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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler life on a nickel budget is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

Here, I share my views on living aboard a small boat with very limited resources. Hopefully my successes will help others achieve the life. And yes, I'll share the things I did wrong too -- though not everything 'cause a girl's got to have her secrets!

To those who have chosen to honor me via PayPal donations and by purchasing items through my Amazon links (upper left corner of every page) THANK YOU. This makes a huge difference, and I do appreciate it. J.

My mailing address is: Post Office Box 8284, Madeira Beach, FL 33738

Date: 28 March 2021. Lightning Strike series Summary (parts 1 and 2)


This page contains parts one and two
of the Lightning Strike series.

Due to friends aboard boats with slower download speeds, I broke the lightning series into two articles. For those with poor connections, here are your links:

Date:  12 March 2021. Lightning Strike and Errors Made (part 1)

It all started 28 December 2020, though at that time none of us were aware of how far the problems went. This is part one of the lightning series. Today I detail how fortunate I am to have a great neighbor, and the far reaching events that began late last year. Mistakes were made by me. Here is what I learned.

I have one of the best neighbors possible. His name is Cap'n Dave and he's been a real blessing as far as the small boating community I share here on the beach. The man pays attention to noises that are out of the norm. Then he calls or texts so further investigation can be made.

Cap'n Dave enjoys boating in both
center console speed boats and larger vessels.

What happened: On 28 December Cap'n Dave sent a text saying he heard an alarm coming from one of the boats west of his home. I'm almost always up late writing so I went looking to isolate which boat was alarming off. It turned out to be a Prairie.

This is the Prairie, when she was in slings at Salt Creek Boat Yard:

I told you about my experiences at that
yard in the
Salt Creek Boatyard article.

The first thing I did upon entry was pull the batteries out of the CO alarm in the main cabin of the Prairie trawler. I then opened up the back door and windows. It had been storming so the breeze was brisk. After airing out the boat I closed her up then returned home.

A bit later that night Cap'n Dave said the alarm was again going off. This time the CO alarm in the forward cabin was ringing. Again I aired out the boat. About the only thing that will cause an alarm to go off on a boat is a battery off-gassing. I assumed that was the case here so made sure the battery charger was shut off. Then I returned home.

Side Note: The smoke alarms aboard the boat were silent.

The following day the boat owner came down.
He verified that the water levels in his 6-volt
battery bank were a-okay. All was well there.

In addition to the 6-volt battery bank there existed one addition battery. That one was a new 12-volt batt used to start the Westerbeke generator onboard the vessel. It was purchased and installed last year. I did it, and therefore we had no reason to believe a virtually new battery would be the cause of the alarm.

With the battery charger off, no further alarms sounded. Tracking down the source of the alarm the previous evening didn't stay a priority once we were sure there was water in the old batteries. Both the boat owner and I thought this might have been an odd one-off. It slipped from our minds.

Ignoring an alarm.

Then came Jesse, a *shipwright
of some renown hereabouts...

*Shipwright: An individual who understands marine systems, and is able to troubleshoot and repair same.

Via my friend Cheryl, Jesse agreed to spend some time here and resolve the myriad of issues the boats nearby and my Seaweed are experiencing. You met Cheryl and her husband Fred in the
Sojourners Saloon article On Island Time (Schucker 440 Motorsailor). They are great folks.

Cheryl and Fred, in their dinghy:

Jesse started on the neighbor's
newly purchased vessel. She lacked
 instruments at the lower helm.


Boat projects always seem to take multiple trips to stores. Though I love outings, I prefer to shop versus buy. Buying trips for me are always stress-filled events. In addition to the instruments, a trip to Home Depot was required for a chunk of oak. That oak was used for the tachometer mounting box.


The TACHOMETER gauge is larger than the Oil, Engine Temp, and Voltage meter trio. Jesse sketched, cut out and sanded the oak piece for the tach. Then I did the finish work.


Ladies will understand how traumatic the disorder boat projects can become. This boat, the one that Jesse started on, has not been lived aboard yet so she's in major chaos. Ugh!!!

Hint: When I am painting or staining over several days, I do not clean my paint brush. Instead I put the bristles into a sandwich bag and store it in the freezer between uses. Thus I avoid the work of cleaning a cheap paint brush. In the few minutes between removal from my freezer and use, the brush is nearly defrosted. This saves work.

I do purchase the least
expensive brushes available.

Daddy bought good brushes and used them forever. He DRILLED HOLES so he could hang his brushes after cleaning. Decades later, I still have his old paint brushes. Nowadays though I use them to sweep dust and puppy fur off the floor.

Skipper is my joy. I love this dog:

She helps me keep my sanity
when my world tilts toward chaos.

Jesse consulted with the boat owner to decide
placement of the tachometer gauge at the lower helm.

New instruments at the lower helm pleased the captain.

In the meantime Jesse was checking out the diesel Perkins. He said we would have to take the new alternator to a shop for an additional wire/stud so the tachometer gauge recently purchased would work. In the meantime we were running the built in battery charger to bring the voltage up.

Regarding Alternators: If I understood it correctly an alternator with the addition of a single wire from the inside will work with a tachometer to display engine RPM's. Now I'm definitely NOT an expert, however I did find it interesting that I wouldn't have to install a "fancy" alternator to get this reading.

Whilst down in the engine room, Jesse noticed the *separate 12-volt battery was hot. With this discovery, the source of that CO alarm was identified. The newest battery, the one I had not checked because it was a recent purchase, was overheating and off-gassing.

*Separate 12-volt battery: The main battery bank is comprised of four 6-volt batteries forward of the engine. This batt, a single 12-volt Group 29 is the start battery for the generator. Group 29 is the size of the battery. The 29's weigh just approximately 65 pounds.

Knowing where a problem is centered is always a good thing. Issues cannot be resolved until the root cause is located. Having Jesse has been a real blessing. I can't wait until he gets to my Seaweed!!!

End, Lightning Strike
and Errors Made (part 1)



Date: 25 March 2021. Lightning Strike series Conclusion (part 2)

The lightning that struck a neighboring Prairie did not just take out one 12-volt battery. Details on that can be found in the Lightning Strike and Errors Made (part 1) article. Further problems were identified and solved in this, the conclusion of the lightning series.

The lightning struck this 1979 Prairie:

She's a gem, though she had been stored on
 the hard for quite some time before purchase.

The upper helm on the Prairie no longer worked properly. Back in October everything on the fly bridge was functioning well. Then, for no apparent reason, the engine could not be started topside.

This issue/problem is in my view an Emergency. If your engine stalls it never happens at an opportune moment. Thus, restarting immediately is critical.

Because I had a few months back mapped out the wiring
 on the bridge of the Prairie, naturally I did not think to
check it again. It was right then, so why do that again?!?

Our friend Jesse is a shipwright and experienced in tracking down and resolving issues aboard boats. He immediately recognized the problem when he started disassembling the upper helm instrument panel.

Jesse noted the BURNT ARC along the side of the
ignition switch. He surmised that lightning struck the boat.

Mistake #2: When the upper helm stopped properly working I should have examined the instrument connections and double-checked my previous repair job.

Because I had recently worked on the entire upper helm, arrogance bit me on the transom. My job topside including tracing the wires, diagramming same, installing the new (see above) ignition switch, and verifying the instruments worked. They did, at least until lightning struck.

The "problem" with lightning is the far reaching effects it can have. Almost all of the terminal ends on the instrument panel at the upper helm were burnt. Jesse replaced those.

Jesse also designed and cut out of oak a new
panel for the smaller lower helm instruments.

Jesse had diagnosed the problem at the upper helm. We bought a new ignition switch which Jesse installed. The new terminal ends resolved all other issues topside.

Next, we needed to concentrate on the lower helm, specifically the tachometer. Jesse suggested Acme.


The solution to the tach issue was found
at Acme Auto Marine Electric Company.


An additional wire needed to be installed on the Perkins alternator. This connection wire will allow a tachometer gauge to register the revolutions per minute aka RPM's of the engine. Harry is a long-time small business owner on Treasure Island. His expertise is well-known in the area.

Harry is a gem. He owns Acme on Treasure Island, FL 
33706 (Phone: 727-367-8333)The company specializes in
starters (marine and auto) plus alternators and more.


During our visit Harry took apart the alternator so he could attach a wire. Once separated from the case, he recognized a problem. Lightning had damaged the alternator. The alternator guts were replaced right then and there with items in stock.

The ALTERNATOR COILS were burnt. Additionally
Harry replaced a couple more damaged parts.


We walked into Harry's shop and less than an
hour later we were on our way. Thank you Harry.

And thanks too to Jesse who knew just the place to go!

What to Learn from my Mistakes
during the whole lightning fiasco:

  • MISTAKE #1: Ignoring an alarm. I should have tracked down WHY the alarm went off.
  • Mistake #2: When the upper helm stopped properly working I should have disassembled the instrument panel and rechecked my previous repair job.

That's it from the water. I thank you for reading.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Lightning Strike series Summary (parts 1 and 2) page.

Categories:  Boat Talk, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Pets,


Announcement: Folks who want to be notified when I post are welcome to become subscribers. I email readers every time a new article goes up. That's usually once or twice per week. If you'd like to be included via BCC* simply drop me a line to janice@janice142.com and I'll add you. It's free.

*BCC - Blind Carbon Copy. Basically no one but me will have your email address and the list of subscribers is not available.

Now this is not fancy. Basically I copy off the top three items in my Archive file. That way you can catch up if life gets in the way of your reading fun.

Secret: If you want to know what's what, start in the Archive. It offers you the title, first paragraph and topics (Categories) covered in each article published on my website.

Something a new reader might not realize: Almost every picture on this website can be clicked. The photo will get larger when clicked. Do that a second time and the picture should be full size. Enjoy...

My Cruising Kitty earns money each time you buy on Amazon through my links found in the upper left corner of every page. This is a tangible way to support me and is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your support, and heck, just for being here. I appreciate that more than you can imagine.

Paypal Tablet link:  *CRUISING KITTY
*for those who wish to donate direct to me via paypal.

Pet of the Week: Adderall
on S/V Spork

Submit your pet's photo.
Please email pictures of your crew!

More canine, feline and feathered crew members can be found on the The First Mate Gallery page.


The Archive holds a chronological list of every item published on my website. It includes a brief synopsis (not just the title) along with the topics covered in each article.

Click on the title and voila: you're there. Enjoy!

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

Of course every boat needs a Deck Swabbie. Mine, born in 2008, is a papillon mix. She weighs in at five pounds.

Coming soon ...


Topics of Interest:
You can achieve a simple satisfying life

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
(Poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1879-1972.)


For years I've been collecting short pithy statements otherwise known as aphorisms. If you're like me and enjoy the weird, go ahead and CLICK!

These are previously posted at the bottom of each article -- for new, you'll have to come visit again.

Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.

The above chart (#411) can be a wish book of sorts as you look over your domain and wonder where to go next. And yes, I do have the originals (sans red arrow) as jpeg's for download should you desire your own for closer perusal. Enjoy!

The Writer's Block

It's my belief that other folks who boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near the water. Suggested topics include:

1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing

For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory from years ago that you still recall.

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:

Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to share? Email me.

Do you want to help out?

Often an article for the website will be completely written yet lack photographs. I like pictures and am looking for some for up-coming pieces:

  • Pets afloat (include pet and boat name please)

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

  • Photos of people enjoying life in or on the water

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing. I prefer the full-size version. Also, the name you'd like me to use when I add the copyright stuff to your picture. And thanks bunches!

My email address is janice@janice142.com

23' Schucker mini-trawler, circa 1983.

Thanks for visiting. If you happen to see my boat along the
waterways, give a call on Channel 16. I'm always listening.

click picture to enlarge

My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate

Aphorism Alert: Begin doing what you want to now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake. Marie Beyon Ray.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

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