Tuesday, January 27

Crowley's Tip #6 - Clean your water tanks

That egg smell in the boat is probably coming from the water tanks. And if your water tanks smell, what do your water lines look like? In any case, you should clean and sanitize your tanks and lines annually. Better to get to it before the smell starts.

That foul odor or taste is typically caused by letting water stagnate in the tanks and lines, creating the ideal dark and damp environment for molds, fungi and bacteria. To flush the system, you have a few options.

Crowley’s Ship’s Store carries Puriclean, a biodegradable powder treatment that sanitizes the system and dissolving tabs keep it clean after every fill. Puriclean powder is $13.95 and the tabs are $11.25 at Crowley’s Ship’s Store. An alternate solution is one cup of household bleach per 10-gallon tank capacity.

Whatever your choice, follow these easy steps for cleaning your water tanks, do it annually, and you’re good to go. Fill the water tank with your chosen solution. Turn on every faucet on the boat, including the deck wash, and allow the water to run until it smells like bleach. Now turn off the faucets but leave the system pressurized so the solution remains in the lines.
Let this stand overnight for at least eight hours but no longer than 24. Then, drain every faucet on the boat. Remove the diffusion screens from the faucets so they don’t get plugged. Fill the tank again with fresh water only, drain again through every faucet on the boat, repeating till the water runs clean and smells and tastes clean. Cleaning out the tank addresses only the least of the problem...most of the problem occurs in the lines, so it's very important to leave the system pressurized while the solution is in the tank to keep the solution in the lines too.

If you have aluminum tanks, Puriclean is better than bleach because bleach is corrosive, but the effect of an annual or semi-annual cleaning with bleach is negligible compared to the cumulative effect of holding chlorinated city water in the tank for years. If you use bleach, it's a good idea to mix the total amount in a few gallons of water before putting it into either a stainless or aluminum tank. In the future, keep your water system cleaner longer by using your fresh water regularly. If you don’t keep water flowing through the system, molds, fungi, and bacteria will grow in your stagnant lines. Another tip: Before filling the tank each time, always let the dock water run for at least 15 minutes. The same critters that like the lines on your boat love the dock supply line and your hose, both of which sit in the warm sun.

Friday, January 16

Crowley's Tip #3: A clean bilge is a happy bilge

A clean bilge has many advantages including keeping the pumps clean and making any new leaks obvious.

When is the last time you stuck your head in the bilge? Not a tempting concept, but keeping a clean bilge makes the whole boat smell better and makes any new leaks obvious. Dirty water and oil can mask a problem that would be glaring without the muck. Preventing corrosion of equipment that lies in the bilge is also a motivator to keep it clean. Start with Starbrite Heavy Duty Bilge Cleaner available at Crowley's for $11.95 plus tax. Starbrite is biodegradable and makes the whole boat smell great.

Some boats take in more water than others. It is normal for some water to be in the bilge since it can leak in at the stuffing box(es) and rudder post(s).
However, if you find an unusual amount of water, make sure that you don't have a leaking through-hull fitting. If your boat usually has some water in the bilge just add the Starbrite to the bilge and let the rocking of the boat do the cleaning for you.

So that water can travel to the lowest part of the boat, limber holes are cut into the stringers, the structural ribs. The water passes through these holes
to the lowest bilge points, which is usually where the bilge pump is located. This allows the water to be pumped out either automatically or manually.

You should keep these holes clear of residue to prevent blocking the water flow. A great trick is to run a continuous chain through every limber hole which allows you to pull it back and forth to dislodge any foreign matter.

Water is one thing in the bilge, but oil is another issue entirely. Later model boats have drip pans installed under the engines to prevent oil from dripping directly into the bilge. Whatever your case, it is a good idea to put absorbent pads under the engines. They not only absorb the oil that could drip but provide a quick way to find leaks. Each time you do an engine check, which should be each time prior to starting, check the pad to see if any new oil spots have appeared. If so, try to track down the source immediately.

You should inspect the bilge and its surroundings with a flashlight at least once a month. Look for:

  • The float switch on your electric bilge pump - lift it to make sure it turns on the pump automatically.
  • Excessive water – find the source.
  • Through-hull fittings – check for leaks.
  • Double hose clamps on all fittings below the waterline – for double protection.
  • Seacock handles - ensure they operate freely.
  • Excessive corrosion and rust – find the source.
  • Unusual growth or mildew – find the source.
  • Excessive wear or corrosion on pipes, hoses and clamps.
  • Clogged limber holes – clean with chain or a stick.
A dirty bilge makes the whole boat smell and
corrodes vulnerable equipment.

Tuesday, January 13

Crowley's Tip #2 - The January boat check

Your boat may be “put away” but she still needs a little attention. Midway through the winter season is a good time to make a special trip down to your boat yard to check on how she’s resting.

You want to inspect how the boat is sitting on the hard. Your boat may be on a cradle, jack stands, trailer or free cribbing. All these systems can support your boat just fine, but each system needs to be looked at with a critical eye at least once during the season.

As you approach your boat, stop a few boat lengths away and get a good overall picture of the vessels attitude. It should be level from side to side and a little bow up or down, depending on how the deck drains.

Next, go right up to each contact point between your cradle and the boat. You are looking for even, consistent pressure across the supports. Shake or tap on each support to get a feel of how much pressure is on each pad. This is a hands-on job. You will not get a good read unless you touch each support.

Now follow the pad down to the ground. Look for bends, breaks, kinks and twists. Any signs that the boat has shifted should be reported to the service department immediately. Inspect continuously from the contact point all the way down to the ground. You want her to be on a nice firm footing.

Steel cradles with adjustable screw pads are the safest, simplest and most adjustable of all types of blocking. With this type of cradle, your major concern is one pad punching into the hull. This can usually be remedied by simply adjusting the pads. On occasion, the boat may have to be shifted fore or aft on the cradle to balance her out.

Jack stands are similar to a steel cradle. They have an advantage in being able to be positioned anywhere on the hull, but they are individual components that must work in unison. Each jack stand must be inspected on three major points. First, the pad must be resting firmly against the hull. Second, the stand’s feet must be on solid ground. Third, opposing stands must be secured together, athwartship, with chain.

Loose blocking, whether wood, steel or even brick poses the possibility of collapse. Any tower of blocking should be carefully built, larger blocks on the bottom and interlocking rows. This type of blocking should be inspected for shifting monthly.

If your boat is resting on a trailer, chances are the bunks or rollers contacting the boat have not moved. To know for sure, You’re going to have to get way down and take a look at the contact points. The trailer has tires that need attention. Now is a good time to bring along a small air compressor and properly inflate each tire. Also, add a support block to the back of the trailer to
prevent the bow from flipping up and causing damage to the rudder or outdrive.

Crowley's Yacht Yard has over 20,000 pads, blocks and stands in use this winter. Our storage team inspects every one regularly. Now is a great time to drift down to your yard and make sure your vessel is safe on the hard.