Marine Systems

Updating My Digital Chart Table

Updating My Digital Chart Table

As part of my midseason checkup, I reviewed the electronic devices and apps I use. Seems a bunch has happened that I had not really taken into account. Some navigation apps work better than others, and some no longer work at all. Companies consolidate and merge products and technologies in this shifting landscape, much like it did when paper charts were replaced with various formats and digital standards.

Monday Minute - The End of Ethanol?

Monday Minute - The End of Ethanol?

The hated ethanol-blended gasoline has been a pain in the butt for years, rendering an outboard motor inoperable on a regular basis. Having a dinghy that won’t start is not fun, and we’ve all had to live with it. But now it seems ethanol may be going away...finally.

How to Avoid Windlass Woes

How to Avoid Windlass Woes

Often ignored until there is a problem, maintaining your boat’s anchor windlass system is the key to keeping your anchoring abilities safe and carefree, as it should be.

A New Take on Single vs Twin Engines

A New Take on Single vs Twin Engines

The question of single engine versus twin engines has been beaten to death many times over, in my opinion. It really doesn’t matter which you choose, as a single engine with a bow thruster can perform as well as a boat with twin engines. But given how the marketplace has evolved, many buyers are looking at older trawlers, and the age factor somewhat changes the discussion.

Monday Minute - How Good is Your Bilge Pump?

Monday Minute - How Good is Your Bilge Pump?

Make sure your bilge pump requirements are checked off before you head over the horizon. There has been reports over the last couple of years where boats have been abandoned rather than saved for precisely this reason.

Monday Minute - My Chain Hook

Monday Minute - My Chain Hook

Here is my version of a traditional chain hook with locking gate, custom made of 3/8-inch stainless steel plate. It is super strong and will never separate from the anchor chain, so I can sleep soundly, knowing the snubber/bridle will do its job even if we are in shallow water.

The Engines Go Into the Spencer 74

The Engines Go Into the Spencer 74

Installing these MTU engines is not your everyday boat yard scene, so everyone came to watch it happen. Rent a crane, hire some professionals to oversee the operation, and we're done by lunchtime. Of course, hooking it all together takes weeks.

Monday Minute - Mustang Gets Her Engine Fixed

Monday Minute - Mustang Gets Her Engine Fixed

I came along on a sea trial aboard Mustang, whose Cummins diesel got some new parts. Nice to be aboard her again, one of the most impressive sailboats I have been aboard.

Monday Minute - A Fuel Filter Vacuum Gauge at Your Helm

Monday Minute - A Fuel Filter Vacuum Gauge at Your Helm

Adding a second, remote fuel filter vacuum gauge at your helm is another tool worth considering as you plan for extended cruising. It takes some of the guesswork out of running your boat, and you will feel more confident that things are well in your engine room.

Get With the Program and Conduct a Proper Radio Check

Get With the Program and Conduct a Proper Radio Check

Do you know about Sea Tow's Automated Radio Check service? It should be part of your normal operations routine, and used often to ensure your radios and antennas are working as well as you hope they are.
Far better than the traditional radio check of throwing out a call and hoping someone will respond. And let's leave "10-4, Good Buddy" ashore, please.

Monday Minute - Thoughts on Sizing Engines and Generators

Monday Minute - Thoughts on Sizing Engines and Generators

Conversation with industry specialists often drifts into other related topics. In this case, we talked about how best to size a propulsion engine for a new boat, and then selecting the right size generator for the boat's electrical demands.

Fuel Filtration Viewed From Within The Industry

Fuel Filtration Viewed From Within The Industry

Reviewing some notes from my travels, and finding the comments are as relevant today as they were a few years ago. It is refreshing when engine guys speak the truth even if it goes slightly against the company party line.

Monday Minute - Why a Single is Best Offshore

Monday Minute - Why a Single is Best Offshore

A letter from an experienced trawler owner with more sea time than most of us will ever see. His comments go beyond the typical boating magazine cocktail discussion of single versus twin engines.

He is the real deal. 

Monday Minute - Extending Anchor Chain

Monday Minute - Extending Anchor Chain

If you need to connect two lengths of anchor chain, there are numerous ways to do so. Here is one product I found that seems to be the best of available choices.

Taking Care of your Mechanical Steering

Taking Care of your Mechanical Steering

Some useful information to keep your mechanical steering working properly.

Taking Care of Your Hydraulic Steering

Taking Care of Your Hydraulic Steering

Maintaining your hydraulic steering system is not difficult, and a thorough inspection should be an annual affair to keep it operating properly.

Surveying An Engine Room

Surveying An Engine Room

The value of an engine survey can't be overstressed when looking for your ideal cruising boat. A separate effort from a general boat survey, an experienced mechanic's skill at judging the overall health of a boat's engine(s) and generator gives you the ability to decide if the boat is right for you, or if you should keep looking. More so than any other element of a cruising motorboat or trawler, the engine room is the most important space on the boat. 

Create a Speed/Fuel Burn Curve for Your Boat

Create a Speed/Fuel Burn Curve for Your Boat

Rather than guess what speed you should run your boat, it is important to develop real-world numbers of the speed and burn consumption your boat reaches at various engine speeds in open water. Depending on how your boat is equipped and loaded, and the propeller(s) you have, it is a straightforward process to develop a speed/fuel burn performance curve that will identify the sweet spot for running your boat at cruising speed.

Along the way of determining this ideal speed envelope, you will also get an sixth sense of when the hull and engine is in harmony as she glides through the water with maximum efficiency and reasonable fuel burn. This is a satisfying project every boat owner should create for his or her boat.

Monday Minute - How Hard to Run Your Diesel

Monday Minute - How Hard to Run Your Diesel

Knowing how to properly run your propulsion engine is the key to long term health care in your engine room. I share great advice from Alaska Diesel that relates to all pre-ECM diesel engines, both power and sail.