One of the first questions we get when someone comes up to a boat is whether she has diesel or gas. Now it’s a good idea to know how you plan to use the boat before you buy so this is an important question. If you are going to use the boat as a waterfront condo and only take it out occasionally, then a gas engine is best. If you are going to take the boat to the stream as many weekends as possible, than a diesel is best. To help you know what a boat has if there is no one around to ask, we give you this tip: Diesel’s gota breathe, if the side vents are large or plentiful, then it’s a diesel. If they are small or a few, then it’s a gas. Just like us, the harder something works, the more air it needs. Take a guess at which one that is. Didn’t know you would have a test, didja!!
There is nothing like a nice shiny boat to turn some heads. Unfortunately, getting it shiny and keeping it shiny can be more of a chore than we want. Lets take stainless steel railings as an example. First of all, stainless does stain and its a pain when it stains(somewhat poetic). I have spent many hours cleaning railings using a product called NEVRDULL. It looks like cotton and smells like oil but, if you rub the stainless long enough, it will clean it. I must be a masochist because I got to where I almost enjoyed the hours of rubbing and being ‘one with the boat’ (a little new age but then I’m an old fart so anything new sounds like fun).
So where am I going with this…well, Sorry Dog asked me one day to help out a friend and polish his stainless, to say that it needed polishing was an understatement. I got out my NEVRDULL and was getting ready to get started when Sorry Dog suggested I try something he had used in the past, it was called Colinite Metal Wax. You put some on a towel and wipe the stainless, then come back with a clean towel and wipe it off. I am always skeptical of claims that say something is easy to do after I have spent years doing the hard way. Anyway, I took his bottle and picked the worst looking piece of stainless I could find which were the fender holders and they were the color of rust. I wiped it on and waited 30 seconds and wiped it off. To my amazement, about 80% of the stain came off and there was actually a shine there. I repeated the process and added just a little rubbing and the stainless looked brand new. I was able to finish the boat in 2 days instead of the week that I had allowed. I usually don’t recommend products because everyone has a different way of doing things but I will never use anything else for polishing stainless (unless they have a product I can spray it on and wipe it off). Its called Colinite Metal Wax by 3M. It’s nice being able to spend more time enjoying the boat instead of polishing it.
Speaking of wood boats and leaking, I bought a wood boat but it wasn’t leaking… it had sunk. Let’s start from the beginning. I found this beautiful 55′ 1957 Chris Connie (translate-Big Wood Boat). I fell in love with it which was my first mistake. It Was all mahogany and teak and it was the grandest boat I had seen. The master stateroom was redone to look like an old sailing vessel and it had a king-size bed. There were 2 more staterooms and the galley was the largest I had seen and everything was polished.
The day before we were supposed to close, I decided to take one last look and that’s when I saw my dream was on the bottom. Instead of walking away, I figured I could get a deal. Everyone including the broker (which is how I met Sorry Dog) said don’t buy it but I was smitten. So I bought it for 10 cents on the dollar and set about rebuilding it. I won’t go into too much detail but I did find out that if a boat sinks, all of the wiring is destroyed and mold and mildew decides to come visit. Well, 1 year and $150,000 dollars later, I had a fully restored 1957 Chris Connie. Of course, that’s when I found the next fun thing about wood boats, you have to work on them everyday. That was fun for the first year but I finally decided that I would rather use a boat than work on it. If you get a chance, you should own a wood boat at least once. Send us your dumbest boating decision and we may publish it!!!
One of the main concerns with boats is what to do when they are leaking or taking on water. We explained some tips for you when the boat is sinking but here is a trick if you have a wood boat that leaks badly (all wood boats leak). Get a length of 2 inch PVC, 12 feet long. Cut it in half and attach a 90 degree angle to the PVC. Position the pipe so the 1 side is under the boat in the water and tie the other half to a piling or anything handy. Fill the hose with sawdust and attach a garden hose to the pipe. Turn the hose on and the sawdust will be blown under the boat and fill the cracks that are leaking. This takes approximately 2 hours and will cut your leaking drastically.
No one likes the smell of diesel fuel when you enter the salon. Easiest and cheapest way to get rid of the smell is to take paper plates and put them around the boat. Fill the plates with baking soda and they will absorb the smell and your wife (or girlfriend) will quit complaining.
If you are taking on water and the bilge pumps are not keeping up, the first thing to do is have someone notify the coast guard of your situation and that you are going to try the following 3 tricks. Then find the closest marina with a travel lift and let them know you are taking on water and to have their straps down so they can take you out of the water as soon as you get there. Ok, here goes: open the hatch to the shower sump pump. Take the hose from the shower that is used to suck-up the water and push it down into the bilge. Wedge the float switch up until the pump starts and it will pump the water overboard.
First thing to do in any situation is don’t panic, you still have another pump! Open the hatch to the fresh water tank pump. Open all of the sink faucets. Cut the hose from the water tank pump to the sink and lay it in the bilge. The pump will pump the water from the bilge and drain it overboard. In most cases, this will keep you even until you can get somewhere safe.
Water is still coming in and the pumps you have going are still not keeping up. Open the hatch to the engine room and get down on your knees (no, you’re not praying yet). Make sure the engine is still running and the shaft is turning (albeit under water). Hang upside down in the hatch, you are going to get wet from the turning engine so ignore this. Take a hacksaw and cut the water intake hose for the engine and let it drop into the bilge. Make sure you Turn off the sea cock for that engine. The engine will take the water to cool it from the bilge and spit it back out to sea. If you are still taking on more water then do the same for the second engine. When you get to the marina and are going to go into the travel lift, make sure to keep the engine revving even when it is in neutral. You are almost finished but this is not the time to make a mistake. We have never sank using this idea because the engines pump lots of water.
I have had a few times where I have lost an engine on a trip. I usually have 2 engines n the boat so I can limp home on one engine. If you have a single engine boat, getting back to port could be a problem. Always make sure you have a generator on a single engine boat and also get a couple of electric trolling motors. If you lose the engine, fire up the generator and use the trolling motors to get to safety. It may not be a quick way of getting home but it sure beats paddling.