Sunday, 31 August 2014

Even More on Trailers/Boats to the West Coast

A previous column covered items for your trailer before hauling your boat to West Coast Van Isle:

Here is more info, as I count down the hours to moving north to Quatsino Sound.

Trailer Tires. Check all tires for pressure. I found one with nothing, and it was not the tire, but  a faulty valve stem. Also, I purchased a used, galvanized, five nut, 14” rim with a new tire, for a spare. Nothing worse than having a flat in the middle of nowhere.

Tire Pump. Pick up a pump that plugs into your cigarette lighter, one that will realistically pump 50 psi.

Axle heat. Stop every hour and feel the axle housing for heat. Warm is good, hot is not.

Changing a Tire. Take along the block you normally put under your tongue jack. If you leave it out, the tongue jack can get the rear axle (assuming a tandem axle) off the ground to change a tire. Or, put it in and you can get the front axle tires off the ground. Take WD 40 for lug nuts, particularly ones used in saltwater. Take a lock for your trailer, where you leave it.

Surge brakes. These trailer brakes cause a lot of noise as you tow and use your car brakes, when the surge brakes kick in. I have heard of people cutting the surge brake line, but leave this one to you. Your car hitch must match surge brakes, so check your trailer on-line, and phone your car dealer to make sure the two match.

Boat Battery. If your boat battery is more than a year old, or not in best condition, consider picking up a back-up battery so you are not left dead in the water. Take distilled water for the cells.

Extra Propeller. Again, you could be dead in the water, if you ding your propeller and have to attempt limping back in waves and current. Do remember that the extra vibration, or knocking the leg/engine outside of its tolerances (mine is 6 one thousandths of an inch) can cause serious problems. Also, before leaving home, take the prop off, clean, grease and replace cotter pins that have broken.

Propeller. Powerwash the boat and scrape the barnacles off your leg/engine/propeller. Barnacles cause cavitation and rapidly reduce the props ability to get you up on the plane and stay there. Scrape them off, buff with a drywall ‘sponge’ and spray paint. If you paint the leg/engine, first use Zinc Chromate so the paint does not make the leg/engine an anode. Not good for boat electrical potential for fishing, if you use stainless cable. Not good for the leg. The paint chips off first.

VHF. Buy yourself a handheld VHF in case your boat’s VHF goes offline. Take a cellphone, too.

Bon Ami. Clean all windows with Bon Ami/Windex. And take a six pack of paper towels.

Foam Sealant strips. If you have a hatch, forward window, etc. check all for possible water leaks, strip off old strips, scrape track with a putty knife, clean with Bon Ami, and replace all old strips with new. Use clear, marine caulking in all ‘joints’ or where you see air.

Toggle life jackets. These ones, Mustang for instance, you will actually wear, so you have it on when falling out of the boat. And make the first rule that if someone does go over, that another life jacket is thrown overboard, before getting in fishing gear and going back to pick the person up. Also, take a set of stairs that fit on your gunwhale. Some boats will have legs that can be climbed up and swim grids, with steps. Other types of life jackets, keyhole ones for instance, really only serve as something soft to sit on as they are a pain to use.

Flares. Check to make sure yours are less than four years old, an age where they are not legal, and may not work. Buy a flare gun because you can buy flare packets every four years, and turf your old ones.

Distilled water. Check and fill battery cells before setting off, and keep the distilled water on board, for batteries as well as freshwater cooling.

Radiator fluid. If you have freshwater cooling on your boat, and perhaps a bus heater, take a gallon of radiator fluid with you and check hoses for leaks.

Valve cores. Take a spare tire valve core, and the tool for removing a malfunctioning core. Leave them in your wallet.

Battery leads. Clean all leads to the battery, along with both posts. Emery board, or a drywall sponge will do a good job.

Boat wiring. My boat is from the ‘80s, so the past winter, I had the dash, all the gauges, and all its wiring replaced, along with a new harness for the engine. If you have intermittent power on dash items or tap the gauges to make them work, you have electrolysis in the wires. I once followed a lead more than two feet, finding rusted wire inside its vinyl covering, then decided to take the entire line out and restring a new one. Also consider a buss for new items. Mine has the GPS, VHF, and downrigger wiring on the buss I put in, and still has a couple of loops left for new items.

And if you have any must-have-electronics on old wiring, fix them too, for instance, my blower needed a patch, with the remaining panel slated to be pulled this winter.

Tools. Take a full set of tools, a ratchet set, and a floating propeller wrench.

Compass. Check your boat compass before starting the engine, and then after starting. If it moves, you have a magnetism issue, and either move it or take back-ups. I bought two handheld compasses for this trip. And, note that most metals have magnetism, so you don’t need to be putting electricity through a circuit to have your compass deflect. Putting a compass on a simple brass hinge will deflect the needle.

GPS. Check your chip for the area you want to boat in. If it does not have the area, buy a new chip. And get the right one. At Trotac the other day, we went through a half dozen chips for my GPS, none of which had Quatsino. My boat has a Vancouver Island to Dixon Entrance chip, which I was assured would have the entire west coast. I checked it and it does. A hand held back-up GPS is a good idea, too.

Paper Charts. Always buy the paper charts, so you have a back-up for your GPS. Don’t leave harbour in fog without a functioning GPS. You will hit things at full speed.

Radar reflector. Pick up one and mount it. A useful item at night, and in fog.

Spotlight. Pick up a 2 million candle power spotlight, charge it and take it.


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