Clark Beek

Teaching Marine Electrical Seminar In Sausalito This Saturday

25 Oct


How many wrong things can you find in this picture?

If you happen to be in the Bay Area this Saturday, October 29th, I’m giving a marine electrical seminar at Spaulding Marine Center in Sausalito, where I will teach electrical excellence, simplicity, and how not to get electrocuted. They suggest a $50 donation and always provide a great lunch. Starts at 10:00AM; goes to about 2:30. Please RSVP. Link here for registration ...

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Electrical Basics: Bus Bars

17 Oct

IMG 2377

Just twenty or thirty years ago the electrical system on the average sailboat was very simple. It had two batteries connected to an OFF-1-2-BOTH battery switch, and all the loads were fed from there:
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On the back of the battery switch were three studs: one for each battery, and one for the common, that is, the terminal that connects to the alternator and all the loads:

IMG 2314

The battery switch for this Catalina 30 is this way. In addition to the connection to each battery, the battery studs on the back of the switch are good places to connect the outputs ...

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Boat Command CONNECT! Meets Smoke Alarm

1 Aug


The manufacturers of Boat Command, the boat monitoring platform, didn’t build the system with a smoke alarm option. It’s got all manner of sensors, inputs, and alerts, but no smoke alarm, and if you read Boat US’s statistics on boat losses and insurance claims, fire is number five. Stats aside, the main things I worry about while I’m away from my boat are flooding (that’s a big number 1), fire, break-ins, theft, and dead batteries. These are the main reasons I installed the Boat Command system, but it does lots of other neat stuff too. Full disclosure: as ...

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The Truth About Watermaker Membranes…

24 Jun

…is that they’ve gotten pretty cheap.

In not-too-distant past replacing a single membrane on a small watermaker was a $600-$800 hit. Now, as with so many other things, you can go online and buy a membrane for $150-$220. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re replacing a 20-inch membrane or a 40-inch – the two most common sizes – the price is the same.

Before I go any farther, when a watermaker is performing poorly it is seldom the membrane, but the membrane is the first thing people want to blame. You must first ensure that everything else is within spec ...

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New Cooling System on Perkins 4.236

16 Jun

This upgrade is common to all older Perkins diesels (the Perkins 4.108 is probably the most common Perkins found on boats). Bowman, the company that made the marinizing equipment for Perkins, has re-engineered things over the years, so that instead of having a combination header tank and heat exchanger on one part of the engine, and a water jacketed exhaust on another, they combine it all into a combination header tank/heat exchanger/exhaust manifold.

These engines were originally fitted with oil coolers. Now in some cases they say you can do away with the oil cooler unless your engine is run ...

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The Future Is Here: Bottom Cleaning Nanobots

1 Apr

With copper-based antifouling paints just being banned in Washington state, the writing is on the wall. We’re going to have to figure out an an environmentally-friendly way to keep the critters from growing on the bottoms of our boats. That’s where BottomBot comes in.

Dan Stein, BottomBot’s CEO says, “We took our technology from the medical industry, where nanobots have long been in development. There is a family of nanobots designed to be released in the blood stream to remove plaque from the insides of your arteries. These nanobots aren’t quite ready for prime time in medicine, for safety ...

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Human Arm Found Floating At Olympic Sailing Venue

26 Feb

I’ve have tended to downplay all the press about the filth in Guanabara Bay, the 2016 Olympic sailing venue. I spent a few months living aboard there, and it’s on par with many large ports around the world. Finding a dead dog wouldn’t be out of the ordinary many places in the world, especially in a tropical place where the tends to be lots of flotsam and jetsam. But this kind of takes the cake. I won’t post the photo, in case you don’t want to see such a photo, but the photo is at the end of the story, ...

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Tough French Cruiser Shot, Stabbed, Bashed, and Robbed off St. Croix

22 Feb

Arc en Ciel 2(1)-240x171

The whole story is here. Either local law enforcement completely bungled this case, or the victim’s story doesn’t add up. What is a matter of fact, because there were witnesses, is that this guy, at age 70, limped his boat back into port with his femur shattered by a gunshot wound, came alongside a tugboat, then proceeded to throw winch handles and sundry objects at the side of said tugboat for 45 minutes before somebody took notice. Shiver me timbers.


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After Twenty Years, Naval Academy Brings Back Celestial Navigation

18 Feb

After removing it from their standard curriculum for nearly two decades, the navy has decided that the threat of cyberterrorism, electrical pulse attacks, lightening strikes, and other potential blackouts of the GPS system warrant reinstating the age-old art. The US Coast Guard, which stripped it from their curriculum a decade ago, is following suit.

Should cruisers be taking a hint?

You can read about it in the Capital Gazette or The Washington Post

The GPS system has never been “brought down,” according to the government, but local disturbances and drop-outs are commonplace. And it’s conceivable that the system might be ...

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