Category Archives: Maintenance




FCI, a leading manufacturer of watermakers, offers some hands-on tips for keeping things running well.

Maintaining a modern, reliable watermaker is one of the easiest—and least time-consuming—DIY tasks aboard a boat. FCI Watermakers offers tips for keeping this equipment in top working order making fresh, pure water.

A well-engineered watermaker allows for maximum, open access, whether it’s modular or framed. First, give the unit a visual inspection. Modern ones are like new automobiles: incredibly dependable and easy to maintain, but the occasional peek under the hood never hurts.

With auto-flush, checking the filters constitutes the bulk of the routine maintenance involved in owning a watermaker. The prefilter can usually be washed up to three times before it’s replaced—generally, every three to six months. Running the unit while at sea, rather than in dirty coastal water, will extend this filter’s usable life.


FCI’s MAX-Q offers reliable operations with simple, easy to do maintenance.

Whether manual or automatic, scheduled freshwater flushes are important; they lengthen the service life of the membranes. Some modern watermakers make this task easy: advanced models with state-of-the-art touch screen controllers perform this operation, plus scheduled diagnostic testing, completely automatically.

Replace the carbon block filter after every 50 freshwater flushes—about twice a year. FCI uses this type over granular activated carbon (GAC) because it ensures 100% of the chlorine is removed from the water.

After every 500 hours of use, replace the oil in the high pressure pump. It’s clean and easy to do because they use little oil. Membrane replacement will depend on operating conditions and hours of use.

Annually when the boat is hauled-out, check the intake and brine discharge through-hulls for obstructions. Look at the sea strainer, clear and clean as needed. FCI uses only food-grade hoses that will last the life of the system, but all the connections should be checked periodically.

Depending on how long the boat is planned to be at sea, it’s a good idea to have spares of replaceable items such as filters and spare oil on board. Top-quality watermakers only use non-proprietary parts, so they’re readily available worldwide—and relatively inexpensive compared to those made by the manufacturer.

FCI Watermakers has manufactured reliable and highly-efficient watermakers in the USA for over 30 years. It offers models that produce from 200 to over 260,000 gallons per day for recreational, commercial and military vessels, as well as oil rigs, islands and resorts. The company is known worldwide for its standards of high quality and dependability.

FCI Watermakers: 801-906-8840 or toll-free in the US 800-850-0123.

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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Maintenance




The Fuel Measure

What you need to know about fuel conditioners, additives, and stabilizers.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Let’s get a few basic facts down before we open up the fuel fill and dump some mystic conditioning brew into our tanks.

Oil, the result of the detritus of once living organisms, has spent millions of years ‘cooking’ under intense pressure beneath both land and sea. Fast-forward a couple of thousand epochs, eras, and millennia…well, you get the idea, to when the first oil well finally popped the cork.

oil-rig-101275_1280It’s a dirty business getting the dirty product refined and to market in its many forms to run the world as we know it. During the refining process at those expansive plants with their cloud-spewing towers, seemingly miles of above ground pipes, and fields of storage tanks, the crude oil is processed into the lifeblood of just about everything we use in our everyday lives. And, among all the other products that come out of the spigot, there is the stuff that we are most concerned with: gasoline and diesel fuel.

The ‘problem’, and the reason why you might want to use a fuel additive or conditioner, begins with the refining process. “Because the refiners are trying to get as much out of a barrel of crude that they can, today’s aggressive process of splitting open the molecules, using catalysts and high temperatures is far different that the distilling methods of years ago, and can create more instability in the after products,” said Barry Sprague, chemist and consultant to NJ-based Technol Fuel Conditioners (

tanks-406908_1280But wait, as said in those obnoxious infomercials, there’s more! Moving downstream from the refining process are a host of ills waiting to be visited upon our precious gasoline and diesel.

For example, with those of you who use gasoline in your inboard and outboard engines, the government- mandated fuel contains oxygenated additives, offshoots of methyl and ethyl alcohol. Add some heat and moisture along with the sometimes lengthy storage time the gasoline is sitting around, from refinery tanks to tanker trucks to your marina tanks, and not only are you liable to get less efficient fuel but a bit on the dirty side as well. “With those who run gasoline engines, you might want to consider a treatment with every oil change,” said Sprague. “You really want to help control that moisture as the alcohol can separate out with only the minimal amount of water.”


Using a conditioner can help keep your fuel in top shape.

For diesel fuel oil, and along with the same issues associated with gasoline storage, there are the low sulfur levels—also courtesy of the EPA—combined with the products’ affinity for water, sludge, and bio-growth (bacteria and fungi), that can also present problems. “What we want to do here is even out the playing field for performance, how the fuel is handled once it gets to the end user in regards to its stability, and trying to control any contaminants,” said Sprague.

So, here’s where our additives, stabilizers, treatments, and conditioners come into play. The first thing you want to do, is keep a careful watch on your primary and secondary fuel filters. Drain your Racors or similar systems should any sign of water be present. If you have to change the elements a bit more often, or if you begin to notice a drop in rpm levels, you more than likely have a fair amount of gunk in your tanks that is getting roiled up as you use your boat and is clogging the free flow of fuel to the engine(s). “With severe problems in this area, such as obvious plugging, it’s best to take some time out and have those fuel tanks professionally cleaned,” suggested Sprague.

For you diesel users, this filter problem can be a direct result of using a biocide additive. As the juice begins to do its work and kill the ‘bugs’ at the water/oil interface, which is where the organisms live, the accumulated buildup of dead bodies will be added to the already sludgy bottom layer of the fuel tank resulting in a Stephen King-like, totally non-combustible mass getting sucked up into the fuel system. “If you think you might have something growing, you should use a biocide treatment but be aware of the consequences,” offered Sprague.

Fuel stabilizers do their work by scavenging and removing oxygen that may get into the fuel by several means including the ever-present motion and agitation as the boat moves through the water. “Even trace amount of oxygen present in the fuel can cause problems,” said Sprague.

To simplify the chemistry, the additive can help repair the hydrocarbon chain that was ‘damaged’ at the refinery and/or chemically remove most of the trace oxygen making it more stable and therefore, more efficient. They also work to emulsify, or blend, any water droplets present in the fuel oil thus helping to impede the growth of bacteria. Other positive results include breaking down of particulate matter that can be safety filtered out, and the shattering of larger contaminants that can be burned off during combustion.

However, there is a caveat emptor attached to using any fuel additive: Make sure you check with your engine manufacturer before adding any of these products to your tanks as they can void a warranty that is currently in effect. In addition, many OEM’s offer a recommended product line for use with their power plants and fuel systems. And as with any product such as additives, always follow the directions on the container or bottle as to the correct amounts that need to be added per gallon. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer.


Keeping your fuel clean and your vessel’s fuel system operating at peak proficiency will result in a more enjoyable and safer boating experience.

With today’s highly advanced engines, and because of the aggressive refinery processes that result in a more unstable end product, using a fuel treatment can help you get the best possible grade of gasoline or diesel fuel into your system and have you running more efficiently with the added result of a positive effect on the environment.

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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Maintenance


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Exhaustive Knowledge

An awareness of what is going on with your exhaust system can keep your engine running at peak performance and avoid costly repairs.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Years back, a friend of mine, short a mate for a late afternoon, early evening six-pack charter, asked me to work the deck for him. Fishing was good and on the way back to the barn, with just a few minutes to his dock, I noticed we were riding a bit low in the water and that the bilge pumps were now discharging fairly regularly. I told him about it and decided we would check things out as soon as we were shut down and our fishermen were on their way.

We discovered there was quite a bit of water below as well as having collected forward. I asked him to hit the starter button and as the engine turned over, I was shocked to see raw water pouring out from underneath the hose connecting to the riser. Instead of being discharged out the exhaust pipe, it was bucketing into the boat. When we took things apart, we discovered the riser itself was totally corroded from the inside with very little material left being held by the hose clamps. We had dodged a very big bullet and one that neither of us would ever forget.

Just like any other critical part of your boat’s engine, the exhaust system needs proper attention to ensure safe and smooth operation. Besides the chance of being exposed to noxious fumes, not doing so can lead to severe engine problems and yes, even sinking.


Checking out your boat’s exhaust system should be a part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen. Photo: DeAngelo Exhaust Systems

We usually take the exhaust system for granted and expect there is little if anything that can go wrong. First mistake. This is a very important maintenance component and while you should call in the experts if you suspect there is a problem brewing, there are some things you can look for to help you head off the sticker shock of a major engine overhaul.

By now, we all know that when an up stroking cylinder compresses atomized diesel fuel—or when a spark goes off in a gasoline engine—there is detonation. Once that occurs, the resultant gases given off need somewhere to go. And it is during the exhaust phase of your engine’s operation that this is accomplished. Not being able to efficiently do so will result in backpressure problems, the first of many that can occur.

“Most people don’t worry about it until something goes wrong; and when it does, it can be pretty bad,” says Jorge Lang, Operations Manager at Ft. Lauderdale’s DeAngelo Exhaust Systems. “Think of it as a human being; it has to inhale, through the air intakes, and exhale through the exhaust.”

Basically, backpressure is the inability for your engine to breathe properly and as easily as it should and results in poor performance, a cut in fuel economy, and decreased speed. In addition, there can be consequential damage to internal engine parts such as valves, stems, injectors, and critical gaskets. “If the exhaust is running straight out, you have no backpressure. But if it has to go through a ninety degree turn or through a muffler, or you’re going to throw water into that gas flow, your adding resistance.”


A corroded riser, left unchecked, can cause problems no one needs. Photo: BoatUS

Given the fact that diesel engine manufactures do not supply exhaust risers with their engines, this critical piece of equipment is therefore, an after market component where improper system design and sizing, that being the diameter of the exhaust pipe, can worsen the problem. “If the material used is also not of the proper grade, what you wind up with is a lethal combination of metal, exhaust fumes, and salt water that does not get along very well,” said Lang. “We’ve seen it all; some even thinking a Home Depot pipe job will suffice.”

Poorly designed exhausts can also allow water to flow back into the exhaust manifold, especially during large following sea conditions, and make its way into the engine. “There are a number of factors that determine how long a riser will last. Some of these include the quality of the welds, materials used, if the riser holds water when the engine is shut down, and how well it is supported.” Lang also suggests a regular inspection underneath your engine bed and stringers to look for rust spots, indicating a possible leak coming from somewhere.

Just as with your other important engine parameters, it’s best to have a base line for your exhaust system including correct operating temps for both cooling and exhaust systems, the right amount of visible exhaust flow should you not have an under water system, and of course, taking regular back pressure readings from your engine monitoring data. OEM’s have different predetermined backpressure limits based on critical internal features, so it’s best to check your engine manual or have the discussion with your engine manufacturer. Remember, the higher the backpressure, the more restricted the exhaust system will be. “Exceeding those limits will lead to problems,” said Lang.

Salt Deposit

A salt deposit on a muffler indicates a weeping spot where water is escaping. Photo: Centek Industries

But what if your running bottom and props are not fouled and your backpressure is within acceptable limits? “This happens a lot, especially with boats up north that are stored for the winter,” says Mechanical Engineer and Manager of Centek Industries’ Product Design & Engineering Bert Browning. “Something may have made its winter home in the exhaust pipe and either died or made a nest or some other kind of living space.” A careful check for obstructions before getting your boat back in the water should be part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen.

“While backpressure issues can result in higher exhaust temps you don’t necessarily need to have backpressure problems for this to result,” offered Browning. You can have some cooling water issues as a result of a faulty water raw pump or failed impellers. These should also be checked regularly. If that impeller is degraded or damaged, not only will the proper amount of cooling water be diminished but, should any of the vanes break loose, the rubber material can be pushed all the way through the cooling system and severely clog the water flow. Or, you may have picked up a plastic bag or some other debris through the intake hose. In this case, make sure you shut off—and open once done—the seacock before attempting to have a look. And always make sure, just as you check your oil and fluid levels before starting up, to have a look at your raw water strainer and clean the basket if any debris or fouling is present.

Another area to check is the condition of the blue and black hoses and the clamps, especially those connected to the riser and the mixing elbow. With high temperature ratings, blue hose, rated at 350F if preferable. Any telltale problems will show up as a discoloration on some portion of the hose, usually at the clamp site. And it’s a given that hoses should be double clamped. Other revealing signs, such as those with fiberglass, gelcoated, or even Awlgripped systems, will be a yellowish-brown discoloration and ‘flaky’ deterioration. “With fiberglass, over time, the resin will ‘cook out’ and start weeping resulting in salt deposits forming on the exterior surface of the exhaust pipe,” said Browning. “Losing the resin will cause the pipe to eventually soften and compress under the clamp force.”


A well-maintained exhaust system will result in better engine performance, improved fuel economy, and less impact on the environment. Photo: Ken Kreisler

Keeping tabs on your exhaust system is as important as any other aboard your boat. Check with your yard manager during yearly haul out time and have the risers inspected as part of your maintenance regimen. Besides the fact that exhaust fumes are noxious and can cause health problems, your engine will not be running as efficiently as it was designed to do and, allowed to continue operating under diminished conditions, will lead to costly repairs.

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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Maintenance


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Not having a maintenance plan can keep you at the dock instead of enjoying your boat.

The first of several posts by industry insider Cam Collins on his personal experiences out on the water.


Cam and Nancy Collins aboard Megabites. Photo: Cam Collins

It had finally arrived. Our 34-foot Intrepid, aptly named “Megabites,” would be shuttling my family and some friends from Stuart, Florida, to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, for a weeklong trip. All our gear and provisions were loaded. Among other things, I had brought aboard spare props, extra filters and a self-inflating life raft. I even topped her off with fuel the day before.

When I arrived at the marina first thing in the morning I pumped the fuel balls, switched on the batteries, turned the key and all I got was “click, click, click.” Yes, the dreaded CLICK CLICK CLICK! The engines would not turn over. With my wife, kids and friends staring at me, I scrambled around to try and figure what was wrong. Were the batteries going bad or did something drain them over night?

Start battery switches

The all-important battery switches: Always make sure they are in the proper position when shutting down or starting up. Photo: Cam Collins

Turns out that instead of switching my start batteries to the off position, I had mistakenly switched them to the house circuit. As luck would have it, a light was left on in the forward cabin and that little sucker drained my batteries completely. I had a spare battery on board but I needed two, so I replaced one with the spare and charged the other while everyone wondered if the guy who couldn’t even start his boat had what it took to carry everyone safely over 200 miles of ocean to our destination.

House switch

The co-conspirator for this experience was the house switch. But in reality, it was not making sure it was in the off position before leaving for the day. Photo: Cam Collins

The point is, small errors can wreak havoc on a boating experience. I had shut down the boat many times before, so I really didn’t feel I needed a formal checklist that afternoon prior to our trip. But not having a mental list impeded our big trip.

Preparation is critical when it comes to increasing the odds that our time spent on the water will be without hitches. However, amid our fast-paced, digitally distracted lives, we find we’re more often overlooking those simple checklists that could help us prepare for a great day on the water. We learn from our mistakes and I’ve made most of the mistakes that come from not having a solid maintenance plan in place and sticking to it.

I learned the hard way that staying atop of a boat’s care requires that you have a plan in place. Every boat on the water will have a slightly different maintenance regimen depending on the size of the boat, the equipment installed and how the boat is being used (e.g. cruising, fishing, wake boarding, etc.) This approach is effectively a list of things that are required to ensure that your boat is properly maintained and ready to go. Preventative maintenance is the goal as this greatly reduces the need for costly repairs.

There is a difference between regular maintenance that occurs after a period of time has elapsed or after certain systems have been used for a period of time, and random tasks that have to be completed. And as well, there are a number of ways to get reminders of when your boat and the equipment it contains need regular maintenance.

Here are few tips:

  • Create a maintenance plan for your major systems and equipment – Your maintenance plan will be roughly based upon the manufacturer recommended maintenance intervals on your equipment like engines, generators, HVACs, etc. These are typically recurring tasks that should be done after a certain period of time or use. Examples include a 100-hour service, an annual haul-out or a monthly inspection. The trick is to put a system in place that will automatically remind you and/or your service center or boat yard when these tasks become due.


    An annual haul out will keep your boat ‘healthy’ and should be part of your preventive maintenance regimen. Photo courtesy of BoatUS

  • Use check lists and reminders to maintain the basic components of your boat – Using checklists on a recurring basis or to perform a particular task can help insure that you perform things the right way in the right order. A checklist can be created for start-up and shutdown procedures, every time you store your boat and on a recurring basis as well. The following items should be included in your checklist:
    • Batteries (check ventilation, corrosion and leakage)
    • Bilge Pumps (check float switch and proper water flow)
    • Cooking Equipment and Refrigeration (spilled oils, gas leaks, ice build-up, etc)
    • Electrical Systems, Lights, Wiring and Zincs
    • Fire Extinguishers and Safety Equipment (check expiration dates)
    • Fuel and Oil System (check for leaks, odors and fumes)
    • Ground Tackle (e.g. anchors, chain, shackles, etc)
    • Inspect Sea Valves (should be exercised regularly) and Hoses
    • Count and Inspect Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and Life Jackets
    • Props, Shafts, Bearings, Rudder Fittings, Through Hulls, Strainers, Exhaust and Exposed Fasteners (check for corrosion and proper operation)
  • One-off tasks. These are the tasks we run across or think about during the day. Having a punch list or a to-do list of things that your boat needs is a common experience for boat owners. The trick is to ensure that these ideas or tasks effectively go from your brain to your list. If you think of something and don’t write it down, it will pop back into your mind and continue to nag you until it gets properly noted in task management system.

Battery maintenance is crucial to proper engine operation and includes regular charging cycles and keeping terminals clean. Photo: Cam Collins

Most boat owners know that the to-do list of things to fix, update, purchase or adjust on a boat never ends. That’s what we love about boating right? Well if you are a DIYer, you might get a kick out of working on the boat, varnishing the teak, polishing the handrails, etc. The rest of us hire or task these to-dos to others. But at the end of the day, your boat will “produce” a to-do list and so don’t ignore these items and let them fester unresolved, as it will mean more days “on the hard” and less days on the water.

We did make it the Bahamas in one piece and had an extremely memorable trip. But we also ran into some other problems while there that could have been avoided if I had followed a maintenance plan.

In the next post I will share the rest of the story and ways to use a smartphone and/or tablet to track all of the tasks that will help you spend more time on the water and less time at the boatyard.



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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Maintenance


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Frequently Asked Questions About Marine Exhaust Systems

The experts at Centek Industries offer some advice on this vital component.

At Centek headquarters in Thomasville, Georgia (USA), company experts frequently answer questions about the design, engineering and manufacturing of custom marine exhaust systems. Centek’s engineering staff has more than 80 years of marine wet exhaust system design and innovation experience. Centek is the only registered engineering firm to offer fiberglass exhaust components that are Lloyd’s Register Type approved and meet or exceed ABYC-P1 standards. Centek has also earned a Certificate of Conformance for ISO 9001:2008, for the excellence of its quality management system.

Salt Deposit

A salt deposit on a muffler indicates a “weeping” spot where water is escaping.

Here are three of the most frequently asked questions.

1. How do I make my boat quieter?
This one is right in our wheel house. There are several options available when it comes to sound attenuation for both propulsion and generator engines. Centek assigns a rating to their standard exhaust products with the range going from Good to Better to Best. Generally speaking, and compared to straight exhaust, the Good rated muffler provides 15-18 dB of attenuation, a Better rated muffler gives a 22-28 dB improvement and a Best provides an improvement of 25-30 dB. These are ball park estimates and should be used as a rule of thumb. Also available are custom systems which can provide even better results depending on your specific engine and space available. For generator exhaust, these same standard mufflers and ratings are used but at the same time there are other considerations to take into account. Is the noise you are hearing actually the engine running or is it the irritating splash you hear as the exhaust cooling water is discharged overboard? If the overboard discharge is the culprit, consider adding a Gen-Sep and separate the cooling water from the exhaust gasses. The exhaust gas is then discharged to the atmosphere and the cooling water is discharged below the water line thus elimination the splash you hear when the gen-set is running.

Centek Marine Exhaust

A Centek installation offers complete access to its exhaust systems.

2. I am doing a re-power – can I use the same exhaust?
This is usually one of the first questions asked when it comes to a re-power for both propulsion engines and for generator upgrades / changes. The short answer is maybe. To get the most from your new engine or gen-set, it is important to make sure that the exhaust system is properly sized. A properly sized exhaust system provides the best sound attenuation and stays within the backpressure limits set by the engine manufacturer. When Centek engineers recommend a specific size, they take into account a number of variables which include, but are not limited to, horsepower, raw water flow, exhaust flow and temperatures, the position of components relative to the waterline and the backpressure limits. If you have a question whether or not your current system will work, call and talk with a Centek engineer and let them help guide you through the process. Also, keep in mind that Centek can supply an almost endless variety of elbows and fittings for your new project.

3. I have a leaking muffler. How can I fix it?
Often customers call in with questions about mufflers or other exhaust components that have developed a leak. In addition to looking for dripping water on the muffler body or water in the area of the muffler, another sign to look for is salt deposits on the muffler. These salt deposits appear as a white chalky substance and indicate a “weeping” spot where water is escaping. Before any consideration of a repair or replacement, first determine why the leak occurred. Almost 100% of the time, this type of leak indicates that the muffler experienced overheating due to a loss of cooling water in the exhaust stream. If the cause of overheating is not corrected, any repair is going to be short lived. Centek uses high temperature resins in all our products; however, if cooling water is interrupted, exhaust temperatures can sky rocket quickly. When temperatures reach a certain point, the resin is essentially baked out of the resin/glass matrix causing water droplets to seep from the damaged area.

JB 64

Having your exhaust system operating at peak performance will result in safer and more enjoyable time while out on the water. Photo courtesy of Jarrett Bay Boatworks.

When a muffler or other exhaust component develops a leak, the best course of action is to replace the item. A good fiberglass shop can patch a leak on a temporary basis but replacement is critical. Keep in mind, when cooling water is lost and temperatures spike, damage can occur to the internals of the muffler or component which is often impossible see.

Have a question about marine exhaust systems? Ask the experts at Centek., fax your question to 1+229.228.1270, or call 1+800.950.7653 (toll free in the US) or 1+229.228.7653. For more information about Centek, visit

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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Maintenance


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The Wood Factor

Does your varnished wood trim or rails need some care? Here’s how to keep everything in Bristol fashion.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler


Under the right conditions, and with careful prep work, your varnish job can result in a professional look. Photo: Ken Kreisler

Back in the day, during high school summer vacations, I was a yard snipe at what was then the Schatz Brothers marina in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, New York, and came under the tutelage of a crusty old salt that, as I would quickly find out, knew everything about anything that had to do with boats.

On one particular early morning, while he prepped a section of teak rail, I caught the job of taping the water line.

“Commere kid, I wanna show you somethin’,” he said as we walked over to his well-traveled van, reached in, took hold of a wood box, set it down on the floor, opened the latches, and showed me a set of brushes.

“Paint brushes?” I asked.

“Nah, ya knucklehead. These are badger brushes, and they’re for varnishing.”

Badger 1

While there are many who use other types of brushes for varnish work, badger hair brushes are favored by expert finishers. Photo:

That was my first lesson in what some call the black art of wood finishing; filled with mystery, concern, and at times fear in getting it just right with a deep and beautiful finish.

To begin with, and no matter whom you ask, it truly is 90% preparation and 10% application, with both parts equally important in order to achieve the desired results. And as there are many surface conditions to deal with, such as starting with bare wood, deep gouges, checking and splitting, as well as rot and stains, that require a whole different approach—perhaps in a later installment—here we are going to deal with good, clean wood that, due to age or sun exposure, is in need of a proper maintenance coat or two to bring back the shine.


Careful and meticulous taping is essential for a great look to your finished varnish work. Photo: Ken Kreisler

Before you even deal with product or brush selection, or getting out the several grades of sandpaper and the ubiquitous blue or green painters tape, it’s important to pick the right day and time for the job. A humid, windy day is not preferred as the moisture in the air will cause your finish to dull as well as carry dust and bugs onto your still-wet surface. Cool, dry weather with filtered sunlight is preferred.

It’s now time to tape off the area. Depending on the scope of the job, length of rails or location of trim, this can be a time consuming and somewhat laborious affair that can test your back strength and patience. Go slowly and make sure your line is straight and true. I still remember the administrative cuffs to the back of my head from my tutor when I strayed off course with my taping. Trust me, as with a perfect water line, there is nothing more nautically professional looking than a razor edged varnished trim against your boat’s painted surface.

In preparation for sanding, you’re most likely going to start with 220 and work your way up as subsequent coats are applied. Given the surface already has several coats on it already, there is no need to get aggressive with sanding. You can use a sanding block or fold the paper up so you can switch to a fresh piece as you go along. Remember, there is no need to take off the entire coat; the sanding here is merely to provide a surface that will be able to accept the new coat. Once you have the entire area, or the section you are working on, scuffed up enough, tack the surface off. As you can get a tack cloth at any paint supply location, make sure it a quality one. Just like anything else for this kind of project, the better materials used results in a better finish.


Even with minimum trim, the varnished highlights makes the boat’s lines stand out.                      Photo: Ken Kreisler

Once your area is sanded and tacked, it’s time to apply the first coat. Should you be so fortunate to have a set of badger-hair brushes, you are far ahead of the game. If not, use a new, clean brush. Again, quality counts. I’ve had good results with foam brushes especially on the build up to the final two or three finish coats when I will bring out my own badgers.

Do not shake your can of varnish as this will only cause bubbles. Slowly pour your product of choice into a clean and separate container and place the lid securely back on the can, this to prevent any dust, bugs, or any other material from getting into your varnish. And should some flying pests land on your still wet rail or trim, do not attempt to remove. What’s done is done. Wait for the next sanding and the interloper will easily disappear.

During application, avoid drowning the entire brush into the container. Instead, dip a bit under half way and brush one way with the grain by ‘drawing’ the varnish on. Do not load up the brush; too much varnish will find its way up into the ferrule and stay there. Not good. And if you have to ‘fight’ the application, the varnish may need to be thinned out some. Carefully follow the manufacturers instructions and gently stir in the thinner with a clean wooden stick.


Once your wood is properly sanded and wiped free of any dust, dirt, or insects, it’s time to apply the first coat. Photo: diynetwork

When the brush is lightened up—not too much varnish left—use a featherlike touch to finish off. Continue the application until your entire section is done. Allow this coat to dry fully and then repeat, this time with 280-grit and with the next one or two coats, using 320. For the finish coat, use 400-grit.

My advice is to carefully follow product instructions as directed and do not cut out any of the preparation work. Doing so will allow you to achieve the right outcome.

If you have any questions, contact your product manufacturer before beginning as this will hopefully prevent any mistakes in the process. Or, better yet, track down an old salt in the area and, treading lightly, ask them their secrets to a beautiful varnish job.


While you may not own a beauty like this Lyman Morse built boat, should you have cause to varnish your wood trim, a well-done job will make a big difference. Photo: Lyman Morse

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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Maintenance


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A Cleaner Machine

SeaClean offers a solution to transom and hull soot stains from your diesel generator’s exhaust.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Ever since the first internal combustion engine was fired up, making both our work and pleasure time increasingly easier, we’ve had to deal with the compounding negative results of what comes out of the exhaust pipe. Advances in design and technology are protecting the environment while improving performance, but the tradeoff is still not very pretty. Noxious fumes, including dangerous carbon monoxide, the now-familiar greenhouse gases along with a host of other sundry materials, and the scourge of many a transom and hull, the staining particulate matter, primarily soot, are still ever-present even in today’s high-tech and compliant diesel power plants and generators.

“Diesel particulate matter has been shown to be a health risk,” said Jorge Lang, Operations Manager for Ft. Lauderdale-based DeAngelo Marine Exhaust, a respected company whose expertise in the field is well-known, as we discussed the problem. “In addition, many of these particles will embed themselves in the microscopic pores that are present even in the highest quality hull finish.”

Constant hull cleaning due to particulate soot staining the area by the generator exhaust can be controlled by SeaClean.

Constant hull cleaning due to particulate soot staining the area by the generator exhaust can be controlled by SeaClean.

As we all know, the latter notion Lang is alluding to is the damage that can result from attempts, with a seemingly endless range of cleaning aids, to remove the unsightly stains, known around the dock as ‘soot islands’, coming from the generator exhaust.

The solution seemed to lie in being able to stop the soot at the source. “We were called in to fix some filter problems with a generator’s catalytic converter by Richard Boggs, the former Technical Superintendent with Camper & Nicholsons as well as being the inventor of the SeaClean System,” said Lang.

As Lang described it, a catalytic converter works best with higher exhaust temperatures and as long as it stays that way, the system will function properly and more efficiently. “After that, we came up with the idea of using the generator’s excess electrical capacity to heat up the exhaust gases.”

Taking this information, Lang and Boggs were able to successfully modify a number of generator’s on several yachts resulting in a positive outcome. Knowing they were onto something, Boggs and DeAngelo partnered up and came up with a collective system.

The SeaClean unit can be easily retrofitted in most engine rooms.

The SeaClean unit can be easily retrofitted in most engine rooms.

According to Lang, the SeaClean Diesel Particulate Filter System is able to capture 95 percent or better of the soot and other materials in the generator’s exhaust flow that would otherwise be discharged into the atmosphere, the water, and on to the hull. It does this by first heating the exhaust gas before it enters the filter housing and then traps the particles, unburned fuel, and lube oil in the filter medium, reducing them to carbon dioxide and water vapor. In addition, much of the all too familiar odor associated with diesel exhaust is also eliminated. For maintenance, the filter element can be removed on a periodic cleaning schedule.

“Unlike other particulate filters which depend on high generator loads to create exhaust temperatures, exhaust is delivered to the filter at the correct temperature and thereby eliminates soot and the hydrocarbons associated with diesel smells and oil slicks,” explained Lang. This ability to have the trapped soot and unburned hydrocarbons delivered to the filter element is known as regeneration.

To insure the highest level of particulate removal and longest possible filter life between cleanings, SeaClean incorporates an electrically powered exhaust gas heater, which adjusts power consumption in relation to the load on the generator and its exhaust gas temperature. This means that when the generator is operating at a low load (and at its dirtiest) the heater maintains the correct exhaust temperature into the filter to achieve constant regeneration.

As generator load increases and exhaust temperature rises, the power delivered to the heater is smoothly reduced until the point where exhaust temperature is sufficient to maintain regeneration. The heater then consumes no power and the system does not draw on the yacht’s power distribution system. Full generator power is available to carry the load. At low output energy operations, the heater will function as an exhaust cooled load bank to provide a healthy electrical base load as well as keep the filter operating correctly.

The SeaClean System also incorporates a data logger and display for set pointsB13-0642-REV-B.774-Copy-300x225 and exhaust temperatures, back pressure indicator and, for immediate operational oversight, historical reference of the system’s performance. An alarm for high back pressure can be interfaced with any alarm and monitoring system.

“Right now, we’re working on boats 160-feet and above and have gotten great results,” said Lang. “But we are just waiting for the right opportunity to someone to ask us to have a go at their 70-footer. And after that, well we’re looking at developing a system for main engines as well. It’s all within reach.”

If you’re tired of having a dirty hull because of soot stains from your diesel generator, give Lang a call. He just may have the right kind of solution for your particular situation.

DeAngelo Marine Exhaust, 3330 S.W. 2nd Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33315.
954-763-3005 ext. 320. 954-467-8133 (fax).

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Posted by on November 15, 2014 in Maintenance


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A simple device can help prevent those unwanted moments when the possibility of damage is present during docking maneuvers.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Here at the Boat & Yacht Report, we are always on the lookout for products that can enhance our boating experiences. I came across this one from Davis Instruments and thought it might be of interest to some of you who want an extra edge on protecting your boat’s hull and rails while leaving and getting into the dock.

There are various rope, strap and clip fender attachment products on the market, but none provide the stretch needed when a fender gets caught between the dock and boat while the boat is still moving forward. The Shockles FenderFriend from Davis Instruments is the first and only fender whip with a built-in shock absorber to receive the impact generated by fenders rubbing against the hull, dock or piling.

dav21842-x3hThe stretch protects both the boat and fender from damage. Keeping stanchions, rails and cleats from bending under pull, FenderFriend helps keep fenders in place while docking, or during surges and wakes when the boat is unattended

With no knots to tie, FenderFriend is incredibly easy to use. The quick-release NEXUS® NYLON buckle makes deploying and stowing fenders quick and easy. FenderFriend can be clipped to anything, including cleats, lifelines, stanchions and handrails.

It can be set to length for a standard docking situation and anyone can easily deploy the fenders. The adjustable buckle allows FenderFriend to be set to the correct length. Owners simply tighten or loosen the strap to adjust the fender height.

FenderFriend is available in two styles. Both the Twin-Eye and Center-Tube versions allow the strap length to be adjusted from 16-72″. Its tubular nylon webbing protects the elastomer from UV rays and abrasion. FenderFriend provides 12″ of shock-absorbing stretch.

Contact Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo Ave., Hayward, CA  94545. 510-732-9229;
Fax: 510-732-9188.

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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Maintenance


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No Fueling Around

Proper fuel storage, whether on board or on the hard, will help keep your boat running smoothly.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

There are very few on the planet that disagree with the scenario that oil is the result of decaying matter of once living organisms compacted over untold tens of millions of years. As layer upon layer of sediment settled one on top of the other, the increasing pressure and the ensuing rising temperatures produced a chemical change whereby the remains—way too complex to discuss here—were transformed into the raw material that would eventually lead to petroleum. And while it took some time to figure out just how to properly store and distribute this energy source–surely a work still in progress–we still have to contend with our need to often have it at the ready and in places that may not be on the beaten path.

For our discussion then, let’s center things on our boats. I would venture to say that most of us, traveling from point A to point B, perhaps over to point C before returning to A, if not re-routing to D, E, and F, are usually savvy enough to chart our necessary fuel ups with plenty of reserve built in just in case.

If you enjoy covering long distances, and may not have the proper tankage, or do not trust the quality of the fuel in a certain port of call, you might consider carrying bladder tanks to store your extra fuel.

“Not all fuel bladders are created equal,” said David Dack, VP of sales for Aero Tec Laboratories (ATL), a company specializing in flexible containment technology, as we discussed several tips for those wishing to use these devices. “First off, always look for the best quality possible. Money should be no object with this equipment. The one thing you do not want to deal with when carrying volatile diesel fuel or gasoline is an inferior product.”

ATL manufactures custom bladder fuel tanks to fit your own needs and boat's configuration.

ATL manufactures custom bladder fuel tanks to fit your own needs and boat’s configuration.

Dack’s company manufacturers bladders constructed from rugged military spec rubberized fabric equipped with such built-in safety features as pressure relief and anti-backflow valves. “The former prevents any pressure build up as the fuel expands, for example, with the bladder sitting in the sun in the cockpit. The latter prevents any back spill while taking on fuel,” he said.

Options such as this stand pipe and safety cap with pressure relief valve & anti back-flow valve are available.

Options such as this stand pipe and safety cap with pressure relief valve & anti back-flow valve are available.

Ease of use is a primary concern as well. Make sure you position the tank(s) so the weight is evenly distributed as not to throw your boat off. “The bladder must be firmly fastened to the deck with a tie-down kit that is secured over the stand pipe and then ratcheted down. We suggest using a cargo net as an added security measure in case of rough seas,” Dack indicated. “Bladders are most stable when full and can be easily rolled up or folded and tucked away within a vented compartment.”

With ATL equipment, a ½” brass ball valve assembly with a composite hose barb fitting is standard with an optional 1” ball valve for those who are looking for faster fuel transfer. Reinforced hose is then slipped over the barbed fitting on the outlet while the other end is run into the vessel’s main tank. A siphon or gravity feed is then initiated to start the flow of fuel from the bladder to the main tank. Alternatively, an explosion proof pump may be used to transfer the contents of the bladder to the boat’s main tank.

“We also offer our space-saving FueLocker™ design not only for those whose deck space is limited but to maximize those areas where traditional pillow type of tanks can take up lots more real estate,” Dack commented.

If you are a seasonal boater, you will want to pay special attention to having to deal with the fuel in your

A 1" outlet with 1" ball valve - hose barb included for quicker fuel transfer compared  to 1/2", is also available.

A 1″ outlet with 1″ ball valve – hose barb included for quicker fuel transfer compared to 1/2″, is recommended.

tanks when getting ready for winter lay up. “For inboard gasoline or diesel boats, and with all the issues concerning ethanol, we top off the tanks, this to minimize the chance of any water condensation from happening and stimulating biological growth and corrosion, and add a fuel stabilizer,” said Dan Cordano. Service Manager for the Suntex Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, NJ. For outboards with small portable fuel tanks, Cordano suggests running the engine until it stalls out before putting it away. And with those portable tanks, make sure you use the familiar red plastic for gasoline and yellow for diesel, this to avoid any confusion.

403-32ozOn the subject of fuel stabilizers, Janis Grundman, National Sales Manager for Technol, a company specializing in these products, also had some thoughts. “Besides the inherent nature of fuel degrading over time, boats have a vented system and the possibility of introducing water, whether during seasonal storage or not, is always a problem. You want to do whatever you can to avoid that situation,” she said. “Make sure of your fuel source, keep your tanks topped off whenever possible, and use a stabilizer during those lay up times as well as an additive during regular operating times will help to prevent any engine problems. And always follow the manufacturers recommendations for amount to use per gallon.”

Until we figure out a better way to power our boats, perhaps with solar, wind, electric, or another energy source or combination thereof, this is what we have to work with. Taking the proper precautions and getting the best out of our fuel systems, and the proper way to store it while traveling, will help keep your boat running smoothly and safely.

For more information, contact, (800) 526-5330;, (800) 645-4033.


Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Maintenance


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The Devil Is In The Details

Knowing what kind of corrosion can be present aboard will help save your boat from disaster.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Great floods have flown from simple sources.” So said William Shakespeare and is a fitting opening for our conversation on the potential negative effects of corrosion aboard your boat and the possibility of big troubles because of it. How big? Great floods indeed.

Let’s jump right into this by getting a few facts straight. Steering clear of any chemistry

This kind of damage, and much more, can occur when your underwater metal is not protected.

lesson, electrolysis involves only one metal and a major change occurring in an electrolyte with chemical properties that make it capable of conducting an electric current. A good example would be when a lead-acid battery discharges and produces a significant alteration in the concentration of the battery acid.

So when, years ago, one of my dock mates called me on the VHF asking for a tow, he was wrong when he stated, “Electrolysis caused that blade on my prop to weaken and finally break off.” No shipmates, his problem was most likely brought about by galvanic corrosion or, in part and sometimes in collusion with, its equally evil relative, stray current.

With galvanic corrosion the deterioration occurs between the dissimilar metals as they react while immersed in salt water. This is caused by the current—the movement of an electric charge—that flows between the two, each acting as anode or cathode, depending on its place on the galvanic chart of metals in sea water, and as a result of either being physically or electrically connected.

The easy-to-read galvanic chart.

The easy-to-read galvanic chart.

The long and short of it here is not so much with the why of the process but more of preventing the result. For example, my buddy’s bronze propeller blade gave up more of itself, corroded as it were, then let’s say the stainless steel shaft it was attached to because it is a less noble, or more reactive metal than that of the shaft’s material.

While the effects of galvanic corrosion will more than likely occur over a protracted period of time, the serious effects of stray current can be seen in as little as several days. Should you have, for example, some faulty wiring lying in the bilge or a damaged float switch sending current into the water, or the same condition existing on another vessel in your marina, and even with issues from the dockside shore power, regardless if you have a galvanic isolator in use, your boat is in serious danger. A shaft, rudders, props, outdrives, lower units, and bronze through hull fittings are all at risk.

If you even suspect this may be the case, and unless you are an ABYC certified marine electrician, the best advice is to take a big step back and get the experts in post-haste. (

The all too familiar bolt-on zinc anode is necessary for protection against galvanic corrosion.

The all too familiar bolt-on zinc anode is necessary for protection against galvanic corrosion.

Protection against galvanic corrosion is a bit simpler and yet comes with its own set of rules. “With fiberglass boats, Mil Spec A-18001K Zinc alloy sacrificial anodes are most suitable for the saltwater environment if the underwater metal you are trying to protect is bronze, stainless, and Nibral,” said Bob Olsen, President of “With brackish water, aluminum anodes (Mil Spec A-24779), which also provide saltwater protection as well, work best. “If you use your boat only in freshwater, magnesium anodes (Mil Spec A-21412) is what you will need.” If you run a stern drive or outboard boat, use aluminum protection. It’s best to check with your manufacturer for any special needs. In addition, with inboard engines, always make sure to check your pencil zincs twice a year.

The size of the anode is a function of how many square feet of metal is being protectedmil-spec and if you are re-zincing, make sure you confer with your yard or marina service manager. “And but for a few situations, you cannot over protect your boat,” Olson added so feel free to collar your shafts as well as long as your boat is properly bonded. Any questions on this, call in the right technician to have a look.

Making sure your boat’s metal fittings are properly protected against both galvanic and stray current corrosion is one of the most important preventive maintenance regimens aboard your boat and one you should always be aware of.

For more information, please contact

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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Maintenance


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