Boating - - BOAT DOCTOR | Q&A -

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.


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.


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.

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