Tech Net P

Issue: USB to serial port loses connection.
Try FTDI adapter. Prolific brand can be problematic.
Edgeport is a good device that uses FTDI.
Using low power could help.
Add ferrites to the cable.

Issue: Transmitting through the Pactor prevents the inverter from turning on.
Reduce the power on the Pactor.
Turn down the audio output, which can be done through the terminal window on your computer.
Use ferrites on control cable to inverter.
Separate the inverter control cable from the KISS system. Keep KISS cable away from everything else.
Try transmitting on different frequencies.
Drop the power by 30%. This will not prevent connection, but will be helpful.

Issue: Got an error message that Pactor lost power. The computer rebooted and Pactor never came up again.
There's a plug in the back of the Pactor to plug directly into DC.

Issue: I need to turn on the inverter in order for the modem to connect, yet the inverter causes interference until it connects.
Inverter control wires may be running parallel to radio wires. Use ferrites on Xantrex controller cable at both ends.
Test: Unplug the control wire at Xantrex. If problem does not occur, then proceed with ferrites.
Update: on test: Unplugging control cable caused problem to disappear. Next step: reroute wires and add ferrites.

Issue: Computer locks up when transmitting with Pactor 3. Am using Icom 802 with USB to serial port adapter.
Operate on low power.
Add ferrites on USB, move radio and computer physically further apart.
Add ferrites to computer control cable.
Rotate laptop and this may change the orientation of antennas.
Check ferrite tightness. Use wire tie if loose; add ferrite on mouse too. (Fooling Around)
Use heavy gauge wire between modem and computer ground. Use the monitor connector screws to do it. (C_Language) has line isolators which may help. (Samana)
Loop wire through the ferrite twice. (Salty Paws)
Update: success. Installed a USB 2.0 cable as others are not sufficient.

Issue: Cannot get the modem to make radio transmit.
Disconnect the radio from the modem. Check output of radio using microphone. Temporarily ground 'push to talk' signal on cable going to radio. Is the front panel pulsing? This test will determine if circuitry of modem is the problem.
Be careful about ground and power wires to modem; it may fry.
Verify ground 'push to talk.' Check for signal.
Use a low wattage light bulb (12 watts) to provide small resistance when testing the 'push to talk' signal. This will protect the circuit.
Verify comm port settings.
Find Telnet settings in the tool box option.
Should see LEDs on Pactor when in transmit mode.
Make sure the right radio type is checked under setup.
Check 'yes' if radio frequency is controlled by MODEM.

Query: How to hook the Pactor modem and Icom to a new computer?
Go to device manager on your computer. Find USB adapter virtual serial port. You can do this by plugging and unplugging the USB cable. One port will appear and disappear as you do so. It may be COM1..COM10, or sometimes higher. Set the Airmail software COM port to match the USB serial virtual port that is found.

Issue: USB Pactor Modem loses USB connection when transmitting above 5 mHz.
Get a good ground on the tranceiver.
Try more ferrite.
There may be a DC bias on audio line between modem and computer, try ferrite on it.
Physically move the computer a distance from the modem and it may reduce RF interference.
Use on low or medium power.
Use an isolator between radio and the tuner.
Ground the PC.

Issue: Transmission problems occur if the computer is plugged into a 12 volt inverter; runs good on the computer battery.
It may be a ground loop.
There may be noise in the inverter.
Try ferrite cores.
Physically move the computer farther from the radio.
Jumper to AC/DC adapter.
Disconnect radio from ground wire.
Update: Solved. Using medium power solved the problem.

Query: How to enable Pactor 3 modem and update call signs and code?
Go to tools/options menu.
Download firmware option.

Query: How to set the license key for Airmail to a new Pactor 3?
Find Airmail menu: Tools > options > settings. This will lead to a file for license entry.
Also look at Tools > dumb terminal > help > license.

E-Mail at Sea with SSB, Pactor, and Your Mac by Kismet Adventures
"How to do e-mail at sea with an SSB radio, a serial Pactor modem and your Mac! An easy step-by-step guide to make it work at the first try."

Pactor online

(also Icom,  single sideband)


Query: How to prep for new paint on a generator?
Flake all failed paint down to metal.
Use sandpaper to feather the edges.
Use Ospho rust remover/converter; it's a good primer for rusty parts.
Leave aluminum parts bare. Moisture can build beneath it and continue to corrode the metal.
Use CRC heavy Duty Rust Inhibitor on bare aluminum parts, and don't paint over it. (Not for use on exterior aluminum.)
Prime with zinc chromate then paint with epoxy. This works for aluminum parts as well.

Rustoleum Appliance Paint works great for repainting engine parts. (Dyad)
Rustoleum Professional paint worked well on heat exchanger. (Valkyrie)

Paint failure might be caused by overheating. Use heat resistant paint.

Use POR-15 paint system for engines. It works on various metals.
POR has a variety of formulas for various needs.
POR-15 is UV sensitive. Choose another POR formula for exterior use.

POR gave good results on my generator; much harder than the original Awlgrip. (Valkyrie)
Update: POR-15 is still good after two years on multiple metals; even after a diesel spill. (Valkyrie)

Used POR on outboard engine with good results. (Valkyrie)

Query: What paint can I use on an antenna without decreasing it's performance?
Comments:Use an aerosol primer first, then sand to remove fuzz, then second coat of primer. Top coat with Rustoleum.
Use an epoxy primer and Interlux.

Coat antennas with epoxy paint. (Valkyrie)

I mixed lacquer thinner into epoxy paint, then painted the open grain edges of wood with it. This allowed the paint to penetrate the grain easily and seal the edges. (C_Language)

Seal rough or old pre-painted wood with wood glue then sand. It will make the wood very paintable. (Beluga)

Awlgrip is excellent, but it does require good prep work to avoid paint failure. (Shamal)

Use Krylon paint for plastic. (Salty Paws)
Krylon Fusion is a good paint for plastic items that live outdoors, like horseshoe buoys and life rings. Clean the item with acetone first. Still holding up after 2 years of application. (Serengeti)

Next Gen is aware of chronic paint failure. They have since remedied the problem. (Valkyrie)

Use Rustoleum High Heat Paint on aluminum frames on hatches. It lasts five or more years and does not peel. (Reflection)
Rustoleum with mildewcide additive really worked. No mildew on long term storage. (Naked Lady)

Use a toothbrush to apply paint to confined areas.

InterProtect 2000 line is a great primer for all surfaces. It goes on smooth, sands nicely, and cures fast.

(also bottom paint,  prep work,  woodwork)


All Electronics (C_Language) (Dyad)
Grainger Industrial Supply (Amazing Grace) (Valkyrie) (St Jude) (Cutter Passages) - metal & plastic (Beluga) (Salty Paws)

Fastenal carries a huge variety of regular stuff and 'oddball' pieces. Better prices, friendly, and small quantity purchases are fine.
They also have a few retail stores near cruising destinations:
Portland, ME. (Salty Paws)
Annapolis, MD with very cheap prices. (Salty Paws)
Havelock, NC (Dyad)
Ft Meyers, FL with prices approaching West Marine. (Valkyrie)

Filtration Depot carries Racor parts and knockoff line "Griffin" which works. (Serengeti)

Wagner Collaborative Metal Works Carries parts to make rails for your boat including pipes and fittings. Infinite variety of sizes available for boat rails, hand rails, awnings, etc. (Dyad)

THUMBS DOWN: Pat's Small Engine [Plus or Parts] out of Bethel, MN.
PayPal successfully refunded payment since the company neither shipped the goods or responded to e-mails or phone calls. Google this company to read more. (Dyad)

A Reminder to research any unfamiliar company in advance of placing an order.

Marine Supply and Oil Company 150 Riberia St Augustine
Marine Connection in Fort Pierce
Marine Consignment Shop in Oriental, NC
Ace Hardware a great place for parts. (C_Language)

Select Plastics repairs and reconditions boat hatches and carries a variety of other plastic parts. (Discovery)

Query: Where can I find Yanmar and Northern Lights parts?
Next to impossible to locate. Suggest using air freight from Florida.

Yamaha outboards are available in Nassau. Reasonably priced.

Albert's Marine Service, Nassau (242)394-6989 Highly recommended.
Automotive Industry Distributer aka AID in Nassau is the local Napa Parts dealer. They carry batteries, etc.
Bay Street Automotive in Nassau...thumbs up. (Cookie Monster)
There's also an alternator repair shop in the same area. (Discovery)

Cookie tins are good for storing electronic parts. (Salty Paws)
Check the condition of stored parts periodically. Use CRC Heavy Duty Rust Inhibitor to prevent rust from condensation. (Shamal)
Wrap parts in paper first, as it seems to absorb water. Then wrap in plastic. (C_Language)
Storing parts in the engine room helps keep them healthy. (Dyad)

Used telescoping TV antennas can be found in thrift shops. Every diameter you'll need for spare metal parts is there. (Salty Paws)

(also crossover products)


Issue: Pinholes in stainless steel sink. They were filled with JB Weld a year ago, but it has dropped off.
POR has a product use for sealing fuel tanks, etc. It comes in a small tube. This may be useful to you.
Use tape on the opposite side when applying patch material. Remove the tape when cured.
To prep, use Barkeepers Friend to remove all rust and residue.
Use Marine Tex (gray). Patch both sides of the holes. Feather edges on the inside of your sink.

Query: What's recommended to fill a 3/8" hole in fiberglass?
JB Weld.
Use a putty product to prevent runs if working on a vertical surface.
Marine Tex. It's stiff and easy to work.

Epoxy faring compound System Three QuickFair. Works well, cures fast enough to get two layers done in a day. Hamilton Marine carries it. (Dyad)


Liquid Wrench is good, but P.B. Blaster is even better for loosening rusted nuts, bolts, etc. (Destiny)

It works on stuck rings; breaks down the carbon. Remove the injector and spray in the P.B. Blaster. (Llamados III)

It also makes a good preservative coat.

P.B. Blaster can soften 5200 for removal and clean it's residue.

WallyWorld carries this product.

Caution for use. P.B. Blaster ate trans output seal. It's a solvent that can dissolve rubber parts such as gaskets. Lesson: don't overspray.


Query: What's a good bird deterrent?
Hang a plastic owl on your boat.
Use a long, streaming neon pennant. (Chantecleer)
A blast from an air horn could work, but you won't make friends in the anchorage.

Run an empty plastic shopping bag up the halyard to prevent birds from landing when layed up. It creates noise and motion. (Mon Amie, Cat Tales, C_Language)

Attach a Bird B Gone Repeller 360 to your cabin top. It's a device that spins in a breeze to prevent landing. (Aurora)

Mouse traps can be found at dollar stores.
Wrap thread around peanut butter bait to force him to pull.

(also insects)


Query: What's the best tool for removing pet hair from various surfaces onboard?
Use a squeegee to remove pet hair from upholstery and flat surfaces.
Squeegees don't work well on ultra suede.

Use dryer sheets on pets to prevent static during storms. (Wind Rush)

Earth Clinic website has a pet section. Only recommends things you probably already have aboard.

Keep Pets Cool in Hot Humid Weather
Place a gel-pack bandanna around their neck.
Use a spray bottle or a gentle hose to cool them down.
Keep their water bowl filled.

Fresh Step cat litter. It's made mostly of silica gel and can be used for up to 30 days. (Sam the Skull)

Arthro-Ionx is an all natural and odorless supplement to help joints in cats and dogs. Really works. (Dyad)


Issue: When the phone boots up, it will not recognize the SIM card any longer.
The SIM card is probably defective, old, or close to failure. Replace it.
Rub a pencil eraser across the contact to clean it. (Magnolia)

Query: Where to buy SIM cards in the Bahamas?
Suggestion: Try Batelco.
SIM cards need an unlocked cell phone to work.
Google search will find info about how to unlock a phone.
Can purchase cards in various denominations.
Incoming and outgoing calls are charged.

Bring all your hardware with you into the Batelco office when getting a Sim card. Make sure it really works before you return to your boat. (Moira)

Query: Internet Air Cards: which is better Sprint or Verizon?
Verizon has great coverage except in the Georgia marsh areas.

Query: What phone services are available in the Bahamas?
Buy a cell phone direct from Batelco.
Buy a cell phone in Marsh Harbor (non-Batelco).
Use Skype when in wifi range.

Sim card and it works well as a wifi device. There are two ways to re-up: 1. Set up an internet account and re-up online. 2. Purchase a scratch card which must be activated by phone. (Valkyrie)

Fill your voice account with funds in advance, then transfer to data as needed. (C_Language)
You'll need a phone to do the transferring to data. (Moira)

BTC Bahamas Top Up Instructions
Online - Need to create an account for your SIM/phone number at
Phone (Keypad required)
*201# allows you to see your balance.
*202# allows you to add a Top Up to your account.
*203# allows you to transfer funds to another prepaid mobile.
*204# allows you to send a Call Me text.
*205# allows you to add mobile data.

Rogers is a reliable phone service in Canada. (Undine II)

Skype Skype has a feature to transfer incoming phone messages to your Skype account. The messages can be picked up with an online connection. Set this up in advance of need. Nominal fees apply. (Blackfoot)
Skype uses high bandwidth which can slow down other computers sharing the same wifi connection. (Scaramouche)

Viber Another Skype like service. (Final Lee)

RESOURCE is an online source for phone purchases.

Most phones include data counters to help keep track of monthly usage. Some also have alarms you can set to warn you when you're running low. (Stella, Valkyrie)

Phones used as wifi hot spots, can be placed in plastic bags and hoisted up the mast. (Amazing Grace)

Keep SIM cards active year round by feeding them small funds occasionally. This creates hassle free use in the Bahamas. (Anania)
Five dollars will keep it active for about 90 days. (Valkyrie)

Thin Print is a phone app that will print e-mail from your iPhone from your printer. Uses bluetooth. (Mon Amie)

Watershot is a waterproof case for your iPhone. No condensation, no leaks. (Pandora)

(also wifi)


Query: What can I use to clean up photo slides?
Use kits from camera shops, which may include brushes with an air bulb, compressed air, spray cleaners, or micro fiber cloths.
Scan them, then use photo software to clean the digital copy.
Use a professional cleaning service.

(also cameras,   Photo Tips)


Battery case was repaired with a soldering gun with a flat blade tip for welding plastic. Used a plastic bondo spreader/paddle as welding material. (Dyad)

Water tank was repaired by soldering polystyrene into the crack with a kit from a hobby store. It's still holding after 12 years. (Windswept IV)
You can also use this method to repair holding tanks. (St Jude)
PVC cleaner may be helpful with prep work. It roughens the surface.

Query: What can I use to repair a cracked Corian cutting board?
Use super glue. It's food safe.
In addition, add a thin backing plate to reduce flexing.

PCL (Polycaprolactone) BEADS
Plastimake plastic beads are heated in hot water until they form a clear mass. Then it can be shaped as needed before it hardens. Use for fabrication of parts or repairs. Can be glued to things with super glue or Goop. It can be dyed with tempera paint while soft or painted as a finished product. (Salty Paws)

When no adhesive will stick to it, try scorching it with a torch (think marshmallows). If still no adhesion, use hardware fittings. (Salty Paws)

Scotch-Weld Acrylic Structural Adhesive will bond star board to star board. (Shearwater)

Use dacron or nylon thread or unwaxed dental floss to wrap a broken plastic part. Then coat it in Super Glue. (C_Language)

Harbor Freight Tools carries a kit with a heat gun and various sizes of polypropylene for plastic 'welding.'(St Jude)


Split pool noodles on posts for Bimini top. (Cookie Monster)

Cover them with canvas and they'll last virtually forever. (Dragon Seeker)

(also canvas work)


Citristrip is an organic compound paint stripper that actually works. It's a gel; water soluble. Did not harm fiberglass. (Gypsy)
It's the greatest stuff. One coat is usually enough to strip urethane. Do protect plastics in the working area, as per instructions. It also will remove Super Glue. Reasonably priced and easily available. (Salty Paws)

Cover paint stripper with saran wrap to keep it moist and working longer. (C_Language)

Ospho Used on steel parts to prep for paint. Worked well. (Cat Tales)
P.B. Blaster stains clear silicone a fluorescent orange, allowing you to see it for removal. (Salty Paws)
Acetone will remove contact cement and silicone residue. (Salty Paws)
Lighter fluid will remove the last remnants of silicone. (Dyad)
Totally Awesome removes oil residue. (Destiny)

Latex gloves dissolve in some chemicals like hydrocarbons. Vinyl gloves won't deteriorate. There are now latex gloves available which are covered in neoprene (green in color). They're reusable like dish washing gloves, but they don't tear like them. Find them in grocery stores. (Salty Paws)

Acetone dissolves latex and vinyl.


A good, small sized pressure washer can be found at WallyWorld; inexpensive. Easy to store onboard. Works well. But due to it's size, it works best for small areas at a 6" distance. (Salty Paws)

Query: How well would one work when using house water?
That would depend on your fresh water pump.

Use a pressure washer on the bottom when hauled out and you're still in the sling. It's very effective while the paint is still wet. (Beluga)


Query: Is there an ink jet printer on the market that runs on 12 volts?
HP makes one. It's relatively expensive compared to regular printers.
HP Deskjet 450 is no longer made.
HP Deskjet 460 is available. Requires 110 AC to charge.
Use a $10 50W power inverter.

Ink jet printers use their own ink to lubricate themselves, so manufacturers recommend turning off the machine with the printer button rather than by power strip. That's so it can shut down properly. (Salty Paws)

To revive dried ink cartridges, soak in warm water, then shake it up and slap it a bit with fingers. (C_Language)

Store unused ink cartridges in the fridge.

Laser printers. The cost is coming down. The cartridges cost the same as ink jet cartridges, but they're good for 1500 copies. (Salty Paws)


Issue: The tank went empty in just a few days and we could smell the propane in the tank locker.
Open all valves and check the connections with soapy water.
It could be a pinhole leak in the hose.
Close the valve on the tank and watch the gauge over the next day. It shouldn't drop quickly.
Check over two days. One with solenoid on, the other with it off.

Issue: There's ticking/clicking noise when the tank is turned on. A new hose was just installed.
It's probably the float regulator, which is fine.

Issue: The propane hose is deteriorating at the pigtail. These just don't seem to last long.
Use Trident Marine brand. Mine gave 10+ years of service. (Evening Starlight)
Replacement hoses can be found at Lowes or Depot. RV outlets sell them at premium prices.
Be sure to use hoses made specifically for propane. Hoses made for other fuels will deteriorate with propane. (Moira)

Issue: Propane sensor alarm goes off too easily; hypersensitive. Cannot turn on gas while alarm is activated.

Clean the surface of the sensor. It may be giving a false alarm due to micro debris.
Clean the unit with a vacuum cleaner.
Clean the microprocessor with rubbing alcohol, then use WD 40.
Give the sensor a rap on a hard surface to dislodge any debris.
There is a small heating coil inside.
Green wire - disconnect sensor line.
Connect green wire to ground (black) wire.
12 volt between green and black to test.
Add a switch to the solenoid.
Bypass the sensor altogether.
It goes out of calibration after 3-4 years of use.
Test it by putting it into a bag and spray butane into it.

Lacquer thinner from working outside on deck set off the propane sensor inside. Good accidental test.

Replace the O ring, when needed, for a perfect seal. (Salty Paws)
Check the O ring with each tank change. (Amazing Grace)
Use your gauge to check for leaks. (Valkyrie)

The hose from propane tank to regulator should be checked from time to time. They shrink back after years of use and leak. It's inexpensive to replace at about $20. (Dyad)

There's an expiration date on the valves of aluminum propane tanks. These can and should be replaced when necessary. (Barefootin)
Original manufacturer gives a 12 year warranty. Passing an inspection will be good for another 5 years.

Composite tanks can be bought much cheaper and work well. The diameter is a bit larger, so it may not fit into a tight space. UHaul carries them. (Salty Paws)

Ace Hardware carries composite tanks. (Sam the Skull)

Go to a propane retailer rather than a quick swap place for a refill. (Shining Star)

Use a flashing LED for the propane solenoid switch. (Valkyrie)

(also ovens and stoves)


Query: Aluminum prop has a hole the size of a half dollar. What's the best way to fix it?
You may be able to patch it with a similar aluminum piece and brazing rods.
Use care not to heat the rubber hub. Protect it with a wet rag.
JB Weld might work. Make a mold and fill it with JB. Drill small holes around the perimeter to provide something for the JB to hold onto.

Issue: I'm dealing with a 'singing' prop.
Smooth the leading edge. This will help.
Painting the prop will also soften the leading edge.

Query: How to remove a bronze prop from a stainless shaft?
Use acetylene or oxygen torch to heat the key area thoroughly and fast to make it pop. Then use a puller in place and work fast.

Query: What substance is best to use on the shaft, for easy removal of props next time?
Don't use anything. You need to retain the friction.

Issue: New prop has a high pitch whining sound while running.
Check for metal to metal contact on bushing.
Loosen the seals by a small amount; they may be too tight.
Check all bearings.
Sand the washer lightly.
Check the lower unit oil.
Update: I talked to a prop specialist who advised to file at 45 degrees on the trailing edge of prop.

Query: How to straighten out a bent prop?
Stainless props can be straightened out by banging on them with a hammer on a block.

Query: How to temporarily repair a spun prop?
Use a tap and die and install several screws; this will work as a temporary fix.
Use several wood screws. It will expand the rubber where placed. Install parallel to the axle.
Heat and remelt the hub. (St Jude)
FYI: Newer props have plastic hubs which are interchangeable. (Toucan Dream)

Query: What size prop to use after swapping the transmission to a higher ratio?
You'll need to know the pitch and diameter.
Refer to: "The Propeller Handbook" by Dave Gerr.

With the prop puller in place, use a sledge hammer to hit the hub. Whacking it, metal to metal, causes a vibration which allows loosening. Don't use a wood block, as that will prevent the vibration. (Valkyrie)

Remove barnacle remnants from props with Ospho. Either soak props in solution or wrap props in Ospho-soaked rags.

Prop Shield A waxy substance antifouling barrier coat. Apply to prop then cure with a heat gun. Fairly inexpensive.

Propspeed is good prop antifouling paint. "Works because it's slick, not because it's toxic." It has a similar application to the Pettit system, and Manta recommends it for their boats. Re-application is less intensive than the initial application. (Mon Amie)

Pettit metal primer on props failed. All paint has been removed. (Dyad)

Pettit brand prop coating system works very well. Costs less than other competitive products. Lasts up to three seasons. (Beluga)

Cold galvanizing zinc spray does not work if moving, as it peels off underway. Its a better choice for a layup or longterm dockage. (Salty Paws)
[counter] Cold galvanizing paint has stayed on my props for two cruising seasons. (Valkyrie)

Success with prop sprayed with zinc chromate. It prevented growth for long-term dockside. Good prep work is critical. (Shining Star)
Pettit Barnacle Block is the brand I used; $18 - $20 range. (Shining Star)
Thumbs Up (Destiny, Valkyrie)
Aircraft supply companies may also carry this. (Aquavit)
Pettit #1792 is a galvanizing zinc paint in an aerosol can. (Shamal)
Rustoleum makes an equivalent product. (Cat Tales, Valkyrie)

Prop paint will not last long if prop is in constant use, as on a trawler. Best used for long term dockage.

Paint prop with a black Sharpie pen. It repels growth. Use the Sharpie that says "harmful if swallowed" not the ones made for school kids. (Salty Paws, Slow Mocean)
Almost no growth after applying two coats from a monster Sharpie a year ago. (Calypso)
Excellent results reported among other boaters at our marina. (Windswept IV)
I used a Sharpie on a prop and let it sit idle in sea water for 6-7 months. No growth. (Naked Lady)

For longterm dockside. Cover props with a plastic bag containing 1 cup bleach OR ammonia (not both!) The bag prevents water flow and prevents and smothers any growth. (Thumbs up Early Out)

Use Lanocote on props as a growth barrier. Works well when boat is not moving for long periods of time. (Valkyrie)

Use axle grease or water pump grease on props to prevent fouling while at dock for extended periods. Can be done underwater. (C_Language)

Use a hydro shield to protect the props from damage. (Barefootin)

Get a dinghy prop with a bit less pitch in order to get onto plane. (Cat Tales)
Went to a lower pitch (15 hp Yamaha) and got better performance from carrying heavier loads. (Discovery)

Propeller Pages A vast online storehouse of propeller information including articles, recommendations, technical info, and downloads.

Solas brand stainless steel props for outboards. Costs more, but will last "forever". carries them. (Dyad)

(also running gear,   boat layup)


Use ArmorAll on rubber parts to extend their life. Its a water-based product and can be used on indoor parts. (Zephyr)

Oil-based protectants are great for items out in the elements. We recommend Black Magic brand Pro Shine. (Salty Paws)

Use Collinite #845 Insulator Wax on a clean radar dome and antennas.



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