Online Training Seminars

New seminars for January 2021 presented free of cost to our members and the public. Learn more from the comfort of your home on any device (desktop/laptop/tablet/smart phone). Use ZOOM to connect 5 minutes in advance to ensure you get connected. Course details and ZOOM links on our Course Page. See you there!

Resilience

I have touched on the subject before, but I feel like it is time to revisit what I previously referred to as resilience: the ability to accept and adapt to changing circumstances. Although commonly associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change those that we can, and the wisdom to know the difference are just darn good life skills to have. And right now, there is little we can do besides be patient, keep up with best practices, even though they change, and look to building our relationships in new ways. On that last note, are you picking up the phone more than usual to reach out to friends and family? (Don’t look at me, I may not technically be a millennial, but the only person I talk to regularly on the phone is my mother. Everyone else gets email or text) Have you learned the ins and outs of video conferencing as a means of getting a larger group together? And, call me old fashioned, but when was the last time you mailed off a hand written note? Many people still get excited about getting personal mail. Take the time to write something out for your loved ones. Check with a nursing home to see if they have anyone looking for a pen pal. Do something to cheer up your neighbors. Don’t wait for Halloween to put fun decorations in your yard. For some reason, the gate near our condo is extraordinarily popular, so we put up a dragon on our fence to entertain our many passers by. If you have any costumes sitting around the house, put one on the next time you go for a walk. Put decorations on your bike or helmet before your next trip out. Use magnets or flags to decorate your car to cheer those who see it. Be the cheer you wish were in the world. I will be back tomorrow with other tactics for thriving in these trying times. Keep safe, keep learning Tanya Weimer SEO

Boat Plumbing

Evidently, I have been googling too much boat plumbing this week, because this showed up in my feed, even though I had just planned on writing something out:
 
 
Beyond pressurized pumps, if you plan to cruise, you may want to consider manual/foot pumps. If placed within the freshwater system, these pumps can help you conserve water, since you only pump exactly what you need. However, some boats also use these manual pumps to bring in salt water. This will extend your water supply by allowing you to use salt water for cleaning, and freshwater only for rinsing and cooking. And teeth brushing. Don’t brush your teeth with salt water.

Have a safe holiday. I may not be back until Tuesday, as Jay’s employer has added in a 35th anniversary holiday to make a four day weekend. 

Keep safe, keep learning
Tanya Weimer
SEO

Freshwater system overview

Here is the freshwater system overview, from our old friend Don Casey. I will also take this opportunity to make a shameless plug on plumbing products. On Sea Story, we have experimented with many different brands of plumbing supplies. The easiest style to work with underway are the modern pop on (aka quick connect) fittings that work with PEX piping. PEX itself nice due to the blue/red color coding that keeps everything running to the right place. With the pop on fittings, all you need is a PEX cutter and large variety of fittings. Some of the pop on fitting also require a special tool to release the pressure and pop them back off again. We have found that the brand that most consistently works is also the brand that offers the widest variety of fittings: SeaTech. The variety of fittings has allowed us to seamlessly tie in the new plumbing with the old gray stuff that gets a little more fragile each year. Unfortunately, few local stores carry this brand, so we source it online from freshwatersystems.com. If you have a plumbing emergency, Whale plumbing fittings are available in the local stores, but we were not able to consistently seat the fittings properly. Whatever you choose, keep some variety onboard, including plugs so that you can replace or bypass whatever happens to pop a leak. And keep both colors  of PEX onboard so that you aren’t cursing at yourself next year when trying to figure out why that blue tubing is hot. Keep safe, keep learning Tanya Weimer SEO

Marine sanitation systems

West Marine offers a good overview of the possible set ups for marine sanitation systems (aka, the head and holding tank).

Interestingly enough, I could not find an article that covered both the traditional options and an age old option that is becoming more popular on boats: the composting toilet. The name is a misnomer, as little to no composting actually happens within the system. The main point of a composting toilet is to separate liquids from solids, which minimizes the odors that we associate with sewage. The urine can be discarded in any toilet, or even overboard in many instances. The feces is mixed with a drying agent, such as coconut fibers, and can be composted or discarded on land or far out to sea.
 
Whatever you choose, remember we don’t want it in the Bay, follow proper disposal procedures according to local and international laws.
 
BTW, joker valves are not funny.

Keep safe, keep learning
Tanya Weimer
SEO

Wrap up electrical systems

To wrap up electrical systems week, take a look at this article from Boat US regarding boat batteries!

I had a nice plan to also tell you about the differences between hooking up your batteries in parallel versus in series, but I lost it. So let’s reduce it to: as you learn more about batteries and battery sizes, you will find that one way to reduce the weight of the individual batteries that you are trying to carry onboard is to learn that if you hook the batteries up one way (in series) you can turn two 6 volt batteries into one 12 volt battery bank. When you connect batteries in parallel, you create a bigger bank, capable of providing more amp hours (longer running time for the same instruments). On Sea Story, we have two sets of two golf cart batteries – each set is connected in series to make one 12 volt, and the two sets are connected together in parallel to provide ~250 amp hours. This is known as the house bank, because it runs the house-like features, such as the lights, refrigerator, screens… We have a separate large 12 volt battery that is only used for the windlass and starting the engine, as these both requires enormous amounts of energy in an instant, rather than over time.

Keep safe, keep learning
Tanya Weimer
SEO

About the wiring on your boat

It was going to be very hard to explain your boat’s wiring set up without pictures, so I was very happy to find this website that did it for me! This is only the DC (12volt) system, but it does a very good job of showing the various components necessary for safety.

Although it claims to be all about wiring your boat, it leaves out the actual wires. Ever wondered why there are so many different sizes of wiring on your boat? Using the smallest wiring appropriate for the task reduces loss of energy and transfer of heat. The amperage, which is basically how much energy you expect to flow through the wire at the time, and the distance, determine the actual size of the wire. Wires are sized oddly: the bigger the gauge, the smaller the diameter. If you are installing new equipment, the equipment itself may well tell you the ideal wire gauge. Otherwise, you will need to look up the amp draw of the equipment and cross reference that with your distance. West Marine actually posts a handy table where they sell the wires.

As for the rainbow of colors of wiring, well they are manufactured that way to allow you to color code the whole system, so that you can tell at a glance which system a wire will run to. In reality, unless you are particularly fastidious, at some point, you will grab the wire that is available to you, double check the gauge, and 20 years later some poor fool is left trying to figure out why one green wire is used as a positive in the DC system while all the other green wires are grounds for the AC system. And that is where this poor fool has come up with the term “previous idiot” when referring to work done on the boat.

Marine grade wiring is stranded (lots of little wires creating a cable, rather than one wire). This allows for you to run the wiring through those odd contours of your boat. Solid wiring is prone to breakage if you make too tight a turn or pull too hard, or bang the wire against the bulkhead with each pounding wave in a storm. Stranded wire is more flexible, and also means that if one strand breaks, the others can still carry the load.

Marine grade wire is also tinned. This means that your individual strands may look tinny, rather than coppery. This is to protect the copper wire itself from the corrosive marine environment. If you find that your boat has untinned wiring, you may notices that a black substance has built up on the wires, or the wires may even be corroded through. In such cases, the wires should be trimmed back. If there are still signs of corrosion a few inches back, the wires should be replaced.

Marine grade wiring should be connected with crimping and waterproofing. Soldering is not appropriate. Your boat is a mover and a shaker, but solder is fragile. If anyone insists that you should solder, you have my permission to have them walk the plank. Wing nuts are not appropriate. They can trap moisture in the connection and create all kinds of issues. Crimp and waterproof. I prefer to buy the the connectors that come with heat shrink, but we also carry all sizes of heat shrink tubing in our electrical tool kit. Be sure not to confuse the built in heat shrink with the nylon covers. Ancor sells both, but as you can imagine, the nylon does not shrink and it does not smell good when you apply heat. Most jobs on the boat we either naturally fall into or we fight over whose turn it is to suffer through. But when it comes to wiring, we both find a high level of satisfaction in the process of stripping, crimping and shrinking a good connection!

 
Keep Safe, Keep Learning
Tanya Weimer
SEO