Once hurricane season has safely passed, you're faced with having to cope with months of dreary cold and darkness until boating season resumes next spring. One solution is to sit in front of the television for five months. Another is to get off the couch and keep yourself busy with boat projects. Here are a couple to get you started...
Winter Project 1: Revitalize your dock and anchor lines!
Begin by bringing home all of your old, crusty nylon dock and anchor lines (except the ones being used to secure the boat). Leave the lines in the trunk of your car until you’re sure your spouse will be gone for several hours.
When you’re sure the coast is clear, dump the lines into the washing machine. To prevent tangling, put each line in a pillowcase. Next, add mild detergent plus a small amount of fabric softener. Set the machine’s water temperature to “warm.” Also, nylon lines weigh considerably more than socks and t-shirts, so be careful not to overload the washing machine. You cold wreck the motor. (Note: If, despite your best efforts, the worst happens and the washing machine starts smoking, quickly turn it off, put the lines back in the car’s trunk and play dumb.)
The end result should be lines that are more supple and easier to handle. And the process should also give your frozen psyche a brief respite from the midwinter gloom.
Winter Project 2: Replace your boat’s sanitation hoses!
Sanitation hoses need replacing every few years, depending on how often they were used; whether the incoming water was salt, fresh or brackish; the quality of the hose and how much water was pumped through whenever the head was flushed (more is better). How can you tell if the hoses on your boat need replacing? Open the hatch and inhale.
The first step is to buy replacement hose. Some things to keep in mind: rubber hoses are easier to fit over hose barbs and bend around corners than PVC and only hose with smooth inner walls should be considered -- corrugated hose reduces flow up to 30% and encourages calcium buildup.
As to which hose material works best, PVC or rubber, most experts give the nod to rubber (the thicker the better). However, Practical Sailor did an odor permeability study a few years ago and found that SeaLand hose, which is made with coated PVC, was best at resisting permeation. The latter is over $9/foot at West Marine.
A few tips: If you’re having trouble bending the hose (which is likely, especially in winter), try using heat, either from a hair dryer or boiling water, to soften it temporarily. Dish soap can be used to slip a stubborn hose onto a barb. Finally, avoid creating low spots, which trap effluent and will shorten the length of time before it needs replacing.
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