Tech Net W-X-Y-Z

Issue: Water heater leaks only while underway when its really hot.
Check pipe fittings.
Water heater may just be worn out. May need to replace it.
[update] Found a pinhole leak on the bottom, which was fixed successfully with silver solder.

Query: Are propane water heaters recommended?
I had an older one and removed it. The igniter was scary. (Dyad)

Gates Green Stripe water hoses are recommended for water heater circuit. They hold up well in higher temperatures. Much better than you can get at West. They can also be found at Truck or Industrial supply stores. (Anania)

An RV propane shower water heater works great. It mounts outdoors. Needs stainless steel screws, but includes propane regulator, handle, and hose. About $110. (Shamal)

Paloma Brand works well. (Shearwater)

Auxiliary water heater element:
Nichrome wire wrapped around the body of the water heater, finished with metal-backed tape. Draws 20 amps for three wraps. (C_Language)


Issue: Flow rate went down and salt concentration went up.
Check brine flow.
Perform a fresh water flush.
Check the thru hull for clearance.

Issue: A leak in the fiberglass part of the body.
Any fix done to the outside, will probably fail due to the high pressure coming from within.
Use acetone on the surface prior to repair to dry residual water.
Try JB Weld with a hose clamp for reinforcement.
Water will still find the path of least resistance. The tube will need to be replaced ultimately.

Query: Plastic end fittings are cracked. Where can I find a source for replacements?
It may be practical to have a machine shop make one. (C_Language)
Boundless Outfitters carry a lot of watermaker parts. (Discovery)

Issue: Possible sheared drive key.
Check the valves in the pump.
Drain oil and look for moving crank shaft.
Disassemble valve and check it.
Issue: The watermaker will not start on the inverter.
Lower the pressure on the watermaker, and start it up in low pressure. (Discovery)
Swagelok and Cat Pump both make adjustable regulators and bypass valves. (Discovery)

Query: What's the best watermaker feed pump to protect the main pump from running dry?
Use an air conditioner pump. (Fooling Around)
An air conditioner pump could be a problem due to it using alternating current on a DC boat system. (C_Language)
Use a 12 volt bait-well pump which would be good for continuous use too. (Dyad)
In addition to the pump, put a Y valve bypass around the feed pump to protect the main pump. (Discovery)
Update solution: Replaced the pump with a bait-well pump, as recommended, and its working well. It solved the problem of recycle on/off which burned out the old pump.

Issue: Reduced output.
Use an acid-based cleaner to remove calcium build-up.
Install a new membrane since your's is twelve years old.

Issue: I'd like a source for high pressure hoses.
Rubber Specialties (Naked Lady)
Amazon Hose and Rubber (C_Language)

Query: How can you tell if the carbon filter is saturated?
You can't tell by smell or look if the filter is saturated with chlorine or not. Change the filter every three months.

Query: What's the standard pickling process?
1. Place two tablespoons of preservative in the filter canister, then fill with warm water with no filter.
2. Set recycle valve to circulate.
3. Follow by flush.
There's no danger in using a too high concentration of preservative. Its just wasteful.
If there's no way to recirculate, just use 5 gallons of pickling solution. (Dot's Way)
Use a rubber band to remind yourself if the filter is in or out at recommissioning time. (Salty Paws)
Pickling filters are available. (C_Language)

Issue: Cannot successfully tighten 1/2" male nipple to female fitting.
Use a nylon washer to use as a compression piece.
Rescue Tape can help hold fittings together where access is limited.
Use an over hose as a sleeve with hose clamps.
No room to work? Split the hose sleeve, fill it with silicone, clamp.
Use food grade silicone grease.
Update: success. Cleaned all parts with an emery cloth and used light coating of silicone on the fitting before reassembling.

Issue: The salinity meter sometimes reports 0.
Use ohm meter to check for loose connections.
Look for an open circuit somewhere in the system.

Query: I need a new watermaker. Any comments on Spectra clark pump?
Spectra clark used to have problems with o ring failure years ago, but this has been fixed by the company.
Spectra recommends not running two pumps at the same time due to pressure getting too high on pump heads which leads to failure on seals. It gets 7 gallons per hour at 6 amps.
Pre-filter came with a single 5 micron filter.
An added plankton filter is even better and won't change the output or quality at 105 ppm.
Spectra is a good company for customer service.

Issue: Failure of control circuits for watermaker.
Solution: Study the wiring diagram. Rewire motor contactors and product valve as necessary with simple toggle switches. Use direct wall outlet wiring if appropriate. Operate watermaker manually until proper parts can be obtained. (Paydirt)

Query: Which pumps are most cruisers using?
Village Marine Tech; considered very reliable.
Aqua Pro; which is the same as Village Marine as they share the same phone number and address.
Cat Pump, which is easily repaired.
Dayton Pump #4P062 (Scotch Mist)
March Mag Coupled good brand, reliable. (Next Exit, Kismet)
March Mag suppliers: Village Marine,   Depco Pump,   Fairfield Supply.

Issue: Watermaker gets hot to the touch; has no fan with the motor.
Its most likely designed to run hot.
If it gets hotter on the generator, it may be a problem with the generator output frequency.
If you smell something, it's too hot, otherwise its okay.
Place a 12 volt fan in the space. It works.
Low voltage at the pump will cause it to run hot. Check voltage.

Issue: Low water flow; very small amount of discharge.
Pump may be air-locked, possible air leak on the input side.
Purge the feed-pump.
Check for leaks on the suction side.
Watch electrical current draw. If the watermaker is doing it's job, the draw will increase.
Check the inlet strainer.

FILTERS (but not the paper types)
Read the gauge to figure out when to clean the filters.
Hang filter overboard to help clean it. Just let it bob for a few days. (Discovery)
Drag it behind while underway. (Ursa Minor)
Let filters soak in Oxi Clean for a few days. (Tot Hill)

Filters will last longer with a boost pump. (Dyad)

Do not back flush with chlorinated water into the watermaker. That will ruin it.
Use the watermaker every day and you'll never need to back flush it.
Flush every day in hot weather due to faster algae growth.

Query: How long should a well-maintained membrane last?
Have seen them last up to seven years.
Five to seven years is the average lifespan.

Query: Where can I find a replacement membrane for the Spectra?
American RO located in Richmond, KY (Cat Tales)
Boundless Outfitters of Boca Raton, FL (Discovery, Dyad)

After repairs, th water still tasted salty. A new membrane worked. Take home lesson: the brine seal needs to go onto the input side.

If watermaker is running slow, two hours at 2/3 pressure will clean the membrane. (Kismet)

End Caps. Replace swivel adapter with pipe thread adapter to repair a leak. A 3/8" or 1/2" adapter will provide enough threads for sealing.

To easily remove end caps from membrane housing, use the watermaker feed pump pressure to help remove them. Leave retainer clip in feed end, and remove clips in brine end. Slowly increase the feed pressure. The end cap will pop off gently at low pressure. Reconnect hose after draining. (Discovery)
Query: Is it a messy process?
No, if you drain the housing first. However, pressurizing with air only may cause the end cap to pop off quickly, and this could be dangerous. Be careful.

Do an easy fresh water flush after each use. (Salty Paws)

New membranes can be purchased online for significant savings. (Trumpeter)

Before purchasing a watermaker, check its membrane for compatibility with parts from other manufacturers. (Dyad)

Bypass the filters and high pressure pump to keep the boost pump primed. (C_Language)

Spectra recommends not making water in areas that have a grayish caste. Small particles move through the pre-filter then clog the membrane. (Mon Amie)

Making your own watermaker has the advantage of customizing it to fit your space, and since you're familiar with it, repairs and maintenance are easier.

Get a DC system if making water to fill your tanks less often. These are more efficient. Use an AC system for everyday use; these require the generator.

Sodium metabisulfate, which is a compound that will pickle a watermaker, can be found at homemade beer brewing suppliers. (Cat Tales)

Air can get sucked in by using the watermaker underway in rough conditions. You'll have to bleed the air out of the filter container if this happens. (Cat Tales)

Use a funnel and a hose to redirect and collect water from small leaks that pool where they can't be normally reached. (Trumpeter)


Query: How to refurbish a foul-weather jacket that's lost its water repellant qualities?
Use Scotch Guard.
Use 303 Fabric Guard. It comes in a pump spray; safe for Sunbrella too.
Nikwax Tech Wash gives reasonable results on outdoor wear. And is a good waterproofer for outdoor equipment such as tents. (Scaramouche, C_Language)

Thompson's WaterSeal (for decks) works well to waterproof boots. (Salty Paws)

To dry out damp electrical gear, put it in a bag of dry rice and leave it in a warm place. (Abraxis)

(also canvas work,   upholstery,   moisture intrusion)


Query: How to figure out where the air leak is on a fresh water spigot?
Use a bit of food dye in the water and look for colored residue.
Use 10lb pressure to test.
Put a clear plastic hose at the pump to see if that's the cause or air intake.
Pressurize it right at the tank.

Query: Is there a way to repair an accumulator tank or is there a model with plastic housing available?
You can manufacture your own with a fiberglass propane tank. (C_Language)
Or make one from a garden pressure sprayer. (Salty Paws)
Use a filter housing, turned upside-down.
There are variable speed water pumps available at Jabsco, which eliminate the need for accumulator tanks. (Faring)

Issue: The sending unit on the water tank is stuck. I disconnected the leads, but it still reads full.
Probably a bad wire.
Disconnect the other gauge that shares the display for diagnosis.
It may be a display module problem.
Sending unit may have a broken wire.
Selectively check wires by touching various combinations. See if display responds.

Issue: Found a bad O ring on inlet strainer.
I had the same problem. I increased the diameter of the inlet hose to 3/4". It worked for the high volume system. (Shamal)

Issue: Pressurized fresh water system now has air in it; no leaks found.
Look at the suction side of the pump.
Pressurize water tank to find the suction side leak.
There may be a crack in the diaphragm of the pump.
May have a leaky hot water tank.
Update: Still need to replace diaphragm, but fix will work for awhile: Silicone Vacuum Grease on the diaphragm worked. It's a food grade product by Dow-Corning. (Salty Paws)

Depot/Lowes carry accumulator tanks for R/O systems. They're much cheaper than marine products. (Valkyrie)

Query: How to remove odor from water lines?
Use 1-2 cups of bleach in the lines and let sit about an hour.
Avoid bleach if water tank is aluminum.

Query: How to remove a sulfur smell in water supply?
Use hydrogen peroxide in the water tank.
Use the 3% peroxide. You can use 1 quart per 100 gallons.
Take the tank down to 20 gallons or so and use 1 gallon of peroxide, allow to sit for a good while.
It may be useful to change the filters.
Disconnect the lines and fill them with bleach overnight.

After a bleach flush, use baking soda to remove chlorine taste.
Clean the screens at the faucet. That may be the source of odor.
Shore water may be the problem.
Use a charcoal filter.
Carbon filters will become saturated by chlorine, allowing the chlorine to flow through and damage watermaker membranes.
If vinyl lines are old, ,replace them with polyethylene. Vinyl will absorb odor over time.
Successfully flushed with bleach and used city water through lines for several hours. (JCD)

Remove charcoal filter during cleaning to prevent clogging it. Use baking soda to clean up and remove the last bit of odor from lines. Then reinstall the charcoal filter. (Destiny)

Have a duplicate set of hoses. Swap them out once in awhile and bleach treat the used set. (Calypso)

Use 1 quart peroxide per 100 gallons of water in fresh water tank. This will keep the water in good condition and will not be detected by taste. (Salty Paws)

Peroxide is safe for aluminum tanks and watermakers.
Vinegar will stun algae, but will not kill it. Baking soda also works, but makes tea taste weird.
Use bleach in the tank to kill algae; but not in an aluminum tank.
Bleach in the water tank will boil off in 7-8 days in warm climates. Cooties tend to grow on the warm and sunny side of the boat.

Use 1 gallon of bleach per 100 gallons of water for shock cleaning.
Use 1 cup of bleach per 100 gallons of water as a preventative.

Chlorine is not a good idea to use in aluminum or steel water tanks. (Minx)
The most thorough material I have found on using chlorine to purify drinking water is Army Tech Bulletin 577 There are several editions of this online. Depending on the edition you find, Appendix I, Tables I-1 and I-2 have mixing ratios, but the emphasis is on having SOME residual chlorine 30 minutes after mixing, hence the test kit. The EPA has similar stuff, search "chlorine purify drinking water." (Moira)

Chlorine from city water will dissipate in up to 72 hours if there's airflow across the surface. (Salty Paws)

Pool test kits will detect chlorine levels. (Moira, Kumbaya)
The bleach sold today is stronger that it was in the past, so it's easy to accidentally use too much. Use the pool test kit to be sure. (Moira)

Depending on the edition you find, Appendix I, Tables I-1 and I-2 have mixing ratios, but the emphasis is on having SOME residual chlorine 30 minutes after mixing, hence the test kit.

The EPA has similar stuff, search "chlorine purify drinking water."
Do a taste test.
At 250+ ppm some folks can still taste the salt.
150 ppm is good water.

We use a Tracer brand hand held salinity tester. (Mon Amie)
Hanna Instruments makes a reliable tester also. (C_Language, Renaissance)

Wema is a good brand.
Wema is accurate to the gallon. (Shamal)
Blue Sea brand is good.
Tank Tender is a very reliable system. (Dyad) Make sure there are no kinks in the tubes. (Dragon Seeker)

New polyethylene hose also comes in red and blue to color code hot and cold water. Depot carries it.

Issue: My primary house water pump gets hot. Have replaced gaskets and checked bearings.
Check the wiring and connections. (Beluga)
Check pressure sensor. It may be staying on continually at low. Use the adjustment screw to do this. (Salty Paws)
It may not be a switch problem, but a bad resistor.
Once it comes up to pressure, make sure it's not drawing current.

Issue: Having problems getting a new pump to prime.
Put silicone grease on all the O-rings. This helps them to completely seal, which will help priming.
Suck through the output end to draw water in.

Issue: SHURflo pump started leaking at the housing seal.
Replace diaphragm housing assembly.
May have a hairline crack. Pressurize the pump off line to locate possible leak.
If you use a sealant to repair the seal, just finger tighten until set. Then fully tighten for a better seal.
SHURflo has an adjustment for pressure. It may be set too high.

Issue: My SHURflo pumps have only lasted a year. They don't seem to be designed for day to day use over long periods of time. These may have been designed for week enders.
Variable speed pumps are not as useful as advertised.
Replace with a Jabsco PAR max 4. Ours has given 8 years of reliable service so far. (Salty Paws, Patriot)
Replace with SHURflo 2088-414-934 (Starlight)
Try Paragon. It takes only 20 minutes to change the diaphragm. (Serengeti)
Northern Tool has a nice selection of water pumps. (C_Language)

The water pump was overheating. Traced the problem to a bad capacitor. Overheating can be a potential fire hazard. (Minx)

Query: How to repair pin holes in water tank?
Drill out the holes with a 1/2" bit, then use a tap to give JB Weld or other epoxy an opportunity to grip well.

Create new diaphragm out of a Hypalon patch kit. It works. (C_Language)


Issue: I want to save files from hyperterminal to a second GPS. Cut and paste results in lost data.
Use the capture text command to transfer text from one GPS to another.

Query: How to download them from the GPS? (Nobeltec v 7)
Transfer with card. With hyperterminal, cut and paste with their undocumented ascii file.
Make a waypoint and give it and odd name, then do a computer search for that name, which should locate that file.
Nobeltec has an upload/download wizard.
Route transfer: the default is 8, but that can be increased to add characters for longer names.

Easily transfer routes and waypoints to Garmin with GPS Utility. This versatile software program can be downloaded as freeware or upgraded to shareware. (Shamal)

GPS Babel is a free and easy general purpose program to convert and transfer routes and waypoints. Works with CSV formats too. (Dyad)

(also GPS,   OpenCPN)


Query: Is there a way to get weather faxes and briefings from NOAA through e-mail?
Yes, you can get faxes via New Orleans. Open Airmail and go to fax. A click on the clock will give options for downloading of weather reports. (Soulmates)
Airmail - Modules > Internet Access > Settings or Setup.
Get text versions via e-mail by subscribing to They are the "Internet Service for the Bandwidth-Impaired." No cost. (Moira, Salty Paws)
Airmail has a good index of the Saildocs documents. (Discovery)

On Winlink, go to the catalog drop down box. Up to 700 weather sources are there to choose from.

Weather maps through Airmail take about 20 minutes to download. (Scaramouche)

Look for Pactor 3 broadcasts for weather info. (C_Language)

Kindle 3G will access weather info.

For weather faxes, CTTY is a good program that costs about $20. It works with speakers and is faster than Airmail. (Abraxis)

Upper sideband 6501 at 1700 ET, Coast Guard High Seas Weather.

BASRA broadcasts weather reports on SSB 4003 at 0630 a.m. daily.

CHRIS PARKER'S Marine Weather Center
Live daily weather reports on the SSB.

Earth.nullschool an animated map of global wind and weather. One of the best visuals around.
Windyty another animated map of the wind with an exceptional graphic interface. has a downloadable product called uGrib, which if you like wind barbs, looks clean.
Insmet Weather overlay (Spanish). Visuals cover into southern Bahamas and to the Yucatan peninsula.
NDFD Grib files from NOAA shows wind and waves. Can be downloaded from Winlink. Good for 7 days. Better than GFS. (Hold Fast) * (Amazing Grace, Orion, Salty Paws)
Sailing Weather * (Orion)
Storm Pulse for storm tracking. Tracks all major weather events. (Discovery)
Wind (Blue Highway) gives current wave heights, direction, etc. to make it easier to to decide whether offshore is a good option. (Blackfoot)
Its also good for wind direction and speed. (Cat Tales)

Where to Find the Euro Model. If you have internet, go to Weather Underground, click on the Wundermap and then go over to the slider on the right side of the screen and scroll down. You will find 'Model Data' and be sure it is checked. Open the settings and you will find the various models, choose ECMWF and then click on forecast, map settings to 'wind'. (Barefootin)

And for the adventurous:
National Hurricane Center (NHC) Experimental Gridded Marine Forecasts graphical interface. (Amazing Grace)

* includes current gulf stream location.

(also pactor 3,   weather articles)


RECOMMENDED BernzOmatic AL-3 4043 Aluminum Soldering Rod, brinell hardness 100; working temperature 700-750 F.  "This alloy is especially useful in soldering aluminum windows and doors and miter joints. Ideal for sealing holes in aluminum boats... Useful in repairing outboard motor castings... Unexcelled for high strength and long service."  The fact that you can weld aluminum with only a propane torch makes these must-have items. (St Jude)

Ace Hardware

Capo Welding on Riberia Street St Augustine.  You can pull right up to their dock. (Dyad)

MAPP for torch welding. It's an excellent gas for torch work. WallyWorld carries it. Using MAPP, rather than propane, will give hotter, better results. (Gypsy Sails)


Issue: Wifi connection using Alfa adapter on Win 8 shuts down during use.
Go to Control Panel> Network Sharing Center> Wireless Network. Uncheck the option to allow Windows to shut down.

Query: Is the waterproof ALFA directional adapter any good?
It works fairly well.
It has mixed reviews.
Its not really 100% waterproof. Its connectors are vulnerable.

Query: If I install a wifi cable on the backstay, will it interfere with the SSB antenna that's there?
It should be fine if you're not running them both at the same time.
Unplug both ends of the wifi when using the SSB.
Wifi shouldn't be exposed to the saltwater environment. It will fry something eventually.
It will interfere with GPS.

Issue: My Air Card has a broken connector to the external connection.
Try for parts replacement.
The price of wifi adapters has dropped. You may be better off buying a new one.

Issue: There's a Zoom Air Card available for cell phones. I'd like information.
It will work, but will not be fast enough for Skype, etc. You'll need to be within range of a Batelco Tower.
Its better than dial-up, but nowhere near the speed of DSL.
GSM Zoom card recommended for use in the Bahamas. It will also work in the states. GSM cell phones use Simm cards.

Query: Is there such a thing as an outdoor-rated wifi antenna?
EnGenious makes one. Its well under $100. Don't put the box itself outside.
Use a PVC box to protect the unit from weather.
Visit HyperLink Wireless.

Query: How does cell phone wifi work?
Your service uses your cell signal to connect and creates an access point on your boat.

Query: Where can I find a good wifi signal booster?
EnGenious 200 mw wifi adapter. It plugs into the USB port.
The EnGenious with a 9DB antenna boosts signal by twice.
Terk brand wifi antenna.
Fivemiwifi is reported to be excellent. Pricey. 8.7 DB omni-directional antenna. Find one at Netgear.

Issue: EnGenious adapters failed from corrosion on connectors which broke on the USB on connector board. This happened to two of them. (Abraxis)
Goop or BoeShield T9 on connectors may help prevent problems.
Re-house the unit in a new sealed box.
Try ALFA. It has presented no problems; reliable.

Adjust your computer settings NOT to accept automatic updates for anything. Updating is usually done silently and eats up your monthly bandwidth. Read article. (Stella)

Close all unnecessary ports. (Amazing Grace)

Use Startup Inspector to close unnecessary programs running in the background. (Dyad)

Wifi cards and adapters literally burn out from overheating in hot weather. Suggest using a fan or locate it in a physically cooler space. (Dyad)

ALFA does not work on a mac. (Calypso)

We replaced 3' lengths of connected cable with one 15' cable. It improved the signal tremendously and removed line loss. (Salty Paws)

Side by Side Live Test Results:
ALFA and EnGenious Adapters
After using both adapters onboard, the live test of the two showed no change in the receive signals. At 500 milliwatts, almost no difference. The critical factor is receive gain; the antenna. Remember, the goal is receive sensitivity, not transmit. (Valkyrie)

In my side by side testing, the ALFA out-performed the EnGenious. ALFA can be found at (Abraxis)

PC Pitstop through-put tester checks total through-put on your wifi connection in live time. Free. (Salty Paws)

Since we all use wifi that is 99% unsecured, there is a risk of others snooping on your traffic. As recommended by PC World, software is available to create a VPN (virtual private network) by encrypting the communications with the access point. Hot Spot Shield is available as a free download from Its not a resource hog. We've been using this, and although it does require an extra step to start it, it seems well worthwhile. (Salty Paws)

Firefox has an extension plug-in to secure all. And Gmail has an encryption option. For more info on wifi security read Wifi Security User's Guide online. (Salty Paws)

Win 7 allows for a Microsoft virtual wifi miniport that can be controlled by the command line. A simple batch process is all that's needed to invoke the network, and it's WPA2 encrypted. netsh wlan set to hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=NAME OF NETWORK key=PASSWORD keyusage=persistent netsh wlan start hosted network pause This runs almost instantly. The first time you set this up, you need to allow for ICS on the adapter that actually receives the internet. This is done in the Network and Sharing Center>Change Adapter Settings Right Click Properties>Sharing. Tick allow users to connect, untick allow others to disable and choose the Home Networking Connection that you are going to use to broadcast the network from you Win7 machine (see adapter settings for names of your adapters). Double check and see that your mini port adapter is enabled. (Salty Paws)

Bad Boy Xtreme High power complete wifi solution including software, cable, power supply, and antenna. (Sunny Side Up)

L10 multi mode wifi router. (Moira)

Mikro Tik router (Stella)

Ubiquiti makes Bullet 2 adapter which will hook up to any antenna. Good Price. (Passages)
Can also get the Bullet from
Thumbs up! (Discovery, Passages, Salty Paws, Dyad)
One of the nice things about the Bullet is you can power them easily from 10-17VDC without using an AC based power supply. I believe the PoE is pins4/5 for +V and 7/8 for ground. Most PoE is 48V, but for some reason they chose standard car battery voltages with enough margin for lead acid and lithium chemistry. It's handy if you don't want to use an inverter. (Stella)

Wave RV Marine antenna. Have had good luck with it. (Scaramouche)
It has a chip set inside which gets confused when several others are in the area. Very waterproof. (Rachael) has an app for Smart Phones that allows the phone to work as a wifi connection to your computer. (Valkyrie)

ALFA AWUS036NH connects at 2000 mw, works faster, better, sees more stations. Cost, including shipping was $30 at (Salty Paws)
Or purchase through (Time Enough Too)
Marine Grade ALFA outdoor wireless with waterproof housing at Amazon. About $40 (C_Language)

Free Download Drivers for the ALFA adapter. The latest driver allows you to adjust power output. (Siren, Salty Paws)

Island Time PC builds custom computer and wifi systems for cruisers. Very reasonably priced. The also have a lot of information on wifi adapters. (Discovery, Dot's Way)

How to Assemble Your Wifi Adapter for Mast Installation - Illustrated  by Bentley "Salty Paws"

(also cables,   computers,   internet)


Issue: There's corrosion on the mounting flange. The new blades are made of anti-corrosion material.
Use an anti-corrosion paste, such as Tef Gel.

Query: Would it be good to install a wind generator in addition to existing solar panels?
The wind generator will probably cast shadows on solar panels.
They work well together, but the shadow on the solar is a huge issue.
Wind generators can break blades and are noisy. Don't bother to install one if you're already using solar.
One advantage to using both is that the wind generator will still work at night.
Install a wind generator on the port side due to prevailing winds, especially in the Bahamas. This will usually force its shadow to be cast on the water.

Query: Should wind generators be shut down while underway?
I have had no problems leaving it on underway.
Sometimes its good to tie it off or turn it off to save the life of the bearings.
My Air Marine 403 died with bearing failure. It was left on at all times.
We turn ours off and keep it perpendicular to a strong wind.

Issue: Air Breeze will not spin freely after a strong wind event. Gives two LED light blinks.
It may be a failure of the mother board. The two blinks point to that as a potential problem.
Remove wires running from the stator to control board. It should spin freely with stator disconnected. It's a test to see if the stator is shorted.

Issue: Air X stopped working just 30 days after being service. Brushes are intact and all connections are good.
Adjust voltage. It may be too high.
Use a drill to spin the blades to test it.
Use a bolt as an adapter for testing.
Turn solar panels off.

Query: Where to purchase replacement blades for the Air X?
Find them at
Spreco blades will fit Air X.

Issue: The blades are out of balance.
Clean up any corrosion. It builds up on blades and can unbalance them; it also may crack the housing.
When replacing blades, use TefGel. It works to prevent corrosion.

Issue: The Wind Bugger stopped working suddenly and the output is way down.
Connect the diode to the battery directly.
Bypass the diode.

Clamp diving weights on the wind generator mast. The extra weight mass baffles the noise. (C_Language)
A guy-wire could be helpful, by adding tension. (Salty Paws)
Cut the pipe in half. Put it back together with a rubber bushing in between. (Brilliant)
Add axial load to the bearings to reduce the noise. Use a spacer for the job. It will only slightly reduce speed. (C_Language)
Low-clearance bearings are quieter now and also have improved startup time. New blades from Portugal are extremely quiet. (C_Language)
Spreco blades are very quiet.

Blades can be trimmed down if chipped. (Vayu)
Remove the prop hub when the unit is new, and use Tefgel or Never Seez to make sure you can take it off later if needed. (C_Language)

Remove the blades for long term storage. (Salty Paws)

Spray blades with Rustoleum paint to protect the fiberglass. (I Wanda)

Use two coats of any kind of spray paint and sand between coats to protect. (Discovery)

D400 12 volt Wind Generator. They're made in England; Trans Marine Pro is the U.S. distributer. I've been pleased with mine. (Luna Sea)

Air Marine brand. The only difference between the land version and the marine version is the housing. Buy the land version and save. It can be painted if desired. (Rejoice)


Issue: New windlass has wires exposed to the salty, wet, environment.
Use Heavy Duty Corrosion Inhibitor named CRC #06026 then wrap in self-amalgamating tape.
Use Lanocote.
Use BoeShield T-9.

Query: The gasket needs replacement. What material is best to use?
Weather stripping. Its made of closed-cell rubber and takes a bend very well.
Make a gasket out of RTV. Pre-clean the surface with acetone.

Issue: The windlass loses power.
Check all connections.
You should have 12 volts or more under load.
Check the transmission, the oil may need replenishing, the bearings may need grease.
Check the switch. Reversing switches aren't recommended as they are another point of failure.

Issue: Cone clutch cannot be tightened sufficiently. I've used spray paint to look for contact points. Looking for ideas to make better contact.
Use valve grinding compound.
[counter:] Above may cause damage.
Use a brass shim-like material between the two surfaces along with grinding compound.

Query: I cleaned a lot of muck out of the windlass foot switch. Before reinstalling it, should I use grease or lube inside?
Use Lanocote. It works. Fill the entire space with it, since it's just a small space, it's fine. (Salty Paws)
Update: I used the Lanocote. It gets too stiff in cold weather and so the foot switch wouldn't turn off.
Use dialectic grease.

Issue: Windlass fails to run during lifting; solenoid has been replaced.
May need new brushes.
Brushes may be sticking. Clean them. Tapping motor with soft hammer may help.
Thermal circuit breaker in motor may have tripped.
Voltage may be low; windlass then runs too hot.
Feel for heat on wire connections.

Query: How to increase the friction for the clutch? It's metal on metal.
It may have had a 1/4" thick rubber-type ring which may have worn off.
Leather might work as a ring.
Try a grinding compound on it, then lubricate.
Use solder to find any irregularities.

Query: What lubrication to use on my old, unknown brand? It's a manual and has a dip stick.
Use 90 weight gear oil.
Check the seals and and go slow with the fill.
Carb cleaner will rejuvenate the seals.

Be sure to check the grease once in awhile. It doesn't last forever. (C_Language)

Use your boat engine to approach your anchor, rather than using the winch to move the boat.

Use Marine Tex to fill in gaps on worn windlass key-way. (Foolin Around)

Use lithium-based grease or Lanocote on the interfaces of the housing to prevent seizing. (Valkyrie)
Super Lube synthetic grease. Find at hardware stores; also on eBay.

Amsoil Water Resistant Grease. (Salty Paws)

Brake cleaner. Excellent cleaner for grease and gunk. Will leave you with a good working surface. Caution: it's hard on paint and plastics.

Use a cardboard box with the bottom cut out to frame the windlass when working on it's internals. This will catch any fly-away pieces. (Salty Paws)

A windlass can be rebuilt professionally at Lauderdale Battery. They also do all kinds of electrical work. (Blown Away)


Issue: I'm using a notebook computer with serial to usb converter. I get BSOD when transmitting.
It may be radio interference.
Try using low power, which can be found through the Winlink audio control.
Try running on battery alone.
Go online and pick up a new driver for your usb adapter.

Query: Where can I find the offset frequencies menu?
I's on the Winlink drop-down menu.
Issue: While offshore, Winlink on 3 megacycles caused crash of the auto pilot and other instruments.
Try to reboot.
Disconnect different devices and nodes and use the simplest configurations to isolate the problem.
You may need ferrites when using 3-6 megs.

Query: How to remove large e-mails before downloading them when out of wifi range?
Use Telnet connection. (Dyad)
Use preference options for size. (Destiny)
Grib files are immune to file size restrictions. (Bees Knees)
Update: success. On the drop menu > Winlink 2000 > options message [set file size/capture options]. Will automatically delete anything above your set limit.

Query: Is Winlink compatible with a Mac?
Yes. It will run with a virtual XP configuration. See (free program).

Issue: Loss of mouse control when logging our of Winlink.
Turn off terminal window before turning off radio.
Look at system device manager; use disable option for mouse.
Disable plug & play to the Edgeport adapter.
(see jumping mouse - for specific instructions)

I have found that I can often succeed with email connections under very poor conditions by using Airmail's Telnet session. The bandwidth requirement is so low that it will usually work when other browser based apps will not.
Winlink will not resend old messages.
Winlink deletes Chris's weather reports that are older than 2 days.

You can manage your own white list. Instructions are found under 'FAQ' at the Winlink site. (Blackfoot)

Winlink Spam Control instructions from Winlink. (Salty Paws)

Winlink online

(also winmor)


"A New HF Transmission Protocol for Winlink 2000" Winmor is similar to Winlink/AirMail but uses the PC sound card as a modem instead of Pactor. Its not as fast as Pactor 2 or as easy as Winlink. Good alternative for folks that don't need much bandwidth. And it makes a good back up or to have as a spare. (Cat Tales, C_Language)

(also Winmor article by C_Language)


Issue: Which works better Cetol or Armada?
Armada is better. It worked and patched in well. Cetol can be orange and Cetol lite is less orange. Armada is clear. (Second Sally)
Cetol is not as able to withstand abrasion. (Barefootin)
Natural Cetol looks like regular teak when cured. (Experience)
Our boat yard folks really like Cetol; Armada is less expensive. (Kismet)

Query: What would fix rotting underwater wood on my centerboard? The piece is no bigger than a 2x4.
West Marine carries a wood repair product called Git Rot. It's very good stuff.
Recreate the piece out of Corian.
Recreate the piece out of puck board (a vinyl based product).
In any case, use nylon screws for attaching.

PC-Petrifier is one-part epoxy that's water soluble. Used for wood waterproofing, sealing, restoring the integrity. Depot. (Salty Paws)

Bristol Finish is a varnish and holds up well outdoors.

Minwax and Benjamin Moore both carry excellent water-based varnishes. (Dyad)

Tung Oil works well and is easy to apply. Durable. (Salty Paws, Beluga)

Ultimate Sole is a good finish for floors. It's high gloss and non-skid. (I Wanda)

Elmer's brand Wood Filler. Paints beautifully, durable, easy to work with. (Dyad)

Vinegar cleans woodwork. (Barefootin)

No X or Y entries yet.


Zebra mussels are found in certain bodies of fresh water. Although they are killed in saltwater, they still cling to a boat until scraped off. (Dyad)


Issue: My new boat is eating the shaft zinc faster than my former boat did. They seriously deteriorated in one month.
Use a shaft saver.
There are too many factors to consider. Pay attention to where you're cruising and what's near by, such as marinas, mega yachts, etc.
Use silver chloride half cell sold as a diagnostic tool. (Dyad)
Coating the prop may be helpful. (C_Language)

Query: My zincs eroded much faster than expected. Would a grouper zinc be useful until I can get new zincs installed?
Yes. As long as it's wired properly. Stainless steel wire is best.
Make sure there is surface overlap, and inspect often.

Query: My boat is kept in semi-fresh water. The zincs still look perfect after nine months. Are the zincs even working? Should I swap to magnesium?
The zincs may be working just fine. You may not have electrolysis problems where you're at.
Electrolysis is much less of a problem in fresh water.
Magnesium was needed in the fresh water of the Great Lakes due to pitting problems, but magnesium will deteriorate quickly in salt water.
Set multimeter to milliamps. Put copper in water. Measure from copper to boat ground. Lower is better. (Naked Lady)

Issue: Erosion of bottom paint around the Dynaplate; especially the ground plane.
Engine tied into the Dynaplate too.
Shore power at marinas exacerbate the problem.
Use galvanic isolator on AC system while at dock.
FYI: Galvanic isolator is also known as zinc saver.
Reduce electrical current leaks.
Compressors for the fridge can be a source of galvanic corrosion. Isolate mechanically. (Celebration)
Comments from Mon Amie:
Disconnect all electric except radio, which is connected to dynaplate.
Run heavy duty cables from engine to batteries and central ground bus. Do not connect dynaplate directly to this bus.

Query: How long should zincs last? Ours last less than a year.
Depends on your cruising grounds and habits. When we dock behind our house, the neighborhood boat lifts eats them up. (Trumpeter)
Extended marina stays will eat them up quickly. Use sacrificial zinc. (Bees Knees)
Try larger zincs.
A grouper zinc at dockside will last 3-4 years. (Salty Paws)
Prop zinc still intact after 18 months in northern waters. However, it only lasted 6 months in southern water. (Shining Star)
Godfrey Zinc has a brass collar and lasts a year. It has never loosened up. Costs more, but lasts longer. (Mon Amie)

Use supplemental grouper zincs in electrically charged marinas. (Salty Paws)

Clamp the grouper to standing rigging. (Trumpeter)
Paint nail polish around the zinc attachment bolts to prevent slippage. Best for use on donut type zincs. (Rejoice)

Use a small pure silver (99.9%) bar. Hang it overboard with an ammeter to determine if you're over or under zincked. Garfield Refining has silver. (Alcid)
You can make your own zincs.

Make grouper zincs out of older zincs. (Naked Lady)

Discount Marine Supply online (Hershey, PA) has the best price on zincs, even with shipping. (Destiny) has incredible prices and selection. (Trumpeter, Salty Paws)

Seaworthy Magazine April 2011 (found by Valkyrie):
"Outdrive Corrosion Mysteries and How to Unravel Them"
Also "The Current Scoop on Galvanic Corrosion"

(also props,   running gear)



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