This section is dedicated to boating with Monthly Boating and Equipment Tips plus Books, Equipment, Tools and Supplies recommendations. Please feel free to send us your tips and recommendations.
Tip of the month
Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with laser targeting or pyrometer thermo gun.
This multi-functional tool can be used for checking the engine, electrical, HVAC, moving components for friction/malfunctions and even the temperature of your coffee. Insure that the thermo gun selected has a wide enough temperature range (-76 to 932 °F or -60 to 500 °C), especially for diesel engine, a quick response time (1 second or less), a distance to spot ratio of at least 10:1 if not 12:1 or great plus an auto shut off. Most units have a Max, Min, and Hold options and the more expensive units have Average and Differential Readings. Optional light or backlit LCD display is also handy to have. Many users recommend a dual lasers help pinpoint the edges of the measurement area. Experts recommend being "careful on distance” to the target does not affect the accuracy of the thermo gun.
Engine diagnostics - for example, our Universal 32hp, the raw water and engine side of heat exchanger should have 30-40% differential and the mixing elbow should be under 250 degrees to insure it’s not too hot for the hose).
Mechanical test - like the stuffing box is hot,
Electrical test - shot the the electrical panels to find loose (hot) connectors or check for components that are hot from low voltage/voltage drop or are malfunctioning.
HVAC test - for those with air conditioners
Tool of the month
Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with laser targeting and an upper
Best Buy (quality/price): the Kintrex IRT0421 (about $45).
For more recommendations, see the Electrical Tool and Supplies page.
Previous Tips and Tools of the Month:
Tip of the month (#2)
Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) - what you don’t know can kill you.
If you had not heard of ESD, you are not alone. Most freshwater drownings were considered just that, an tragic drowning. It hasn’t been until recent years that more research and communication has been made to distinguish between a drowning and an Electric Shock Drowning (ESD). In fresh water, it only takes 100mA (1/4 amp) to kill a person within 100 yards of a ground fault leak from a boat, dock or marina. Last year 7 deaths attributed to ESD including 4 children (ages 8 t o13). With communication and testing, this is a preventable accident and you can help:
1) Start by reviewing a few of article and resources listed below on ESD that include tips prevention and instructions on testing for ground fault leaks.
2) Help get the word out about ESD by talking to other boaters, freshwater dock owners (with shore power), marina owners and especially anyone about to go swimming within 100 yards of a dock, marina or boat with shore power. Ask freshwater dock owners and marina operators to prohibit swimming at their facility and post ESD warning signs.
For more information on ESD, see the following articles and resources:
- BoatUS's Electric Shock Drowning Resource Center web page
- Kevin Ritz article, "A Preventable Dockside Tragedy"
- Beth Leonard's article, electric-shock-drowning-explained.asp
- Ed Sherman and Chris Dolan's in depth PDF, Marina Dock Safety and Electric Shock Drowning
- Mike Telleria's article on ABYC's site, Does Death Lurk Below
Tool of the month mostly for freshwater boaters (#2)
AC Leakage Current/Amp Clamp-on Meter and basic GFCI circuit tester. These two testing tools can help determine if your boat or marina is leaking enough current to cause Electric Shock Drowning (ESD).
Best Buy (quality/price): the Mastech MS2010B (32-800) AC Leakage Current Clamp Meter (about $179)
. Best Quality: if you are a marina, consider purchasing an Ideal 61-164.
For more recommendations, see the Electrical Tool and Supplies page
Tip of the Month (#1)
Create a List of electrical items that should be tested Annually. For Example:
- Test the amperage between your alternators and the house and/or starter batteries to insure the alternator(s) are still outputting the expect amps. A clamp-on amp meter makes this an easier task.
- Check for and clean any corrosion on your electrical connectors. Corrosion can impede voltage which can lead to electrical faults, failures or damaged equipment (i.e. windlass, pumps, motors and electronics).
- If the house or starter batteries are older, load test the batteries annually or before re-installing them after winter storage to insure the batteries are still good.
Tool of the Month (#1)
Clamp-on Amp Meters. This tool makes testing alternators and other high voltage equipment a synch.
For more recommendations, see the Electrical Tool and Supplies page.
Top Marine Electrical Books To Keep Onboard
If you were to keep only few marine electrical books on your boat, we’d recommend:
- Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, latest edition (ISBN 007009618X) by Nigel Calder
- Boatowner’s Illustrated Electrical Handbook, second edition (ISBN: 0071446443) by Charlie Wing
- Powerboater's Guide to Electrical Systems: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Improvements by Edwin R. Sherman
- Boater’s Pocket Reference, latest edition (ISBN: 0977405206) by Thomas McEwen
For more information see the Boating Books Recommendations.
Top General Marine Books To Keep Onboard
If you were to keep only few marine books onboard, we’d recommend:
- Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair by Nigel Calder
- Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook: A Compendium for Coastal and Offshore Sailors by Nigel Calder
- The Voyager's Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising by Beth Leanard
- This Old Boat by Don Casey
- The Complete Rigger's Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging by Brion Toss
For more information see the Boating Book Recommendations.
Don’t Leave Port Without it:
There are two items that I personally like to champion:
1) DAN (Diver Alert Network) membership, for cruisers and international travelers. You don’t have to be a diver to join. Individual ($35/yr) or Family membership ($55) includes Travel and Legal assistance plus:
- DAN Emergency Hotline: +1-919-684-9111 - 24 hours emergency advice in any language.
- Travel Assist - Emergency Medical Evacuation for the injured and a companion from anywhere in the world.
2) Water Alarms in each bilge (independent or part of an alarm system). We keep First Alert Water Alarms (WA100) in each bilge plus next to every seacock in the boat. If the valve is leaking, even a little, we want to catch it right away and not when the engine has died or floor boards are floating. We selected First Alert over other water alarms because the First Alert Water Alarms are shock (up to 3ft drop on concrete), Splash and water resistant. In the last year, the water alarms have paid their way twice. The first time, the exhaust pipe cracked, pouring the exhaust water into the bilge instead of out the thru-hull. The water alarms sounded in minutes giving us plenty of time to shut down the engine and close the raw water intake valve so that we could make repairs. And more recently, the forward alarm sounded when the holding tank started to leak just a little at a bad weld (much nicer to catch it when it’s just a few ounces than after a complete failure).
Note: most of the tools and supplies below have links to Amazon.com. This gives you an opportunity to gain further information about the tool, read reviews and optionally purchase the item and in turn gives us a small percentage of earnings for our Development and Cruising Kitty, which we thank you for in advance.
A School for Special Students
making a difference one by one
If you are heading to the Abacos, please check their web sites for "Wish List” items this school needs (e.g. office, school, workshop, sewing, arts & crafts supplies). For more information, also see Christine Kling’s article. Thank you for caring.