Q. I have aluminum deck fills what maintenance do they need?
A. Cleaning the threads on the cap and deck fitting as well as coating the threads a couple of times a year with “LanoCote” which is a corrosion inhibitor will go a long way in keeping the parts moving freely. If the cap gets “stuck” spraying with a penetrating catalyst like PB Blaster often times will free up the cap. If all else fails, call the AYS Service department for advice on replacement 410-267-8181.
Q.What are some things that I can do to care for my sails?
A. Believe it or not the first step in proper sail care is good sail trim. One of the most overlooked lines on a sail boat are the leech lines for the genoa and main. The leech lines are the small lines that run down the back edge of each sail. As the wind strength increases this lines needs to be tightened. If this line is not tight enough you will get a lot of flutter at the back edge of the sail. This constant flapping will significantly reduce the life expectancy of the sail and quite frankly affects the performance of the boat as well. Removing the sail during the winter time and having them cleaned and stored in a dry warm place is also a great way to extend the life of the sails.
ETHANOL IN GASOLINE
Recently we have had a few customers relate problems with their outboard dinghy motors stalling out on them. In almost all cases we have found out that the problem relates to the ethanol that is added to gasoline. West Marine’s web-site has a good discussion of the history and associated problems with the addition of ethanol in fuel. Following is a link to this article: Ethanol and Your Boat
We have contacted a few mechanics and the consensus seems to be; keeping the gas as fresh as possible, using high octane gas when you can and the use of a treatment like “StarTron” from Starbrite. Link to the “StarTron” site.
Q. How often do I change or inspect my zinc?
A. We cannot stress enough that part of normal routine maintenance is checking the condition of you zincs.
At a minimum we recommend that at least every two months your zincs be inspected. If it’s around 50% eroded away it must be replaced. In some marinas we know of, you may have to replace the zinc on a monthly basis.
Q. How often should I clean my boat bottom?
A. We recommend cleaning your bottom at the very least once every two months. This will keep barnacles on propellers and thru hulls under control. If you want to get optimum performance out of your boat, consider cleaning more often.
Q. Should I leave my speed transducer in the boat when I am not using it?
A. No. We recommend that you only use the transducer when you are using the boat. It is very easy for growth and barnacles to quickly foul this transducer. Once you are done using it we suggest a quick rinse with some fresh water and scrubbing any build up or dirt off with a toothbrush.
Q. How do I de-winterize my head?
A. One of the most frequent calls we get during the spring is “My head won’t pump.” While admittedly frustrating taking the following steps in all most all cases solves the problem.
- Make sure that the inlet seacock and overboard sea cocks are open. Make sure the “Y” valve is positioned for direct overboard discharge.
- Get some head lubricant from the boat store and follow the directions for adding to the bowl. If you can’t find the lubricant add a quart of water to the bowl along with a few squirts of PAM or other cooking oil.
- With the flush control lever in the wet position give the pump handle 20-25 short quick (I mean QUICK!) strokes.
- This should get the water flowing. If not sit back have a beer, then review that you have followed the steps as outlined.
- If you are still having problem give us a call at 410.267.8181
Q. How often should I empty my holding tank?
A. We recommend that you empty the tank as soon as possible after every use. That said the worst thing you can do is over fill the tank. The next worse thing you can do is leave sewage in the tank for any extended period of time.
Q. How often should I clean the holding tank?
A. After every pump out we recommend you clean the tank with fresh water and one of those enzyme cleaners or “Odorloss”. Coast Guard regulations tell us we must use the tank. Considering what we put into it, it requires attention to keep it clean.
Q. What head maintenance tips can you share with us?
A. Using fresh water to pump the head clean before you are going to let the boat sit unused for a period of time will go a long way to keeping odors down. If you didn’t eat it or drink it, it does not belong in a head. Read the owners manual for specific troubleshooting tips.
Q. What should I do if my head keeps filling up with water?
A. Make sure that you have closed all the associated thru hulls and that the pump is set to the dry position.
Q. What maintenance does my macerator pump need?
A. After every pump out we recommend that you flush this system with fresh water. The impellers on these pumps are subject to drying out and will stop working properly if they are not used on a regular basis. If you do not use your holding tank very often we would recommend running fresh water through the macerator pump once a month.
Q. What maintenance do the furling systems need?
A. A couple of times a year you will need to flush the swivels with soap and lots of fresh water. Once the swivels have dried you can spray them with a dry lubricant such as McLube’s “Sailkote”. The track or slot on the boom (for a roller furling main) needs the same kind of maintenance, perhaps just more frequently during the season.
Q. How often should I inspect my winches?
A. A minimum of once a season. Your winch manual will have a very good section on the service procedure, as well as an exploded diagram to help the reassembly process. Always do one winch at a time so that you have a fully assembled one to use as an example. The best hints we can give you is to use as little grease as possible and always use oil for the pawl seats.
Q. Can I convert my in mast roller furling to a “Classic” system?
A. No. While a lot of mast have a track that would lead you to believe you can do this, the spar manufactures will not warranty the mast if the track is used for mainsail.
Q. My roller furling main hangs up or gets stuck when I try to furl back in.
A. More than likely your halyard has slipped or stretched and you just need to re-tension the sail. The best way to prevent this is from time to time look at the tack shackle and make sure it is pointing up. You can also look at the sail. Make sure there is just the hint of a vertical crease on the luff, just aft of the mast. Don’t forget to ease the main sheet and the vang or else the outhaul car will bind on the boom.
AIR CONDITIONER QUESTIONS
Q. My air conditioner does not seem to be pumping water overboard. What could be some of the problems?
A. First check that the pump strainers are clean and then check that there is not air in the pump, by using the bleed valve.
Q. The water flow from my air conditioner seems like it’s restricted. Do you have any solutions?
A. The 2007 season seemed to be especially heavy with algae growth here on the Bay. One thing you can do is from time to time break up a toilet tank tablet, put it in the strainer and allow it to dissolve with the system running. This should kill any algae that build up in the lines. If it is especially clogged because you keep your boat in an area with lots of silt you may have to back flush the system with a garden hose. Close the intake thru hull open the strainer up and put a bucket underneath. Then put the garden hose in the discharge thru hull and flush with water.
Q. What maintenance does my air conditioner need?
A. Really the only maintenance it needs is to keep the filter behind the return air grill is cleaned once a month. Also check the seawater strainer at least daily when the system is in use.
ENGINE SYSTEMS QUESTIONS
Q. What maintenance does my drip less shaft seal need?
A. The seal are virtually maintenance free. Every time the boat is launched the seal needs to be “burped”. Simply grab the seal and firmly twist and squeeze. Continue to do this until water comes out, and then just release your grip.
Q. What coolant should I use in my Volvo engine?
A. It is very important to use the factory Volvo coolant in your engine. Volvo will not honor the warranty if any other coolant is used.
Q. What oil should I use in my engine and my transmission?
A. You can find this answer in your engine owner’s manual. If you have trouble finding this, give us a call and we will be glad to help.
Q. How often should I check my engine oil, transmission oil and coolant?
A. Our mechanic suggest that you check the oil every day of use and check the transmission and coolant at least once every five daily uses.
This also forces you to look at the engine and the surrounding bilge areas which will greatly help in finding any problems before they become serious.
Q. What maintenance do I need to do on my batteries?
A. Keeping them fully charged and only letting them discharge to half their rated amp-hours are the most important things. For charging we recommend that you periodically use a multi-meter to check that each battery is being charged by shore power and engine. The best way to monitor your amp-hours is to have one of those battery monitoring systems installed or you can keep track of usage yourself.
Q. My 110 outlets are not working?
A. Check to see if any of the GFI circuits have popped, if so reset and the system should be working. AC circuits on boats are designed that if one GFI pops off it shut down the entire circuit. Often, it is the GFI outlet in a head compartment (sometimes found under the sink or in a medicine cabinet).
FRESHWATER SYSTEM QUESTIONS
Q. What systems require extra diligence during winterizations?
A. Experience tells us that frequently in the spring owners will call us and say their hot water doesn’t work, the transom shower doesn’t work, or their air conditioner does not work. Seventy percent of the time we can trace these problems to poor or lack of winterization. If in doubt on any of these systems contact a professional and have them do it for you.
Q. My freshwater pump cycles on and off very quickly every once and a while, is this normal?
A. First check that all of the faucets and shower are completely closed and that you don’t have any leaks. The best thing to do is keep the pump off unless you need to use it. This lessens the chance of loosing all of your tank water in the event of a hose failure.
Q. Is it safe to leave my city water connection pressurized while not on board?
A. Absolutely not! In the event of a hose or fitting failure, it is likely that the boat will sink from the “inside out”. Keep the water tap on the dock off when leaving the boat.
- If a hose or line has had water or could have water in it during the season you must flush with anti-freeze. This means air conditioning systems, toilet systems, freshwater systems (don’t forget the transom shower), bilge systems (including the manual pump), deck wash down, frig and freezer drains and engine raw water.
- For your hot water tank we recommend that you just run anti-freeze through it. It is much easier than trying to drain it or installing on of those by-pass kits.
- Anti-freeze is cheap insurance, if in doubt run it through.
- Remove all sails and canvas
- Remove all perishable goods. Also remove any liquids including cleaning supplies.
- Remove as much of your personal gear as is practical.
- If you are going to leave your boat in the water please contact us for special guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- Invest in a good winter cover or have the boat shrink wrapped. Tying tarps to the boat is not the best idea. They can act like sails putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on the boat.
- Have a hot rum drink. You deserved it.
SPRING COMMISIONING GUIDELINES
- Flush and fill your water tanks three times. Don’t forget to run fresh water through the hot water side of the system.
- Visually check your standing rigging and lifelines makes sure they all cotter pins and rings are in place.
- Visually inspect your thru hulls. Operate the handles and make sure they open and close easily
- Check all shackles and blocks and make sure they are firmly attached to the boat, boom and or mast.
- Check your running rigging and make sure your lines are not stiff or mildewed.
- Check your windlass and ground tackle over. Make sure your anchor rode is not to stiff or swelled to make it through the windlass gypsy
- Operate all your electrical systems; refrigeration, cabin lights, navigation and steaming lights
- Check that your chart plotter has the most up to date version on the software.
- With soapy water leak test your propane system.
- Replace your zincs including bow thruster.
- Have the bottom painted
- Wax the hull and flat deck surfaces
- Check and clean your bilges
- Rule of thumb if it does not look right and you don’t remember seeing something last year you need to find out why.
- Have a cold beer. You deserve it.
Q. My steering makes a squeak that sounds like something is wrong with the autopilot arm. What is it?
A. It’s probably not the autopilot but the rudder stock. Spray a good amount of McLube “Sailkote” in between the stock and the housing and work the wheel back and forth. You may have to spray some more lube and continue to work the wheel back and forth until the noise goes away. It is also helpful to spray McLube into the area where the steering wheel shaft enters the bearing on the pedestal. Another area that often benefits from some lubrication is the sheaves where the cables take the turn back to the steering quadrant.
Q. How long should the propane in the tanks last?
A. A full tank should supply about 48 hours of a single burner use. On average a “weekender” should get about ½ of a season, a live aboard should get 30-60 days use.