Adjustable Backstay/Running Backs out of AmSteel


Over the years, I’ve made a lot of standing and running rigging for Transpac racers.  From sleek little rocket sleds to boats you might expect to see a family cruising the San Juans on, they usually invest in new rigging for the rigors of the 2,200 mile trip from LA to Diamond Head.  A lot of the boats that do this kind of long-distance, open ocean racing have adjustable backstays and/or running backstays.  This allows the sailor to put more or less tension on the mast to affect the shape of the mainsail and jib, support the mast bend, reduce pumping, etc.  In the old days, these might have been made from 7×19 wire rope since they often have to bend over some kind of block.  As that wire gets older, the strands break, making nasty little barbs that will tear through anything they encounter (e.g. sails, lines, fingers, etc.).  Now, we have the benefit of high tech fiber rigging like AmSteel and its numerous 12 strand single braid brethren.  This is in essence an economical way to build PBO rigging yourself.

Some additional benefits of using fiber vs. wire are factors like fatigue (a material’s tendency to get more brittle after it has been bent), weight aloft which reduces the keel’s effectiveness, not to mention the ability for the sailor to splice a new one while underway instead of carrying swaging equipment.

AmSteel has some UV resistance from the colored coating it comes from the factory with, but Spectra has very little unless you coat it with MaxiJacket or similar product.  There is a product called VPE – Vectran with a Polyethylene coating (basically heat shrink) that is very popular for making running backs.  The coating is there to protect the Vectran fibers from UV damage.  You can make your own VPE from AmSteel and heat shrink tubing if needed.  Here is the procedure for making your own adjustable backstay bridle or running backs.  These are just a length of AmSteel with an eye spliced onto a heavy duty stainless steel thimble on both ends and the whole thing is covered in heat shrink.

We highly recommend being very proficient with the regular AmSteel splices (e.g. Brummel Lock and Modified Brummel Lock) before attempting this procedure.  It is considerably more difficult to build the second end with the first eye and the heat shrink complicating matters.  We also recommend practicing rolling an eye splice onto a thimble to get the knack for sizing the eye to the thimble and getting the splice onto the thimble.

We’re going to focus on just doing one end first.  We’ll deal with the second end later in the procedure.  Do not jump ahead and do anything to the second end until directed.  We’re also going to leave the AmSteel long before determining where the finished length cut will be because we have to determine the shrinkage factor of the splices.  If you’re not splicing off the spool, cut your AmSteel about five feet longer than your finished length.  It may seem a bit wasteful, but it’s a cheap insurance policy to make sure your finished product is right.  Plus, you can always use a piece of AmSteel for something.

  • Make a reference mark on the AmSteel 4′ from the end.  This will be used later to determine the amount of shrinkage the splice takes up.


  • Make your marks for the tail bury and eye size for the appropriately sized heavy duty, stainless steel thimble.  Record your tail bury length for future reference (example:  9″).  Measure from your reference mark to the end of the eye, where it bends around the thimble.  This will be your reference measurement (example:  2′ 10″).



  • Add heat shrink to just the section that will create the eye around the thimble.



  • Lock stitch the taper, do not whip the eye as in the regular procedure.


  • Measure the new distance from your reference mark to the end of the eye (example:  2′ 8″).  The difference between the two measurements (example:  2″) is the amount of shrinkage you have to add to the other end for the second splice.
  • When determining the finished length, make sure to account for how much it will stretch while under load.  AmSteel is rated for 0.46% stretch at 10% of it’s breaking strength, so for a 30′ running back, here’s the calculation:

30′ x 12″ = 360″ x 0.46% = 1-5/8″ stretch


  • From the end of the eye, measure your nominal finished length (example:  30′), add one half of the eye size (example:  if thimble is 5″ around, add 2-1/2″), add the length of the tail bury (example:  9″) then subtract for the stretch factor (example:  -1-5/8″).

Finished length + 1/2 thimble + tail bury – shrinkage

30′ + 2-1/2″ + 9″ -1-5/8″ = 30′ 9-7/8″

  • Make your cut there.  Measure back 9″ and make a mark, bend the AmSteel around  your thimble on and make the second mark.


  • Cover the section between the marks of the second eye with heat shrink as before.


  • You should have 5 pieces of heat shrink on hand.  First is one long piece that’s a close fit to the original rope diameter and approximately the finished length of your line.  Sometimes this long piece is made up of more than one section to enable you to slide the heat shrink around to finish the splice on the second end and get complete heat shrink coverage of the entire piece.  In addition to the small diameter long piece(s), you should have a medium diameter piece that transitions and covers the splice tapers and overlaps the small diameter piece by at least a foot.  Third is a large diameter piece that covers the base of the thimble and overlaps the medium piece by a few inches.  Slide all the heat shrink onto the line.  You may need to figure out some way to fish the AmSteel down the long length(s) of the small diameter heat shrink.  I’ve even resorted to running a string down through the heat shrink and using that to pull the tapered end of AmSteel.





  • After all the heat shrink necessary to cover the entire line has been slipped over the AmSteel, scrunch the small diameter heat shrink far enough away from the second end to give you access to enough AmSteel for the second splice.  You will probably need to pin the heat shrink back to do the splice, but make sure not to damage the heat shrink.




  • The second eye will be the standard Brummel Lock because you can’t slide the first eye with the thimble through the second end.  Make sure to build the eye the exact right size to roll onto the thimble.  Too loose and the thimble won’t be captured, too tight and you won’t be able to get the thimble into the eye.

NOTE:  Do not perform the bury part of the splice.  If the finished eye is not the right size, you’ll be able to more easily redo the splice.  Make sure you can roll the eye tightly over the thimble before burying the taper.  Also, the Brummel lock is also considerably more difficult to do with the heat shrink over the eye.  Make sure you dramatically enlarge the inverted part of the splice to wrestle the eye through.  Be careful not to damage the heat shrink during the splicing process.





  • Now, roll your spliced eye onto the thimble.  It should be relatively difficult for a proper fit.  Place the pointy end of the thimble into the crotch of the splice, then roll one side of the eye into the channel on the thimble.  You should be able to just stretch and roll the eye over the end of the thimble so that it pops into place.  Laying the assembly flat onto the work surface and massaging the roll into place with the heel of your palm sometimes helps.



  • Perform the taper and bury part of the splice once you’re happy with the fit of the eye over the thimble.


  • Lock stitch the buried taper.


  • Load up the assembly to take out the stretch from the factory by using a block and tackle system or a winch mounted on the bench or a come-along.  Let sit overnight.




  • The next day, slide the medium and large heat shrink out of the way so you can get to the center of the small heat shrink.  While the line is still loaded, starting from the center of the assembly, use a heat gun on the heat shrink and work your way to either end, but stop before you heat the medium heat shrink.  Slide the medium and large heat shrink out of the way so you can heat up the ends of the small heat shrink near the buried tapers.  NOTE:  You should be able to see the weave of the AmSteel through the heat shrink but do not melt the heat shrink.



  • Once the small diameter heat shrink is completely shrunk, slide the medium sized heat shrink up over the tapered bury and butt it up against the thimble.  Heat shrink that into place.  It should cover the small heat shrink by several inches.


  • Once the medium heat shrink is in place, slide the large diameter heat shrink up over the base of the thimble and shrink it.  It should cover the medium sized heat shrink enough for a good bond.



  • OPTIONAL:  Some people use the “cone” of large diameter heat shrink on the inside of the thimble as a form to pour a small amount of 5 minute epoxy into.  This nominally keeps water out of the splice and supports the thimble when the line is loaded.


NOTE:  When taking the load off the assembled line and transporting it out to the boat, do not bend or coil the line any more than absolutely necessary.  This will relax the fibers and cause the line to draw back up, undoing the effect of loading it up overnight and possibly making it more difficult to install.

Congratulations!  You’re done.  Now you’re ready to install it onto the boat.  Remember that since you accounted for the stretch, it might be a tight fit.  Please feel free to post comments and/or questions.

Captain Chris Larsen

Installing a New Custom Boat Lift Canopy


Boat lift canopies are used to protect boats from natural destructive forces such as the wind, rain and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Many captains with a wide variety of boat shapes and sizes wish to extend the life of their vessel. Custom boat lift canopies are available by CoverTuff and cover the following boat lifts: Shore Station, Lakeshore, Pier Pleasure, Daka, Newman, Porta Lift, Floe, Feighner, Midlander, Shoremaster and Hewitt.

Both CoverTuff canopies come with installation instructions and mounting hardware to secure the item using a bungee system.

Older canopy covers often use a spring loaded pin that locks the tubular sections of a canopy into place at a selected position.

Newer canopies provide for secure installation by using bungee cords that attach to the product’s framework. Some models use several individual bungee cords, while others use a single continuous cord that ties to the canopy’s frame.

Boaters can order custom boat lift canopies that fit their exact measurements and specifications. Many are composed of threads that are resistant to UV rays, and included welded, double needle seams to improve leak resistance.

Visit CoverTuff Custom Boat Lift Canopy Covers to aid in measuring and fabric selection with your custom boat lift cover.

Amp Up with a Marine High Output Alternator


alternatorHave you recently added to your boat’s electronics inventory or have you installed a mega-watt stereo system and lights on your boat?  Have you added to your vessel’s battery bank and now finding that your batteries are not getting charged fully, or that they take an extremely long time to achieve a full charge?  If so, consider the best approach to upgrading your electrical system-increase your electrical production! The alternators supplied with most small marine engines – whether gas or diesel – are usually 35 to 60 amp automotive alternators.  Late model marine engines could have 70 to 80 amp automotive alternators.  A heavy duty marine high output alternator produces more power at lower rpm, instead of high output at high rpm- freeway speeds for an automobile.

BALMAR produces a series of high output marine alternators.  The most popular for small marine gas and diesel engines is the BALMAR 6-series alternator, which is available in outputs of 70, 100, 120 and 150 amps.  If your engine is equipped with a single 3/8″ wide alternator belt you will be restricted to a maximum of 70 amps.  A 1/2” belt will work for up to a 100 amp alternator.  If your engine is equipped with dual v-belts or a single flat belt, you could use the 120 or 150 amp 6-series alternator.  Even if your marine engine is equipped with a 55 amp alternator, which is a commonly used size, the 70 amp version of the 6-series will produce far more power even though it is rated at only slightly more than your current alternator because it is producing higher output at lower engine revolutions.

The 6-series alternator is available in a variety of mounting styles to fit most marine gas or two to four cylinder marine diesel engines. The BALMAR 6-series alternators have a long history of providing reliable power and are found on sailing and power vessels around the world.  The compact size of this alternator often is smaller than the lower output alternator it replaces. This alternator has a built-in voltage regulator, but if your boat has multiple batteries or battery banks, a BALMAR external voltage regulator must be used for maximum charging efficiency. This also gives the benefit of redundancy, if one regulator fails, a flip of a switch can enable the other regulator.

BALMAR produces marine high output alternators from 60 to 310 amp outputs.  The lighter duty 6 and 7 series are built for marine diesels such as Yanmar 2, 3 and 4 cylinder engines and gasoline marine engines.  The heavy duty 94 and 95 series alternators are for engines such as the popular Cummins 6BT5.9L.  The extreme duty 97 and 98 series, with output up to 310 amps, are for very high output marine applications.

There are BALMAR alternator and regulator kits available, with different kits suitable for a variety of engine makes and models. The kits are available with either BALMAR’s top of the line Max Charge MC-614, or the BALMAR high performance ARS-5 regulator. The kits also include temperature sensors for both the alternator and battery, which help the regulator determine the appropriate steps in the charge cycle, and assures that the batteries are charged quickly and safely. The BALMAR 6-series alternator and a BALMAR external regulator is the best, easy to install addition to maximize your vessel’s electrical power needs.

Installing Dock Edge and Post Bumpers


Aside from fenders, a variety of products are available for purchase that will protect boats from the hard corners or sided of docks. Dock edges are sometimes preferable to fenders because they can permanently be kept in place and offer an alternative for protecting one’s vessel. Options include wave dock guards, dock corner edging and both single and double tube bumpers.


Removable Post Bumpers

A really handy product on the market is a post bumper that you can keep on your boat so that when you cruise into new ports and you do not need to worry about scuffing up your boat. These Removable Post Bumpers come equipped with polyester webbing and a heavy-duty Derlin buckle system which allows for a quick, easy and secure installation. Simply wrap the webbing around the piling, snap the buckle and pull tight. When you’re ready to depart, simply unbuckle and stow.

Fixed Dock and Post Bumpers



Taylor Made Products / Perimeter Industries dock and post bumpers are made of a polyester cloth that will not scuff your boat. There are two methods to install these bumpers. The “fold over” method hides the fasteners so that there is no worry that the boat can become scuffed by the fasteners. It also ensures that people do not trip on the fasteners when they are walking on the dock. The other method is the “top of dock”. This method provides greater downward tear strength. It also provides for greater protection for top and corner of dock for greatly sloped boat hulls. See the full installation instructions.

Choices and Considerations for Shower and Sump Pumps


A fully-stocked modern 36-40 foot powerboat can contain more than a dozen pumps that carry out an array of tasks. Sump pumps are commonly used to move shower, sink or sump water from the utility to storage tanks in the vessel. The water will be pumped into a gray water waste tank, which can be emptied out at the dock, using another pump.

These utility pumps typically come with a built-in pressure valve that shuts down the pressurizing system when the pump reaches full pressure. Most marine pumps that move these slurry liquids are diaphragm pumps. These products contain an internal chamber with an entrance and exit, and a membrane that expands when the chamber draws in water.

The 50880 Series Jabsco sink, shower and bilge pump, is a quiet-running pump that boasts a flow rate of over four gallons per minute. It is available in either 12 or 24 DC volts and is fully resistant to corrosion.

Jabsco’s diaphragm pumps can be used to pump sump water at a flow rate of 3-5 gallons per minute, and can often be used for deck washing as well. Additionally, the unique design of this product allows for it to run dry for extended periods without damage.

Freshwater Marine Pumps: Par Max

The original Peters and Russell Pumps – PAR, by Jabsco (now a division of XYLEM)

The original PAR (Peters and Russell) belt driven diaphragm water pumps by Jabsco are the grandfather of the electric boating pumps. 80% of all boats made today will have a PAR or Jabsco pump of one kind or another on-board the vessel.

The most common use for a pump on-board a vessel is to move fresh water from a tank to the fixture or from a tank or bilge to a thruhull.

This classic belt drive Jabsco “PAR” freshwater, shower and grey water pump utilizes the original Peters and Russell (Inc., Springfield, Ohio) design that has dependably served the marine industry for nearly 50 years! In many cases parts are still available and these ‘chugging’ diaphragm pumps just keep working and working. The biggest advantages of these pumps is their ability to digest some large materials and limited dry running.

The modern Jabsco PAR-Max pump series takes a different, if not more compact approach to pumping freshwater. The PAR-Max pumps are numbered 1-4 and will serve a variety of needs.

The PAR-Max Plus is the next generation of water pumps.

The high pressure capability of the new Jabsco PAR-Max Plus Series water pressure pumps, available in 4.0, 5.0, and 6.0 GPM models, provides exceptional flow and consistent water pressure to easily handle the demand of multiple outlets. All PAR-Max Plus models include soft rubber mounts and quick connect fittings for ease of installation. The patented PAR-Max Plus co-injected molded diaphragm and larger heavier duty motor brushes significantly extend pump life up to 50% longer than existing Jabsco PAR-Max Series diaphragm pumps.

The PAR-Max Plus series is self-priming up to 10ft (3m) and can run dry without damage. It’s manufactured from corrosion resistant materials, capable of handling the harshest marine environments. Available in both 12 or 24 volt DC versions, the PAR-Max Plus series water pressure pumps are certified to EN ISO 8846 Marine (Ignition Protection).

Older generations Par-Max pumps:

The PAR-Max Series of pumps feature pressure switches as well as being conveniently sized for your application; PAR-Max 1 will service 1 water fitting, PAR-Max 4 will service 4 water fittings. The PAR-Max pumps can be used for freshwater, water transfer, wash-down. These pumps can be run dry. Rebuild service kits are available.

Jabsco also maufactures Rule Bilge Pumps and Flojet Freshwater Pumps.

Choosing a Regulatory, Ski or Personal Water Craft Marker Buoy

Sur-Mark White Can Regulatory Marker Buoy

Sur-Mark White Can Regulatory Marker Buoy

When selecting a type of regulatory buoys, certain requirements must be met to comply with the regulations set by the authorities who govern local waterways. Many regulatory buoys, such as those manufactured by Taylor Made, are filled with polyurethane foam and have concrete weight to retain a balance between weight and buoyancy that keeps them stable, upright and floating correctly on the surface of the water.

Regulatory buoys may have a strobe on top for night operation. Labels to indicate a boating hazard or an action that is required from the boater may be attached around the buoy. Most states require regulatory buoys to be visible 39” above the surface of the water; Taylor Made meets these requirements.

Marker buoys are typically used to temporarily indicate a course, boundary or hazard. When it comes to purchasing marker buoys, boaters have the choice of either hard or air inflation buoys in a variety of colors. Taylor Made’s personal water craft buoys have a variety of uses. Aside from functioning as marker buoys, the can also be used as pick-up buoys or fenders for a jet ski. These products are made using a double color system to ensure that they will stay bright and fluorescent for years to come.

Taylor Made’s water ski marker buoys are constructed from PVC, so they are both lightweight and durable. Each of these buoys contains an inflation valve to control air pressure and a built-in anchor line loop. These inflatable items are also ideal for marking a slalom course, in accordance with the specifications set by the American Water Ski Association.

Performance Metals Anodes Perform for Your Boat

Performance Metals manufactures Anodes for Sterndrives, Shaft Drives, Hulls, Water Heaters and Heat Exchangers.

What makes Perfomance Metals more than just another Anode?

The material the Sacrificial Anode is made from– Navalloy

  • Zinc is the most common sacrificial material.
  • Performance Metals developed Navalloy (aluminum alloy) as an anode.
  • Navalloy is specially formulated to provide maximum protection and longer life and meets military specification MIL-A-24779.
  • Navalloy includes 5% zinc and a trace of Indium, which prevents the build up of an oxide layer when stored out of the water.
  • Navalloy alloy anodes provides more protection and last longer than zinc anodes.
  • It is the only anode that is safe for all applications, in freshwater, brackish or saltwater.
  • The anode reactivates after exposure to air, unlike zinc.
  • It is environmentally friendly.

A simple way to monitor when to replace the AnodeRed Spot

  • Take the guess work out of when to change your anode.
  • Patented wear indicator is a plastic indicator that is embedded in the anode.
  • Visible when the anode has worn to half it’s original size.
  • Available for most applications.

Navalloy should not be confused with other Alloy Zincs.

Magnesium Anodes are entirely different than the Performance Metals Navalloy Aluminum Alloy Anode. Magnesium is the most active metal on the Galvanic scale; it can be used in freshwater, but care must exercised. Magnesium can over-protect aluminum hulls or out-drives in salt or brackish water or even polluted freshwater, causing paint to be lifted with resulting corrosion. Even a few hours immersion in anything other than clean freshwater can cause surface corrosion damage.

Do’s and Don’ts when using Anodes


  • Ensure that a good electrical contact is made between the anode and the metal that you are protecting.
  • Use new stainless steel fasteners with anodes. Performance Metals supplies SS install hardware.
  • Protect trim tabs.
  • Use an anode that fits your application and offers adequate protection.
  • Inspect anodes regularly, change them when they are 50% worn.


  • Do not pain anodes or the surface you are attaching an anode to.
  • Never mix anode types; Navalloy anodes will try to protect zinc anodes!
  • Never use zinc anodes on aluminum out-drives.
  • Do not use Magnesium anodes on anything other than on out-drives used in freshwater.

Dock Ladders – International Dock Ladders

Many boaters and waterfront homes enjoy their own private dock, seawall or raft. Dock ladders offer an increased level of safety by allowing someone who is in the water to get back up onto the dock. For the recreational user, an aluminum dock ladder can allow a user to get from a kayak, dinghy or small boat up onto a dock or pier. Swimmers can get out of the water at a floating dock or raft. Individual requirements and use will determine the choice of ladder style.

Dock / pier / raft ladders can be either fixed, lifting or swinging. Fixed dock ladders cannot be removed or raised out of the water. Lifting and swinging dock ladders are made to be removed from the water in a moments notice. All types of the International Dock Products ladders can be fitted with a quick release bracket for seasonal removal and storage of the entire ladder. The final choice in aluminum dock ladder construction is the width of the rungs; they come in 2″ wide (a bit hard on feet, the original size) and 4″ wide (much more gentle on feet). Beyond the choice of the ladder, it’s longevity is determined by the construction and materials used.

International Dock Products uses the most advanced machinery available to produce a dock ladder that is high quality and built to last. To maintain a quality product from the time it arrives, the aluminum is stored as pipe separation with inside storage. When manufacturing the marine dock ladders, the cut, cleaned and prepared parts are superbly welded for a long service lifetime. Currently the robotic Motoman (the same robots used to build cars in Detroit and for 230,000 operations) are welding the aluminum tubing and steps to the highest level with precise, identical welds. International Dock Products dock ladders are made in the USA of marine grade T5-6063 aluminum which is suitable for salt, brackish and fresh water applications. Stainless steel ladders must be used in applications with chlorinated water – never use an aluminum ladder.

The two most popular dock ladders are the straight / fixed and the lifting marine ladder. Dock and seawall ladders can be built up to 16-17 step ladders, however 8′ and longer get standoffs for seawall. The single most popular product is the 5 step lift with 4″ treads which is perfect for most rafts and docks.

Although specializing in aluminum dock ladders, International Dock Products ladders have found use for farm lofts, barns, homes and more. When we enquired recently with International Dock Products, they told us that one of the more unusual uses of their products were when an interior designer in Michigan ordered 2 10′ long ladders, powder coated to two specific colors for children’s bedroom lofts.

No matter what type of dock, pier, seawall or raft you have, there is an International Dock Products dock ladders that will work for you. Check out our complete dock ladder selection:

  • Straight Fixed Dock Ladders – for applications where it is fine to leave the dock ladder in the water.
  • Standard Lifting Dock Ladders – similar to the straight ladder except the bottom portion that is in the water can be lifted straight out.
  • Straight Swinging Dock Ladder – for applications where you have to get the entire ladder up out of the water and to clear the edge of the dock. This ladder flips back straight up in the air and allows the dock edge next to it to be uncluttered.
  • Straight Fixed Finger Pier Ladder – similar to the straight fixed ladder, but without the top hoops. This ladders upper portion terminates in vertical capped pipe.
  • Lifting Finger Pier Ladder – similar to the lifting dock ladder, but without the top hoops. This ladders upper portion terminates in vertical capped pipe.

Go2marine can special order a dock ladder for your use. Call us: 1-800-998-9508

Control Cables for OMC, Johnson / Evinrude and Mercury Outboards

CC179 Control Cables – Replaces CC635 & 3600

When replacing a cable steering system, you can typically find the cable part number and length roughly two feet from the helm connection, imprinted into the cable’s jacket. A variety of control cables are available that meet the specifications of your vessel and engine system.

Teleflex’s direct replacement marine-grade, corrosion-resistant cables model CC179 can replace any CC635, 3600 Series and any original Mercury control cables, CC205 Series, replaces OMC Johnson / Evinrude 636 & 479 Series. The replacement model cable contains a splined core for optimal smoothness and quick response.

Model CC179 control cables can be used on marine engine with Mercury controls, except for 1993 40 horsepower models and lower. This fits Mariner, Mercury & Mercruiser, 1965 to current and fits Force engines from 1993 to present.

CC205 Control Cable – Replaces 636, 479 & Morse D302029

The control cables model CC205 Series, also manufactured by Teleflex and are used as replacements on OMC, Johnson and Evinrude steering systems that have been made since 1979. The product is also applicable to replace Morse # D302029 (OS) cables.

When measuring the length for replacement control cables, if you can’t locate or read the number imprinted on the original cable’s jacket, you can calculate the appropriate length my measuring the plastic jacket only and adding 18 inches.

1 2 3 4