Small Stuff

Anchor symbol In the last issue of Seaworthy, a BoatUS member from Lorton, Virginia, sent us a picture of a powerboat blocked ashore with what looked like cinder blocks (which can be easily crushed). Member Neil Faucher sent us this picture. Apparently some marinas think cheap cinder blocks are too expensive and instead round up anything they can find, including rusted barrels. To be fair, the barrels probably weren't this bad when the boat was first blocked up. But south Florida, where this boat lives, is not friendly to old steel drums. It wouldn't take much more than a gust to crush this barrel — a tropical storm would certainly knock this boat over. Barrels, like cinder blocks, are not suitable for blocking anything heavier than a dinghy — and both are prohibited by the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC).

Anchor symbol Lots of boaters have three-foot-itis — the need to get just a little bigger boat. Over time, that condition might cause you to get a pretty sizable boat. If you happened to crack the 12-meter length (about 39 feet) there are suddenly some legal requirements that smaller boats don't have. One of them is the USCG requirement that you carry a copy of the Navigation Rules (also known as the COLREGS). The law actually says this: the operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules. Hopefully, the owners of boats 39 feet and over already know this. But what they might not know is that now, the USCG allows electronic copies to be carried if you don't want to have an actual hard copy aboard. But there are two caveats: A digital copy has to be corrected to the latest notice to mariners and it must be readily available. The unwritten rule of thumb for readily available is that you can get to the Rules within two minutes. You can find the newest electronic version at

Anchor symbol Over the years, your Seaworthy editors have seen a lot of strange boats. Usually the strangest of them don't get more than a chuckle because they're often pretty useless as far as boats go. The picture at right is no exception. Still, the builder gets an A for creativity and he can truly say his boat, uh, zips around. Or unzips. A YouTube video of the boat shows it making a wake that looks very much like the boat is unzipping the water. Google "zipper boat" to see it in action.

Anchor symbol From the mystery file. When marine surveyor Michael Hunter of Springfield, Missouri sent us this photo, we were puzzled. At first glance, it looked like an alien creature was attacking an inboard engine. Whatever it was, it sure didn't look like anything we'd expect see in a boat. But then we got a clue. Michael is the only marine surveyor we know who also happens to be a beekeeper. "When I arrived," he said, "I heard the boat buzzing and then observed bees entering and exiting through the gimbal bearing. I also saw them leaving and coming out of the engine compartment ventilation ducting." Turns out the alien creature is a beehive. He said the bees weren't just swarming, but had moved in. According to Michael, swarms are usually temporary, and they don't stay around long. "But this was an actual colony," he said. "Makes termites and worms seem easy and friendly!" But there was more. The boat had been sitting for seven or eight years, and nature, he said, was taking over. Michael also found raccoon scat, mice, and snakeskins in the boat. "Raccoons like the foam and the shelter. And mice, as you know, like to munch on the foam in the cushions, and the snakes like the mice."

Anchor symbol California, always at the forefront of trying to clean up the air, has new rules that manufacturers will have to follow to prevent evaporative emissions. Starting in model year 2018, if a manufacturer wants to sell boats that have built-in fuel tanks in the state, they have to be certified to do so. The new, stringent standards include such things as a low-permeation fuel line, low-permeation fuel tank, and a pressure-relief valve or canister to control diurnal vent emissions. For a little history, California started to require catalysts on most inboard and inboard/outboard engines under 500 horsepower in 2008, and now the EPA is doing the same for the rest of the country. A positive side-effect is that while meeting the emission requirements, the engines have become more efficient due to advanced electronic controls, and have even gotten a little quieter.

Anchor symbol More Ethanol Headaches. Say the word ethanol around most marinas, and you'll get a variety of responses from frowns to anger to eye-rolling. Its affinity for water can cause all kinds of problems in a boat engine. Ethanol's other "quirk" is that it's a strong solvent, which means that it "cleans out" fuel systems, often clogging filters and stalling engines. But the solvent property can cause even worse problems. Longtime BoatUS member Mike Berg from Long Island, New York, recently wrote to tell us that he found a leak in the Fuel Control Cell (FCC) on his boat's engine, where the control wires pass through into the fuel canister. "This is a dangerous condition," said Mike, who sent us to Pleasurecraft Engine Group (PEC), which makes gas engines for ski boats, among others. The FCC Pass-Thru wiring lead, the company says, was used on engine models prior to model year 2007. Ethanol has the potential to degrade the sealant in the barrel of the FCC Pass-Thru wiring lead. This may cause fuel to seep or leak externally through this connection. The damage, says the company, is attributable to ethanol. Before 2007, many manufacturers, including PEC, used some fuel-system components that could be damaged by gas with more than 10 percent ethanol (E10), which is now available at some gas stations. PEC said they wanted to let their customers know about the danger of using over 10 percent ethanol and that based on the age of these units, they should be replaced now. The company says that a new part is now available that can withstand E10. Contact Pleasurecraft Parts Department, and order FCC Pass-Thru part number RF121085. Note that using E15 or higher blends of ethanol gas are not approved for use in marine engines. 

— Published: August 2016

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