Marine Internet, An Internet Connected Boat.

Just a few years ago it was relatively unheard of to have internet on your boat. Now marine internet and connecting your boat and all the devices  needed for everyday life is a relatively easy process once you understand the basics. I will briefly talk about my set up at the dock in this post and I will link to a very well written article from a cruising  boater who goes into depth about the technical and logistical issues and fixes to have an enjoyable internet experience on your boat.

I may be in a very unique situation at my marina. I dock at a marina with no marina wide internet but they do have a house on the property that has internet capability from both Xfinity and Verizon Fios. The Current occupants of the house are using the Xfinity service so I called and was able to get Fios installed. When the installer came I had her install the modem in a housing at the demarcation box from the street so my modem is actually installed right where the Fios service comes into the house. I then installed a Ubiquiti Nanobeam M5-16 Wireless antenna at the house and another Ubiquiti Nanobeam M5-16 Wireless at the dock near my boat. These antennas were probably over kill for my needs but they are great antennas and are sometimes referred to as “air fiber” because they have a very fast high bandwidth capability along with a very long range. Once I had the antennas installed I installed a TP-LINK N300 Long Range 11n 2.4G Wireless Outdoor Access Point on the dock. The access point lets me “share” the internet with all of my devices just like your modem or router does at your house.

For a more in depth look at internet on the water from a boater who just spent a year on the water with his family please read Ben Stein’s article on Panbo.com

https://www.panbo.com/marine-internet-a-connected-year-on-the-water/

Net Neutrality

I’d like to take a moment and share a post about net neutrality. This affects this website and all others you may visit everyday.

On December 14th the FCC will vote to end Net Neutrality rules that are already in place ending protections against ISP’s blocking, slowing or charging for access to certain websites or types of media.

This is a huge loss for consumers and goes against the wishes and comments of millions of Americans who commented on this proposed rule change. The FCC has publicly said they are going to make the change regardless of the wishes of American citizens! Public comment to the FCC was overwhelming in support of keeping the current rules however Chainman Pai of the FCC who is a telecommunications lobbyist has stated he is making the changes regardless of how many comments are against it. This isn’t how a Government for the people by the people works! Literally the only people who want this rule change are the 3 big ISP’s Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Google, Netflix, Facebook, Reddit, Amazon, millions of Americans and every other internet business are against the change.

Taxpayers funded the development of the infrastructure and creation of the internet and now companies like comcast want you to pay more for something you already paid for. In some cases these companies took taxpayer money with the promise to build out their infrastructure and did nothing with that money.

When the current rules are repealed here’s what can happen to you the consumer. Your internet provider will be able to throttle your connection to certain websites while giving you full access to others that can afford to pay for full access or are owned by your ISP. This hurts small companies and competitors of your ISP. Say you use netflix but Comcast has their own streaming service. They could demand a payment to offer the same connection speed to netflix as their own service while not charging for access to their service. You the end user looses out because that extra payment is going to trickle down to you or you will no longer have usable access to Netflix or Hulu or whatever streaming video site you use. Comcast has been loosing cable subscribers at a record pace and you better believe they will go after streaming video services as soon as the current net neutrality rules are changed in an effort to force people back to cable TV service.

ISPs will be able to block access to websites and services they don’t agree with or are against their business model. This limits your ability to access information in a world where everyone is dependant on the internet. Our children use the internet for school research, we use it for everything from online banking to shopping. Think how much of your life is dependant on accessing any website at anytime. That can and will change. We will see ISPs offer “packages” and add on costs to access websites. These “packages” will be at their choosing. Regardless of your political views you should be concerned about any restrictions or blocking of websites and information sources in an age where most Americans get their news online.

You may be thinking all of this is ok, I will just change my ISP if something like this happens. Truth is most Americans only have access to one ISP and have no option to change if they needed to or wanted to. You are held captive by one company that is about to be able to charge you and content providers whatever they want for access to the internet. The current rules protect you from this!

You can help fight these changes by doing a couple of things:

Call AND write your representatives in Congress and let them know you are firmly against the FCC proposed rules that hurt Americans and voters.

https://www.battleforthenet.com/

Donate to the people that have been fighting this all along. The EFF @ eff.orgFreepress.net and battleforthenet.com

Attend a planned protest in Washington DC on Dec 14th in front of the FCC building to have your voice heard.

Read this CBS article describing what the changes may mean to you.https://www.cbsnews.com/…/fcc-net-neutrality-rollback-what…/

 

Want to contribute to the boating community?

If you would like to contribute to the boating community and have a topic you would like to write an article about we are always looking for writers and contributors.  Use the contact us link above to submit your information and we will contact you about posting requirements and set you up with an account to post from.  Perhaps you’d like to share useful information about your favorite boating destinations or you would like to share a great DIY tip you use to save money while boating, virtually any boating related information is allowed and encouraged.

Also if you have a boating related question you would like to see answered use the contact us link to submit it and we will do our best to answer it.

Kiddie Fire Extinguisher Recall

Kiddie has recalled 134 models of fire extinguishers manufactured between 1973 and 2015. These models include plastic handle fire extinguishers and push-button Pindicator fire extinguishers.

Many marine models are included in this recall including models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015. The extinguishers were sold in red, white and silver, and are either ABC- or BC-rated. The model number is printed on the fire extinguisher label. For units produced in 2007 and beyond, the date of manufacture is a 10-digit date code printed on the side of the cylinder, near the bottom.  Digits five through nine represent the day and year of manufacture in DDDYY format. Date codes for recalled models manufactured from January 2, 2012 through August 15, 2017 are 00212 through 22717.  For units produced before 2007, a date code is not printed on the fire extinguisher.

The fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard. You can contact Kiddie directly to check your extinguishers to see if they are affected and to learn more info on how to get replacement extinguishers.

Kidde toll-free at 855-271-0773 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday, or online at www.kidde.com and click on “Product Safety Recall” for more information.

This is also a good time to remind everyone to check your extinguishers to insure they are fully charged and in good operating condition. Also it’s not a bad idea to give them a shake and turn them upside down a few time to loosen any dry chemical powder that may have become compacted on the bottom of the extinguisher. If your extinguisher is rechargeable it should be recharged every 10 years. If your extinguisher is disposable it should be replaced every 12 years!

From Kiddies website:

Rechargeable fire extinguishers

According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, rechargeable fire extinguishers must be recharged every 10 years.

A rechargeable fire extinguisher has a metal head, and a gauge that reads Charge / Recharge. Check your fire extinguishers gauge monthly to verify that your fire extinguisher is still charged. If the extinguisher’s gauge needle is in the Recharge area, have your fire extinguisher recharged immediately.

Kidde’s rechargeable fire extinguishers all have a six-year warranty.

For more information about your specific fire extinguisher, refer to your user’s manual.

Disposable fire extinguishers

According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, disposable fire extinguishers must be replaced every 12 years.

A disposable fire extinguisher has a plastic head, and a gauge that reads Full / Empty. Check your fire extinguishers gauge monthly to verify that your fire extinguisher is still full. If the extinguisher’s gauge needle is in the EMPTY area, replace your fire extinguisher immediately.

Kidde’s disposable fire extinguishers all have a 10 to 12-year warranty.

For more information about your specific fire extinguisher, refer to your user’s manual.

New Chris Craft Catalina Owners Group Forums

I am working on setting up forum software on the site for owners of Chris Craft Catalina boats. It seems the old catalina user group is no longer up so hopefully we can have a spot here to post and discuss our boats.

The forum can be found here: http://ilikeithere.net/CatalinaClub

We also have a Facebook group with a lot more activity than the online forum located here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/509735432730990/?ref=group_header

It’s a work in progress so bear with me!

Storing Batteries On Concrete Myth

We’ve all heard the storing batteries on concrete myth before. Some of us refuse to store a car or boat battery on concrete because our mechanic or trusted friend said it will drain the battery. Turns out this myth had some truth in it but is no longer relevant with today’s battery construction.

Early Batteries

Early Batteries were constructed from wooden crates holding glass encased cells. When the wood was subject to moisture or temperature changes it would warp and break the glass cells causing the acid to leak out and the battery to fail. You would have definitely wanted to keep one of these batteries off of the floor and in a cool dry place.

Next Generation Batteries

The next generation of batteries were Nickle-Iron batteries that were encased in steel and covered with a rubber coating. These batteries were susceptible to discharge when placed on the ground due to the rubber coating breaking down, absorbing moisture from the ground and allowing current to flow through the pores of the rubber membrane. These batteries were not meant to be stored on the concrete or on the ground.

Current Day Batteries 

Batteries made today are contained in a hard plastic case that is impervious to moisture and actually will benefit from the relatively stable temperature of a concrete floor.  New batteries can be damaged by extreme temperature changes and should be kept in a relatively cool environment when storing them.

What Damages Modern Batteries

  • Dirt and dust can become carbonized, creating electrical conduction which drains the battery. Combat this by using a clean rag to clean wipe off the tops of the battery.
  • Self-discharge occurs over time with lead-acid batteries. Reactions within the plates happen as the battery ages creating a leak. The warmer the air surrounding the battery the faster the rate of discharge. Keeping the air around stored batteries cool will help slow the rate of self-discharge.
  • While cold temperatures are rarely the cause of battery malfunctions, a battery that is at a low state of charged and exposed to freezing temperatures can freeze causing the case to crack. Keeping your battery fully charged during the winter months is an easy way to prevent this from happening.
  • Knowing the shelf life of your battery can help a lot as well. A car battery stored in a cool and dry place can last a few years if you keep it topped off with a trickle charger.

Today’s batteries are well insulated and no longer take on water that can cause discharging or leaking. That being said, there are clearly right ways and wrong ways when it comes to battery storage. Keeping your batteries clean, dry and understanding their shelf life can make a big difference in preserving their longevity and the quality of their performance. So go ahead and leave that battery on the cool dry floor of your garage. Kinda great, right?

Source: https://northeastbattery.com/do-cement-floors-ruin-car-batteries/


Don’t Fall For The New Coast Guard Documentation Renewal Scam!

I’ve been meaning to make a post about the documentation renewal scam regarding Coast Guard documentation and I just saw the Coast Guard made a post on their website about it. All boaters who have a documented vessel should be aware there are companies that will mail you a “renewal notice’ a few weeks or a month before your vessel documentation needs to be renewed. These mailings and the companies are fraudulent. They will charge you hundreds of dollars to handle your renewal but what you get in return is worthless.

 

The letters they mail out look official and are full of threatening wording in order to scare you into a knee jerk reaction and paying them to handle your renewal. Do not use these people to renew anything or give them any of your information. Many times they will try to sign you up for expensive automatic renewals and according to the Coast Guard they give you documentation that can’t be used legally.

Registering or renewing you documentation can only be done through the official Coast Guard website or documentation center. When renewing online only go to the official .mil website. Any website with a .com, .us, or .info is a fake website. The Coast Guard DOES send renewal notices by mail but that notice will direct you to the .mil website or a telephone number to the Documentation Center in West Virginia. Official documentation only costs $26 not the $100’s these scammers charge.

This new scam highlights the need to be vigilant both online and when receiving unsolicited mail or telephone calls. Many boaters are out of the country or traveling often and may not be aware of scams like these.

If you have fallen victim to this scam you can try to get a charge back from your credit card company though it maybe difficult without a fight.

For more information please read the Official Coast Guard post on this topic.

Know Before You Go With These Free Weather Apps For IOS and Android Devices

We’ve all been there, heading to the boat for a day of fun only to realize the weather turned and it’s no longer safe to head out on the water. Or we have spent a weekend out, get ready to head back to the dock and get surprised by a storm on our way in. Luckily these days we have access to many different forecasting and live data tools to make checking the weather an easy task.

Tides Near Me is a great app to see when the next low tide, high tide or what the current tide is right where you are.

Android version of tides near me can be downloaded here.

Iphone and IOS version of tides near me can be found here.

NOAA Buoy Data app lets you see real time buoy data from and NOAA buoy that is actively reporting data to NOAA. This app also includes all the data sent by the buoy including wave height and water temperature.

Android Play store version of NOAA Buoy data can be found here.

Apple App Store version of NOAA Buoy data can be found here.

Windy is a great app for forecasts, wave height and forecasted wave height. It is used by professionals, fishermen, governments and other people who want accurate real time information. I love this app and use it almost everyday.

Android version of Windy can be downloaded here.

Apple App Store version of Windy can be found here.

MyRadar NOAA weather app is one of the best no frills radar apps out today. It does just what is it supposed to and that is show you your local radar.

Android version of MyRadar can be downloaded here.

Apple App Store version of MyRadar can be found here.

qtVlm is a navigation software designed for sailing boats. It is also a free weather grib viewer that accepts all kinds of gribs. It can read and display maps in various formats, such as Vector charts (S57), Raster Charts (kaps, geotiff, etc) and mbtiles charts. This is a serious app for serious users and it’s only available on android devices. It is a weather app, a navigation app and is able to parse NMEA data on devices fitted to GPS or Chartplotters.

Android version of qtVlm can be downloaded here.

There are many free weather apps and maybe you use one that isn’t listed here and that’s great! These are some that I use and trust. There is one marine specifict app that I left out, I use it but the reviews are terrible. If you use it you will know what I am talking about and if you don’t use it the reviews may scare you away however I would say give it a try and see if you like it. I personally haven’t had problems with it like others have had.

Don’t forget about the free weather broadcast you can receive on your marine VHF radio or on your weather radio. The over the air broadcast contains real time information and alerts concerning the listening area. Boating on the Chesapeake bay I usually listen to the marine forecast on the radio and use an app to double check conditions before leaving the dock.

Remember your weather app might not work once you leave populated areas and no longer have a reliable internet connection. The NOAA radio is a true lifesaver.

Cleaning Your Boat

One of the simplest and most effective things you can do to maintain your boat is to keep it clean. When proper steps and effort is put forth cleaning your boat you not only gain a sense of pride but you are taking an important step in safeguarding your boats fit and finish.

Choose the right equipment for your type of boat. Sturdy brushes with telescoping handles help alleviate stress on our back and muscles and allow you to reach out of the way places. Consider the materials your boat is constructed of when buying cleaning tools. Generally a medium soft bristle brush is desired and won’t harm most surfaces. Some tougher non-skid decks may benefit from a stiff bristle brush. A sponge, clean rags, mop and detail brushes will also help you keep your boat clean. Applicator pads for vinyl cleaners and polishes are also suggested. Choose items that will stand up to the rigors of marine usage and the elements like salt water and the sun. Choose items that can be broken down and stored easily in the confines of your boat. Store your cleaning supplies in the same place and in good condition after every use and you will be able to find them and use them with little issue the next time you have to clean your boat.

Use only environmentally friendly products to clean your boat. It may seem like a proverbial drop in the bucket but imagine the environmental impact of every boat in your area using unsafe products to clean with. Try to avoid using concentrated products at full strength. This will potentially damage or strip finishes from your boat.  Don’t use dishwashing soap to wash your boat as this will strip the wax or polish from surfaces. Don’t use bleach as it will corrode certain metals and is harmful to marine life. If you have stubborn stains try to use hydrogen peroxide or a cleaner like oxyclean diluted in water. Borax is also an alternative to bleach that works well on decks.  Make sure you are using the proper cleaning agent for the proper surface. On isinglass or strataglass only use cleaners recommended by the manufacturer. On vinyl only use cleaners and protectors made for vinyl. Steer away from using a magic eraser as these are technically little blocks of sand paper and will remove finishes.

When washing your boat wash in sections so that soap doesn’t dry on the surfaces. Pay attention to the condition of your boat and note any damage or areas of concern where items might need re-bedded or repaired. A good wash is followed by a good rinse. Make sure to rinse all of the soap and dirt from scrubbing off the boat to avoid streaks. In areas with hard water hand drying with a towel is necessary to avoid water marks. To remove hard water marks try using vinegar and if they are on glass try using Bar Keepers Friend to polish them out.

When cleaning vinyl clean off heavy dirt and debris with mild soap and water then use a vinyl cleaner to remove stubborn stains.  A mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part ammonia can be used to remove mildew or mold stains. There are also commercial cleaners that will safely remove mildew stains. Follow up with a good marine quality vinyl protectant.

Clean your canvas with a soft bristle brush and a marine canvas cleaner making sure when rinsing all the dirty water rinses clean off of the boat. Then apply a marine canvas protectant to protect your canvas from UV light and the elements.

Depending if your boat is painted or has the factory gelcoat you will need to wax your boat. In most areas of the country waxing twice a year is recommended with spot waxing when needed. In places with harsher UV light levels more frequent waxing might be needed. I wax twice a year, in the spring I apply several coats of a high quality marine liquid wax and one coat of a high quality paste wax. In the fall I apply one coat of cleaner wax and two coats of liquid wax. This protects the finish all year and makes the boat stand out. Painted surfaces may need a polish applied yearly or nothing at all depending on the brand of paint used and the amount of shine the paint has.

Washing and caring for your boat’s exterior shouldn’t take away from the fun and enjoyment of boating but a small amount of time spent caring for your boat will pay off in the long run. A clean shiny boat is worth more to a buyer and is more appealing to your guests.