Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Random Boat Tips
For the Head -- Fill a spray bottle with water, a quarter cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of cheap vegetable oil. Keep it next to the head. After you do your business, spray the bowl every single time. The vinegar keeps down the build-up of salts in the bowl and pipes, and it kills the bacteria in the bowl that can cause heads to smell a bit funky. The oil lubricates and protects the pump and choker valve both lengthening the life of those parts and making the entire pump easier to use.
Got Battens? -- Carry extras by sewing them into your main sail bag in lieu of PVC pipes along the zippered top edge. If your battens are in multiple lengths, err on the side of longer spares as you can always find a way to shorten them.
Aluminum and Stainless Do Not Mix -- Seriously, do not wait a moment to go over your boat from end to end and inventory every spot that aluminum and stainless come into contact. Prepare to replace those bits immediately if not sooner. The replacement process will inevitably involve torque wrenches, stripping bolts, and boring new holes in all sorts of boat jewelry.
Zip Your Zip -- Zipper lube is not an optional lubricant on a boat. Just suck it up and spend the money. If you decide to lube your zips on the cheap, you can use dish soap but do not dilute it, use a zip lube applicator (requiring you to purchase at least one bottle), and do it three times as frequently as you think you need it.
Winch Wench -- Lubricating them is a dodgy proposition at best as the parts are like a Chinese puzzle with fifteen different ways to explode into bits and only one magical method to put the whole mess back together again. Take pictures at absolutely every step of the way. Kerosene and paraffin oils work equally well at cleaning, but make sure you use wench grease when you put the thing back together again.
Ball Bearings Are Actually Balls -- Who knew? Seriously, anything that rolls really nicely is probably full of tiny balls or rollers made of assorted metals, alloys and plastics. In a surprising number of cases, these parts are designed to come apart in a spectacular cascade of wee rolling bits. Never ever take them apart unless you have created a safe work zone into which all the thousands of balls can be captured. Also, do not take them apart unless you already have handy a few hundred replacement balls.
Hot Water and Vinegar -- Calder is always right. Heat a bucket of water to hot but not boiling and add a bit of vinegar. Use this solution on cam cleats, pulleys, blocks, and other rolling, crimping, sliding, or rubbing bits. This cleans out the dirt and oils and dissolves the build-up of salts and minerals thus both extending the life of these parts as well as making them function more smoothly. You can use a toothbrush on the parts that you can reach. Moving the action gets the solution into places you can't reach directly.
Seize It -- If there is any possibility that something expensive or irreplaceable can go overboard, it will. Use seizing wire on cotter pins, shackles pins, and other such bits when you want them to stay put. For items like oar locks or halyard shackle pins that you want to remain attached to the boat but must move freely, use line and fishing swivels.