B.O.A.T.-Bust Out Another Thousand

I’m sure all boat owners have heard the B.O.A.T. acronym, Bust/Break Out Another Thousand because it just so happens to be a pretty common occurrence and job security for me. As much as I love working on boats and generating income for my family, I equally hate to see boat owners have to do this because of preventable problems.

I was recently asked to repair a generator for a client, a generator that if brand new would cost over $15,000. As I begin the project, my obvious first question is—-when did you last run it? And of course the answer was, “well, I never use it, so probably 3 years or so ago”.

Oh, really? No, I am not surprised. Yes, this is way to common and honestly will probably continue to keep me in business. One of the biggest issues I find with just about any piece of machinery I am asked to repair is that the owner did not run it regularly whether using it or not. This goes for your car, your boat, your lawnmower, your tractor, your sewing machine, whatever it is, if it is a machine, you need to run it sometimes several times a year.

If you didn’t know this, you might ask, why? Preventative maintenance such as this is performed to keep equipment up and running, prevent downtime and avoid costly repairs. Machines are built to be used and the fluids inside them need to circulate through the system. For example, running a generator once a month will prevent gas from producing a gum on the carburetor. Additionally, if you plan on not using a portable machine for a while and want to store it, remove the gasoline prior to doing so. Lastly, oil is another key to longevity of machinery. Routine oil analysis is like a blood test for a person. This allows you to treat a problem before it becomes catastrophic.

So, run your equipment whether you are using it or not. It is a basic, simple task that can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in the long-run.

Cliff Hairston

Coastie Marine Services, Owner/Marine Electrician




Please Vote – Your vote matters

This election has been nothing short of frustrating for many Americans. However, here we are, less than one month away from the big day. My hope is that all Americans will exercise their right to vote. I, of course, know who my vote is for but that is not what this blog is specifically about.

When you do vote, I want you to think of what this country needs. I believe this country is in dire need of an economic turnaround. How can we turn it around? When need to focus on keeping businesses inside the U.S. and helping those businesses grow. When businesses have a reduction in overhead, specifically taxes, we can grow. And with growth, we can create jobs. Jobs in turn stimulate the economy. It is basic Economics 101.

When you vote, keep small businesses in mind as well. We are small not but what is our potential if given the opportunity? I would hope for my business and for my family to grow, create jobs for our community and in turn stimulate the economy here, right here in the good ole U.S.A.

So, let’s forget about the things that are sidetracking us from the real issues. The ads, the slander, the back and forth is all a diversion from the true issues. Remain focused on the issues you believe are important.

I want something done about illegal immigration and done about the illegals here that are taking jobs from legal immigrants and Americans like you and me. There is a process to follow and laws to follow and if you do not follow them, then you are committing a crime. And it is a crime far more than just in the criminal sense. The illegal immigrants are using our resources, not paying taxes and sending money home to their families, not stimulating our economy. (In many cases).

So, when you go to vote, think about these things because if we can keep jobs here for Americans and legal immigrants then we can solve so many problems for so many. These problems can help turn this country around. So, forget about the flaws each candidate has and regardless of whether you vote for who I’m voting for, just vote!

Cliff Hairston, Coastie Marine Services – Owner/Marine Electrician (Small Business Owner)

http://www.coastiemarine.com or Facebook: facebook.com/coastiemarine

Marine Electrician vs Regular Electrician Cont….

Boat Electrical System Components

While we make our income dealing with the repair of boat wiring, I believe it is important to educate boat owners about marine electricity so that they are safe and their investment is protected.

I have seen some very scary jury-rigged wiring that literally looked like a rat’s nest and just so happened to have rat’s in there and wasps to boot! That’s scary stuff and also almost begging to cause a fire. So, let’s talk about parts of marine electrical systems.

I talked before about grounding and the difference between AC & DC. There is only 1 point where DC is grounded, at the battery. It is a free floating system where nothing is ever grounded to any metallic part of the vessel, most especially not the bonding system. It’s like a car sitting on rubber tires which provide insulation, the battery itself provides a negative potential.

Bonding Systems

These actually have nothing to do with electrical systems. Nothing should ever be grounded to bonding systems. Unskilled electricians often make the mistake of using this to ground electrical systems and this often ends in disastrous results.

Electrolysis & Galvanism

Boaters who don’t really understand electrolysis often abuse this work. Number one, all boats have electrical potential. All the metals on the boat have differing electrical potentials. This is exactly the principle that allows a dry cell battery to generate electricity. This electrical potential is called galvanism & is the reason why we put zincs on boats.

Now, electrolysis is stray current escaping and is most damaging. When this occurs, it eats up zincs quickly and leaves it looking bright & shiny. So, Shiny zincs = electrolysis & Dull eroded zincs = galvanism.

Shore Power Cords

The largest cause of issues w/ shore power systems comes from failure to maintain connectors on both the cord & boat connectors. Remember, these are exposed to water & will suffer from corrosion & general wear. This can eventually result in overheating & power drop. This alone can create conditions for fires & cause electrical equipment to work harder which reduces the life span of your boat. Maintain your shore power connections!

Coastie Marine recommend you buy only the highest quality power cords, as these will last longer and have the advantage of replaceable connector parts. Cheap connectors usually can’t be taken apart. Lastly: If you’re not turning off the dock breaker before disconnecting the power cord, start doing it! You risk getting electrocuted, but disconnecting an energized connector damages the contacts.

Please feel free to email us if you have any type of electrical questions at coastiemarineservices@gmail.com or check out our website: http://www.coastiemarine.com

Thanks! Cliff Hairston, Owner/Marine Electrician


MARINE Electrician vs Regular Electrician

Discussion about marine electricians only to work on your vessel.

Marine Electrician vs. Regular Electrician

If you own a boat, you are aware that insurance companies use marine surveyors to inspect your boat before they insure you. One of the top issues these surveyors run into are electrical systems that have been jury-rigged. This usually happens when you use “Bob the Electrician” from down the road because his rates are cheaper. Some of these guys think wiring a house is the same as wiring a boat but that is absolutely not the case.

The older the boats get, the more jury-rigged wiring occurs and ends up causing a substantial number of problems. I’m not mocking residential & commercial electricians but substandard boat wiring can cause problems to your entire system, such as, chronic battery drain, frequent system faults or even electrolysis and fires. And not to mention a long list of fixes from the marine surveyor.

So, why does using a MARINE electrician so important? Well, most importantly is that your boat is in the water which makes a boat much different than a house or car. Sea water is a fair conductor of electricity. There are addition rules about materials & methods of installation that you won’t find on land based vehicles or buildings. Water provides an awesome ground path for electricity so we must be careful how things are completed.

Many marine electricians are self-taught as there are little vocational schools for this career. I was lucky enough to receive exceptional training in the U.S. Coast Guard. So, when hiring a marine electrician, experience and training is key so I would ask for credentials, or a resume or anything that provides proof of knowledge in this field.

Materials and equipment are much different in the marine repair industry. The ABYC or American Boat & Yacht Council has strict standards for this as does the U.S. Coast Guard. Do not use common wire or wiring devices or residential electrical equipment. If proper materials are not grounded, properly constructed or insulated, you might be at a high risk for fires.

One of the most horrible things I’ve seen on a boat is the use of extension cords, non-marine wire, audio speaker wire and even household lamp cords. This is not a joke at all. House wire and marine wire is completely different. Marine wire must have the right temp, be water & oil resistant & should be purchased from a reputable marine supplier.

No one who is untrained in marine high voltage systems should touch boat wiring. Deadly fault systems are too risky. Grounding & a boat’s electrical system most commonly misunderstood. Only someone educated in AC & DC marine grounding should touch boat wiring. AC & DC are two separate systems. If you don’t know the 4 principles of ground systems, stay away from boats. And owners need not hire.

In the next article, I will discuss the main parts of a boat’s electrical system and further stress the importance of hiring a marine electrician vs. any old regular electrician. Moral of the story is that you will actually save money in the long run and have peace of mind using a skilled and trained marine electrician on your boat. Protect your investment.

Cliff Hairston, Owner/Marine Electrician

http://www.coastiemarine.com or Facebook: @coastiemarine



Florida – A Boater’s Paradise!

With an average year round temp of 88 degrees, come see why Florida truly is a boater’s paradise! From the Florida Panhandle down to the Florida Keys, it’s fall y’all!

The oceans surrounding & the waterways within are all part of the beauty of boating year round in the paradise that is Florida. Yes, of course many people visit Florida in the Spring & Summer time but it’s the boaters and the boating community in this great state that make Florida the premier year round boating state.

First, let’s talk about our weather. This morning, my gorgeous wife was so excited as she drank her coffee & read the morning news. Apparently, the weather forecast for Saturday is a high of 89, a low of 66! Yep, that’s it, 66 degrees. She was walking around saying, It’s Fall Y’all. Keep in mind, July is the hottest month in Florida with a statewide average temperature of 88 degrees! The coldest month is January with the average temperature, statewide is 61 degrees!

Let’s talk about another reason Florida is a boater’s paradise! Florida Oceans and waterway are endlessly beautiful and can be accessed YEAR ROUND! With the Gulf of Mexico on the west & the Atlantic Ocean on the east, that is 1,350 miles of coastline! Florida has 67 counties and is embedded with beautiful & numerous waterways including; beaches, lakes, rivers, waterways, bays & swamps with Saltwater, Freshwater & Brackish to choose from.

I know my picture hints that we know it’s fall when we only see Florida boating plates out on the water but let’s be honest, Florida’s economic well-being is linked to our visitors, natives and freshwater, coastal and marine resources. We have islands and The Keys too! With year round perfect weather in most of the state, boaters don’t have to put their boat away!

And how about our boating adventures offered year round? Florida offers private & group chartered deep sea & inshore fishing, boat tours and dolphin swims, catamaran rentals, parasailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, eco tours, glass bottom boats and so much more! There is literally a boat or some type of watercraft that fits every single personality out there.

While we love boating and Florida, sadly since we boat year round, we have the highest number of recreational boat accidents. Florida has 900,000 registered motorboats, 12 months supply of sun & ALL that water, that puts you at a higher risk of an accident.

I know you’re asking, so what can I do to avoid an accident?

  1. Don’t Drink and Boat. The US Coast Guard stresses that alcohol and intoxication play a huge role in boating accidents so have a designated boater each time you are enjoying the water!
  2. Wear a life jacket. This is not just for children, have life jackets for adults too!
  3. Take a boater safety course. Average cost is around $30 & can even be done online.
  4. Get a FREE vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard w/ zero consequences. Our goal is just to educate you and help you enjoy the water in the safest vessel possible.

From the Florida Panhandle, all the way down to the Florida Keys, I just wanted to welcome you to fall and hope you have a wonderful rest of the year on the water! Some whether your are a native or a visitor, it’s fall y’all! Let’s get out and stay out there on the water and enjoy Florida’s number one way of life, boating.

Cliff Hairston – Coastie Marine Services, Owner/Marine Electrician

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Electrician’s Mate, 1st Class





Updated Encyclopedia for Marine Tech

Check this out!

A new online platform for the popular Wärtsilä Encyclopedia of Marine Technology, formerly known as the Encyclopedia of Ship Technology by Wärtsilä, is being launched. The new site, www.wartsila.com/encyclopedia, is more user-friendly and has more links to relevant internal and external data than the previous platform. It also has common functionality with the existing www.wartsila.com website and better connections with social media sites, thereby enabling sharing and more convenient user interaction.

The Encyclopedia provides definitions for current terminology in the industry. It is intended to help current and future marine engineers, naval architects, and other industry specialists. It also provides valuable assistance to anyone reviewing the shipbuilding trends that are moving the industry forward.

About Wärtsilä

Wärtsilä is a global leader in advanced technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasizing sustainable innovation and total efficiency, Wärtsilä maximizes the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers.


How to Use a VHF Radio – Boat Repair

This may seem like an unnecessary read for many experienced boat users however, for those of you who are interested or need a lesson, please continue. As w/ any other tool on board your vessel, there are wrong ways & right ways to use your VHF (Very High Frequency) Marine Radio. Here are some useful tips:

1. You’re required to be monitoring VHF Channel 16 at all times! This channel is for emergency, distress, safety, & initial vessel contact messages only. You can usually set a ‘dual watch’ function on the VHF radio if you want to monitor another channel or have 2 VHF radios for your boat. If you receive a distress call, please record it along with your boat’s position & the exact time. Be prepared to give help if needed.

There are 3 international safety & distress calls that you MUST KNOW:

Mayday calls -“Mayday, Mayday”, yes this is real, it is serious & is only to be used in the event there is a very real emergency. Issue a Mayday call if your watercraft is sinking, on fire, or if someone on board is seriously injured or ill. Mayday calls are only for situations which “there is immediate risk of loss of property or life” so do not abuse this distress call for any other reason. Doing so would be like calling 911 for nothing. It is taken very seriously and can be a waste of valuable resources if misused. If you make a Mayday call, wait for a response & if you don’t receive an answer w/ in a minute or so, repeat the entire Mayday. If there is still no response, you may need to use flares or other distress signals to get help.

Once a Mayday call goes out, everyone other than the distressed vessel and the Coast Guard responder handling the call must remain silent. If the Coast Guard asks for help from vessels in the area, this is what is referred to as an exception. Next exception is if you hear a Mayday call & after a 2minute waiting period there has been no response from the Coast Guard, & the Mayday transmission is repeated without response, then you are required to perform a Mayday response. You can also relay a Mayday call if you have spotted a vessel in serious danger or have been asked by the boat’s operator to call a Mayday relay.

Securité calls – In Florida, Securité is often used to report manatees that are swimming in the path of boats. Securité messages are for reporting navigational safety concerns to other boaters. If you spot anything floating in the water that could potentially endanger boats in the area, it is expected that you put out a Securité call. By being a helpful member of the boating community & reporting major navigational hazards, you could save someone a costly repair or even protect the safety of their passengers.

Pan-Pan calls – This is the last of the signals for a VHF. Use this when your boat, yourself, or a passenger is in trouble but not in serious danger. For example, if you have had an accident of some type that disables your boat but you are not taking on water and there are no injuries, then a Pan-Pan is appropriate.

If you hear a Pan-Pan call come over the VHF radio, treat it with silence on the channel just as you would a Mayday call. If you are in the vicinity of the request for assistance, please try to head towards the boat in trouble & see what you can do. You may need to get a line on the disabled vessel in order to bring it into safer waters then await further instructions from the Coast Guard.

2. Radio checks are usually not needed unless you have recently installed a new VHF radio or worked on your radio. Also, if have not used it in a while. Never use Channel 16 to perform a radio check. Stick to Channels 9, 68, 69, 71, 72, or 78A.

3. Be considerate of other boaters & do not treat your VHF radio like a toy, do not be that guy. Do not clutter important channels with chit-chat. It goes without saying but do not ever make a false Mayday call – such irresponsibility endangers others and you can be prosecuted with a $10,000 fine. Seriously, do not be that guy.

4. Aside from Channel 16, a few of the designated purposes of some other channels are:

  • Channel 9:designated by the FCC as the Recreational Calling Channel for use by non-commercial boaters. The protocol is to make contact on Channel 9, then move to one of the other recreational channels. Boaters who are monitoring Channel 9 are not required to monitor Channel 16.
  • Channels 68, 69, 71, 72, and 78A are also for use by recreational boaters. Once contact has been made on channel 9 or 16, switch to one of these channels.
  • Channel 13 is only to be used for commercial ship to ship (bridge to bridge) navigation or for use by bridges and locks.

5. Wait your turn and be patient while a channel is active. Breaking into an ongoing radio transmission is poor manner and could interfere with an emergency transmission. These radios are not toys, this is not GI-Joe in the backyard with your little brother. These channels serve purposes so again, don’t be that guy.

6. Do not use the phrase “over and out” at the end of a transmission, all that is necessary to end a VHF radio communication is “out”.

7. When transmitting on a VHF Radio, you must speak slowly & clearly. Be polite & brief. Use the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie…)- if you don’t know it, learn it or tape it by your radio. This is used to spell out important information. Make sure to confirm that you have received a message when finished.

8. If you want to know more, consider attending a VHF Radio Operator’s Course. You can be awarded a SRC (Short Range Certificate) in just one day’s time while you learn everything you need to operate a VHF radio properly.