be cast or extruded. Some of the extruded
aluminum hatches have gaskets that are
wedged into a molded “groove” with butt
ends glued together. With this type, a small
coating of black silicone will usually help if
there’s a problem. Call the manufacturer’s
customer service number or email them and
send a picture or two of your hatches so that
they can tell what you have. If you have a part
or model number, that’s even better.
the parallel switch will not charge both
batteries equally — even identical batteries
won’t charge at the same rate. You want
each battery charged independently so that
one battery does not pull the charge from
the other. Solar is not going to give you the
same charge as a 120v AC charger. If you
decide on solar panels, you can also wire
them directly to the individual batteries with
a fuse, assuming they go to a regulator first.
Here’s my recommendation: Buy a
marine two-bank battery charger and follow
all recommendations for installation. They
have them prewired with a standard plug on
the end and ring terminals ready for battery
installation. Keep your battery switch off so
they charge independently. Connect a GFCI-protected extension cord to the charger and
be confident that both batteries will be ready
to use when needed. If you have a shore-power system on the boat, you can’t use the
extension-cord option; you would need a
permanently wired charger, adding an appropriately sized breaker to your panel.
On my boat there is sealant or caulking
where the radar arch mounts to the gunwale
and around covers over the engine air vents.
The caulking is embedded with dirt or mold
that will not scrub out. I don’t think it needs
new sealing but I’d like to clean it up. Do I
need to dig out the old caulking or can I put
a coat over the existing caulk?
I’d like to install a windlass on my Sea Ray
Sundancer. Any advice on best model and
size to use for this installation?
Valley Stream, NY
DON CASEY: The windlass should have
a pull capacity of not less than three times
the total weight of your ground tackle. I
don’t know what size your Sundancer is,
but for example, if you have a 35-pound
anchor attached to 100 feet of 5/16-inch HT
chain, the chain weighs about 115 pounds.
A windlass with a 450-pound capacity or
more ( 35+115=150 times three) should do
the job for you. You might want to raise the
minimum capacity to four times the tackle
weight, in case you buy a larger anchor later.
When it comes to anchoring gear, it’s rare
to be too conservative. I don’t recommend
brands simply because I have experience
only with those I have used. Others may
be better, so you’ll need to do your own
research on what model to choose.
DON CASEY: When caulking on a boat is
done properly, the only part of the caulk that
should show is the thin edge between the
hardware and the hull or deck, like the edge
of a gasket. Unfortunately, a lot of owners
and more than a few professionals seem to
think that a bead of sealant around the hardware, like caulking a bathtub, adds to the
security of the seal. It doesn’t. All it does is
provide an environment for unsightly mold
to flourish. If the hardware on your boat has
been bedded properly, simply slice away the
MEET OUR EXPERTS
I have an outboard with two batteries and a
parallel switch. I’d like to install a solar cell
or a battery charger to keep both batteries
charged while the boat is on its lift. How
should I set the parallel switch, and how
should I connect the batteries to the charger?
I assume the batteries can be charged in parallel. They’re identical. Charles Peele
BoatU.S. Magazine’s technical editor, Beth grew up powerboating, waterskiing, and fishing on Lake Ontario. Since 1992, she and her husband
have completed two circumnavigations by sailboat, doing all maintenance themselves. They also installed the systems on their 47-foot
aluminum sloop. Beth has written The Voyager’s Handbook, the how-to
bible for offshore sailors, and hundreds of technical articles.
He’s cruised long distance with his family for most of his adult life. He
can take apart and fix almost every system aboard, has written two
books, filmed a two-set DVD on East Coast cruising, written for top
marine magazines, and has won nine first-place awards from Boating
Writers International and many other awards for his technical writing.
JOHN ADEY: For optimum battery charging, I recommend you bypass the switch and
go right to the battery terminals themselves.
(Make sure you install a fuse in the wire
going from the charger to the terminal.)
This prevents you from making the mistake
of leaving the battery switch set at “Off”
with the charger on. A single charge into
One of the most consulted experts on boat care and upgrades for 30
years. He and his wife cruise their 30-footer part of the year in the
eastern Caribbean. His books include Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated
Sailboat Maintenance Manual, and the recently updated This Old Boat,
the bible for do-it-yourself boaters.
The president of the American Boat & Yacht Council, John has been in
the industry since 1990, with experience from a yacht brokerage and
boatyard to owning a marine supply store. He and his family sail their
classic 1976 Irwin ketch, a boat he completely restored.
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