Jeff Jones

Captain Jeff Jones holds a current 100-Ton Masters License and is the owner of Captain on Board . During the spring and summer, Capt. Jeff runs yachts in local SoCal waters up and down the entire West Coast. Capt. Jeff is also an ABYC Certified Shipwright diesel mechanic, and during the winter he takes on projects like re-powers and complete retrofits. He can be contacted at (562) 704-9545, or via email at You can also check out his website at
Installing a fiberglass bait tank
Recently I had the opportunity to install a fiberglass bait tank in a trick little 1991 Skipjack. With an engine box covering the inboard gas engine, this is a tricky install. It was certainly worthy of the Bluewater bait tank as nice as the boat.

Randy Wood can customize any tank you order with windows, rod holders, lids and cutting boards. This particular bait tank had custom rod holders, and had to be positioned perfectly to allow the rods in the rod holders to clear the rods in the rocket launchers in the arch, and clear the opening of the engine box that hinged toward the bow. I started with locating the tank in the center of the cockpit and opening the engine box to find a location that worked.


BEFORE PHOTO SHOWING the Rule bait pump straight up on the top of the ball valve, and after with the Shureflow bait pump laid down with the bronze street elbow to reduce the chance of air locks.

The center deck is removable and covers the boat’s fuel tank, but what clearance I had was a mystery until I removed the deck. Cutting the silicone and removing the screws, the deck eventually came up revealing a perfect condition gas tank that resembled a time capsule. There was enough room for the standard 1½-inch drain hose for the bait tank, and the ¾-inch inlet hose as well. I started with the drain system.

Carefully studying the access for the drain hose and a new drain through hull I decided to install a 1½-inch nylon through hull out the transom of the boat. This got tricky because transoms are generally very thick, not leaving enough space to put the nut on the threads of the through hull.

I drilled a ¼-inch test hole between the swimstep brackets and the trim tab ram. Rule #1 of boat rigging is “always double check.” Get this one wrong and its time for some fiberglass repair. Luckily I got it perfect the first time. I matched a hole saw to the outside diameter of the nylon through hull and made the cut, then sealed the inside of the hole with 3M Fast Cure 5200.

Then I indexed 4 holes symmetrically spaced on the outside flange of the nylon through-hull. Because I would not be able to use the nut, I’d have to screw the through-hull into position with stainless screws and lots of 5200 sealant. Doing this left a perfect amount of male hose nipple for the drain hose to fit on.

There was a bulkhead behind the fuel tank that also needed to be cut with a hole saw to accommodate the drain hose, so I drilled that out and again, sealed the inside edge with 5200. This sealed the bulkhead as well as created a soft passage for the drain hose so it can’t chafe over time and eventually leak. At this point I set the deck over the fuel tank in place and cut an 8-inch hole off-center of the tank, on the starboard side. I installed the 1½-inch drain hose and ran it into position so I could begin to focus on the bait pump and water inlet for the bait tank.

WITH AN OFFSET 8-inch hole in the deck sealed with 5200, the plumbing runs to the inlet and the drain without a chance of kinking.

The boat already had a bait pump and a bronze through hull with a high speed pickup. The existing Rule 800 bait pump was screwed straight up on a ¾-inch ball valve that had seen better days.

I went back to square one and removed the existing bait pump and valve with the intention of installing a bronze street elbow to get the bait pump as low to the hull as possible, and allow the outlet of the pump to point straight up so no air could get trapped in the pump itself, the most common cause of air locks. Removing the Rule 800 I noticed the plastic outlet barb was broken, so it was off to the marine store to pick out a new Shureflow Piranha 800 waterproof pump with the cartridge that can be easily changed. Now with a bronze street elbow, a new ¾-inch bronze ball valve and a new bait pump, I was almost ready to mount the tank.

I cleaned off the old silicone sealant from the hatch over the fuel tank with acetone and a bit of elbow grease until no silicone remained. With both the inlet and drain hoses in place, I was able to set the deck into place and screw it down. I used slightly bigger #12 stainless flathead screws because the original screws were beginning to pull through the fiberglass exposing the wood and risking water intrusion. A dip of each screw into 5200 ensured a good seal for years to come. I carefully masked each side of the hatch edge with blue tape so when I put the silicone sealant at the end, I could smooth the caulk with a wet finger and pull the tape for a perfect factory edge.

To install the tank, I first had to set it in place and mark the bottom with a pencil laid flat on the deck so I could scribe the bottom of the tank and get it to sit perfectly with no gaps or rocking back and forth or side to side. This was tricky.

Fiberglass bait tanks have a raised bottom and an imperfect bottom edge. Scribing is necessary in every fiberglass tank installation. I eyeballed the tank for level side to side from the cabin door, and placed a wedge under the port side to get it level. Then I had to adjust the tank fore and aft, considering the boat will be bow high while running, and a tank that is perfect will slosh water out the back when running. Once in position, I marked the tank with a pencil where I needed to scribe (grind or sand the bottom edge of the tank). I flipped the tank upside down onto a soft blanket and carefully sanded to my pencil lines. Then I removed all pencil marks with acetone and checked it again.

After scribing a fiberglass tank often the layout on the deck changes a bit, so I wiped the pencil marks from the deck and remarked it. The tank was now sitting perfectly and ready for the cleats to be installed. I used aluminum and fiberglass angles for cleats, mounted on the deck inside the edge of the tank and out of sight.

A CAREFULLY PLACED bait tank allows the engine hatch to open and rods to clear the stainless arch and rocket launchers.

I pre-drilled holes on the bottom edge to be attached to the deck, evenly spaced 1-inch in from the edge on each side of the 4-inch cleats for this job. Bigger tanks get bigger cleats. I installed two cleats ¼-inch inside the pencil mark on one side first, evenly spaced from a center line. Then I set the tank up against the first set of cleats to make sure nothing moved or changed. Then I repeated the same on the other side. Each cleat got a healthy bead of 5200 and two #14 pan head screws that weren’t long enough to pass through the deck and risk damaging the bait tank hoses under the deck and causing leaks.

With the bait tank sitting on the deck, snug up against the 4 mounting cleats, I marked the tank where the cleats were with a pencil and again, placed the tank upside down on a soft blanket. I carefully indexed symmetrical marks with pencil and pre-drilled the tank with ¼-inch holes for the mounting screws to pass through the sides of the tank and into the aluminum angle mounting brackets already mounted to the deck. Next I taped the bottom of the tank to achieve a professional edge after I caulked the bottom of the bait tank to the deck.

Laying the tank on its side, I carefully aligned the intake and drain hoses and secured them with stainless hose clamps. Most of the time the 1½-inch drain nipple and ¾-inch inlet nipple aren’t long enough for double clamps, and in my experience, one hose clamp torqued to 44/inch/pounds rarely (if ever) leaks. I wiped a tiny bit of silicone sealant inside the hoses before I installed them for extra insurance against leaks.

It was time to tilt the tank into position for the last time, carefully watching the plumbing and making sure there were no kinks and that the two hoses didn’t cross over each other. Remember, if the inlet hose goes over the top of the drain hose, that’s a place air can get trapped and cause an airlock.

With the tank in place I drilled pilot holes for the last #14 stainless pan head mounting screws and drove them home with a dab of 5200 on the threads. Then I masked the deck around the tank for a clean silicone edge and cleaned everything up.

The boat’s owner showed up just in time for me to seal all the edges of the tank and deck with silicone, wipe them smooth with a wet finger and quickly remove the tape. If you let the silicone dry before removing the tape, it peels and leaves a very unsightly edge.

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Captain Jeff Jones holds a current 100-Ton Masters License and is the owner of Captain on Board. During the spring and summer, Capt. Jeff runs yachts in local SoCal waters up and down the entire West Coast. Capt. Jeff is also an ABYC Certified Shipwright diesel mechanic, and during the winter he takes on projects like re-powers and complete retrofits. He can be contacted at (562) 704-9545, or via e-mail at You can also check out his website at

completedinstallationofCOMPLETED INSTALLATION OF the custom Bluewater fiberglass tank on a pristine 20-foot Skipjack.

Anchoring Basics
Your anchor and rode (rope and chain) is the most important piece of safety equipment on your boat. In the case of engine failure for any reason, the ability to drop your anchor and depend in it to hold is of utmost importance. Often I see guys go all out with electronics and fishing gear and skimp on the anchoring equipment. So lets go over the basics.

A DELTA-STYLE anchor wired to trip. The proper set of anchor gear gets used with confidence.

The Bruce, Claw or Delta style anchor has proven to be the best for setting fast and holding in most conditions. When choosing one of these style achors, stick to the information available that indicates the size that works best for your boat. If you have a 25’ center console and the chart at the marine store calls for a 22lb anchor, that’s the one to get. Bigger is not better. Same with the chain, stick to the size appropriate for your vessel. I’ll explain.

The weight of your vessel (relative to the waterline length), will work specifically with a certain set of anchor and rode. When you drop the anchor you will want it to set on short scope (the amount of rope and chain you set out when anchoring). The anchor will need to sink into the bottom whether it be sand, mud or rocky structure. If the chain is too big, it will hinder the anchors ability to sink in because the boat isn’t heavy enough to sink the chain into the bottom. Also, an anchor that is too big for the boat will not set properly for the same reasons. All too often I get the call to help a customer solve his anchoring woes, and find he has purchased anchor and chain that are too big for his boat.

All chain setups are a thing of the past now that windlass companies have perfected equipment that will pull both rope and chain. Simply purchasing a windlass that’s appropriate for your size vessel will dictate in the manual what size chain and rope you’ll need, and that’s a good fit. The length of chain is very important. Choose a length that is the length of your boat rounded up to the tenth. For example, for a 26’ boat you’ll want 30’ of chain. For a 42’ boat you’ll want 50’ of chain. Again, more is not better, it will not effectively “set” on short scope. Only in the case of very large vessels will you want to round up more on the chain length, but still rope and chain has many advantages over all chain.

PROPER ANCHOR GEAR is the most important safety feature on any boat.

Use commercial passenger carrying vessels as an example, if all chain was safer and more effective, they would be using it.

Lastly lets talk about rigging your anchor to trip if it gets stuck on structure. Terminate your chain on the front end of the anchor, then use stainless seizing wire at the back end of the anchor. How many wraps of seizing wire isn’t an exact science, but start at 4 wraps for a 20’ boat, 5-6 wraps for a 30’ boat and 7 wraps of stainless seizing wire for a 40’ boat. You get the idea. When the anchor gets hung up, you can gets straight up and down and break the seizing wire and get your anchor back. Be sure to wrap the anchor rope around a solid bow cleat when attempting to break free a hung up anchor. Do not attempt to free it with the anchor windlass, as it’s a good way to strip gears or break something. Always stand clear of the bow when freeing a stuck anchor so if something breaks you and your crew are out of harms way.

Following these guidelines will lead to you gaining more confidence when anchoring. When you have dropping the pick wired you can not only fish wrecks and reefs like a pro, but you’ll have the most important safety feature on your boat down pat.

SEVEN WRAPS OF stainless seizing wire on a 40-foot boat.

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Clean battery wiring
Rigging your boat for safety at sea and in real world conditions is what it’s all about. Avoiding problems is what all boat owners really want, but let’s face facts, issues tend to rear their ugly head at the least convenient times. When an engine won’t start or the radar doesn’t come on when the fog settles in, a ball-of-snakes wiring mess is no fun at all. So let’s start at the batteries.

CLEAN BATTERY WIRING — Battery terminals should only have two wires, one going to the engine and the other going to a main breaker and terminal block supplying power to the vessel’s system.

Read the installation manual of most marine 12v appliances and it will say: Connect directly to the 12v power source. That doesn’t necessarily mean connect directly to the battery. You’ve seen it, a battery with so many wires connected to the positive and negative leads that the nut is on the last couple threads. This causes bad connections that in turn lead to heat and corrosion. So instead, it’s best to create a place for your main power connections to terminate without stacking them on the battery itself.

Find a place close to the battery that is dry and accessible, then place a terminal block with the amount of terminals needed for your existing systems and future systems. Make sure to place a fuse or breaker on the positive side, again big enough for existing and future systems. Do the same on the negative side but no fuse or breaker needed. I prefer breakers over fuses in all my electrical installations. The cable from the battery to the breaker (positive) and the negative terminal blocks should be 1/0 or bigger, depending on the size of your needs.

BATTERY CABLES TO a main breaker and negative terminal block. Here you can see the battery cables run to a location close to the battery. They will supply the breaker-protected power to the positive side of your 12v systems and a negative terminal block. This is where you’ll terminate wires “directly to the source or battery.”

From your new terminal blocks will be two battery cables — one that runs to your breaker panel main positive lead (now protected with a main breaker), and a negative terminal strip for basic grounding. This may seem redundant, but it actually cleans things up and makes troubleshooting very simple. Not only that, but the option to add new electronics or things like bait pumps and lights, it is all ready ahead of time.

Now the battery looks clean and professional. The only battery cables connected to your battery should be the engine cable and the one that leads to the terminal blocks we are installing. It’s a fun project that really makes things look sharp. Now if a problem should rear its ugly head in a real world situation, troubleshooting will be much easier with your new clean battery wiring. It all starts at the battery.

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Captain Jeff Jones holds a current 100-Ton Masters License and is the owner of Captain on Board. During the spring and summer, Capt. Jeff runs yachts in local SoCal waters up and down the entire West Coast. Capt. Jeff is also an ABYC Certified Shipwright diesel mechanic, and during the winter he takes on projects like re-powers and complete retrofits. He can be contacted at (562) 704-9545, or via e-mail at capt You can also check out his website at

DIY non-skid
Here’s how I do non-skid on the decks of all my clients’ boats. It’s a simple process with very gratifying results, but there are a few important steps that cannot be overlooked or skimped on.

I like to use West Systems Epoxy. It’s very simple to use and cost effective. It comes in 1-quart kits, 1-gallon kits and big 5-gallon kits. Because of its versatility, I highly recommend to my clients that they keep at least a 1-quart kit on the boat at all times.

West Systems has pump kits that make it so simple, just use 1 pump to 1 pump on the epoxy and catalyst and you’re good to go. Can’t be any easier than that! West Systems sells different catalysts for different jobs. “Fast” catalyst is the most commonly used and is for non-skid, quick glass repairs, dry rot, waterproofing, gluing things together and such. “Slow” is for bigger jobs, where you might be using 10 pumps of epoxy to 10 pumps of catalyst. In the case of non-skid, use the “Slow” for big areas. Lastly, West Systems makes a “Special Clear” catalyst that replaces varnish for an almost forever finish that has anti-UV properties.

First prep the area and rough it up with some very aggressive sandpaper — 60 grit minimum, and at times I use 36 grit. Doesn’t matter, the epoxy will fill the scratches. Then mask off the area where you plan on applying the non-skid, plenty of wiping down with liberal amounts of acetone will help the tape stick well. You can use the tape to make any pattern you like. Doing the non-skid in smaller patterns helps keep things easy, as epoxy with fast catalyst will thicken quickly, causing your non-skid to be uneven.

Now that your spot to be done is sanded, wiped down with acetone and taped off, it’s time to mix the epoxy. You’ve chosen your non-skid media ahead of time and have it ready to spread out over.

Non-skid media choices are walnut shell for a commercial type feel, very rough. Silica sand for a less aggressive feel and I use a wire/metal spaghetti strainer to shake the sand and get a consistent size of media. Nowadays a lot of guys are using ground-up tennis ball for a great non-skid effect and a softer feel underfoot. You’ve picked which one you are going to use and are ready, best if you have a helper for this step. Once the epoxy is mixed, you must work fast.

Roll out the epoxy evenly going over the edges of the tape you used to mask off the area. Don’t miss any spots, it’s hard to come back and repair it and get an even look. Also, be sure to not leave any roller marks, as they will show on the end result. The more epoxy you use, and the thicker it is, the more aggressive your non-skid will be.

Now cover the epoxied area with your non-skid media of choice. Lay it on thick, don’t try to sprinkle it and get it even. I mean, really pile it on. Pull the tape off at this point, while the epoxy is still uncured. If you forget and leave the tape, you’ll have a very difficult time removing the tape that is now epoxied down. Epoxy is tough stuff. Then walk away and give the epoxy ample time to fully “kick off.”

If you intend on saving the unused non-skid media, have a very clean ShopVac ready to go when the epoxy dries. Test the epoxy by inspecting the cup you mixed it in, not by feeling the area you applied non-skid. If it’s still wet, you might wreck the whole job. Once completely cured, now it’s time to vacuum the loose non-skid media off. Don’t drag the vacuum hose on the non-skid, carefully use your hand to hold the vacuum hose just above the loose non-skid trying not to physically remove it by any scraping that will show through after painting. Save your non-skid media by dumping it out of the clean vacuum and back into its container.

At this point there is still loose non-skid on the job, and this needs to come off. I use an electric yard blower for this, carefully getting every single loose piece of media off the area. If you use a brush, the rough non-skid will pull out the brush hairs and they will now be stuck in your job.

Most guys I know go over the non-skid at this point with the paint they are going to use, either a topside enamel or more likely linear polyurethane or LP. What I do is go back over the area with epoxy, sealing the entire deal and ensuring it’ll last as long as possible and be super durable. The final step is to mask the area off and apply the paint of your choice. Using a tan or grey is popular because a bright white deck can be hard on the eyes after a long sunny day on the water.

So if you have looked at your decks and thought redoing the non-skid was too challenging of a task, now you know just how easy it can be. And done with epoxy, it’ll be very durable and might last longer than the factory non-skid that is so slippery now.

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Captain Jeff Jones holds a current 100-Ton Masters License and is the owner of Captain on Board. During the spring and summer, Capt. Jeff runs yachts in local SoCal waters up and down the entire West Coast. Capt. Jeff is also an ABYC Certified Shipwright diesel mechanic, and during the winter he takes on projects like re-powers and complete retrofits. He can be contacted at (562) 704-9545, or via e-mail at You can also check out his website at

WEST SYSTEMS EPOXY is affordable and easy to find in local marine stores. Best part is the ease of use, just one pump of part A and one pump of part B and it’s perfectly mixed.

MASKED OFF FOR a perfect caulk line.

APPLY CAULK LIBERALLY to ensure filling all cracks, big and small.

WET CAULK SPREAD with fingers makes a mess on the tape, not the boat.

FIRST PASS WET caulk is to force it into the deepest cracks and seal the line for years to come.

CLOSE-UP WET caulk on the tape being pulled, leaving a perfect caulk line on the boat.

PULL THE TAPE before the epoxy cures, or it can be tough to remove.

PERFECT CAULK LINE tape pulled at an angle that leaves a nice edge.

VACUUM LOOSE NON-SKID media once the epoxy has fully cured. Use a clean Shop-Vac so non-skid media can be reused on the next section.

Boat Generator Fuel System Made Simple
As a licensed Captain and Operator for many years, I’ve seen it all. From Alaska to Panama to up and down the East Coast, I admit I’ve used duct tape and bubble gum to get us home more than a few times. When we get to the relative safety of the closest marina, I go to work fixing the problem. I don’t just buy parts and put it back the way it was that failed me in the first place, I literally solve the issue. In this case, I solve the issue of dealing with the small factory fuel filter that comes on all stock generators on vessels of all sizes.

LOCATING A LOGICAL spot for a new filter location.

The issues are many. Factory fuel filters are often difficult to service, requiring special tools or a little creativity to even remove. Once removed, the element you have to change is often the one the local marine store is out of, leaving me stuck in a foreign place and now behind schedule while I wait for an ordered part. Most times on long trips, we have spares of just about everything, so on goes the spare factory filter and then it leaks. Not every time, just usually at the worst time. Installing a fuel filter on a vibrating generator that runs for hours, or even days on end, is not the best engineering idea.

Most boats have a very common Racor fuel filter before the generator fuel system. Remote mounted, it’s the first line of defense in case you get a load of bad fuel in an exotic location or are leaving in the middle of the night to go catch a big bluefin. So I thought, “Why not use another remote mounted Racor as the primary fuel filter?” Racor filters are very easy to service, and the filter elements (available in different levels of filtration, 2 micron, 10 micron, 20 micron and 30 micron) are available all over the world at just about any marine store. In the Bahamas in Hope Town, I found Racor filter elements at the grocery store! And they are very inexpensive compared to the factory filter that came on the generator.

FACTORY FILTER AND hoses coming off.

Simply remove the factory fuel filter and its hoses. Take care to make sure you connect the fuel return line on diesel generators properly so it returns where it was intended to go. Then run new fuel hose (with new hose clamps) to the side of the Racor filter labeled “IN” from the Racor that was already installed ahead of the fuel system. Be sure to incorporate the fuel-priming pump if there is one. Then install new hoses and clamps and run them from the side of the Racor labeled “OUT” to the intake of the injectors. Basically, where the hose went from the stock fuel filter. Easy as can be. Find a logical spot to mount the second Racor and bolt it on.

Basically you’ll want a rough filter element on the first Racor, something like a 10 micron, and a fine filter element on the primary Racor fuel filter, something like a 2 micron. A label maker helps a lot here, make sure the next guy sees what you’ve done, but its pretty much a no brainer. Now the generator has a big open spot where the old filter was, making it easier to clean, service and work on. Filters are a snap to change even in the roughest seas, cheap and easy to find. It’s a wonder I’ve never seen it done before. McGyver got us home, but Captain Jeff Jones solved the problem. Try it. You’ll see how easy this project is and how much nicer it will look and how much easier it’ll be to service in the future.

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Captain Jeff Jones holds a current 100-Ton Masters License and is the owner of Captain on Board. During the spring and summer, Capt. Jeff runs yachts in local SoCal waters up and down the entire West Coast. Capt. Jeff is also an ABYC Certified Shipwright diesel mechanic, and during the winter he takes on projects like re-powers and complete retrofits. He can be contacted at (562) 704-9545, or via email at You can also check out his website at

THE NEW FILTER, installed and primed.

COMPLETED INSTALLATION WITH first Racor on the left, and the new remote-mounted primary filter on the right.

ALL NEW HOSES and clamps connected to the fuel-priming pump and proper return line for a diesel generator.

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