August 2001

Contents (what's in this issue)

How to contact us
Good Old Boat Magazine
7340 Niagara Lane North
Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
763-420-8923; 763-420-8921 (fax)

Karen Larson, Editor
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
Dianne Sivald, Newsletter Editor

Those lazy, crazy days of summer

Jerry and I just experienced one of those sailing weekends to be remembered fondly for a long time: the waves of Lake Superior stayed in the less-than-one-foot range, while the wind blew at a steady 15 or so. We sailed on one tack all the way across the lake from Wisconsin's Apostle Islands to Minnesota's famous Split Rock Lighthouse. And we sailed all the way back on the opposite tack. We're more used to constant tacking, endless headsail changes (with our vast collection of hanked-on jibs, we never have the correct one on the headstay), and gradually building seas when the wind is blowing.
But just this once we sailed flat, in control, and fast (usually in the 6-knot range). A trip of 25 miles in each direction took an afternoon from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. or so. The weather was perfect and the sailing outstanding. On that long weekend there were other glorious sailing days also, but this one looms large in our memories. It was hard to come back to the office.
But back we are and working hard on the September issue. What's to come in that issue follows. First the other random news worth sharing: if you've signed up to help Good Old Boat do a book review, do not give up hope. We must have had 75 or more volunteers for the job when we put out the call a year or more ago. We're still working through that list. If you're not on the list, and are not intimidated by the news that it's a long waiting list, tell us what sort of sailing books you like to read, and we'll put your note in the file. We page through these when a book comes in and try to make a good match. We mail the book out once we've received an OK from you that you're willing to give that particular one a whirl. You get to keep the book, and we'll even pay $50 for your time and effort.
John Vigor's series on Twenty Small Boats to Take You Anywhere will be concluded sometime within the next six issues. We'll continue to do a feature boat and a review boat in each issue. We like that format, and there are so many more boats out there to cover! If your boat hasn't come up yet, believe us, we're working on it. That's another strong argument in favor of going to a monthly publication (but that would require several more staff members; we're not ready for that sort of growth yet).
Speaking of growth, however, we are always looking for more subscribers. If you can help us reach some good old boaters who do not yet know about the magazine "for the rest of us," please do. Either send us the mailing address of anyone you think might like to receive a free sample, or ask us to send you five or six copies of the current issue that you can pass along to others. Either way, we get the word out, and once they've seen the magazine, it's amazing how many do sign up. We appreciate your help in our "guerrilla marketing campaign."
One last tidbit: our sales of shirts and hats have been educational. We've learned that the "work for boat parts" T-shirts sell better than the museum ones. We're already into a second printing of the "boat parts" shirt, while the museum shirts are waiting on the shelves. For that reason, we don't expect to reprint the museum shirts. Since these will be allowed to run out, speak now if you'd like one, while we still have most of the sizes left.
The same thing goes for our Tilley hats. The one-size-fits-all ball caps are much easier to stock (and since they're less expensive, they're easier for you to buy). So we're planning to let our Tilley stock dwindle down to nothing. If you want a Tilley hat, speak soon. They are classy and do make great holiday gifts.
And on a sad note, our very popular short-sleeved denim shirts are no longer available for re-stocking. We've still got most of the sizes on our shelves. If you like them as much as we do, give us an order soon.

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What's coming in the September issue

The September issue is not an easy one to face when the boat hasn't been in the water all that long, but a short sailing season is the price we pay to enjoy our northern wilderness. Here's what's headed your way in late August or early September:

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Mail Buoy

Several sailors had fun with Karen's "editorial gripe" in the June newsletter:

To air is human
Originally, what distinguished a yacht from a boat was that a yacht was a vessel devoted to leisure whilst a boat was a vessel engaged in commerce -- i.e. fishing, shipping, etc. The contemporary distinction seems to be that a vessel used for leisure with proper cooking, dining, lavatory, and sleeping accommodations, and a crew to do the dirty work qualifies as a yacht, whilst a "boat" lacks one or more of these. Accordingly, I refer to our vessel -- which lacks a crew to do the dirty work -- as "the boat" whilst my darling wife safely refers to the same vessel as a yacht! Strange, no?
Decks is properly plural as even with a flush-decked yacht one has a foredeck, mid-deck, quarterdeck and -- if one has a properly finished yacht -- an aft deck. In "daze of old," the steersman (helmsman) occupied the aft deck whilst the ship's master took station on the quarterdeck where he or she (yes, women did master vessels) could easily communicate with both crew and helmsman whilst being out of range of the sweep of the steering-oar or tiller. The reference to the quarterdeck remains in use today.
Scott Kearney
Bradenton, Fla.
Airs and winds
I enjoyed your piece about "airs" and "winds." I'm always driving my friends crazy with that's-not-the-right-word commentary. Why do we put on pants (plural) when I obviously only wear one at a time or, in the case of the other gender, a bra, singular, which is obviously for a pair?
Chuck O'Brien
Leonardtown, Md.

Two are better than
Ref: "Decks." What about "heads"?
Frank McClure
Alexandria, Va.
To this we add: How about "bows"? Who are they kidding? We've only got one. Ever seen a monohull with more than one?
I was just reading your June Newsletter. The section on nautical names brought back an interesting remembrance that my father told meóit must have been over 50 years ago. When Britain ruled India there were frequent trips by ships back and forth between the two countries. The non air-conditioned ships of those days could be like an oven in the tropical sun, especially if your cabin was on the sunny south side of the ship. Thus wealthy and influential Englishmen would specify that their cabins be on the port side when outbound (on the north side of the ship) and on the starboard side when homeward bound (again, on the north side of the ship). These accommodations were specified with the abbreviation of P.O.S.H. (Port Outbound Starboard Homeward bound). Later, of course, this term grew into a wider meaning.
Don Launer
Forked River, N.J.
Oops, to err is human also
I just got my mail today and, of course, the June newsletter was the first thing that I pulled out of the stack. One quibble: in your reply to Bruce Swanton you mentioned a "veneer caliper." I'm sure this was just a typo. Veneer is actually a thin layer of something (e.g. wood). The caliper is a Vernier caliper, after Pierre Vernier who invented the short graduated scale used for interpolating fractional parts of a reading (since superceded in most applications by a geared dial indicator -- or digital readout, if you really get fancy). One other thing I should mention. I am very remiss in not getting back to you and your readers sooner. Some time ago I asked for help in locating a water tank that would fit under the cabin seat in our Newport 28. The response was overwhelming. Most everyone recommended Kracor and Ronco. I found Kracor to be unhelpful. They do have an extensive catalog, but they would not send me one. You had to go through it at your local chandlers. It was not on the Web (at that time, at least). Ronco has a very good Web site with a wide variety of special tanks. I found a water tank on their site and ordered it directly from them. It came through exactly as I wanted. I found a stock Kracor holding tank that would fit under the V-berth in West Marine's catalog.

At some point, I'll have to do a write-up on what we have done for this boat. I think we have removed, rebuilt, or redesigned and reinstalled virtually every system on the boat from the original Hood rollerfurler back to the new shock-mounted engine mount and from the re-bedded and re-faired keel to the new lighted Windex. She is now in far better shape structurally and systems-wise than when she left the factory some 25 years ago. It has been a three-year project (so far). We got in a couple of months of sailing last year and, hopefully, will have a full summer this year. She is due to be launched this coming Sunday. Thanks for a great publication.
Doug Bauer
Denmark, Maine

The technical editor takes the fall for this one, though at the moment it seems best to claim for a typo. Actually, I proofed the final version so typo or not, I got it wrong. I did not know why the caliper was named as it was, and my eyes are at the point where a dial would be nice, but I still live with two Verniers and a box full of micrometers with that scale.
On that EPIRB issue
I want to put my two cents worth in here (concerning Relief is spelled E-P-I-R-B in January 2001 and Mail Buoy letters which followed in May 2001). I spent 10 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. The truth is this: Dangerous? Sure there was risk in what I did. I chose that career because I wanted and accepted the challenges that came with the job. It is not nearly as dangerous as it was say 30, 40 years ago. Today we are flying aircraft that are far more advanced than in previous times and the crews are better trained. I can honestly say many of us would much rather be flying on any SAR case no matter how trivial than sitting, I mean diligently ensuring aircraft readiness, around the air station. There will always be the chance that some situation, regardless of how experienced or prepared you may be as a sailor, will catch you off guard. When that time comes some very dedicated people will be there to pluck you from harm's way. If, as a captain or crew, you feel that a situation is potentially life threatening or beyond your skills, then by all means hit the EPIRB button and do it before it gets that serious.
The vast majority of the cases I flew on were not what I, as a sailor, would have considered serious; still I considered each as another opportunity to practice the skills we were trained to use. The more we practice the safer our jobs become. To continue to cite the Perfect Storm (a rare event) or to say that every time we get into a helo is potential suicide is melodrama. As a former Coastie and an offshore sailor, I have stood on both sides of the fence, and I understand and respect the decisions of both those who choose to go offshore and those who choose to help them when something goes wrong.
John Crouch
Palm Harbor, Fla.
Bloodless self-defense
A few months back some of your subscribers struggled with the question of self-defense in response to threatening confrontation or assault while boating. I can suggest an option for those who want to protect themselves but who cannot deal with inflicting injury on another person or whose state law inhibits self-defense with firearms. An alternative is pepper spray shot shell loads that are designed for use in a standard 12-gauge 1 3/4-inch flare pistol. They are sold by Firequest International, Inc., P.O. Box 315, El Dorado, AR 71731, 870-881-8488.
Walt Hodge
Stone Mountain, Ga.
What about inland weather?
Weather books like my current favorite, Weather Predicting Simplified, by Michael Carr, do a good job of introducing the mariner to the use of weather charts like those offered by the Marine Prediction Service of the National Weather Service (NWS). These specialized charts are especially useful to the offshore sailor, as they compile much information useful to the voyaging sailor into one or two charts showing the likely location of significant features currently and 24 hours later.
For inland sailors there is no similar integrated compilation. Instead, each continental weather feature is presented in separate series of charts in immense detail. For example, upper air wind patterns are shown at "altitudes" of 100mb to 800mb sometimes in combination with other analyses utilizing a variety of computer models.

In addition to the hundreds of charts provided by the NWS, numerous other Internet sites provide endless iterations of this information making the choice of charts daunting. As a Great Lakes sailor, I have selected a small set of charts, which permits me to glean similar results to the offshore charts.

From a single free Internet source,, I download a handful of black and white charts. Start with the NWS home page. Click weather maps and select winds, the surface analysis plot #1. Returning to the home page, click on extended forecasts. On this page, you can pick surface analysis and the 500mb charts. I usually pick the 3- and sometimes 5-day forecast, but the reliability diminishes rapidly beyond five days. I also download the extended forecast discussion. This discussion is sort of like the offshore chart in words and, along with the above charts, makes for secure sailing decisions. (No less than 27 pages of abbreviations, some of which always pepper this discussion, make it initially somewhat disconcerting.)
You need to practice a bit to learn to rotate, center, or otherwise adjust the frame to obtain the best printout. You can always supplement with color when available and satellite imagery if time permits. But the brevity is nice if you are grabbing a download on the run and need to reduce online charges.
I would appreciate learning how others have come to terms with these issues.
Jim Hawkins
Minneapolis, Minn.
Rescuing good old boats
Ship's Company (a maritime history nonprofit organization) took a 19-foot Lightning in donation from the previous owner, restored it, and listed it on your Web site (fixer-uppers page). We plan to sell her, from our yard on Kent Island. We took ownership almost two months ago, just finished the registration/licensing transfer paperwork and overhauled the trailer (lights, bearings), and are now ready to get serious about finding this nice restored 1942 Lightning a proper home. More about Ship's Company at our site:
Mike Bosworth
Simple o nline renewal
Here is a vote for keeping renewals online. Already signed up for another year. It only took two minutes. Wouldn't want to miss an issue. Thanks for giving us the very best sailing magazine available.
Jim Mickel
Kalamazoo, Mich.
Not exactly our goal, but...
I will not be renewing my subscription because I am boarding my good old boat (1977 Pearson 39 K/Cb) and going cruising. The items crucial to safety have been taken care of. The other items will happen over time as we travel. Your magazine has been a wonderful help and inspiration. As I cruise south, I hope to find your fine publication for sale at various places connected with the marine business. Thanks for giving a voice to a community.
Mike Shannon
Greenfield, Mass.
Now wait a minute! If everyone leaves to go cruising, we'll have to sell out, pack up our computers and go, too! Humm, now there's a thought . . .
Subscriber for life
More than any other of my sailing-subject subscriptions, I admit that I have found your magazine to be that comfortable and welcomed anchorage that cannot be duplicated. I will probably be a lifelong subscriber.
My very first issue arrived some months ago, and the featured boat was the Allied Seawind Mk II. As an owner of one of these relatively rare yachts, I was to take the article as a sign of welcome. Of the 129 of these boats built during the strife-torn history of the Allied Yacht Company, most still survive. They have become an icon of sorts, and the few that come on to the market are revered by a sort of ASW II cult of buyers. My own ketch, hull #29, built in 1976, (Gigi to be renamed Sea Quill) has a significant history of her own.
Paul Watson
Copiague, N.Y.
Thanks for bringing it up
I started reading the new issue and saw where some guy was complaining about the subscription price. I would like to say that it might be high but as long as I get more great articles and less advertising I'm glad to pay a little more. Some people want everything free. Keep up the great mag.
Dennis Cline
Montague, Mich.

Thanks, Dennis. It was just brought to our attention that we should mention a little-known fact about magazine economics. (Actually, we're just figuring this out ourselves.)
Most U.S. magazines are funded by their advertising income. Believe it or not, they are allowed to have up to 75-percent of their pages devoted to advertising before they lose their periodical mailing privileges (and become something more akin to an advertising catalog which is treated as bulk mail). From the looks of things, some magazines are nearly that heavy with advertising. Those magazines are able to set their ad rates based on how many readers they have.
Ergo, it's worthwhile for them to just about give the magazine away in order to increase circulation and therefore ad rates and therefore income.
Unfortunately, this leaves most sailing magazines dependent in an unhealthy way on the advertisers who support them. If the marine economy slumps or if an advertiser gets out of sorts because of an editorial position taken or lack of mention in the pages, the magazine can be injured financially. So which kinds of boats are shown and reviewed in these magazines? Those with manufacturers that are buying ads, of course. That analogy continues with sailing gear and other marine equipment. The advertisers who pay the piper have much to do with the dance being played.

Not understanding that, Good Old Boat started out without advertising. Foolishly perhaps, there were only two founding partners, and we thought it would be simpler and more elegant to skip the hassle of selling and creating and keeping track of and invoicing for advertising. So we set our subscription price high. High enough, we thought, to make this a subscriber-supported publication. We soon learned that we needed additional revenue and that our subscribers wanted ads that were pertinent to the work they're doing on their boats. So we began accepting advertising.
Still, we are primarily supported by your subscriptions, which gives us the happy advantage that if the economy sinks some of the marine companies out there, the loss of their ads will not cause the end of this publication. Likewise, if an advertiser wants to play hardball with the editors due to something we said or didn't say, we can lose that advertiser without having to lay off staff or reevaluate our budget. We're glad to have the advertisers that we have with us ñ don't get us wrong. But no individual advertiser has the sort of power to define editorial policy. We like it like that.
Floating Bombs
In the June Newsletter Charlie Sweet commented on the "Floating Bomb" Seven Bells. In his letter he mentioned the increased octane rating of modern fuels indicating that the higher ratings are perhaps more dangerous than the older fuels. Actually, the higher octane ratings burn more slowly than lower rated fuels. This allows the fuel/air charge to be ignited earlier and produces a much more efficient flame wave in the combustion chamber. If you have ever heard your car's engine "ping" it is because the fuel/air charge actually explodes instead of burning at a controlled rate. The term "octane" refers to the type of petroleum product used to establish a performance number. Normal Heptane has a performance rating of 0; iso-octane has a rating of 100. By blending the two and running the mixture in a standardized engine (aka a "knock motor") a comparison can be made to an unknown fuel and an "octane rating" can be established. The really high performance fuels have other additives added to slow the burn rate even more. In the old days it was tetra ethyl lead, hence the term "ethyl" for high grade fuel.
The real issue with gasoline is the evaporation rate, or its Reed Vapor Pressure measurement. No fuel will burn in its liquid state. At normal temperatures diesel does not evaporate, hence it is the preferred fuel for boats and such. Gasoline, on the other hand (why is there always another hand anyway?) will evaporate at minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit so it is ready to burn under any condition. To make things worse for boaters, the vapor is heavier than air and will accumulate in the lower parts of the boat unless vented. For what it is worth, one cup of gasoline in an empty 55-gallon drum is equivalent to a five-pound stick of dynamite.
So, now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about fuel ratings, what's the point? In theory the newer fuels are "safer" than the old ones. In practice there is no such thing as a controlled flame wave in a bilge and Charlie is absolutely right, we are all lucky to have survived those days! Try to keep the dry side up.
Andy Shanks
Grand Prairie, Texas

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Looking for

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Protection from the sun

We saw Gerry Kidd's latest column in the March issue of Pacific Yachting magazine, and asked for permission to share it here. It's a message all boaters should hear.
I won't say how many years I've been boating, but it's approaching 50, and during most of those years the damage the sun can do to one's skin, particularly for fair-skinned people, was not as commonly known and discussed as it is today. I'm quite fair and, as I am just getting over my third treatment as a result of too much sun over too many years, I felt it might be interesting for others to hear what's going to happen to you if you are silly enough to think you can beat the ultraviolet.
Those of you with darker, tougher skin may not burn so easily, but you can still suffer similar damage over the years, so before you go back to the cruising stories, you'll want to read on as well.

A few months ago I went through my third major session of treatments for a potentially serious ailment known as Actinic Keratoses, the medical term for a bunch of pre-cancerous lesions which usually develop on the face, although they can also appear on the back and forearms. I was treated by a dermatologist who sailed a J/24 for many years, and who told me this affliction is common among fair-skinned boating people, especially sailors, who usually steer from a position close to the water and spend hours staring at telltales facing into the sun and exposed to brilliant reflection off the water and sails.

All my years of sailing were spent without a hat because I like to feel the wind on my face, and hats have a habit of blowing off when you're going to weather. Effective sunscreens have only been available in the last decade.

Although I'm fortunate to have a thick crop of hair, all that bush on my crown was not enough to stop some serious sun damage to the top of my head. About five years ago, the dermatologist found a lump up there, and was able to take the whole thing out in his office. A biopsy showed it was basal cell cancer, the least dangerous form of skin cancer, but if it had been ignored for too long a time, well, you wouldn't be reading this, at least not from me.

A couple years later I had a bunch of lesions on my face treated in a process that takes a total of about six weeks of unpleasantness, and then I had to repeat the whole treatment this past holiday season. Because the damage is to cells deep under the outer skin, I was told I would probably have to go through the process again in a few years as the lesions reappear. The lesions are the direct result of overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, and on some people they develop into invasive squamous cell carcinoma, which is quite serious. The first sign of trouble is the development of scaly papules on the forehead, down the side of the face, or on the ears. They are practically invisible but are easily felt by rubbing your hand over the skin.

In early December, I noticed quite a few of these things developing on my forehead, and dutifully paid a visit to my sailing dermatologist. He gave me a prescription for the standard cream used to eliminate the lesions, an innocent-looking tube called Efudex. I had to apply this cream thinly twice a day for three weeks, and then drop back to see the doctor.
After a week of Efudex I began to look like a teenager with a bad case of acne. I had bright red blotches all over my face, some of them bleeding. The doctor had warned me that it was going to be pretty ugly, but even after a similar session four years ago, I wasn't quite prepared for the revolting mess the cream created, and the wincing reactions of my family and friends. I'd been told that most people who used this stuff stayed home during the worst of it, and I could see why. So I spent over two weeks working on my iMac and watching the American election crisis on CNN.

The treatment isn't painful, but during the worst of the blotching it was infuriatingly itchy. My wife was unsympathetic, reminding me how many times that she had warned me to put on a hat and T-shirt during those sweltering July days in Desolation and farther north. Every time I looked in the mirror I felt like an ass for exposing myself to all that sun damage over the years. My ugly face was harsh payment.

When I returned to the doctor after three weeks, his first comment was "Ah, that looks pretty good," meaning, of course, that the cream was doing a good job of getting rid of the lesions. He said I was ready for the antidote, a betamethasone cream with the trade name Betaderm. He said to apply this thinly twice a day, and it should start to get rid of the mess in a week or so. But, he warned me; it wouldn't be completely gone for about a month, so I shouldn't plan on attending a lot of Christmas parties. At the few parties I did attend,I got tired of explaining my ailment and was surprised at the lack of sympathy I got, so I mostly stayed home until my face healed.

The many excellent sunscreens and the increasing popularity of Tilley hats, made with a chinstrap for sailors, is helping to cut down the damage in recent years, but the danger is increasing because of the thinning ozone layer. In certain places, New Zealand being a prime case, a huge hole in the ozone cover is causing quick 15-minute burns to fair-skinned people, and strong sunscreens well over 40 SPF are commonly used. Good sunglasses are also important, as those same ultraviolet rays can cause macular degeneration or cataracts. Blue eyes, like fair skin, are especially prone to sun damage.

So, take those warnings from the medical people seriously. I didn't, and now I'll be spending the rest of my life making periodic visits to dermatologists to undergo another six-week adventure with the ultimate uglies.

Ladybug II

When John Phillips sent this story, he told us he'd written it for his kids. We liked it enough to give it a slightly larger circulation.

When I was a child, my family spent a good portion of our time on our knees working in one of the various flowerbeds that we had. Ladybugs were a constant companion. My mother would softly sing that children's song and help us believe that this particular bug represented good luck and fortune. Years later at her funeral each of us kids commented on having found a ladybug crawling on our hand or sleeve at one time or another that day. Not that I am suggesting anything surreal or superstitious, because it was just that time of the year when ladybugs were quite common in Nebraska, but rather that we had all carried from our youth this special feeling about a ladybug and its place in our lives.

Several years ago I decided to sell a family business, disrupt everyone's life and buy a marina. At 52, I felt it was time for a change. With this came a great deal of worry. Nighttime became a time to dread, a time when self-doubt, worry, and fear crept in and almost jeered at me through the darkness. During this time, for some reason, I decided to purchase a Cape Dory Typhoon that was located in Chicago. I sent an employee to pick it up, and while he was gone the old self-doubt started again. Why was I spending money on a boat at this time? It wasn't that much money, but in getting the marina going, I was going to need all of the cash I had. The night before he was to get back was hell. The next morning I drove down to the dealership early, nervous but anxious to see the Cape Dory. As I pulled up to her I couldn't help but love her lines. I got out and started what all really nutty boat people do, rubbing her teak, knocking on her hull and gradually worked my way to the transom. As I came around behind her I saw her name and knew that everything was going to be all right. She was named Ladybug II.
John Phillips
Raymond, Neb.

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Published August, 2001