Wednesday, October 31

Paint Shop Projects #1

By Andrew Spaulding

Beneteau 46
Beneteau Oceanis 45 - Stripes still on

I wanted to detail some of the projects that we are doing around the yard this winter. The Fiberglass Shop was the logical place to start since we started the winter’s first hull paint job. No to mention the differences in the before and after pictures can be quite striking. With this in mind, Lakeside Story is going to follow the paint job of a new Beneteau Oceanis 45 from the original factory gelcoat white to a dark blue.

The success of any paint job hinges on the proper preparation of the surface. The first picture shows the boat as it came from the factory with a vinyl boot stripe (the stripe that goes along the water line) and a vinyl cove stripe (the stripe that is higher on the hull below the gunwale). Once the vinyl stripes and other graphics are removed, the hull needs to be washed and de-waxed perhaps several times if there is a build up of wax on the boat.

The removal of the wax is critical since the next step is sanding. If the boat is sanded with wax still on it, the wax will be ground into the gelcoat making it very difficult to get the primer and paint to stick to the hull. Once the hull is de-waxed and wiped down with solvent to remove any lingering dirt or wax, it can be sanded to remove surface imperfections. Since this boat is new, there are very few imperfections that need to be repaired before the primer can be applied.
Beneteau 46 - paint prep started
Beneteau Oceanis 45 - Paint prep started

This is the point in the paint job where we would repair any gelcoat cracks or deep scratches in the hull. Many times, particularly with older, oxidized gelcoat, cracks will show up once the surface layer of gelcoat is removed by sanding. Making all of the necessary repairs to the hull at this point is critical, since from here on out we will apply new material to the hull. With the cost of these materials it doesn’t make sense to sand everything off to make a repair that was missed prior to spraying the first coat of primer, so we double and triple check.

In many cases where a large percentage of the hull has minor defects such as scratches, or the gelcoat is porous or filled with pin holes we may elect to spray a coat (or several) of high build primer. High build primer is thick and made for filling minor imperfections without having to repair each one individually. Standard primer isn’t thick enough to fill in defects. More often than not, it is more effective in man-hours to spray high build on the hull and sand the whole hull than it is to repair imperfections individually. Once the hi-build is applied and sanded smooth, the paint job can proceed with a standard primer in the usual way.

Keep your eyes out for the second installment of “Paint Shop Projects” sometime next month. Let me know if you have a paint job question or if you want more details about a particular portion of the paint job.

Wednesday, October 24

Picture of the Week - Fireworks Cruise

Christmas Tree Ship Benefit Fireworks Cruise

Michigan Avenue Lights Festival Fireworks River Cruise
Chicago’s First Lady - Saturday, November 17, 2012

Join CHICAGO’S FIRST LADY CRUISES for this spectacular kickoff in support of Chicago’s Christmas Ship. Click here for the website.

Product of the Month - Kanberra Gel

Kanberra Gel
Kanberra Gel
Kanberra Gel is relatively new to the pleasure boat market, but has enjoyed years of success in the mega-yacht and ship markets. Kanberra Gel is an air purifier, not a deodorizer that kills the big three (bacteria, fungus, and mold) that threaten air quality.

While big boats use it directly in the air handlers, smaller boats can use Kanberra Gel effectively over the winter once the boat is sealed up. A container left open in the boat once the winter cover is on, will slowly dissapiate into the air over the winter. Over the winter the vapor that comes off of the gel will have time to reach all of the hidden places where bacteria, fungus and mold can hide.

Kanberra Gel can also be used all year long in air handlers or ventilation systems on a boat. Also, bathrooms, basement apartments, and other places that tend to harbor bacteria, fungus and mold are great locations to use a tub of Kanberra Gel. Kanberra Gel will be effective in an often used room, although a constant stream of fresh air may dilute the concentration.

Kanberra Gel is an all-natural proprietary blend of pharmaceutical-grade Australian Tea Tree Oil. Kanberra Gel allows the natural antiseptic properties of the Tea Tree Oil to become airborne. As the air dispurses the oil throughout the boat, the droplets of oil attack and degrade bacteria, fungus and mold spores. Kanberra Gel does this naturally without the need for harsh chemicals.

Once you are ready to close your boat up for the winter, prop open all of the cabinet doors, pull up the floor boards and otherwise open the interior so that vapor can reach all parts of your boat. Open the appropriate sized container and place it on a flat surface. For boats up to 25’ use the 4 ounce size; for boats up to 40’ use the 8 ounce size; and for boats up to 60’ use the 16 ounce size. Keep the doors closed so that the vapor is not just blown out of the cabin.

Kanberra Gel will cease to vaporize if it freezes, but as soon as it thaws it will begin to vaporize again, so feel free to leave a container of Kanberra Gel open in your boat over the winter without losing any effectiveness.
Kanberra Gel Air Handler Placement
Kanberra Gel Air Handler Placement
In boats with air handling units, you can place an open container of Kanberra gel directly in front of the evaporator coils. The 8 ounce size would be appropriate for a large cabin over a season.

The natural oils that make Kanberra Gel effective won’t affect the color of any fabics or carpet and it is safe to use around children and pets. Tea Tree Oil has been used for centuries by the Aborigines of Australia for medicinal purposes…and its modern common name came from Captain James Cook when he brewed a tea from the tree’s leaves hoping to cure scurvy. 

Kanberra Gel can be purchased at Crowley’s Ship’s Store. To purchase online click here. Contact the store at 773.221.9990 or email Michael Argyelan, Store Manager, at More information about Kanberra Gel is available online: click here.

Wednesday, October 17

Picture of the Week - October 17, 2012

Ready to Shrinkwrap
Ready to wrap!

Getting boats ready for their shrinkwrap covers on a beautiful early fall day.

20 Questions with Kathy Lindt - Installation Department Manager

Kathy Lindt - Installation Department Manager
Kathy Lindt

Introductions to John StHow long have you worked at Crowley’s? 20 years last April.

How did you first start working here? I wanted a job working with my hands, and I've always loved the water, so I applied in spring for seasonal work.

Which departments have you worked in? I started in the Yard Department under John Trojan, and a few years later I went into the Installation Department as an apprentice.

What is your favorite time of year at Crowley’s? Definitely Spring, that is the pinnacle time here.

How often do you go boating? Not as much as I'd like, but mainly when I visit family in Michigan over the summer.

What kind of boat? Well, if I had my choice, it would be a canoe.

Did you grow up boating? I spent most of my summers up north in Michigan at my family's lake cabin. We would spend our days water skiing, tubing, fishing, canoeing, and exploring every nook and cranny of the lake.

What is your favorite boating activity? I would say fishing and exploring inland lakes and rivers.

How many technicians work in your department? Three full-time and we usually hire a couple extra in the Spring.

How often do they go to training? Every winter we attend various training offered by some of our vendors, as well as ABYC [American Boat and Yacht Council-ABYC sets standards for boat manufacturers and repairers] training.

What job specific training do you have? That's hard to say considering the full range of what the Installation Department does, but I would say my art degree has gone to some good use in developing creative solutions and using analytical thinking to repair boats.

What certifications do you have? I have been certified ABYC Electrical Technician, currently I am a NMEA [National Marine Electronics Association] Certified Installer, as well as, Garmin & Raymarine Authorized Installer.

What is your number one recommendation to boat owners? Right now would be updating your shore power system with ELCI - which stands for Electrical Leakage Circuit Interrupter. It will shut down the power to your boat if a low level fault occurs preventing stray current leakage into the water. This makes a lot of sense from a safety stand point, and you'll find it is now standard on all new boats being built.

In your area of expertise, what can a boat owner do to maintain their boat? Considering how often we as a department end up in many areas of a boat you wouldn't normally think about, the thing that comes to mind is cleanliness. Keeping things clean and orderly can cut down on repairs and their associated costs.

What is the owner complaint that you hear most often? The head isn't working and I have people invited to the boat. I need it working by the weekend.

What is your number one money saving tip for boat owners? Reseal your chainplates regularly. A leaking chainplate over time can lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.

What is the toughest part of your job? I strive to meet boat owner's deadlines on jobs, so when I can't get the job done on time making that call is hard for me.

When are you most likely to be found in the harbors? During harbor call season - summertime.

What is your favorite winter activity? Vacationing to a warm beach-side destination.

What is the best way to get a hold of you to ask a question? Email is probably the best:

Wednesday, October 10

Picture of the Week - October 10, 2012

Winterizing a twin engine powerboat
Mechanical department tech Ryan Bumber enjoying the fall ritual of winterizing.

The Cleaning and Care of Marine Canvas

By Andrew Spaulding, Crowley's Yacht Yard
Sunbrella marine fabric in use
Sunbrella in action
As any boater can tell you having a set of good canvas onboard can extend your season and allow boating on even the hottest summer days by protecting those onboard from the elements. Of course since it goes on boats, marine canvas is expensive. Given this situation, the proper care and maintenance of canvas will give your canvas the longest life possible.
There are many sources of this information online and the best source is the manufacturer of the material that was used to construct your canvas. Most of the manufacturers have web sites with care and cleaning sections. The basic premise to canvas care is that you should keep the canvas clean, store it properly and keep the zippers, Velcro, and windows out of the sun.
To clean your canvas use a mild soap such as liquid dish detergent. Make a soap solution using warm but not hot water (less than 100F). Apply the soap solution with a soft brush or sponge. If you use a brush be careful not to use the brush on the vinyl windows as they will scratch. Rinse the canvas thoroughly to remove the soap and allow the canvas to dry completely without artificial heat. Be mindful to not use any soap that has detergents. Detergent additives to soap often have abrasive components or solvent additives both of which will damage your canvas.
Many marine canvas applications for tops, enclosures and even cushions below use Sunbrella fabrics. The Sunbrealla website has detailed instructions on how to care for Sunbrella products. Click here for their website.
Once your canvas is clean and dry, you will want to treat it to restore its water and stain repellency. Many manufacturers recommend using 303 High Tech Fabric Guard. Click here for their website and more information about this product. We carry 303 Fabric Guard in the Crowley’s Ship’s Store and it is available from other marine retailers.
Now that the material portion of your marine canvas is cleaned and protected, it is time to address the other important components of your canvas. Typically the zippers and Velcro are made from nylon which is easily damaged in the sun’s UV rays, so make sure the protective canvas flaps are properly covering the zippers and Velcro. It is important to clean and lubricate your zippers and snaps. Keeping them lubricated will extend their life significantly and help prevent damage to them. Use a clear silicone spray, but be careful to keep the silicone off of the canvas. You can spray the silicone on a rag and then apply it to the zipper and snaps if necessary. Also, do not use a petroleum based product as both silicone and petroleum products are not compatible with most marine canvas coatings and materials.
There are various manufacturers and processes used to make the vinyl for marine canvas windows. Start the cleaning process by rinsing any loose debris and dirt from the windows. You should use a mild soap solution to clean the windows with a soft sponge or cloth. Be wary of using an old sponge or cloth as they can accumulate dirt and debris over time which will scratch the vinyl. If the vinyl does get scratched, it is possible in some cases to buff the scratches out. Check with your manufacturer for their particular recommendation.
Since the windows are made of vinyl the sun’s UV rays will damage the windows over time. When is comes time to order a new set of canvas, have the canvas shop include covers for the windows. If you have canvas that is relatively new and in good shape consider having the local canvas shop make zip or snap on covers for the windows. Covers will extend the life of the canvas and also make the enclosure cooler by keeping out the sun.
In the off season, be sure to remove your canvas from the boat and store it carefully. The best case is to lay the canvas flat or fold it carefully. If you do need to fold it, fold it on the canvas portion and let the windows lie flat. The better option is to roll the canvas in a loose roll. Be sure to separate the window from itself or other pieces by placing a soft towel or sheet between the windows.
Most of the information in this article came from Great Lakes Boat Top Co. To visit their web site click here. They provide the OEM canvas for over 25 boat manufacturers.

Thursday, October 4

Video of the Week - 2012 Farr 40 Worlds in Chicago

Click here to go to a great video posted on the Farr 40 web site. It has some great helicopter video of Chicago and the race course.

20 Questions with Jeff Strunka - Yard Department Manager

1.      How long have you worked at Crowley’s?  8 years
2.      How did you first start working here?  I worked for my predecessor, John Trojan, while I was between jobs for a haul-out season.  I knew John since we were kids in grammar school. Unfortunately, John passed away, but as things worked out the yard manager position opened up and I applied for the job.
3.      Which departments have you worked in? I have been in the Yard Dept. since day one.  I have assisted on projects outside of my department, but not on a full time basis.
4.      What is your favorite time of year at Crowley’s?  Spring launch season.  It is a challenging time but we get to see many of our customers.  The launch season is spread out over a longer period of time than the haul season which allows for more interaction with the customers.
5.      How often do you go boating?  I’ve been boating since 1985.  I scuba dive on shipwrecks for a hobby which has allowed me to travel to many parts of the Great Lakes.
6.      What kind of boat?  My boat was a 1969 John Allmand. Unfortunately, I had to put her down two years ago due to a lack of parts for the old OMC drive.
7.      Did you grow up boating?  No
8.      What is your favorite boating activity?  Scuba Diving
9.      How many operators work in your department?  Our department requires skilled operators for the following equipment: Travelift, Bobcat, forklift, Taylor & boatlifts.  We have 5 full time operators.
10.  How often do they go to training?  They get hands on experience nearly every day of the year.
11.  What job specific training do you have? Becoming proficient at operating each piece of equipment take many hours of operation, so equipment specific training is developed on the job.
12.  What certifications do you have?  In-house certification for our equipment.
13.  What is your number one recommendation to boat owners? Pull the thru-hull transducers out and put blank plugs in before the boat gets hauled. Every boat is different under water which makes finding the transducer so it doesn’t get caught in the Travelift sling a time consuming process.
14.  In your area of expertise, what can a boat owner do to maintain their boat?  Help us make sure the cradle is in good condition. We try to inspect each cradle during the winter when the boats are on their cradle, but with over a 1000 cradles in the yard, some problems may slip through. We have full welding capability to handle any special needs.
15.  What is the owner complaint that you hear most often?  My boat is really dirty!
16.  What is your number one money saving tip for boat owners?  Make sure your cradle is properly supporting your boat.  It spends nearly half of its life sitting on it.
17.  What is the toughest part of your job?  Letting temporary workers go after they have been trained and have done a great job for me for the haul or launch season.  Telling them good-bye is always tough.
18.  When are you most likely to be found in the harbors?  My time is basically limited to the yard.
19.  What is your favorite winter activity? Snow skiing. 
20.  What is the best way to get a hold of you to ask a question?  Call me on my direct phone number at work (773) 364-1312.