December 2009 Newsletter

What’s in this issue

This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at 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 printer-friendly version of this newsletter as a PDF file or as a Word document.

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

Yo Ho Ho and a Wassail* Bowl!

’Tis the season! That’s the reason the Good Old Boat editors came up with a holiday gift of free extra years of Good Old Boat back issues for all who buy subscriptions for themselves, friends, relatives, fellow sailors . . .

The whole deal is spelled out on the address sheet that will arrive just before Christmas with your next issue of Good Old Boat: the January/February 2010 issue. Watch for it. And remember: don’t throw away that sheet with the address label too quickly this time! The deal is not available online. It’s a mail-in offer. You have to have that address sheet (or copies of it will do).

To Sail Or Not to Sail?

While you’re thinking about the season and gifts, if subscriptions for your favorite sailors don’t ignite your imagination, perhaps a warm Good Old Boat fleece jacket or vest will do. Or a denim workshirt. Or a good old ball cap. Or one of our T-shirts (the big time winner of the T-shirt contest has emerged — we can’t keep the “To Sail or Not To Sail” shirts in stock!). Have you considered our audiobooks? We have produced 12 of them. There’s something for everyone. Don’t overlook our Galley Book CD (a compilation of good old articles printed in the past decade with advice about eating well in spite of cramped cooking spaces that lack such luxury items as ovens, refrigerators, large pantries, access to grocery stores . . .).

If you want to buy your special sailor an iPod to listen to our audiobooks and podcasts, or if you’re thinking about nautical equipment and gear, please look around our chandlery on the Amazon site: <>. Like those “affinity credit cards” that give a small percentage to your alma mater when you use yours to buy something, your purchase of anything at Amazon (if you enter through our portal) gives us a little percentage without costing you a dime. Amazon shells out a thank you to us for sending you to them. Hey! So far we’re making about $40 a month. We’re the first to admit that we’re not getting rich, but as they say: “It’s good work, if you can get it.” So please enter the Amazon store through our “secret passageway” and you’ll make a small contribution to your favorite magazine: <>.

*Did you notice the word “sail” in Wassail? Who knows? It could be a holiday tradition with a nautical origin.

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Who were those guitar players?

If you were at the Annapolis boat show in October, you probably noticed a guitar player in our booth. We were blessed on three days with the high spirits and fun tunes supplied by Tom Wells and Al McKegg. Tom, who is a Good Old Boat boat reviewer and the owner of the Tartan 37 featured in our January 2009 issue, is a talented musician who writes his own songs about sailing people, places, and experiences. We first learned about these skills when Tom wrote the “Good Old Boat Song” for the Good Old Boat Regatta (GOBR): <>. These days, he spends two days at each boat show singing and hanging out with his wife, Sandy. Then these two run off to the GOBR to crew with anyone who’ll have them.

Hear Tom Wells singing the Good Old Boat Song in MP3 format (1:51 minutes).

Tom Wells

Tom Wells

That’s how we discovered the talent of Al McKegg, one of our readers. Al volunteered to help out at the Good Old Boat booth one of the days that Tom performed. When he learned that Tom wouldn’t be able to make it the next two days (due to his commitment to the regatta), Al said he’d be happy to bring his guitar back the next day. He did that and played to the crowds . . . nautical music that he didn’t write and other songs that he did write. As it turns out, Al has quite a talent of his own. He’s produced a CD that we think is very good and is offering it for sale on his website, <>. Called “Al’s All-Nite Diner: Twelve Songs About Life after Dark,” it’s worth every penny of the $15 he’s charging. The songs are written by Al and performed with a talented group of musicians. You’ll be amazed at the richness and variety of tunes. As you can tell by now, we recommend it.

Hear Al McKegg singing "Bring the Lovin'" from the CD. (4:07 minutes)

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What’s coming in January?

For the love of sailboats

  • Tartan 28 review
  • Cal 25 refit

Speaking seriously

  • Taming the squealing beast (engine belt)
  • Travelers 101 and sail twist
  • Robert Perry on design
  • Sea hoods
  • Making your own instrument covers
  • Building a multihull
  • Light-air mains’l
  • Circumnavigator’s tips

Just for fun

  • Third time’s the charm (boat buying)
  • Smack race
  • Getting over it (the fear of sailing)

What’s more

  • Simple solution: Ferry gliding
  • Quick and Easy: Scuttlebutt, oil filter pliers, dockline IDs.
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In the news

Coast Guard Disaster Relief Fund

The Coast Guard Foundation has announced that it has reactivated its emergency Family Disaster Relief Fund in response to the October 26 Coast Guard plane crash off the California coast. The Coast Guard Foundation is asking for financial support to assist the families of the lost crew of CG-1705.

The Coast Guard Foundation also assists the families through the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Program, which provides scholarship support to the children of Coast Guard members who die in the line of service to our country. Those wishing to support the Family Disaster Relief Fund, the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund or the CG-1705 Memorial Service Fund may visit the Coast Guard Foundation's website at <>.

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It’s that time of the year again —
here is the mini-index to the 2009 issues

Feature boats

  • Tartan 37, Number 64, January 2009
  • Pacific Seacraft 25, Number 65, March 2009
  • Tartan 33, Number 68, September 2009
  • Ericson 31, Number 69, November 2009

Review boats

  • O’Day 28, Number 64, January 2009
  • Tartan 3000, Number 65, March 2009
  • Grampian 26, Number 65, March 2009
  • O’Day 26, Number 66, May 2009
  • Newport 28, Number 66, May 2009
  • Alberg 35, Number 67, July 2009
  • Ericson 32-III, Number 67, July 2009
  • Hinckley Bermuda 40, Number 68, September 2009
  • Com-Pac 19, Number 68, September 2009
  • Cal 2-27, Number 69, November 2009
  • Montego 20, Number 69, November 2009


  • Pearson Ariel, Number 64, January 2009
  • C&C 25, Number 67, July 2009
  • Becoming Elizabeth Ann, a Catalina 27, Number 69, November 2009

Sailing 101

  • Signaling for Help 101, Number 64, January 2009
  • Shorepower Adapters 101, Number 65, March 2009
  • Mooring Buoy Pickup 101, Number 66, May 2009
  • Ditch Bag 101, Number 67, July 2009
  • Lazy-Jacks 101, Number 68, September 2009
  • Wind Generators 101, Number 69, November 2009


  • Building sails for a Whitby 42, Number 67, July 2009
  • The Code Zero light-air sail, Number 67, July 2009


  • A history of the Universal Atomic 4, Number 64, January 2009
  • Cooling an overheating diesel, Number 68, September 2009


  • Electrical vapor detectors, Number 68, September 2009

Materials, design, and construction

  • Design language by Robert Perry, Number 68, September 2009
  • Best forefoot forward (bow designs) by Robert Perry, Number 69, November 2009

Maintenance and upgrades

  • Sanding fiberglass, Number 64, January 2009
  • Wrestling with rust, Number 64, January 2009
  • Rudder repair the hard way, Number 64, January 2009
  • A breath of fresh air, Number 64, January 2009
  • Mast step repair, Number 65, March 2009
  • Prop matching, Number 65, March 2009
  • Chainplate islands, Number 65, March 2009
  • Major deck repair, Number 65, March 2009
  • Clean your boat with essential oils, Number 65, March 2009
  • Check your through-hull holes, Number 65, March 2009
  • Remote-control searchlight, Number 65, March 2009
  • Creating stowage, Number 66, May 2009
  • Make a new hatch, Number 66, May 2009
  • A new cabin sole, Number 66, May 2009
  • Fresh traction on an old deck, Number 67, July 2009
  • Washing old rope, Number 67, July 2009
  • Wood-burning cabin heater, Number 68, September 2009
  • Polishing old hardware, Number 68, September 2009
  • Old tender renovation, Number 68, September 2009
  • Bring on the heat (bilge pumps), Number 69, November 2009
  • Adapting to flanged seacocks, Number 69, November 2009
  • Maintain your perimeter (lifelines), Number 69, November 2009
  • DIY boat cushions, Number 69, November 2009


  • Think big, buy small, Number 64, January 2009
  • Marine auctions buyer beware, Number 67, July 2009

Other tech

  • Google Earth afloat, Number 66, May 2009
  • Aftermath of a fire on board, Number 69, November 2009
  • To lose or not to lose your boat (insurance), Number 69, November 2009

How-to articles

  • Defensive sailing, Number 64, January 2009
  • Vessel documentation, Number 64, January 2009
  • Mast raising made easy, Number 65, March 2009
  • Make your own integral water tank, Number 65, March 2009
  • Lessons from a circumnavigator, Number 66, May 2009
  • Dealing with your sailing fear, Number 66, May 2009
  • Make your own compass binnacle, Number 67, July 2009
  • Cost-effective coastal cruising, Number 67, July 2009
  • Logic behind compass card markings, Number 67, July 2009
  • Kedge off using your anchors, Number 68, September 2009
  • Preparing to cruise, Number 69, November 2009

Simple solutions

  • Make you dinghy hold its own, Number 64, January 2009
  • Taming the jigsaw, Number 65, March 2009
  • Logging the weather, Number 66, May 2009
  • Simple hatch screens, precision drilling, Number 67, July 2009
  • See-through forward hatch, Number 68, September 2009
  • Table on demand, Number 69, November 2009

Quick and easy

  • Multi-purpose shelf, closer attachment, locking pole-holders, watertight first-aid kit, Number 64, January 2009
  • Chamois drip cloth, Number 65, March 2009
  • Adjustable hatch support, cable cuffs, Number 66, May 2009
  • Adjustable bracing, Number 67, July 2009
  • Bonding Plexiglas to wood, golf ball tarp tie-downs, cut fiberglass cloth straight, Number 68, September 2009

Cruising memories

  • Aurora — a photographer’s favorite, Number 64, January 2009
  • A craft of love, Number 64, January 2009
  • Grand sailing memories, Number 64, January 2009
  • Watersounds, Number 65, March 2009
  • Father and son pirates memory, Number 66, May 2009
  • Magnolia’s requiem, Number 66, May 2009
  • Six into 20 equals fun recurring, Number 67, July 2009
  • First-time skipper, Number 68, September 2009
  • When good old boats were young, Number 68, September 2009
  • Thanksgiving cruise, Number 69, November 2009
  • Sailing through school, Number 69, November 2009
  • A man, a boat, a squall, Number 69, November 2009

Lighter articles

  • A happy ship, Number 64, January 2009
  • Making Carly a sailor, Number 64, January 2009
  • Small is bountiful, Number 65, March 2009
  • Father and son shipmates, Number 66, May 2009
  • A triangle romance, Number 69, November 2009

Product launchings

  • Magma Magic grill cleaner, ActiveCaptain phone chartplotter, Forespar Flopper-Stopper, Number 65, March 2009
  • Doubloon lighting fixtures, ID flash drives, Progressive Epoxy depth gauge, Number 66, May 2009
  • CallPod, Number 69, November 2009

Mini-index listings can be found at:

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Looking for

Name this tool?

My great uncle was a boatbuilder in Sandusky, Ohio, in the ’20s and I have his tool chest. I can't identify one of the tools in the chest and was hoping that someone at Good Old Boat could help.
Michael Link
Boat Tool 2 Boat Tool 1 Boat Tool 3

What makes a good cruising boat?

Toward the end of my cruise this summer (3,100 miles, four months) I suddenly had an unbidden thought that my boat was not a good long-distance cruiser. Given the circumstances, that was a strange conclusion and I've tried to figure out what brought me to it.
My Owens Cutter is fairly typical of a modern cruiser. She's 40 feet, has the galley aft by the companionway, then settee berths port and starboard. Forward of that are a chest of drawers and hanging locker to starboard and an enclosed head to port. In the bow is a V-berth. She is fast, generally dry in heavy seas, easy to sail singlehanded, has lots of stowage, and a reliable engine. So why my conclusion?
I think the answer is the open floor plan. There is no place on the boat (other than the head space) where one can go to get away from anyone else on the boat. There is no door between the forward compartment and the main one (and it wouldn't be easy to install one), and if one wants to use the galley, disturbing anyone sleeping in the main cabin is inevitable. The same is true for those using the head and those in the forward cabin.
So it seems to me that the ideal cruiser has cabin separations that allow people to get away from each other when needed, and allows individuals to do things below with minimal disturbance to others.
I’d like to hear others’ thoughts about this.
Mark Fontaine
Send your response to Mark to the editors ( and we’ll publish this discussion in future newsletters.

Sumlog help needed

My 1961 Seafarer Polaris has a mechanical VDO Sumlog that I installed in the early 1970s. In the last month of this year's season, there was an alarming tap-tap-tap on the hull as I sailed. I finally assured myself that it was zebra mussels interfering with the Sumlog's impeller.

Well, almost. The impeller had pulled out of its mounting by about 2 inches, held there by its drive cable, letting it tap against the hull rhythmically. It still worked, like an old taffrail log streaming aft. It just didn't stream as far as those do.

I'm looking for help from anybody with knowledge about the old mechanical Sumlog. What kind of thrust bearing is supposed to hold the impeller in its underwater mounting bracket? It's notable that the impeller did not just keep going when it pulled loose from the mounting; it just pulled aft a couple inches. I'm wondering if the impeller is retained by some sort of collar on the rotating cable, a set-screw device or something. Maybe somebody knows how the impeller is held on its underwater bracket.
Chris Campbell

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Good Old Boat Regatta -- St. Petersburg, Fla.
January 22-23 (rain date: January 24), 2010
This is the opener for a brand-new fun race created for good old boats in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area with the support of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and the St. Petersburg Sailing Center. For more information, contact Steve Lang:

Your editors, Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas, will be there to launch the event. See you there!

Sailfest at the Baltimore Boat Show
January 21-24, 2010
Baltimore Convention Center
Baltimore, Md.

Strictly Sail Chicago
January 28-31, 2010
Navy Pier
Chicago, Ill.

Strictly Sail Miami
February 11-15, 2010
Sea Isle Marina (note new location)
Miami, Fla.

For more information, go to <>.

2010 Tampa Nautical Flea Market and Seafood
January 29-31, 2010
Florida State Fairgrounds
Tampa, Fla.

The Nautical Flea Market will offer overstocked new and used marine equipment, fishing rods, reels, lures and lines, antique collectibles and maps, teak furniture, nautical art, marine artifacts, and much more. For more information, go to <>.

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Book reviews

The following book reviews have been posted online.

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The $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $2,500 homemade davits

by Gary Miller

Readers of Good Old Boat know it’s chock full of inspirational how-to articles, money-saving tips, and great features while yet always remembering to whisper in your ear “proper seamanship.” It shouldn’t be surprising then that I started out on this davits project with the best of Good Old Boat-inspired intentions but then got hung by my own petard on the seamanship thing. More about that later.

The saga began with a first-rate article on how to make your own wooden davits (by Paul Ring, May 2008). In short, how to create beautifully crafted davits for a fraction of the typical $1,500- to $3,000-variety stainless kind. Aha! What a great idea. Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy! Simply go out and buy some wood, a couple of quarts of epoxy, and voila! C’est fait accompli. Viridian (our beloved 1969 Pearson 35 centerboarder) would have some stern dinghy storage matching her pedigree.

“Are you crazy?” counseled Gus, a good friend who is a professional cabinetmaker extraordinaire. “That’s a lot of work. Why not just bite the bullet and buy a pair of nice stainless-steel dinghy hangers? They’ll match your stern rail and everybody will be happy.”

“Yes, but they’ll cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. Why should I spend that kind of dinero when I can make my own, bathe in the satisfaction of completing a Good Old Boat project, and end up with cool-looking davits?” I replied.

Not to bore you with the details of the conversation, but suffice it to say he politely hung up at some point using the current teenage verbage: “What. Ever.”

I started pouring over catalogues, making a list to take to our local lumberyard, Condon’s Marine in White Plains, which stocks every imaginable piece of teak, mahogany, Okume plywood, and even straight 2 x 4s. And we haven’t even started with the respirator, body suit, grinder attachments, etc., that were needed to make these “bargain” davits. You get the picture.

Then I made the fatal mistake of hitting the Craigslist bookmark on my iMac. There, in 12-point Times New Roman, was the answer. “Davits For Sale,” the ad said, “Just Need Cleaning Up. $100.”

Now I don’t know about you but when I see an eBay or Craigslist answer to a problem, I grab it like a dog chomping on a rib-eye bone. That should usually cause me to pause, think about it, and then behave rationally but, alas, it’s never the case.

Sure enough, after filling the car with gas, paying the tolls and driving 150 miles, the $100 davits were mine. Good solid davits— strong. Edson-made, cast aluminum — $123 including gas, tolls, and mileage.

“Oh, that little crack . . .” the previous owner said, “you can get that brazed at a local shop for a couple of bucks.”

Crack? What crack? Oh, this little one here. “Yeah, no problem,” I agreed. “You’re right. Braze. Couple of bucks. No problem.”

You know the rest of the story — $175 for brazing welding, $200 for soda blasting, $200 for powder coating. Now we’re up to $698. Still less than a thou or two, right? So hit me again, croupier — new line and blocks, $200; stainless-steel shackles, $60; dinghy lifting straps, $120. I’m now into the project for $1,078. Hmmm. Maybe Gus was right.

But how can you put a price on satisfaction? Look at ’em! Homemade (sorta), hull-matching green. Beautiful. Ahhh. Life IS good. Well, they’re a bit low compared to the store-bought variety . . . but maybe I’ll raise them 6 inches with wood blocks during winter layup. I just have to remember not to stow the dink there during passages.

Now comes the seamanship thing: we’re coming out of Port Jeff, Long Island. Wind is forecast for 10 knots. But we get out and it’s blowing 20 with 4-foot seas. Ann (boatswain without whom life would truly not be the same) has fractured a rib in an accidental fall down the companionway (at anchor, of course) and I’m a little distracted. Blame it on something or somebody . . . yours truly forgot to lower the dink and tow it, which, under the conditions, was the only smart thing to do. Whoops.

I soon knew how long it takes for a quartering sea to fill a dinghy. I was later shocked to learn a cubic yard of seawater weighs1,000 pounds. More to the point, I learned what the sound of crunching, cracking stern fiberglass 3/8-inch decking sounds like. And costs.
$100, $200, $500, $1,000, $2,500. Add to that the cost of therapy to explain why a reasonably sane person would abandon good judgment and buy a “cheap” set of $100 davits.

Maybe I should write to Paul Ring, the fellow who made the wooden davits. Perhaps he’ll fabricate a set for Viridian.

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By Dean Raffaelli

Our boat, Carrie Rose, lives a solitary life on a mooring at the mouth of Montrose Harbor in Chicago for most of the summer. As we approached the middle of October and boats began their fall exodus, the harbormaster asked if I would like to move to a berth. A berth is a nice place to be when doing chores — winterizing engines and plumbing systems, and once-a-year maintenance such as changing oil, cleaning the bilge and replacing fuel filters. It is easier to walk rather than row up to the boat with all the tools and the gallons of fluid necessary to complete the work.

I understand that these are mundane concerns, but for a mechanically minded boatowner (read: geek) the process can be exciting. First we have to get the boat to the dock. Again, this may seem mundane. That is, unless you have ever tried to put an inherently unmaneuverable craft into a tight space. It is like asking a suburban teenager to parallel park on the corner of Belmont and Clark. We who spend our time on moorings find parking in a berth intimidating. On the best days, without wind and waves, things can go wrong. Many a relationship has ended at the end of a misapplied dockline.

Montrose Harbor, Chicago

And then, once we are firmly attached to the dock, there is another sobering realization: we have neighbors. Neighbors with kids and dogs and music systems playing the best of the 1970s, neighbors who can walk right up and talk to us. On a mooring, most conversations take place with one party treading water in his dinghy while the other sits comfortably on his boat. Such situations lend themselves to concise discussions of relevant subjects.

On a more positive note, there is unlimited electricity. This comes in handy when the temperature drops to 38 degrees. We have two space heaters and a down comforter, but these only just keep up with the seeping dank cold. A dock also makes a good transitional space to acclimatize before spending winter on the flat stable earth and, in that, it is to be blessed.

The last several years we have tied up to pier M in a departed (for the winter, that is) friend’s spot. It is conveniently located near the pump-out that sits at the far end, bordering the central channel of the harbor. This has not much to do with the story other than before leaving for the year, most boats have to pump their holding tanks dry and, as they are doing so, I get to watch them come and go.

The diversity of the boats and their owners make for hours of cheap entertainment. I sit and watch from my pilothouse, and sometimes I am compelled to reach out and help. There are all types of boaters, from competent to incompetent to downright pathetic. I have been all of these at various stages of my watery career, so let’s just say I can relate.

On this particular Sunday a competent singlehander in a beautiful sailboat pulled up. Never being one to miss perusing an interesting boat, I put my book down and went out to help. Once I secured his forward dockline I complimented him on his boat and mentioned that I have always wanted to sail on one. To this he responded that he was going to sail out to the Harrison-Dever Crib and I was welcome to join him.

My wife, Charlotte, gave me leave (a little too easily, I thought) and I grabbed gloves, stocking hat, sweater, and a heavier coat before I jumped aboard. He was already hoisting the mainsail and soon we powered through a fleet of Rhodes 19 sailboats out into a southwest wind. This wind, as southwest winds are apt to be, was gusty and strong. The lake was as blue as the sky and flat, with just the subtle ripples caused by 15- to 20-knot winds. Being so close to shore the wind did not have time to build waves commensurate to their strength. These ripples will gain height as they glide across 70 miles of open water, eventually pounding into the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan’s eastern shore.

After a quick tutorial, we let the genoa fly, sheeted it in, and heeled some 30 degrees to the first of many strong gusts. I sat quietly on the high side, letting my senses take in the transition between water and wind, and sail and fiberglass, and well … what else is there to say? This magnificently balanced implement for moving through water sprinted quickly and quietly to 6, 7, and then 8 knots. Wow!

A phone rang and I found myself, a little timidly at first, at the wheel. But you cannot be timid with such a thoroughbred. It pointed higher and higher into the wind, and now with her captain off the phone and back in the cockpit, a strong gust tilted us more and more. Sensing my trepidation he calmly instructed me to fall off some with the gust and then ride the acceleration higher into the breeze.

I would have to be a much better writer to describe the feel of my muscles as I held the wheel, the feel of the water rushing over the rudder, the sound of the windward rigging tightening to the forces acting on the sails, and the feel of how this translates into forward motion. I lack the vocabulary to put these sentiments into words.

We flew out into the lake with Chicago’s muscular skyline off our starboard bow, and as the wind settled, our tongues loosened and we talked of boats, planes, relationships and the fact that there are two types of people in the world — the ones who get it and the ones who don’t. On this day, we were of the former.

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Mail buoy

They’ve chosen their path

We read with pride your editors note, “For some, the path less chosen,” and found encouragement for our future plans. We are Ryan and Becky Smith (25 and 28 respectively). Last year we used all of our savings to buy, not a house in which to plant our roots, but a good old boat in which to chase our dreams.

Ryan & Becky Smith
Smith's Island Girl

Top: Ryan & Becky Smith
Bottom: Island Girl

Being at the age when our peers start taking on mortgages and starting families, we know the pressures on 20-somethings to start “settling down.” We see settling onto the water as a much better option.

We have been fixing up our 1970 Cheoy Lee Luders 36, Island Girl, for the past year and are currently installing new windows and our Cape Horn self-steering system. For some, the wait would be unbearable . . . and for us it sometimes is! But we keep our sights set on two to three years from now when we will have made all the necessary improvements to our boat and will have saved up a tidy kitty with which to sail off into the sunset.

Meeting other “youngsters” and sharing our plans with them is often weird; they cannot fathom what we’re choosing to do. What about college, a career, house, investments, and stability? We don’t see these things as stable, especially in today’s changing times. For us, a dream that will enhance our family’s future is worth more than any “percentage yield over 25 years.”

We are expecting the birth of our first child in June and are planning modifications to Island Girl in preparation. Our baby will grow up with the boat in his or her blood and a taste for salty air. We feel that this is a great start for a child and cannot wait for our adventures together to begin.

In our experience, the hardest part is deciding to embark on such a plan. Many people think we are crazy, irresponsible even, but all we can say to others is “go for it!” We have friends who went to college and are now on unemployment, friends who went to college for one thing but now have no idea what they want to do. We have focus, determination, and drive. With those strengths, one can achieve anything.

We love reading Good Old Boat and have gleaned many good ideas that we can put into practice on our boat. Keep up the good work and we will keep up our encouragement of other young people to consider the path less chosen.
Becky and Ryan Smith

CDI system works for furling the main

I have owned a CDI mainsail system for the last two seasons. I sail a Southern Cross 28 on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York. The CDI system allows one to set as much sail as desired, without having to come into the wind. It allows a sailor to get under way and singlehand much easier. Pull the outhaul and your main is set. The system can be owner-installed and maintained. I would highly recommend this system to a cruising sailor who wants a cost-effective, bullet-proof mainsail reefing/furling system.
David Lynn

Struck by lightning

I read your comments about lightning in the April 2005 Good Old Boat Newsletter (Mail buoy, and have a question.

Sea water (salt water) is more conductive that fresh water. Given that fact, do you think that will make a difference to bonding strategy for freshwater sailboats?

My mast is currently isolated and I have no intention of bonding it or any of my gear, but the question has been raised by other members of my club.

I know of none who have been struck by lightning in our marina of more than 500 sailboats and I think it is due to the fact that we are on fresh water. I believe this reduces our likelihood of being hit (but not eliminate it).

When you were struck, was it on fresh water or sea water? Thanks for your comments and opinion.
Marc Poulin

Bonding strategy

I am no expert, but will tell you the decisions I made.

Sea water is more conductive. I make no allowance for that. I could be wrong. When we were hit by lightning our boat was on Lake Superior (fresh water).

My mast was connected to my keel with several heavy-gauge wires. Most of the strike current went down the aluminum mast through these wires and out the keel, an external lead piece bolted to a keel sump or keel root. Other than a carbon char on the mast where the VHF co-ax cable vaporized, there was no damage to the mast, wires connecting it to the keel, or the keel itself. Hoping to reinforce success, I increased the conductivity of this path by adding a large number of 10-gauge wires between the mast and keel. Keep these wires as straight as possible. Even a quarter turn causes inductive reactance that increases impedance (think of this as resistance) to the flow. I could not use a single very heavy wire for assembly reasons. The large wire would be better. How large? Larger is better. Double-aught would not be wrong, but sadly, #6 or #8 is more practical. I think I used six or eight #10s because I needed some flexing to be able to assemble the thing.

I don’t believe in bonding; I think it is a mistake. But I do very much believe in a very low-resistance connection to the keel from the mast. If the mast is wood or the keel is encapsulated, the advantage may be limited. For a wooden mast, you may want to install a copper wire to carry the current. I don’t think an encapsulated keel will offer much resistance to a lightning strike, but it will probably leak after the strike. For such a boat, the low-resistance connection may still be the best that can be done.

I don’t think anything can be done to prevent damage to the hull skin or the electronics. The voltage and currents of a lightning strike do not obey the rules for lower voltage and currents that many of us are taught. Don’t think in terms of conductors and insulators. Think of everything as a conductor, some more resistant than others. Think of current flowing in all paths at once, but by giving the current in the mast a low-resistance path to the keel, you reduce but do not eliminate current flow in other paths. On our boat, current flowed along dry fiberglass surfaces with no conventional “conductors” as we think of them. These currents exited the rudder and through-hulls. I don’t think these parts could be better insulated than they were. I don’t understand how bonding would have helped this. It would only have lowered the resistance of the path and so caused it to carry more current.
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor

A three-part nesting dinghy [PHOTO]

After checking the deck for available space on my 28-footer, I figured we could allot a 40 x 45-inch space for carrying a hard dinghy aboard. As this is small for a conventional dinghy, we moved on to the world of nesting dinghies. The requirements were: fit in a 40 x 45-inch space; measure at least 10 feet long when assembled; be quick and easy to assemble; be able to be rowed and sailed; and fit within our meager budget.

It soon became apparent that a normal two-part nesting dinghy would not fit the space and assemble to more than 7 feet in length. (Note: For a nice article on building a two-part dinghy, go to: <
> (Umm, sorry about the long address! –Eds.). A three-part dinghy seemed to be the answer. We had heard rumors of them but had seen nothing in writing, so it was off to the drawing board.

Nesting Dink

We liked the look of the pram-type dinghy (flat bow and stern). It seemed that bilge chines would cause it to row and sail better and make it drier and less tippy, although that would require a little more work to build.

I drew rough plans of the side and top views on graph paper, then cut them out and laid them atop each other, trimming here and there until it seemed that, when built, the dinghy sections would fit inside themselves, or nest. I’ve included photos of the project.

The boat rows great, even in rough water, and is fun in the wake of other boats — nice and dry. She sails well and is not afraid of a brisk wind. Assembly and disassembly take less than five minutes, and she never fails to get attention and favorable comments. Best of all, she fits in her allotted space.
Jon Webb

Engine impellers

I’m on a passage right now, delivering a 44-foot Swan Mk II from northern to southern California. En route we had an impeller fail, sending chunks into the exchanger and causing overheating problems. Certain that the owner has his engine professionally maintained, it’s a pity that he didn’t read the excellent article (September 2009) by Vern Hobbs on diesel cooling and follow Vern’s simple steps himself.

Good Old Boat provides the rest of us (without Swans) the knowledge necessary to prevent failures like this from happening. The subscription cost for the entire year was paid for many times over with the money saved by such preventive advice and how-to’s in Vern’s article alone. Well done! Keep these sorts of articles coming.
Ted Biggs

Further thoughts on impeller bits

I’ve been running my own little test for about a decade. I had a raw-water pump impeller failure right after we bought Mystic. The engine in her at that time was raw-water cooled, so had no heat exchanger. That engine swallowed the bits of impeller with no complaint, but I knew the small tubes in a heat exchanger would likely be blocked by chunks of a failed impeller. When I installed our new Beta engine, which had a heat exchanger, I put a filter between the raw-water pump and the heat exchanger to catch bits of impeller if it ever failed.

So far, after about 10 years, I have not had an impeller fail. But, in the meantime, I’ve concluded that the filter I added has too fine a mesh, so it traps fine grit and slime and must be cleaned at intervals. If it had an element in it with larger holes, like the filter I have at the raw-water inlet, it would be perfect. For now, I just keep cleaning the added filter, but I have yet to need to clean the filter I have in the inlet side of the raw-water pump that’s designed for this kind of service.
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor

Wood-burning stoves

I am probably not the only one to bring up this point, but the sidebar on wood-burning stoves (September 2009) seems to suggest wood, charcoal, and coal for use as fuel. Only the fuel specified by the manufacturer of the stove should be used. Charcoal indeed has “more calories” than wood (actually a higher energy density) and the extra heat can burn through the bottom of a stove designed for wood. The exhaust air is hotter too — the fire is hotter, so that makes sense, and the extra heat could cause problems with the creosote built up in the exhaust line from previous wood fires. Proper fuels and clean exhaust stacks lower the stress levels, which, for me at least, is what sailing is all about.
Tom John

More on wood-burning stoves

I thought Phillip Reid's article about wood-burning stoves (September 2009) was a good article about installing and using the Dickinson Newport wood-burner. I have a couple points to make about Phillip’s installation and on wood selections to be used in this fireplace.

We have this fireplace installed in our 1983 Cape Dory 30, DeLaMer, and love it. I installed it in 1991 when we bought our boat, and use it whenever the conditions warrant — under sail as well at anchor — so we have many hundreds of hours of experience with the fireplace.

The installation of the flue in Phillip’s boat is a fire waiting to happen. The fireplace’s single-wall flue is in direct contact with the bulkhead plywood, when it should be 3 inches from the nearest combustible item. I left a mitten to dry on our flue damper (about 18 inches above the fireplace). It started to smolder 15 minutes after it was placed there. We now use a flue-mounted thermometer that helps us keep the flue temps below 500 degrees. The flue regularly stays at 300 to 350 degrees for efficient combustion.

We have used this fireplace while underway, motoring or sailing. We always sail with a two-person crew, so one of us stays close to the companionway to watch the fire temps. When we're motoring, an island of heat forms just outside the companionway that envelops the crew and keeps us warmer than we would be without the fireplace. Our dodger creates a baffle from the winds and allows the heat to accumulate. We also have a sailing “tent” with sides that we use to enclose the cockpit if it is cold enough, and this entire area will stay around 70 degrees while underway. This makes 40-degree sailing much better than it would be without the heat.

The efficiency of wood-burning in our cold locale (Lake Superior) is unbeatable. We use small pieces of driftwood that we gather while out walking the beaches (gives us another goal for the walk). This burns cleanly and quite hot and it’s fairly easily to light. Because it burns so hot, it does burn out quickly, however.

Another source of wood is tree bark from fallen trees. We heat with wood at home (going on 40 years now), so we have pieces of bark available. When broken into 6-inch pieces, they burn for 20 to 30 minutes and smell nice to boot.

Be very cautious about using kiln-dried wood (like 2 x 4 ends or furniture-shop remains). They will make a good fire-starter as they will light readily, but they burn extremely hot and will overheat your fireplace in a few minutes if used as the entire fuel load. Always switch to a slower burning type of fuel after starting with kiln-dried woods.

We even use charcoal in our fireplace. It burns longer on a single loading of the firebox, but it creates a lot more ash than wood, so I don't use it too much. Anthracite coal (hard coal) will not light without first getting charcoal going ahead of time to light it with. Storage of charcoal is perfectly safe from spontaneous combustion due to its lack of mass. However, anthracite coal will self-combust if wet and stored in the right conditions, because it is more dense than charcoal briquettes.

A note on starting this fireplace — do not use the front grate as an air source while starting. The idea is to get the air feeding the bottom of the fire, so open the ash-tray vent fully, even pull the ash tray out an inch to get the fire going from the bottom upward. Only open the front grate when you want a visual fireplace. Opening that big orifice short-circuits the little air control this fireplace has.

We also opted to use the taller Charlie Noble offered by Defender. It has a larger vertical presence.

Finally, a suggestion for Phillip — cut back your bulkhead where the flue passes through it by about 1.5 to 2 inches, then line the plywood edges with a sheet-metal heat deflector, using a 1/4-inch-thick ceramic or other fireproof object as a standoff insulator. Bend it all around the opening and then allow the confined heat to escape from the area, going upward. Also, watch the clearances where the flue goes through your deck. A good 2-inch clearance is needed here. I made a 5-inch hole for my vent passage, then covered the exterior gap with a large teak winch pad. The interior gap was hidden by the stainless-steel trim ring with cooling holes, mounted using fireproof washers between the metal and the fiberglass, also sold by Dickinson. What this buys you is a heat reflector at the ceiling, where it is hottest, and an air gap that allows accumulating heat to flow upward naturally. Lastly, I lined the interior of the deck space between the deck and the cabin ceiling with fiberglass insulation in rope form. This prevents the accumulation of heat within the deck/overhead space and the nasty smell of melting fiberglass.

You cannot beat this wood burner for heating a small area like your saloon. It’s inexpensive, user-friendly, and has no recurring costs associated with its use. It also seems to be built lightly but strongly enough to last 20 years.
Larry DeMers

More on Carbon Monoxide

I read with great interest Greg Nestor’s article on electronic vapor detectors in the September 2009 issue. It piqued my interest because — as a 34-year veteran in the fire service and coordinator of our county hazmat team — it is my job to know detection meters. Greg did an excellent job relaying the pertinent facts and workings behind the three types of detectors in his article. Detection meters, as related in Greg’s article can be lifesavers. In my own city, since a residential smoke detector ordinance was passed more than 20 years ago, we have not lost a single life to a structure fire where there was a working smoke detector installed.

While there are many differences between your boat and your house, once you bed down for the night your reliance on detection meters to keep you safe from dangerous gases is the same whether you are at home or tucked snugly into a quarter berth. I do feel, however, that it is necessary to provide some additional information on the hazards of carbon monoxide. Greg stated that your blood (hemoglobin) has an affinity for CO that is 200 times greater than oxygen. That is true, but CO also binds very tightly to your hemoglobin. In fact, it takes a half-life of 2 to 6.5 times as long to expel CO from your blood. Extreme exposures (life threatening) often require treatment in a hyperbaric chamber where oxygen is forced into the lungs under pressure to break the CO/hemoglobin bond.

There are several standards for CO exposure. The one stated in Greg’s article is the OSHA standard of 50ppm. Other national standards set CO limits at 35ppm to as low as 25ppm. These are for industrial/commercial workers, limiting their exposure to 8 hours per day, five days per week. A more appropriate level to follow is the residential occupancy limit set by each state. In Wisconsin, the limit for residential exposures is 9ppm. Any problem leading to an exposure to CO over 9ppm in a residence has to be resolved or we do not recommend occupancy. There are several reasons for this action. The first of these is obvious because of the sleeping arrangements. The second is because people of different ages (infants to elderly) may occupy the area. Finally, people with various medical conditions (in particular, cardiac conditions) will be more susceptible to the effects of CO than those found only in the workplace.

In a situation where hemoglobin is “bio-accumulative” with CO, it literally is absorbing more CO than it can expel, given the same exposure to fresh air. As Greg alluded, the consumer detectors you buy at the hardware store first start alarming at 70ppm. In the fire service we have meters that will detect down to 0. If you have a CO level of 70 ppm or greater, your CO detector will alarm to its presence and you can take the appropriate action. If, however, you have a CO level between 10 and 60 ppm in your cabin, your CO detector will not alarm and, if it does not have a digital display, you will not know if any CO is present, yet you are still exposed to elevated levels that, if they were to continue night after night (on an extended cruise), could actually “bio-accumulate” to an exposure level higher than the original exposure.

So how do you protect yourself from low-level exposure? If you suspect your vessel may be accumulating CO from any on-board source at a level that your CO detector is not picking up, call your local fire department; they should have the detection capability to determine if you have a safe residential occupancy level. Lacking that resource or until you can get your vessel checked, air it out often. CO is just slightly lighter than air and will vacate your cabin easily if you open hatches. Fans may be needed for under-cockpit full-berth areas that may trap CO. If your craft is susceptible to the accumulation of these types of dangerous gases, you absolutely need detection meters appropriate for your hazard. As we say in the fire service, “Detection is the key to protection.”
Mark Matthias

More golf, er, tennis balls

Great tip from Bill Van Allen about golf balls (September 2009). It reminded me of the time I had to put a tennis ball to similar use.

Desperately needing a deeper reef in the mainsail than what was built-in, I found a tennis ball on board. I wrapped the ball in the leech, formed a neck with a couple of constrictor knots and was able to use that as the new clew point. Removing a slide allowed me to use that grommet as the new tack point. Ever since, I always make sure I have a tennis ball in my “delivery kit.”
Brian Cleverly

Lake Perry and the Perry Yacht Club

Look no further than Lake Perry, Kansas, for proof that good sailing can be found in the heartland. The 11,150-acre lake is formed by the Perry Dam on the Delaware River, north of Interstate 70 between the cities of Topeka and Lawrence. The surrounding terrain is gently rolling hills and forests; winds are reliable most of the year and the lake has relatively few powerboats, making it a Midwest sailor’s ideal location.

The lake was built to control flooding by limiting flow to the Kansas River. The dam and lake were dedicated in August of 1970. In 1971 the Perry Yacht Club was formed and has grown to feature a 146-slip harbor complete with pump-out facilities and breakwaters. The grounds around the clubhouse include campfire rings to enhance the frequent social gatherings.

The Perry Yacht Club has a very active racing program that includes not only PHRF fleet racing but one-design racing and even youth sailing in Optimist Dinghys and Lasers. Members can find any type of sailing activity they prefer at the club, and they are like sailors everywhere, welcoming and friendly.

For more information about the Perry Yacht Club, visit their website at:
Tom Wells
Tom Wells discovered Lake Perry in Kansas and the flourishing yacht club there when he traveled there to do a boat review. No stranger to inland lakes, Tom’s current lake of choice is Mark Twain Lake in northeast Missouri. – Eds.

Some good stuff on my cruise

I thought I’d pass along a list of items I found very useful on my cruise this summer. I did the Down East Circle Route described in Cheryl Barr’s book, Down East Circle Route (A Complete Cruising Guide), journeying 3,100 miles over four months.

Cheryl Barr’s book is indispensable for anyone cruising the areas she covers (St. Lawrence, Gaspé, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia). She is accurate and has only a few minor errors, due probably to changes since she wrote the book (e.g., The Canadian Seaway locks now charge for each lock, while she said they only charged for one).

My Garmin 76C GPS was invaluable. It allowed me to plan my daily hops (mostly 50-nautical-mile trips), to get out of difficult anchorages that I had entered the day before, and to exactly retrace a route when necessary. It was reliable and trouble-free — definitely a keeper.

My Seahopper Nifty Fifty folding dinghy was a winner. I bought the 8-foot version from Steve Cherry, the builder, after reading Don Launer’s comments in his book, Lessons from my Good Old Boat. It is light (47 pounds); it stowed easily in my forward cabin, rowed well, and was better than an inflatable. (Note: for more on the Seahopper, see Geoffrey Toye’s article in November 2007 and glowing praise for his boat by Don Launer in May 2003. –Eds.)

Epoxy sticks made by West Marine, Star Brite, and possibly others. These are quick-drying, paste-mixture sticks that one cuts to the amount needed, then can be kneaded to mix the parts. The epoxy sets under water and will adhere to most anything. It stopped several leaks after I hit rocks in the St. Lawrence— a must-have emergency repair item.

My Origo 5100 heater warmed me on cold mornings with its alcohol flame. It can be stowed easily.

Gill Offshore (OS-5) foul-weather gear kept me dry every day for a month. Great stuff.

Two butane stoves form my galley. The butane cylinders were easy to get anywhere on my trip, including the remote parts of the Gaspe Peninsula. The stoves go by several different brand names, but are well worth the low price. I could get two to three days out of a fuel canister, cooking two meals a day.

The Maptech chart books, with the GPS waypoints they included, made route planning pretty easy.

My Fortress FX-23 anchor held in all kinds of bottom except heavy grass and weeds, where I used my CQR, which did better. The Fortress is an excellent, relatively lightweight, anchor.

The Waterway Guides are well worth the investment.

One item that didn’t work so well was my LED running lights from Hella. Both failed on the trip and had to be replaced. They were succeeded by incandescent lights from Perko. The folks at Hella told me the failure was due to a manufacturing error on the early lights (mine were three years old and had vents in the aft end of the housing that allowed moisture to get to the bulbs and create the failure). Hella was excellent about honoring their warranty and explaining the failure. They told me their new lights are made with a revised process.
Mark Fontaine

Small world after all

Canadian Great Lakes cruisers are a small community. It is not uncommon to see somebody's boat come through my little village (Erieau, Ontario, 45-plus miles from the next reasonably deep and sheltered North Shore port) or to hear of somebody who was named in your magazine. Three examples bear this out:

  • Michael Kilday's (September 2009) story about Mina L’Ecuyer and her Tartan 33 prompted a friend to say, “I know her!” He was a classmate years ago at a winter session sailboat class in London, Ontario. So I gave him a Good Old Boat subscription form in case he should choose to follow up.

  • The green Tayana 37, Saudades, overnighted this past summer on the way north. Nina Nakajima mentioned that is her boat in her article on making a dinghy tender (January 2009).

  • While on my usual summer cruise, I saw the Allegra 24 that was on the cover of the November 2006 issue tied up in Blind River.
Dave Toogood

Huge Perry fan

Bob Perry is a wonderful addition. I’m a huge fan. I sailed a Valiant 42 last Sunday . . . wow, what a ride!
Karl Westman

Our sterling prize

I think Good Old Boat has a sterling prize in Don Launer. It’s as if we have our own Chapman or Rousmaniere or Calder (without the attitude). His knowledge of all things nautical seems nearly encyclopedic and he writes about the most informative and helpful things. What a fabulous resource he is!
Frederick Corey

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Lead Lines

Finding the depth with simplicity and reliability

There is probably no older navigation instrument than the sounding line, or lead line. It’s simply a weight on the end of a thin line that measures the depth of the water. In ancient times, a stone would have sufficed for a weight. In modern times, the weight evolved into a lead cylinder weighing about 7 to 15 pounds (3 to 7 kg), with a hollow in the bottom that could be “armed” with tallow or grease to bring up a sample of the sea bottom.

Sounding with a lead was a skilled task in the days of sailing ships, and a good leadsman commanded much respect. An expert could get an accurate sounding with the “blue pigeon,” as the lead was called, up to 15 fathoms at a speed of 7 knots. If a ship were feeling her way into shallow waters in bad visibility, however, she would have to heave or slow down almost to a standstill while more comprehensive soundings were taken.

The line was marked with pieces of leather, linen, flannel, bunting, and cord at various intervals, so the leadsman could tell the depth by feel in the dark. The first 20 fathoms was divided into 9 “marks” at intervals varying between 1 and 3 fathoms; the 11 unmarked depths between them were known as “deeps.” Thus, at 2 fathoms, the call would be: “By the mark, twain.” At 11 fathoms, it would be: “Deep eleven.”

Despite the new technology of electronic sounders and fishfinders, it’s still a good idea to carry a 1/4-inch line of plaited Dacron about 15 or 20 fathoms long, just in case of a power failure or equipment trouble. The lead line is as reliable an instrument as you could ever wish for, and you don’t have to use a lead weight—a large shackle or a starter handle will suffice in an emergency.

If you plan to make regular use of a lead line, you might want to use the depth-marking system recommended by British sailors and authors Graham and Tew in A Manual for Small Yachts:

Fathoms Material

  • 1 — 1 piece of leather bootlace
  • 2 — 2 pieces of leather bootlace
  • 3 — red bunting
  • 4 — blue serge
  • 5 — line with 1 knot
  • 6 — tape
  • 8 — leather
  • 10 — line with 2 knots
  • 15 — line with 3 knots
  • 20 — 2 pieces of line

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

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How to contact us

You can find all of the details on how to contact us on our website.

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