi-fragranced odor that always accompanied the boat.) I heard the low rumble of the generator coming to life, saw the belch of black smoke snaking up over the aft port rail from the exhaust port in the hull there, and recognized the crackle of the VHF radio as he turned it on. With a couple of buckets of salt water drawn from the bay to thaw out the bait, Hey/Brad and I got things ready for the day’s fishing.

This was the routine aboard the Carrie D II for all the trips I made on her for the rest of that summer. I indeed fished for free, made some tips, and got some bucks from the boat. For the most part, boats like the Carrie D II were already on the other side of the changing times. And as it turned out, even though she was an old tub and way past her prime with many of the other boat owners already bringing in newer, faster, and more comfortable head boats, and Capt. Sal was as an irascible character as there ever was, still it was loads of fun as the days slipped by and I went from being a high school junior to entering my senior year.

Whenever I have the opportunity to drive along the Belt Parkway, that famed roadway whose construction began in 1934, girdling the edges of waterfront Brooklyn, whether going east or west, I often take the Coney Island exit and stop at famous Nathan’s for a quick hot dog, greasy fries, and a root beer soda, after which I make my way to Emmons Avenue and begin a slow crawl along the concrete piers. It’s changed and changed so much to my memory’s eye that I find it almost unrecognizable. But still, the sights, sounds, and experiences that set me on my life’s course are there for me to bring up once again, whenever I please. And coming full circle in this bit of nostalgia that I have been sharing with you, is the image of the machinery space aboard the Carrie D II and the place it occupies in my consciousness as what could be, maybe the filthiest engine room ever.

If you have your own SALTY LIFE experience and would like to share it with us, please send it in, along with any images, drawings, illustrations, maps, or photos. If it gets posted, I will send you two dozen of my world-famous, hand-made, chocolate chip cookies. Promise. And don’t forget to let me know if you have any food allergies, like with nuts, so I won’t load them up with pecan, walnut, or macademias. You’re going to love ’em. Fair winds shipmates! -Capt. Ken

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Posted by on May 9, 2011 in The Salty Life




New Furrion 50-Amp Cordsets Feature Voltage and Fault Indicators

New 50-amp cordsets from shore power products manufacturer Furrion feature dual LEDs that alert users when power is present – and also when there is a problem with the shore power supply.

A blue LED on the cordset lights when safe shore power is present, while a red LED illuminates if there is a fault with the dock wiring (reverse polarity), which could potentially cause electric shock or fatal injury to those on board.

Tested to exacting UL standards, the plug ends of the new Furrion cordsets have side grips for easy, user-friendly connection. Universal fit with all other power brands. Available in 25 and 50 foot lengths. Backed by Furrion’s five-year warranty. A heavy duty weatherproof storage bag and industrial-strength cable strap is included.

For more information about Furrion’s new 50-amp cordsets with voltage and fault indicators and other Furrion shore power products, visit or call 1+203.528.8422.
Furrion – 14525 SW Millikan – Beaverton, OR 97005

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Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized




Three Top Tips to Maximize Your Electrical System
Put these easy performance and safety enhancers to work.

By Don Wilson
TECH DOCTOR DON WILSON has worked in technical capacities in the marine, automotive and RV fields and for the military since 1989 and has extensive experience in designing and troubleshooting onboard electrical systems. A former customer service manager dealing with electronic issues, Wilson currently serves as a technical instructor for the RV industry’s RVIA Trouble Shooters Clinics and is a full-time sales application engineer for Xantrex Technology, Inc. THREE TOPS TIPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR ELECTRICAL SYSTEM is the fifth installment of TECH DOCTOR articles being presented by the Boat and Yacht Report.


Our previous TECH DOCTOR articles have been delivered in an easy-reading Q&A format. For this installation, however, we’re going to take a different approach and focus on three key issues that affect the performance and efficiency of your electrical systems. No questions, just answers. Lots of answers!

As we know, location is one of the major keys to a successful real estate sale. You wouldn’t want to buy a house in the southern suburbs if you work north of downtown. It’s just inefficient.

Likewise, in our world, location is equally critical. Battery, inverter, charger, and load panel locations are fairly flexible to a certain extent. These devices carry the bulk of the current, so their location should be strategically positions as close together as is safely possible to maximize efficiency.

Imagine if you worked only a mile from your home and had a freeway on-ramp a minute from your driveway. Driving to work would be a breeze! On the other hand, imagine having to navigate daily through five miles of congested, winding neighborhood roads and your drive time and ease suddenly becomes unpredictable.

Ask any boat owner and they will agree that in a boat, size is everything. Larger battery bank means more time between charging. Larger charger means shorter generator run times. Larger inverter means less heat generated, and more headroom for additional plugged-in loads. Even more important is the wire size. Just like out roadway analogy, the smaller the wire, the less traffic (electricity) can travel over the wire with incurring problems.

Best rule of thumb? Ensure less that .25 volt drop over the length of the wire under the worst-case current load. Voltage-drop calculators are available on the Internet but require solid data such as wire size, material (copper, aluminum, etc.), current rating (breaker size), and length of circuit. A .25 volt drop is good. A .1 volt drop is great!

I’ve saved the third and most important consideration for last. Never forget: A loose connection requires that the current flow through only the touching parts. Like pesky pot holes in the road that cause swerving, jarring, and potential damage, loose connections require the current ‘dodge’ the bad connection and flow down a restricted path. These loose connections cause higher resistance, higher voltage drops, and extreme heat that can easily spark a fire.

Another loose connection consideration involves the inappropriate usage of wire nuts which are expressly designed for single strand residential usage. When used improperly in a boat, this application can cause the threads of the nut to literally cut through the fine strands and ultimately create a weaker connection with less integrity than using crimped butt-splices or solder and shrink tubing. Another red flag? Look for corrosion accumulation around wiring, especially where there are connections, or copper. Appliances rated for marine use should have conformal-coated circuit boards to prevent corrosion. Likewise, battery connections, or any exposed material, should have some type of protective coating to prevent gasses or salt mist from causing corrosion which will eventually seep into the connection and restrict current flow.

Finally, besides these simple tightening and cleaning protocols, be sure your electrical systems checklist calls for a review of water levels in batteries and a system check on your inverter/charger systems.

Three easy tips…all designed to maximize your time and fun on the water.

NEXT UP FROM DON WILSON: Shocking News About Charger/Inverter Installations

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Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized