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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!

Please use my links (upper left corner of every page) when ordering on Amazon. It costs you nothing and helps me. Thanks!

Date: 7 October 2019. Petroleum Jelly aboard a Boat.


I have fought numerous battles since buying Seaweed. Trying to open various caps, covers and other threaded items can be a real challenge. More times than I care to admit I've resorted to using Vise grips, a screwdriver and/or a hammer. I always think "this time it will be different" but it isn't. Finally I came up with a $1 solution. Here's what I do.

This Beckson deck plate is in my
cockpit. Opening it is problematic.


In the cockpit Seaweed has an ancient Beckson plate. It provides access to the fuel pick-up line for my starboard tank. The cover sticks. Opening it has been a real problem. If I leave the cover slightly loose stepping on the unit will cause it to become askew. Argh!!!


I've utilized my Vise grips while attempting to twist the "easy open" part in the middle. That doesn't work well.

Next, I get out my Snap-On screwdriver. Using the vise grips as a hammer I can manage to loosen the cover and open it.


I would rather not confess to how often I have used the screwdriver and vise grips percussive maintenance solution in order to open this cap/cover. Suffice it to say, all the ding-dang time. Argh.


Obviously the vise grips and screwdriver opening methods are problematic. Nobody wants to drag out tools to simply twist open something.

This Beckson unit is 35-plus years old. It has been exposed to sunlight for decades. Quite naturally when items are at the end of their natural lifespan they start to fail. It's had a long hard life.

The smart thing to do would be to buy another unit. Rather than spend perfectly good money on a new Beckson Deck Plate I opted for the $1 solution.

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But I digress...
A couple years back I got a bad cold. I told you about that in the
Missing Medicines article. One of the items I tried was some mentholated petroleum jelly aka a knock-off of Vicks Vapor Rub.

The chest rub didn't help me feel better. I believed
however that it could lubricate Beckson cap threads.

First I thoroughly cleaned the threads.
Then I applied a liberal dose of *vaseline.

*Vaseline, for my overseas readers, is a brand of petroleum jelly. Pure 100% petroleum jelly is the exact same from brand to brand. It's identical so I opt for the least expensive 100% petroleum jelly I can find. I recommend you do the same.


There are two varieties of petroleum jelly. One is 100% pure, whilst the other is marketed for those with chest colds. That type, called mentholated, is 95% pure. The remaining 5% contains camphor, eucalyptus and menthol. 


Mentholated is sold in dark blue containers. Because my blue container did not help me feel better when I got sick, I opted for a new use. Rather than throw away the product I utilize it to lubricate the threads on my Beckson plates.


around the base of the Beckson.

On the bow of Seaweed I used to have a shiny stainless cover for my water tank fill port. Then I dropped it overboard. A plastic WATER CAP from West Marine is my temporary solution.

The temporary solution plastic water cap has been in use for over eleven years. I will continue looking for an inexpensive stainless one. Because the caps are so costly this is not a high-priority item. In the interim what I have works.

Side Note: When filling a water tank it is a Very Good Idea to expect an air bubble to send a bunch of water up and out the top like a geyser. This is especially true if you do not have the cover securely in your grasp.

Also remember that stainless steel is not attracted to a
magnet. Once the darn thing goes overboard, it's gone.


The plastic cap is a Good Enough replacement for the stainless one I had. It however became difficult to open. I added petroleum jelly to the threads on the cap. This allows me to open the cap without the necessity of getting out my vise grips.

Channel locks, pliers or small pipe wrenches would work in lieu of my favorite tool. I prefer the vise grips because of the locking mechanism in the handle. For those of us with hands that aren't quite as strong as they once were, vise grips are a good item to have in the tool arsenal.


I did attempt to buy the correct size cap for my water fill on the bow. Unfortunately the threads are slightly finer in the new one.



The spiffy stainless cover has a nifty loop made by my friend Ken. The Small Stuff line would prevent it from going overboard, however the dang cap does not fit my fill port.


Side Note: Though this cover doesn't work for Seaweed's water tank I have kept it in my stores. At some point I'll run across someone who needs it. Then I'll pass it along.


Out here there is an active trading economy. The Random Acts of Kindness thing that is touted by those ashore is alive and well here on the waterfront. We help each other. That said, being self sufficient is of Primary importance.

Nobody needs to know or have aboard everything for every contingency. Being able to make substitutions is a valuable skill to develop.

By utilizing online shopping I can have a needed item here within days. The world has changed, and in that regard it is better. I remember waiting four to six weeks when mail-ordering from a catalog.

Having a small container of petroleum jelly in your tool kit is a Good Idea. I would opt for the 100% variety rather than what I'm using at present.

I hope my friends are doing well. Autumn has arrived. The weather is perfect. Enjoy.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate that. Happy boating.

Where to find Petroleum Jelly: The best place to find this item is at the Dollar Tree or similar discount stores. It will be with the baby items usually, or in medicine near the products for colds. $1 should buy a 4 ounce container though I have noticed the sizes are decreasing slightly.

Buy two: One for your medicine locker and the second for your tool chest.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Petroleum Jelly aboard a Boat page.

Categories: Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Money, Recommendations,


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...

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

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Pet of the Week: Angus
aboard Evan

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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