- Y2K has passed. Leap Day is over. Tax Day is finished for most
of us. And Karen turned 50. In no case did the world come to an
end. We now turn our attention to spring!
New faces on the team
- Not long ago Brent, our part-time helper, resigned to become a
sailmaker. So allow us to introduce another sailor and helper
whose voice you may hear on the phone if you call. Mark Busta is
retiring from city/civil service while he's still sane and is
helping us manage our subscriber database and the sales of good
old books and other merchandise. Mark and a partner (their wives,
too, but with slightly less enthusiasm) bought a 1979 Islander 32
last year. They sail her in Lake Superior's Apostle Islands
whenever she's not in charter.
- Then there's Dianne Sivald, who is producing this newsletter
in a more timely fashion than Karen could (since Karen is
simultaneously distracted by the larger magazine as timing cycles
would have it). Dianne has a bachelor's degree in journalism from
the University of Minnesota, and though she isn't a sailor, yet,
she is no stranger to "boat talk." Her husband is a retired
- Jim Plummer is taking on our advertising sales. Like Mark,
Jim's a fellow sailor from our local cruising grounds. Jim and his
wife, Bonnie, sail a Tayana 37 and have plans to take that baby
way east and then way south someday. But first Jim's going to fill
our ad space and help this magazine grow!
Your mailing label is significant
- You asked for it; you got it! If you look at your Good Old
Boat mailing label, you'll know how many issues are remaining
on your subscription and what your "customer ID number" is. The ID
number helps us find you in the database quickly and may solve
those little riddles that pop up because you're in there once as
William C. Biddlesmith, another time as Bill Bittensmith, and a
third time under your wife's maiden name, since she wrote the
check when the invoice arrived. (And later we want subscription
renewal checks from all three of you!)
- The number remaining will tell you how many issues we think we
still owe you. When you receive a copy of the May issue, take a
good look, and you'll see how many more are yet to come
after the May issue. We hate obnoxious renewal notices 6 to
12 months early from other publishers, and we refuse to play that
game with you. (We are, after all, your kindlier, friendlier
Back To Top
coming in May
The May issue is in the works. It's got a nice variety in terms of
subject matter and contributors. Here's what's coming:
- Ted Brewer's Morgan 38 (aka 382) is the feature boat
- The Pearson Triton is the review boat in the John Vigor
- Wooden boat owner Mark Smaalders answers the question: "What's
so good about wood?"
- Ted Brewer tells how the rating rules over the years have
affected the shape and design of our good old boats
- Ken Textor takes varnishing beyond the basics
- Dave Reiss tells of the restoration of his Pearson 26
- Bob Wood looks at the pros and cons of traditional and
- Reese Palley chooses what, for him, are the classic American
- Our good old vendor is Bristol Bronze
- Mary Jane Hayes tells of learning to enjoy sailing with her
sailing husband, Warren
- Bill Sandifer comes to some conclusions about whether an
engine should be left in or out of gear when the boat is
- We meet Tami Ashcraft, who survived a trial at sea in the
aftermath of a hurricane.
The sweepstakes we didn't plan to
- The one thing that is certain about promotions is that they're
usually well planned . . . like the subscriber contest we held
last year. This year, as it turns out, we held another
sweepstakes, but it was done simply and easily without any of the
forethought that goes into these things. When our printer randomly
goofed up copies of the March issue (at least 20 at last count),
we decided that those randomly selected subscribers should be this
year's winners of . . . a free subscription to Good Old
- So we've extended their subscriptions by six more issues. If
you got a bad copy and haven't mentioned it, please do. Letting us
know will get you an immediate replacement. Sending the bad copy
back will get you another year's subscription. We did have fun
reading letters from folks with mixed-up copies of the
- David Oglevie's response is typical: "I just received the
March issue of Good Old Boat and eagerly began paging
through it, only to find that I don't have pages 25-32. Also
missing are pages 49-56. I did notice that I have some duplicate
pages, specifically 41-48. I view reading as an adventure, but
this is too adventuresome for me. Is it possible to get the
missing pages? The magazine arrived in its sealed plastic bag, so
I know that my postman didn't help himself to a couple of
- Our thanks to all of you who keep your sense of humor
throughout all the "catastrophes" (real and imagined), which seem
to bepart of our startup.
Friday the 13th at the printer?
- Our Canadian subscribers got an extra surprise with our March
issue. For some reason our printer in Winnipeg batched your copies
with the rest of the U.S. bound magazines, drove them across the
border to Grand Forks, N.D., and mailed them back to you from the
U.S. We have tried a wide variety of mailing strategies here at
Good Old Boat, but that was a novel approach we hadn't yet
considered. Canadian magazine deliveries were, therefore, held up
by nearly a month. Let's just say it wasn't our printer's finest
moment, and we're sorry for the inconvenience.
Back To TopOur
index of articles is posted
- Remember how we've been promising to give you an online
searchable index for articles in past issues? We've had that ready
for months, but had trouble getting our ISP to post it (refer to
the next news item for the rest of that sordid saga). Now, with a
new Internet Service Provider, we've got it there for you. Look
for it at <http://www.goodoldboat.com/articles.html>.
- We'll also put a simple one out in print each year. The first
one will include all the past years: 1998 (a year of only three
issues), 1999 and 2000.
Better online service for you
- We changed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in early March
and hope to have made a great leap ahead in reliability and online
time (the translation reads: "the site shouldn't crash and be off
the ëNet frequently ó in the last few months service
has been patchy at best").
- The craziest thing that happened in the midst of the crashing
and burning was that our February newsletter email notice went out
to subscribers at a point when our email return address had no
home base reference codes so we couldn't be distinguished from a
fly-by-night spam outfit. The result? Many of your spam filters
cast us aside and refused to send you that notice. So if you
missed notice of the February newsletter, it is (and has been)
posted at: <http://www.goodoldboat.com/nletter.html>.
- That wasn't quite the end of it. Those of you, whose corporate
or personal software marked Good Old Boat as the source of
spam messages, weren't able to receive any personal messages from
us either. We were literally marked with a scarlet "S." Moving to
a new website fixed all that, so we're hoping to be able to have
two-way communications with all of you again. (Let's just say that
February was a l-o-n-g month, and it wasn't just because of that
extra leap day.)
An anonymous donor
- One very neat person (a subscriber, of course) deci ded to do
something nice for others and has paid for five subscriptions for
people who want to read Good Old Boat but can't afford to
subscribe. We've identified five who can use a little assistance
and thank that special donor for caring.
Back To TopHow
do you fight seasickness?
- I really enjoy all the aspects of sailing: the great outdoors,
the maintenance, the cleaning, the feeling of freedom, learning
how to sail the vessel and fine tune the art of sailing, and so
much more. Only one drawback for me: I am very much a MOTION SICK
person. But I have MANY saving graces!
- I can lie down and feel good. Only when I raise my head do I
feel the sickness.
I don't generally throw up.
Once we reach port or anchor, I feel good again, especially if I
go swimming. The cool water chases out all the "sickies," and I
I sleep GREAT on the boat!!
All the adventures we experience on the boat are worth the few
days I get sick.
I am NOT sick all the time - only with a "following sea." When the
wind and waves come at us, I like it a lot.
The "patch" works well for me, but I am careful not to use it more
than I need.
Carol and Greg Fox
- Carol would like to know what other folks do to fight
seasickness. Send us your responses, and we'll publish them in the
Boat names (last
- I've really tried to resist the boat name thing but can resist
no more. A beautiful white sloop anchored in a small bay we were
in had a wonderful name, Winsome, and later as they rowed
by in their dinghy, the transom read Losesome.
- Another was Overdraft and the dinghy was Legal
Tender. At our sailing club we have Toad Hull and the
dinghy is Toad Behind. Other dinghy names are Love Me
Tender (obviously an Elvis fan) and Tender Behind.
Finally, our dinghy is Plan B.
Saltspring Island, British Columbia
- Stop me if you've heard this one, and Jimmy Durante forgive
me. Our O'Day 25; Serendipity, our tiny tender, I'm sure
you guessed, Coinkydink.
South Chicago Heights, Ill.
- Roger Gaby's 30-foot, 1981 Sabre is named Silver Cloud
and his dinghy is named Linin'.
Back To TopMail
A neat website
- Just a quick note to say I found the BUCNET-maintained website
to be very handy. Logging onto <http://www.bucvalu.com/>
will provide an estimated value of a good old boat, for those who
are interested in the value of their boat. It's a handy benchmark
device. Looking forward to the next issue.
Wait! Don't throw out that two-burner!
- I have to comment on something in the article about stove
fuels in the March issue. On page 48, the author relays LaDonna
Bubak's tale of woe about lighting her pressurized alcohol stove.
Her method concludes with, "then, when the puddle-flame almost
dies, you turn on the burner and hope it catches."
- I bought a used two-burner pressurized alcohol cooktop from
Marine Exchange a few years ago and installed it in my 1964
Pearson Vanguard. After having the same frustration for almost
half a season using the same method as LaDonna, I decided to READ
THE DIRECTIONS. Fortunately, they were on a metal plate fitted to
the stove. The correct way to light my stove, that works every
time, is to pump it up, open the valve to get the puddle, shut the
valve, and light the puddle. You then wait until the flame has
gone completely out! Then and only then, you turn on the valve
andrelight the burner.
- I hope you'll pass this on because I can see many boat owners
being as frustrated as LaDonna and I were and throwing away
perfectly good pressurized alcohol burners and stoves. The
two-burner unit I have works fine, and I haven't had to put out a
curtain fire since seeing the light (pardon the pun).
- A fellow boater had this problem after launch, while tied to
the dock. He had no fuel cutoff or decompression lever. We
assisted with advice about blocking the air intake (and supplied a
sturdy short plank). Unfortunately there was enough leakage around
the air intake to allow the engine to keep running! The suction
was extremely strong. The engine did slow down a bit, which gave
Don the idea of also putting the engine in gear, finally causing
it to stall. It was an interesting lesson in humility; the
accepted techniques for solving an emergency may not always
Don Taylor & Sue Welsh
- I just read the information in your February newsletter about
the Columbia 40. I own one of these and thought I could add some
- I question Ted Brewer's ballast statements, as I can't imagine
that the steel pipe used in this boat adds any significant ballast
to a 20,000-lb displacement. The pipe is 1.5-2" diameter (hollow
schedule 40?) and about 10-12' long. This could only account for
100-200 lbs maximum. In addition, the pipe lies from the stemhead
to the mast step. Most of this area is above the waterline
(although low in the boat). I believe the original purpose is
structural strength and load distribution ó not rule
beating. The advantage is the ability to tighten the rig without
distorting the boat. More information on this can be found on the
- If anyone is interested in this beautiful design, pictures and
information can be found at the following sites:
C & C Redwing 30
- We were Scimitar's third owners (Scimitar is
featured in the January 2000 issue); the first two were
residents of Toronto. It was in Toronto that we found her. She was
trucked to Midland on the south end of Georgian Bay. We sailed her
home through the bay, the North Channel, and across Lake Superior
by way of the Keewenaw Waterway. That was
- about 1985. The Redwing 30 is a fine boat. We never felt we
were at any risk although the waves were sometimes 10-12 feet. The
boat never let us down. We have been very pleased with the care
and attention Brian Novak has given her since we sold her to him.
What the next owner will do with "your baby" is always a concern
for a boater.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Practical Boat Owner published some years back the
plans of a 7'9" nesting dinghy that reduces to 4' by 3'10" when
divided. I built one for my Columbia 8.7 and met two English boats
in the Mediterranean that also had it.
- The nesting dinghy rows and motors very well; and nobody is
going to steal it in the Caribbean . . . If anybody wants the
plans, they can e-mail me. It's amazing how these "pram" dinghies
look alike; mine looks exactly like the one Susan is rowing on
page 35 of your March issue and also rows "nose down" with only
one person on board.
Fax number: 718-224 1365
Two PS 25s in Colorado
- I got a sample issue of your beautiful mag with an order
placed at Sailrite. A subscription is going on my B-Day wish
- It was quite a coincidence that the issue I received contained
a wonderful article about how a Pacific Seacraft is a great old
boat. Even more so for someone living in Colorado who prefers to
sail in the Pacific Northwest, Baja, and other points not
connected to the Mountain State by the Prairie State Waterway.
Well we bought a 1978 PSC-25 in Sept. 98, sight unseen, from the
Internet, lying in Bellingham,Wash., matched it with a Cape Dory
25D trailer, purchased sight unseen, from the Internet, lying in
storage in San Diego. We hauled it to Seattle, married it to the
boat in Bellingham, and brought the pair back to Colorado to be
restored, repaired, reoutfitted, etc. She's since been to San
Carlos, Mexico, for Christmas and back to Port Townsend for a
three-week cruise in the San Juan and Gulf Islands.
- She's been a great boat for us, and I figure she is just right
for our cruising plans. When she's behind the truck I think to
myself, "We need a smaller boat." When we've been on her cruising
for a couple weeks, I say, "We need a bigger boat." And when we
hit 35+ knots and 4-5' chop in the Straights of Georgia I say,
"This boat's just right."
Don't let my subscription expire!
- The magazine is so great that I have awakened in the middle of
the night worried that somehow my subscription had run out, and I
hadn't been notified, or I had lost the notice, or I had just
forgotten to send in my renewal. The thought of missing an issue
is too horrible to contemplate. Can you reassure me that it hasn't
run out and that you do indeed send out notices well ahead of
- Yes, Steve, we let people know when their subscriptions are
coming to an end. But some wonder about this before our letter
goes out to them. That's why we've changed the look of the mailing
labels we use. Now you can tell at a glance how many more issues
you've got coming. We won't start reminding you until there's just
one left, since we're bugged by the way some other publishers
handle this reminder process.
- As with 100% of your subscribers ( I assume that is an
accurate number), we look forward to each and every article. We
own an O'Day 272 and sail out of Catawba Island near Port Clinton,
Ohio. If there is a downside to so many excellent articles about
restoring and repairing our good old boats, it is that now the
spring maintenance schedule includes great stuff, which I would
never have thought of without your magazine . . . which means more
good old boat work. Ah, what the heck! Spring is just around the
corner and with it the excitement of going to the boatyard to make
last winter's dreams into this summer's sailing pleasure.
It's a keeper!
- Good Old Boat is the only magazine to which I presently
subscribe. Why? Your magazine has a touch of freshness, and
reality (proximity) not present in the more established magazines.
I don't enjoy reading about the luxury accommodations on a 70'
yacht on which I will never set foot or about instruments that
take the skill out of sailing. (I still splice hemp line.) I like
to read about boats I might own, adventures upon which I might
embark. I want to know about people who sail, rigging, engine
choice, and repair. Good Old Boat meets this thirst. I like
to read fresh reviews of books I haven't read. I'd like to know
about smaller museums, research, and discovery. Who owns the good
old boats and where have they sailed them? Sometimes in the
WoodenBoat "boats for free" classifieds there is a "free to a good
home" boat. I wonder if there is a story behind the boat or old
sailor looking to place his friends in good hands.
- So basically, I think Good Old Boat is a keeper because
it is still fresh and kind of personal. Although I don't feel a
personal need to belong to a group, I like the family feeling that
Good Old Boat expresses. I know everybody wants to make
their business a financial success and that this incentive
inevitably makes magazines slicker and more industry oriented. I
wish the two of you every success, including financial success,
with Good Old Boat, but I treasure your magazine because it
hasn't gotten too big, slick, and glossy.
Just poor folks
- Just stumbled upon your magazine and am impressed. It is nice
that we poor people have something to call our own in the rather
overpriced world of boating. I gave up the idea of ever owning a
Witbread racer years ago and now have a 1978 Contessa 26. Go
figure. I am a 6'1" tall, bigger figure. My wife is 5'2," so we
have average headroom, I guess. The boat is wonderful. If any of
your readers have a longing for a Folkboat and can't find one, the
Contessa would be a great choice. It was designed after the
Folkboat. Other than the coachhouse, it looks almost identical.
How we got ours is another story.
One poor dog
- Hi. I was wondering if I got my subscription order in time for
the January/February issue? I know what you are thinking, another
impatient sailor. Well I have to admit, it's for my dog. He sees
the mailman and gets so excited and starts barking. Then when I
walk in the house and I have no Good Old Boat in my hands,
oh the look on his face, it just breaks my heart.
Donald R Doherty
New boats cost how much?
- Your magazine is a big hit, considering the number of people
who stagger around after calculating the multiples of their home
mortgage the payment for the new boat of their dreams would be. A
box of recent editions would be most appreciated (by Chesapeake
Region Accessible Boating). We are always appearing at events in
the mid-Atlantic area. (My son thinks that's about 1,500 miles
east of Bermuda.)
Join the club!
- Need to check something out. Got a letter from you reminding
me that I am about to lose my subscription to Good Old Boat.
I mailed in my dues (really consider Good Old Boat as
more of a family or club than as a mag), according to my records,
21 Feb. You should have my check by now . . . if not, please let
me know so that I can take appropriate action. Definitely do not
want to miss any issue.
St. Clair Shores, Mich.
- All's well John. Thanks!
But not quite
- Anticipating my first subscription issue of Good Old
Boat is almost as exciting as waiting for launch. (I said
I covet these boats
- I was right . . . patience pays off . . . Good Old Boat
arrived today. Wonderful articles. There has not yet been a
featured boat that I have not coveted at some point in my life.
Forest Grove, British Columbia
"Average" boat nut speaks up
- I am thrilled to find a magazine aimed at the "average" boat
nut. Many years ago, there was a magazine here in the Northeast
that began by segmenting the averagelocal boater. Too quickly they
changed their focus to boats that not many of us can afford, and
they left me behind. I am really looking forward to receiving your
magazine. I guess I grew up with the idea that boats involve lots
of work and lots of sweat. Neither is very glamorous, but both are
quite rewarding. For "the rest of us out here," thanks for
thinking of us, and keep up the good work.
Big time, here we come!
- Your newest edition is smashing! Another tour de force, Karen.
Oh, how we all hope you make it and make it big.
Back To TopBugs
in the tank
This article was set to run in our May issue, but it got
crowded out. We offer it to you this way, since it's too good to hold
and way too good to toss for lack of space.
- After a stormy night spent in the shelter of Lions Head
Marina, on Georgian Bay, we awoke on Fineen II, our C&C 30, to
a clear sky and a good northerly breeze. There were a lot of those
square Georgian Bay waves, six feet high or so, rolling in from
the northeast, leftovers from the storm. It looked like a good day
for the last part of a great trip to the North Channel.
Our dockmates from Wiarton left a few minutes before we did,
motoring into the wind and surge that came through the harbor
entrance, preparing for the 25-mile sail to our home port. Just as
we cleared the entrance, we were surprised to see them fall off in
the trough of a wave and start drifting toward the rocky beach.
Their engine had quit. Fortunately, they were able to get their
sails set and beat away from shore before reaching the shallow
The sail home was pleasant and uneventful until the wind became
fitful and died completely a mile from home. Our friends' engine
still wouldn't start, so we towed them the rest of the way. Then
came the search for the source of their engine malfunction. It was
quickly revealed that the filter was fouled with a slimy gunk.
Some inquiries and thought suggested the cause: the biomass from
fungi or bacteria growing in the fuel tank had been shaken up by
the wave action coming out of Lions Head, and quickly plugged the
filter. This, we found, is a more common problem in diesel fuel
than many people realize.
Diesel fuel storage, whether in your tank or the marina's, poses
potential problems from two very different sources: either
chemical reactions or biological growth can cause difficulties.
(The same things can happen with gasoline in storage, but it's not
normally as big an issue, since gasoline fuel systems in general
are smaller than diesel ones, and the fuel is turned over more
often.) Over a period of time, especially at high temperatures,
the chemical reactions in diesel fuel can harm your engine,
forming sludge that impedes fuel delivery, or causing changes that
greatly impair combustion, resulting in soot and exhaust smoke.
Diesel fuels commonly contain additives such as antioxidants or
inhibitors that impede these undesirable chemical reactions.
- Add your own
But commercial preparations also exist that you can add to your
own fuel tank to improve the fuel's storage quality. Fortunately,
given the relatively small tanks in most good old sailboats, many
of us do not keep our fuel for long enough periods for chemical
problems to occur. (Incidentally, beware of devices that claim to
change the molecular makeup of fuel with magnetism. If you could
put a magnet big enough to change the properties of diesel fuel
onto a boat, it would promptly sink.)
Biological problems are a different story. Because of the
ever-present possibility of small amounts of water getting into
the fuel tank ó mostly by condensation from the humid
atmosphere our boats live in ó the growth of microorganisms
can cause very real troubles. For over a century it has been known
that a variety of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and yeast) are
able to live or survive in hydrocarbon liquids such as diesel
Luckily for us, they need water, so they can only grow when water
is present, and almost no water can dissolve in a hydrocarbon
fuel. But, if water gets into the fuel container, by condensation
for example, it will puddle at the bottom of the tank. At the
interface between the fuel and water, microorganisms can grow and
feed on the fuel. Once they do grow, they produce at this
interface a slimy film or "mat" made up of their cells that is
quite incapable of passing through the fuel filter. Any shaking up
of the fuel, such as six-foot waves produce, will put this mat
into your fuel lines and filter.
In addition to clogging filters, the growth of microorganisms may
also produce acids and other byproducts that could corrode fuel
tanks or swell rubber or plastic components of your fuel delivery
system. There are only two ways to prevent the growth of
microorganisms: either keep your fuel completely "dry," or add a
biocide that will kill the microorganisms. The former is almost
impossible, although there are additives that emulsify water in
diesel fuel and thus let it flow through the engine. Keeping the
tank filled will reduce the overhead vapor space where water can
condense out of moist air, but a little moisture will condense
every time there is a downward temperature change. So it is likely
that you have some water and some microorganisms in your fuel tank
right now. A prudent practice is to add a biocide every time you
- Vigorous sail
The consequence of not doing so may never catch up with you. The
growth of the "mat" may never be large enough to reveal itself.
This is especially possible if you use a lot of fuel, keep your
tank nearly full, and always get fuel from a good source. On the
other hand, if you pick up some wet fuel or get a lot of
condensation into a partially empty tank, you may find that some
day, just after a vigorous sail has shaken up your fuel tank, the
mat has been disturbed enough that it has broken up and passed
into your filter, clogging it and shutting down the engine.
- If you happen to have an extra-large tank and don't use much
fuel over a long time period, you have a real dilemma. If you keep
your tank full to avoid condensation, you'll always have old fuel
which burns poorly and may harm your engine; but if you try to use
up your old fuel by not filling the tank, you'll get condensation
and microbial growth. Unfortunately, there are really only two
possible solutions to this: enter the uncharted (to the public, at
least) maze of using commercial additive preparations to keep your
fuel from aging, or re-fit your boat with a smaller tank One of
the more common biocidal diesel fuel additives is Biobor. Others
include CRC's Bio-Con and Valvtect's Bioguard. Biobor is an oily,
very dilute solution of a pair of complex chemical molecules,
called organo-boron compounds. The makeup of these compounds is
such that they are completely soluble in the diesel fuel, but
preferentially go to the fuel/water interface. There, they react
with water to form boric acid, which is a potent, water-soluble
biocide. Boric acid, you may remember from your childhood, is a
good, old-fashioned antiseptic. In the fuel tank's water layer, it
effectively prevents any microbial growth.
- Tiny amount
The correct amount of any commercial biocide preparation to put
into fuel is affected by its concentration in the commercial
product and its partitioning between the fuel and water. By way of
example, the manufacturer's recommended maintenance dosage levels
of Biobor are intended to give 135 parts per billion of the
organo-boron compounds in the fuel, a tiny amount that corresponds
to 0.0000135 percent and takes less than an ounce of the
commercial product to achieve. This level is effective assuming
that there is less than 0.25 percent of water in the tank; for
example, in a 50-gallon tank of fuel there is assumed to be less
than about two cups of water. However, if there is more water in
the fuel, then more biocide is needed. If too little biocide is
present, it takes longer to kill the microorganisms, and their
reproduction rate may be fast enough to clog your filter. For that
reason, a "shock" treatment, or double dose, is usually
recommended for the first usage of a biocide.
- Back in Wiarton, when our friends' tanks had been cleaned and
engine restored to its normal, reliable operation, I undertook to
find out how to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Since our own
boat had a trusty Atomic 4, I knew nothing about diesel fuel and
its complications. With a bit of reading, I learned that this
problem first came into prominence with airplane fuel in the South
Pacific in World War II, where the combination of long shipping
times, high temperature, and humidity provided just the right
conditions for microbial growth. Subsequent research pointed to
the organo-boron compounds as a solution, and they are still used
in aviation as well as truck and marine diesel fuels. So I
recommended a biocide to our friends. Not too long after that, we
bought our own diesel-equipped boat and began using one in Fineen
III. Neither of us has had any trouble in the subsequent 12
- Ken is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Chemical
Engineering Department at the University of Waterloo in Ontario
and has, for the past 45 years, been active in teaching, research,
and consulting, with emphasis on the making of polymers (plastics)
and their properties. With his wife, Pat, he's been sailing out of
Wiarton in Georgian Bay since 1978 - so far without a fuel problem
except for the day he mistook the fuel tank for the water
Back To TopLots
of ways to spin a prop
Jerry did something different this time. Rather than hunting up
a nugget of info that people would like to know (or should know), he
responded to some talk that's been heatedly going around among
sailors on the Internet.
- One of the things I like about this hobby is the diversity.
The different boats, the different equipment, and the different
experiences weave a rich tapestry, which is often entertaining and
- As a case in point, Cruising World recently published
some opinions written by Steve D'Antonio that were not friendly to
the Atomic 4. Some of the 20,000-odd A4 owners disagreed. Letters
were sent, the Internet was abuzz, and their favorable opinion of
the A4 was made known. Cruising World bravely and fairly
printed some of the opinions in favor of the A4. Steve stood his
ground in his reply.
- One reader asked why he favored Volvos and Yanmars as
replacements for the A4 and did not mention Beta Marine diesels.
His reply, published by Cruising World, was that he had only seen
a handful of them, and while they and several other alternatives
might be good engines, he thought parts and support might be hard
to find. Steve, contributing editor at Cruising World and service
manager at Zimmerman Marine, stood his ground. He said, "It would
be irresponsible to advocate that most A4 owners could safely and
reliably maintain their own engines." He warned of fire,
explosion, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- I was tempted to stay out of this; 20,000 reasonably satisfied
owners against one service manager seemed like a fairly amusing
contest without any help from me. I'm not sure which of these
statements pushed me over the edge, but I find myself sitting here
at 4 a.m. adding one more opinion to the tapestry.
- In the interest of balance, if you stand on the shore of a
busy waterway, you will not see smoking hulks drifting haplessly
about. The sound of ambulances will not fill the air. Your fellow
boaters are not succumbing in great numbers to fire, explosion,
and carbon monoxide poisoning. These events are quite rare. This
despite the fact that most boats have gasoline engines. New
sailboats have not been gasoline-powered for many years, but most
boats (sadly) are powerboats, and most powerboats have gasoline
engines. Big diesels simply cost too much to be a popular choice
in recreational powerboats.
- Even the finest new sailboats are not free of the dreaded
gasoline. Most carry dinghies. Most dinghies are powered by
outboard engines. All dinghy outboards run on gasoline. Many
sailboats have no provision in their design to properly stow their
dinghy fuel. If there is a danger, it is in this area. Having a
diesel main engine does not relieve you of the need to handle
gasoline with respect.
- In contrast to Steve's opinion, the editorial position of
Good Old Boat magazine is that many A4 owners can safely
and reliably maintain their own engines and that good professional
support, maintenance, and parts are available for these engines as
well. The future of the remaining 20,000 A4 engines is
- I like the A4, but I don't own one. I bought my boat with a
diesel in it, and when it became uneconomical to repair, I
replaced it with another one. Interestingly, the engine I chose
was a Beta Marine BD 722. There is nothing wrong with Volvos and
Yanmars, they and many others are good engines too. I like my
Beta, and would choose it again for that boat. I had no difficulty
finding a distributor. The engine has not needed repair, but I
also had no difficulty obtaining spares against the time when the
engine does need them. My engine is a marinized Japanese (Kubota)
garden tractor engine with an Italian (ZF Marine)
- A similar combination is available from at least three
sources, two in the U.S. and one in Great Britain. I don't expect
a problem with parts.
- So there it is, one more opinion in the tapestry, one more way
to spin a prop. It is now 6 a.m. and time to wake the editor with
a cup of tea. She's on deadline and has a magazine to get
Good Old Boat
Published April, 2000
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