Don’t Guess Antifreeze


I confess I used to just flush out the systems on our boat until the antifreeze came out the end looking “pink enough”.

But that approach can either result in a lot of expensive damage if the antifreeze is overly diluted by the water in the system, or end up being wasteful and expensive when we “use one more jug just to be sure”.

A refractometer is a way better way and can be used to check liquid-filled batteries and engine antifreeze as well.

My kit cost a bit over US$100 when I bought it a few years ago, but I see there are refractometers on Amazon for $20. Anyone have any idea if the cheap ones are reliable?

Sounding Hammer Trick

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I was working with a very experienced and smart composite technician today to check out a crack in the gel coat in the bilge of our J/109.

I was pretty sure it was not structural and just the result of sloppy gel coat application but wanted a pro to check.

He sounded it with a hammer, just like anyone would, but then put his hand down as shown and explained that if there is a void he will be able to feel “bounce back” when he taps. Never seen that before.

Good news: all is fine. He figures someone just poured resin in to level it. Seen it before. That said, he is going to grind it out and repair it right with cloth and then brush gel coat.

Says it should take about half a day. The good guys are fast, too. If I tried it, it would take half a day to get the resin out of my hair, never mind the repair.

Favourite Upgrade to Our J/109

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It’s so easy to get fixated on expensive updates to our boats, like cool electronics or new electrical systems, but sometimes things that cost relatively little deliver big benefits.

Phyllis and I were chatting during our last sail of the season about our favourite upgrades to our new-to-us J/109 and both agreed that the Blue Performance pockets at the companionway was a big contributor to our enjoyment.

Stuff that we use all the time is now close to hand:

  • Air horn—not used much, but when you need it…
  • Sun screen
  • Magic marker for marking halyard settings
  • Phones
  • Rigging tape
  • Card with target boat speeds…yea, I’m obsessed
  • On it goes

Here’s how we installed the pockets without drilling holes.

Nice Bags and No Hole Mounting

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I like these sheet and odds and ends bags from Blue Performance a lot, but I hate drilling holes in our boats.

So I ordered these snap together fastener strips with adhesive backing to stick on the boat, and disks without adhesive to bolt the little mounting doodads the bags come with to.

Seems to work well, and the same hack can be used for mounting a bunch of different things.

The pics below show the details: