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Q-R (Cruiser's Dictionary)




RAIN CATCHERS: Our rain catcher is a bit unique for cruisers, though about a year or so after we came up with the idea, we saw a virtually identical system illustrated in CRUISING WORLD Magazine. Since all our sailing is in the tropics, we have a large bimini that covers the aft end of the cockpit, protecting the helmsman from sun and rain. The Bimini is slanted slightly forward. Along the side rails of the Bimini we have attached "gutters" made of PVC pipe. The one end of the gutter is closed off; the other end has an elbow fitting to reduce pipe size to accommodate flexible hose. Water flows into the gutters from the sides of the Bimini into the hoses that are led to our tank fills, or to jerry jugs if we are away from the boat or underway. It can be risky leaving the hoses to fill water tanks unattended - a long enough absence, or a torrential downpour could result in a lot of water in the bilge once the tanks have filled to overflowing. Photos.

The advantage of this system over the usual hose fitted to a boat's sun canopy is that it can collect water even when you are sailing. It is extremely easy to set up (the gutters are in place permanently, the hoses take a few seconds to plug in), and when at anchor and the sun canopy is up the water that is caught drains onto the Bimini and thus into the tanks or jerry jugs. We can attach a filter to the hoses in anchorages where the air pollution dirties any water that we catch, and it is always instantly available no matter the conditions.

RECYCLING - Many plastic containers are convenient for use around the boat. My chemist father-in-law warned us that all plastics are not created equal. In the U.S., plastic containers that are intended to hold food are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, and thus the quality of the plastic will be better than plastic containers that contained non-food items. This is more important than we usually give credence to - the plastic in non-food containers uses a lower quality “plasticizer”, and will more readily migrate out of the plastic - nasty stuff you don’t want to ingest.

- Squeeze Mustard (or honey, syrups) bottles - become salad dressing containers, soap dispenser for laundry & bathing off back of boat and serve as small galley containers while larger bulk container stays in locker. I have squeeze mustard bottles with permanent labels for cooking oil, salad oil, olive oil, and vinegar. I buy oils and vinegars in large quantities, gallons when possible, and thus the small bottles are more easily stored and more easily used.

- Ocean Spray 2 quart and gallon plastic juice bottles are excellent because they are six-sided, so store well in lockers, they are air tight with a gasketed lid, and all plastic (other companies are now also using these bottles). I use them to store rice, sugar, coffee, any granular bulk food product (each 2-quart bottle holds just grams shy of 2 kilograms). Use to make solar iced tea, store reconstituted juices. Also freeze beverages in them for backpacking excursions, cold drinks at pot-lucks (two bottles will just barely fit in our freezer box - Adler Barbour Cold Machine). On offshore passages we fill with fresh water for our "abandon ship" bag.

- Liquid laundry soap bottles become: dinghy bailers; anchor rode floats; anchor trip line floats. We choose laundry detergent by the color of its container.

- Soft Soap™ pump bottles in galley and head for dispensing soap for washing up.

- Small plastic bottles with plastic lids for holding small parts (nuts, bolts, screws, etc.)

- Roll-on deodorant bottles are good for mosquito repellent, keeps it off your hands.

- Old white cotton socks that are too stretched out to wear any more are excellent for storing onions and potatoes - see “Preserving Food”

REFLECTIVE TAPE - Great for finding dinghy or boat in dark unlighted anchorage, and it is amazing how dark an island with no electricity gets on a moonless night. Intended as a way our boat can be found at night in an emergency by a rescue boat. Also a great gift for people. Makes little lights seem bigger and brighter. We also put reflective tape onto a channel marker in an uninhabited anchorage with only one exit from the reef - just in case we needed to escape in the middle of the night.

REFRIGERATION: Ours is 12-volt exclusively. It is small, but the freezer unit, about 1 square foot, is adequate (barely) for our needs. We would not want to do without refrigeration in the tropics, though we have met many a boat that has done without. Although we haven’t seen as much of them recently, engine-driven holding plates were very popular about ten years ago when we were still sailing in the Caribbean. These holding plate refrigerators, we are told, are very efficient. However, we noticed that when the boat was in a marina, with unlimited electricity available, the boat still needed to be run for one or two hours every day to keep the refrigeration running. Since we have a wind generator and two solar panels, we do not feel that our refrigerator is a major drain on our resources.

REFRIGERATOR BOXES. Our refrigerator is a standard top-access box. Almost three feet deep, it used to be difficult to keep order in the box, and with the freezer (evaporator box) near the top, fresh vegetables often froze if they fell to the bottom of the box. After a lot of false starts, I've come up with a system that works for us.

The small freezer (evaporator box) is set in the back half of the box. I installed two rubber tracks along the sides of the box just forward of the freezer, which divided the box into two sections. Peter made up two 3/8" fibreglass panels to slide in the tracks. Each panel was the full width of the box and half the height of the box. The after end of the box, with the freezer box, was thus isolated from the forward section. I then had three plastic boxes made up to fill the forward section. The bottom box is where I store food and drinks that I want very cold, and things that I don't use on a daily basis. The smaller of the top boxes can hold six soft drink or beer cans. It usually holds four beer cans and a jar of jam. The larger box holds vegetables, butter, and other items that I use on a daily basis.

The back section, closest to the freezer box, is where I store half gallon bottles of water, wine, meat, frozen food that will be used within the next week. I can pack a frozen chicken underneath the freezer box and it will stay frozen for two or three days, and be only half-thawed after perhaps four days under there. I can keep cryo-vac'ed beef that has been frozen by the butcher for several months stacked up under the freezer box, and still have room for my bottles of water, juice, and wine alongside. I put a "cold blanket" over the after section where the freezer is, so that only the forward section with the boxes, is exposed to the air when the top is opened.

The boxes are made of thin flexible plastic - the type that is used for cutting boards. This plastic isn't glued, it's heat-bonded. I made up the patterns for the three boxes and brought them to a plastics shop to cut and make up for me.

The boxes are very strong and light. I punched holes in the sides of the top boxes to insert strong cord that is used to lift the boxes out. The series of boxes and panels enables me to find things quickly and easily, and creates temperature "zones" in the box. The refrigerator doesn't run as hard because less heat is let into the box when the lid is opened, and my vegetables, especially my precious celery and peppers, don't freeze anymore. SEE PHOTOS in "Melon Gear album"

RINGWORM - Highly infectious fungal infection, untreated leaves nasty scars. Various medications for it, worth carrying a small supply. (see also, "Fungus Infections", "Staph Infections")

- Tools: all your tools will rust, no matter how carefully you keep them from touching salt water. A new product that helps is Metal Wax. Also, silicone grease works.

- Canned food: if your food lockers are dry lockers (i.e., bilge water cannot get to them), cans will usually last without any treatment. Those people who varnished their cans told us they had lockers (or bilges) full of peeled varnish and cans just as rusty as anyone else's.
Exception: canned fruit juices, canned fruits, canned soft drinks - seem to form pinholes - some of this is electrolysis if aluminum soft drink cans are stored with food tins - the soft aluminum drink cans often form pinholes, the carbonated or acidified liquid leaks onto the tins setting up electrolysis and causes them to rust and leak (especially along the seams). After too many disasters I will not store aluminum cans with any other canned foodstuff.

- Rust remover: Rust Stain Magic (highly dilute Hydrofluoric acid) is good for removing rust from clothing. Phosphoric Acid or Oxalic Acid is good for removing rust stains from fibreglass. Follow directions carefully, and wear rubber gloves. Although I swear by it, hydrofluoric acid is a dangerous acid to use, so be careful.

- See also: Brass Wool; Metal Wax; Oxalic Acid; Phosphoric Acid, Salt Water; Silicone Grease; Steel Wool.

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