by Don Casey

Contributing editor Don Casey is the author of several books on boat maintenance, including This Old Boat, published by International Marine/McGraw-Hill

Tools for your Cruise

by Don Casey, Posted August 22, 2011
Cruisers who sail long distances typically carry a vast array of tools and spare parts, but weekend sailors tend to buy parts as needed and depend on tools normally kept at home, in the trunk of a car, or even hanging on the rack at a hardware store. But what happens when you take your boat out of home waters, with house, car, hardware store and chandlery left behind? This is a good question to

A Moveable Feast

by Don Casey, Posted August 17, 2011
Say “link” to a cruising sailor today and anchor chain is probably not what comes to mind. Reliable Internet access has become a Holy Grail for most cruisers. We are so anxious to be connected that Wi-Fi hotspots now trump most other harbor attractions.Virtually all new laptop computers have wireless capability, but their range is limited by their antennas and the power of the internal

Compost Complexities

by Don Casey, Posted July 22, 2011
Wayne Steinhauser of Hartford, South Dakota, asks:"We sail on an impounded Missouri river lake with only one pump-out station within 100 miles. We find returning to the pump-out station is troublesome when we spend a week or more exploring and sailing. We’re thinking of installing a composting toilet. What is your opinion of these?"Don Casey

Shoal Keel Aground

by Don Casey, Posted June 22, 2011
Peter Burke of Fredericksburg, Virginia, asks:"We recently went aground in a creek off the Potomac River in my Hunter 28, which has a shoal keel that draws 3 feet 6 inches. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to break free, but fortunately a marine police boat and a rescue boat came along within minutes to assist. Surprisingly, the rescue boat had to pull hard with its

Window Goop

by Don Casey, Posted April 14, 2011
Tobby Litaker of Charleston, South Carolina, asks:"What’s the best sealant to use when reinstalling windows?"Don Casey replies:If you are talking about plastic windows, do not use polysulfide sealants, because the solvents they contain will cause the plastic to harden and crack. The adhesion of polyurethane sealants is compromised by the

To Varnish or Not?

by Don Casey, Posted April 13, 2011
Dorothy Parker once famously remarked: “I hate writing; I love having written.” I feel the same way about varnishing. Nothing flatters a boat more than the glow of well-varnished wood, but to bask in that glow, someone must suffer through the process of preparing the wood and applying the varnish.Almost all woods other than teak will weather and eventually rot if not

A Dented Hull

by Don Casey, Posted March 8, 2011
Mark Neinast of Plano, Texas, asks:"I am restoring a 1970 Santana 21 and have noticed that the starboard side of the hull is indented around the trailer bunk. Can I jack up the boat, push out the hull (hoping it springs back into place), then strengthen the inside of the hull with epoxy?"Don Casey replies: You need to know if the hull is

Soggy Screw-Hole Saga

by Don Casey, Posted January 25, 2011
Harold Simpson of Dallas, Texas, asks:"I was replacing the solar fan mounted in the front hatch of my 1987 Hunter 23, and when I removed the hinge screws, I found clear water in the screw holes in the cabintop. I also recently developed a leak in the cabin roof, which appears to be coming through the mounting screws of a block on the port side of the mast. The water is

Keel Bolt Anxiety

by Don Casey, Posted January 25, 2011
Doug Nicholson of Seattle, Washington, asks:"My 5-year-old, 37-foot sailboat has mild steel keel bolts, nuts, washers and channel spacers securing a cast iron keel. The bolts, nuts, etc. are all quite rusted. The shallow bilge has not been kept dry, and they’ve been sitting in water for some time. How worried should I be? My surveyor suggested I just “knock off all the

Ground Round

by Don Casey, Posted December 14, 2010
Lee Andrews of East Hampton, New York, asks: "I’ve had electrolysis issues on my Tartan 3800, so I’ve installed a galvanic isolator, I deploy a zinc grouper whenever I’m in a slip, and I use shore power only when I have to. When I hauled out last fall I could see my shaft zincs were far less corroded than in previous years, but paint continues to pop off my lead keel in
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