Mailport March 2002 Issue

Mailport: 03/02

Back in the Ozone Again
I have just read about "ozone warnings" in your January 1 issue. I might suggest, having been a long time ozone user, that the generators be used with a purpose in mind, that is to remedy a situation. Attack the problem, get rid of the odor, and ventilate the area before re-entering. I don't leave a machine on and try to coexist with it. I don't believe that large machines that do make a difference are meant to be on with you staying in the same room at the same time.

The generators work well, and do the job they were designed for, but must be used with some common sense. When you use various household cleansers, they always warn to avoid breathing the product. Same for ozone.

-Arnold Cohen
New Hamburg, NY


As I recall from high-school physics, ozone is simply O3, a molecule consisting of three atoms of oxygen. It is unstable, since oxygen is much more comfortable in the O2 state (a molecule of two oxygen atoms). It is this instability which makes ozone a good eliminator of odor and mold, since it is anxious to get rid of one of the oxygen atoms, by unloading the extra atom onto any unsuspecting candidate, and oxidizing odor and mold molecules, not to mention accelerating any rusting that might be going on in the neighborhood. Left to its own devices, ozone will quickly revert to the more familiar O2 we all love and breathe. Even in the absence of something to combine with, the extra atoms will cast off from the ozone molecule, and combine with other cast-off atoms, forming more O2.

I don't think it needs ventilation, since it will completely revert in a short time. Ventilation during use would seriously inhibit its effectiveness. Of course one should never be aboard when actually using it, since it will try to oxidize your lungs as well as odor and mold. But you shouldn't have to purge the environment when you turn off the ozone generator; just wait a little while before breathing the air. I'm guessing that a wait of an hour or two would be more than sufficient for all the O3 to revert to O2.

-Mike Poskozim
Charlotte NC


Don't Equalize Gels or AGMs
You should never equalize gel cell batteries (PS Advisor, January 1, 2002); they will be permanently damaged. Even at "winter temperatures" when a battery can safely handle a higher finishing voltage, the voltage of an equalizing charge (over 15 volts) will ruin the battery. Equalizing is only for wet cells, not gel or AGM.

You might also warn readers that electronics should be disconnected from any battery during equalization as the high voltage will also damage them.

-Bill Beery
Darien, CT

Thanks for the clarification. As you point out, equalization should only be done on flooded-cell batteries. We lapsed into a general discussion of charging techniques and technologies in that Advisor, but should have specifically warned against it in the case of gel and AGM batteries.


Navigation Lights
Thank you for an important article on navigation lights (January 15, 2002). A couple of thoughts:

We sail across Buzzards Bay and down to Long Island Sound, often at night. The advent of radar, GPS, and autopilots has resulted in huge increases in night traffic. Some very loud, very fast vessels do not show running lights heading out to sea or coming back. Many daysailers and fishing skiffs show no lights. Large powerboats going from Newport to Block Island, for example, seem to set their autopilots and forget it.

It is dangerous to assume you are seen at night, especially if there are background lights. It is foolhardy to assume that other vessels understand that you have the right of way if you are under sail.

Want to talk about approaching the East River in New York? While "tense" is a relative term, I seem to recall moments of concern on almost every night passage of significance in these waters.

If you plan to sail at night and have 1-nm running lights, get rid of them. They are too difficult to see. Get 2-nm lights. The disadvantage of 2-nm lights is that in fog they reflect backward, which ruins night vision.

If your puny 1-nm lights are mounted on the toerail or on the hull, move them higher—the lee running light mounted at toerail level is hard to see when the boat is heeled. We moved ours up to brackets on the pulpit and pushpit.

Our impression is that original-equipment lights on 15- to 20-year-old sailboats are dimmer. We theorize that it is a combination of undersized wiring, slightly corroded wiring and bulb contacts, and clouding of the lenses.

Any skipper planning on doing night sailing should see what the vessel's running lights look like from 2 nm away. Often it is pretty scary. That is what prompted us to upgrade years ago. Fair winds.

-Ted Cady
Warwick, MA


During construction I installed the Perko 170 series side and stern lights (for motoring) and the masthead Hella 62225 (for sailing) on our sailboat 24 years ago. They are still working just fine, but here are some comments. The Perko red and green tinted lenses fade with use until they are hardly distinguishable from white or clear. The lenses can be turned in their mount so an unfaded section shows in the aperture, and then I replace them when they fade again. The Hella tricolor plastic lens screws into its base. This arrangement lets rain into the base until it gets deep enough to short or corrode the electrical connections. At first I tried to seal the threads with silicone sealant, but frequent trips up the mast to clean corrosion off the bulb connections meant frequent resealing. I finally solved both problems by drilling two 1/8th inch holes through the Hella base to let the rain water run back out and by soldering the bulb into the lamp base. Now when the masthead light infrequently goes out, I know the bulb is burned out.

-Dan Van Sickel
Panama City, FL


Medical Kits
Referring to "Off-the-Shelf Medical Kits" (January 15) , we at Medical Sea Pak appreciate all the good things your reviewer Dr. Paul Gill said about our Coastal Cruising Pak. Dr. Gill's comparison with competing products is, however, apples to oranges. He defines coastal cruising as sailing/motoring for several days within hours of medical care. This criterion is more suited to our Excursion Pak (retail about $200) than our Coastal Cruising Pak. Our Coastal Cruising Pak is designed for cruising where medical care may be up to two days away, often the case in foreign waters.

I refer your readers to our website to view the definitions used in selection of first-aid paks, and the 10 design features that make Medical Sea Pak the gold standard in the marine marketplace.

Dr. Gill faults Medical Sea Pak on the paucity of medications, without noting the reason stated in the manual. All medications have a shelf life and should be reviewed at the beginning of a voyage or season. When so many people are on medications, recommending even common ones is risky business.

Dr. Gill calls the manual in the Coastal Cruising Pak "sketchy." The manual, which is the heart of the "First Aid-By-The-Numbers" system, is simple, brief and to the point, because we assume that the least trained person may have to be the caregiver, and in moments of panic does not need the Merck Manual or other backup tomes.

Finally, Dr. Gill recommends a competing first-aid kit with only 10 closure strips to manage wounds—not sufficient by any standard.

When emphasis is on number and severity of problems solved rather than on content, the consumer is well served even if the cost is more.

-Ethan Welch, MD FACS
Rochester, NY


Family Radios
I, too, can think of countless uses for FRS radios aboard boats (January 1) —especially cruising boats in far-off places—so I read your review of family radios with interest. However, I believe you made one substantial oversight in your review. That ever-important feature of water resistance (especially with electronics!) was not discussed. The Icom 4008 is waterproof—a feature not mentioned. In my opinion, the waterproof Icom 4008 is the only FRS radio that should be aboard a boat.

-Nita Ferreira
Honolulu, HI


I bought a set of Cobra MicroTALK FRS 220 radios at a Costco Warehouse. They came as a "FRS 222-2 VP Value Pack." It is Costco item # 395288, sells for $79.99, and has a rebate of $20.00 which offer expires 07/30/02. Included in the value pack are two radios, two NiMH battery packs ($29.95 each), dual port desktop charger ($19.95), two belt clip/desk stand holsters ($4.95 each), manual, Accessories Rebate Offer of $5.00 per accessory (limit two rebates per accessory). The prices shown above are the accessory prices shown in the manual.

In addition to the two-year warranty the packaging says "Water Resistant—Improved reliability for indoor/outdoor use."

Given the price:value ratio of all this you may wish to re-evaluate your selection of "Best Buy" even if field performance is only fair in comparison to others.

-Jack O'Brien
Lake Worth, FL


Website Classifieds
I just got around to reading your November 2001, issue where you list favorite websites. I was surprised that you chose as "best nationwide source of boats-for-sale classifieds." beats Soundings hands-down when it comes to numbers of boats and speed of access. An example: I asked Soundings for Ericson 38s and got two. It took over 30 seconds to get a spec list and photos on screen. Yachtworld gave me 14 Ericson 38s and I could see photos and detailed specs in four or five seconds. Another example: I asked for J/35s and 37s, in one joint request. Soundings gave me six boats; Yachtworld gave me 44. I believe that one difficulty with Yachtworld is that only brokers can submit boats to their listing. That may not be true for Soundings and that would make it a good site for For Sale By Owner ads. But if one is looking to buy a boat, or to see what is on the market, simply can't be beat.

I might add that I understand that both sites are a little slow pulling"sold" boats off their listings, though that may be a function of thebrokers rather than the site itself. This tardiness would inflate the number of boats shown on each site.

-James Collins
San Diego, CA


Honey Teak Backup
I can vouch for what PS wrote and Barry Brierley supported (Mailport, January 1). Having tried most products and found varnish deficient and Cetol-type products repellent aesthetically, I then tried Honey Teak. Although applied to mahogany where the colouring is a little less satisfactory perhaps than on teak, I can vouch for the fact that five coats onto bare wood, according to the instructions, lasted one year with only moderate local failure in Cuba and the Windward Islands, and that two further coats lasted another year in Venezuela and the trip back north to Maine. Those using Epifanes, the favoured varnish in the tropics, were revarnishing every two to three months. Of course if maintained this way the Epifanes finish was aesthetically superior. I have no doubt that in Maine or the Chesapeake, Honey Teak would go for two seasons or more.

In addition, the proprietor of Honey Teak, Tom Fabula of Signature Finishes, is charm itself—always available with advice and help, even on a weekend.

It will be very interesting to see how Bristol Finish matches up in comparison for clarity and longevity. It looks to be a good product.

-Patrick Matthiesen
Sparkman & Stephens Assoc.
London, England


Seasickness Survey
The following was sent by contributing editor Scott Rosenthal. We're printing it to remind readers that letters in response to the seasickness survey are on the PS website under Mailport Online.

I've always suffered from debilitating seasickness. Before my first Bermudatrip, I went out seeking a solution to this curse. I spoke with two women at the marina with sea-bands on their wrists. They were midwives and prescribed the bands for their pregnant patients with morning sickness. That's nausea, right? So I bought some.

When my wife and I went to Lamaze class before the birth of one of our children, the instructor said that the breathing exercises would also be good for reducing anxiety over nausea. Ipaid as much attention as my wife, but for other reasons.

My new-age secretary "programmed" a crystal to ward off seasickness. She said that it would only work if I touched it with my left hand (never my right) and kept it in my left pocket.

I believed so hard in that little crystal... but just to cover the bases I also took a pharmaceutical approach and after extensive research, found a drug combination of phenergan and ephedrine that promised relief. I set off for Bermuda, packing all four remedies. It was my first seasickness-free passage, and I didn't care which technique worked!

For the next 10 years I always sailed with all four. Why chance it? Then, by mistake, I touched the stone with my right hand—and didn't get sick. Meanwhile the wristbands had gone by the boards. So now I'm down to two remedies—the Lamaze breathing and the pills. Together they work like magic.

The dose prescribed for me is 25 mg phenergan (RX only), with 25 mg ephedrine (non-prescription, but behind the counter), taken together every six to eight hours. Of course you'll need to check with your doctor to find out if this combination would be suitable for you.

-Scott Rosenthal
Columbia, MD


In the January 1 PS Advisor on the difficulty of finding CNG and the idea of converting to propane, the phrase "bottle pressure" was wrongly substituted for another phrase in a sentence that said CNG bottle pressure was less than half of that of propane. In fact, normal cylinder storage pressure for propane is 109 psi at 70°, while normal cylinder pressure for CNG at the same temperature is 2,250 psi.

Thanks to Bruce Waddell, Harry Hutton, and Nelson Bailey for the heads-ups.


Where Credit Is Due

To Ancor Products (, Cotati, CA:
"I've been an ardent subscriber since 1987 and this is my first mail to PS. You must get hundreds of these daily—and so to business. The Ancor Mini Butane Pocket Torch is a really nifty, innovative piece of marine equipment. I use it to heat shrink, seal synthetic line ends, etc. The refillable butane cartridge is essentially a lighter modified to fit in the torch handle. I had two of the refillable cartridges rupture at the base and couldn't find separate replacements anywhere. Because the torches got banged around a bit I accepted responsibility for the problem. I finally wrote Ancor Products and described my problem. They shipped me four of the cartridges at no charge. Ancor makes quality marine electrical products and I really appreciate their sense of corporate responsibility.

-David McCowen, Gig Harbor, WA

To Lighthouse Navigation, Aarhus, Denmark:
"Last summer my 1980s vintage Danaplus 3200 combination depth/log instrument died in service. After a Web search and with some assistance from a Danish friend, I was able to contact Lighthouse Navigation in Aarhus, Denmark, as a repairer. They turned around the depth/log/display units, including a new keypad and display, in just a few days at a very reasonable cost of about $140 Canadian, compared with a new system at about $2,000+. Great service—no problems!"

-Martin Sheriff , Port Moody, BC.

To Patagonia (, Reno, NV:
"I bought Patagonia offshore bib pants in the US in about 1989-90, and did a lot of offshore racing for about five years around Hong Kong. I've used them a lot recently here in South Florida (similar weather to Hong Kong). The internal seam-taping came loose, so the pants started leaking (the cloth was still pretty good). I sent them back to Patagonia, and they were returned yesterday, fixed, and at no charge, in less than three weeks. I was really happy—it saved me buying another pair of bibs for $200-$300, assuming you can get good ones for that these days.

-Bill Schell, via e-mail

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