Bio Deisel

Bio diesel can be used in Beta Marine (Kubota) engines with certain caveats. 

Definition: Biodiesel is produced in pure form (100% biodiesel), which is referred to as B100 or Neat Diesel and may be blended with petroleum-based fuel in various percentages. For example: A blend containing 5% biodiesel and 95% petroleum-based fuel is referred to as a B5 blend.

Recommendations regarding the use of Biodiesel

Enhanced care must be taken, even if the biodiesel meets the said standards above:
Biodiesel can attract moisture and may contain higher water content than conventional diesel fuels.
Keep storage and vehicle tanks as full as possible to prevent moisture from collecting inside. Ensure all tank caps and covers are installed properly to prevent water from entering.

Shorter maintenance intervals, such as cleaning the fuel system and replacing fuel filters and lines, might be required.
Kubota strongly recommends using a water separator.

Follow the standard Kubota oil change interval for the given engine along with checking the oil level daily prior to starting the engine. Extended oil change interval beyond the standard interval can cause engine damage Cold weather conditions can lead to fuel system plugging, hard starting and other possible unknown failures. Plugging can include both fuel filters and fuel lines. Microbial contamination and growth can cause corrosion in the fuel system and premature plugging of the fuel filter.

Degradation of the fuel in the supply chain or in the vehicle:
– Accelerated by the presence of oxygen, water, heat and impurities
– Biodiesel should not be stored for more than 3-months.
– Prior to engine storage, the engine should be flushed for a minimum of 30-minutes with petroleum-based diesel fuel.

If Biodiesel is spilled onto painted surfaces, it should be cleaned off immediately to prevent damage to the painted surface.
Biodiesel, by definition is biodegradable, so the higher the concentration of biodiesel in a fuel blend, the more susceptible the fuel is to degradation and engine performance and fuel consumption might be affected. Concentrations of no more than 5% biodiesel are approved to minimize potential corrosion on aluminum, zinc material along with rubber and plastic parts.

Trailering advice

Hopefully I can add some words of wisdom. I have been trailering large trailers (relative to a 3/4 or 1 ton tow vehicle) and tow our 27 footer which tips the scales at 8,500 lbs on the trailer axles, plus another 800 or a 1000 on the tongue. I also have built all my trailers from scratch or modifications of older trailers. I also spent three years of my life driving OTR in a conventional semi-truck at 80k, 13-5 high and 85 feet long. All together I have about 2.6 million miles. So hopefully this all counts as having some credibility. Eventually I too plan to replace our 27 ft, 8 ft beam Buccaneer with a a 31 ft or so up to 11,000 lb sailboat. Thats about as much as a good heavy 1 & 1/2 ton tow vehicle can do Above that a small semi tractor and a real boat hauler trailer. I tow my 27 ft with a heavy rated 3/4 ton. See the posting titled “Out to Inboard Conversion and Boat story” for the history and mods I’m doing or did to our boat.

You have not mentioned anything about the capacities of your trailer, AND just as importantly… your TOW vehicle.

So I will express my observations over the past 30 years and 2.6 million miles. Not so much for you as it sounds like you have pulled some, but for the rest of the boating public.

#1 When you tow… you really don’t “drive” the tow vehicle…. you “drive” the trailer. The tow vehicle is just the means to do so. Think about that a minute. Doesn’t matter if its a 16ft hobby cat or a 53′ x 102″ wide semi- trailer. You drive the trailer. Everything you do… you do for the trailer.

#1) DO NOT tow anything outside your tow vehicles design capacities. Take the CGVW and reduce it by not less than 10% if you plan on hills. 20% for the hills in TN, WV, and KY and the rockies. I have seen a lot of wrecks from over loaded-over pulling 1/2 tons. A half ton is not designed to pull over about 5k and thats really pushing it in my mind. For bigger boats and your 30 footer a good heavy rated 1 ton (not the standard rated) is the minimum and really wants more.

#1) BRAKES BRAKES BRAKES, I repeat BRAKES BRAKES BRAKES!!!! You do not say what type and how many axles your trailer has and how many axles have brakes incorporated. Since you have pulled others I imagine you have been “pushed” every now and then on an emergency stop. Anit-lock brakes make it even worse in my mind. Your anti-lock system is in the ball of you right foot. Remember… YOU control EVERYTHING that vehicles does… not the other way around… EVER!
If you vehicle is ever out of control.. that means YOU let it (with one exception due to others and the laws of physics).

Where it comes to brakes…. you can never have too much. Always keep them in 100% order. I MEAN this. Many people do the “is only a few miles… I’ll just use the truck’s brakes for now” and fix the trailer later. A VERY BAD practice, although I have been guilty on a couple of times myself.

Many light duty trailers (meaning anything non industrial) only brake one axle on a tandem, two on a triple. Some say thats by design for slippery conditions (so the trailer doesn’t slide out side ways as easy)… well, to a point. I personally want brakes on all axles, with one axle switchable to off on my command (not hard to wire in). ALSO, ANY 10k+ trailer behind a 1 ton is NOT a winter road rig with a tow behind trailer. NEVER will be. A properly set up fifth wheel will do better, but in either case its better to park and wait. You have no other real options. (Keep in mind I ran the north route from Minneapolis/St Paul to either LA or the Bay almost every week for three years. I’m from snow country and have ran snow as much as 1500 miles at a time…. BUT, my semi was set up for it. By default I still keep all my vehicles set up for snow… even here in southwestern OH, where in my mind we really do not have a winter proper… just a perpetual fall.

#1 TIRES, TIRES, TIRES… yes my other pet peave. Towing anything bigger than a simple runabout or small sail boat really needs load range E stiff side walled tires. I was surprised to learn how many people do not understand load range. Load range C conventional 1/2 ton (or its equivelent sport utility) tires have way too much side wall flex for good trailering and control. Yes, an 80 psi Load range E will let you know if you ran over a dime or a nickel, but will handle and drive much much more stable under a load or with a load behind it. If everything is set up proper… she”ll drive straight down the road. Overloaded C’s will wonder all over the place and you’ll be cussing them in a heartbeat. Fighting any vehicle is tiring and dangerous.

#1 WEIGHT and BALANCE. This is another subject very few have any good handle on it seems. It is especially true with conventional tow behind hitches. Think of it as two see-saws connected end to end. Place weight at any point or end of one of the see-saws and it effects the other.

The standard rule of thumb is to carry 10% of the trailer weight on the tongue/hitch. This is important! A tail heavy trailer will want to push you around, AND CAN GET OUT OF THE TOW VEHICLES ABILITY TO CONTOL in a heart beat. It has to do with physics and the dynamics of a mass in motion. Its complicated calculations, but suffice it to say it IMPERATIVE to maintain this rule!. Hitch stabilizers will help… but only to a point. Too much on the tongue and you lighten the front end. Remember, for every lb you place behind the rear axle a portion of that is removed from the front. KNOW your trailer’s center of gravity and balance it to the 10% rule accordingly.

Partially related to this is the relationship between the bridge length of the trailer and the wheel base of the tow vehicle. The “bridge” is the length from your pivot point (hitch in this case) to the center of your trailer’s axle or group of axles. The longer the better for handling and backing… up to a point. The rule of thumb is that you ideally want your bridge to be not less than 1.25 times the tow vehicle’s wheel base. Not always possible, but trailers that conform to this will handle, tow, and back better.

#1 vertical stability

For your situation being 13 ft high is not typical for this trailer type and I’ll add my thought to this as well. As you say about 1/3 of the boat’s weight is in the keel… but its only a third. Don’t forget that. You will be top heavy to some degree. Curves marked with a speed will MEAN it for you. The trailer’s design and capacity will have an effect on this too. If you’ve maxed out or exceeded your trailer’s suspension capacity she will lean much more that if some extra capacity was still there. It was for this reason that I went with a triple axle group and a 30% over capacity on the springs. When your building from scratch its easy to incorporate extra capacity than to change it later. You do not mention what you have, but you might want to look at these numbers. Any extra capacity in the trailer’s suspension will add to the vertical stability factor. If its conventional springs, they’re fairly easy to change out. If you’ve a torsion suspension system… I’m not sure. Might one would have to get total different axles depending on how it was designed.

As far as being 13 ft per se. That really no problem. Standard Van type semi trailer’s are designed around the 13′-4″ mark. Plan you routes. You will actually already be planned/routed when you get your over-width permit. Let them now your 13 high and they will route you away from any low overpasses. But keep your eyes open and do not believe the clearance signs. They can easily be a few inches off from resurfacing below them. If I were you, anything less than 13-6 on an overpass I’d not been under before, would require me to inch my way under it observing the entire time. Also overpasses that have anything but a level strailt surface will effect your relative height. Not often but I have see where they measure the entrance, but forgot the fact that the other end is rising… you’ll be higher in the middle then due to the trailer’s bridge. the longer the bride the worse this error. I’ve seen it several times. Traffic will wait… they wont have a choice. I’ve done it many times when I was 13-5. Trust no ones directions… they will try bring you under a 12 foot bridge for sure, since generally they never had a reason to really look at it.

Yes, there are all #1 for a reason!

Happy boating…

Dave Mikkelson
Hillsboro, OH

Sailrite sewing machine

After many hours spent cursing at two domestic-use sewing machines while attempting to sew Sunbrella, I decided I needed a much beefier machine. Something that could sew through multiple layers of Sunbrella, canvas, leather, and vinyl. Something that would reduce my swearing while working on boat projects. Something that would not cost too many ‘Boat Bucks”. Hence, I chose the Sailrite LSZ (because if you’re going to go all out, the machine better have a zig-zag stitch.) I wanted one right away, but choose to wait to purchase it at my annual wallet-depleting event, aka Strictly Sail.I purchased the “make it loaded” package for the heavy-duty flywheel and binding attachment. I was peeved that the Sailrite peeps did not have a shiny new one for me to take him right then and there.

Two weeks later, “Santa” (the UPS man), delivered. Brian and I assembled it, while watching the very loooong, verrrry boooring video. If there is a cure for insomnia, it is the Sailrite instructional video. I awoke to find it had lulled me to sleep, and judging by Brian’s light snoring from the sofa, it had done him in, also. I don’t think I will ever make it through the educational video, thus, the owner’s manual is a blessing.

The machine is VERY heavy. I reasoned that if it did not perform as I wanted it to, it would make an excellent anchor.

The first project was to fabricate new winch covers. The machine came with a 1oz spool of thread, but I had purchased a 16oz spool so I will not run out for a while, despite how many errors I will be making. Winding the bobbin is pretty easy- just like a regular sewing machine. Same for loading it. Threading the machine is a bit tricky, as you have to follow the diagram. I placed 5 layers of Sunbrella underneath the walking foot and took it for a spin. Very impressive. The machine purred along, and sewed nice stitches. But, just like the old machine, I’m not very good at sewing straight. Perhaps, this will come with practice.

Now, for those of you who have fabricated your own winch covers, you know that sewing a circle on a cylinder is not an easy feat. Especially when you can not sew straight to begin with. Well, with the heavy-duty flywheel, you can move it manually, and better control your stitching. This is one of the coolest things ever- meaning, you can sew without power. Every cruiser should have one of these for sail repairs when underway.

My accessory kits came with the 1″ binding attachment. The only binding I have on hand is 3/4″. It fits in the binding attachment thingie, but I had problems attaching the binding to the fabric. I think I will upgrade to the 1″ binding, or buy the smaller binding attachment. It seemed to work really well when the Sailrite salesguy was showing me at Strictly Sail.

A few choice profanities still escaped my mouth, like when the bobbin was empty (larger thread gauge= reloading bobbins more often, but I wound four additional ones for quick-reloading), and the thread came off the tension knob (I found this after 5 minutes of frustrating troubleshooting.) The owner’s manual is really thorough, too, and easy to follow. The reverse also works flawlessly, along with the zig-zag stitching.

In addition to the winch covers, I also made some covers for our marine Bose cockpit speakers. Those were pretty easy, as they are pretty much Sunbrella boxes that have none of the hateful circles. The ability to sew in a straight line seemed to improve after time. This machine is much easier to control than your standard lightweight sewing machine. My future plans consist of resewing the sacrificial cover to the genny (the thread is coming loose), a new Jim Buoy cover, a new sail cover, a pedestal cover, and the big one is to make a new bimini (the zippers on ours are disintegrating.) So, it will definitely pay for itself in the long run.

Conclusion- Powerhouse of a machine, easy to use, great technical documentation, manual with beefed up flywheel is the best part! Cons- Heavy as all heck, and instructional video is REALLY long and coma-inducing.

Resource links:

What you didn’t know about barnacles

Below is some interesting information about barnacles I found while doing some research. We’ve had a problem with them here in W. FL. For the most part they love our prTypical barnacle cluster exampleop, prop shaft, and strut.


  • Charles Darwin was the first to study them in 1851
  • They have the longest penis in ratio to their size of all animals
  • They only have one eye (no, not the one mentioned above!)
  • They have six pairs of legs
  • They’ve been around for 400-500 million years
  • They grow fast, in patches, for survival
  • They only attach themselves to hard surfaces
  • They attach head first to your boat
  • They go through two larval stages before they set up camp on your hull
  • Color plays a roll on where they decide to attach themselves
  • They will grow on top of each other to kill out other barnacles
  • They’re growth rate is closely linked to water tempature


  • They could sink that abandoned boat in your marina that’s home to rats


  • They can weigh down your boat thousands of pounds
  • They will slow you down
  • They’re unsightly
  • They’re sharp
  • They’re an invasive species
  • They don’t come off easily
  • They can cost you a lot of time and/or money
  • There’s no miracle science cure to keep them off your baby
  • They live in shallow intertidal zones, like marinas

Laying out bulkheads and such…the other way

Lately there has been a few places on the net, and on this site as well about laying out using a ticking stick. This is a tried and true method and requires very little in tools, or materials, but is slow and has room for mistakes. I was watching a clever young shipwright fit up some very awkward bulkheads a few years ago, and although I have been a journyman fabricator for nearly 30 years I had never seen it done his way before. After, it seemed so simple and obvious.

His tools consisted of (1) a bundle of strips of “door skin” which is that cheap¬†“mahogany” plywood that is about 1/8 to 5/32 inch thick, often sold as “cabin grade” ripped into 1 inch wide strips.¬† (2) a hot melt glue gun and glue sticks, (3) a pair of tin snips or sharp utility knife, and (4) a staple gun and roll of masking tape for vertical and overhead work.

The technique is to place a strip of the plywood , trimmed to length along the longest straight side and tape or lightly staple it in place. Then, place another trimmed strip along the next side and hot melt glue the corner together lapping one over the other at the corner. Proceed around the perimeter the same way, overlaping and hot melt gluing each corner or change in direction. When you come to a curve or any fit up that is not straight, which will be most of the things you encounter on a boat, simply place straight pieces touching only at their ends, (chords, remember middle school geometry? ) and using many shorter pieces trimmed to a point, glue them radially onto the chord as close together as necessary to follow the curved perimeter. If you are working on the flat such as a new sole or a cockpit grating there is no need to tape or staple the pieces down while you work, although if you are clumbsy like me, taping might be a good idea to prevent you from knocking the whole works out of kilter when you jump because you burned yourself yet again on the glue gun. (dang, those things get hot, and that glue just sticks to you till you blister than tears the blister off when you try to pull the glue blob off.) Maybe a thin pair of gloves would be in order.

When you have gone all the way around the perimeter it is a good idea to put a few diagonal braces across the corners and if it is large, maybe an X brace to keep everything from going out of square when you move it around. If there is a taper to the hull or adjoining pieces, and there probably will be, take into account that pieces of 1/8 ” material lapped one on the other will be 1/4″ or more above the actual point of contact and if the taper is 30 degrees that will amount to over 5/32″ too large or too small. It works best, when plotting curves to have your radial pieces under your chords, in contact with the point on the hull etc. that you are trying to fit to. If you have an existing piece and you are trying to duplicate it without removing it it is easy to tape or staple the strips flat to the face, but if you have nothing and you are trying to make a pece to fit in the hole it is sometimes easier to prop a piece of carboard or thin scrap plywood to act as a guide for your template or maybe even as part of it, gluing your strips to the pannel as you go.

When everything is cool,(this is important, as the glue remains quite plastic till cool) peel away any tape, or remove any staples and carefully remove the completed template. At this point you are going to find out if in fact the piece you are hoping to make can in fact pass through the openings in the hull you have available. This is one part of this technique that no other method can tell you. If the template doesn’t come out, you can be assured that the new piece will not go in. Any way, once you have it free, simply place it the correct way out on your plywood or whatever, orienting the grain to best effect and, holding it down with a few small clamps or wieghts, trace it carefully and cut the new piece out.

You can even use this method in a 3 dimensional way to make wierd and unusual tanks and such to fit all those odd unused spaces, knowing that if you can get the template out, means you can get the new piece in, and for that space under a lazarette or Vee-birth where there are no square corners I’m unaware of a method which would work better.

Give it a shot, it is a very satisfying thing to drop a cabin sole into place and have it fit PERFECTLY the first time.


Easypoxy topside paint job

About two years ago, I painted Wu-Wei’s tired old topside using this “great” product called EasyPoxy.

I am no dummy- countless hours of research and prep work went into this project. Painting over gelcoat is no easy feat- I had to wash the boat a few times with hull cleaner, wipe with acetone, and sand everything lightly. I taped and primed. Then I painted. While the end result was not perfect (I learned a lot a few months later when painting the hull in the dreaded AwlGrip), the end reult was much better than the before. The topsides were shiny and easy to clean. Now, to my dismay, the topside is a hot, oxidized, chalky mess that holds dirt. WTF? Weeks of my life were wasted, and EasyPoxy is not cheap.

EasypoxyThis, my friends, is total crap. The front of the boat looks like someone was dancing on fish remnants in black shoes. It will not hose off. The next step, for the time being, will be to get a scrub brush and some car soap. It’s a funny thing on sailboats- usually, the hull looks like crap and the topsides look fine. Our hull is shiny and clean. Anyhoo, I have learned a valuable lesson from all of this- boaters lie! People claimed EasyPoxy lasted them forever. Maybe they got some special formula, or have their boats under a tarp. I now refer to this paint as, “EasyPOX.” There is a solution, of course. This is to remove all the old paint and go with the rest of the $300+ of AwlGrip left over in my garage. Ha ha ha, should only take me MONTHS to do! (Yeah, screw this crap.) I’ll put this on my “eventually I need to get around to doing this someday” list and live with it for now. At least I wasn’t stupid enough to use house paint! (This was also a recommendation by a boat owner. I looked at him like he was smoking crack.)

US30 Wu-Wei


The whole irony is she looks nothing like that picture now! The hull looks completely different, and the topside… errrr….

EasyPOX sucks.


Installing solar panels on a US 30

Solar panels

Since our marina has been rebuilding the docks over the last few months, there has been no shore power. This gave me the “justification” for this project. Here’s what it took…

2 20 Watt 1.2 AMP solar panels w/controller $240 each
2 Sunsei solar grips $50 each
Marine grade wire $30
Though deck $13
Connectors, shrink wrap etc. $20
115 AMP hour house battery upgrade $60
Solar powered vent fan $150
Dremel cutting bits $20
Total $875ish

Not dropping anything expensive overboard while doing the install, priceless.

Solar fan

The hardest part was finding light weight solar panels and a way to mount them out of the way.

Automatic bilge pump review

We purchased one of these new type of “computerized” 500gph bilge pumps today (West Marine $50) and installed it. With hose and back flow prenveters etc the total was about $100. I was skeptical about not having a float, but it works great. We also run a Attwood automatic for the high water pump that works well, but I was

impressed with this unit because it was small enough to fit between the keel bolts and sucks the water down to about 1/2 inch. I tested it a couple of times by filling the bilge

with a hose. This install was to replace our faulty diaphragm pump and it works well. This, the shallow water pump runs off the dual house batteries (on 2 solar panels) and the high water is wired into battery two, the start battery for redundancy.


Pump update, so far so good (2 years later) . This little pump has worked day in and day out pumping out the dehumidifier’s offering that trickle via drain hose into the bilge.

Onboard refrigeration that works!

I installed our new Engel fridge/freezer today and tested it out. The advertisement says that it pulls .6 amps on average. That was the main selling point because I guestimate our solar panels put out just under 2 amps after being broken in. With all the normal stuff running stereo/VHF/Depth Sounder/Chart plotter we usually use just over 1 amp. I had it running on A/C and switched it over to D/C battery power and closely monitored the amp meter (the cabin temp was 91 degrees). It was pulling about 2 amps for the initial cool down to about 34 degrees. This sounds about right, because it shouldn’t have to run continually after that. I’ll update with a longer term test later. BTW it cost about $600 and $20 for wiring stuff. Our house battery consists of two 115 amp/hr batteries in parallel.

Cap’n Chris – We have an Engel. I think it is 45 quart- the medium-sized one- same one Bob Bitchin has. It kicks ass! Relatively inexpensive, and not an energy hog on the two house batteries. Two 20W solar panels keep the batteries topped off at sea. The best part- it runs on shore power and automatically switches to 12V when shore power is turned off. We had been toying with the fridge option for a while, and when you have a small boat, space is valuable. So, since the quarter berth isn’t used for much, other than storage, we measured and bought the max size that would fit. She freezes really well, which is nice for a long voyage where you need to make ice.

-UPDATE 2022

Still works!

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