October 2009 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.

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Pack your chute

Lifesling 1

These shots were made on Lake Superior in LATE JULY! Why is this man wearing his warmest Minnesota-tested winter parka?

Lifesling 2
Lifesling 3

by Karen Larson

Most years our 17-year-old Lifesling winters over aboard our boat under the winter tarp. Because we don’t give it a second thought at haulout time, it spends the winter as it does the summer — installed on the stern rail ready for instant deployment. (Hey! Even in the winter, you can’t be too careful, right?) But last winter I took it home for a thorough cleaning. It is a great place for spiders to hide and I thought the interior might need to be cleaned. (That was more true than I knew).

While the Lifesling is built with a small drain hole at the bottom, our Lifesling bag had held water rather well and had been busy developing a new sub-species in the Green Life Form genus, in addition to the many healthy spiders and hardy spider-egg sacs. I have a thing about spiders aboard, and it was time to do battle. I brought the whole thing home in a garbage bag and submerged it in a tub of water. Later, I unpacked the parts with great interest, scrubbed everything with bleach, and (with the help of our sturdy Sailrite sewing machine) replaced the bottom panel and that useless drain hole with a mesh material — a mesh with, perhaps, a weave too fine to admit spiders? (One could only hope.)

Months later everything was cleaned up and ready to go. All I had to do was reassemble the throwable horseshoe, the yards and yards of braided polypropylene line (think water-ski rope), the plastic insert, the bag, and the Sunbrella cover. Err, hmmm let’s see . . . What was where when I removed everything earlier?

Why didn’t I take notes at the time? Cold and rainy fall weather? Spiders crawling up my arm? Now that I have worked the details out, I’m reporting what I’ve learned for those who may someday do likewise. First, the basics: inside the Lifesling bag is a smaller bag to hold the rope. The outer section holds the horseshoe and the plastic insert to give the whole kit some shape.

After the initial problem of where to pack each of the parts, the real issue is how to get all that line back in the small inner bag so it will feed out quickly for the hapless crewmember in the water. I looked online for information about how to properly pack your Lifesling bag. As it turns out, there isn’t much out there from the manufacturer or suppliers. Fortunately, we later came across the original brochure in our onboard collection of boat equipment manuals. Here’s the salient statement about packing your chute: “Permanently secure end of 3/8-inch polypropylene tether to any strong point on board. Flake approximately 6 inches at a time into center section of storage bag. Start with the secured end. Do not coil tether under any conditions (it will tangle if coiled).”

So on a recent sail across Lake Superior, we tossed our Lifesling horseshoe overboard to see if the rope I had packed, using that suggestion, would deploy as hoped. Jerry was the first to give the horseshoe a toss. Then he coiled the rope using a method that made sense to him and we tossed the horseshoe again. That worked too. I stuffed the whole thing back in the bag another time thinking of anchor rode down a hawsepipe: a few feet at a time. That worked as well.

As a result of our tests, I believe the slippery yellow rope will deploy with few or no tangles almost any way you pack it, so long as it is able to run free. All that rope just barely fits in the internal sack intended for it. Stuff it in, working from the secured end so it will feed out as the horseshoe pulls it. With our boat moving along at 4.5 knots, the drag on the horseshoe was enough to make the rope feed properly without tangles or to free any would-be tangles before they became messy knots.

So do not despair if you must someday empty your Lifesling as a part of a man-overboard drill, a real man-overboard situation, or just to clean out the spiders. With just this much information, you can pack your chute and have it ready for instant deployment.

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What’s coming in November

For the love of sailboats

  • Feature boat: Ericson Cruising 31
  • Cal 2-27 review
  • Montego 20 review

Speaking seriously

  • Making your own boat cushions
  • Wind Generators 101
  • Robert Perry on design
  • Cruisers’ checklist
  • Lesson from a boat fire
  • Flanged seacocks
  • Bilge pump renewal

Just for fun

  • A classic yacht dream
  • Sailing or college?
  • Reflections on a first storm

What’s more

  • Simple solution: Temporary table
  • New products
  • A Thanksgiving sail
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In the news

Spread the word about sailing

The sailing pastime doesn’t get a lot of television airtime beyond Volvo and America’s Cup racing, with Olympic racing thrown in every four years for spice. Now, however, the world of cruising is being introduced to public television viewers with the help of long-time good old boater Tory Salvia, founder of The Sailing Channel.tv on New York public television station WLIW21.

The new series is called “Sailing Channel Theatre.” For sailors who are not in the WLIW broadcast area, anyone can view the half-hour episodes in their entirety online. The first of these programs is an introduction to Lin and Larry Pardey’s popular DVD, Cruising Has No Limits. If you haven’t seen the entire show produced by the Pardeys, this sample will make you want to see the rest. The second is another professional piece featuring a cruise of the west coast of Turkey by Paul and Sheryl Shard. These two videographers have produced a series of excellent cruising DVDs.

To date, a total of 10 half-hour videos have been produced. Along with other Distant Shores excerpts by the Shards, the remainder include excerpts from Luther Greene’s In the Wake of the Zaca, Ted Field and Mark Ritt’s Cast off for Catalina, Bob Steadman’s Cruising with Bettie, and Ed Verner’s Dancing With The Wind.

To watch any of these episodes, go to <http://www.thesailingchannel.tv/tvshow_html_email/index.html>.

Beyond online viewing, however, Tory Salvia is hoping to bring the concept of cruising to non-sailors by encouraging other public television stations to carry the Sailing Channel Theatre episodes for their audiences.

“I believe that getting these shows in front of a national PBS audience with its high-end education and financial demographics would be a tremendous benefit to the entire sailing industry. It would encourage newcomers to investigate sailing and provide sailing content to established salts,” Tory says.

The big picture is to prepare a 13-hour series of cruising programming for public television. To do this, Tory is seeking sponsors to fund the editing work for the remainder of the programs.

Tory asks you to take a look at the examples available at TheSailingChannel link above and, if you think these glimpses into our world can help show non-sailors what cruising means to the rest of us, please contact your local public television station to request them to bring the Sailing Channel Theatre series to an audience near you. To find contact information for your local public television station, go to <http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html>.

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Become a product reviewer

You’ve no doubt noticed that Good Old Boat occasionally runs a page of new products. Our intent is to find products we think our readers and fellow sailors would want to know about. Other sailing magazines also run pages with new products, but we want ours to be different since ours is the “magazine for the rest of us.”

It doesn’t make sense to reprint the new-product press releases we receive from manufacturers; we want to tell readers about new products we have actually used and found to be valuable. That’s why our Product Launchings pages appear in the magazine only when we have something worth mentioning.

Problem: being a very small company we have found the job of finding, testing, and reporting on new products to be a challenge.

Solution: we would like to share this job with our readers. Have you discovered a new product you think would be of interest to “the rest of us”?

New products must relate to the sailing experience, of course; we’re not looking for the latest greatest cell phone or toothpaste. And recommended products should be new within the last year. The reviews should be short, no more than 200 words, and include where to find the products and how much they cost. We’ll also require a good high-resolution photo of the product (taken with a digital 5-megapixel or better camera or a good quality print from a film camera).

Would you consider occasionally serving as a product tester? We may invite manufacturers to send us products to test, with the understanding that there will be no guarantees about the results of any review. We usually offer to return the products after we have tested them, but each situation is different. If you would like to serve as a product tester, we’ll ask for your permission by email before sending anything your way for testing on your boat.

You can decide if we publish your name as the recommender/reviewer or not. We will decide if we can publish your recommendation. As is true with much of the material we collect from readers, your only compensation will be the glory of seeing your name in print.

If you’d like to be on our list of potential product reviewers, send an email to Michael Facius.

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Just for fun!

Subscriber Peter Jacobs brought this YouTube video to our attention. It appears that, if we want to keep up, sailors have yet another skill to learn: kite aerial photography! Check it out here: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKGupz_9mGc&amp;feature=related>.

If you're as fascinated by this concept as we are, here's more about how to do it (brought to us by Eric Haberfellner and our sailing friends on the C&C list), <http://www.user.firstclass.com/~Eric/KAP>.

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United States Sailboat Show

October 8-12
Annapolis, Md.

Join Jerry, Karen, and others of the Good Old Boat gang in Annapolis in booth AB3. Now in its 40th year, the United States Sailboat Show attracts more than 50,000 boating enthusiasts from around the world to the waterfront of historic Annapolis, Maryland, which is also the home of the U.S. Naval Academy. Recognized worldwide as the premier sailing showcase, this is the place to buy, sell, or dream. Website: <http://www.usboat.com/us_sailboat_show.php>.

SSCA Melbourne Gam

November 13-15
Melbourne, Fla.

Longtime SSCA-member, circumnavigator, and author Beth Leonard, will be the keynote speaker at the 2009 Melbourne Gam of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, Inc. Beth is the author of The Voyager’s Handbook, Blue Horizons, and Following Seas, in addition to over 100 articles published in top sailing magazines. Beth and her husband, Evans Starzinger, have completed two circumnavigations and logged more than 110,000 nautical miles. For more information, contact Barbara Theisen at 954-771-5662 or email her at editor@ssca.org.

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Looking for

We have a Hi-Seas diesel heater in our 1982 Pearson 323 sailboat. Originally made by the Marine Heat Corp of Seattle, Washington (we got it in 1984), we can't find the company or a newer company or a parts supplier to get a new fuel control (part #100-C, serial number 2735). Can anyone help us locate a parts source? Or, perhaps we could contact someone who owns such a heater (it is pretty, large, and brass with some holes in it to see the flames as it drips — very classy). Any help would be appreciated. 
Gary and Bobbie Steinke, Great Lakes sailors

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Book reviews

The following book reviews are posted online.

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My boat — for sale???

by Eric Holohan

The pizza was little more than crusts, the movie a few minutes from starting, so I decided to have a quick trawl through the boats-for-sale section on www.wonderful-boats-and-yachts-and-all-kinds-of-boaty-stuff.com (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). I am normally not predisposed to a weepy outbreak at even the most heart-wrenching of chick flicks, and gooey-eyed kittens have virtually no effect, but what I found on that website stopped me cold.

An advertisement wore the photograph of a boat I know well — unmistakably my boat — my wonderful Colin Archer cutter was for sale.The photo was singularly disturbing, like a picture of an ex-girlfriend in an embrace with someone I had never met. Worse, she still sported the same paint I put on shortly before we parted ways — I could see the piece on the stern post I missed with the boot stripe.

The movie started but I couldn’t pull myself away from the numerous pics of my boat’s deck, hull, and interior. By far the worst and most obvious violation by these Philistines (aka: the new owners) was to have replaced the rig. Aluminum spars had replaced my beautiful spruce varnished ones and she looked pale, somewhat ill, without her deep tan sails. They had added a microwave oven —madness! — and another wind gen (the noisy type). They had added a television and, to prove my point, the photo of her underway showed the two headsails backed, so they couldn’t sail either. Ha!

I had moved a long way from my boat, so a broker handled the sale. This robbed me of the opportunity to vet any and all prospective buyers to be sure my boat was in good hands that would look after her and not do anything crazy with her. My god, was that an electric head?

Things had been added to her radar arch. There were new fancy fenders and lines and, looking at the specs, she now has three bilge pumps. On and on the list went.

We all know that a boat is not alive; it is simply a collection of marine bits and pieces glued together with some naval engineering and owned by poor pitiful souls who know no better than to waste their time working their hard-earned free time on a never-ending list of boat tasks.

I was in my denial stage.

It is more than evident that the long close-quarters relationship built up between owner and boat through countless hours of hands-on modifications and refinements distills down to a much more powerful emotion than can be swept away by something as simple as a financial transaction and an exchange of ownership papers. It’s something much deeper that that.

Maybe it was the late hour, or perhaps my recalling how difficult it was to discard or replace something on board in case I was making a big mistake — the hours of planning and revising before welding the mounting plate for the windvane self-steering gear onto the canoe stern, or making any final decision on any permanent change for that matter. But I began to look at some of the changes to my boat with a less jaundiced eye.

True, the ketch rig would make the individual sail areas more handleable. And I did remember trying to put in a reef in that big main while lowering the throat halyard on the gaff and wishing I had six hands and ten-foot-long arms. I also recall sitting in the cockpit shaking after such an incident, where I swore I would get rid of the gaff rig before it killed me — well, OK, I will give them the rig, but that’s it.

They didn’t change the color of the hull; she still looks as good as when I bought her with her blue stripe down her cream topsides and, after all, I didn’t change the color either. OK, I will give them that one too. On and on it went that night.

The truth that I found so hard to accept is that we do not own boats so much as they own us. We either get down and do the work ourselves or pay the boatyard our hard-earned cash to fix, upgrade, and beautify our muse. When we have got her to perfection we decide to buy a bigger boat or that we cannot keep pumping the time and money into her, and she moves on to an owner who can. So, for all intents and purposes, we are simply indentured custodians of our boats and, for the most part, happy to be such.

I doubt that the decision was made easily to change the rig, and it took a lot of work and thought to configure the sail plan and running rigging that would work on our boat. I wondered if they had twisted their arms almost out of their sockets to paint the steel plating under the sail-locker sole, and had they bloodied their knuckles while replacing the glow plugs on the venerable Perkins 4108? They had strived to better our boat for the last half a decade and they did have the very good taste to buy her in the first place — hmmmm.

I slowly looked at the things that initially ticked me off. The microwave would be good to use in port while connected to shorepower. I yielded this begrudgingly. And I could not speak much Spanish when I over-wintered aboard, so a TV was just an annoying source of noise and frustration. But maybe they had a better command of the local languages. Kudos. They had added extra batteries so maybe the additional wind gen was a good thing? And the fenders and lines looked like good quality and matched her well.

My feelings mellowed and I realized that although they did not do exactly what I would have done with her, they did nothing that was detrimental and, in some cases, I had to admit they improved her. They would have passed the vetting procedure.

I began to feel an empathy with my comrades in epoxy paint and veterans of the chipping hammer patrol, hunting rust spots as though they were life-threatening toxins. I had never met these good people. Now they, too, were to pass their boat on to a new owner. I hoped they would have the advantage of vetting the new caretaker and setting their minds at ease.

My final concession was to admit how difficult it was, especially in light air, to make that long keel change direction. I often came about by continually tightening the mainsheet and leaving the jib to back, pulling her head across, and I had the advantage of the self-tending staysail, which they did not. They could actually sail, these friends of mine.

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Mail buoy

Cost-effective coastal cruising

I read Beth Leonard’s article, “Cost-effective coastal cruising” (July 2009), while we were in a remote cove upcoast from Sitka, Alaska. We sat comfortably in our diesel-heater-warmed cabin while rain fell steadily. Beth’s marinized bus heater would have been a useless cold lump of metal on that day; useless again after a day of sailing with the engine barely warm after the anchor went down; and useless once more to take the morning chill from the boat.

I don’t believe these heaters cost much less than a flame-pot/drip heater so this approach doesn’t seem very cost-effective to me. Last year, summer never showed up north of Vancouver Island, and the most depressed coastal cruisers I met were those with no cabin heat.

Beth also recommends a kerosene lantern left on overnight. Alice and I did this one windless night and almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Sailors should keep in mind that non-vented fires below are a bad idea.

Concerning the need for radar, our chart plotter has driven the on-screen boat icon up “into the woods” four times so far this summer. As we only use it about once a week, its daily record is not good. However, our radar shows us what is really out there right now, including the thousands of other boats that don’t have an automatic identification system (AIS). Our radar cost $1,200 14 years ago.

Beth’s idea that fog disappears most afternoons isn’t accurate where I cruise. Sometimes it shows up in the afternoon. Sometimes it stays a week. We bought our radar for use in Puget Sound and up to the Desolation Sound area — Beth’s described northern cruising area — but didn’t take it to Alaska for a few years. Sure, we only use the radar 8 to 12 times a season, but I only use the outboard motor that much. The outboard helped us catch the coho and powered us into Ketchikan when the diesel quit.

Our 12-volt fridge unit cost us $600. It is the smallest Cold Machine from Adler Barbour and has a freezer the size of a collegiate dictionary — large enough for two meals of coho salmon. Our fridge box is just under 3 cubic feet. It does take lots of amperage that is sometimes a hassle to replace. However, we just had the last meal from a halibut I caught 14 days ago. Rock cod fillets are in the fridge now, as is some chicken, cube steak, and leftover taco meat. I think it’s worth the hassle. Block ice is very hard to find north of Vancouver Island. Cannery ice is a thing of the past. My spouse thinks the fridge is the best thing I ever put on the boat. That’s cost-effective enough for me.

I am not sure of the drift of Beth’s generator section, something about their very efficient boat with very low amperage draw, except when they are drawing lots of amps, and that’s when they fire up the generator. They may not hear it down below, but I imagine Hawks swimstep is a natural sounding board for the generator to beam its irksome noise at other boats in the anchorage. A small gas generator is possibly the most cost-effective way to keep the coastal boat household running. I just hope other sailors will be neighborly when they run theirs.
Steve Knutzen

Beth’s perspective on cost-effective cruising

The article was never meant to be prescriptive, but rather descriptive, of what we would do if fitting out a coastal boat on a very limited budget, based on our experience, cruising style, and cruising ground. We have learned that everyone does the cruising thing differently. Everyone has different priorities and different definitions of luxury versus necessity.

Fair enough that you prefer cruising with a diesel heater and radar in Alaska. In the article, I specified the northern limit of my cruising ground as the Pacific Northwest or Maine. I see that Google has quite a few definitions for “Pacific Northwest,” but I was thinking of Washington/Oregon and maybe as far north as Desolation Sound. In other articles I have advocated putting a good heater near the top of the list for areas north of Vancouver Island and Maine, not only for heat but to keep the boat, clothing, and people dry. That said, we cruised for a summer between Seattle and the Alaska border with a drip diesel heater aboard and never lit it. We used the bus heater, which cost about $200 from Hamilton Marine, <http://www.hamiltonmarine.com>, in Maine (versus $1,000 and up for a drip diesel heater) when we were under power, and the kerosene lantern at anchor. Climbing out of bed was a bit brisk, but by late morning the temperature was usually into the 60s and we were quite comfortable. As to the carbon monoxide risk from a kerosene lantern, Hawk is reasonably well ventilated and we never had a problem. Unvented kerosene heaters are a primary source of interior heat in Japan <http://www.kt70.com/~jamesjpn/articles/heating-homes-japan.html>. In the United States, various websites recommend leaving a window or door cracked when using them, which, given your comment, we might have been well advised to do.

Most people do feel more comfortable with radar aboard in fog-prone areas, and I specified that we would leave the radar off, “as long as we were not trying to cruise to a fixed schedule in an area prone to fog.” But radar is a pricey item, and people cruising exclusively in temperate latitudes will not use it very often. You use yours 8 to 12 times a season in one of the foggiest areas in the world. Many people assume radar is a must-have, but I’m suggesting they should at least consider whether they really need to spend that $1,200 for their cruising area and their cruising plans. We would not, for much of the East and West coasts, no matter our budget, and we definitely would not if we were fitting out from scratch on a tight budget for a tropical circumnavigation.

The generator question for us, as for many cruisers we know, depends on maintaining a balance between electrical use and charging capabilities. Electrical use changes over time on many boats and passive charging capability depends on the amount of wind and sun, which vary a great deal from place to place. We have never needed the kind of power a genset produces, but the gasoline generator allows us to even out the differences between use and charging in these different situations without putting a huge number of hours and wear on the engine. It makes only a bit more noise than running our main engine, and we make every effort to be courteous when we run either.

I hope the article gives people who aren’t sure they can afford to do it a different perspective on the coastal voyage they’d been dreaming of. Equipment can always be added if the crew decides they really want it, but you can’t get back the months of cruising you gave up to pay for the watermaker or the radar you find out later you didn’t really need. Fair winds.
Beth Leonard

Cost-effective hot shower

Beth Leonard’s article was excellent and her points well taken. However, there’s no need to forgo a hot shower. For years, when I did not have an engine-heated water heater (and even now that I do) I used my old standby garden-sprayer shower. I started with a galvanized model back in the 1960s, which rusted and was replaced with a plastic one. I now have a stainless-steel one.

I replaced the spray head with a regular household sink sprayer with extra hose. I find one large pot of very hot water mixed with one equal pot of tap water makes a good shower temperature. I can shampoo, wash, and shave with the 1 1/2 gallons and feel really clean! This conserves water very nicely and can also be used as an after-swim rinse without heating. I also installed quick connects to allow flushing my outboard motor with the special fitting on the alternate hose.
Len Lipton

Works for us too

We do much the same. We went from a large flower-watering can to a plastic 1-gallon weed sprayer. The galley stove makes hot shower water for two very quickly. We also use the sprayer gizmo to rinse dishes. The pressure sprayer uses about half as much water as the watering can did. Karen and I can each shower with the water in the 1-gallon sprayer, and there will be some left over. So a shower with that setup is less than a half-gallon per person.
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor

Quick sail repair

I recently had to mend a tear along the leech of my 20-year-old genoa. Again. I’ve found 3M’s transparent duct tape to work quite well. I overlay the tear with tape on both sides. The repair is invisible to the casual observer. Previous repairs done with this tape have held up very well to sail-flapping abuse. It even works in the cold on my iceboat sail. A roll is about $5 at most home centers. Not only does it blend in, but it seems to stay more flexible than silver duct tape. Other colors are available as well to better match what you’re trying to fix; I’ve used a lot of white to hold non-structural airplane parts together.
Allen Penticoff

Handheld VHF caddy

VHF Caddy

One way to keep track of that errant handheld VHF is with a trip to an auto parts store in search of an automotive cup-holder caddy. We found one that very nicely holds our handheld VHF radio and our cell phone, with extra room for several smaller items. The caddy is constructed from a dense foam material that actually grips the items so they stay put. It fits in the cup holder mounted on your binnacle. For less than $5 you’ll have a regular home for your VHF and won’t have to perform any more man-overboard drills to retrieve your communication system. Good old boats equipped with tillers can utilize the same system by adding an extra winch-handle pocket.
Jim Shroeger

Bringing sailors together

ODay 26 & Newport 28 II

Tom Wells writes that this magazine makes things happen (but really we think Tom and Allen Penticoff and a few others made the following event a reality) — eds.

The weekend of June 13, some of the folks from the Rockford (Ill.) Yacht Club trailered their boats to visit the Mark Twain Lake Sailing Association in northeastern Missouri. Allen and Ruth Penticoff led the hearty group of RYC sailors, and our Commodore, Jeff Fleenor and his lovely bride, Liz, provided an official welcome.

The Saturday evening raft-up provided a unique photo opportunity. The two boats pictured in the two boat-review articles in the May 2009 issue were rafted together (one from Illinois and one from Missouri). Bill and Marty Siegworth aboard their O’Day 26, Martha J, and Charlie and Elaine Lawson aboard their Newport 28 II, Desirée, had a great evening together. Good Old Boat brings sailors together!
Tom Wells

Bristol Finish

Bristol Finish bottles

I was glad to see Gregg Nestor's simple solution on Bristol Finish (September 2009). I have used it for five years and I won't return to other finishes. Our Bayfield 29C now glows with it.

I've never found the curing time as fast as indicated. In northern New England, one can count the dry days in June and July with the fingers on one hand. I consulted with C-Tech Marine, the manufacturer, and they suggested I add one capful (no more, no less) of Accelerator to a quart of resin. This did the trick.

My tiny bottle of Accelerator will last two lifetimes. C-Tech Marine cautioned me about adequate mixing of the catalyst, which is heavy. Even though you add it to pre-measured resin, it tends to sink to the bottom and remain there. I mix it in 100 ml. beakers that I buy in bulk and use only once. Small as this is, mixing (with a chopstick) requires at least 30 seconds of vigorous exercise. The proper mixture seems thinner than other coatings I have used, particularly heavy tung-oil ones like Callahan's Chilled Varnish.

Bristol Finish looks good

Once mixed, I place the beaker in a salvaged pineapple can, using long-nose pliers. This arrangement keeps the beaker from tipping over as I inch over the teak real estate under the still-covered Bayfield. The can also provides a nice edge to wipe excess coating from my brush. I found the perfect brush in a 1" Wooster Softip, angle sash brush made of nylon/polyester <http://www.woosterbrush.com/search.asp>. I clean the brush immediately after use in acetone.

I apply strips of blue or green masking tape on sloping surfaces and have learned to remove it shortly after coating lest it become part of the coach roof or cockpit combing (if this happens, use a heat gun and a sharpened putty knife to remove bits of tape). Contrary to Gregg's mate's reminder that Bristol Finish is a “bit pricey,” I've found that I'm only on my second quart (but I don't apply as many coats as recommended) and I punch six holes around the resin can's lip for drain-back.

Great care must be taken with the bottle of catalyst to avoid permanently cementing on the cap. After use, I wipe the glass threads carefully, then I do it again with clean paper towels. Catalyst in the bottle is effective for two or three seasons, after which it becomes too viscose and ineffective.

Always make sure you have plenty of ventilation when applying to disperse the vapor.
Bob Brodsky

Inflatable PFDs in Canada

It seems there is some confusion about the use of inflatable PFDs and when they are to be worn.There are inflatable PFDs on the market that are approved by Transport Canada for use on Canadian boats, but it seems that many people who buy these floatation devices don't know that the PFD has to be on your body for the approval to be in effect.In other words, if you get in your tender for a tour around an anchorage and you have your inflatable PFD on the floor of the dinghy, it could be argued that you do not have an approved PFD with you because the PFD is on the floor, not on you.The same is true for your big boat too — if you are on deck or in the cockpit of your vessel your inflatable PFD must be worn for it to count as one of your approved PFDs. Canadian sailors can pick up the Safe Boating Guide, or download it at <http://www.tc.gc.ca/publications/en/tp511/pdf/hr/tp511e.pdf> and check out the page that discusses the pros and cons of different kinds of PFDs for more information.
Deb Gibson

Deck painting questions

I am a 1979 C&C 30 owner and came across your article [“Off it comes, everything off!”] on the Internet from the February 2009 Good Old Boat Newsletter. I have been considering having my topsides painted for several years now and found your article very helpful. I remove my mast most years and re-tune the rig each spring, but I did not consider how many fittings there are on deck. I am on Long Island, New York, and am going to start pricing it out. I noticed that my deck has some cracking around the stanchion bases. I was planning to repair them with epoxy and putting much larger backing plates on them as there is only a small piece of aluminum on each one now. Did you do anything similar? Also, if you ever have the mast out again, you may want to inspect the mast step and underneath it. It is not uncommon for C&Cs to get rot in this area. I rebuilt mine as a preventive measure a few years ago.
Thomas Sposato

Deck painting answers

Just for clarity, we use the term “topsides” to mean the part of the hull between the shear and the waterline. I think you are talking about painting your deck.

As for stanchions, it depends on how bad the cracking is. Paint will not strengthen these areas, nor will a thin epoxy filler. Strengthening these areas would require adding substantial layers of cloth and epoxy. I don’t recommend this if the cracking is not serious. I did not do the prep work on Mystic, but I did do the prep work prior to painting the deck of our other boat. Reefing out all those cracks and filling them would be a lot of work, and I think they just would come back again anyway. I did not change the backing plates under the stanchion bases on Mystic, but I will admit that such things are generally not as effective as they could be.

On our Mega, improving the backing plates under all fittings was a major effort. There will be an article on that soon.

We had our mast out several years ago when Mystic was hit by lightning. I redid the mast step at that time. It is probably a thing one must do every 10 or 20 years.
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor

Solid Fuel Heaters

Dear GOB-smacked (you'll know what it means if you're Irish),
Philip Reid's article on solid-fuel heaters elicited this commentary as I've been using a Newport solid-fuel stove like his for about 20 years, up to five days at a time, on Lake Ontario during fall, winter, and spring.

First, never use any type of fuel-fired heater unless you have both working carbon monoxide [CO] and smoke detectors on board. Validate your detectors with the “test” button, so you know they are armed, every time you use your heater. For the sailor who does not start the engine at the same time as the heater, nor exposes detectors to moisture, there is no advantage belowdecks of expensive marine-type detectors with their built-in moisture-resistant delays and “burst” compensation. The ordinary Home Depot or Canadian Tire Kidde-type detector is perfectly safe. In addition, I use a cheap non-powered cumulative CO detector-card, purchased in a “safety” store. CO toxicity is cumulative — even for the sub-threshold doses your powered detector may not register. It’s conceivable, though unlikely, you could poison yourself over a long period and your powered detector will have repeatedly registered little danger, or none. A physician-colleague of mine discovered an auto mechanic in that fix.

Second, never use any type of heater, fueled or electric, without an appropriate working fire extinguisher close at hand and suitable to the source of the heat — be it electric, liquid, gas, or solid fuel. “Working” means, first, you know how to use it, and second, you periodically measure the amount of chemical in the cylinder, not by the cheap gauge on it, but by weighing it. That’s simple only if you know what it weighed when purchased. “Suitable” means matching the type of retardant – A, B, or C – to the fuel you use.

Third, there is no good reason not to use charcoal that, as Reid noticed, is a far better fuel than wood. If you do not like the commercial briquettes, not all of which, contrary to Good Old Boat’s article, contain oil-based accelerants (read the label!), ordinary “charcoalized” hardwood, e.g., hickory, is often available where barbecue grills are sold. Or use pellets. Charcoal, coal, or pellets do not generate any more CO than wood for the same heat output. It’s a matter of molecules of CO per BTU. On my 35-foot wooden Bolger gaff-rigger, a handful of briquettes warms the saloon comfortably even in below-freezing weather. Charcoal is easier to stoke, conveniently bagged, far more compact to store, provides heat immediately upon kindling, works better if accidentally wet, and makes a smaller volume of more easily disposed ash. Much the same can be said for pellets.

Fourth, no matter the installation or fuel source, an enormous amount of heat, maybe even most of it, goes up the flue. The primary losses are by radiation and conduction at the flue surface; secondary, by upward convection of the heated air. That is why, as Reid points out, you need a well-engineered passage through the deck. Nicro used to make a water-cooled fitting. Jacketing the flue inside the boat indeed increases this loss by reflecting radiated heat back into the flue. Insulating the flue merely prevents it from heating the accommodation by any means.

The solution to this large heat loss is twofold: 1. Make a reflector, which is simply a shiny (not galvanized) length of flue pipe you have slit open and cut to form in cross-section a crescent, spaced behind your flue pipe. This will check your radiant heat losses. Bend the edges back so there's nothing sharp to catch you. To fabricate such a device for the usual 3-inch diameter flue, drive three or four well spaced flathead 3-inch bolts through each of three or four 3 1/2-inch open hose clamps. Space the assembled hose-clamps loosely on the flue – such that the heat of expansion will tighten them. Drill holes on your reflector to match the protruding bolts from the hose-clamps ringing the flue with an airspace of, say, 3 inches. Assemble with lockwashers and nuts on both sides of the reflector and on the hose clamps. Do not use elastic stop-nuts or screw-glue. Do not pierce the flue! You'll be amazed how much heat you can capture with a good reflector and how much cooler it is behind the reflector where the heat was wasted anyway.

2. Mount a fan as close to the deck-head as possible, but not closer than 6 inches or so to the flue lest the plastic fan case melt. This will check conduction and convection heat losses. Point the fan down about 30 or 40 degrees. You've already discovered that the deckhead is far hotter than the sole. A fan that operates at stove level, e.g., Eco-fan, is inefficient. Hot air rises and the best solution is to move the heat off the deckhead and down into the cabin. The larger the fan, the better the heat distribution. I use a 9-inch $15 drugstore fan made to run off 8 “D” batteries [8x1.2 volts= 9.6 volts], and runs fine off its 12-volt adapter plug off ship’s batteries too. It draws an amp or so. A large 12-volt “muffin” fan, such as those sold by American Science and Surplus, (http://www.sciplus.com/), would also do the trick, cost less, and draw less current.

Fifth, about downdrafts: These are as much a function of the smoke-cap and the height of the flue as they are the wind. A simple way to extend protection against downdrafts is to use an extra length of flue as a temporary chimney above deck. Be sure to guy it well. In olden days, sailors used a T-shaped Charlie Noble oriented to the prevailing wind. Maybe your local fireplace store can make one for you. The arms of the “T” should stick out at least 6 inches, and it should swivel, yet lock, in place on the flue pipe. Some of these old “T's” were self-orienting with a “sail” on top. Certain square smoke caps, e.g., Nicro, have a similar, but much smaller, effect.

I must add that all those who come out of the cold into a warm comfortable cabin with a visible flame in your cozy solid-fuel stove will express great pleasure, not to be had in any other way. But you already knew this.
Corky Rosan M.D.

Wait! Don’t put that boat away yet!

Winter sailors

Left to right: Scott Humes, Gladiator; Steve Madsen, Cape Dory 27; Eric Vindum, Catalina 27; Jim Hildinger, Catalina 27; and Steve Mason, Catalina 27.

Last spring when all thoughts of winter had vanished, we heard from Steve Madsen, of Lake Tahoe, Calif., that winter sailing is really the best sort of sailing — eds.

High up in the mountains there is a lake we sail in winter months.
There are only a few of us. You might say we are a crazy bunch.
We sail these waters with blowing snow in our faces, chasing whitecaps some days.

It goes without saying that the waters are cold as ice.
We even have to break it up some days just to get out to paradise.
We dress warmly, keeping our eyes on the sky and our hands on the tiller
One mistake out here, and you’re in for a thriller.

When most people are burning wood or skiing down slopes
When others are standing in lines or driving in them, we are out on the water
Where we would much rather be
Sailing our boats and living out our dreams.

After lunch and a hike along the shore
We untie the docklines and go sailing once more.
Uncertain conditions are always out there.
So, with the wind gods on our side, we will come back once more.
It’s where we would rather be than hanging out on shore.

Tami Boudreau

Tami Boudreau

So wet your finger and pick your rail.
It’s not what life brings us but rather the courage we put into it.
Just ask that crazy bunch who sail these waters in the winter months.

Steve Madsen

After Steve penned that poetic bit, he had one more thought to add:

I need to mention a wonderful lady, Tami Boudreau, who sails with us during the winter. She comes down to Lake Tahoe from Montana on business and manages to join us each winter. She is the photographer who takes the sailing pictures of our crazy bunch. That picture of us on the dock at Emerald Bay is her work.

Labor Day Sailing

Maggie Polston, young sailor

I wanted to share pictures of our newest sailor at the helm. Here’s our daughter Maggie (13 months) taking the helm of our 1971 Balboa 20. We trailered up to Barker’s Island on Lake Superior and spent a lovely Saturday sailing to Duluth and back. After her nap, Maggie wanted in on the fun and insisted that she take the helm for a bit.
Chris Polston

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Reckoning the power generated by horses, humans, and sails.

Horsepower is a unit of power equal to that required to raise a load of 33,000 pounds by a height of 1 foot in 1 minute. In other words, 1 hp equals 33,000 foot pounds per minute, or 550 foot pounds per second. It was regarded as the maximum sustained amount of power the average horse could produce over a short period.

The horsepower produced by a yacht’s sails is relatively small at normal wind speeds. In a Force 4 breeze (11-16 knots), 500 square feet of sail generates, roughly, 10 hp, which is about 1 hp for every 50 square feet. Similarly, a dinghy sail of 75 square feet generates about 1.5 hp in Force 4 winds.

Because energy equals mass times the square of its speed, as Einstein taught us, a wind with a speed of 22 to 27 knots (Force 6) does not generate twice the horsepower of a wind blowing at 11-16 knots (Force 4). It generates four times as much, or nearly 4 hp for every 50 square feet. This explains why small sailboats need to reef when the wind rises to anything above 15 knots or so.

Horsepower generated by humans is substantially less than that generated by sail, of course.It is fairly well established in sports medicine that an average man in good condition can produce about 1/4 hp for about 40 minutes, and between 1/6 and 1/7 hp for several hours at a time.Interestingly, rowing a dinghy at a reasonable clip — say, 3 to 4 knots in calm water with no wind — takes about 1/6 hp. The maximum burst of horsepower produced by a trained athlete seems to be a little less the 2 hp, but it can be maintained only for a few seconds.

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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