Sunday, 3 April 2016

Spring into Fishing – Boat Maintenance

You may have heard that the Fraser First Nations have told DFO they want the Victoria area fishery for Fraser fish eliminated this year. Rest assured that the Sport Fish Advisory Board and the South Vancouver Island Anglers coalition will be weighing in on the issue.

From Chris Bos at the SVIAC: “The department has received a written request from about 30 Fraser River FN bands to close the Victoria area and Juan de Fuca salmon fishery in May and June.  FN claim our fishery is being allow to remove FR Chinook illegally when they have been restricted from catching their FSC Fraser Chinook.   

“It will be a decision to be made by the Fisheries Minister and as he is of native decent the river FN believe they have a shot at getting it through. I am not hearing anything about DFO being willing to grant this new FN request at this time.”

So, while that is up in the air, it is time to be readying your boat for the summer season. Now is the time to get those jobs done, before mechanics and boat repair people get too busy for the summer. That means the annual haul, power-wash, paint and zincs should be done now – also pencil zincs for heat exchangers in in-board engines. And get the best paint. The paint that lasts two years – through one power-wash – is worth the extra cash.

And this year, for me, it is time to put a new canvas on my boat. I had thought about getting a new boat as mine is the original my parents bought in the olden days, but the reality for me is that having picked up a new car, I get to pay that off for a long time before a new boat finds its way to me.

My boat is on its third engine – a Volvo 4.3, V-6, perhaps 160 hours, so lots of life – and second leg. It needed a different bilge pump as the original design put my starter motor in the bilge water, and it kicked the bucket too often for my liking, as in Ka-ching. Also consider a kill switch that you turn off as the last chore when leaving the boat. The only item that is left on is the auto bilge pump and the design and placement (just before the transom) of my new one does a good job of keeping the bilge dry in the monsoons of winter.

Another reason for a kill switch, particularly with boats that have old wiring, or unbonded metal, is that it keeps your battery from being drained by electrical leaks, which can happen without a kill switch in two weeks, as I have found out several times. Note that if your battery is completely killed, you will have to try to charge it in a system with another battery that has life, or it will not take a charge.

The most recent big repair for me was redoing the switch panel that had the original wiring, meaning more than 30 years old. If you have ever rewired anything, you have found, that the corrosion with saltwater nearby, moves up the wire inside the vinyl covering. The outside looks fine but the wire inside is coated with black corrosion that can be up the copper wire several feet. 

If you find yourself tapping your sounder/GPS, radio, or have a wiper blade that works some of the time and doesn’t work some of the time, that is an indication that the wiring and switch panel could do with a change; expensive, but the option of failing at sea is not an option, if you want to keep your life.

Note that this kind of wiring is not the same as the engine wiring or any wiring you may put through a subpanel, for example, a bus heater on an in-board engine. You should redo engine wiring every decade, as in a new harness. This job, including the array of dash items, like speed, oil pressure and so on, is part of this second type of wiring job, that is just as expensive as the switch/fuse panel, typically at the captain’s side rather than in the dash in front of him/her. 

Take everything out of where you stowed it and inspect for wet, corrosion, mould and etc. For example, extra lifejackets stowed in a V-berth, clean the area, eliminating moisture, dry out the items then re-stow with space so that moisture can evaporate. On my boat, this includes a stowage compartment at the bow with the anchor, chain and back-up line. 

I also have compartments under each seat that need a clean and prune annually. For example, that tray of water you forget how long it has been on the boat, should be turfed and a new one bought. You don’t want to be drinking water from plastic that has been leaching chemicals into it for years. The bad plastics are: 1, 3 and 6. The good plastics are 2, 4, 5 and 7. BPA for instance changes males to hermaphrodites and you don’t want that.

It is time to do that wood trim grind, sand and paint thing, Cetol being the best coating. Boat Zoap is the best soap to mix with freshwater and do a good job on the winter’s accumulation of mould, grit, oxidation and seagull droppings.

If your boat is moored on a chain to an anchor, have a diver inspect it annually and then replace it. It is better to replace the chain more frequently than you would like than lose your boat. In little more than a year, the links in the chain rubbing against one another, even with just gentle rocking of the boat, exposes them to salt-water corrosion and even when not stressed from wind, are being eaten away. We once had our boat come loose, and were fortunate that a neighbour saw it, got out on his small tin boat, and had a cellphone to call us to come and take it to a dock.

Also change the gas filter, meaning both the one on the engine and the one in-line from your tanks. They accumulate water over the winter and the filters fill up. Put a container of iso-propyl alcohol in each tank both in the spring, and fall, if you use your boat in the winter. If you don’t, fog your engine with oil.

If you don’t have one of those Mustang inflatable lifejackets that sit in small bars down your chest, buy one, and then do a novel thing: actually wear it at all times in the boat. Buy another one in the fall sales for your guest. The reality is that if you go in the water, you will be dead in an hour at 6- to 10-degrees C. So don’t make it more difficult for yourself by not wearing a lifejacket and not being seen because of it.

And pick up that new licence, rather than being embarrassed by being asked to show it, and having forgotten to do that last spring thing.

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