June 2010 Newsletter

June 2010 Newsletter

What’s in this issue

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

You can also Download a printer friendly version in MS Word or as a PDF file.

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

T-shirts with an attitude (enthusiasm)

In the April newsletter we enthusiastically asked our readers for T-shirt ideas. We were looking for new catchy slogans, clever witticisms, and heartfelt sentiments that good old sailors would be proud to be seen wearing. Our readers responded even more enthusiastically. We received more than 200 ideas! Many of them were funny. Some were wacky. Most were just plain great. But we could only choose two or three. What to do? A small group of good old boaters got together over a glass (or two) of wine and narrowed the field to 100, then to 50, and finally to 10. (We know: it was work, but someone had to do it.)

Then we asked those readers who stopped by our booth at the Oakland boat show for their top three votes among the final 10 slogans. Their combined votes gave us the top five slogans. Drum roll, please!

The top two T-shirt slogans (and the ones we’ve submitted to artist Tom Payne for his artistic interpretation) are “Gone sailing. Will return wheNever” and “Are we there yet? Who cares?” They were submitted by readers Steve Christensen and Marlan Green.

These two top winners have each received a free extra year’s subscription and $100 worth of Good Old Boat merchandise. They’ll also receive a free T-shirt with their own slogan when the new shirts become available.

The three runner-up slogans are “We ain’t leanin’ ’til someone’s screemin’,” submitted by Pete Hysop; “Good old sailor on a good old boat,” submitted by George McNamara; and “May the wind at your back never be your own,” submitted by Mike Sueirro. We’ve added a free year to the subscriptions of these three also. Our heartfelt thanks to all who participated.

We’ll let you know when Steve’s and Marlan’s new shirts are available for the rest of us. We hope to see them worn — with enthusiasm of course — by sailors all around the country.

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Good Old Boat has a Facebook page

It had to happen sooner or later. The good old folks at Good Old Boat had to get with the hip new times and put up a Facebook page . . . or be left in the dust. Have a look at <http://www.facebook.com/goodoldboat>. You can check out what’s happening there, send us messages with pictures, and add your name to our list of those who “like” the magazine (and thereby get occasional news tidbits and photos from Good Old Boat’s World Headquarters).

We’re still new at understanding this technology. But then, this social networking concept itself seems to be evolving yet. It feels like the early days of the Internet when no one really knew the potential of the World Wide Web. Remember those ancient days not so long ago?

So, needless to say, once again we have hopped on the wagon and are there for a ride. Please have a look at our page and tell us you “like” us, or will “join” Good Old Boat, or choose to “follow” us, or whatever the current jargon is for these things . . . Oh dear! What have we done?

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In the news

A Cal 40 sets its sights on a sailing trifecta

A good old boat is in pursuit of a great honor in the Newport Bermuda Race, to start on June 18 this year in Newport, Rhode Island, and finish three to six days later at St. David’s Lighthouse on Bermuda’s east end. Peter Rebovich’s Cal 40, Sinn Fein (pronounced Shin Fayn) is chasing the record held by Carleton Mitchell on Finisterre. It should be noted that, at 74 this year, Peter can also be honored as a good old skipper.

Peter and his crew of seven — including sons Mark and Peter, all from the Raritan (N.J.) Yacht Club — are hoping to recapture the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy Sinn Fein won in 2008 and 2006. Only two boats have won this honor in two consecutive races. Finisterre, skippered by Carleton Mitchell, is the only boat to ever win this honor three times in a row (1956, 1958, 1960). Peter and crew hope to sail in Finisterre’s wake.

Peter bought his 1965 Cal 40 in 1973 “for cruising and family vacations,” he says. But over time racing has played an ever-larger role. “These days our cruises are primarily deliveries and returns,” he notes. Sinn Fein is also a regular participant in Wednesday-night races and other RYC racing events.

“If we win this time it will be the fourth time a Cal 40 has won the Newport Bermuda Race,” Peter points out. Thunderbird, another Cal 40, won the race in 1966, bringing national attention to this Bill Lapworth design.

To follow the 175 boats in the race this month, go to the Newport Bermuda Race site at: <http://www.bermudarace.com/CompetitorsBoats/2010Results/tabid/264/Default.aspx>. The contenders in all five fleets will have satellite tracking transponders updating their positions several times a day. The Newport Bermuda Race is the granddaddy of ocean races. It was begun as an extreme sport of sorts in 1906 and led to the creation of the Fastnet, Sidney-Hobart, and other races.

The race description states: “Over the years, the designs and construction of the raceboats have evolved, the race rules have changed, electronics and satellites have expanded the understanding of weather and ocean currents, yet the goal of the race remains to encourage relatively small sailboats with amateur crews to test their seamanship and sailing skill on a bluewater passage to one of the most hospitable destinations in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Our thanks to reader John Pruitt for bringing this historic challenge to the editors’ attention. John notes, “In the age of ugly stripped-out ocean-racing machines, it is wonderful that two CCA-Rule boats hold the records.”

Summer Sailstice

Your editors have been watching enviously from the sidelines as others have been celebrating the Summer Sailstice for the past decade. It never quite worked out with our calendar and magazine production schedule. But as you now know, we hired some help and this year Jerry Powlas and I (Karen Larson) intend to make up for lost time. This summer we will be taking our longest vacation ever . . . and it will start on June 21. For more on the Summer Sailstice celebration, go to <http://www.summersailstice.com> and sign up for participation prizes. Good Old Boat gives away two free subscriptions to a couple of lucky participants each year.

Jerry and I will be out cruising for 12 weeks, sailing the shores of Lake Superior in a counter-clockwise direction, starting with the launch of our C&C 30 at Barker’s Island Marina in Superior, Wisconsin, and ending there once more in mid-September. The nice thing about sailing the northern latitudes is that the days are particularly long. (Nights? We barely have ’em in the summer!) So we’ll start on the longest day of the year and take great joy in every day that follows, even if it’s a bit shorter than the previous one. The coasts of Lake Superior have many remote areas sandwiched between infrequent small communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. This is a true wilderness sailing experience. We expect to send some sort of blog on a random and unpredictable schedule. Stay tuned for more on that (probably to be announced on our website and in a Press Gang email announcement).

Another good old boat needs support

Sound Experience, the non-profit that owns and operates the historic schooner Adventuress, Puget Sound’s environmental tall ship, is trying to win a major restoration grant for its National Historic Landmark vessel in the Partners in Preservation program of the National Historic Trust. The 97-year-old schooner is one of 25 historic sites in the Puget Sound region competing for up to $100,000. Any and all help to keep Adventuress sailing and assist all who care for the ship and Puget sound is needed and welcome. More information about Adventuress and the important work she does can be seen at http://www.preservationnation.org/partners-in-preservation/seattle/schooner-adventuress.html.

Take note of new North Carolina law

North Carolina has joined a growing number of states taking a hard approach to the discharge of waste from recreational vessels. Effective July 1, 2010, all vessel owners and operators are required to keep a log of pump out dates and the locations of the pump-out facilities used. Records must be maintained for one year from the date of the pump-out.

Remember, too, that sections of the ICW in North Carolina have been designated a No Discharge Zone.

More information is available on the Waterway Guide website, <http://www.waterwayguide.com

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Cleaning oil-contaminated boats

In the wake of what could be the largest oil spill in U.S. history, yacht paint manufacturers Interlux and Awlgrip have the following tips to help clean contaminated boats.

Interlux Guidelines for treatment of antifouling contaminated with oil
The surface of an antifouling paint that has become contaminated with oil can become “blocked,” preventing the biocide from being released, which subsequently leads to premature fouling. It will also result in a contaminated layer that will make adhesion of new antifouling applications difficult.

For hard polishing and ablative antifouling paints that have been heavily contaminated, the best method to use when treating the bottom is to use a paint stripper such as Interstrip 299e to remove all the pollution and the paint, then scrub the substrate using Fiberglass Surface Prep YMA601 and a coarse Scotch-Brite pad. Rinse with fresh water. Repeat until the surface is clean (when the water cascades off of the surface with no beading or separating). Allow the surface to dry thoroughly prior to re-painting. The same process is recommended on metal boats; however, to avoid corrosion the metal substrate should be prepared by grinding or blasting after the cleaning process and prior to priming. To aid adhesion, apply InterProtect 2000E primer per label instructions.

Sanding or sandblasting a surface that still has oil on it may drive the oil into the surface and cause a loss of adhesion of the subsequent coats.

If the coating of oil is light, power wash, then use a household detergent with water to scrub off any pollution. Then scrub using Fiberglass Surface Prep YMA601 and a coarse Scotch-Brite pad. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Let dry prior to re-painting. Polishing paints, such as Micron Technology, may be re-launched without painting, assuming the film thickness of remaining paint is adequate (2-3 mils dry after scrubbing) and the next application is scheduled within five months.

Awlgrip guidelines: treatment of topcoats contaminated with oil
Contaminated topcoats should be cleaned as soon as practically possible to minimize the damaging effects of the crude. If the surface of a topcoat is contaminated with crude oil, staining and possible degradation of the topcoat may result from the acidic nature of the contaminant. The recommendations below apply to Awlgrip®, Awlcraft® 2000 and Interlux® Perfection topcoats. If there is any doubt of the type of surface in question, always test a small area first.

In the case of heavy contamination, the material may be a thick, sticky, tar-like material due to its exposure to the elements. It is recommended that these surfaces first be cleaned by wiping down with T0016, T0170, or mineral spirits followed by power washing, then cleaned with Awlwash® at a 4 oz/gallon level (or household liquid detergents such as Dawn). The detergent washing step of the cleaning process must be done in manageable areas. Each area should then be thoroughly rinsed with plenty of clean water before moving on to the next. Do not allow detergent solutions to dry on the surface.

Hulls exhibiting “sheen” contamination may be cleaned with the regular concentration levels of Awlwash, though they too may benefit from a prewash wipe down with T0016, T0170, or mineral spirits to loosen the film.

In both cases, it is recommended that the newly cleaned surface be protected from further contamination with an application of Awlcare®.

In all cases
Contaminated wastewater should be collected per local marina guidelines, local authority regulations, and/or Clean Water Act requirements. Collecting the water and the emulsified crude will prevent spreading of contamination. Crude- and solvent-contaminated wipes must also be disposed of in a responsible manner.

For further information, call Interlux Technical Service at 1+800.468.7589 or Awlgrip Technical Service, 1.888.355.3090. For more information about Interlux products, go to <http://www.yachtpaint.com/usa>.

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Coast Guard warning about automatic channel switching
on DSC-equipped VHF marine radios

An automatic channel switching feature found on certain models of Digital Selective Calling (DSC)-equipped VHF marine radios may create an unintended hazard by automatically switching from a working channel that might be in use at the time to Channel 16 when the VHF marine radio receives a DSC distress alert, distress-alert acknowledgment, or other DSC call where a VHF channel number has been designated.

This could happen without a vessel/radio operator’s immediate knowledge and could initiate an unsafe condition by which the vessel/radio operators would believe they were communicating on a working channel, such as Channel 13, when, in fact, they were actually on Channel 16. Imagine a towboat operator on the lower Mississippi River, making passing agreements on VHF channel 67 and then suddenly, without warning, not being able to quickly reestablish communications with those vessels because his/her radio automatically switched to Channel 16 instead.

Since this unsafe condition can happen at any time, the Coast Guard strongly recommends disabling the automatic channel-switching feature when maintaining a listening watch or communicating on the designated bridge-to-bridge radiotelephone, or while monitoring the vessel traffic services (VTS) channel. Radios that lack the disabling feature should not be used for bridge-to-bridge or VTS communications.

The International Telecommunications Union Sector for Radiocommunications, Recommendation M.493-11, published in 2004, and later versions require DSC-equipped radios to provide for disabling of this channel auto-switch feature. In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all DSC-equipped radios certified after March 25, 2009, to meet this requirement. Manufacturers that do not provide a disable function are encouraged to do so and to inform their customers if means for correction exist. Updated information, including a listing of manufacturers of radios believed to be affected by this Safety Alert will be posted as available at <http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/gmdss/dsc.htm>.

The Coast Guard strongly reminds radio operators and other users to always ensure they are on the proper operating channel when communicating or maintaining watch, particularly with DSC-equipped radios capable of channel auto-switching.

Questions should be directed to Mr. Russell Levin at 202-475-3555 or Russell.S.Levin@uscg.mil.

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What’s coming in July

For the love of sailboats

  • J/32 feature boat
  • Jeanneau Arcadia review
  • Bristol 30 refit

Speaking seriously

  • Anti-sinking 101
  • The truth about GPS
  • Anatomy of a lightning strike
  • A proper boarding ladder
  • The rudiments of rudders, Robert Perry
  • How to make a watermaker, Part 2
  • Dihedral twin headsails
  • Make your own lazy-jacks
  • Taming the main

Just for fun

  • Reflections: Cruising on sufferance
  • How to deal with an unexpected death while cruising

What’s more

  • Simple solution: Slip exits without angst; checking your batteries
  • Quick and Easy: Noises in my head; turnbuckle locks revisited
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Summer Sailstice

June 19

The annual Summer Sailstice sailing event is free to all participants and has grown from 200 boats signed up in 2001 to well over 2,000 boats today. Since many sailors join in the fun on boats that have been signed up at <http://www.summersailstice.com>, the actual number of Summer Sailstice sailors participating is estimated at almost 10,000 annually. Go to <http://www.summersailstice.com> for more information and to sign up.

2010 Precision Rendezvous

June 18-June 25
Rockhall, Md.

Owners of Precision Sailboats will gather for a week of cruising, racing, and touring of Annapolis. For more information about the 2nd annual Precision Rendezvous on the Chesapeake, go to <http://sailboatrendezvous.com>  or contact pm_canyon@yahoo.com.

Fiberglass Supply Workshops

June 24 and July 15, 6-8pm
Burlington, Wash.

Fiberglass Supply will host a demonstration on vacuum bagging techniques on June 24. The July 15 workshop will be a demonstration of stitch-and-glue boatbuilding. For more information, call 877-493-5333, email support@fiberglasssupply.com or check out the Scuttlebutt section of their website at <http://www.fiberglasssupply.com>.

WoodenBoat Show

June 25-27
Mystic Seaport

The 19th annual WoodenBoat Show will feature the 3rd annual “I built it myself” display, the 2010 Concours d’Elegance, demonstrations by experts, and much more. For more information: <http://www.thewoodenboatshow.com>.

Photographer Michael Kahn Exhibit

July 2-August 3
Rockland, Maine

Fifteen years of Michael’s photography will be displayed in the exhibit, “Inspiring Downeast,” at the Landing Gallery in Rockland. Michael will sign copies of his book, Spirit of Sailing, during the opening reception on July 2 from 5-8pm. For more information or to see some of his seascapes and sailing photos, go to <http://www.michaelkahn.com>.

Chris-Craft Rendezvous

July 8-11
Port Orchard, Wash.

Chris-Craft owners are encouraged to bring their boats, in any condition, to the 21st annual Chris-Craft Rendezvous to enjoy free admission, music, food, and fun.
Visit <http://www.chriscraftrendezvous.com> for more information.


August 1-7
Kenora, Ontario and Lake of the Woods
Northern Minnesota and Southern Canada

Sailors from the U.S. and Canada join for a week on the "bump" at the top of Minnesota.
Classes range from in cruising to pursuit racing (20 miles per day) with on-the-water anchorages. This event has run continuously since 1966 in warm weather and clear waters. Go to <www.lowisa.org/> for much more information, including history, photos, and online registration.

Seacraft Rendezvous

August 6-8
Point Hudson Marina
Port Townsend, Wash.

Meet old friends, make new ones, swap yarns, trade boat project ideas, and just have fun at the 2010 Seacraft Rendezvous. Registration is required right away. Call 206-778-5663 or email news@seacraft.com.

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Looking for

I recently purchased a Bristol Corinthian 19 (20) from a yard in Ontario, Canada. The boat originated in the United States and was purchased by this yard to be refitted and resold in Canada. Unfortunately — but fortunately for me — the yard went belly-up and sold off its inventory at greatly reduced prices.

I have a set of sails including a working jib and main. The mainsail has #83 on it. The hull is presently blue, and the decks are white. The cockpit sole is painted in grey below the mahogany grate. The entire vessel was at some point sprayed with filler that entirely covers the original non-skid on the deck. The cabin has been changed — from what I gather, looking at photos of other boats — to include bronze opening ports. The winches were removed; there is no evidence of them having been installed after the filler job. The boat has the optional outboard well in the cockpit.

The feature that may be of most use in identifying this vessel is that there is no evidence of either rails or hinges on the cabin hatch, which is a wreck of a thing covered in canvas. There were handrails installed on the cabintop, and I suspect that the hatch cover was bungee corded onto these to keep it on. Further evidence of this possibility was the ratty old bungee cord I excavated from the bilge.

I am in the process of refitting the boat and will be trailersailing her in Ontario, Canada. If anybody knows anything about the origins of this vessel, please drop me a line at dante.mclean@sympatico.ca. I would love to know more about her history!
Dante McLean

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With PFDs It Can’t Happen, Can It?

By Bob Brodsky

Little things can have big results. Of course experienced boaters know this, so we make safety checks all over our vessels. We also wear our PFDs most of the time when not at anchor. Our guests must wear them. We wear small ones from shore to boat, then we don larger inflatables. We wear them when disembarking for a walk on a beach. We have so many back-ups aboard, we offer them to other boaters who aren’t wearing them. Most, but not all, decline. So it may come as a surprise to some to hear that this very careful sailor damn near drowned some years ago on a beautiful summer day when nothing of importance seemed to be happening where he was.

Returning from a walk along the tide line at Town Beach on the south end of Plum Island, we rowed back to our Bayfield at anchor over the broad Ipswich Inlet sandbar. Our 9-foot Pilot dinghy got a good shove from the northwest breeze, making my strokes seem more powerful than they were. The incoming tide required I set a seaward course to reach our boat. Northeast seacoast boaters are almost always being swept one way or another on tidal currents. Many of us grew up with Eldridge’s Tide Tables and current charts just so we could get home. And of course we were wearing knockabout life preservers.

Upon reaching our boat my wife scampered aboard and disappeared below to change out of her swimsuit. I remained in the dinghy to secure the oars and to clip the towline into the bow ring. But first I threw my bulky, sandy PFD into the cockpit.

While sitting on the bow seat and reaching over to snap the hook into the ring, my 180 pounds lowered the freeboard sufficiently to allow a little wave to come aboard. The hook wouldn’t snap into the ring and, while reaching over further, a second larger wave entered.  Being damp and somewhat sandy from the beach, and to prevent swamping, I decided to put myself over the side. Plop.

When I surfaced I saw my dinghy moving south-southwest on the wind while I was moving west in the current, each of us quite rapidly. In no time I was 25 feet behind our boat. It would have been helpful to have a floating line trailing over the stern of our boat. The beaches were almost a mile away. I am not a powerful swimmer. I couldn’t close the distance to our boat, so I decided to chase the dinghy. For a brief time I became an Olympian, and I finally caught up with the dinghy.

By the time I climbed into the dinghy and threw the anchor over I was a hundred yards from our boat. I took my time bailing and rowing back against wind and tide. This time my wife, wearing an inflatable PFD, reached over the topside and clipped the towline to the bow ring.

As I said, it was a beautiful summer day, and little things sometimes have big results.

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Book Reviews

The following book reviews have been posted online.

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Mail buoy

Lobster buoys

I have a response to the Peter Wallace piece in the April 2010 newsletter describing the sinking of his boat that began with getting caught in a lobster buoy.

We live in the birthplace of the lobster buoy. Experts believe that half the number of traps would catch the same number of lobsters, but when push comes to shove, the lobstermen plant their traps in every available nook and cranny.

This fact of life can be very tiresome. We are forever dodging buoys; it’s an art. But as Mr. Wallace described, sometimes tide and wind, along with buoys, can defeat the otherwise careful sailor.

Last summer we watched a fisherman in heavy seas and wind pull traps near a ledge where the water crashed thunderously. These ledges are common off the south ends of peninsulas and islands in Maine. We were navigating between the ledge and the peninsula with the wind and waves pushing toward the peninsula's rocks. I kept a safe distance from that rocky point because I'm a scaredy cat and all I can think of is What if we were to lose power at that moment? I want a safe distance to give us time to abandon the boat for the dinghy in case turning on the engine (if sailing) or throwing up a sail (if motoring) doesn't work out.

When catching a buoy, my view is that what has just happened is we have acquired a stern anchor. We de-power the boat and the admiral gets into the dinghy with the boat hook while Mrs. Captain stays at the wheel. We never attempt to start the engine. The admiral gets hold of the trap warp, hands it to Mrs. Captain, who loops it around a winch. Using the winch to shorten up the line to the lobster trap, we can create slack on the buoy end, which allows the admiral with the boat hook to unhook the warp from the rudder or prop. One time we couldn't untangle the warp and had to cut it. But when we got control of the situation and pulled the amputated buoy end free, we re-tied the warp. Bad enough a lobsterman should lose $200 worth of gear, but the abandoned trap also becomes a "ghost trap" cluttering the bottom.

I guess because I became a sailor late in life and have no aspiration of becoming accomplished, I remain a scaredy cat who gets anxious in winds over 20 knots and thinks nothing of hiding out in the lee of an island if the waves are so big our bowsprit is piercing the waves. And for the very reason Mr. Wallace described — when you lose your cool, the chances of making a mistake increase exponentially.

I appreciate the story and the sharing of lessons learned.
Mary Offutt

Propeller Pusher

Propeller pusher 2

I suspect we all find realigning the engine to the propeller shaft one of our least pleasant projects. When I tried it this time, I found the first step daunting — separating the coupling. In my case, I have a flexible insert between the coupling flange plates, so I had to unbolt and separate the flexible insert from both of the flanges. The nuts on the bolts were very hard to loosen, but even when I got the nuts off, the bolts were rusted in place and the parts would not separate. Not surprisingly, there is not enough space in the area to hammer or crowbar the parts apart. Especially with the flexible insert (the yellow plastic part between the flanges in the photo above right), prying with a screwdriver simply flexed the insert rather than forcing parts to separate.

I realized I needed a tool that would pull the propeller and the shaft back to put pressure on the bolts to separate the parts.

Propeller pusher

After thinking about this for a week or two, I came up with a simple idea. I have a propeller puller, made of two plates of steel that can be pulled together to pull the propeller from the shaft. I figured there was a way to convert a propeller puller to a propeller pusher. I had a second slotted plate made to go over the shaft. Then I put two slotted plates between the propeller and the stern bearing and used some bolts and nuts to push them apart. The propeller puller had become a propeller pusher.

It worked. With pressure aft-ward on the propeller and shaft, the bolts holding the flexible coupling could be worked out of their holes and the parts separated.

Now I could get to the next phase. I would put flax packing in the stuffing box; that would force the shaft into its correct position, then I'd align the engine. A lot of work remains, but at least I've gotten past the first obstacle.
Ben Stavis

Flares put to the test

Our yacht club hosted a session where any interested boater could come and shoot off flares. Our “Safety Officer” had obtained all the necessary permissions and arranged for two Coast Guard personnel to serve as coaches and supervise the proceedings. To my knowledge, all the flares used on Thursday were past their legal expiration date. What follows are my personal impressions about the performance of the various flares used. They are strictly subjective since I did not make detailed notes, and had no means to measure altitudes or light output.

Most of the handheld flares used Thursday were from Orion, partly because this brand is widely carried at local chandleries. The specs for the Orion red handheld flares are rather modest — burning for up to three minutes at just 700 candela. Thursday was a bright day on Sequim Bay, and the flame from these flares was not particularly noticeable from any great distance. About 1 in 10 proved reluctant to ignite, but could be readily lit with the flame from another flare. Note to self: for handheld flares, better to move up to the SOLAS grade flares with 15,000 candela flames.

Two orange smoke flares were test-fired. They did create a very noticeable display when the wind was light. The smoke seemed to quickly dissipate when blown off by stronger winds.

Now on to the aerials. Many folks brought Orion "Skyblazer XLT" compact, hand-launched flares. They made a very poor showing with less than about 1 in 4 actually firing. Those that did exhibited the lowest altitude and dimmest light of all the aerial flares fired that day. I brought along one such flare that I had purchased several years ago, thinking that they would be particularly convenient to carry when kayaking. It also failed to fire. After watching the poor performance of these flares, I'm inclined to think that carrying them aboard any vessel is a waste of space.

Pistol-fired flares were the most common flares fired on Thursday, generally the 12 ga Orion units, but also a few of the Orion 25 mm flares. The specs for the 12 ga (up to 500-foot altitude; up to 16,000 candela; up to 7-second burn time) sound reasonable. However, the results on a sunny day were more modest than I expected. None of these flares failed to leave the barrel of the pistol, although a few did fail to ignite the actual flare. I doubt that any of these flares reached up to 500 feet, and all were still burning when they landed. Therefore, the effective hang time was more like four or five seconds than the specified seven-second burn time. The 25 mm units seemed to achieve higher altitudes and burn a bit brighter, although the differences were small.

I brought along one SOLAS grade parachute flare. It was manufactured in 2000 by Pains Wessex. It was specified to reach 300 meters and burn for 40 seconds at 30,000 candela. It performed as expected and was clearly in a class by itself.

I know that many skippers view flares as a legal necessity that they never expect to use, and, therefore, look for the cheapest possible means to meet the Coast Guard requirements. I view the flares in my canister as a last desperate call for help that I hope never to give. But if I ever do need those flares, I really, really want them to be seen. Looking back on Thursday's results, I now think that for a skipper to take time away from managing a critical situation aboard his vessel to find and fire a 12 ga pistol flare is not a good use of his time. Those flares are simply too anemic. The 25 mm versions were only slightly better. The SOLAS grade parachute flare is an order of magnitude more effective as a signaling device. They are now the only aerial flares I'll carry aboard Sirius.
Durkee Richards

Shutterbug tales

I am sure some old curmudgeon readers will complain vociferously that the article “Pictures That Sell,” May 2010, doesn’t belong in their favorite sailing magazine. Not this reader. No good nautical story today sells without good pictures. The story idea should be thought out first before any pictures are taken. Lots of us literary-minded skippers glean a story or two every time we put to sea. But do a little thinking first. What is the purpose or point of the story? Is it new and fresh or has it been done before?

In the Tall Ships 2000 Race of the Century from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to England’s Isle of Wight, I signed up as a novice crewmember on the Dutch bark, Europa. Now the seas are full of square-riggers and stories regularly appear with stunning shots of billowing sails propelling a hull through the whitecaps. So what did I look for that would turn the head of a veteran editor?

The answer lies in the story’s introduction: “From retiree to sail trainee; from office worker to sail handler 160 feet above the deck. Being a crewmember in a tall-ships race involves, among other things, seamanship, overcoming fear of seasickness, and baking bread.”

Europa accommodated 51 apprentices — men and women from a dozen countries, fresh-faced students to grizzled retired fisherman, office workers, and wanderers — none of whom had walked the deck of a square-rigger. How would they cope with a variety of challenges, some of their own making and others, acts of nature? What stresses would arise between the generations and what traditions would we create and carry home in our memory banks?

The first three days, I hardly uncapped my two Leica Flexes. Rather, I observed the way everyone went about their duties, trying to fathom how a green crew would react to their environment. I found clues at every station and watch that pointed the way toward what kind of photos I would take.

Climbing up the ratlines of a 190-foot mast proved to be the most daunting challenge for all of us novices. It took me three shaky attempts to make it even halfway up. So, I expended rolls of film on climbing crew members exhibiting first fear, holding on for dear life, then determination to overcome a psychological barrier, and finally celebration when they stood 150 feet above the deck out on a yardarm. Sure enough, the editors picked one of those photos.

Sail handling. A ship the size of the Europa is worked by hundreds of lines, as many as 40 to control the six sails on the mainmast. In the beginning there was utter confusion over what line performed what function, and some crew were still clueless to the end. You can bet your navy grog ration (well, beer, this being a Dutch ship), the editors saw fit to illustrate with a line-grappling pix.

Early on, the ship’s desalination plant conked out and everyone was put on short water rations. The editors loved a shot of two comely crewmembers doing their laundry on the deck in a bucket of sea water. How’s that for 19th century authenticity? But I missed a spectacular tumble at supper one night when the ship was laboring in high seas. A sailor’s plate of spaghetti and meatballs ended up plastered all over the ceiling. I asked him if we could restage it for the camera, but he didn’t see the humor of it.

William Winslow, shutterbug

As in the case of the flying pasta, there are times when you have to stage a scene. I was on assignment in Florida profiling an honorary crewmember on Amistad, the recreated 19th century slave ship whose human cargo revolted and took over the ship, later winning their freedom in the American courts. The young man I was following was a descendant of one of the Africans who took part in the uprising. He had never been on a vessel of any size and I struggled to find a picture that would tell of his joy at the honor accorded him. The solution, of course, was to stage something. Here is the result on the front page of the publication.
William Winslow

Cleaning those ports

I enjoyed reading the “New lights for old ports and windows” in your March 2009 issue. However, I think a few rather critical tips should also be passed along that weren’t included.

If you have an older boat you almost assuredly have “crazing” in the surface of the Plexiglas (acrylic) in your ports and windows. In almost all cases, this is caused by improper cleaning — specifically, using cleaners with alcohol or ammonia in them. The most common culprits are Windex and 409 cleaners. A soft cloth with plain water and maybe a little dishwashing detergent is best.

Extensive tests have shown that sunlight (UV radiation) does not cause crazing, per se. However the heat stresses caused by heating and cooling the product can cause crazing, particularly in a rigid mount.

It’s also important to note that crazing significantly reduces the strength of acrylic products like Plexiglas.

For any of your readers with boats built by Capital Yachts (Newport, Neptune, and Gulf), replacement windows and frames are generally available from Mark Plastics in Corona, California, 951-735-7705.
Randall Peterson

More online

As it turns out, author Bob Biles had much more to say on the subject of “New lights for old ports and windows,” so much, in fact, that we couldn’t print it all. So his helpful tips for cleaning and polishing ports were published online at this address: <http://www.goodoldboat.com/reader_services/more_online/polishing_plastics.php>. Also, thanks for the reminder about Mark Plastics. We’ve heard nice things about this company.

Sealing mechanical fasteners

I’m savoring my way through the May 2010 issue of Good Old Boat and have just read Andy Schell’s article on replacing a backstay. It is a clearly written guide that should be useful to many of us good old boaters, and I am a fan of mechanical fasteners. However, I would like to suggest one addition: any mechanical fastener used for rigging should be sealed during assembly to prevent water intrusion. This is particularly important for those of us who sail on salt water. It is also relatively more important for the lower terminals where the end of the barrel makes a small cup around the wire that will hold water. You have probably already heard from professional riggers, such as Brion Toss, who even seal swaged fittings.

The sealant can be any of the many products that would be used for bedding deck fittings. These include polysulfides, polyethers, and perhaps polyurethane-silicone blends (such as sold by BoatLIFE). High-adhesive-strength compounds such as 3M’s 5200 polyurethane should not be used because this would make the fitting extremely difficult to disassemble.
Durkee Richards

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Q&A with Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor

Household CO detectors

I’m new to sailing and am rehabbing a 1970 Cal 2-30. The boat has an Atomic 4 engine, which still works fine. I have done a lot of reading and tried Googling, but have not found an acceptable answer. Do I need to have a certain type of marine carbon monoxide detector or will a household detector work?
Glenn Johnson

Jerry responds
I’m going to use battery-powered home-style detectors in our project boat. There are even some combination carbon monoxide and smoke detectors that seem interesting. The most critical item for any gasoline-fueled boat is the bilge-blower system. This should be used for several minutes before starting the engine to purge any possible gasoline fumes before sparks are present in the engine space.
Jerry Powlas

Polishing diesel fuel

Was there ever an article in Good Old Boat about polishing diesel fuel? My 1982 Hunter 27 may have some scum in the fuel tank. I would like to run a small double hose down the fuel filler, pump out through a filter, and then back into the tank. The local marina wanted to charge $300 for this!
Frank Nowak

Jerry responds
The key element is a good fuel-filler-style filter. We use a Baja filter <http://www.bajafilters.com>. It won’t let water pass through. I have used an outboard motor primer bulb for a pump, but that can wear you down. An electric pump will be spendy but more comfortable. If you can heel your boat to one side, it will encourage all the crud to slide to one side of the tank. I prefer to pump the fuel out into jerry jugs rather than recycling it as I go. This will work and cost less than $300. If you price your labor the way marinas price theirs, it may be about a wash, and they may use equipment that I’ve seen priced at $10K. I don’t begrudge what marinas charge, but this is one thing you can do for yourself if you have the time.

When is that lazy-jack article coming?

There has been much debate in recent issues regarding how to get a mainsail down, flaked, and covered after a sail. I realize that on many boats this is a simple task, especially if the boat and/or sail is on the smaller side and the crew tends toward the younger. While our Islander Freeport 36 is certainly not large and Laurie and I are in the very early 60s and consider ourselves to be young at heart, getting the main down on our boat is far from an easy task . . . so much so that with a vessel that sails pretty well under a roller-furled genny alone, the main rarely sees the light of day unless we have additional crew. We’ve got to do something because both the main and genny will be new this season and I sure don’t want to leave that kind of expense under its cover most of the time.

Here’s the rub(s): the Freeport 36 has a high-aspect main and a fairly short boom, typical of many good old boats. Even so, the aft third of the boom extends beyond the cabintop and is carried so high above the cockpit sole that helmsman Laurie cannot reach it (neither can I, even standing on a cockpit bench). And then there’s the Freeport’s raised saloon, which puts the crew (me) dancing around another story higher than a single level cabintop and still lacking ape arms anywhere near long enough to deal with that aft third. Lazy-jacks were looking good until you pointed out the trade-off, something I’d suspected all along. And then came North’s abandoned “Lazymate” revelation and its attendant praise. We’re likely to experiment with that, but it does look a little weird with all those dangling horizontal lines under the sail. What I’m really waiting for is the DIY lazy-jack article you have mentioned. When do you expect to publish it? Is it going to be Sailrite’s system or a whole new approach?

We’ve got to get comfortable with our new main and that’s simply not going to happen until we can safely get the thing down again. I will be looking forward to your upcoming article and (I hope) much more discussion on the topic as well. None of us good old boaters are getting younger. A reliable/simple system would be a Godsend for lots of us. Thanks for one of the things I really look forward to every other month. You, Karen, and crew have tapped into the real foundation of sailing. I know that all of your other lucky readers are as grateful as we are that you’ve been able to continue to provide a truly high-quality product through these difficult times.
Bill Dimmitt

Jerry responds
Karen and I have sailed for so long on Mystic that we sometimes forget that other boats have different problems. Mystic’s boom is so low that it is impractical to fit her with a dodger. This puts the boom within easy reach from the cabintop and also from the cockpit by simply standing on the seats. I’ve walked boat shows asking myself how many of the new boats have a boom that could be easily reached for furling the main. Not all have that critical feature. The popularity of dodgers may be part of the reason for this.

The Dutchman flaking system suggests itself in this case. It is a complicated system involving modification of both the sail and the rig, but the demonstrations of this rig that I’ve seen at boat shows suggest that you can simply let the halyard go, and the sail will drop stacked, flaked, and ready to be covered.

There may be a lazy-jack system that will do this, but not as well and with more constraints on how it must be used. I have no experience with the various stack pack designs, so I can’t comment on them. I’ve never even seen one work. They might be great.

At the low-tech end of the spectrum, Karen and I always flake a new sail exactly as we want it to lie on the boom, and then we mark the flakes with red and green dye markers at the luff and also at the leech. As we drop the sail, we help it drop with the red marks on port and the green ones on starboard. This makes the sail easy to flake the same way every time (more on this in our November 2006 issue).

If you were to have two positions for your topping lift, with a lower one for flaking, you might be able to drop the boom end down low enough to make it accessible for flaking and covering. I don’t know if that would help much at the mast end, but it would be easy to try and see.

By the way, the “Make Your Own Lazy-jacks” article by Joe Orinko is in our July 2010 issue.

Repairing leaky through-hull areas

I am a subscriber and read with much interest your article in the March 2010 issue discussing “Better Backing Blocks,” as well as the article by Charlie Doane discussing the correction of failed laminates around deck fittings. I have a few questions about this kind of repair and was hoping to have your help.

I have a 1974 Catalina 27 that I purchased four years ago and have been working at necessary maintenance since then. It’s kept at a marina at the southern end of Seneca Lake (Finger Lakes, New York) and I’m learning to sail it. Among other issues, the tracks that carry the sliding blocks for the jib sheets are held to the boat with several closely mounted bolts, some of which have small leaks that are evident after a hard rainstorm, exhibited as brown running stains down the inside of the white fiberglass in the cabin. Over the winter, I will have some small pooling at the first horizontal surface down the side. I have removed the culprit bolts (6 to 8 per side) during the past two years and filled the bolt-holes with a good sealant, but with little success. It seems that I need to remove the tracks and follow your advice to drill out each bolt-hole, fill with epoxy, and re-drill the holes.


  • Your article suggests that the first drill-out should be twice the size of the original hole. In my case, the bolts are probably 1/4 inch, so I’d use a 1/2-inch bit. I don’t want to shatter the surrounding fiberglass. What type of bit would do the best job?
  • Once the holes are drilled and ready for epoxy, do you put duct tape or something over the bottom of the hole to contain the epoxy and allow for some hand pressure on the newly inserted epoxy to ensure that it spreads out as far as possible in the surrounding core? Do you inset it with a putty knife or some sort of syringe? How do you apply the material for the most success at improving the strength of the deck?
  • As built, each bolt has a fender washer and nut. Should I try to span several bolts (say 2, 3, or 4) with one longer plate instead of the fender washers?
  • Would it be wise to put some sort of gasket under the length of the track when reinstalling to prevent water from getting to the bolt-holes in the first place, or be content with re-sealing each hole with a good sealant when re-installing them?
  • As you can see, I am a novice sailor but willing to tackle the needed work. Thanks for any help you might give me.
    Paul Linnan

    Jerry responds
    You can drill out the holes with any kind of bit you want. The best results are obtained with a hole saw or a Forstner bit. As you continue to work on your boat, you will end up with a set of each. A spade bit will work but takes more skill and delivers poorer results. Even a regular twist drill will work, but you must have a stop on it so it doesn’t drill right through the bottom laminate too. Tape will work for this.

    Duct tape is a good choice for covering the bottom hole. It is strong and releases well from cured epoxy. Don’t leave it in place for more than a couple of days though or it will leave residue when you remove it. Acetone will remove the residue if you need to do that.

    I fill the holes by first brushing unfilled epoxy around in the hole with a disposable acid brush. Coat the entire surface with particular attention to the balsa. Follow with filled epoxy. There are a lot of ways to do this. Keep the filled epoxy fairly fluid by not adding too much filler, then transfer the material to a cheap, disposable plastic cake-decorating bag. You can fill the hole with the bag, but I prefer to use the bag to fill syringes. I make a special syringe by removing the needle and adding a plastic soda straw that I attach with hot-melt glue. Using the syringe, I add enough material to the bottom of the hole to fill it about half way. I let that settle, then finally fill the hole the rest of the way. Air will be trapped in the hole no matter what you do and it will usually come to the surface before the epoxy cures. For that reason, a second application of epoxy will usually be necessary.

    On the second pass, the small crater can easily be filled with filled epoxy from a stir stick. Put masking tape around the holes on deck to make cleanup easier.

    The filled epoxy will give higher compression strength to the deck in the area of the holes. For genoa tracks, I use one long backing block. I have no headliner to contend with so the backing block is exposed. Fender washers don’t make good backing blocks. They are not strong enough. They deform and damage the substrate they’re pulled up against. If at all possible, use marine-grade plywood with a layer of Masonite. If the backing block will be exposed to the crew make a plywood-Masonite-plywood sandwich. Relieve one side for a flat washer, then cut the bolts off to length. If you are working under a fiberglass headliner, you can cut an access port and cover it with a wooden plate. The backing block will work much better if you drill and tap the holes in it and use screws to pull it up to the underside of the deck into an epoxy mush. This beds the block to the deck and makes both stronger. Coat the screws with cooking spray so they will release.

    On deck, set the track in a sealant. Most sealants will work. I like LifeSeal because it is easy to work with and clean up. Don’t use 3M 5200; it’s too permanent. Silicone sealant might even be a good choice. You want flexibility, not adhesive strength. The bolts supply the clamping strength, but the track and deck are bound to flex after being repeatedly loaded. Any hard stiff sealant will fail if used in an application where it is made to flex too much. No gasket is required.

    Gelcoat vs. non-skid deck paint

    I have been reading Good Old Boat for about four years now and really enjoy it. I have two questions involving restoration.

    First, I have to redo my original non-skid decks and it appears to me that it should be done with gelcoat, not paint. I have a roller texture finish that shows small crazing cracks that a local marine maintenance company said was just the nonskid crazing, but no deeper. Two estimates both came in at $2,000. I was told by one to use a non-skid paint; the other would use gelcoat. I don’t want to spend that kind of money. What’s your opinion?

    Second, I need to replace the 1/4-inch old foam from my vertical fabric hull liner because the fabric has separated from the foam, but the foam is still glued to the hull, any ideas regarding the best way to remove the foam? Who can I contact to purchase new fabric hull liner?
    David Poss

    Jerry responds
    There are many ways to restore the non-skid on your boat. I know very little about doing it with gelcoat. I don’t think that it is essential to do this work with gelcoat. I would not be afraid of doing the work with paint. Of the paints that could be used, the two-part urethane paints are more durable than the one-part paints. For reasons of safety and efficiency, don’t even consider spraying the non-skid. Use a roller. Details will vary with the methods and materials.

    Scrape the foam and then sand the surface or clean it with an abrasive brush. My favorite of these is the Wolfcraft 4-inch nylon wheel brush.

    Sailrite is an excellent source for the new liner material. You may also want to consider simply painting some parts of the overhead. For this work we have been experimenting with acrylic (water based) house paints and we are very satisfied so far.

    Any solvent-based paint involves hazards to your lungs, eyes, and skin. The two-part urethane paints are particularly bad, so use a lot of ventilation and a good respirator. I use a respirator for most of the things I do inside the boat that raise dust of any kind. That includes cleaning surfaces with the nylon wheel brush. Even when working outdoors, use a respirator when working with two-part urethane.

    As I said, don’t spray two-part urethane, epoxy, or other materials with a high solvent content or that need to “cure.” Professionals use very expensive high-tech protection when using these materials. Without high-tech protection, the risks are too great.

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    What boat is that on your May cover?

    Remember the nice photo of Alerion on the May 2010 issue cover? There has been a lot of talk about that one in the past few weeks. We love it when the "back story" behind the cover photo is a tale worth telling.

    It started with an innocent comment by Jim Fulton, who said, "It's a beautiful boat, but there has been some online discussion in the Bristol owners' community about whether it really is a Bristol 40 [as indicated by Good Old Boat in the issue]. The cove stripe is not the one used by Bristol Yachts. It's been suggested that the boat might be a Cal 40, rather than a Bristol."

    Well, that got our attention! But cover photographer Charles Scott stood by his facts, saying he got his information from the local harbormaster when he took the photo.

    Meanwhile, the Bristol owners' group stayed busy and, as the mystery continued to unfold, Jim had this to relate a few days later:

    "Somebody else in the Bristol community had the presence of mind to check the USCG Vessel Documentation database. Alerion, out of Monterey, California, and registered to Antonio A. Silva, is listed as having been built by C. J. Pearson in 1967. That's close to the time (late 1966) that Clint Pearson started Bristol Yachts. So, Alerion could have been sold as a Bristol, even though it wasn't part of the regular production. It's not the only one in that category. To make matters more confusing, the Bristol 39/40, designed by Ted Hood, was in production from 1966 to 1997. It is similar in size to Alerion, but the lines are quite different."

    Then we heard from owner Tony Silva:

    "Just went by my local West Marine store and picked up the latest copy of Good Old Boat. Imagine my surprise when I realized the front cover had my boat and me on it!

    I ended up getting three copies to share with friends and family. One of them will be framed and displayed on a wall for everyone to see! A correction is in order: The boat is a Bristol 38. It is a one-off boat, designed by Halsey Herreshoff and raced by him in 1967-68. It has a fin keel and the hull lines are basically the same as the Bristol 33, also designed by Halsey Herreshoff. It was to become a production boat, but Bristol Yachts chose to build the Hood-designed Bristol 39/40. Please accept my thanks for the great picture on the cover of my favorite magazine."

    Then we heard from Halsey Herreshoff, who'd also noticed the cover image and wanted contact information for the boat's current owner and our cover photographer:

    "Perusing the May 2010 edition of your fine magazine, I was delighted by the cover photo of my own first fiberglass boat, which I designed and built in 1967. Alerion had a good racing record, including at the Florida Southern Ocean Racing circuit. I sold her in Sausalito about 1970 and am delighted that this 43-year-old boat looks extraordinarily fine and useful today."

    So we reunited Halsey with his boat via the current owner (Tony) and kept the Bristol owners in the loop. Are you dizzy yet? Wait! There's more!

    Halsey added a bit more for the record:

    "Around that time, I began designing some of the yachts for Sailstar and Bristol Yachts, both companies headed up by Clint Pearson. Ted Hood and Carl Alberg were also designing some of their boats. After designing the Bristol 29 (later 30) and the Bristol 33 (later 34) I suggested a larger boat and said I would like to buy the first of what became a line of about eight boats. This was not a Bristol 40. To save money and trouble, I asked my friend Ted Hood if I could use the deck mold of a boat of nearly the same size that he had designed for Clint. My use of that deck mold may contribute to the confusion that is evident. Since I based the lines (that I modified aft and for the keel) on my grandfather's very successful Alerion model, I named the boat Alerion, and that appelation was applied to the class. My Alerion, which is surely the particular boat in the cover photo, earned some notoriety by winning races and that supplied impetus to sell the others."

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