Scooters Aboard!

Upon arriving in a new port, I, like most cruisers, usually want to explore ashore. Sometimes there are chores to do, other times there are specific attractions, and often I just want to get the feeling of a place. Regardless, land transportation quickly becomes an issue, especially if the supermarket, chandlery, or attraction is beyond easy walking distance. For years I carried a Dahon Mariner folding bike, but seldom used … Read more

Improving the Boat Fridge: Fridge Optimizer

Several years ago, I replaced the 15-year-old Norcold refrigerator aboard Safe Harbour with a shiny new NovaKool RFU9000. The new fridge reduced power consumption and was quieter, but it was far from perfect. In fact, it (along with the Force 10 range with the heat output of a Bic lighter) are among the most frustrating pieces of equipment onboard.  Temperature control in the NovaKool is, at best, imprecise. The rudimentary … Read more

Safe Harbour | Northern Lights Cooling System Maintenance

With the generator cooling system disassembled to troubleshoot an electrical problem, now was as good a time as any to tackle some basic cooling system maintenance. Northern Lights recommends the cooling system be serviced every two years, regardless of hours. Mine was last serviced three years ago, and it was giving a few indications that it was time to do it again. At high loads, the temperature crept up a … Read more

Safe Harbour | The Generator Mystery

I’ve been tied to the dock—the same dock!—for three weeks now, the longest I’ve sat still for more than a year. I’m working through a long list of maintenance tasks, and as most boaters know, seemingly simple tasks have a way of quickly escalating into something much more involved. A good example: my recent generator problems. My first task was figuring out why the generator wouldn’t run. The symptoms were … Read more

Safe Harbour | Winter Projects

Summer 2017 was one for the record books in Southeast Alaska. In a place known for rain, this was the rainiest summer ever. More than 45 inches fell in Ketchikan in June, July, and August. That’s nearly double their average and more rain than typically falls on Seattle in an entire year. All this rain exposed a few leaks aboard Safe Harbour. At 17-years-old and with more than 5000 hours underway, … Read more

Nine Boats to Alaska: Failure Analysis

Last summer I took eight boats (nine including mine) from Anacortes to Southeast Alaska. Naturally, we experienced a few failures along the way. Below is an accounting of those failures, how we addressed them, and what lessons can be taken away. Failure: Inverter cabling This “professionally-installed” inverter cabling was woefully undersized—2 AWG rather than the specified 2/0 AWG, and the lug was 2/0 sized and poorly crimped to the cable. … Read more