OptimisationsNext - EquipmentPrevious - Construction
Protect your engine with an exhaust swan neck
Most cruising vessels have an inboard diesel engine with a ‘wet’ exhaust system. Salt water is injected at the riser, which is the outlet from the exhaust manifold and a mixture of water-cooled exhaust gas and water is then passed through a series of bends and components until it exits the boat at the exhaust outlet, typically at the stern.The problem is the exhaust pipes are subject to taking water in through the outlet. This is a common and dangerous occurrence and is entirely down to poor exhaust design. If this happens in quantity the exhaust system will backfill right up to and into the pistons. Exhausts should be as high above the waterline as possible but they are always vulnerable. Following waves can push water from behind into outlet pipes and they may go a long way under when heeling. Long distance cruising boats are more subject to this as they are typically loaded more and so they go down a few inches on the waterline making them more vulnerable. You will know your engine is full of water if you cannot turn it over, generally after a long sailing period or having been hove to.
Reducing galvanic corrosion or electrolysis throughout the vessel
When different metals are in contact with each other, and are either submerged or subject to seawater spray, galvanic corrosion or electrolysis occurs. This is an exchange of electrons, atomic particles, ions etc causing an electronic difference of potential between the metals. The less noble or anodic metal can be very quickly corroded away by the seawater conducting its ions to the more noble or cathodic metal. Aluminium, ordinary steels and the more base metals are less noble and highly subject to corrosion. The more noble materials include bronze and stainless steel.
Optimising VHF performance
The potential performance of a marine VHF radio is limited by the quality of the antenna and its installation. A badly designed antenna fitted with undersized cable and imperfect connections will make the performance of even the most exquisite and expensive radio unacceptable. It is important to select the right antenna and install it in such a way that it maximises the performance of the radio to which it is attached.
A folding table arrangement for a confined cabin
Mounting a reasonably sized table in a confined cabin can be a challenge. A decent sized table can consume a large proportion of the available space and can make accessing the fore cabin inconvenient. Yet a table that is not in the way will be too small and unpleasant to dine off.
Keeping doused jibs and spinnakers aboard
Doused jibs and spinnakers can be a challenge to keep aboard, especially if conditions are boisterous.
Keeping batteries charged when the vessel is unattended
Unattended wet cell batteries naturally discharge by approximately 1% per day in warm climates and significantly more in cold climates. Maintaining a charger in a marina is a possible solution but it is not prudent to leave a vessel plugged in unattended, and this is not available to moored vessels.
Optimising a yacht with a bowsprits for marina berthing
Classic yachts with extended bowsprits look absolutely beautiful. The issue with the vessel is once they berth in a marina. As the marina has to provide a berth that caters for the vessels entire length, they also have to typically charge the cost of the larger berth the vessel occupies. This means boats with extended bowsprits are a highly expensive vessel to berth in a marina. Although you may have a small or medium-sized sailing vessel, in this particular instance you will receive a bill similar to that for a very large boat.
Reducing navigation light power consumption and enhancing reliability
COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972) requirements dictate that all boats of up to 20 metres must display coloured lights that are visible up to 2 miles.Running a suite of navigation lights through the night whilst under sail can consume a large amount of a vessel's battery capacity. So much so that in remote waters, power conservative sailors have a tendency to turn off navigation lights to avoid the power drain.
Optimising the alternator's charging profile without an expensive 'smart' charger
The typical modern alternator and regulator charging system found on boats comes from the automobile trade and hasn't changed much in over 40 years. The alternator, such as pictured above, produces electricity to recharge the battery. A typically integrated regulator sits between the two systems deciding the power output from the alternator to optimize the battery charging. It refreshes the battery with a tapered charging process that is the default charging mechanism of a standard alternator. The taper causes the battery to charge rapidly at first and then slow down as it reaches full charge. This eliminates the risk of overcharging and battery damage.The standard system works well refreshing a single vehicle battery that it is designed for. However the default alternator taper is highly conservative, i.e. it drops down the charge output too quickly, in the context of refreshing a well-used boat battery in a short amount of time. The performance shortcoming is dramatic when refreshing a bank of batteries. Although the default charge setting will charge a vessels batteries in time, the alternators taper drops the output so as to make it unnecessarily inefficient.
A simple solution for holding heavy locker lids open
Locker lids are heavy and awkward to deal with when open. Typically you have to hold them open with one hand whilst rummaging around with the other for what you are looking for. With deep lockers, this is particularly difficult. This is a far-from-ideal way to retrieve often awkward equipment and particularly so on a rolling boat where the seagoing rule-of-thumb is one hand for the boat, one hand for yourself. Likewise, if they were to fall upon you the heavy lids would doubtlessly cause a painful injury. There are also times you may want to get into the locker to pack or retrieve deeply stored items or carry out some work. In these circumstances, the lids have to be wedged securely open in a totally reliable fashion. As a proper seagoing lazaret lid self-fastens when it falls closed, there is the potential that you could be trapped in the locker.