Editorial July 1, 2001 Issue

By Way of the Web

We’re awash in e-mail here at our editorial offices. We read every letter that comes in, and we copy many to appropriate folders for Mailport, Credit Due, and PS Advisor. Unfortunately, we can’t respond personally to every e-mail letter right away, and we can only publish a trickle-worth out of the flood we receive. This means that quite a bit of material that might be of good use to readers isn't seeing the light of day.

So, beginning this month, we're going to send a bunch of the overflow correspondence to the Practical Sailor website, where it will be available for subscribers to read. For the time being they'll be set in simple text-format documents according to the same categories currently listed on the site: Anchors & Anchoring, Apparel, Binoculars, and so on, with the most recent letters at the top. You can scroll through them, or search them using the standard Control-F (or Apple-F) function on your keyboard.

Note that this will not be a bulletin-board forum, at least for now. These are letters to the editor, so we'll edit and publish them selectively. We will include the correspondent's e-mail address with each letter, so that other readers can respond directly. Also note that we (meaning I) don't have administrative access to the website, so we won't be able to make a fast change if you send something in a letter that you should have considered sending only after counting to 10 slowly and calmly.

We forward your questions and comments about our website (including technical issues, complaints, and praise) to those at the home office responsible for the site, via the Customer Service e-mail address listed in the masthead at the right. We forward questions and requests about subscriptions, changes of address, and billing to our Subscription Department, also listed to the right.

If you have a question about a specific boat or piece of marine gear, the first place to start is the Internet. Use a good search engine (our favorite is www.google.com) and type in accurate keywords, like “windlass” (not windless) or “12-volt refrigeration.” Most manufacturers now have websites with contact information and frequently-asked question files. Our website developers are building the links page at www.practical-sailor.com to include the worthiest of these sites, and we welcome your suggestions.

There are owners’ groups for many if not most kinds of production boats; these groups are the best places to find and share know-how on specific issues, e.g. “I want to replace the engine in my Ericson 32-200. What should I buy?” This is the kind of question best answered by people who have direct experience with all parts of the equation, including in this case engine space and access, engine mounts; transmission, shaft, and propeller concerns, location of wiring harness and instrument panel, and more.

When you go to your favorite search engine, take a minute to read about how to search effectively. At Google, if you type the keywords “Hunter owners group” you’ll get links to thousands of pages, with what the search software thinks are the most likely fits at the top. You may or may not find what you’re looking for at the top, but the search engine will eventually produce all documents that have any of those three words in them — zillions. So, knowing or at least strongly suspecting that there are Hunter owners’ groups online, you would narrow your search by typing “Hunter owners” in quotes, which tells the engine to look only for matches that have those two words together. And bingo — the second item in Google’s list, after your refined search, pegs a good target: www.hunterowners.com.

We always want to stay in the loop, but when our most useful role is one in which we can refer you directly to the people you need, that's the role we want to play.

—D.L.

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