Mailport January 1, 2003 Issue

Mailport: 01/01/03

Air Head Follow-Up
Regarding your article on composting toilets [November 15, 2002] I have some comments and clarifications regarding the Air Head Dry Toilet.

The article says: "The separation scheme works fine for anyone sitting down. Men standing up have to aim for the holes - no big deal in a bathroom or calm water, more of a challenge in a seaway."

Actually, it is not necessary for men to sit. The liquid will flow acrossthe trap door and drain into the liquid tank. Aiming for the forward holes may prove difficult for some and therefore is not recommended. The "target" area is approximate, so the method is entirely consistent with the use of a typical toilet, except there is no water in the bowl. As we say in our printed directions, "Men may stand. Avoid targeting trap door directly, to avoid spatter. The best results may be achieved with a banking shot, (or lay-up), see bulls-eyes below... (The bulls eyes are not actually printed on the surface of the bowl - we, with some difficulty, restrained ourselves from doing this.)"

Regarding fruit flies: The unit is screened and filtered to preventintrusion of flying insects. Keeping insects out of the mix is easilyaccomplished by keeping the lid closed when the unit is not in use.(Mom always told us to drop the lid; now we know why). For the same reason the liquid tank should be disconnected from the unit for only short periods, when emptying.

Subsequent to your article we have added some comments in ourinstructions that highlight the possibility of insect invasion and how toprevent it.

I appreciate the time you spent in evaluating the Air Head Dry Toilet and find your results consistent with ours. Further product improvements are ongoing and your ideas in this regard will be considered in futureincarnations of the Air Head DT.

-Geoffrey Trott, General Manager
Eos Design, Mt. Vernon, OH
(makers of Air Head Dry Toilet)

The two of us have been using an Air Head Toilet for some months now. We installed it on dry land to test its capabilities before committing to installing it on our boat. Our experience has been much as yours - excellent, heavy-duty marine construction, virtually no odor except for a couple days on startup when it was just noticeable.

Last week we emptied the solids container (for the first time) by simply dumping it into a plastic sack. It was mostly a non-event, a small fraction of the hassle of cleaning/working on any other toilet - marine or house.

A real plus for this unit has been the relationship and support with the manufacturer. They have gone very far out of their way with good advice and technical support to make sure the unit worked properly. They are the kind of company that we would like to do more business with, but probably won't have to.

-Roger Aue, Brook Delargarza
Port Townsend, WA


Howda Seats
I read your article on cockpit seating with great interest; we cruisersspend a lot of time sitting in our cockpits, and something to support the back is so important.

I was delighted to see that you found and also appreciate the Howda Seats. I met Leslie Novack, the designer/owner of Howda Seats, way back in the '80s on a cross-town bus in Manhattan. She was carrying some of her then-patent-pending seats to sell at the New York Gift show. I was so enthralled by the simplicity of the design that I bought one from her right there on the bus - and I wasn't a boater. I used it in my living room.

I've carried my beloved Howda Seat with me through four geographical moves and into marriage to a sailor. My sailor husband quickly saw the utility of the Howda Seat on the boat. Finally, a seat that doesn't take up room, has minimal materials that can mildew; will dry quickly if wet since there is no cushion; and folds flat when you get up for a quick maneuver - thus not getting in your way as you move around the cockpit. Also, it is the right depth for our sailboat's cockpit seating, so that we can sit in any direction. I found that the thick ratcheted cushion-backed seats are only good for sitting facing forward or aft, and in general they take up too much room both when in use and when stowing.

I was delighted when a quick Internet search found Leslie still making her now-patented Howda Seats; we now have two on board and two for watching TV at home.

By the way, Howda will refurbish seats if the canvas wears out forabout half the cost of a new seat. So far, I haven't needed that service - the 1980 - something seat is good as new.

- Jane Tigar
Annapolis, MD


Alternative Casio
I enjoyed your excellent review of nautical watches [October 15, 2002]. Another model that is not well advertised is the Casio SPF51. Similar to the SPF40 that earned your top marks, the 51 has the analog hands that eliminate the extra translation step you discussed in your review. Since my GPS provides tide and moon data already (as provided by the SPF40), the 51 is a nice alternative. They're hard to find, but try, which also has the best price I found - $164.95.

-Chip Lohman
Woodbridge, VA


Spade Nuts Revisited
As a follow up to "Check Your Spade Nuts" [Mailport, November 15, 2002] I submit the following: I purchased a 16-lb Spade for my San Juan 28 in March 1999, direct from the manufacturer, on Practical Sailor's testing advise. I store it in a deck locker, and it requires disassembly. Therefore, using the furnished bolt presented a problem. To solve this problem, I purchased an Avibank "Ball-Lok Quick-Release Pin" of the proper size. This simplified my usage. Fine silt can clog the balls that restricts removal sometimes, but a little rinsing and checking before using eliminates any problems. I advised the manufacturer to furnish the Spade with this type of pin in the future.

The Spade has worked superbly in all kinds of situations, and I highly recommend it. I also have gone to what I call a "split chain rode" consisting of 6' of 5/16" chain, 40' of 5/8" double-braid nylon, 3/8" swivel, 15' of 5/16" chain, and 180' of 7/16" double-braid nylon. This works for me where and how I anchor. The size and lengths can be varied for anchoring depths. The idea is to bring the anchor and first chain aboard before the second chain leaves the bottom, to save your back. The second chain also holds the catenary down, increasing the holding power. Works for me and has never failed.

-Roland Lindstrom
Kenmore, WA


RayTech - Go With 4.1
Like reader Sterne [November 1, 2002] I have a Raytheon/RayMarine-equipped boat and have had problems with RayTech Navigator 4.0. Running under Windows 2000 the program routinely crashes during use and always crashes upon exit. It is essentially of no use for navigational purposes. Several inquiries resulted in the usual passing of the buck to graphics card manufacturers, bad drivers, etc.

Imagine my surprise when I installed the free upgrade to version 4.1 - it works perfectly. The interface is silky smooth and the program has yet to crash. If only RayMarine had owned up to the problems with 4.0, they could take a bow for the huge improvements in 4.1.

-Duffy Mazan
McLean, VA


Another Glue Removal Recipe
I usually don't write letters or comments, but "Sail Number Glue Removal" [PS Advisor, October 1, 2002] prompts one. Sail number removal was one of the worst jobs I've ever done on a boat in over 20 years of ownership. The local North Sails loft said to use a hairdryer on low heat to soften the glue and allow you to peel off the actual number. Then acetone and rubber/plastic scraper for the glue. Then talcum/baby powder to kill the sticky residue. It was very, very slow work. Frustrated, I finally switched to 3M Adhesive Remover, and the evaporation rate slowed dramatically, giving the chemical more time to work and yielding much better removal and longer scraping time.

I put a large cookie sheet with an all-around 1/2" lip under the work area to trap liquid and allow its reuse. (The next batch of cookies was really great... reminiscent of the '60s and '70s.) The glue balled up with the scraper, but the residue remained sticky. The North loft idea of talcum/baby powder on the cleaned area to eliminate or cover the last of the glue worked very well, as the sail stopped sticking to itself as I struggled with the next number, or the numbers on the other side. So, whatever else you do, use a dusting of the powder on the glue residue. And enjoy the cookies.

-Dick Booth
Treasure Island, FL


E-Paint Update
After reading your review on E-Paint 2000, I decided to give it a shot. Icurrently own a C&C 25 sailboat with a beam of 8' and I sail in the Great South Bay of Long Island's south shore. This spring I removed all of my Woolsey Neptune II ablative paint by sand blasting. I then re-applied another coat of Interulux 2000e (I already had four coats on the bottom).

I ordered one gallon of EP2000 in white. Using a roller recommended by the company, I was only able to get a coat and a half on the bottom. The boat seemed to suck up all the paint, and the result was a very thin cover. After ordering another gallon of paint (and losing additional time after E-paint lost my order) it took another two-thirds of a gallon to apply the second coat and the additional coat at the waterline. This is very expensive paint and I was not happy with the outlay of $370! My application was not perfect either, and the paint was so hard to sand that I eventually gave up as the yard was pressuring me to put the boat in thewater.

I was not able to use the boat more than six times this season. I only raced her once. I got a second, and the boat seemed to be very fast. The bottom was never scrubbed during the season. I had her hauled last week and the yard employees and I were astounded by the results. The bottom had a slight yellow stain just below the waterline and one small barnacle at the aft edge of the keel. There was some minor slime on the port side near the transom. The port side of the boat faces north (the boat faces east-west in the slip) and since that is the side that gets the least amount of sunlight I thought there would be much more. There was no other slime on the rest of the bottom.

The other interesting thing to note was about a foot below the waterline, just below where my third coat at the waterline stopped, the paint was worn away down to the barrier. This 1" strip ran from the bow to the stern on the port and starboard side. Also, the paint was worn down on the trailing edge of the rudder. I am not sure why the paint would wear away, as it is not ablative.

The boat yard employees said, and I quote: "This was the cleanest boat bottom we have ever hauled." They said the Micron with Biolux comes out clean as well, but there is more slime using that paint compared to E Paint. They would rate it superior to Micron CSC with Biolux. So from a lazy, "I don't want to scrub the bottom of my boat prior to every race" standpoint, I love this paint. I only wish it would not hurt my wallet so much, especially now that I am being forced to have the yard paint the bottom because of regulations.

-David Caporale
Via e-mail


Salt-Water Soap
Thank you for the broad spectrum of reviews and ideas. Regarding the use of Joy, have you tried using the non-fragranced, non-color Joy and diluting it slightly? I find that if I mix it beforehand, using 2/3 Joy and 1/3 water, I have less film, less suds, and less rinsing to do - and things seem to get just as clean. Most of us use more soap than we need. Just don't cut down on the scrubbing.

There is also a product I have used called "Campsuds." It is concentrated, and eight ounces was just $2.99 in 1998 (the last time I bought it). It states to "use sparingly in water to clean hands, face, hair, clothing, dishes and anything well in hot or cold water - salt water too."I have found this to be true. The manufacturer is Sierra Dawn Products, Sebastopol, CA.

-Kathie Rieder
Kansas City, MO

We've used Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo, No More Tears, in salt water for years. It lathers, doesn't dry the skin, and, I think, is kinder to the environment than Joy.

-Hannah Gardner
West Chester, PA

I haven't been to sea since the early '70s, so haven't had to worry about"sea soap." However, in those days we used Head-and-Shoulders shampoo for soap. It lathers well and rinses off with that nice squeeky-clean feeling; at least it used to. Give it a try, it may be more expensive than Joy, but it feels good without the soapy after-feel.

-John Wade
Via e-mail


Leg Power in the Lazarette
Thanks for an excellent publication, and thanks for the light touch of humor scattered through the articles.

Your recent editorial on generating electric power with an exercise bicycle was interesting and inspiring. The comparison to the diesel engine's runtime for a similar energy production was a good perspective.

Another way to look at it: Voltage of 14.5 at the alternator times amperage of 4.5 yields about 65 watts, less than 1/10 hp. The full load of fluorescent light and TV of 145 watts is just about 2/10 hp.

The pilot/engine of Gossamer Condor, the first person-powered airplane to fly a defined course, needed to generate about 1/3 hp. to stay aloft. The same pilot/engine subsequently flew the English Channel in the similar Gossamer Albatross.

Yet another way: People who exercise at 60-100 watts for several hours per week have a 20-30% reduction in rate of heart attacks. Idling is not any better for human bodies than for diesel engines.

-Robert Croke, MD
Harbor Island, San Diego

The view from the Gossamer Albatross was no doubt a lot better than the one in the basement. We noticed recently that Jade Mountain/Real Goods sells a set of pedals hooked to a small DC generator. It looks as if you could mount it in a lazarette or cockpit locker. They don't say what the output might be, but it would provide a way to get some good exercise on board while topping up the batteries.

I got a big kick out of your "Seat of Power" editorial. Sailors, by definition, are pretty energy conscious, but your words confirm a long-held suspicion of mine that we're also a bunch of eccentrics. One suggestion: Lose the TV.

-Steve Harrington
Stamford, CT

Tragically, "I Dream of Jeannie" is no longer re-run on the one channel we get. Now it's Spanish language tapes.

Also With This Article
Click here to view "Solar Panel Survey."

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