Tuesday, March 31


More CROWLEY’S QUICK TIPS this week: Have a guest book handy onboard, see what fabric softener sheets can do and be wary of causing electrolysis corrosion from your power cord.

· Have a guest book handy onboard. Guests can sign it during your boating adventures. In the winter, it’s fun to look back and remember your trips.

· Fabric softener sheets tucked in between cushions and placed around the boat cabin give the boat a fresher smell. Some claim it even repels those nasty black flies.

· When your boat is plugged into shore power, keep the power cords out of the water. If the cord is cracked, it will cause electrolysis.

Thursday, March 26

Log It

As the season gets busier, our tips get quicker. Read Crowley’s Quick Tips to get a jump on getting the boat fitted out for summer. Read about keeping a log book and keeping your head flushing like a poker-playing wizard.
· Keep a log book to record any problems, needed repairs or upgrades wanted. At the end of the season, you’ll know what you need instead of having to depend on your memory. Log books also help keep track of maintenance schedules and costs, fuel usage, repair dates and trips. If you have partners, this is especially helpful.

· When cleaning your head, don’t use chlorine or ammonia. This eats the inside coating of the white sanitation hoses and lets out the smell from inside.

· Flush vegetable oil down your head to keep the parts working. About 2 tablespoons every spring should do it, more often with heavy use. For a vacuflush, take piece of paper towel, coat with Teflon®, and coat the rubber seal at the bottom of the bowl. Do not use a petroleum product for this.

Thursday, March 19

Time for a Fish Fry

Story by Marian Lambrecht
Photos by Dan Bochnovic

The perch are running in the Calumet River. At Crowley’s Yacht Yard Lakeside, employees are catching their share along with the rest of the locals.

Theric Marion, Crowley’s travelift operator, caught the limit of 15 in an hour on Tuesday afternoon, a decent average compared to other catches.

“I caught six or seven in the last hour,” said Jim McInnes, a retired fireman from the South Side. On Tuesday morning Jim was using a crappy rig with live minnows, which was the bait of choice. Most of the perch caught from the bridge were 8-10 inches, no jumbos were reported.

All day Tuesday and Wednesday no less than 25 fishermen and women crowded the 95th Street bridge which borders Crowley’s Yacht Yard. Cars lined the curbs leading up to the bridge and passersby wanted to know how the catch was.

“[The perch] are spawning and the river temperature is warmer than the lake right now,” observed Tom Butkovich of Calumet Park. “On a nice day like this it’s hard to find a place to fish because the fish are biting and everyone’s out.”

Finding a fishing spot will get harder after April 1 according to Lois Varela, the drawbridge operator. He says that’s when the busy season for ships and freighters begins. Then the bridge goes up more frequently and the perch catchers will have to find another platform to use.

Some trivia: John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd jumped the 95th Street bridge in their car in the 1980 hit movie “The Blues Brothers.”

CROWLEY'S TIP #18 - Join us for Yachtapalooza!

This Saturday, March 21, Crowley’s Yacht Yard in Chicago invites you and your family to our annual outdoor event with live music, food, store sales, a boat show, a flea market and educational seminars. Come any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The event is free to all.

Tuesday, March 17

CROWLEY'S TIP #17: Get the right fire protection 411 for your boat from Crowley's own safety expert Rich Goodson

On your boat, fire protection isn’t something you think about every day but when you need it, you need it. While you’re prepping everything else this spring, check your fire protection. We provide a quick and dirty guide below.

Do You Need a Fire Extinguisher?
You do if you have an inboard engine, installed fuel tanks and/or closed living or storage compartments. Basically, if you’re reading this, you need a fire extinguisher.

How Many Do You Need?

Table source: http://www.uscgboating.org/SAFETY/fedreqs/equ_fire.htm

What Extinguishers are USCG Approved?
Extinguishers are classified by a letter and number symbol. The letter indicates the type of fire the unit is designed to extinguish. The number indicates the relative size of the extinguisher - the higher the number, the larger the extinguisher.

Coast Guard approved extinguishers required for boats are hand portable, either B-I or B-II classification and have a specific marine type mounting bracket. It is recommended the extinguishers be mounted in a readily accessible position, away from the areas where a fire could likely start such as the galley or the engine compartment.

Table source: http://www.uscgboating.org/SAFETY/fedreqs/equ_fire.htm

Extinguisher markings can be confusing because extinguishers may have multiple marking systems and can be approved for several different types of hazards. For instance, an extinguisher marked:

Look for the part of the label that says "Marine Type USCG"
 Make sure Type B is indicated
 Portable extinguishers will be either size I or II. Size III and larger are too big for use on most recreational boats.

What Maintenance is Required?
Inspect extinguishers monthly to make sure that:
 Seals and tamper indicators are not broken or missing.
 Pressure gauges or indicators read in the operable range. (Note: CO2 extinguishers do not have gauges.)
 There is no obvious physical damage, rust, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles.
 Weigh extinguishers annually to assure that the minimum weight is as stated on the extinguisher label.

Fire extinguishers that do not satisfy the above requirements or that have been partially emptied must be replaced or taken to a qualified fire extinguisher servicing company for recharge.

How Do You Stay Compliant?
Coast Guard approved extinguishers usually require that the portable extinguisher be mounted in the bracket included with the extinguisher and properly installed. Internal inspection for USCG approved fire extinguishers is every 5-6 years. If you’re using less expensive or smaller fire extinguishers, it’s not cost effective to have the six-year servicing done. The most affordable way to satisfy this requirement is to keep a more inexpensive brand of extinguisher on the boat. These are usually those with the plastic tops as opposed to the metal tops. When six years is up, send the old extinguisher to your kitchen or garage and buy a new one for the boat.

Friday, March 6

Crowley's Tip #16: Cetol® can be a good alternative to varnish for your boat’s exterior

Photos by Rogan Birnie

Cetol® is a good choice for someone who wants to maintain a boat without a lot of effort. It is less fussy than varnish, both in application and weather conditions. It also requires less initial base coats – three to four versus eight to 10 - although the annual maintenance coats are similar.

It also seems to be less sensitive than varnish as far as water leaching underneath and lifting the finish. This makes it a good choice for a boat that has complicated water issues. Since excessive water will affect any finish, patching Cetol® when it does lift is faster because it requires fewer coats as a base.

It also seems to be less sensitive than varnish as far as water leaching underneath and lifting the finish. This makes it a good choice for a boat that has complicated water issues. Since excessive water will affect any finish, patching Cetol® when it does lift is faster because it requires fewer coats as a base.

Between coats, sanding is not required if recoated within a certain time frame. This is helpful if you are building up a number of coats but not very significant in terms of annual maintenance.

Staining the fiberglass has been an issue with Cetol®. After a certain amount of time it does not come off. Because of this, it is important to tape around your work area and use mineral spirits to wipe up any Cetol® that gets on the glass.

Cetol® brushes on easily, but as with any exterior finish, the thickness of the coat/finish is vital to its survival. When applying Cetol®, it is best to allow the product to flow off the brush, brushing into the wet edge with as few strokes as possible. Do not use a back-and-forth brush stroke because this will apply a much thinner-than-required coat. Evidence of this will turn up as areas of burn-through that appear during the season.

Cetol® is available in three base colors, Cetol® Marine (original), Cetol® Light and Natural. Natural is the newest and is a brownish color similar in tone to an oiled teak.

Unlike varnish, Cetol® is pigmented much like a stain, so it mutes the grain and look of the wood. With the annual maintenance coats, the color keeps building until it starts to look almost like paint. Cetol® Clear, a gloss finish, can be used over the regular, light or natural finish, and solves this problem, bringing it back to the look of varnish. Unfortunately, now you are adding at least three coats to the required base - four in my experience. In addition, now the base coat requirement is close to what varnish requires. This is all without the benefit of varnish, which enhances the beauty of the wood.

Bottom line, Cetol® is probably your best option if you already have it on your boat and/or if you have complicated water issues.

Thursday, March 5

CROWLEY’S TIP #15: Use high-quality, traditional varnish on your boat’s exterior

Crowley’s refinishing expert, Jayne Parker, continues her series in Part Two of her three-part series on choosing the right finish for your boat. Here, she talks about varnish and its different characteristics and brands.

After deciding that you want the look and feel of varnish, the next step is to pick which type of varnish to use. Remember that the beautiful depth and color you get from varnish is directly proportional to the amount of work you put into it, even if just normal maintenance is required.

There are many different brands and types of varnish available on the market today. The major brands are Epifanes ( high gloss varnish), Interlux (Schooner), and Awlgrips (Awl spar) all of which have very high UV protection. Among these you have the traditional tungoil/linseed oil based varnishes and polyurethanes. Additionally you have varnishes that require sanding between coats (mechanical bond) and some that do not if recoated within a certain time frame (chemical bond.)

There are also varnishes that you can purchase at the hardware store that call themselves spar varnish from companies like Minwax. Please do not use these on the exterior of your boat. They cost a few dollars less because they are not designed for the marine environment. They do not provide as much UV protection or hold up as well as the varnish you purchase from a marine store. Considering that finishing your boat is so labor-intensive it seems foolish not to use the best quality products available.

I usually recommend using a traditional varnish on a boat because they are a bit more elastic than a polyurethane varnish, and do not crack due to the movement of jointed wood. They are also a bit softer so, if damaged, they are easier to fair in and patch.

Epifanes high gloss varnish is one of my favorites; it has an amber tint, builds well and has a very high gloss. They also make a varnish that they call wood finish, which does not require sanding between coats if recoated within a certain time frame. It is not quite as clear or glossy, produces a slightly softer finish and has a caramel tint. Wood finish can be over-coated with their high gloss varnish producing a finish which will be very close in appearance to one that was built up completely with high gloss varnish. In my opinion, Ephifanes varnishes do not flow as easily as some other brands. In certain conditions, they may even require slight thinning and adjusting your brush stroke but the results are worth the effort.

Interlux Schooner varnish is also a wonderful varnish. It has a golden tint to it, is high gloss and flows easily, even in hot weather. Like Epifanes high gloss, it requires sanding between coats (mechanical bond).

Awlgrips Awl spar classic varnish also has a golden cast - a little lighter than Schooner. It flows easily and does not require sanding between coats if recoated within a certain time frame (chemical bond).

Tuesday, March 3

CROWLEY’S TIP #14: Choose the right wood finish for your boat

With the myriad of teak finishing products available on the market today, it turns choosing the right finish into a time-consuming research project. Crowley’s own refinishing expert, Jayne Parker, offers Part One of her three-part series on choosing and applying the right finish for your fancy.

It is widely acknowledged that varnish provides the most elegant finish for a boat. No other product delivers the look or feel of varnish. Its high gloss and mirror-like finish has both depth and clarity, which shows off the grain and beauty of the wood. Nevertheless, varnish is not necessarily the right choice for all boaters.

When a customer asks me for help in choosing a teak finish, I ask them to consider three factors. If this customer wants to maintain the boat without assistance, a fourth consideration is necessary: ease of application.

1. Appearance - what do you envision your boat to look like?
2. Budget- how much money are you willing to invest?
3. Time - How long do you want the finish to last?
4. Effort – How hard do you want to work for the desired results?

After you have defined your vision and budget the next step is to take a close look at the wood on your boat. This will determine if your boat will require normal maintance or something more.
Generally, a boat that has a lot of uncovered horizontal wood surface will require a bit more maintaince due to these surfaces being constantly exposed to the sun. (Where applicable, a simple solution is canvas covers.)

If there is already an old finish on the wood it will tell you a lot, showing you what areas are going to need more care. Go around the boat and check for areas that are being continually beat up by blocks or anything else that might mar the wood during normal boating usage. Check to see if all the metal fittings mounted on the wood are well bedded and tight so they are not allowing water to seep underneath. Also look at the edges of the wood where they meet the fiberglass. You want a nice tight seal that can protect the wood from water leaching up under the finish. Evidence of leaching is water pooling by the wood.

If any of these conditions exist, you will see old, marred yellowing, lifting or a non-existent finish. If any of the above conditions exist and cannot be easily corrected, your boat will require more than normal maintenance to keep the finish looking like new.

Essentially, there are five different ways to treat your teak.

1. Leave it bare
2. Apply an oil
3. Apply a sealer
4. Apply Cetol®
5. Apply varnish

Oil and many sealers, although easy to apply, have to be reapplied as needed during the season to keep their finish in tact. Both varnish and Cetol® share the advantage of requiring only annual maintenance coats.

If you choose to apply a finish, each one has its own look and pros and cons. Currently, the two most popular are Cetol® and varnish.

Come back in the next week for Jayne’s subsequent installments when she discusses the characteristics and applications of varnish and Cetol®.

Jayne Parker can be reached at jaynep@prodigy.net or (773) 325-9271.