October 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

Calling all heroes!

It was one of those crisp new apple, explosively colorful fall days. I was a foreign exchange student in Germany. A German friend took a deep breath, spread his arms expansively, and stated with rapt appreciation of the day, "Heut' ist ein Tag zum Helden zeugen." My German was at the basic level, and I missed the nuances at the time, but I think of the phrase every time I experience high-autumn in all its glory: "Today is a day for conceiving heroes."

We've already experienced a few of those crisp, crystal fall days with delight tinged with awareness of impending doom that boat hauling and winter can't be far behind. I didn't conceive any heroes that day or since. But if such a day should take you by surprise, our recommendation is to glory in it. Besides, this world needs more heroes.
Karen had already written the above when -- on another day equally as crisp and clear in Minnesota -- we learned of the tragedies on the East Coast. The horror of those events will continue to haunt all of us and to touch our lives. Yes, now more than ever this world needs more heroes.

A note to those who serve

While we're on that subject, allow us to add that military personnel on deployment may wish to have one copy of their magazine sent to their military post office address and a second copy sent to their homes. It is our pleasure to provide this service at no charge. Send us your customer I.D. number, home address, and military P.O. address. When you come home, let us know.

Long-sleeve T-shirts

In the August newsletter we noted that we will be reducing our selection of logo clothing. We note however, that there have been several requests for the development of long-sleeve Good Old Boat T-shirts. (Some wanted lightweight shirts for protection from the sun in the tropics; others wanted heavyweight cloth for warmth at the other end of the boating spectrum.) Since we'll be carrying fewer clothing items, we don't expect to add long-sleeve shirts. However, we've been looking around for long-sleeved shirts for ourselves and have discovered one boating shirt we like which comes in a long-sleeve version. We've bought a few and wear them with pride. These shirts declare proudly that the wearer enjoys "messing about in boats." The shirts have started at least one interesting conversation for us. So allow us to recommend the Wind in the Willows slogan shirt from The Design Works. Check out the Web site <> or call toll-free: 877-MESSING -- 877-637-7464 (and tell Dean that Good Old Boat sent you). Wear his shirt proudly as our long-sleeve alternative. Truly: "There is nothing-- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

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What's coming in the November issue

We're "putting this one to bed," as they say, and then heading toward Annapolis to spend a couple days at the boat show and a night partying with the sailors in the Good Old Boat Regatta. Here's what's coming:

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Weight of paper poll

As subscribers who are on our email list already know, we were disappointed with the "feel" of the September issue. It was printed on thinner paper, paper that we'd agreed to use two issues ago but which was not actually used until the September issue. (The printer had extra stock of the heavy paper to use up.) Once we got one of these new issues in our hands, we didn't like it but decided to ask those who could be easily, quickly, and inexpensively polled: subscribers for whom we have email addresses. Jerry sent out approximately 4,000 messages asking for a "thumbs up, thumbs down, or I don't care" vote. He received more than 1,000 responses. If you're in marketing, you know that a 25-percent response rate is a remarkable achievement in itself!

The consensus was that content matters more than paper. Most weren't as sensitive to the weight change of the paper as we were (after all, we handle these issues day in and day out!), but we got enough feedback to confirm our suspicions that the lighter paper cheapened the magazine on a conscious and also on a subconscious level. We decided to leave well enough alone and will continue to use the heavier paper much to the dismay of our printer who had stocked up for runs of the lighter paper. (Bless their hearts, they understood about this! Perhaps it's time for another recommendation: Our printer is LGM Graphics, a subdivision of Transcontinental Printing, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The telephone number for them is 800-665-3316. Ask for Ken Squire if you call with printing business, and tell him Good Old Boat sent you.)

The fortunate outcome of our email poll of subscribers is the incredible outpouring of support for our little startup magazine. Bits of some of those letters appear in Mail Buoy columns in the November issue and here in this newsletter. We extend our deepest thanks to all of you who give us the strength to keep buying ink, paper, and postage stamps. We count all of you among our sailing friends. We're thrilled that this publishing adventure is working.

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What to do with old flares on good old boats

At Good Old Boat, we have been wondering for some time what is to become of good old flares, many of which have accumulated on older boats over the years.

Since flares expire and must be replaced in order for the boatowner to be in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations, shouldn't there also be a method for disposing of them properly? You can't set the old ones off, even though you might like to practice using them as preparation for an emergency. You can't ship them somewhere for disposal, since they are classified as hazardous materials. Police and fire and Coast Guard officials have the same problem with accepting them at central locations. Now what are they to do with them, since the same hazardous material shipping problem remains?

We have heard of neat local projects in which members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary held training sessions and asked participants to bring old flares along to shoot off for educational purposes. And we were told of a mobile disposal unit that could be invited to larger sailing areas to collect used flares. As well intended as these initiatives are, they still leave many good old boaters with old out-of-date flares in ever increasing numbers. We looked to the manufacturers of flares for leadership in destroying these things, but they appear to be more interested in selling new ones than in disposing of old ones.

In the August 1, 2001, issue of Practical Sailor we heard of yet a third method of disposing of old flares. This do-it-yourself project helps individuals get rid of small quantities of flares . . . precisely the amount an individual might have accumulated on a boat that's been around for 10 or 20 years or more, in other words a good old boat.

In a letter to the editor, Martha Rose of Wenham, Mass., writes: "Last weekend our yacht club offered a courtesy Coast Guard Safety Inspection, and during the examination of our boat, we asked the young officer of our local auxiliary if he knew any way we could get rid of our 'stash.' He described the method currently used by the Coast Guard, which is simple, safe, and inexpensive.

"He said they simply place a few flares at a time in a bucket of water and leave them to soak. After about three months (refilling the water as necessary and with an occasional stir) the flares decompose to a soft pulp. This pulp is then strained out of the liquid, which can then be poured down a drain or used on lawns or gardens, and the remaining solid matter is safely placed in the regular trash collection."

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Bluewater wish
Subscriber Ray Crew is setting off on a challenge of his own design. Here's his explanation:

On a single day while sailing my 34-year-old wooden-mast Contest 29 yawl last winter a winch fell off, the mainsail halyard jammed, and the exhaust pipe broke off at the transom nearly sinking the boat as my trusty Atomic 4 pumped the bilge full of cooling water on the way back to the marina. About a week later, using the kind of perverse logic that only sailors understand, I started planning a 1,200-nautical mile round trip from Tarpon Springs, Fla., to the Island of Cozumel off the Mexican coast.

What inspired this seemingly irrational decision was a book I read by Linda Bergendahl-Pauling. The Little Bubblegum Trooper is the true story of Linda's son Chris. Twenty years ago he was a seven-year-old in Phoenix, Ariz., battling leukemia. His fondest wish was to become a policeman when he grew up. A friend of the family arranged for Chris to be flown by helicopter to police headquarters where he was sworn in as an honorary patrolman and presented with a uniform. A few days later he was admitted to the hospital. His uniform was hung in his room where he could see it when his fellow troopers came to visit. The little boy, bursting with pride passed away the next day. Chris' story led to the founding of The Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that's been granting the special wishes of children with life threatening illnesses since 1980.

When I was a 10-year-old pram sailor in Cape May, N.J., my fondest wish was to cross an ocean in my own boat. Now 30+ years later, I have the chance to make that wish come true. Even when I'm tired, lonely, scared, and wet, I'll know I'm lucky to be there. Kids like Chris may never be that lucky. With limited time and limited funds, they may never get the chance to have one of their 10-year-old wishes come true. So I'm using my trip to raise money for The Make A Wish Foundation.

Contributors can pledge pennies or dollars for every mile I sail to help kids who are facing challenges a lot tougher than a little wind and water. I've got less than a year to turn myself and my boat into a bluewater team that can get the job done. My 11-year-old son, Ryan, wants to serve as crew.

At this writing Rachel Rose is on the hard undergoing a complete refit; I'm taking sun sights from the dock and brushing up on my navigating skills, and Ryan is learning to sail his own pram. If you'd like to join our pledge crew or do your own fundraising sail for Make A Wish, please contact me at or the foundation directly at You'll help a good old sailor in a good old boat do some good

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Mail Buoy

To air (?) is human
You have a problem! I hope that your boat is OK. Is it still floating? My (monohull) has 2 bows, a port bow and a starboard bow. They come together at the stem. Most people use the term bow to mean the pointy end, as in the front. Since that is in common usage, the correct term will probably get lost like so many others. Maybe you should do an article on some of these disappearing terms.
Carl Dow

All boats, no matter how many hulls must have two bows, one port and one starboard bow. Otherwise, how can we give a direction as "two points off (or on) the starboard bow?" In fact, it would seem that every place one could stand in or on a boat must be either a bow, a quarter, or amidships.
Gregory Fox

OK, NOW we get it!
I hope I'm not putting on Airs here or just blowing Wind but there are two Bows on a vessel, the Port Bow and the Starboard Bow. There are several decks on a vessel, the Foredeck, After Deck, and the Side decks (two), nevermind the below decks. And on some vessels you can get more specific than that. These names are important distinctions when you want to direct some sailor to a particular location, or to look in a specific direction ... maybe in a hurry, unless of course you want them to Hit The Deck and then maybe any old deck will do. A do-decka do-decka do-decka do. I just threw that last sentence on for amusement ... mine at least, I'm easily amused.
Rich Green

And while we're looking foolish . . .
I was happy to see the August newsletter -- until I read the part about Rhode Island. Mystic is in Connecticut. I'm sorry I didn't specify but then (around here!) everyone knows that. If there's a way you can make a correction, please do.
Kai Sturmann
No Kai, you didn't say Rhode Island. The editor just forgot WHERE the big Sparkman & Stephens Designer's Recognition Rendezvous took place. We were thinking Newport. You know, when you get to be as old as we are, keeping track of all the details in life gets increasingly difficult.

Nautical hints for Heloise
Have you considered running a Hints for Heloise column? Small stuff that isn't worth an article? For example: How do you spiff up stained, aged gelcoat? Soft Scrub. Okay. That cleans the surface. But it feels chalky. How do you harden up the surface? Meguairs Premium boat wax in the black bottle. Complete with UV inhibitors and other good wax stuff. Wipe on, let dry, and wipe off. No tennis elbow. The result feels like new gelcoat. Less than twenty bucks for the whole deal. Sales tax included. Okay so it's not really new gelcoat. The rest of the boat isn't new either. How hard is the surface to maintain? A little scrubbing bubbles, a dab of wax. Voila!
Peter King
Peter, if someone else sends hints, you've just started something.

Boat of his dream is not new
Recently I spent some time counseling a friend on boat buying. He wanted (passionately) a new boat. He cringed at the prices and discovered that he was not financially relevant to the market. I loaned him two issues of Good Old Boat and subsequently took him out to see a couple of lovingly sustained examples. He's now on the water and amazed that he had money left over after finding his dreams between the stem and stern of a Pearson Ariel.
Chris Waln

We are a family of boaters
I really don't care about the thickness of the paper as much as the content and the energy that comes through your fine publication. That being said, I am glad you are sticking with the heavier paper for now simply because I save your magazines for reference. By the way I am not a compulsive pack rat . . .yours is the only boating magazine I save . . . keep up the good work . . . also your Internet/email newsletters really do make me feel like a part of a family of boaters called Good Old Boaters.
Richard Berman

Stick around!
California marine surveyor Tom Bell called not long ago to tell us about yet another tragedy involving carbon monoxide on boats. Two people died. He asked that we remind readers, as the heating season is upon us, to remember to ventilate cabins and to install a good carbon monoxide detector. "Houses with unflued heaters have the same problem," he says, "but boats are smaller. Tell people we want to see them out there sailing next summer."
Karen Larson

Self-tending jib's just the thing
The office is quiet this most terrible of weeks, and I have reflected on some of the things for which I am thankful as, I am sure, have most people. The ability to go sailing is, for me, high on the list. In the November 2000 issue you ran an article by Donald Launer called "The Club-Footed Jib," and it was just what I needed.

When I bought Willow, my 29-foot David Stevens S-boat, I was given a battered jib boom that the previous owner had never used. Over the winter I refinished it, added appropriate bronze blocks, fairleads, and a cam cleat on deck for the sheet, all from Bristol Bronze (this is a work of art), and rigged it per Don's instructions.

I had my #2 cut down (twice) to fit and bingo: a self-tending jib! Now I can singlehand the boat with ease. On Labor Day, with a fresh breeze and clear skies, I took her across Plum Island Sound, around Rockport on Cape Ann and to Gloucester. By the time I returned it had piped up to 20 knots and, well, it just doesn't get any better. Many thanks to you and to Don Launer for your assistance in helping me enjoy my boat ever so much more. I look forward to Saturday and one of the final sails of the season. If I can't find a crew, who cares?
Dick MacKinnon

More good projects
I have now had an opportunity to read (my sample copy) from cover to cover twice and am looking forward to the next issue. I enjoyed it so much the first time I had to call in and pay for my subscription so that I will not miss an issue. Now as for the costs: Well $40 for the year is not so bad. After all, dinner out costs that much and provides only a couple of hours of enjoyment. My wife and I will receive many hours of enjoyment from Good Old Boat. Finally my boat (1971 Catalina 22) is already enjoying one of the tricks that I read about in the magazine and is waiting for the next improvement to happen this winter when it is hauled out.
Herb McClenahan
Of course we had to know what projects had impressed Herb. So we asked. The first was the lazy-jack system (July 2001), which is already in use on the Catalina. The second project reserved for the winter is the bigger bed (also in July 2001 issue).

No computerized voice mail?
I can't help it. I had planned on not re-subscribing since I haven't had time to be on my boat this summer. But you guys just do things so nicely I have to support you.

In a time when most companies would rather advertise for new customers than take the (expensive) time to treat the ones they have well, you are a breath of fresh air. What makes me think you don't have a computerized voice mail system?
Bob Zachary

Canada Post necessitates heavier paper
Obviously it is the contents that really counts, but we have a few comments about the lighter paper:

1) We regard Good Old Boat as "archival quality." We have every issue, and intend to keep them forever. Will the new paper hold up over the years?

2) The new paper feels as if it might not take water as well as the old paper.

3) Canada Post has a special machine for chewing marine publications that are not sent inside polybags (e.g. every West Marine catalog we have is "milled" in almost exactly the same way). Please continue to bag Good Old Boat, as we'd hate to think what Canada Post would do to the new paper.

The contents continue to be wonderful. We now only subscribe to Good Old Boat and Practical Boat Owner (UK) because these are the only magazines that have anything to say to us. Thanks for being there.
Don Taylor and Sue Welsh

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Looking for

These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engines.

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Catalogs aren't all junk mail
Al Horner, a junk mail junkie if ever there was one, writes that all catalogs are not created equal. Since we're heading into the catalog season, we offer you a different perspective on the pile in your mailbox and a catalog good old sailors really should know about:

I'm a catalog junkie. I'll admit it. I've been fascinated with catalogs for as long as I can remember. I've become a specialized catalog collector, and tool and boat parts catalogs are my favorites. I can happily spend an hour or so on a rainy Saturday morning over coffee and a catalog, looking at pictures of exotic boat parts, trying to think where they might be useful in the house. (Or looking at hardware catalog trying to find a use for something on the boat.) Occasionally, a little bit of lateral thinking can pay off.

One of my favorite catalogs is from Lee Valley, the fine woodworking tools people (contact information below). I admire their ability to take something ordinary like a set square and turn it into a work of art -- albeit, one that is meant to be used. Other things are more utilitarian. Where else can you get a sharpening water stone that has 1000 grit on one side and 4000 grit on the other? All I have to do is wave my rigging knife somewhere in the vicinity of a braided line, and I'll swear the line is so frightened it cuts itself. It also works wonders on the tiny Swiss Army pocketknife I carry. Trying to take off the curve of the bilge to transfer it to some shelf brackets was simplicity itself with a plastic coated lead flexible curve. It sure beats sticking your head into a locker with little bits of stick and a piece of cardboard wondering which hand you use for the pencil when there's none left over.

And then there's the craft section. A scrap of white oak and about $47 (Canadian, so approximately $1.95 U.S.) yielded a clock, barometer, and thermometer that look great in Time Out. They also keep time and measure barometric pressure with sufficient accuracy for my needs. Sometimes I don't want to know the temperature in the cabin. The same section has a set of miniature aluminum extrusions that I can use to build a set of drawers into the cabinliner. The drawers will have teak faces and very thin, but strong Finnish birch plywood bottoms. The plywood is available in small sheets so I won't end up with a four foot by five foot leftover in the basement.
And then there are the assorted parts for building jigs and homemade tools. A three-pound bag of UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) plastic in assorted colors for about $10 has been turned into rubbing strakes for Time Out. I haven't figured out what to do with the other two and a half pounds but I'm working on it. UHMW plastic has a very low coefficient of friction. It's tough, dense, impervious to moisture, and slippery. Just the ticket for hatch slides, rubbing strakes of assorted sizes, and for making bearing washers of almost any thickness. Think keel bearings and spacers. Incidentally, the same page has foot square pieces of Lexan in either quarter inch or three-eighths thickness. The 1/64th Lexan for making patterns is great for protecting charts in the cockpit. It has a matte finish so you can see through it without glare, and you can write on it. For those of us who still use paper charts, one sheet will cover at least two fully opened charts.

They also have assorted handles that are a snap fit to the end of a 1/4 x 20 hex head machine screw. Sure beats a screwdriver every time you want to collapse the dodger. Did I mention the UHMW polyethylene tape? A small piece applied to a drawer track works much better than beeswax, but if you need beeswax, it's there too. For those of us who are forced to mess about with epoxy and glass, there are masks and gloves that will satisfy the most ambitious safety inspector . . . Did I mention whipping cord? The butane soldering iron is another gem . . .

For reading on those rainy days at anchor, there's the Young Sea Officers Sheet Anchor. If you want to know how to set up the yards, shrouds, and running rigging on your square-rigged good old boat renovations, the diagrams and descriptions are there. The turn-of-the-century (1900, not 2000) book on mechanical equipment is fascinating. The section on pumps hit a distinct nerve, but I haven't figured out where to put the horse. Maybe if I scale it down a gerbil would work. Ashley's Book of Knots is there as well. Those three in combination should allow you to create a replica of Old Ironsides. If your tastes run to music, there's a description of violin making, not to mention simple instruments for the kids.

All of this just proves that if you look at non-boating things with a different perspective, you can come up with interesting solutions. In my mind, the most useful item is a flat stainless steel micro-rasp. It cuts and shapes wood like magic, does a pretty reasonable job on fiberglass. When you're done, rinse it off and use it to grate some lemon peel for the galley. It would probably work on the sort of hard old cheese that the Royal Navy used to serve aboard their ships, but not on Kraft cheddar. Trust me on that.

How do you find Lee Valley Tools and get on the mailing list?
To request a catalog online:
To call from the U.S.:
To call from Canada:

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Published October 1, 2001