Shelter Cove Marina - October 2009 Newsletter
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Shelter Cove Marina
2240 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego, Ca. 92106



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From the Marina Office
By the time you're reading this Shelter Cove Marina October newsletter, marina manager Shaun McMahon will be in Peru, halfway through her 10-day vacation, having just witnessed a rare Super Blood Moon in a full eclipse!

Meanwhile, other life adventurers have started arriving at the marina, primarily from the north Pacific, making their way down the coast to rest up a bit in beautiful San Diego while they make preparations for heading into Mexico in late October and early November.

For those of us who "stay put" rather than venture out, life has settled into a calm, steady rhythm now that the Labor Day celebrations are behind us and college students are back into full swing of the Fall semester.

Jesse Eaton, Dock Ambassador and jack-of-all-trades, is constantly busy assisting tenants, visitors, workers, contractors, suppliers and anyone else in need of his service. He is an invaluable, irreplaceable soul at Shelter Cove – we don't need to wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks for Jesse! In the small amount of free time Jesse has, he will be celebrating his two young sons' birthdays this month, as well as continuing to "break-in" his daughter's horse (that is responsible for the huge black-and-blue, hoof-shaped bruise on Jesse's leg!).

On a whole different note: Rats and Halloween seem to go hand-in-hand, but so do rats and the fact that October is Fire Safety month, did you know that rats are a major factor in many boat fires? They are prone to chew wiring, and dozens of boat and house fires are started each year by the gnawing of these notorious creatures. Boaters should keep their doors and hatches closed when not onboard and never leave open food containers on your boat.

With fires, rats and Halloween this month! Stay SAFE!

The Staff at Shelter Cove Marina

Christian Marine Surveyors

Sometimes Bigger Is Not Always Better
- By Richard Benscoter
In the boating community, there is always a lot of talk about things like a bigger boat; a larger head sail or spinnaker; etc., but with some items, bigger is not always better.

Take for insistence your engine's alternator.

An alternator's output rating is usually calculated at 6000 rpm rotor speed, but on most sailboats using the engine to charge the battery bank, this is accomplished at an engine idle speed of 800 RPM.

With a normal 2 to 1 pulley ratio, this translates into an alternator rotor rpm of 1600. On most alternators, that translates to a less than 30% of rated output. If you factor in the heat of the engine compartment into the alternator's output, you can add up to another 20% decrease in output.

Here is where the bigger is better begins. So you read the ads about a high output alternator and voltage regulator that will fit on your boat, and you are ready to invest. But before you do, here are some items to consider:

- Batteries should not be charged at a rate that exceeds 25% of the battery bank capacity. - i.e., if you have a 200 amp hour battery bank, an alternator putting out 50 amps that would meet 25% of bank capacity

- Here is the strategy - install a 400amp hour battery bank, replace that 50 amp alternator with a 100 amp alternator and that should be good. So you discharge that 400 amp hour bank to 50% and now it's time to charge. The big alternator will put out its maximum charging amps for about 10 to 15 minutes until the regulator starts cutting back the output. So the bottom line here is the big alternator will not be putting out its maximum capacity for the complete charging cycle so if you do the math, the output amp hours to restore the battery bank to 90% charge takes about three and a half hours. If you still had the 50 amp alternator, just add another thirty minutes.

- Running your engine to charge your battery bank is not very good for your engine, and when you are trying to relax, who needs the noise and heat being added to nirvana.

There are many other ways to charge your battery bank that range from solar, wind, fuel cells and generators.

I have chosen a small generator that is very quiet and use it to charge my battery bank through the on-board battery charger. In addition, as the charger cuts back on the charging amps, I have power to heat the water for that night's shower - and all done in about 40 minutes. In addition, when I'm not cruising, the generator resides at my home as a standby power source in case the power goes out.

Lastly the generator cost was about the same as that big alternator.

Just remember - there are many ways to accomplish charging your batteries - they all will work, but you have to ask, is bigger better?

Richard Benscoter
Editor's Note: Richard Benscoter is a long time avid sailor. He and his wife Debbie are both avid sailors and members of the Silver Gate Yacht Club and owner of the Mariners Woodshop. If you have a sailing question for Richard, send e-mail to

How Safe Is Recreational Boating?
In 2014, the Coast Guard counted 4,064 accidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries, and approximately $39 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, or put another way, your boat had a 1 in 20,000 chance of being in an incident involving a fatality in 2014.

Over 75% of all boating accident fatalities were from drowning, and of those, over 80% were not wearing a life jacket. Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.

The top five primary contributing factors in accidents were operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol.

Alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents accounting for over 20% of deaths.

The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (17%), and cabin motorboats (15%).

Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47%), canoes (13%), and kayaks (10%).

Source: U.S. Coast Guard Boating - To see a PDF of the complete report, Click Here.

New French Navigation Charts Provide Previously Unavailable Detail for French Polynesia and South Pacific Islands
San Diego's Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts has been sending mariners across the Pacific for over 35 years and up until now has had very limited charts for the voyage through French Polynesia and the rest of the Southern Pacific Islands.

The company recently announced the availability of new French charts for the area that are far superior in coverage and accuracy, and that have impressive detail for small areas.

According to Seabreeze's Captain Ann Kinner, "In the past, the most detail we could get for the central Tuamotus, for instance, was at a scale of 1:595,000 and the available chart covered an area of roughly 240 miles by 375 miles.

And even though many cruisers make the trip between the Marquesas and Tahiti through the Tuamotus, there was no planning chart that showed all of the relevant ports and islands.

Within the French chart system we can now provide a chart covering the entire span from the Marquesas to Tahiti. Then there are numerous charts at different scales for all the islands and atolls within this cluster. For individual atolls there are even charts at the 1:80,000 scale with insets down to 1:10,000."

The only challenge with the new charts is that the text is in French, however, place names are generally easily recognized and the symbols used conform to the symbols used across all other cartographic systems.

"We will be replacing all of our Pacific islands inventory with French charts shortly and look forward to introducing them to our west-bound voyagers", Kinner said.

For more information, visit Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts

The wacky weather this year has Administrative Assistant Sharon Tharp concerned about how predictions of "the strongest El Nino on record" might affect her daughter's outdoor wedding reception at the end of the month! (Of course, even the extreme heat and humidity we have been experiencing lately would be preferable to rain on her wedding day!)

Another Use For Vodka?
- By Kells Christian
This month's article was inspired by Mr. Jim Montrella. Mr. Montrella owns a 2000 Formula 31 PC express cruiser in Dana Point Harbor named "H20 Man". I met him when I handled an insurance claim for his insurance company, and he called us a year later when he needed a condition and valuation survey on the same boat. He keeps the boat in good condition and during our recent inspection he mentioned that he uses vodka to purify his boat's water system.

I have been around boats a little while and have been blessed with talking about boats with tens of thousands of people in the last three decades, but Jim was the first to mention this trick for purifying water. I had always deferred to chlorine bleach. I had been told early in my career, perhaps during marine surveying catastrophe duty after Hurricane Andrew (August 1992 – South Florida), bleach could be used to purify water and would not be injurious to humans when consumed.

So I blindly followed that advice and have repeated it to many boaters over the years, until this past August when Jim mentioned vodka. Jim is a very active boater and as his boat suggests, he likes to keep it maintained well. I had to take him seriously, so I did a bit of internet research.

Most of the research I found deals with survivalists and some was very technical. Did you know alcohols precipitate proteins and solubize lipids? (I'm betting two of you did!) I tried to get a feel for our specific interests, boat water tanks, and it turns out that many people indeed do use vodka for this purpose. Basically there was no consensus on the proper amount, but the ethanol in vodka is effective against a wide spectrum of bacteria. The impurities remain in the water, so it is not a replacement for the much more expensive option of a water maker, but for the purpose of purifying the tank and system, it is effective.

Vodka is the most commonly used drinking alcohol because there are no additives in common vodka. I am thinking Popov level of vodka makes more economic since than Grey Goose and certainly don't use flavored vodka. Make sure you don't have any recovering alcoholics coming aboard, lest they unknowingly lose their sobriety.

I asked two doctors about this method of purification. One is an old friend and one I randomly met recently on a golf course. It was very interesting that they both gave the same answer to my query, why waste the vodka?

Based on the research, I feel vodka is an effective additive, and the benefits outweigh the draw backs. I certainly am more comfortable drinking vodka than I am drinking bleach. The smell of bleach is unpleasant and though I prefer tequila, I can certainly tolerate a bit of vodka, especially if it reduces the chance for unpleasantries like giardia.

By the way Mr. Montrella has recently begun chartering that smartly kept boat of his, so if you are interested in a boat ride up Dana Point way, send us an email and we will forward it to him. I can't guaranty that he will have recently cleaned his water tank, but his boat will be in good condition.

Kells Christian has been an accredited Marine Surveyor since 1990. His expertise extends to both recreational and commercial vessels. Kells was Regional Director of Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) for 2 years and a prominent member of numerous other industry organizations. You can e-mail your marine surveyor questions to or Click Here to visit his web site.

If It Has To Be Hotter, I'll Be Out On The Water!
- By Bill Campbell
If you have been living in San Diego for the past few months, you may have noticed that the weather has been particularly warm; much warmer than usual. And the warm weather seems to have lasted much longer than it seems to have in past years. By the time September rolls around, we are usually looking for cooler temperatures in the late afternoons and evenings.

You may have also noticed that the water temperatures have been warmer than in years past. My wife and I love to go stand up paddling evenings and stop for a swim when we can. The water has been wonderful for many weeks now.

But the warm water is but one contributing factor to why the weather has been warmer than usual. There are some other environmental factors at play as well. There is usually a high pressure system that hovers over the great southwest. It is usually centered around the four corners region of northern Arizona and southern Nevada.

That acts as a buffer against the moisture laden lows that come up from the south, and keeps the jet stream further north, causing cooler weather systems from the Gulf of Alaska to move north of our region. With the absence of the high that far west, moisture laden systems from the south move northwest until they hit the effects of the west to east moving jet stream, then move to the east bringing lots of humidity to our SoCal region.

Because the ocean and coastal waters are also warmer than usual, the cooling effect of the wind is mitigated and we get hot air, so to speak, rather than cool breezes at the coast. And because there seems to be more tropical storm activity moving up through Mexico and Baja this year, there is much more warm and moist air in the atmosphere to make things hotter and more humid than we might like.

So turn on your fan, open the window, go for a boat ride, get out a nice cold drink; stay as cool as you can. Winter is coming and is sure to cool things down.

Bill Campbell is the Boat Yard Manager for the Nielsen Beaumont Premiere Yachtworks Boatyard. Bill is responsible for the overall scheduling, organization, and management of vessel haulout, maintenance, and job processing.

New Product Update - The Sirius Signal S-O-S Light
- By Bob Simons
In my over 30 years as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, I have seen many dangerous and hazardous incidents involving the use of flares as a visual distress signal for boaters.

This is why I recently became personally involved in the development of the Sirius Signal S-O-S light as an alternative to flares.

Although flares are accepted as a visual distress device, as an instructor, educator, and public speaker on the subject of boating safety over the years, it became obvious to me that it would be a very good thing if we could have a visual distress signal system that lasts longer and replaces flares.

The reasons are numerous. First, flares burn at 2,000+ degrees, so there's a risk of dropping hot slag on your body and the boat. Additionally, most people have never ignited a flare, and don't know how. Other drawbacks of flares are that they don't last very long; they are hazardous to dispose of; and they have a limited shelf life.

Lastly, there is an irony in that it's a requirement to have your visual distress signal items easily accessible, including flare guns, which can be a temptation to unsupervised children or unruly guests.

When we developed the Sirius Signal S-O-S light, we wanted it to be U.S. Coast Guard compliant for both daytime and nighttime use, so the combination of the Signal itself and its included Orange Distress Flag meets all Coast Guard Standards for day and night visual distress signals on recreational boats and Uninspected Passenger Vessels.

The big advantage of course is that you never have to buy flares again, and you don't need to have a problem disposing of the hazardous waste created by out of date flares. For more information, Click Here.

Bob Simons ImageBob Simons has been in the Coast Guard Auxiliary for over thirty years and owns a sailboat as well as a powerboat. He teaches classes in Boating Safety & Seamanship as well as Basic and Advanced Coastal Navigation. Bob is also the co-developer of the Sirius Signal S-O-S light and co-owner of Seabreeze Books and Charts I Like
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