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USCG Recertification Plan - Part Two - Systems Analysis

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In part one we made some general observations about the condition of a vessel being considered for recertification. A big mess was made to look for the most serious issues. Countless screws were lost and broken, there was cursing and bleeding.

Now that we know the project vessel is in decent shape we can move ahead. If you don't want to take the steps in part one a very complete professional survey of the vessel will give you an excellent idea if it is viable.

Not all of these systems or items will apply to every boat. Equipment varies so much that one galley has a miniature gourmet restaurant while another has only a microwave with broken buttons. There are horse stables on some large yachts but that's beyond my scope of expertise.

Systems for Special Consideration

Even if you aren't going through with a recertification some of these items are important to the health of the local waters and sailors on board. Many are safety related and you could see a reduction in your insurance rate with an upgrade.

Structural Integrity

Check the hull for corrosion and other obvious damage. Use something visible to mark these areas but make sure it's removable since plans will change.

If you or your surveyor see an area with corrosion and flaking or bubbling paint it will need to be removed to inspect the metal and welds under the paint. Take before and after photos for your application from several angles.

Any modification of the hull or superstructure is frowned on without a licensed naval architect. It's necessary even if you plan to re-plate the hull with material one sixteenth of an inch over stock size. That weight adds up and can change the performance of the vessel.

Waste Water Management

Black Water

Black Water Disposal is the biggest problem with these boats and big inland vessels can have thousands of gallons of black water. Holding tanks and transfer lines need to be in good condition with double clamps on each fitting.

Grey Water Reuse

This plumbing scheme is becoming more common so regulators are not as suspicious of these installations. If you have a freshwater charge at your dock or do not want the power draw of a water maker then consider this upgrade while there is opportunity.

Ballast Tanks and Bilge Water

Few smaller boats have ballast tanks and those that do pick up and dump local waters so there is no chance of moving harmful organisms. If you do have a ballast system the tanks and fittings need to be inspected.

Bilge water contains a lot of oil and a dry bilge makes for a much healthier boat. We are talking about old boats here so the idea of a dry bilge is quite foreign. Dripless shaft seals are one highly recommended upgrade. Check your bilge pumps, seacocks, and thru hull fittings plus the hoses and double clamps.

Emissions Management

Particulates filters are much better than the systems of a decade ago. This is mostly due to better filter elements that allow filtration of breather vents in addition to intake air. If you have a catalyst check it.

Evaporates are also controlled by the breather vents. You also want to check fuel filler and vent systems for modern compliance. Fuel tanks also need breather filters and an inspection of the tank interior and exterior. Don't forget to inspect the hardware that secures the tank.

Noise this is not a USCG guideline but should be a consideration if your passengers are sensitive to noise which might be the case on a tour or sightseeing boat.

Electronic Systems

Wiring needs to be accessible for inspection. Conduit looks very nice but the wires cannot be inspected for faults easily.

Starting and house batteries need to be in sealed and secured containers. Battery compartments should be vented passively, and in warm climates they may need forced ventilation. Inverters and other power equipment must be certified for use on a vessel and contain the proper safety mechanisms. Why not GFIC on the whole boat?

A modern circuit breaker and switch panel is a commonly needed upgrade since older boats have very poor wiring in general. We use much high electrical loads than the past so larger systems are needed. You can reduce your power load with improvements like LED lighting. Just be sure it is approved equipment.

Interior materials and insulation need to be checked for fire resistance and replaced if necessary.

This is in no way a complete list of systems that need to be assessed for a truly complete plan. These are common stumbling blocks for owners of older boats. The items mentioned here constitute the majority of the upgrades performed to bring a vessel up to regulation. When you are ready, Part three of the tutorial gets down to the specifics of the USCG application.

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