Belly of the Beast
We both squeeze into the engine compartment, and I can immediately see that Dan is not a happy boy. “This is classic,” he says with a sarcastic smile. “Look at the fuel fill.” I do, it looks fine, and I tell him so. “It’s missing a ground wire between the deck fill and the tank to prevent static buildup and a spark when fueling.
“And look over here,” Dan says while shaking his head in disbelief. “The builder tried to save a few bucks by putting rubber boots over the battery terminals rather than completely enclosing the battery in a plastic box.” If the battery top gets wet and dirty, the muck can carry a small current between posts and drain the power. But it could be worse. Some builders put a boot only on the positive post, the minimum requirement of the American Boat and Yacht Council.
Dan now points to fuel lines running above the batteries. “When nonsealed batteries charge, they give off hydrogen,” he says, “which can turn the lines brittle.” So make sure fuel lines, filters and fittings aren’t installed above batteries.
Down here we can also see the dockside water intake, to which Dan gives a thumbs down. “No pressure reducer,” he says. Municipal water can be 60 psi or more, which would blow out the boat’s freshwater system, which is probably only good to 10 psi. “Kind of ironic,” says Dan, “bringing in water to sink your own boat.”
Since we’re both stiff from the cramped compartment, Dan suggests some exercise on the foredeck. “If you want to see if a deck is strong, stand on your toes and bounce up and down. There should be no flex or give.” and there isn’t. We’re about to try the same in the cockpit when the company representative senses that we are not serious buyers — or mentally stable — and directs us to his competitor at the other side of the show.