Tuesday, October 27

Not the Time to Skimp

Not the time to Skimp
By Nick Fugate

    If you live anywhere in the country where snow falls then you know it is about time to take your boat out of the water. What does that mean? Well it means that it is time to protect your investment and WINTERIZE.
    The most important thing to winterize on the boat is the engine. The last thing you want to happen is to have a cracked engine block. Think about it, it is much less expensive and less time consuming to winterize your engine now than to have to rebuild or replace a cracked block in the spring. You will want to use marine grade, -100, blue antifreeze to do the job correctly. Though the temperature may never go below -20 F you still want to use the -100 antifreeze. Over the winter antifreeze may dilute and become less effective. We at Crowley’s only use the -100 when winterizing engines. We take no chances with your engine.  

See the link below for information on how to winterize your engine.

    Next it is time to winterize your water systems. Be sure to use marine grade, -50, pink antifreeze. We recommend purchasing marine grade antifreeze instead of the cheap RV antifreeze for a couple of reasons. For one, the RV antifreeze does not have any rust inhibitors in it. Also, many manufactures or bottlers of the RV antifreeze will add some water to the mixture therefore diluting and making it less effective. At times they may also be bottling reclaimed or used antifreeze which makes the product less effective.

See the link below for information on how to winterize your water systems.
    One more tidbit of information; the -50, pink antifreeze is usually made with Propelyene Glycol which is non-toxic and has a higher freezing point. The -100 Blue is usually made with Ethylene Glycol which is toxic, but has a lower freezing point and therefore offers extended protection. Our -50 and -100 are made with Propelyene Glycol making them non-toxic. You can even winterize while still in the water. Take the time and winterize.   

Wednesday, September 16

Interviewing a Sailor “Charlie Hohmier” Transpac 2015

Interviewing a Sailor “Charlie Hohmier” Transpac 2015
By: Nick Fugate

1)      When did you start sailing?

I had a late start, I was 25 years old.  I learned the mechanics of a big boat before I understood anything about sailing.  In my early days of sailing I crewed a bit on Heritage (the reinforced America’s Cup boat).  I was always amazed at the scale of big boats.

2)      How did you get involved with Bretwalda?

It started a long time ago when I sailed on a boat named J-Sen.  That’s when I met the present owner of Bretwalda.  Through the years, we’ve stayed friends and continued to do some sailing together.  Recently, he started campaigning Bretwalda and I was happy to help.

3)      What is your position on the boat? Does it change at times?

Officially, I was the navigator and pit man on this race.  Especially on a long race, it changes often.  There were times I was at every position.  Actually, foredeck was the one position that I didn’t fill - which must be a sign of my age!  There are also the logistic support tasks – making water, making dinner, and checking that we didn’t pick up any debris on the rudder or keel.

4)      How do you prepare for a Long Distance
Offshore regatta?

For this race, some performance predictions started six months ago.  Those results led to sail selection for Bretwalda.  As navigator, I started paying attention to weather for this race a month before the race.  At that time, I was familiarizing myself with the “normal” weather patterns on the course.  As the race time got close, more and more time was spent predicting what weather we might experience.

5)      Is this any different than a buoy race regatta?

In general, there are fewer turns and more meals.

6)      What do you normally bring with you?

Over the years, I have pared down the items in my sail bag to keep light, but not compromise function.  The available gear has gotten better.  For example, rather than boots, I use a good pair of “smart” socks under a pair of water proof socks in addition to my sailing shoes.  It works great and is much lighter.  But I’m not on the foredeck.  I have seen race web sites (Bermuda) that include detailed information on what should be packed.  It is a great check.  A few go-to items that I include, such as baby wipes and safety gear, have been included in Bretwalda’s inventory. 

7)      Does the skipper limit the amount of gear you are allowed to bring?

Not officially.  Every crew member is a willing participant in the weight game.  Weight is so important that it is understood our sea bags contain only what we need – and a GoPro.

8)      What was the scariest position you have ever ended up in?

Sailing on a T-10?

9)      Have you ever been afraid for your life?

I’ve learned to trust the boats I sail on and the crew I sail with.  Knowing that you are on a proper yacht with crew you can count on lessens your fear.

10)   Was there any fear going into this race?

Yes, but not so much for my life.  There was more fear of not performing as well as I would like. 
There was a Cyclone in the area of the race which caused a good amount of consternation.  I was keeping close to some great weather resources which helped alleviate my fears of that forecast.  It was my job to keep us out of trouble.

11)   What do you enjoy more Ocean sailing or Lake sailing?

Yes.  Actually, if I think about it, fresh water is a great luxury.  Salt never goes away.

12)   How’s the after party?

We finished and then had to wait 8 hours before we could go into the harbor.  A gale in Tasmania caused surf that was dangerous to entering boats.  That caused some disappointment. 
When we did get on shore, our assigned welcome team was waiting with breakfast and rum.  They make themselves available for providing the welcome food and drink no matter what time you finish.  That was a great little party. Twenty three hours after that, I was in the airport headed home.  It was a slow race so the scheduled down time after the race was cut short.  It only gave me time for drinks by the pool, dinner and a nap.  Because the race is so long, the official party was days after our finish.  That gave the little boats time to get there.  Unfortunately I don’t know how the party was!

Thursday, August 20

Carburetors vs. Fuel Injection

Carburetors vs. Fuel Injection
By: Nick Fugate

    Carburetors have been used on engines since 1882 when Enrico Bernardi developed one for his one cylinder prototype engine.  The carburetor is the oldest method of air fuel induction. The correct mixture of gas and air results in a smooth running engine. This can be a tricky process considering each engines preference for fuel. This is where the specifics of the parts come into play.

    Carburetors contain a venturi, a throttle, a metering rod or fuel tube, a float chamber, and a choke. The flow of air through the venturi causes a pressure drop which pulls fuel through the metering rods and into the air stream. The flow of fuel is controlled by the pressure and the nozzle on the rod along with the atmospheric pressure in the float chamber. The volume of the pressure drop then controls the operation of the engine, which responds to the position of the throttle. 

    The choke controls how much air flows through the carburetor. When the choke is closed, the amount of airflow is limited causing a fuel-rich mixture to flow into the engine cylinders. This process is needed when starting a cold engine.

    Carburetors were regularly used until the mid 1980’s when fuel injection was introduced. Fuel injection offers better fuel economy and a broader power curve. A fuel injector is nothing more then an electronically controlled valve. It is supplied with pressurized fuel by the fuel pump and is capable of opening and closing many times per second. When the injector is energized an electromagnet moves a plunger that opens the valve and allows the pressurized fuel to squirt out through a tiny nozzle. This atomized fuel improves combustion. The finer the mist the more easily the fuel burns. The injectors are mounted in the intake manifolds so that they spray fuel directly at the intake valves. The fuel rail supplies pressurized fuel to all of the injectors. There are three basic types of fuel injection; throttle body, multi-port (batch fire), and sequential system (fires one at a time).

    When purchasing a new boat be sure to inspect the engine and see what system is being used in the boat. With the pros and cons of each system one must decide which is more economical for their purpose.

Monday, June 22

11th Hour - A Special Note from Dave Rearick

Hello Everyone!

Many of you know me from years of sailing on Geronimo, the SR 33 in the Mac races on the Great Lakes and others of you remember me from my adventures on Bodacious Dream, the Class 40 racing and sailing solo around the world.

These past couple of years, I have been honored to be an Ambassador for 11th Hour Racing, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation who seek to promote good environmental practices and stewardship of our waters through the actions of racing sailors. 

Much of the 11th Hour Racing efforts are directed toward the oceans of the world and I am now able to bring their thoughts and advice to our precious Great Lakes.  Lake Michigan has been my playground for 57 years now, in these years, I’ve seen a remarkable recovery by the lake but we’ve also learned the lake is far more fragile than the oceans of the world.  The waters come from rainfall and run off and with a very slow circulation, different from the twice a day exchange of ocean tides, the lakes are extremely vulnerable to bad practices.  This makes the ideas and efforts of 11th Hour Racing even more important to those of us on the Great Lakes.

Can I ask each of you to consider these thoughts, and do your best to try them out for the Mac Races?

Please try to eliminate single use water bottles.  I won’t bore you with why.  Our experience at other national regattas has tallied the number of bottles saved in the tens of thousands.  Imagine a crew of six, each drinking six bottles a day….for a four day Mac Race—taking into account start and finish days…..This totals up to 120 bottles per boat….at 300 boats, imagine saving 30,000 some bottles from recycling and landfills and the 3% blown overboard---This totals over 1000 bottles saved from Lake Michigan!  Even better, buy a camping filtration system for under $100 and make your own fresh water on the race and use reusable water bottles, saving all the weight and garbage room!  Geronimo has done this for over 20 years.

Consider using alternative transportation whenever possible.  Bikes, skateboards, walking to and from events.  What makes Mackinac Island so beautiful is the lack of motorized vehicles….I know it doesn’t seem like much….but walking another block or skate boarding to dinner makes you an outlier!  Outliers unite!

We’ve figured out banding our chutes, with either rubber bands or a yarn isn’t so good. With each spin set, we pollute the waters.  Polyester is plastic and rubber isn’t fish food!   New techniques for lightweight Velcro tabs, zippers and chute scoops are the new rage on the pro race courses.  Imagine how many feet of yarn or rubber bands are used during a Mac Race…..and how many fish are biting those red bits of non-nutritious bait! 

It’s probably too late this year to change your ways, but maybe you can find some organic cotton yarn to use until you can have the sailmaker help you out with reusable Velcro tabs.

These are some simple steps you can employ and stand-up, responsible, for the stewardship of your lake.

I wish you all good luck in the Mac Race and when you can, take a momentary break from the racing to enjoy the beauty you are experiencing! I’ve sailed all over the world and in many beautiful places.   From my experiences, a sunset on the open lake or waking up in the Cathedral of the Lake –the area north of the Manitou’s, south of Grey’s Reef and bounded on the west by The Islands and the east by some of the oldest rock on earth— or smelling the fresh pines of the north country, these are the beautiful treasures we get to experience year after year by sailing within the respected folds these ancient waters.

I look forward to seeing you all on the Island.  Look for the 11th Hour Racing Flag flying from Geronimo and come by to tell me how many disposable water bottles you saved this year!  I’ll proudly take the cumulated number to our next 11th Hour Racing meeting!

Good Luck, sail safe, enjoy the beauty!

Dave Rearick
11th Hour Ambassador

Rail meat on Geronimo  50326

Thursday, April 23

My Future's so Bright

By Michael Argyelan

At the beginning of my professional career as a boat captain I was living on the cheap. It was a ‘steak or spaghetti?’ time in my life. A seven to eight month work year meant watching the pennies come in and the dollars going out. Shelling out the dough for a solid pair of sunglasses was never a priority until I went in for an updated prescription for contacts.

My prescription hadn’t changed for over a decade. Lucky for me they were the same, with one exception; UV damage. The Optometrist asked me what I did for a living. Being my first year of captaining, I was excited to tell her I was a boat captain. My answer prompted a quick, “Oh that makes sense.” She asked me what kind of sunglasses I was wearing. Cheap was my answer.

As you can imagine the Optometrist told me that if I was going to be on the water for hours at a time that I needed proper sunglasses to protect my eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. All I heard was, "If you don’t want to spend a lot of money in the future, spend it now." So I did that very day. It would be a spaghetti kind of week.

I still have that same pair of shades. Well, I have around five pair now but that’s another story. The difference between high quality sunglasses and the generic ones are incomparable. The clarity, protection, and the fact that they've lasted over ten years has guaranteed that I’ll never buy a pair of cheap sunglasses again, ever.

My first pair was mmm hhmm, a well known name brand. They’re great. I’d buy another pair. My second pair was a pair of Kaenon’s. Wow, what a difference. The weight, clarity, and the price were all improvements. Plus they’re pretty cool, so I’m told.

I was introduced to the Kaenon brand four years ago when I started managing the Ship’s Store at Crowley’s and what a great find it has been. I’ve never sold a pair of Kaenon’s to anyone that hasn't come back to tell me how much they appreciate me pushing them over the edge to spend the extra few bucks over what they paid for their cheapies. Quality and styling aren't the only reasons to appreciate the Kaenon brand, their service and guarantee is phenomenal.

One customer had a pair of lenses delaminate. We called Kaenon, sent them in, and a few days later the customer had brand new lenses. Boom, done, no questions asked. That’s service.

Here at the Ship’s Store, we have seventy pair of Kaenon’s in stock. Over a dozen styles with different frame and lens combinations. We’d like to share our passion for the brand and offer you a deep discount on any frame of your choice. Here’s the kicker, the discount is lower than we can advertise it anywhere. Let’s just say you’ll never find a lower price. If you do, we will beat it.

If you want more tech info or do some pre shopping online, check out www.kaenon.com. Please email me at mma@crowleys.com if you have any questions.

Wednesday, April 8

It's About Time

By Michael Argyelan

For you sailboat racers, there’s a new kid on the block, 
the new Gill Regatta Race Timer. 

“Featuring the largest and clearest display on the market today, the new Gill Regatta Race Timer is all about precision race starts.  At 26.5mm, the digital display is easy to read at a glance in any conditions. Key features include countdown timer with easy synchronize function, loud audible alerts and key lock function to prevent accidental input.
The case is constricted using a carbon reinforced ABS plastic with a stainless steel back.  Protected by a tough acrylic face and water resistant to 50m, the regatta race timer is extremely durable. It comes standard with the option to attach directly to the boat using its existing quick-release bracket, strap to the mast or boom, or simply wear it on your wrist.”

  • Water resistant to 30m
  • Countdown timer with synchro
  • Key lock function
  • Shock and impact resistant construction
  • Electro luminescent backlight
  • Time, date and day
  • Alarm function
  • Audible alarm and alert sounds
  • Sleep mode to preserve battery life
  • Carbon reinforced ABS plastic construction with a stainless steel case back
  • Flexible, hard-wearing TPU strap

“Available in Yellow and Black colors, this is a great quality timer that no racer should be without, and is competitively priced at $99.95.”
The timers are in stock here at Crowley’s Ship’s Store. Come on down and check ‘em out. If you know what Beastie Boys song the title is inspired by, you’ll get 15% off one of these suckers. Dig it.

Product info provided by Gill. 

Friday, March 20

Tales from Margaritaville

By Greg Gills

Languishing in the used and neglected part of the lot we found a 1971 Pearson. We didn’t see her for what she was, only for what she could be.  It was an affordable boat for a school teacher with a stay at home wife and two children.  A $12,000 boat; a boat with issues. I was staring directly at one of those issues. My issue stared back at me.  It was an enormous split in the front of a molded keel, like a crooked smile. 

It was the summer of 1994 and I was sitting on a five gallon plastic bucket. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the low 80’s and I was facing the keel of my new “old” boat.  My wife and I had moved up from our Oday 22 to a 33 foot Pearson. “Two foot itus” had morfed into “11 foot itus”.
I knew virtually nothing about boat repair at that time in my life.  I worked on my own cars, built things around the house, tinkered with my O’day but never had taken on a project like Margaritaville.  My life was about to change. 

From behind I heard the distinct scuffing sound that shoes make on gravel.  I was, after all, at Crowley’s Yacht Yard, the old yard on Corbet with its acres of dust and gravel. Pulling up a milk carton crate and sitting down next to me was John Spies. John looked over my smiling keel and quietly introduced himself. He asked for a magic marker, and then drew an outline on my boat. “Take your grinder and cut this **** out, clean out all the **** inside and when your finished come on over to the fiberglass shop.” When he walked away it dawned on me that I was a mid-40’s do-it-your-selfer getting help from the head of the fiberglass shop. 

I had always felt I was a very small fish in the sea of Crowley’s customers, insignificant in comparison to people of means and boats of stature. Yet John seemed genuinely interested in helping a guy who was genuinely interested in learning how to work on his own boat.  And so began the first summer of what was to be 21 years at Crowley’s Yacht Yard. By the end of year one and under John’s tutelage,  I could fiberglass most things without fear, had started a relationship with Phil Pollard who was running the ships store, was on a first name basis with John Trogen the yard manager, and felt I was more than just a customer or number on a spread sheet. After 21 years, I still store my boat at the yard, help at events, make numerous friends, and just had Margaritaville’s hull sides painted. The journey continues.

The old girls not done yet, but she’s close, and a family of friends at Crowley’s has been part of the process every step of the way.