Friday, February 29, 2008

That time of year again. Hauled, painted the bottom, polished the topsides, and put on a new prop.

The new prop is a 3-blade Campbell Sailor, 14" diameter, 7" pitch, from It replaces a 2-blade folding Martec, 16" diameter, 10" pitch.

So far, in just a half hour of motoring, the results look very good. Much reduced vibration and much higher spped at all RPMs. Backing and prop-walk were never much of a problem with the Martec so I can't really say it has improved. We'll have to see about sailing performance.

Scamper's engine and prop are offset to port so prop walk is magnified anyway. I've always been pretty happy being able to use the boat's ability to back severly to port though it's sometimes been annoying.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cheap Ideas

Here's a collection of things I've done that provide a pretty good value.

- LEDs for all cabin lights from Much cheaper than upgrading electrical-storage system and much the same result. You can also get red ones to put into normal fixtures for saving night-vision.

- Bolt (rod) cutter from Harbor Freight for $20 vs. $200 from West Marine.

- Low-cost "pen PC" (Win2k) from eBay, SeaClear software, free charts, fairly cheap AIS from MillTech Marine - full featured nav computer.

- Inkjet printers are less than $50 now. So are scanners. These two things in addition to a label maker and possibly a laminator allow you to do documentation that saves money and lots of time.

- You can get a custom "boat stamp" made and, even better, one that uses permanent ink. Stamp everything in sight that is not fastened down, especially stuff that floats. I included the boat's name, home port, and US Coast Guard documentation number on mine.

- $18 hammock chair swing from eBay. On the spin halyard this keeps kids occupied for hours.

- "Tablet" style DVD player velcro'd to bulkhead.

- Black and Decker "alkaline" screwdriver. Not rechargeable, uses 4 AAs. Under $20 from WalMart. Indispensable. Speeds up any job, drills holes, takes a LOT of abuse. Batteries last months.

- Small, low-cost dehumidifier from Under $40. Heaters are nice but a warm AND dry cabin is even better.

- Fresh water flush for engine cooling. Y-valve draws from freshwater tank when putting the boat away. Less than $100 in parts.

- Thin, clear plastic sheet over nav station surface. Put a chart under it, the day's current tables, notes. You can keep your DR position and write notes on it with dry-erase markers.

- Wolfgang Puck's self-heating lattes. Not cheap but that first sip, on a cold night-watch, when you don't have time to go below, is worth $100. I've found them on sale locally for $1 each.

- Small pressure cooker (from CampMor). $50, easy to store, great to cook with.

- Weems and Plath electronic barometer. 24-hour recording/graph barometer. Has an alarm for high-wind prediction that has never failed or been wrong in four years.

- Small, 12v, aux fuel pump. $20 from eBay plus a couple fittings. Makes changing the filters and bleeding the engine very quick and simple.

- Computer fan to circulate air through hull-liner. $20 plus some vent grills. Lockers are dry. Tools stored there don't rust.

- Memory foam pad(s) from

- Small plastic box full of really cheap toys. That, the DVD player, some small handheld fish nets, and the hammock swing buy a lot of busy-kid time.

- Blobs of silicone on bottom of drink glasses. Set the glasses on wax paper until dry. Makes the glasses non-skid.

- Gore tex or graphite packing works really well and is a very cheap upgrade.