Outboard motors are everywhere and there can be few boaters who have not operated a boat with an outboard motor at some time. Even if you generally cruise in a larger boat which has an inboard engine or sails as the main means of propulsion there is a good chance that the dinghy that you use to get to the dock will have a small outboard on the back. In their simplest form an out board motor is a completely self contained unit that clamps onto the back or a small craft albeit an inflatable or rigid tender. Rumor has it that the outboard was invented by a young man called Ole Evinrude over 100 years ago. Others may dispute this claim and cite that it was actually a Frenchman who demonstrated an electric outboard some 15 years previously. Whatever the true story is there is no doubt that outboards have been a round for a very long time now and have become a very common sight. Almost any marina or boatyard is full of Evinrude, Mercury, Yamaha, Honda and many of the other common names.
Outboards come in a range of horsepower ratings, from small 2.5 hp motors weighing in the region of 20 pounds to large 300 hp behemoths capable of propelling large boats are breathtaking speeds.
While it is possible to buy electric and even propane fueled outboards by far the majority of outboard engines are fueled by gasoline. Gasoline outboards fall into two categories either two stroke or four stoke. Broadly speaking the main difference between a two stroke and four stoke is that with a two stroke oil is mixed with the gasoline and this lubricates the engine moving parts before it is burnt in the cylinder(S). With a four stroke motor, which is the type that you have in your car oil is contained in a sump or the lower half of the engine and remains in the engine and is not burnt and thus requires oil changes when the motor is serviced. Other significant differences are that with a two stroke motor every complete revolution of the engine is a power stroke as opposed to a four stoke where only every other complete revolution is a power stroke. Four stoke motors are also slightly more complex, have more moving parts and tend to be heavier than a two stroke motor of a similar horse power rating but this is changing and in truth with today’s motors this is less of an issue. Another difference is that four strokes tend to be quieter and slightly smoother in operation.
The big four in the outboard world are Honda, Yamaha, Mercury and Evinrude. Of these only Honda does not make two strokes. Yamaha offer the V Max V 6 two stroke engines in 150 and 175 hp outputs but offers no other 2 stokes, in the US at least. Evinrude on the other hand are fully committed to 2 stokes and offer the very popular rage of E-Tec motors but they do use four stroke motors for their smaller portable units.
So this begs the question, which type is right for you? It all depends. Normally the maximum or recommended output for use on your particular boat will be specified by the manufacturer of your vessel. Then you should compare engines from each of the motor manufacturers which fall into the size as recommended by the boat builder. Compare specifications, is there a dealer network in your particular area that can not only sell you the engine but who can service it for you after the sale. Talk to other owners and get their opinions. Search the web forums and see what others are saying about an engine you may be considering. Some of the smaller lakes do not allow 2 stroke motors so that may also factor into your thinking. If you can get a trial of any engine you are considering buying, most of the major manufacturers all have a strong presence at boat shows and can often arrange for you to see the motor actually operating. Finally not least is price; an outboard represents a significant outlay so shop around for the best deal. The fact is that I believe there is little to choose between modern two and four stoke motors. Long gone are the days of hard to start engines that oiled their plugs at the drop of a hat. Today's motors are long lasting reliable and will last for many years if properly maintained.
As a generally rule if you want fast acceleration and the most power from the lightest weight possible then opt for the two stroke. If on the other hand you want the quietest possible motor and are less concerned with out and out performance a four stoke may suit your needs better.
A fast, easy and cheap way to stop propane bottles rattling in the locker and leaving a rust ring is to cover the bottom lip of the bottles with a length of split small diameter hose. Hopefully the pictures are self explanatory but do use a softish hose. I found the perfect stuff at my local True Value hardware store, it's soft neoprene, is easy to cut and split down it's length, does not harden up like plastic pipe is prone to do and stays put once slipped over the lip on the bottom of the bottle. Total cost per bottle was less than $1.50 and has quieted down the rattle to nothing and no more rust marks. By the way the same technique works on older metal outboard gas tanks too.
Much work has gone into the heads compartment on the boat of late and in a few days I will post the full story in step by step detail of removing the old leaky sea water flushing toilet and replacing it with the Elegance by Raritan.
Now here is the perfect way to protect your boat from the elements in the off season. As far as i am concerned the owner of this boat has does everything right. The wooden frame is substantial and is high enough for the owner to walk around on the deck underneath and the pitch of the roof is such that snow and rain will easily be shed. You can also easily see the gap around the gunwhale which is perfect for keeping the boat ventilated, hatches can be left open on deck so air circulates inside the boat and will keep it smelling sweet with no chance of mold or mildew setting in. Finally the boat, an Alerion which has painted topsides has nothing that can abrade and wear the expensive paint job. The straps which go around under the boat are blocked off from the hull with foam pads. The only down side to this method of covering the boat is that there is a tendency for dirt to blow up under the cover somewhat. But for all that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and I take my hat off to the owner who obviously knew what he was doing when he designed and built this cover.
Racor filters have become so synonymous with fuel filtration that the word Racors has almost become a generic term for filters. On recreational boats the 500 series are the most common and these are often fitted to both sail and power vessels. These area turbine style filter with the element sitting on top of a clear bowl. Fuel passes through the turbine where large bits of dirt and water are deposited in the bottom of the bowl then fuel travels through the paper element where any other debris is picked up. Racors are designed as primary filters, in other words fuel should pass through a further secondary filter before reaching the injector pump. Racors in concert with all other fuel filters are measured in terms of microns, the smaller the number the smaller the particles that are trapped by the filter. Typically these are 2,10 or 20 micron sizes filters. The actual size of the filter is the same so any one of the above filters will fit into the same housing it all depends on the amount of filtration required. A 2 micron filter may be better at cleaning the fuel but it will tend to clog faster especially if the fuel in the tank is less than perfect, on the other hand a 20 micron filter will tend to let larger particles through thus clogging the secondary filters sooner. I tend to use 10 micron filters in my Racor and 2 micron filters in my secondary fuel filter bowl and this seems to work well for me.
As you will see in the first of the pictures at the top of this page a fair bit of sludge has collected in the bowl although this is actually the filter off the generator. Even so you can see the amount of muck that is kept out of the engine, a good thing. The lower picture is included which shows the bottom of the filter element, on the left is the old style element and on the right the newer style that Racor have recently introduced. With the old style it was necessary to slip on a spacer to the center post of the element holder, this sometimes used to get stuck and was hard to remove especially when the placement of the filter housing is in less than a perfect location. The new filter style has an extended sleeve as can be seen and this negates the requirement for the black spacer, an altogether far better arrangement.
Let's start by dispelling a myth. There is no legal requirement to carry insurance on your boat. However if you have a boat loan or mortgage on your vessel then the company lending the money it is almost a e lien holder, ie the loan or mortgage company will insist on coverage to protect their asset. Similarly if you keep your boat at a yacht club or marina they too will almost certainly insist on coverage not necessarily for your boat but a minimum third party liability in case your boat catches fire or causes some other catastrophe to adjoining property or boats. Frankly in my opinion it would be foolish not to have insurance, I do know of round the world sailors who eschew insurance purely on the prohibitive premiums required for this type of sailing but let's face it most of us stay much closer to home.
The annual insurance premium is calculated in several ways. Factors such as where you live and operate your boat, how long you keep the boat in the water ( in other words the length of the boating season), if you transport it by road on a trailer, the market value of the boat and it's equipment, where the boat is laid up for the winter albeit a boat yard or at home and finally how much coverage you require.
Just as you do not want to be under insured neither do you want to be over insured, for instance if the market value of your boat is $100,000 and you told the insurance company that it was worth twice that you would only get the market value at the time of loss which could be a lot less than the value that it states on your policy.
Buying insurance can be a bit of a minefield so it pays to shop around. Normally you can get a quote over the telephone but you need to make sure that you are being quoted like for like. Boat US for instance, one of the largest insurers of pleasure craft within the USA will follow up a quote over the phone with a written quote which outlines exactly what is covered and for how much. Be aware of such things as the covered cruising area there is no point in having coverage for the entire east coast if you only ever boat on lake Michigan for instance. Also most policies specify a 'lay up' period during the colder months so be aware of this, a nice sunny day in November may tempt you onto the water but you insurance coverage may not be in effect if you have a mishap.
Another common myth is that your boat is covered under your home owners policy. Whilst it may be true that your home insurance covers some personal property this is usually limited to small craft such as kayaks and paddle boards, but even then if they are covered that coverage may be limited. Read the small print on any insurance policy to make sure that you have adequate coverage and even if your boat is not covered under your home owners policy you can often get a decent discount of 10% or more by taking out an insurance policy on your boat with the same company, called a cross sell discount in the trade.
Many insurance companies require a marine insurance survey before they will issue a policy especially if you have an older boat or are swapping from one insurer to another so when budgeting for insurance you may want to add that into your arithmetic as any cost associated with a survey will be down to you. Other policies work on agreed value and this is where the value of the vessel is agreed between the insurance company and the boat owner. Especially common with older or classic boats if something happens to the boat you are going to be paid out up to the agreed value of the boat. Market value is another term that you might come across and this means that you will be paid out at the typical price that your boat would fetch on the open market were it to be in good condition and offered for sale. This means that as your boat gets older and depreciates you will get a lesser amount each year should some incident befall your boat.
As with any insurance you hope that you never have to make a claim but if you do it is incumbent upon you to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after an incident has taken place. Much like a car accident get names and addresses of any witnesses, take photos if you can and write down any relevant details which will help yourself and the insurance company to settle the claim.
Below are some terms that you may come across.
Actual Cash Value
In the event of a total loss, the market value of the vessel if a similar vessel of the same age, type and condition prior to the loss were to be offered for sale.
The agreed value is the value of the boat as agreed between the insurance company and owner
The insurance company underwriting the policy
When the loss incurred exceeds the insured value of the boat.
Claims or loss Adjustor
This is the person responsible for investigating and settling a claim.
Constructive Total Loss
When the cost of a boats repair and /or recovery exceeds the insured value.
The geographic area of where the boat may be operated as stated on the insurance policy.
The portion of a claim to be paid out of pocket. Policies with a high deductable will often have a lower premium.
Measured decrease in value of the boat, parts and equipment due to age and condition.
The person or persons who are leagally at fault. For instance if a another boat rams into your boat while you are tied to the dock then they are most likely liable for the damage.
A person or organization providing the loan for an interest in the boat. A lien holder will also appear on the title to the boat until it is owned outright.
The person or person(s) whose name appears on the insurance policy.
Any claim incurred that has not resulted in the total loss of the boat.
the price to obtain insurance as determined by the underwriter.
Verbal or written estimate of the cost to insure the boat as determined by the Underwriter.
Things which determine the likely hood or not of loss or damage to your boat. For instance a fishing vessel used in the Artic ocean has a higher chance of being lost or damaged than a canoe used on your local lake.
Rescue of a vessel from a perilous or dangerous situation.
Accredited marine specialist who ascertains the condition or value of the boat, or if in the event of a loss, damage to the boat.
Means what it says, that the boat is completely lost, stolen or destroyed.
The person who on behalf of an insurance company assumes the risk of insuring your boat.
Sorry for the tardiness of posting as of late but Typepad my blog hosting service seems to have been having lots of issues of late and even though I have been trying to post these have not made it as far as the web. Anyway, moving on I thought you may be interested on my thoughts, or not, on whip end dip which is product which it is claimed makes sealing the end of rope a piece of cake. The theory is that you merely have to paint this stuff on the end of a line and it will no more unravel itself. Up until now I have used a variety of methods which vary with my mood, the amount of time that I have available and the type of rope with which I am working. These vary from fancy whipping using pre waxed twine in a contrasting color which takes both time and patience to simply cutting and melting the end of nylon rope which is fast and effective but not at all stylish. So in search of the holy grail or something that was both somewhat more stylish and effective I purchased some Whip End Dip in red the bottle of which is shown above. Alas I was sorely dissapointed. According to the instructions one simply paints this onto the rope circumference where you wish to make the cut, then after it dries slice through the rope before a final application to seal the cut end. Alas the product fails on all counts. Expecting a product that was somehow sort of a plastic coat it turns out to be of a similar nature to nail polish and is about as effective. Even though I had the foresight to place plenty of paper towels down I was even with care liberally coated with red after trying the product. Suffice to say I soon resort to the cut and burn method to make new pennants for my fenders. What I did find Whip End Dip useful for however was marking the anchor rode, a product for which it is eminently suited.
Percy Blandford is so wrapped up in my love of boating that I cannot let the moment go without mourning his passing.
At the school that I attended in London several of the teachers gave up the first week of the summer holidays to take boys on a kayak trip down the river Thames from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to Oxford. I remember those trips fondly and went each year and even went back after I left school to help out. Numbers were limited to 11 boys and we had a great time camping each night on the river bank.
My dad had bought me a folding kayak, an eleven foot affair that could be packed up when not in use into a large ruck sack. Many of the other kayaks I later found out had been built in school woodwork classes and were PBK designs, the PBK standing for Percy Blandford Kayak. I built several of these models myself and a growing interest lead to membership of the local canoe club where I got interested in competitive paddling and even had a trial for the British Olympic Slalom team.
I also wanted to get myself a 'proper' boat, something that I could put an engine on the back of and maybe even some sails. I went to the London Boat show, then held at Earls Court with my father each year and ogled the yachts but needless to say even the most modest boat was way outside my financial reach. There was only one way to go I would build on myself. I recall that the pages of Britain's Practical Boat Owner magazine provided much inspiration during those early years and forty years ago there were many small ads for boats that one could build for oneself. The design that caught my eye was the Lysander a small trailerable two berth cruiser sailing boat with bilge keels. She looked perfect and spent many hours dreaming of the trips I would take on her when she was finished. Sadly my hopes were dashed when I realized that I did not have the space to actually build the boat let along have the money for he materials. So I looked for another design and eventually settled upon a 12 foot runabout which like the Lysander was another of Percy Blandfords designs. This apart from the paint and varnish was built with some difficulty in the open at the back of our terraced house in London. I recall how proud I felt when I took all five of my family out for the maiden trip on the upper reaches of the Thames where we had a picnic lunch. Looking back now I shudder when I think of how rough the boat was, but I will never forget the trill of taking off in boat that I had built with my own hands. I've built quite a few boat since that time but each time I launch a boat I tip my hat silently to Percy Blandford who unknowingly has given me and many like me a lifelong love of boats.
Here is the obituary which appeared in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper
Often times you can hold things together with a clamp whilst the epoxy or other type of glue cures but sometimes that is next to impossible. The parts, as is often the case on boats are of an awkward nature and clamping is not an option. To overcome this I often resort to using an instant glue. This won't hold large parts together but it is very strong and is ideal for small parts. I've been building a canoe recently and this has many small section ash parts which are about 8 mm is section and are the very devil to hold in place but as soon as resorted to the instant glue my problems were solved. Zap A Gap is my favorite but I think that this is only available to pro users but there are other makes and you can find these at the local DIY store.
The blue and green masking tape is perfect for masking up paint and varnish work before applying the finish but if the rolls have been left around for any length of time you will know how frustrating it can be when the tape only comes off the roll in inch long pieces and not unroll as it is supposed to. Before you go mad and fling the roll into the corner of the workshop microwave it for 10 seconds! The heat will soften the adhesive and allow the tape to smoothly unroll as intended saving your blood pressure and few bucks into the bargain.