Authors Posts by Jade Curtis

Jade Curtis


Five Ways to Cut Down on Amp Usage

5 Ways to Cut Down on AMP Usage

Haul Out Guide



Five ways to cut down on amp usage

Most modern marine equipment has evolved to require much less power. When you’re in the boatyard this spring, do more with less and cut down on amp usage.


Arguably, you use radar under way when your engines are running, so who really cares how much power it’s using?

On the other hand, if your electronics suite is due for an upgrade, consider a more efficient unit. In standby mode, radar doesn’t draw much, but when it’s transmitting, the power needs are quite high. Consider one of the new units like the Simrad Halo that comes with either open or closed array antennas. This solid-state, pulse compression radar delivers a mix of close-in and long-range detection and excellent target definition with low clutter.

Simrad-HALO can help cut down on amp usageIt has five modes to help process a variety of targets and a range from 48 to 72 nautical miles. The Halo is available for both 24- and 12-volt applications and an added bonus is its ultra-low electromagnetic and radiation emissions.
That means you can put one on the flybridge with you and not worry too much about scrambling your brain when the radar is running.

Climate Control

Air conditioners create the greatest energy loads aboard, and chances are the older your system, the more power it takes. New units from companies like Dometic are smaller,
self-contained and quieter with vibration-isolation mounts. Their high-efficiency rotary and scroll blowers use fewer amps and notably reduce fatiguing sound. Italian company Termodinamica (TMD) offers 24-volt DC units that don’t even need a genset. Made with titanium heat exchangers, the TMD units touts a power consumption rate that’s 50 percent lower than other comparably sized units on the market. Many air conditioners today also have an ECO mode where they ramp down if they are running off of batteries, via an inverter, and the battery voltage starts to fall. Adding window shades and tinted glass will also relieve the pressure on air conditioners and may even help refresh your interior design.


The fridge also is a major power hog. Refrigerator efficiency has to do with the type
of unit (air, water or keel-cooled) and the quality of insulation around the box.
Frigoboat has highly efficient fridges in both 12- and 24-volt applications with refrigerator, freezer or combo solutions.

Cut Down on Amp Usage with less refrigerationTheir unique keel-cooled system is reliable, efficient and quiet with no pump or fan to create noise, and it doesn’t need winterizing. Check the age and condition of your insulation, too, or just tear out the old stuff and install some stainless steel drawers that will also upgrade the boat’s aesthetics.

Isotherm offers plug-and-play solutions with their cabinet refrigerators powered by 12/24-volt Danfoss compressors. These units feature extra thick, but still compact, insulation so the boxes stay cold with less power. They even have stand-alone, plug-in coolers for use on deck so you can keep your beverages nearby and not have to open the galley refrigerator as much.

These Travel Boxes also have ECO modes to slow the compressor once the food and drinks are already chilled.


Most new boats now come standard with interior and exterior LED lighting, but if your vessel is of an older vintage, it would be worth swapping out your deck, salon and galley lights for new ones that draw less power. Imtra offers a variety of fixtures to help you upgrade the look of your interior including courtesy lights that create an impressive ambiance. As design trends move from direct to indirect lighting, options migrate from
down and spotlights to strip and rope lighting hidden behind valences and under furniture.

Evolved whites in LED options are now available, so it’s not hard to create a warm glow.
Efficient lights include navigation or running lights like those by Attwood, Perko, LopoLight, and Aqua Signal. You’ll save a few amps with an LED anchor light that you forget to turn off.

Finally, don’t forget those power-hogging heat generators below the waterline.  Underwater lights are known as large consumers of power. New developments in optical design, thermal management, and marinized electrical components have created lights that are brighter and use less power.

Lumishore’s thru-hull and surface mount, full-color cycling lights can replace older lights and provide better color while they use less power, and they can even be paired with
sound to “dance” to music. That’s worth the price of admission alone.

Battery Efficiency

Finally, efficiency comes down to the size, quality, and type of your battery bank. Charging with a genset is more efficient than charging with the engines and alternators, but a good battery bank is also important to your onboard power equation. The better the efficiency of a battery, the higher its charge acceptance rate, which is the amount of energy that can be pumped into a battery in a given period. Wet cells are about 60 percent efficient, gel cells 75 percent and AGMs 85 percent.

AGMs, especially any of the thin plate, pure lead (TPPL) variants, also have the highest charge acceptance rate, so they will optimize system performance. How you charge is also important. Charging cool batteries quickly is most efficient. For banks that are especially depleted, it may be best to charge with engines and the genset simultaneously. As batteries heat up during charging, it takes longer to get that last percent of charge pushed in despite the genset running just as hard as in the beginning.

These are just a few ideas on how you can save power and thereby burn less fuel and shrink your carbon footprint. Some of these are bigger projects, while others are a matter of just upgrading aging equipment. Chances are that some of these systems will pay for themselves down the road in operation costs, fuel and wear and tear on your engines or genset.

By Zuzana Prochazka, Southern Boating March 2019

Great Loop Waterways

Great Loop Waterways

Great Loop Waterways

If you’re in the midst of planning your own Great Loop adventure, take note of these river-lakes on or accessible from these Great Loop waterways.

All who have cruised the Great Loop Waterways—the system comprising the eastern half of the United States that enables one to circumnavigate by water—have a list of their favorite spots they added for a variety of reasons: picturesque views, fascinating history, friendly people, fabulous food, or simply serene cruising areas.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the notable expanses of water, where the river transforms into a lake that’s long and broad. Check out these Great Loop Waterways.

an image of the Great Loop Waterways from Southern BoatingKentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, Kentucky

From the Ohio River at Paducah, Kentucky, southbound Loopers have the option of taking the Tennessee River or Cumberland River, both of which require passing through a lock. Although it adds several miles to the journey, many cruisers opt for the Cumberland River due to the potential for lock delays from commercial traffic on the Tennessee River.

Barkley Lock opens up on the south side to Lake Barkley. Just past the lock to starboard is Green Turtle Bay Resort & Marina, with all the services cruisers need plus great dining options for a break from the galley, including not-to-be-missed Patti’s 1880s Settlement; order the pork chop and pie.

Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake are connected by the Barkley Canal that enables cruisers to enjoy boating on both lakes. The canal that separates the two lakes is on the north end of a long peninsula called Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

Check your charts and depth gauge and explore the coves; some have waterfalls inside. This beautiful area is best in the fall when the hardwoods explode with color and southbound cruisers can extend their enjoyment of peak fall foliage for several weeks. Don’t miss this scenic spot on the Great Loop Waterways.

an image of the Great Loop Waterways from Southern BoatingLake Champlain, Vermont

Northbound cruisers transiting from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes have several route options depending on their bridge clearance requirements, time schedule and what they want to see, and there are pros and cons for each. The route through New York Harbor and the Hudson River to Waterford, New York, continues through the Champlain Canal and leads to Lake Champlain, also known as the Adirondacks’ Great Lake.

Lake Champlain is a boating mecca, but its large size leaves plenty of room for everyone (125 miles long, 14 miles wide, 64 feet average depth). Even so, there are many bays and coves to anchor for a quiet evening, while on shore, quaint towns offer dining options galore plus farmers markets to provision locally grown produce and products nearly any day of the week.

In towns and villages on both sides of the lake—New York and Vermont—lovers of history, art and music will find a wealth of events and venues to pique their interest, including
museums, art galleries, concerts, antique shops, festivals, and celebrations.

Lake Pepin, Minnesota

Although the upper Mississippi is not part of the Great Loop route, there are a fair number of Loopers from the upper Midwest who start their Great Loop cruise in Minnesota.
There are also some who want to cruise all five of the Great Lakes, so they cruise to the far western end of Lake Superior and have their boat hauled in Duluth and transported to the Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities to continue their Great Loop journey. In addition to bragging rights of cruising all five of the Great Lakes, Loopers will also pass through all the locks on the Mississippi River, providing they choose that route rather than the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Lake Pepin is the widest, naturally occurring expanse of the entire Mississippi River and is located south of the Minnesota town of Red Wing (Lock 3). Lake Pepin is a favorite boating destination and cruising ground for many, and picturesque in all seasons, especially the fall when both sides of the lake are flaming with autumn colors. Sailing is common in the summer months, and the Lake City municipal marina welcomes transient cruisers. Pepin City, Wisconsin, hosts a small theater group, and the Mediterranean-style winery, Villa Bellezza, is close by.

an image of the Great Loop Waterways from Southern Boating

Trent-Severn Waterway, Canada

This chain of lakes, rivers, and locks really deserves a feature article of its own—look for this in a future issue—but it would be a disservice not to include it here, too. Loopers on
the northern part of the counter-clockwise route who choose to bypass Lake Erie enter the Trent-Severn Waterway at Trenton on the Bay of Quinte on the east end of Lake Ontario, and they exit at Port Severn on Georgian Bay of Lake Huron.

The 240-mile-long waterway offers a plethora of experiences too lengthy to include here, but those who have experienced this route report they’re eager to repeat their Loop experience if only to spend more time exploring this area alone.

There are, of course, many more lakes, rivers, channels, and detours on the Great Loop waiting to be explored. If you’ve completed or are in the process of cruising the Great Loop, we’d love to hear about your favorite Great Loop Waterways. Email

By Liz Pasch, Southern Boating January 2019

Sacrificial Anodes

sacrificial anodes

Sacrificial Anodes

Sacrificial anodes die so your underwater gear may live.

A war is raging under your boat. High-priced running gear and outboard lower units made of aluminum, copper, and steel face galvanic corrosion. Corrosion occurs when dissimilar metals connect under water. The solution involves connecting an even more “active” negatively charged material to the copper and steel—the sacrificial anode. The anodes are made of aluminum, zinc, and magnesium and connected to the boat’s underwater engine and propulsion parts to take the brunt of the corrosion. They are “sacrificed” to protect the more valuable metals.

How do anodes work?

“Anodes have to be underwater to work,” explains Martin Wigg, vice president of Anode Business at Performance Metals. “The anodes work by providing a supply of electrons to lower the voltage of the protected metal. That is only half the circuit though. The other half is the flow of ions in the surrounding water. No water equals no ion flow and no circuit and, therefore, no protection. There are companies that market ‘corrosion grenades’ to protect metal in air, but they are a scam.”

Aluminum has become a recommended metal for anodes in salt water, and magnesium anodes work best in fresh water. In fresh water, a zinc anode forms a chemical coating that stops it from working; however, zinc anodes are a favorite of many boat owners in salt water despite the advantages of aluminum. “Zinc is still used in the majority of cases,” says Wigg. “It’s fine for use on inboard boats in salt water but that’s really all.

However, people are slow to change. They have been using zinc for years and are hesitant to change to something new, especially if zinc is working fine.” When boaters take the leap and try aluminum anodes, they find that they work better than the old zinc anodes and never go back. This is especially true for aluminum-hulled boats and outboard motors.

How long do anodes last?

“Zinc doesn’t really protect aluminum components that well even in salt water,” Wigg explains. “Many boaters also don’t realize that zinc doesn’t work for long in fresh or brackish water. I have heard people say, ‘My anodes have lasted for years.’ Yes, because they stopped working.” Anodes dissolve over time and, eventually, must be replaced.

sacrificial anodes
Martin Wigg’s Top Tips for Anodes.

Two factors are important. First, to provide good protection, there must be enough anodes to bring the full potential of the vessel down by 0.2V to an acceptable range. The lower the measured voltage, the less likely the metal will corrode. This is where zinc anodes have a problem protecting aluminum components. Zinc anodes sit at -1.05V and aluminum components sit at around -0.75V, a difference of 0.3V, not much more than the required 0.2V drop. Aluminum anodes—a special alloy—sit at -1.1V, a difference of 0.35V, which is much better.

“The second factor is that the protection offered is proportional to the surface area,” Wigg says. “So as the anodes wear away, that surface area is reduced. The general guide is to replace the anodes after they have worn down by one half.” Performance Metals’ range of aluminum alloy anodes has a Red Spot plastic indicator that appears on the surface when it is time to change.

Which boats need anodes?

A 50-foot fiberglass cruising vessel has metal components that need protecting. With bonded thru-hulls, use a transom anode at a minimum. Wigg suggests the Performance Metals’ Divers Anode or HYAA (ribbed anode with extra surface area). “Viking uses these on its vessels. There should also be anodes on the engine’s drive shaft to protect the propeller and shaft. The bonding system is not well connected to the shaft since it goes through the gearbox.”

an image of various sacrificial anodes
There are various shapes and sizes of anodes that have a variety of purposes.

Outboard-powered boats need anodes to protect the engines. Install the main aluminum anodes on the outboards. A transom anode for any other metal components is also advisable and should be aluminum. A zinc transom anode would reduce the protection provided by the aluminum ones on the outboard and speed up their use.

Also, outboards are unique because the midsection and lower unit are almost always aluminum. Back in the early 1990s, as the outboard makers saw galvanic corrosion as a huge issue, they sought a better solution than zinc anodes and went to aluminum. Some outboard manufacturers void warranties if anodes are zinc.

By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating February 2019

Install a Stereo on Your Boat

how to install a stereo on your boat

Install a Stereo on Your Boat

Everyone likes tunes while on the water, but if your boat didn’t come with a factory-installed stereo, you don’t have to suffer the sound of silence. Let’s take a look at what’s involved to install a stereo on your boat.

Stereo receiver

When choosing a stereo to install on your boat, you need to consider both the unit and mounting options. Back in the day, the standard stereo was a 7×2-inch box that included a CD player. Today’s trends are stereos designed exclusively to play music from strictly digital media sources: MP3 players, iPods, and smartphones. As no CD player is required, the design and size of today’s stereos vary greatly from traditional units, and most have a smaller cutout.

how to install a stereo on your boat
Back in the day, stereos on your boat took up a lot more space.

The “black box” type of stereos add yet additional dimension to the mix. These units consist of a small box housing the amplifier, radio and all the wiring connections. They’re controlled by a waterproof, hockey puck shaped, wired remote that’s mounted in a convenient location (helm, swim platform, etc.).

These remote units can also be sized to fit easily into a dashboard to take up less real estate at the helm. When shopping for a new stereo, you might logically assume that all “marine” stereos are waterproof, but surprisingly, that’s not the case. Some units are fully waterproof, but others may be splash resistant or waterproof only when the faceplate is sealed. Partially waterproof units can have an open chassis that is prone to water intrusion should moisture find its way past the faceplate gasket. Thoroughly read the information on any potential stereo purchase to ensure you know just how protected it is against moisture.

Unless the unit is completely waterproof, you’ll want to choose a dry location for your stereo that provides as much protection against the elements as possible. Dry may be a relative term for smaller, open boats (center consoles and the like), but even then, there will be some locations that provide better protection than others. When you install a stereo on your boat, choose a waterproof stereo or remote control. It’s always a good option, especially when mounting choices are less than ideal.


Speakers will either be flush mounted or box speakers, both of which have their own set of pros and cons. Flush-mount speakers can be installed in tight, out-of-the-way spaces and present a cleaner looking installation. As to downsides, they require you to cut a hole in your boat to install. For best frequency response, flush-mount speakers must have sufficient air space around the cone. You also don’t want an open-air path behind the speaker, which can reduce the bass response. The speaker installation instructions should spell out minimal space requirements and other such requirements for best performance.

Box speakers are an attractive option for a number of reasons. They don’t require you to cut holes for mounting, and the box enclosure is already designed and set for optimal performance. This means you don’t have to worry about the required air space around the speaker. The only real downside to box speakers is that they take up more space than flush-mount units.

Speaker position

When planning to install a stereo on your boat, keep in mind that speakers are directional, meaning they project sound in the direction they are pointed. As such, you want them to be directed to where your ears will be. This isn’t as critical in your car or home because there are numerous surfaces for the sound to bounce off of, but when they ate installed in an open boat, the sound they produce can easily be lost.

how to install a stereo on your boat
Make sure your speakers are angled so that the music is possible to hear.

Select speaker locations that not only optimize sound but also minimize exposure to water as much as possible. Stereo sound is way better than mono sound, so choose locations that allow you to hear at least two speakers at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll only be getting half of the
music experience.

Before you cut the hole

You’ve chosen an ideal location for the stereo, but is it really all that? Take a moment to step back and visualize the installation as a whole. Mentally walk through it to head off any potential problems. For example, you’ve found the perfect spot for the stereo or remote head, but is there a path to run the control cable or wire bundle? You’ll also want to be doubly sure of what’s on the other side of the selected mounting location. Drilling into hoses or electrical cables or even the hull itself is never conducive to a good stereo install.

This mental walk-through also provides a good opportunity to make a list of tools and materials needed to complete the job and prevent extra trips to the chandlery. For many, the most daunting part of any stereo installation is routing the wires and cabling. It doesn’t have to be that way, however, if you plan the run first and have the proper tools. One of the handiest tools for pulling wires and cables is an electrician’s “fish tape” or wire snake. Snakes must be stiff enough to maintain their shape while pushing, yet supple enough to twist around curves and bends. Those made of tempered wire are commonly used, although newer, more flexible units of fiberglass or other composite materials are also popular.

Regardless of the one you choose, you’ll want to be able to twist the snake to better make turns and bends, reducing or eliminating the number of additional holes needed to facilitate installation.

Installing a stereo system is a satisfying day or weekend project that’s within the ability of most any DIYer. Just take a little time to plan out the installation beforehand to help ensure you’ll enjoy the sweet sound of success for years to come.

Cable Pulling 101

  • When pulling wire or coax, use a firm, steady motion and always pull at the flattest angle possible to reduce friction. This approach puts less stress on the wire while reducing the chances of tears or damage to insulation or wiring.
  • ­When using a snake, feed it through first with nothing attached, then attach the cable or wire bundle to the end of the snake and pull everything back through slowly. Make this attachment as small as possible for easier pulling (covering the joint with a few tight wraps of electrical tape will make it more streamlined).
  • When pulling larger wire bundles, stagger the wires where attached to the snake, which both reduces the profile of the joint and makes it easier to pull around tight bends. Include and leave an extra pull string in place when pulling wire or coax to assist with future installations.

By Frank Lanier, Southern Boating January 2019

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Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Dock

five ways to improve your dock

Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Dock

Is your dock looking a bit lackluster? Maybe it’s lacking in some additional safety features or it’s just not comfortable. Either way, it’s high time you made some improvements to your dock and the surrounding area. Here are five easy ways to improve your dock.

Waterside Lounger DockboxFive Easy Ways to Improve Your Dock








Store your stuff and look good doing it! Makesocial times on the dock more comfortable with the Waterside Lounger from Better Way Products. Built with a heavy-duty fiberglass sandwich core construction, a UV-resistant gelcoat finish and stainless-steel hinges, the 14-cubic foot dock box withstands the elements. A unique EZ Drain system keeps seats clear of standing water.

MSRP $1,019


dockgrip is an easy way to improve your dockOne safety product to add to your dock is DockGrip. The hand-welded aluminum frame provides a secure grip to safely step from the dock into your boat (or PWC, kayak, canoe, or SUP) and back to the dock for people of every age and supports up to 300 pounds. It mounts to docks of any surface through six heavy steel screws.

MSRP $275

Semco Teak Sealer

semco teak sealerFurniture looking dull? This is the ideal time to spruce it up. Semco teak sealer provides long lasting natural looking protection. Lasts through the season and can be renewed without deep cleaning or stripping for years! Repels water without being slippery. Relieves the drudgery of constant teak maintenance. Known the world over as the best protection for teak.

MSRP $39.95


Ocean Series Speakers

Speakers are one way to improve your dock

Turn up the music! You can host a bumpin’ dock party with poly-planar, a marine audio products manufacturer who recently released its new Ocean Series high-performance speakers. Available in 6.5-inch (shown) and 8-inch models, the two-way, waterproof (IPX6 rated), low-profile, blue LED-lit coaxial speakers are sun, salt and corrosion-resistant. Power rated at 480 watts and 500 watts respectively, the speakers feature high power, long-excursion woofer.

MSRP $399.95 for 6.5-inch speakers


Stay comfortable with Sport-a-seat. It’s great for lounging on and off your dock. Resembling a cushion with a carrying handle, the seat has a steel frame embedded within the foam, which allows it to ratchet to 6 different positions.

MSRP $149.95



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