June 2008 Newsletter

What’s in this issue

This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at AudioSeaStories.net. It is read by Michael and Patty Facius. We recommend a broadband Internet connection to download, since it is a large file.

You can also Download a PDF version.

Want to look up a previous newsletter? We've added an on-line index of all the Good Old Boat newsletters.

Ten years and counting!
Happy birthday Good Old Boat!

Who'd have thought that the good old crew at Good Old Boat would have anything left to say after 60 issues and 10 years at the tiller? But here we are with a big celebration issue, #61, in the works. We hope you like the July issue with its behind-the-scenes look at who we are and how we operate (always with our readers uppermost in our minds). To all of our subscribers — new and old — a heartfelt thanks for being part of our ongoing evolution!

Subscribe for the next 10

Here's a way to celebrate our first decade: subscribe for the second one. It may sound nuts, but we have quite a few 10-year subscribers and it makes sense financially. A 10-year subscription is $300 (the same as you'd pay if you bought 7½ years, one year at a time). In fact, because it's our birthday, send us $300 and we'll add 11 years to your subscription. That 11th year is our thanks to you for having confidence in our future. And consider this: we won't bug you with those pesky resubscription reminders for more than a decade. This offer (that we just made up as we were writing these words) is good through the end of July 2008. It's our party, and we'll celebrate the way we want to!

The Good Old Boat Galley Book

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like your boat's galley. Beginning with our first issue, we recognized that it takes skill and a sense of humor to produce meals in a cooking space smaller than most shoreside bathrooms. No oven? No refrigeration? No ice? No problem!

From the beginning, we've been running articles about life without a cooler, baking bread on a stovetop, and pressure cooking. These articles and many more have been collected into a useful volume on a lightweight CD, the Good Old Boat Galley Book. The volume is further enhanced by a bonus collection of tips, tricks, and recipes from Corinne Kanter's ever-popular K.I.S.S. Cookbook.

Additional topics covered by articles in PDF format on the CD are: drying foods, canning meat, what to do when the salad is gone, harvesting the bounty of the sea (fish and shellfish), making your own yogurt, growing sprouts, how to raise herbs aboard, preserving cheeses on extended voyages, simple bread recipes for small ovens, one-pot meals, solar cooking, conserving water, provisioning, storing and preserving the food you catch or collect, stove fuel alternatives, and the bare necessities if your mini-galley is in an even smaller trailerable boat!

Even if your boat's galley is a well-equipped and modern miracle, this collection of articles may come in handy if you're planning to cruise, since it emphasizes the coping skills important for circumnavigators and long-distance cruisers. It's $19.95 and available http://www.goodoldboat.com/books_&_gear/collections.php.

What else is new?

As part of our new website redesign (you have been to http://www.goodoldboat.com to look around, haven't you?) we have a couple of new gee-whiz computer options for those who like to do things online. You can now post your own classified ad at http://www.goodoldboat.com/reader_services/classified_ad_submission.php. And for all of you who've wondered about your subscription status (usually right after you've thrown away that label sheet that came with the last issue), you can now check your subscription status anytime you'd like at http://www.goodoldboat.com/subscription_services/subscription_status.php.

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What’s coming in July?

For the love of sailboats

  • John Guzzwell's Dolly
  • S2 8.6 review
  • Ericson Cruising 31

Speaking seriously

  • Bronze and Brass 101
  • A glance astern
  • Evolution of sailboat design
  • Scrap projects

Just for fun

  • Remembering Gwendoline
  • The evolution of a magazine
  • Meet the magicians
  • Bookends excerpts
  • The little red boat
  • Make-and-mend days
  • Humble beginnings

What’s more

  • What makes my old boat good?
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In the news

Circumnavigating in 10-foot cruisers

Two boat designers from opposite sides of the globe have designed very different 10-foot cruisers for the Around In Ten race. Although very different in their approach, both boats are designed to be built by amateurs intent on ocean transits.

Britain's Paul Fisher is completing his design of the Micro 10, marrying a full-length keel with a single-sail Delta Rig. The boat also uses water as ballast. This clever idea facilitates longer times at sea; as the fresh-water ballast is consumed, it is replaced with sea water.

New Zealander John Welsford's design, the Gimli, carries a sloop rig with a high-tech canting keel. She is designed to be built from composite materials and sleeps two.

More information on these designs is available at http://www.aroundinten.com/designers.htm.

Win new stainless-steel tools

To celebrate the launch of a new line of stainless-steel tools, Wera Tools is holding monthly drawings featuring its new products. The first prize is Wera's stainless-steel Bit-Check bit set (retail value $58). The second prize is the company's Kraftform stainless-steel screwdriver set (retail value $58). A new contest begins every month until the end of 2008. Contestants can enter every month at http://www.stainlessscrewdrivers.com.

Nantucket marine museum to reopen

Celebrating rescues and heroism at sea, the Nantucket Shipwreck & Life-saving Museum will reopen on July 1 following an extensive renovation. Drawing on its collection of more than 5,000 objects — including period surfboats, beach carts, vintage photographs, and more — the museum will feature new exhibits and family-friendly programs.

'Considered a major hub along what was then a modern-day sea highway similar to I-95, Nantucket's shipping lanes once boasted more than 1,200 boats per day — all navigating without the advantages of today's technology,' says author Nathaniel Philbrick, founding director of the Egan Maritime Institute, which spearheaded fundraising for the museum. 'Treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to more than 700 shipwrecks in the surrounding waters, causing the area to be dubbed the 'graveyard of the Atlantic.' '

The museum is located at 158 Polpis Road, 3.5 miles from Nantucket Town. For more information, call 508-228-2505 (before July 1), 508-228-1885 (after July 1), or visit online at http://www.nantucketshipwreck.org.

Shaw & Tenney celebrates 150 years

Shaw & Tenney, the oldest manufacturer of oars and paddles in the U.S. and the third oldest U.S. manufacturer of marine products, turns 150 this year. Started in 1858 as a water-powered manufacturer on the Stillwater River in Orono, Maine, the company has moved twice within the same town and changed owners only three times.

In addition to the manufacture of traditionally handcrafted solid wooden oars, paddles, and other related items, owner Steve Holt has introduced wooden masts, spars, flagpoles, and specialty paddles.

Steve credits the company's longevity to its employees: 'We're a manufacturer, not a production company. Making these products takes a lot of hand-eye coordination — the key is wood, but the craftsmen need to know how to respond to wood,' he says.

The entire Shaw & Tenney product line is on display online at http://www.shawandtenney.com.

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Multiple dates
Multiple locations

Looking for just the right prep and practice to fulfill your dreams of blue-water cruising and ocean voyaging? Womanship's 2008 Calendar of experience-stepped Passagemaking Courses may be your answer.

The choice of Womanship's Passagemaking Around the Florida Keys Coastal/Through the Night/Offshore is an ideal fit for cruising sailors with overall good skills, including practical experience in manual coastal piloting. Scheduled April to November, these courses provides prep and practice in advanced coastal, through-the-night and offshore blue-water voyaging.

For more information and a full course calendar, go to http://www.womanship.com or call 410-267-6661 from Annapolis, or 1-800-342-9295 from everywhere else. Or send an email.

Summer Sailstice

June 21-22, 2008
Multiple locations

Since 2001, sailors from around the world have come together on the summer solstice to create a global celebration of sailing called Summer Sailstice. This year's event will be celebrated on the weekend of June 21-22 by over 10,000 sailors worldwide. Founded as a way to unite the diverse and dispersed community of sailors, Summer Sailstice is now used by numerous sailing clubs, classes and organizations as a way to launch the summer sailing season and connect with others locally and globally.

Summer Sailstice is structured so all sailors can participate, regardless of what or where they sail. Sailors register on the Summer Sailstice website http://www.summersailstice.com to tell others about their weekend sailing plans, find and organize events in their local areas, and become eligible to win one of over 300 sailing industry prizes.

30th Anniversary Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists

Multiple dates
Multiple locations

The 30th Anniversary Exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists presents exciting and varied art from more than 100 of the best marine artists working today. The exhibit features work in many mediums including oil, watercolor, pastels, scratchboard, pencil, sculpture and scrimshaw.

May 16-July 6, 2008
Chase Center on the Riverfront; Wilmington, Del.

July 25-Sept. 22, 2008
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museums; St. Michaels, Md.

Nov. 13, 2008-Feb. 22, 2009
Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, N.J.

March-May 2009
Spartanburg Art Museum; Spartanburg, S.C.

June-September 2009
New Bedford Art Museum; New Bedford, Mass.

A 107-page full-color catalog of the exhibition will be available at each of the venues for $19.95 or can be ordered from the ASMA website at http://www.americansocietyofmarineartists.com.

Master Mariners Annual Wooden Boat Show

July 13, 2008
Tiburon, Calif.

The Master Mariners Annual Wooden Boat Show will be on July 13 at the Corinthian Yacht Club. Please visit the website, http://www.mastermariners.org, for a great video from last year and more details about the upcoming events.

This year, the Lake Tahoe Concours d'Elegance features 'Boats of the Twenties' as its marque class. Examples of these boats will be on display for 2½ days, starting on Thursday, August 7, with the VIP Preview Day. VIP ticket holders will be treated to fine hors d'oeuvres, libations, and a leisurely stroll on the docks for an up-close look at the boats.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation at 530-581-4700 or purchase online at http://www.laketahoeconcours.com.

Thunderbird 50th birthday celebration

August 1-3, 2008
Gig Harbor, Wash.

The launching of Thunderbird #1 will be celebrated in its home waters of Gig Harbor 50 years after its 1958 launch. Designed by Ben Seaborn for homebuilders, these plywood 26-footers have become legendary among sailors with an estimated 1,200 built worldwide. The birthday gathering will include opening festivities, boating activities, a banquet, a Thunderbird exhibit and much more. For more information, contact Laureen Lund at 253-853-3554 or email or check the website, http://www.tbird50years.com.

Ontario Yachts Rendezvous

August 15-17, 2008
Telegraph Harbour Marina
Thetis Island, B.C.

A fun gathering of Ontario yachts (sail and power) at which we visit, spin yarns and enjoy meals. Email Carolyn Daley for details.

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What have we done for you lately?

As long as we were celebrating our 10th anniversary, we thought we'd ask our readers to tell us why they continue to subscribe by asking them this question: What have we done for you lately? We'll print some of those responses here. We weren't overwhelmed with responses. (But we don't think it's because we haven't given readers some pretty good value for their subscription checks; we hope it's just that the question wasn't inspiring.)

If the letters below inspire you to respond, we'd still like to hear what golden nuggets you've gained as a reader of Good Old Boat.

At the same time we asked readers what makes their boats good old boats from their perspectives. We were bombarded with responses to this question! This tells you where the real loyalty is: the magazine or my boat? … my boat or the magazine? … hmmm …

A few of those responses will appear in the July issue of the magazine and others will appear in these pages in future newsletters. The deadline for those letters was in mid-April. By special request of the editor, please don't send more.

How-to help and accompanying confidence

After seeing the article, 'Hard Dodger, Easy Decision,' and with the promise of help from a friend who really knew what he was doing, we built our own hard dodger that I think is the cat's meow! Since then, I've gained the confidence to do other projects and often look to Good Old Boat for information on equipment and supplies. I've always loved our Westerly Tiger (25-footer, single keel) but I'm prouder than ever with the updates and improvements I've managed to do myself. Good Old Boat has really reinforced that.
Jim Spence

Epoxy measuring tip

Having just bought a used Sweet 16 sailboat, I was glad to see the Simple Solutions article about measuring epoxies in the January 2008 issue. As I repair, refurbish, and upgrade parts of the boat, I am using epoxies for the first time in more than 45 years, having fiberglassed my first sailboat way back when boats were made of wood and men were made of iron! It's nice to see some items that now make a small job much easier, simpler, and more accurate. Things have changed in the chemistry and boating departments since I was 15 years old!

Thanks for an appropriate magazine too! It's one that I peruse many times over until the next issue comes.
Paul Slowick

A book review

Thanks very much for your review in the February 2008 newsletter of Skywatchers 08: A Sky-guide Calendar. Last week, after downloading the newsletter's audio version for the first time, we 'had a listen' as we drove to the local mall here on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay, Ontario. In that newsletter, Good Old Boat sought money-saving tips and asked how the magazine had rewarded us for subscribing.

Well, here's one. As soon as we arrived at the mall, what did we spot but a kiosk offering dozens of 2008 calendars ' all at 75 percent off. We scored the Skywatchers 08 Calendar for $4.25 Cdn and can't wait to put it to use on our Grampian 23 this summer.

Thanks for the timely review, the audio newsletter, and most especially, Good Old Boat magazine.
Pam and Don Hall

Don Casey's deck-wash system

Having been a devoted follower of Good Old Boat since the original publication in 1998, it would be hard to define a single tip that was used in the transformation of Panache, my 1984 Sea Sprite 30, into the vessel she is today. It would be correct to state that there are many, including some of the unique advertisers that cater to the Good Old Boat audience. The ideas and sources that were used from Good Old Boat in our restoration could not be identified in 100 words or less but one of my favorites would be the 'deck-wash system' that was written about in the March 2005 issue.
Richard Charette

Found in an advertisement

The best tip I have found in Good Old Boat was in a sample issue shown to me by a great neighbor. An ad for the Creative Marine Skimmer, a traditional gaff-rigged sharpie, caught my eye. We found a used Skimmer in Wisconsin, sold our 19-footer, and then continued to enjoy one of life's great pleasures — sailing — thanks to Good Old Boat.
Bob and Dee Johnston

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Book reviews

The book reviews from this newsletter have been posted online.

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Looking for

Michigan Steel Boat

I'm looking for information on a 14-foot knock-down (nesting) rowboat built by the Michigan Steel Boat Company. It comes apart in two sections. All I know is the company went out of business in 1920. The boat is galvanized steel with wooden ribs.
Luke Martin

Winch handle dilemma

I love your magazine! I'm the proud new owner of an old Ericson 29. I've been told that the Lewmar winches on my 1971 have the 'old' smaller hole for winch handles. (I'm told they went from 5/8 inch to 3/4 inch in 1972.) Lewmar says they have no handles to fit the winches. Where would I find aftermarket handles?
Dan Petrin

Roller-furler information

I am not sure where to look for information on an old boat! We bought a 1966 Cal 28 and the question is about the roller furler on it. It has 'Stern Sailing System' engraved/written on it. Any ideas where we should look for info?
Debra Pearson

Unidentified burgees

A few years ago, Hurricane Isabel almost wiped out the Quantico Yacht Club, a small club dating back to 1935. We managed to re-establish ourselves. However, as part of the rebuilding we have a few unmarked burgees that we cannot identify.

Please visit our website http://www.QuanticoYC.org to see the story of our efforts to rebuild. While everything slowly works out, I am really stuck trying to ID four burgees we recovered from the muck.
Robert Lang
Fleet Captain QYC

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Mail Buoy

Life's little lessons

I went to my boat today to get a number of chores done in preparation for launch next week. After stowing the gear and sails that have been living in my basement over the winter, I turned my attention to the engine. I have a checklist of tasks to perform to get the engine ready. One is to take off the raw-water pump, open it up, and inspect and/or replace the impeller. I always replace the gasket when opening the pump. The six screws holding the pump cover came off easily and, having had to replace one or two lost over the years, I'm now very careful to place all of them in a plastic cup. The pump cover was stuck to the pump housing so I slid the blade of my knife between the cover and the housing to gently pry it up and off the old gasket.

The cover came off and promptly did a one-and-a-half gainer onto, I thought, the towel I always keep under the engine. I reached around under the engine. No pump cover. I got a flashlight and looked all the way up to the packing gland and then around the sides of the motor mounts. No cover. It's tough to lose something in plain sight. This is not like dropping something overboard. And then I noticed a tiny little space where the cabin sole ends at the forward edge of the engine compartment. On my boat, this space is about 1/1000th of a millimeter wider than the thickness of the pump cover. Impossible as it seems, it somehow found its way down below the sole through that damn little crack. I don't think I could have pushed it down there if I wanted to do so on purpose! What to do?

I began unscrewing the million or so screws that hold the sole down. I doubt that any of these screws had been removed since my Hunter 28.5 was born 22 years ago. One would not budge so I had to get my drill (that I luckily brought with me) and drill it out. A few others took all my strength with a ratchet wrench and screw bit to remove. It took about four hours to get the sole out, reclaim the pump cover, and put the boat back together. This should have been a 15-minute job.

I put some duct tape over that offending crack. This is never going to happen again. If you have such a space on your boats, I advise you to do the same. We all keep learning, even when we don't want to.
Warren Milberg

Warning: Defective GPS

I recently bought a Garmin GPS 72, one of many being featured in sales all over the country right now. It turned out to be defective: a few minutes after start-up the system crashes. The screen suddenly goes blank except for a blue line running from top to bottom. After that, nothing happens when you press any button.

The crash happens when a WAAS satellite makes contact with the unit. The Department of Defense made some changes to the WAAS satellites about six months ago. Meanwhile, Garmin and its dealers all over the country are selling these defective units — knowing they will fail.

The answer, Garmin's tech support will tell you, is to disable the WAAS option. Well, that's too late for some poor sucker trying to navigate through the rocks in a fog. And once the system has crashed, you can't fire it up again, let alone disable WAAS.

Garmin offers to let you download a free correction on its website but you have to pay for the PC-GPS connector cable.

I am appalled at the attitude of a company for whom I've always had respect, and its retailers. Not even West Marine, now aware of this fault, is pulling the GPS 72 off its shelves. Automobiles have been recalled for problems less dangerous than this, but the attitude seems to be: who gives a damn about a few amateur sailors? Other Garmin models may be affected too. The lower-end range of GPS 76s might have the same problem.

When you contact Garmin's tech support staff, they will tell you how to to reboot the unit by removing the batteries and then replacing them. Then you have to find your way through the menus to select 'Disable WAAS' before the unit manages to make contact with a WAAS satellite and crashes again. But as I said, they don't tell you this when you buy the unit and set out in the fog.

For further information, read this thread on the Cape Dory bulletin board.
John Vigor

The loss of Falcon

It's never pleasant to hear about the demise of an old friend, but after reading Gene Cramer's letter in the February 2008 Good Old Boat Newsletter, I was flooded with memories of the early years of Chinook #6.

As Gene noted, Falcon was the first production Chinook sold by the fledgling Yacht Constructors, Inc. My father, Tom Green, was one of the original five partners and became the company president. There had been no plan to go into business at first, but it seemed a shame not to put the new mold to good use when the boats were getting so much attention. Donald Laird put in his order for Chinook #6, the first to be delivered to a non-partner.

The enduring impression I have of Donald Laird was his dignified manner. He was a tall man with a full head of wavy white hair who always wore a congenial expression. My father's respect for him was apparent: while he called his other sailing friends by their first names, he always referred to Dr. Laird by his professional title.

Wade Cornwell, the only survivor of the original builders, remembered that Donald didn't buy anything he could make himself. He had a complete workshop at home where he created many of the boat's components. The skills of this talented craftsman extended to the boat's moorings. Yachting magazine ran an article in July 1961 about the boathouse Donald and his son built at Rose City Yacht Club. The roof of the boat well had openings for the mast, shrouds, and backstay. With the use of windlasses, two movable roof sections could be cranked aside to allow the boat to back out, then returned to their positions to protect it from the weather.

The family later extended the building to make room for a Cascade 42 — Donald also bought the first Cascade 42, making a payment up front to help pay for the mold — and both the boathouse and Nova, the Cascade 42, are still at RCYC. The Nova is sailed by his son, Robert (Bob).

Bob told me he learned to sail on Chinooks, crewing for my dad and for one of the other partners, Merle Starr. Bob was still in his teens when he and his dad started building Falcon in late summer 1957. He worked at the shop on weekends and during summer vacation until the boat was launched July 3, 1958. The Lairds used the boat to cruise the San Juan Islands and Canadian Gulf Islands and did some racing in the burgeoning Chinook class. 'Dad always wanted me to take the helm,' Bob commented.

Chinooks had a strong construction: there was no established standard of thickness when the partners adapted the Frederick Geiger design, so they fired bullets at it to test the strength. Over the years, however, it became apparent that they were not indestructible as news trickled back of a few that ended their days on a reef or jetty. Wade Cornwell heard that his own boat foundered somewhere in Alaska and they learned that another was lost in Hawaii, when the owner returned to buy a Cascade 42.

One near tragedy was reported in Yachting. Partner Henry Morton was leaving Grays Harbor, Washington, when he strayed out of the channel in thick fog. Chinook #4, Sylvia G., hit a submerged jetty and was dashed on the rocks several times before he could back away. Finding no apparent damage belowdecks, he sailed the 55 miles back to Astoria, Oregon. Once there, he found a leak so minor that he didn't even make plans to haul out.

In all, 70 Chinooks were built. Although most remained on the West Coast, others were shipped to ports in the Great Lakes, New England, Florida, and even Venezuela. Once the Cascade was well established, however, demand for the Chinook dropped off, and the mold was eventually destroyed.

For me, the beautiful lines of that graceful boat will always be a head-turner. I last heard that our family Chinook, #3, was undergoing a refit by a new owner in Victoria, B.C. Last summer, I discovered Merle Starr's #5 in Astoria with a 'for sale' sign on her pulpit.

During our stay in that marina, my husband had to remind me each time we passed that I needn't take on stewardship responsibilities for every orphaned Chinook. For the sake of our bank account (nearly empty after our refit of Dad's Cascade 36), perhaps it's best that I didn't hear about the fate of Falcon until after she was removed from Lake Michigan's rocky shoreline.
Marili Reilly
Marili's marvelous account of the history of the Cascade boats appeared in our January 2004 issue.

Stone Horse #1 refit

My favorite boat in the whole world is presently being refit by the original builder, Edey & Duff. Since I love the boat and know others do too, I thought you might advise readers of the love, care, and maintenance that goes into keeping a good old boat looking like it just came out of the box.
Bill McBrine
Bill's boat, Naomh Sean (St. Sean), was featured in Good Old Boat in January 2002.

Keeping the tradition alive

Boatbuilding used to be an economic mainstay on Long Island. I have purchased one of the remaining boatbuilding companies on Long Island and have chosen to remain on Long Island for historic reasons.
Barry Wagner
Barry writes that his company has the catboat molds from the original Menger Boatworks and Thompson Boatworks and is committed to maintaining their tradition. Wagner Boat Works http://www.wagnerboatworks.com opened for business last August. Contact Barry at 516-802-5500.

Big Boat Rule debate continues

'Sight a Ship and Run Away' … that, I believe, was the title of an article published in The Rudder magazine some three decades ago. The author of that article was a firm believer in the Big Boat Rule and therefore, like Jerry Powlas (January 2008), recommended to his readers that they ignore the COLREGs and simply do whatever it takes to avoid a close-quarters situation from developing as soon as they suspected one was a possibility.

I have no hesitation in recommending such a course of action as seamanlike, sensible and, in fact, not at all a contravention of the COLREGs or the Inland Rules, both of which only apply when a risk of collision exists. However, as a merchant mariner and an avid yachtsman for nearly four decades (there are very few such hybrids), I feel it may be necessary to add something to the discussion.

Honestly, I don't know of any ship's officer who is as callous or homicidal as to intentionally run down a small boat just because such a collision will cause no damage to his or her own vessel. I don't think these individuals exist, although I am sure that, on occasion, a ship failing to acknowledge the close proximity of a sailboat or a fisherman may raise doubts in the anxious mind of the watchman aboard the small vessel. The reason for such slight regard is, I suspect, more to do with improper lookout than with cold-blooded calculations.

Reduced manning and an almost complete reliance on electronic navigation and anti-collision systems — such as ECDIS, AIS, and RADAR — mean that looking out of the wheelhouse windows has become the exception, rather than the rule, on today's ships. The mate on watch (or pilot on the Great Lakes) may well be the only person on the bridge on a clear day. The mate must answer the phone, send and receive faxes and emails in a timely fashion, fill-in various forms and logs (many pertaining to safety … ) and carry out a variety of equipment checks — in addition to his traditional role of keeping a sharp lookout, plotting positions, and tracking his ship's progress. At night, the use of a computer terminal may deprive both mate/pilot and helmsman/wheelsman of night vision for many minutes, often several times during the watch.

Incidentally, over-reliance on AIS and RADAR overlays on the primary ECDIS screen may be an additional danger to small craft, as many of the younger officers seem to assume that if you are not showing as an AIS target, you don't exist anyway! In short, if you sight a ship and it behaves as if it hasn't seen you, it probably hasn't. It is then up to you to stay clear if you want to avoid a close encounter of the unpleasant kind.

As the article suggests, you can usually figure out where the ship is heading and it is safe to assume she'll maintain course and speed if you don't stay too long in her path. To be fair to my harassed colleagues, I might add that many pleasure craft and fishermen do not seem capable of holding a straight course and/or speed for very long and so avoiding them by a change of course may not be as straightforward as we would like anyway.

All this applies on the open sea/lake. When sailing on a river (or approaches to any harbor), small craft have NO right of way inside the channel (Rule 9, b and c), whether fishing, sailing, or motoring. Nor do sailing vessels or ferry boats, regardless of size. Here a ship will maintain a safe course and speed dictated by the channel, and all yachts and fishing skiffs must simply stay out of the way.

I could tell you about the 25-foot Catalina, motoring upstream on the St. Clair River at 4 knots right in the middle of the channel, forcing my ship and the approaching down-bounder to resort to some desperate maneuvering … or the sailboat that met my 1,000-footer right at the turn into the Harsens Island range last summer when I seriously thought it must be a port-to-port meeting. Eventually it was, but not by much … or the dozens of fishing skiffs that always seem to congregate across the entire channel just above Point aux Frennes in the St. Mary's River. When in such places, stay outside the channel if you can and on the edge of it if you can't. You may be rewarded with a friendly wave from the pilot, instead of many short blasts on the whistle!
Moshe Tzalel

Mysterious oil pressure drop

I have a 75 Irwin 28. It came with a Marvar engine (Norwegian) sold by the folks at Volvo, who don't support it in any way. It's a 15-hp, 2-cylinder gas engine that runs like a top (now that I've put solid-state ignition and an Atomic 4 carburetor on it). At starting, the oil pressure is 60 psi but after running 4 miles, it's down under 20, which worries me with no one to consult with.
Robert Suda

Jerry Powlas replies

I have never heard of or seen an engine like yours, so these comments are general in character. I'm assuming that if you could install electronic ignition or a carburetor from an Atomic 4 on your engine, these comments will be meaningful.

There are several orphaned engines in older sailboats. Parts are available for some. If parts are available, they may be priced so high that it is better to replace the engine. Or they may be common parts from other applications and be reasonable in cost. Determine what your situation is in this respect.

There are nice little diesels that will push your boat. They are costly and the installation is complicated, as is the case with hot rods and other engine swaps where the fit and connecting parts are not the same as for the previous engine. Beyond these problems, be sure to determine the final drive ratio of your existing arrangement. By this I mean how many turns of the engine crankshaft for one turn of the prop shaft. In the case of the Atomic 4 installations that were converted to diesel, many drives went from direct (1:1) in gasoline to 2:1, or even a little more, in diesel. This caused the need for larger props, which did not always fit the design of the hull and rudder. Little is said of this, but it is a serious matter.

Back to your engine. Odds are you either have a worn oil pump, defective oil-pressure relief valve (dirty or weak spring), seriously diluted oil, or worn bearings. Sadly, it is probably the bearings. Still, change the oil and see if the problem goes away for a while. If this happens, you are getting gasoline or water in the oil. Fuel tanks that are higher than engines can provide constant pressure on fuel even when the engine is not running. If the carburetor float valve sticks, the engine can flood with fuel. I think the Atomic 4 would drain the other way. If there is a hole in the mechanical fuel pump diaphragm, it is possible for the pump to weep fuel into the engine sump. Finally, a head-gasket leak can get water into the engine.

Look into all of these as possibilities if an oil change corrects the problem but it comes back.

Finally, we are left with worn bearings as the most probable cause. When bearings wear, they cause an engine to lose oil pressure. If the problem is not too severe, and you are not planning a circumnavigation and just want some more hours out of your valiant old engine, try using heavier oil. They make a 20-50 oil for motorcycles and even a 40-weight straight grade would be a good choice. If you can still buy STP Oil Treatment, it will thicken the oil. Heavier oil will make a worn-out engine go a little longer. I coaxed a '53 Studebaker Starlight Coupe into a third incarnation this way when I was in college.

If heavy oil does not do the trick, you are left with replacing the bearings or shimming them. If you can get new bearings, do that. If they cost like gold or are not available, get shim stock from the local auto store or obtain brass shim stock some other way. Get Plastigage at the auto store, too.

Gauge the clearance of your main and rod bearings and then shim them by putting shim stock between the bearings and the caps. Do not block any holes and do not try to make the engine too tight. If things are not too far gone, you should be able to shim about one third of the circle, which will fill most of the cap. If you are trying to add .006, 120 degrees of arc with .003 on top of 60 degrees of arc with another .003 is better than a thicker piece. No shims in the rods or top half of the mains in the block. Just shim the caps. Keep in mind that by the time you are resorting to shims, the crank is no longer round, but egg-shaped. Don't shim so much that the crank binds at some point in the revolution. I don't remember what kind of clearance I got on the Studebaker, but if you can't find better advice, I'd try for about .004 to .006 (all dimensions in inches).

A shimmed engine will not knock and rattle anymore, but it will still need fairly thick oil to hold pressure. If the engine is too far gone, shimming will probably not work. A clue here is inspection of the wearing surfaces of the crank and bearing inserts. If they are really chewed up and the crank is heavily grooved, the game is over.

We have a Beta Marine diesel in our boat. We like it.
Jerry Powlas
Technical editor

Useful and Interesting: No fluff

Seriously, I've subscribed to so many sailing mags and yours is the one that consistently gives useful and interesting articles. Most others are full of fluff.
Damon Fodge

Allied sailboats

Energetic Ed Verner organized a spring rendezvous in Tampa Bay, Florida, for Allied sailboats — Seabreezes, Seawinds, Seawind IIs, Luders, and Princesses. Ten boats and their crews joined in the flotilla for the weekend event. Photographer Jon Bolton captured the flotilla on film from the air on Saturday afternoon. It was appropriate that the aerial photography mission was flown in a beautiful red WACO biplane of yesteryear. The flotilla is shown from this lofty perspective. The other photo shows happy participants enjoying a boat-to-boat comparison at the dock. Ed Verner (he's the one under the flag) is the producer of Dancing With the Wind, a musical DVD about sailing his own Seawind II http://www.dancingwiththewind.net. Ed is also an occasional contributor to Good Old Boat.
The Editors

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Excerpts from The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating

by John Vigor

Diesel Maintenance

Changing oil and filters; replacing sacrificial zincs

Diesel engines require much less maintenance than gasoline engines. Exactly what you need to do, and how often depends on the kind of engine you have. Your owner's manual will tell you what's needed.

Nigel Calder, author of the definitive Marine Diesel Engines, stresses that two things are absolutely critical to the long life of a diesel engine: clean fuel and clean oil. 'If you keep the fuel uncontaminated and properly filtered, and you change the oil filter at the prescribed intervals (generally every 100 to 150 running hours), most diesels will run for years without giving trouble,' he says.

There are certain maintenance principles that are common to all diesels, of course. Because diesels depend so greatly on good clean fuel, you should check the primary and secondary filters frequently and replace them as necessary. Changing filters sometimes introduces air into the fuel lines, so you must also learn to bleed the fuel system — otherwise, the engine will never start, no matter how long you wind the starter.

Before you start the engine, check the oil level. If it's higher or lower than it should be, that could spell trouble. Change the oil at the engine-hour intervals given in your owner's manual, or at least once every six months if you don't use the engine much.

Don't forget to check the oil level in the transmission or gearbox at regular intervals. A low level could indicate a leaking seal with potential for ruining the transmission.

Another thing to check before you start the engine is that the seawater intake cock is open; it's easy to forget. If you start the engine with the seacock closed, the impeller in the water pump will probably melt from friction. Some owners keep the engine keys attached to the seacock handle so they can't forget to open it before starting the engine.

To be sure that cooling water is being pumped through, check the exhaust as soon as the engine starts to run. It's a good idea to change the impeller once a year, no matter how much use it sees.

Check your engine's sacrificial zinc regularly, and replace when it is half eaten away.

Once a month or so, take a set of wrenches and test every nut you can see for tightness, including engine mounts. Nuts have a habit of loosening under vibration. If necessary, add some thread-lock to prevent them from unwinding themselves.

Finally, inspect the engine all over as often as possible for oil and water leaks. Use your eyes to see them and your hands to feel them; then use your brain to cure them.

John Vigor's book, The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating, is available from the Good Old Bookshelf at $29.95; 352 pages (hardcover).

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