Marine Battery Maintenance Tips

Catamaran battery maintenanceBatteries keep all the systems running on board your boat and yet, boat owners seem to know very little about batteries, their functions and maintenance. They are the life blood of a boat and do one of two basic tasks, starting an engine and running electrical loads like lights and electronics for longer periods of time. They are pricey and if not maintained well, may have to be replaced. So it's worth your time and effort to keep your marine batteries in tip top shape. Like everything else, batteries require periodic servicing, so a proper maintenance program will help ensure extended life for your batteries. 

Before choosing a battery, first determine the battery's application. There are four battery chemistries: Flooded, Gel, AGM or Lithium. Each type of battery has a specific purpose, i.e. starter, deep-cycle or dual purpose and they have limitations. For example, a starting battery is designed to provide a high, one-time discharge required to power up a starter motor. However, it is not as good as deep-cycle batteries for the long, steady discharge needed for the house systems. Deep-cycle batteries can be discharged from 50 to 80 percent and recover easily, while starting batteries should not be discharged more than 50%. Below are a few tips to keep your batteries in good shape and links to great articles about selecting a battery, battery maintenance and charging.

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How To Prevent Fuel Contamination

tips on how to avoid fuel contaminationWe are getting ready to do a passage up North. Zuri laid up for 9 months last summer in Florida and we have not sailed much since, so we knew that we would have to check the fuel in the tanks for contamination.

Because we had a million things to take care of before we left on our road trip in April 2013, I have to confess that we were not as diligent as we should have been about preparing Zuri for a long lay-up. One of the things we did not do was top off the diesel tanks.

After returning from our road trip, when we readied to take Zuri out for a shakedown cruise at the beginning of the season.

Read more: How to Prevent Fuel Contamination

Textilene Fabric Care & Maintenance

Textilene shades for catamaransI had to clean my Textilene sunshades on our catamaran this weekend. The was black in places from months sitting in the dirty boat yard. I did not look forward to the job because I knew that it would take a lot of elbow grease. I did some research and got these good tips from and I did not have to do too much scrubbing! 

Textilene® is a strong mesh fabric woven out of strong PVC-coated polyester yarns. The fabric is made especially for outdoor use. It is the best choice for sling furniture because it is elegant, strong and very durable to outdoor exposure.

Some of the most frequently asked questions about fabric are concerns about care and cleaning. The good news is that Textilene® is designed for outdoor use and easy maintenance. By following a few simple care and cleaning steps, these fabrics will maintain their good looks for many years. These fabrics can be cleaned while still on a frame or they can be removed before treating and scrubbing.

Read more: Cleaning Textilene

How to Convert from A Manual Flush to Electric Head

converting from a manual flush head to an electric toilet on your boatAboard your boat, conversion of manual flush toilets to electric toilets is a relatively easy process. The plumbing remains the same as long as you choose to keep the water used for flushing the same. In the case of a boat that is normally used in bluewater, salt water is appropriate. If the boat will be used more often in brackish/bay water it may be a good idea to switch to freshwater flush as it reduces the common toilet smell prevalent on boats.

We suggest the use of the Jabsco Quiet Flush unit when converting to the automatic flush toilet.

Basic Steps to Converting to an Electric Head

You will remove the entire head itself to install a new Jabsco Quiet flush unit. In some cases, a conversion kit option is available, but often only a $ 30 difference between an entire unit and a conversion kit makes sense to go all new. Only the toilet is removed and all the old plumbing is used to connect the new toilet.

The new requirement for your electric head is a power source, normally the house battery bank. The toilet will require a dedicated breaker. A new flush switch is installed in an appropriate location for flushing the new toilet.

Expect a conversion to take between 5-8 hours depending on wire runs and any possible complications and the experience of the installer.

More Information About Electric Heads

The video at right is a helpful overview of all the detail steps required to convert a manual flush head to electric. 

Also read: How To Get Rid Of Stinky Marine Heads.

problems marine heads

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder

boatowners mechanical and electrical manual is a must-have for cruisersThe boatowner's foremost troubleshooting guide is now better than ever. If it's on a boat and it has screws, wires, or moving parts, it's covered in Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual. When you leave the dock with this book aboard, you have at your fingertips the best and most comprehensive advice on everyting mechanical and electrical. Every boat owner should own a copy!

 "If you had to choose a single book to help you assess and maintain your boat gear, this would be it."—Practical Sailor

"A truly remarkable bible. . . . This book is the best of its kind."—WoodenBoat 

"A major achievement. . . . It would be hard to imagine anything going wrong on a boat that couldn't be figured out with this book."—Sailing World

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