Q & A Time
By Rick Feldmann
Q: I keep my boat in dry storage at a local lake, and it seems
that every year I must buy a new battery. Can I avoid this somehow?
(Mr. Moore in Carefree)
A: Any battery will lose some charge in periods of none-use. If
you have any current-draw, as from a clock built into your stereo
radio, the battery will be drained every minute of the day.
A complete disconnect of the battery will help, but you’ll lose
your settings in the radio, such as the time and programmed
If your boat is close to a 110 volt power outlet, I’d suggest a
battery maintainer. These are not battery chargers but will supply
replenishment to a battery that has not been drawn down before
connecting the unit.
Another alternative would be a trickle-charger and a simple
timer. You can set the timer to turn on the charger for an hour or
so of every day.
And, keep the battery fluid level above the plates at all times.
Heat beneath a boat cover will tend to evaporate the liquid in a
battery, and always use purified water to refill the cells.
Q: I keep my boat in a slip at the lake. I have anti-fouling
paint on the hull, but there’s always some growth at the waterline.
I thought the bottom paint was to prevent this. (Dave in Tempe)
A: Dave, algae is an organism that contains chlorophyll, which
needs sunlight to live. The biocides in anti-fouling paint don’t
allow the algae to "root," so they’re easily washed away by the boat
being underway, or an owner can use a soft-bristled brush to wipe
them away from the waterline.
Q: One of our readers, Frank, has two pumps that run too often.
He asks, "My fresh-water system pump runs about every five minutes
for no reason, and there’s enough water in the bilge to make the
bilge pump run about once an hour. Am I sinking? "
A: Relax a bit, Frank. Your freshwater system has a leak
somewhere, pumps into the bilge, and your automatic bilge pump takes
A freshwater pump has a pressure switch built in. If system
pressure drops, as when opening a faucet at the galley sink, the
pump should run a few moments to build pressure, and shut off.
If it’s running when there is no demand on the system, you
probably have a loose fitting, or a faulty hose.
Q: Jill and Tony asked about a tune-up. "We’ve had our 1998 boat
since 2001, and wonder what a tune-up might cost. We’ve had a
tune-up done every spring at another shop before moving to Phoenix."
A: Why do you think you need a tune-up, Jill and Tony? Is the
motor hard to start; does it run badly?
If the motor starts easily and runs well and smoothly, I’d say
you don’t need a tune-up. Modern marine motors are fitted with
electronic ignitions, which means the spark plugs will last longer;
there are no points and condensers to replace.
Please feel free to call me at Hale’s Marine if you need more
reassurance and we’ll address the particular situation.
Q: How much is my boat worth? Should I spend more money on
A: Worth can be interpreted many ways. If you have sentimental
value in the definition, it may impact on any actual assumed resale
Local resale approximations can be researched through Boat
Trader Magazine or through an Internet search at
Q: (panic call) I’m at the lake and I just had my water pump
rebuilt, it ran fine at the shop, but after an eight-mile run, my
motor is overheating. Where should I go out here? (The person
asking this question was more than a hundred miles away)
A: We asked him to shut down and let the engine cool on its own
as he drifted. When he started it up again, his engine ran the whole
way back down the lake with no trouble.
We’re not sure why this happened, but this particular gentleman
may have run through a debris field in his outing, and caught ,
perhaps, a plastic bag or some other trash that clogged his
water-intakes, thus choking his cooling system temporarily.
Stopping may have allowed the obstruction to sink lower in the
water, and his water intakes cleared.
Need we remind everyone not to leave trash in the water?
Q: I’m a new boat-owner, and I’m not sure what I need for
safety-sake on my boat. My kids and wife and I just want some fun.
A: Rule number one is to be safe. Everyone should have properly
fitted life vests that will keep them afloat. As the person in
charge, you also need a through knowledge of all the systems on your
craft and to make sure everything is in good operating order.
For instance, that bilge blower you may think insignificant
evacuates potentially explosive fumes and should be run for about
two minutes before you try to start the motor.
Read your owner’s manuals before you operate anything on your
Brochures concerning regulations and rules of the road are
available at Arizona Fish and Game Department, online, or you can
pick them up at Hale’s Marine.
Safe boating classes are offered by The US Coast Guard Auxiliary
and the US Power Squadrons. These can help you learn the many
Another resource we recommend is Chapman’s Seamanship and