The Doctors are Always In

The Yacht Doctors© answer commonly-asked questions posed to ACY regarding boat construction, maintenance and repair. Please click here to submit your question to The Yacht Doctors, or fax your question to 772-288-4993. If your question is selected, we'll send you an ACY T-shirt. (To protect your privacy, your name will not be used.)

Click on a question below to see its answer.

Q: I'm noticing some blisters appearing just below the waterline on a vessel I purchased a year ago. The boat received a bottom job just before I bought it, and it looked good. Now I'm concerned that the blisters could be part of a bigger problem. What is the best way to determine the severity of the situation?

The coating removal specialists at Eco Strip completely stripped this hull to the bare bottom, allowing ACY to mark and properly repair blisters and blemishes.

The coating removal specialists at Eco Strip completely stripped this hull to the bare bottom, allowing ACY to mark and properly repair blisters and blemishes.

A: Bottom blistering is not uncommon, but it can become a real problem if not fixed properly. It's possible that improper repairs were performed on your vessel that simply masked the underlying cause. Without knowing your vessel's bottom maintenance history, the only sure way to address the issue is to completely strip the hull and have the blisters repaired properly by a qualified boatyard. This is particularly important if you have a heavy build-up of bottom paint.

When it comes to effectively stripping bottom paint off vessels, ACY has had excellent results with a company called Eco Strip. Employing a unique low-pressure stripping method that utilizes hot water and volcanic pumice applied through a finely tuned nozzle, Eco Strip completely removes multiple layers of surface coatings right down to the bare hull. The system is safe on all hull surfaces, including fiberglass, aluminum and steel, as well as running gear and wood parts, leaving surfaces clean and ready for repairs and new paint application.

Dedicated to protecting the environment, Eco Strip erects a full enclosure with a filtration system around each boat to collect debris. When the job is complete, the enclosure is removed, and any remaining debris is properly disposed of by use of an industrial vacuum.

When ACY customers need to get to the bottom of the situation, they rely on the coating removal specialists at Eco Strip. Visit or contact American Custom Yachts at 772-221-9100 for more information.

Q: Like many boat owners I talk to, when I open the door to the cabin after being away for a few days, I get blasted with stale, musty holding tank air. We have to run the boat with the salon door open to let in fresh air. Do you have any suggestions on how we can make boarding more pleasant?

Cruisair Breathe Easy in-duct air purifierA: We posed your question to our good friend Randy Brenner of Classic Marine who specializes in the installation and service of marine air conditioning systems, as well as refrigeration, sanitation systems and watermakers. He suggested a couple of products that will have your boat smelling sweet in no time.

To improve your vessel's overall air quality, Randy suggests installing a Cruisair Breathe Easy air purifier that can be used alone or in combination with aromatic tea tree gels by Kanberra. The Breathe Easy air purifier eliminates odors and reduces biological contaminants, combining innovative photocatalytic nano-mesh technology with a special UV light frequency that produces no harmful ozone. The Breathe Easy is available as an in-duct unit that can be installed directly in your air conditioning duct or as a portable unit that can be used in any room in the boat. With the air conditioning on or off, the use of Kanberra gel neutralizes odors, while emitting a fresh, clean scent with its natural, chemical-free blend of Australian tea tree oils. Simply open a container and place it anywhere in the boat.

If the odor persists, Randy suggests it might just be time to change the hoses in your vessel's head system. For more information, visit or contact ACY at 772-221-9100.

Q: I recently purchased a motoryacht that has accumulated many layers of bottom paint over the years. There is really no telling how many coats have been applied. I'm concerned not only that the boat is carrying a lot of extra weight, but also that there could be some issues hiding beneath all that paint. Can you suggest the best method of removing multiple layers of paint down to the bare hull?

Vessel undergoing an Eco Strip at American Custom YachtsA: The condition of your hull affects the fuel economy, safety and structural integrity of your vessel. It is very important to keep your hull free of marine growth and bottom paint buildup. A number of methods exist for removing accumulated layers of antifouling paint down to the bare hull with varying degrees of success. Sand blasting and grinding can result in damaged gel coat. Chemical stripping and sanding are time-consuming, tedious and often ineffective. Soda blasting leaves a smooth hull surface, but leaves bottom paint around the waterline that requires a second grinding and cleaning to ensure proper adhesion. We have achieved excellent results with a system called Eco Strip that employs a unique low pressure slurry blast applied through a finely-tuned nozzle. Eco Strip is capable of completely removing surface coatings on any size vessel, right down to the bare hull. This environmentally-friendly system is safe on all hull surfaces, including fiberglass, aluminum and steel, as well as running gear and wood parts, leaving surfaces ready for proper paint application. With fuel prices continuing to rise, the extra weight of multiple coats of bottom paint and running gear buildup is a real concern. Eco Strip is a simple, practical solution to increase your vessel's performance and fuel economy. To learn more, visit Eco Strip's website or contact ACY directly.

Q: I recently purchased a 10-year-old long-range expedition trawler. I had new engines installed, along with new fuel and air-conditioning systems. Now it is time to upgrade my watermakers. I have a 400-gallon tank capacity and plan to do some extensive traveling and a lot of anchoring out. Is there a specific water making system you would recommend to allow me to maximize my time at sea?

Parker Racor Village Marine watermaker on board ACY90A: Your question is a great follow-up to our previous questions concerning long-range travel. Obviously, a reliable water making system is vital to extending your time away from the dock. At ACY, we have achieved excellent results with watermakers provided by Parker Racor Village Marine. They recently provided a state-of-the-art high pressure system for our new 90-footer and upgraded the water making systems on several of the ACY fleet vessels. For the new ACY90, we selected the Pure Water (PW) Series – a top-of-the-line system designed for 24-hour use. A key component of the PW Series is its titanium pump, originally developed for military use. One of the quietest on the market, the PW Series pump is capable of withstanding the constant pressure of 800 psi of salt water around the clock. Titanium-backed pump valves add even further protection from the elements. The two watermakers on the ACY90 are capable of producing up to 2,800 gallons per day. This type of system should be more than adequate for your needs. For more information, visit Parker Racor Village Marine's website or contact ACY directly.

Q: I am planning an extended fishing trip over the summer and hope to explore some uncharted fishing grounds. While my boat carries over 1,500 gallons of fuel, I hate to limit my plans due to fuel capacity. I know there are auxiliary fuel tanks available that can be stored either above or below deck. Do you have any suggestions on what product would best meet my needs?

Aero-Tec Laboratories fuel bladder on board ACY65A: A long-range fuel bladder may be just the thing to help get you there. The Yacht Doctors have received excellent feedback from ACY customers that have used collapsible fuel bladders manufactured by Aero-Tec Laboratories (ATL). ATL's new FueLocker is an on-deck solution available in standard sizes ranging from 50 to 500 gallons or custom-sized to meet any need. If deck space is limited, ATL also produces collapsible bladders made to fit in live wells, fish boxes and storage compartments. The ACY65 FREEDOM uses a 250-gallon ATL fuel bladder that fits snugly in a below deck fish box. Captain Albert Miller reports that the bladder extends the vessel's range by about 100 miles at cruise and up to 250 miles at trolling speed. "Fuel bladders are great to get to faraway tournaments, like the Bermuda Billfish Blast, or to extend your range on a long trip," he said. "We like the ease of having our extra fuel stored below deck, and I've had great success with on-deck fuel lockers as well. In either case, I recommend pumping the extra fuel into the main tanks as soon as possible to free up space." For additional information, call (800) 526-5330 (USA) / (201) 825-1400 (outside USA), visit Aero-Tec Laboratories' website or contact ACY.

Q: I read your article about towing eyes in the last issue. I am thinking about having a towing eye installed on my 40-foot sportfisherman and then hooking up with a buddy of mine who has boat capable of towing it to Costa Rica. Can you share any safety concerns and preparations we should make before embarking on a journey of this kind?

Captain Albert Miller inspects towing gear on board the ACY65 FREEDOMA: The most important factor during any open ocean trip is crew safety. It is the crew's responsibility to inspect the shackle and bridal on regular intervals to make sure the gear is secure. This can be a very hazardous undertaking, especially during rough seas. When we prepare our yachts for open-ocean towing, we affix safety lines from the tower legs to the forward cleats for the crew to clip safety harnesses to during gear inspections. It's important to safely secure all extra line and have a spare bridal and extra towing eye bolt on hand. It is also extremely important to make sure the vessel being towed can be unhooked and its engines started immediately in case of an emergency. We suggest having a trailing pump installed in the engine room to keep cool oil circulating to protect the gears so they don't overheat while the propellers and shafts spin during towing. A final precaution would be to program both the mother ship and towed vessel together into the AIS to avoid interference from other vessels. Stay vigilant at all times and reduce risk wherever you can. If you follow these simple guidelines and have a capable captain and crew on both vessels, you should well be on your way to a safe journey.

Q: I am in the process of gearing up my boat for long-range travel to exotic fishing grounds well off the beaten path. Due to my limited fuel capacity, I am considering going with either a yacht transport company or trying to hook up with a mother ship. Are there any special features you recommend to outfit my boat?

Reinforced Stainless Steel Towing EyeA: You can ship your boat via a yacht transport company to many distant ports of call with close proximity to great fishing. Once there, you will, of course, need to make sure your tanks are completely filled and your boat is fully provisioned to maximize your fishing time. You can also take advantage of portable fuel bladders that can be carried in the cockpit or in empty fish boxes to extend your fuel capacity; however, your range will be still limited by the amount of fuel you can carry. Another option is to coordinate your plans with a mother ship that can tow your vessel to the fishing grounds and provide fuel, water and other accommodations once you are there. For this plan to work successfully, your boat will should be outfitted with a towing eye, usually affixed directly your boat's stem and reinforced to handle the stress from constant wave action. Contact boat yards in your area to see who is best equipped to handle the job and make sure they have the experience to do it correctly.