About Ed Sherman

Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to boats.com, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.

Non Skid and Gel Coat Repair Job

Over the next few days I’m going to be following the complete replacement of the non-skid surface and gel-coat dings on a 1977 Silverton sportfish that a friend of mine is restoring. Some photos of the boat as it stands right now are here:

You can see from the above two photos that the non-skid surface has worn right through in some spots and is all worn and irreparably dirty.

In the cockpit shown below, you can see the remains of the glue that was used to hold a carpet that was added by the original owner to the cockpit sole. All that is going to be removed and the cockpit will end up with a newly coated surface.

The process begins with a combination of hand and power sanding the old usrfaces to remove all of the old non-skid and glue. Here we see the glass man removing the old non-skid from the forward deck.

The trick here is to sand down to the surface of the original gel-coat and no further, without making any gouges that bring things down to the raw fiberglass surface. What grit sandpaper to use? 36 grit will do nicely here but it does depend on the courseness of the non-skid surface to begin with. This is followed up with hand sanding with 80 grit to get to the original surface.

I’ll follow up tomorrow after I get to inspect the prep-work being done today. This should be an interesting project. So stay tuned.


Torqeedo Adds to Electric Power Options

Something I had forgotten about over the years is the limitation found on inland lakes and waterways that exists in some locations. Specifically I’m talking about either horsepower limits or in some cases restrictions on the use of internal combustion engines at all.

Well it seems one boat manufacturer has found the obvious answer. Godfrey Pontoon Boats is one of the premiere manufacturers of pontoon boats here in the US and they are now offering a super option, Torqeedo 4.0 electric outboards to power their pontoons. The press release is here:





As more lakes are designated green with gas and diesel engines prohibited, boaters want and require an environmentally-friendly form of propulsion.  Helping its customers select the best in electric power, boat manufacturer Nautic Global Group now offers Torqeedo’s Cruise 4.0 R electric outboard as optional equipment across all of its Godfrey Pontoon Boat lines.

“Many of our dealers sell boats onto lakes that have horsepower or gas-powered engine constraints,” said Steve Tadd, marketing director for Godfrey.  “Torqeedo is a good partner to team up with and gives our customers a great option in clean, powerful propulsion.”

Revolutionizing the standards for electric power, the Cruise 4.0 R offers boaters more drive and range than ever before.  With thrust equivalent to a 9.9 hp gas outboard, it achieves an efficiency of more than 50%.  It operates on 48V lead-gel, AGM battery bank or two high-performance lithium manganese batteries from Torqeedo’s Power series.

“Godfrey and our whole network of dealers are impressed with the motors’ battery consumption feedback and the outboards’ performance and capabilities,” said Tadd.  “We will put a Torqeedo on any pontoon we build, but they seem to be most popular on our Sweetwater models.”

After building the industry’s first ever all-aluminum pontoon boat in 1958, Godfrey has remained a leader in innovation and quality.  Having built more pontoon boats than any other company and having received more than 20 industry CSI awards, also more than any other builder in the world, Godfrey Pontoon Boats are synonymous with customer satisfaction and excellence.

        Torqeedo is a leading manufacturer of high-tech, electric outboards, offering a range of horsepower options to power a variety of vessels, including pontoons, dinghies and kayaks.  The company’s electric motors are lightweight, incredibly efficient and environmentally-friendly.

Contact Torqeedo Inc., 171 Erick Street Unit A-1, Crystal Lake, IL 60014.  815-444-8806; Fax: 815-444-8807.  mail@torqeedo.com;  www.torqeedo.com.

The installation looks like this:


Stay tuned here as I hope do be doing some testing on these motors later this summer, they are really catching on and so far I haven’t heard a bad word about them, which is impressive.

Parker Energy Systems DC Timer

Parker Energy Systems has just introduced a handy device that although intended to be used to control their fuel polishing systems, offers boaters additional functionality whether you have a fuel polishing system or not. The device is a programable timer control that can be used for a variety of on board DC systems. Things like fans and cabin lights can be set to come on and off automatically based on your own needs. A nice idea and reasonably priced at $239. The timer is shown here:

Parker’s press release says it all. Great idea Parker!




        Scheduling fuel maintenance with Parker Energy Systems’ FPM-050 Fuel Polishing Module is simple with the FPM-PTC-12 Programmable Timer/Control.  Incredibly versatile, this unit can also be used to control other devices installed in the onboard DC electrical system.

The FPM-PTC-12 works with any 12V DC appliance that draws up to 12A.  Intuitive to use, its push buttons and straightforward display prompts make programming quick and easy.

It’s great for controlling anchor and interior lights.  Owners never have to worry about leaving them on all day and draining the battery.  It can turn lights on for added safety when reboarding from a tender at night.

        To keep inside air fresh, the Timer can be used to control the ventilation system, automatically circulating stale air out.  Owners can also save power by programming fans to turn off during the night as the boat or rig cools down.

        The FPM-PTC-12 is highly customizable and offers the capability of 56 weekly switching schedules and up to eight distinct cycles per day.  A manual override feature eliminates the need for an additional helm switch.  Surface or flush-mountable, the Timer/Controller’s splash-proof enclosure is available in a black anodized or stylish brass finish.

        Parker Energy Systems’ FPM-PTC-12 Timer/Controller costs $239.

Contact Parker Energy Systems, Parker Hannifin Corp., 95 Edgewood Ave., New Britain, CT  06051.  Toll-free 877-217-4501; sleahy@parker.com; 

To find out more about this handy device, go to www.parkerfuelpolishing.com

Mastervolt Expands Distribution Network

Mastervolt, an innovator in many areas of marine electrics near and dear to my heart announced yesterday that they have added another distributor to their growing US presence. It turns out that the distributor they selected is a long time ABYC member and supporter, Ward’s Marine Electric in Ft. Lauderdale and Riviera Beach Florida. Great choice Mastervolt!

 I know the folks at both companies and I can tell you that if you need top shelf gear and assistance in system design or installation, these are two companies you need to take a good look at. The official press release is here:

Mastervolt Products to be distributed by Wards Marine Electric

Hanover, MD, May 25, 2009 – Mastervolt, manufacturer of high-quality electrical power products and systems solutions, is pleased to announce that Wards Marine Electric of Florida will be distributing the Mastervolt product line.


For many years, Wards Marine Electric has offered a strong focus and broad understanding of the electrical sector of the marine industry and they serve their customers with great integrity.  Wards, like Mastervolt has a systems approach to the marine electrical market.  Thus, they are an ideal partner to distribute Mastervolt and will offer customers much greater access and availability to the products,said Menno Ligterink, General Manager of Mastervolt, Inc.  “The addition of Wards Marine Electrical signals Mastervolt’s continued commitment to an expanding, strategic direction in North America with consistent, knowledgeable distribution and product support.”


Wards Marine Electric will be offering the full line of Mastervolt products and will be stocking the items including the full range of batteries at its Fort Lauderdale and Riviera Beach, Florida facilities.


For more information, please visit the Wards Marine Electric website at www.wardsmarine.com or www.mastervolt.com.


About Mastervolt

Founded in 1991, Mastervolt International is a leading supplier of high-quality electrical power products and systems solutions for the marine industry.  Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Mastervolt employs @100 full-time staff in six countries including the United States (Hanover, MD headquarters) and has a presence in more than 60 countries.  Mastervolt International is privately owned by its current management and key employees.   For more information, please visit www.mastervolt.com . 



Gulf Oil Spill and The Real Rulers of The World

Regarding the Gulf oil spill, I’ve been sitting back quietly observing the shenanigans as they evolve. I remain amazed that technologically, we have the ability to send a mobile robot to Mars and send back photos of that planet’s surface, but we can’t seem to figure out a way to plug a hole in the ocean’s floor one mile deep. IMHO we should have had this all figured out before  allowing any oil company or sub-contractor to set up a rig. Obviously our thirst for oil out-weighed proper oversight on the part of whatever government organization is responsible for such things.

Now the legal games are beginning, and I compel all readers of this blog to contact their respective congress and senate representatives and scream bloody loud that current liability limits are not even close to realistic in today’s world.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’ve believed for years that in spite of all the various governments and their differences around the globe, the world is actually run by four or five people and they all run oil companies……………..

In this case there appear to be two companies involved, Transocean LTD. and BP PLC. Transocean has already begun playing games with the legal system, recently filing a petition in a federal court that would limit its liability to $27 million dollars based on a maritime law written in 1851, back when a million dollars was actually a lot of money. So, now the lawyers are lining up. I’m on the side of the hundreds if not thousands of small businesses in the Gulf region that are now beiing affected, from motel operators to crab and shrimp fishers to boat dealers and charter operators. The ripple affect of all this is going to effect all business sectors, retail, wholesale, and service businesses that work on boats are all going to be heavily impacted.

BP, to their credit has consistently stated that it will pay all “legitimate claims” related to this situation, but I really wonder. What they haven’t said is that they will pay all legitimate claims up to the limit of their liability…………. My inner conspiracy theorist self knows that what is going on right now is at least to some extent political posturing, and BP can certainly afford to wait out the game indefinately.

After the Exxon Valdez incident the 1990 Oil Pollution Act set limits to $75 million for situations like this and these real rulers of the world are fully aware of this. So now the US Senate has several realistic NJ members that have tried unsuccessfully to get an expedited bill through to raise the limit to $10 billion, more in line with today’s economy. Remember a billion is the new million in today’s world.

So, who in the senate is against raising the liability limits to that extent? Well, go figure, they are all from oil producing states like Alaska, Louisiana and Alabama. Now in fairness to the two Southern gentlemen that are in the Senate representing the folks back home (David Vitter and Jeff Sessions), they really do have to get credit for creative law making proposals. They want to limit the liability to an amount equal to the last four quarters of a company’s profits or double the current limit, whichever is greater. Do I think the companies will play accounting games to hide profits, effectively reducing their liability if this bill goes through? You bet I do.

Boater’s be tough! Call or write your Senators and Congress people today. Its time to clamp down on the rulers of the world and get the game played fairly. Not happening right now IMHO. So what’s Ed’s Boat Tip here? Help your fellow boaters and the many folks who work in the marine industry in the Gulf region, contact your representatives, the future of the Gulf Of Mexico depends on it. Please, please, don’t count on the government or the oil companies to get this right. They won’t without some serious voter griping.

Bow Thruster Corrosion

Over the last decade more and more boaters have either bought or retro-fitted bow thrusters. In some cases people have had to buy several……….. Why? You may ask. DC stray current corrosion to the extreme has been the cause for more than a few bow thruster drives literally disappearing from boats. A prime example of what happens is shown in the photo below, which I took on a boat that was less than two weeks old.

As you can see the drive propeller is completely missing and the gear housing looks like a giant sea monster took a bite out of it. DC stray current is the fault here and it could have been prevented quite easily with a little knowledge and care. You don’t want this to happen to your boat so follow the tips here and you’ll be able to miss out on this rather expensive adventure. The picture below, of the same boat gives some clues as to what happened here:

In the photo above you can see the bow thruster motor in the center. What you can’t see is that the boat’s air-copnditioning ductwork has been moved out of the way to get the photo. This whole installation was located in a very crowded compartment under a berth with a simple lift up cover that was just inviting the owner to throw some extra gear in the space available. This particular boat lost it’s thruster drive because in the installation process someone short-circuited the DC positive feed wire (shown disconnected) to the case of the motor. Now on this particular thruster motor, the case of the motor was not electrically isolated from the drive leg outside the hull. The net result of this was that once the drive anode depleted, which probably took about 24-48 hours, the drive housing was the next bit of metal in the corrosion food chain.

So, considering that the vast majority of bow thrusters are located similarly to the one above i.e. under a berth, often with lots of convenient storage space around it, you need to be extremely careful not to bump into the wiring that supplies the thruster motor. I recommend building a cover of thin plywood to fit over the motor and wiring assembly, or in some way building an isolation barrier between potentially useful storage space and the thruster motor. This problem is all too common, and really expensive to fix. It may or may not be covered by insurance and typically won’t be covered by any warranty.

The bottom line here is simple, keep those bow thruster motors protected so that nothing can bump into the power cables supplying them. 

A Mouse Worked On This Wiring!

I love it when readers send along a photo of something they see on a boat that catches their eye. Recently a reader sent a little gem my way that is perhaps the ultimate in what we used to call a “Mickey Mouse” installation. No offense meant to the Disney folks, or Mickey for that matter, but truly, would you want Mickey working on your boat?

 So, I’ve decided to create the Mickey Mouse award here for outstanding efforts to do things wrong on boats. The winner will be documented in photographic memory only, and really we only want to document their efforts, so keep those photos coming! People learn from this stuff. Of course the recipient of the award, although not publicly named here for legal reasons, must agree to wear a hat or head band as shown here everytime they work on their boat……

So now, to get a feel for how you might go about winning this coveted award, here’s this week’s winner:

Yes folks that is a Tupperware container screwed into a bulkhead on someone’s boat, and yes that is electrical wiring going into and out of the container.

Please people, all electrical junctions if enclosed need to be in a UL or NEMA type approved box designed and rated for electrical installations. The box shown is useful for storing the left-over macaroni and cheese, not electical junction points……Credit goes for creativity, but big negative points on this install. Sorry, but it’s just too Mickey Mouse for me to handle. 

Watch That Fishing Line!

Well its Memorial Day weekend and at least for me the boating season has begun. On my power boating side that means striper fishing here in the northeast.

Every now and then the fish get smarter than fishermen and one of the ways they do that is to get our fishing line caught up in the propeller on the boat. This almost always means that the fish will break off and miss the chance to get hauled into the boat. Bummer on the lost fish! But don’t turn an event like this into something worse like a blown up lower unit on your outboard engine! The photo below shows what happens:

If this fishing line is left on the shaft behind your propeller it will eventually destroy the seal behind it that keeps water out of your gearcase and oil in the gearcase. The bottom line is that if this goes unattended, the lost fish is going to be the least of your worries.

So, the tip here is to pay attention! If you or somebody on your boat gets a line caught up in your propeller, don’t ignore the issue. Just because the engine still runs and the propeller still turns does not mean that trouble isn’t just around the corner. When you get back to shore, remove the propeller for inspection to see if fishing line, as shown above has wrapped itself around the shaft. If it has, get it rid of it! While your at it, if you didn’t already grease the shaft as part of your spring maintenance routine, do it now. Reinstall the propeller and give that striper another go tomorrow. Have a great holiday everybody!

Your Boat’s Exhaust System

Most people that own boats spend little or no time thinking about the exhaust system for either their main propulsion engines or their generator if they have one. In going through my photo archives today I ran across a photo in my “stupid designs” file. Its worth sharing so you can check your boat and see if the same design team worked on your boat. The photo below shows quite clearly what I’m talking about here.

 The little nub you see down near the waterline is the exhuast outlet for this boat’s generator. It’s about 2 ft. below an opening port that serves a berthing area on this particular boat. I just love sniffing engine exhaust gasses while I’m trying to get to sleep………….What were these guys thinking?

Now granted this particular boat is diesel equipped, but please people, remember that even though diesels emit a far lower percentage of carbon monoxide, they do emit some carbon monoxide. This is a potentially lethal design that slipped through the cracks. Why? Well the boat was not built here in the US, and I’ll bet for sure the builder / designer had never even heard of ABYC Standard P-1, which addresses issues like this. Check your boat over for stupid designs like this. Photos are welcome!

Mobile Mariner Weather App For Blackberry

OK, so I’m among those low tech types that does not have an iPhone. I use a Blackberry because my service provider is not a part of the iPhone network, and I like my service provider, Sprint.

Today it was announced that a new weather service application is available for my Blackberry, so I won’t have to feel like a lightweight when I’m out with my iPhone friends.. Here’s the release:


 Mystic, Conn. – May 25, 2010 – (Marine NewsWire) Mobile Mariner, LLC announces that the Mobile Mariner™ app has been approved and is now available for purchase through BlackBerry® App World.

Mobile Mariner is a specialized app which provides essential information to anyone who lives, works or plays on the water, including boaters, fishermen, sailors, kayakers, surfers, etc.

The app includes the marine weather forecast, tide information and live weather conditions for the coastal United States including the Great Lakes.

Mobile Mariner displays a five-day weather forecast for all coastal NOAA weather zones throughout the United States, and allows subscribers to continuously monitor up to 10 different weather zones.

The app also provides predicted and observed tide information, in text and graph format, for all NOAA primary tide stations. Tide information is provided based on current location and also allows for continuous monitoring of up to 10 different tide stations.

 In addition, Mobile Mariner includes current weather conditions such as wind speed, wind heading, wind gusts, air and water temperature, and barometric pressure from the tide stations, where available. The data is updated every six minutes and the last 24 hours of data is available in graph format.

More information about Mobile Mariner can be found at www.mobilemariner.com. Mobile Mariner is available for purchase at http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/8082. A seven-day free trial is available.