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Safe at Sea: Tips from Tom, Part II

By Staff | Jan 2, 2019

In last week’s Safe at Sea column, Tom Niswonger – the squadron’s engine maintenance course instructor – talked about his all-time favorite cleaning products. This week’s article will finish off his discussion of cleaning products and continue with some miscellaneous tips.

– Barnacle Busters for cooling systems and bottom ports’ cleaning (bold)

Since the radiator shops can no longer boil your parts, this stuff really works. Niswonger puts a couple of gallons in a 30-gallon garbage can and a small electric pump to blast the cooler (or whatever) with a return line into the bottom of the garbage can. They will clean up as good as when you were able to take them to a radiator shop. An extra tip: You can use it, then strain it and use it again.

Additional random but helpful tips

– Engine oil, transmission, lower unit, generator oil sample kits

Cost is about $15 per test, and they run about 15-20 tests. They will give you a full report that will point out problems that are developing, which you might not be aware of. It costs a lot less than a major repair.

– Aere’s Inflatable Fenders

Made out of hypolene, these have large stainless “D” Rings for lines. They collapse to next-to nothing, and they only need approximately 3-4 psi. They come in various colors and sizes, with the popular sizes being 10-by-25 and 12-by-60. They are indestructible and extremely light weight. While they are not inexpensive, they will be the very last you will buy. (P.S. They clean easily.)

– Seacocks

Hollow aluminum pieces about 8″-12″ long can help on hard-to-open or hard-to-close seacocks. You can normally get them from a “Fab Shop” for free.

– Plastic calipers

Said Niswonger, “These are easy to use and won’t rust. When you are going to get that clamp, bolt, screw, etc., you will only have to make one trip to measure the inside or outside diameter (up to 6”). (He gives them to his engine maintenance students, so again take the class!)

– Dashboard helm station “port and starboard indicator”

This little plastic indicator can be “switched” every time you change directions, which gives the captain a little less stress to remember on which side of her boat the red or green marker should be. Great for peace of mind!

– Got hooked?

For the fisherman who occasionally gets a hook in his finger, here’s the answer! Buy a couple of stainless steel baby diaper safety pins. Grind the point off – down to the larger diameter and make it flat. Follow the shank of the hook into the wound, put the flat part of the pin on the barb and back it out. Niswonger learned this from a hospital ER doctor when he was in with a salmon plug with two hooks in different fingers! It really works, he says, and beats trying to push the hook through your fingernail.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or Commander@SanibelCaptivaSPS.org or visit online at sancapboating.club.