Sailing aboard a yacht or a boat is a luxury few can afford. Regardless of costs associated with owning a boat/yacht is a dream of many. The solitude, the chance to view the sheer beauty of the countryside that can be seen from a different angle, the freedom to see the world at leisure, and the seemingly endless perspective of the sea and sky that always beckons seafarers to explore further are many reasons why people own boats. There are also those who make a living using them.
Owning a boat or a yacht also comes with many responsibilities for the owner. Maintenance is a major concern, so too, the basic gadgets that make sailing easier and as trouble-free as possible, and gadgets that make living on a sailing vessel for several days manageable and enjoyable, turning the boat into a home away from home.
As boat owners know, it is a different environment with its own challenges. While you have the vast clear sky above you and the calm blue waters beneath you, the weather can change at a moment’s notice. There may be minor problems with the boat. You are far from the shore, from groceries and convenience stores, fast food chains and restaurants, entertainment venues, relatives and friends (unless you are entertaining), mechanics, petrol stations and medical facilities. Therefore, a sailing vessel should be self-sufficient.
Sailing is undoubtedly a pleasurable activity, but it also poses significant impact on the ecosystem, which can lead to long-lasting damage on aquatic life. Toxic products from boats are constantly dispersed in the water and even small amounts of these toxic products can disrupt the aquatic ecosystem. Those who love the oceans are focused on preserving it and there are ways including reverse osmosis to make sure the impact on the eco-systems is minimal.
Eco-friendly maintenance tips
While seasoned boat owners may already know and practice several eco-friendly ways to maintain their boats, new owners might still need a few suggestions when it comes to keeping their boat water-safe and at the same time friendly to the rivers, seas and other waterways. It is quite alarming to know that the oil pollution and hydrocarbon volume that enters the waters of North America each year from recreation boating alone is calculated to be 15 times over the Exxon Valdez oil spill amount. Approximately 30% of oil and fuel on two-stroke engines installed on boats actually end up in the water, adding to water pollution and depleting the oxygen from the water.
Regular boat maintenance is a must to minimize the ecological impact of toxic products coming from boats every time it is used. There are several boat maintenance products available that are eco-friendly and there are some that are actually simple, natural and very water-friendly. Here are some of them:
• Oil-absorbent rags to wipe up oil and fuel spill.
• Dispose of used oil and fuel filters properly by sending them to the right disposal facilities.
• Keep used oils and solvents in containers. Do not dispose of them in any way until you reach the shore.
• Minimize the washing of your boat with detergents by regularly giving your boat the right coat of wax. This will prevent surface dirt, spores, salt, dust and pollen from building on the fiberglass hull of your boat.
• Avoid scrubbing sides of your boat when cleaning it as heavy metals are stripped when you do so. Clean your boat regularly so dirt will not be encrusted and a sponge can be used to wipe off light growth. It is also advisable to wash the topsides only.
• Best cleaners to use are those that are non-toxic, which do not contain various chemicals particularly phosphates.
Always read the labels and hazards warnings. If possible use natural cleaning agents such as vinegar.
• For example, a paste made of water and baking soda can effectively clean stains on fiberglass with the help of a soft cloth or sponge to gently rub off the stain. This is effective also on cleaning shower heads and stalls. Lime and lemon juice used a final wipe-down will keep fiberglass and stalls shiny and fresh-smelling.
• Warm water mixed with lemon juice and vinegar placed in a spray bottle will clean windows and mirrors effectively. Use newspapers or paper towers to wipe off the grime.
• Dip soft cotton cloth in apple cider vinegar to clean chrome items. A little baby oil on soft cloth will give chrome a good shine. Brass on the other hand can be cleaned with a solution of salt, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, while a paste of salt, lime or lemon juice is a good copper cleaner.
• For stainless steel, use pure white vinegar and a solution of water and cream of tartar for aluminium.
• Use two parts warm water and one part white vinegar to clean plastic surfaces. For the deck, mix eight parts warm water and one part white vinegar.
• Clean, moisturize and revive the luster of interior wood with almond or olive oil.
Reverse Osmosis System
Boat owners know that it is impossible to carry large quantities of fresh potable water on board. Technology moves fast in creating and providing tools, gadgets and implements essential for yacht and boat owners. A reverse osmosis (RO) system is essential for boat owners as the system is effective in the desalination and purification of salt water to produce fresh drinking water. Several brands are out in the market and the choice is yours, based on the space available on your boat, your water requirement and your budget. Filmtec, Hydranautics, Toray are only few brands that have systems and replacement parts catered to boat owners.
Wind generators and Marine Solar Panels
With the amount of electronic equipment and gadgets on board modern boats and yachts, the demand for electrical power increases exponentially, which can be taxing on the generator or the boat’s engine. Some of the solutions many boat owners look into are small wind turbines and solar panels. Wind and solar technologies are making it possible to supply power to lighting, pumps, refrigerators, communication equipment and autopilots. These run quietly and are cost efficient, minimizing the amount to be spent on fuel in the long run and thus increasing the time for the boat to be out in the water. Solar panels can be custom built to fit the boat and the owner’s requirements. Investment includes the purchase of deep cycle batteries, solar controllers and solar PV panels, which are tested to withstand the harsh environment out in the open sea.
Marine wind generators or wind turbines can be used on their own or as a hybrid system, whose output can be integrated with the onboard generator or that of the solar panels. The hybrid system is especially useful when no wind conditions during a sunny day occur at the same time.
Not just waterproof cellphones
Communication devices are also essential when you are aboard a sailing vessel. Modern smartphones are very convenient however, not all of them are waterproof. Most are design for land use, with their sleek designs, smooth body and a touchscreen. However these features are not workable when you are on a boat. Touchscreens are impractical. The glossy and smooth finish of most phones can cause them to easily slip from your hands, and land in the water in the worst case.
What boat owners need is a practical, modern yet tough phone suitable for marine environment. They need one with a body that is covered with a material that is slip-proof and waterproof. The toughest phone is bulky and pricey, but there are smartphone models from other makers that have the desired features, with a battery and SD/SIM card compartment that is sealed and locked with a screw made of stainless steel. There are models with a large enough screen to view maps and weather forecasts a breeze. One with high-resolution web browsing capability and good camera and video recording features is a bonus. A built-in flashlight could also come in handy.
Marine Navigation System
For the serious sailing enthusiast, an accurate navigation system is highly essential in a high-powered vessel. There is a big difference though among navigation programs, some of which only show your boat’s position on a map, helping you to navigate by entering the waypoints. There are marine navigation software packages meant specifically for sailing that are available today, which are capable of generating the distance from A to B and also the SOG and boat speed. This provides you with an ETA, tacking and VMG readings; shows you different winds along the track including polar charts or boats parameters. Computer programs for sailing are combinations of weather communication, navigation software and wind computer.
These computer programs though are costly. A good one could set you back by $400 although there are programs that go as high as $1,650.
What other gadgets interest boat owners? With the chance to see different locales and new perspectives of common areas, a good waterproof digital camera perhaps, or a video camera is a good investment. There are also waterproof passive computers, high-powered Wi-Fi antennas, extended life batteries and laptops, even laptops that are sail-proof.