Q: SPRAY AWAY
What should I do to maintain the power cables of my marine electronics? My electronics are bracket-mounted, and I remove them from the boat after use.
John Timonsen Detroit, Michigan
A:John, make sure to keep the threads in the ferrule clear of dirt and debris. An annual dose of water-displacing lubricant will help stave off corrosion, though in your inland location, corrosion won’t be as much of an issue as it might be for a coastal boater in similar circumstances.
Q: Dear Doc, my bilge pump runs constantly, starting from when I turn on the battery switch. What can be wrong? Allen Beauchamps New Orleans, Louisiana
A: It’s common for the automatic float switch that operates a bilge pump to get stuck and/or malfunction electrically. Lacking more detail about the wiring scheme, I suggest checking that switch first. Good luck.
Q: Should I keep my old flares aboard as backups, even if they are past their expiration date?
Jen McCorgle Chicago, Illinois
A: While many boaters do this, U.S. Coast Guard testing of expired flares indicates a failure rate higher than 50 percent. Expired flares cannot be relied upon, and a flare is not something you want to have a question about.
Now, I do agree with carrying more than the required amount of flares aboard. The requirement is a minimum amount — more is better with respect to flares. I suggest exceeding the minimum requirements as your circumstances dictate.
WHAT A MESS!
Q: My engine’s oil filter is side-mounted. Every time I change filters, I spill oil all over the place. There must be a way to avoid this. Can you help me, Boat Doctor?
Adam Hotchkiss Cincinnati, Ohio
A: First of all, you can drain the oil first, before you remove the filter. Another tip is to drain the filter by poking it with an ice pick and holding a suitable container (you can cut a cup with a long tongue out of a gallon jug) underneath it. You might also slip a plastic zip-lock bag over the filter after loosening it and then spinning it all the way off by hand. You can also just be quick — and a little lucky. Good for you for keeping up with maintenance.
MAKE IT SNAPPY
Q: Dear Boat Doc, can I replace a snap in my boat cover myself, or do I need to hire a pro to do it?
Jason Olivet Seattle, Washington
A: Hi Jason. There are snap-repair kits available such as the Seafit Canvas Snap Kit with clinching tool ($44.95) and the even simpler Taylormade Snap Fastener Installation Tool ($7.49). Both are available at West Marine, and they provide all you might need to effect a solid repair. Basically, the snaps come in two pieces that are crimped together, sandwiching the fabric. Follow the directions and practice on a rag once or twice. You will be fine.