Sunday, 25 March 2018

Spring Has Sprung

While we are several weeks into our two-month cherry blossom season, the East seems to be covered in white stuff. Anyone know what it is? My guess is its jealousy. I have had to resist not sending Victoria cheer to my ‘friends’ in Eastern Canada. You may have noticed that the magnolia are coming out all over town.

So now it’s spring, there are a few things you might want to do to make your boat ship shape. If you have needed a new roof for awhile, you will be happy with a new, non-dingy canvas. The two commonly used brands are: Sun Brella and Top Gun. The first is light, bright and cheaper than the latter; its much easier to take window coverings off, as well as the whole canvas. Top Gun is much stronger, more water proof, and seagull droppings come off it easier than Sun Brella into which they sink and stain the cloth. Top Gun lasts longer but is heavier. 

I changed my bilge pump a couple of years ago, too. I was tired of going to the boat, with the typical float style, $50 pump having kicked the bucket, leading to my starter motor being in the water (I have an inboard engine) because it is the lowest thing on the engine. Replacing a starter motor every year is a pain, and more than $500. 

Two things were changed: the new water pump is $500 (don’t know the brand), and it whoofs the bilge in spurts. While the price stung at the time, it has lead to a much drier boat in the winter, no more starter motor problems, no more bus heater heat-exchangers ruined by being in bilge water, too. Since paying for the new-style much more sturdy, heavy duty pump, the dry boat thing is sure nice to go down to the marina and see, and the positives have made me forget the price.

The other thing I changed, because the battery used to kick the bucket more frequently, leading to the starter motor issue I mentioned, is that I got installed a Genius battery charger, $100, linked to shore power, and thus a 24-hour a day charge, that switches off power when not needed. Since then, every time I have gone to the boat in over two years, it’s sure been nice to turn the engine over and have it start up quickly and easily every time. That is the sound of money, and everyone who owns a boat knows that sound. 

Also, everyone who has a boat in the water in winter, and those with non-outboard engine configurations, is pretty happy when the engine is happy to start. If not, it ruins your day, and the rest of the week, having your mechanic solve the problem$$. Dri-Z-Air crystals in their plastic cup also help to keep moisture out of the cabin, and damage from mold.

I had installed a kill switch several years ago. Turn it to the off position when you leave the boat and you eliminate some of those battery failures and the $$ they result in, due to forgetfully leaving an electrical component on, for example, the radio. When adding such a switch, remember to have the bilge pump routed around the switch, as its purpose is to be on at all times to pump the bilge. 

For those of us who have a leg and prop behind the boat in the water all the time – the tilt mechanism does not lift the entire structure out of the water, although when trailering do tilt all the way up – it is time to give it its first clean of the year. Having had to replace a tarp for the transom and leg, I had not had the tarp on for at least six weeks and expected heavy growth when I went down this past week. I was happy to see how little growth was on the leg, as the sun has not had enough time and power to get to the stage of causing an inch of growth per week. 

Also, April is the month when barnacles start to lay down, something you will want to scrape off, particularly the propeller, regularly. Barnacles cause cavitation, and it is best to scrape them all off the prop, to prevent this, as well as those you can reach on the leg. It helps you pop out of the hole, reduces fuel usage on the plane and aids cornering, as well.

As for the tarp, the aim is to prevent growth by draping it over the stern, reaching out beyond the leg and prop. These days the tarps they sell are so weak, they shred in no time. The white and the blue ones are no good. I’ll let you know about the green ones in a couple of months, as this is the third time I have replaced the tarp in less than a year.

The tarp should have grommets on every corner, and a 6- X 8-foot tarp will fit most boats. To the ends of an 8-foot side attach boat lines and secure them to cleats on the sides of your boat, so as to position the tarp evenly over the stern – you want it to cover the transducer of your GPS/depth sounder, too. To make the other 8-foot side sink into the water, you attach weights.

I use four-ounce keel weights, one Gooped into place at each corner, and one in the middle – below the weight only. Allow 24 hours to dry, then stitch the swivels of the weights to the tarp with cloth based ‘thread’. Line for halibut rods, or fly reel backing works well, though you will have to get some more heavy-duty needles to cut through the tarp.

The next step is to fold the corner grommets over the weights. First Goop them again, fold and leave a heavy book on each one for 24 hours – newspaper between the two to pick up spills. For the middle weight, simply fold the bottom ‘hem’ over and Goop. The final step is to stitch all three weights into the tarp, as well as stitch the two grommets to the tarp as well.

If you get in the habit of leaning off the transom to scrape the leg/prop, you will get to know just how cold the ocean is. After five minutes, your arms will be too cold to continue. I mention this because falling in has to be considered a life and death situation. 

Pick yourself up one of those Mustang toggle-filled life jackets that lie in ribbons down your chest, as well as a waterproof hand-held radio. And do the novel thing of actually having both on your body before you pull away from the dock. May save your life.

It’s also licence time, and they are available tomorrow, Mar 26 on DFO’s site: “Licences can be obtained via any computer connected to the internet at or by using internet search key words “Recfish Licence". In order to print a licence on a personal computer, you will need a printer with 8.5 x 11 letter-sized paper, Adobe Reader, a compatible web browser, and a valid credit or debit card.”
Genius battery charger: the second from the left is the version I bought, $100:

Escaped Atlantic Salmon: For those who did not catch the article I wrote on DFO fibbing about escaped farmed Atlantics and rivers with adults and fry in them in BC, you may want to read the following post. It has had 3,000 page views across Canada in the past four days:

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