Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I try to keep it strictly boating related here on SS, but I couldn't resist taking a moment to wish all three of my readers a very happy Thanksgiving. I sincerely hope that you enjoy some down-time with your family, enjoying whatever old or new traditions you have in store this year.

November is the time to be thankful, a time to remember and to embrace those who enrich our lives. Thanksgiving was originally in celebration of the good crops and abundance of food, yet today we have more to be thankful for than our forefathers. Today we eat turkey and cranberry sauce and forget to say, a simple, ‘Thank you.’ I, for one can think of a number of reasons why I am - and should be - thankful. I am thankful for many people - my wife Janet, our son Dylan, who is growing into a fine young man any parent would be proud of. I am also very grateful to have gainful employment and the means to afford the wonderful hobby of sailing. I am very blessed and I know it.

In closing, I'd like to leave you with a few of my favorite Thanksgiving quotes:

 "Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." ~W.T. Purkiser

"For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.... Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?"
~Rebecca Harding Davis

"I have strong doubts that the first Thanksgiving even remotely resembled the "history" I was told in second grade. But considering that (when it comes to holidays) mainstream America's traditions tend to be over-eating, shopping, or getting drunk, I suppose it's a miracle that the concept of giving thanks even surfaces at all."
~Ellen Orleans

"May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs!"
~Grandpa Jones

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The 2014 Annapolis Sailboat Show

For all the years I've been a sailor, I've only attended a handful of boat shows in Annapolis. This year I decided to attend on Thursday (VIP Day) to hopefully avoid some of the crowds. As it turned out, Thursday was the best weather day of the entire weekend.
The view from the rooftop at Pusser's
As I had hoped, the crowds were more manageable and I had room to wander the docks at will without traffic jams. I'm not seriously in the market for a new boat, but it sure was fun to check out the state of the art in boat design these days. I did experience some things that made me shake my head, but by and large, the day was fantastic and the visit was extremely worthwhile.

Small Boat area
This show truly had something for every type of sailor. Along with the extensive collection of larger boats on display in the harbor, there were small boats on display in the land based areas. Annapolis goes all-out for this show, and not a square foot of space in the harbor area is wasted. There are tents where you can visit with all manner of vendors who sell sailing and boating related gear. I was on a mission to talk with many of the various marine electronics manufacturers about an electronics upgrade for September Song. They were most helpful and I came away with a game plan of sorts, along with a way to do it in stages to save me from the expense of doing it all at once.

I spent a considerable amount of time wandering the docks, looking at new boats I can't afford, and actually found that I couldn't see everything in one day. Unfortunately, my weekend plans and the foul weather forecast for the remainder of the show meant that I would not be able to return for a second day.

Speaking of new boats that I can't afford, check out Tempus Fugit. She is a 90 footer, built in 2013 out of wood. For sale because her owner is having a 120 footer built to replace her. Yours for a cool $5.5 million. Viewing was "by appointment only", unlike most other boats where they let the unwashed masses come aboard.
Tempus Fugit
I also spent a considerable amount of time on catamaran row, checking out the new cruising catamarans. One thing I noticed - there are very few new catamarans under 40 feet these days. Yacht builders are you listening? There is a market for cruising catamarans under 40 feet and not many new models out there. Gemini and Lagoon seem to be the only ones. PDQ quit making the smaller cats when they switched over to Antares. I did learn that Gemini has recently signed a contract with Catalina Yachts to build their catamarans in the future. Good news, because Catalina has a great reputation when it comes to supporting their customers.

I also noted some innovative design features. Leave it to the french to put a wine locker in the bilge...

In a nutshell, if you're a sailor, even if you're not on the market for a new vessel, the concentration of hardware, apparel, electronics vendors, and yacht sales people all in one place make the Annapolis Sailboat Show the "place to be" in early October!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Space Heater ≠ Winterized

The saddest thing I have ever seen...

The fire in this video caused 23 MILLION DOLLARS in damage to the boats and the marina, and resulted in an environmental disaster due to all of the fuel tanks that leaked diesel and gasoline into the water.
This week's entry brings you winterizing tips. As in "how NOT to winterize your boat." While I wish I could sail away to the Caribbean (like Mike and Rebecca), I am still stuck in the land of the J.O.B. for now, so I need to store my boat every winter for the time being.

The other night, there was a boat fire in Baltimore in which two boats burned. One caught fire, burned through its dock lines, drifted across the harbor, and caught another vessel on fire, where they both burned and sank. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Photo credit: United States Coast Guard
Since the cause of the fire is still under investigation, one can only speculate on how it started. But the news of the fire got me thinking about cold weather, boats, and heaters. That particular night was one of the first nights in Baltimore this year where the temperatures were forecast to get down near freezing. Some boat owners think that they can avoid or delay winterizing their vessel by putting an electric space heater on board to keep the cabin above freezing. Some even skip the space heater and just leave a 100 watt light bulb lit near the engine all winter. They feel that this eliminates the need to properly winterize the boat: draining water tanks and putting anti-freeze solution in the water lines.

There are several problems with taking this short cut for winterizing your boat:
Fire caused by spark: Most people think that the electric "radiator" type space heaters are safe on a boat because they don't have red-hot coils exposed. The problem is that many of these devices make sparks internally when their thermostat goes on and off. If your boat runs on gasoline, all electrical devices that are installed on board must meet United States Coast Guard regulation 33 CFR 183.410 for spark resistance. Devices that meet this standard are certified not to make sparks during normal operation that could ignite any gasoline vapors that may be present. Space heaters made for home use were not designed to meet these standards. A UL listed device that is deemed safe to use in your home may not be safe in a marine environment. There aren't usually flammable vapors present in your home environment, but if your vessel has gasoline tanks, there is always a chance of gasoline vapors collecting inside, especially when your boat is sealed up for the winter without regular ventilation.

Fire caused by poorly maintained or improperly connected electrical wiring:  Many boats have limited shore power service. If there is any problem at all with your shore power receptacle or boat wiring, running a 1000 watt space heater for hours on end will certainly find it. Boats have been known to burn to the waterline just because the shore power receptacle was poorly maintained or improperly connected. Leaving a high power device running unattended in an enclosed space just doesn't seem wise to me. See the following article on why shore power receptacles burn up. Fellow blogger and marine electrician Maine Sail has written an excellent article that is a topic all in itself. If you overload a poorly connected receptacle it could overheat without tripping the breaker, resulting in a fire. Make sure you TWIST LOCK the connector or it will result in a poor connection and overheat!

Fire caused by contact with a flammable object: If you think that all this can be avoided by just leaving a 100 watt light bulb lit all winter, this one's for you. That light bulb will get very hot. If it's not properly secured, it could come into contact with something flammable, and before you know it, your baby will be a pile of melted fiberglass.
Seacock with freeze damage

Freeze damage caused by a power outage: As if all of the above fire hazards are not scary enough, what happens if there is a power outage during sub-freezing temperatures?  By the time you realize there is a problem, your engine and water lines will be frozen and split.

When I first started boating, I didn't realize the difference between power available at home and the very limited power available on a boat. On a boat with a single 30 amp shore power cord, you will not be able to use more than about 24 amps. When you think about all the things that people want to run on board these days, that starts adding up fast. At home, nobody thinks twice about plugging in another cell phone, vacuum cleaner, coffee maker, etc. But on a boat with limited power available, you can quickly overload your electrical system without even realizing it. Space heaters (or anything else that generate heat with electricity) are some of the biggest power hogs - and most likely to overload circuits.

Many marinas have strict policies when it comes to boats in winter storage and do not allow any type of unattended shore power or extension cord connections to boats that are stored in the yard.

Bottom line - taking shortcuts when it comes to your boat can cost you dearly. And as bad as you think you would feel if your boat burned, would you be able to live with yourself if your boat fire also destroyed a neighboring boat because they happened to be unlucky enough to be next to you?