Mailport July 15, 2003 Issue

Mailport: 07/15/03

Teak-Guard and VertGlas
I just completed a project to restore the appearance of my 1978 O'Day 22, and I thought I'd pass along my experience and reactions for whatever they're worth.

The boat has teak toerails, which a previous owner had covered with fiberglass caps.  The caps were coming loose, so I decided to remove them and restore the toerails to the original finish.

In addition, I had refinished the other brightwork a couple of years ago but made the (stupid!) mistake of using spar varnish the previous owner had given me when I bought the boat.

The varnish was bad.  (I don't mean it was a bad product—I think the can was not tightly resealed and God only knows how old it was.)  While it looked fantastic in my garage, it completely bleached out within a month after putting the boat in the water, and had almost entirely worn off within two years.  At least I didn't have to sand it off again!

This time I used TeakGuard—a synthetic oil.  Aside from removing the adhesive from the toerail, it was a fairly painless process and it looks good.  It seems like refreshing the finish should be even simpler.  It still hasn't had much time in the sun to see if the nice appearance will last.

On the fiberglass, I used the Vertglas restoration kit.  My boat was very badly oxidized, and I ended up using the de-oxidizing cleaner on a dry hull with a damp white Scotch Brite pad. If I watered the fiberglass down first, the cleaner was too diluted for the oxidation.  Or, at least it seemed that way to me.  But the oxidation remover and the boat soap resulted in a really clean boat.

The restorer seemed to work really well.  I did the deck and cabin roof first, so sags or runs were not much of a problem.  As a result, I had gotten a little too cocky by the time I reached the topsides (which I left until last).  I have several places where the first coat sagged or ran slightly just below the rubrail.  But, I decided that anybody who sees that after the boat is in the water is looking way too close!

I am really impressed with how well the boat shines.  I spent a little over $100 on the fiberglass restorer.  I had to buy a second bottle of de-oxidizer and an additional 32-oz .bottle of restorer.  Naturally, the paint has plenty of imperfections after 25 years of use by a succession of rookie sailors, and the restorer doesn't repair those.  But it sure brought back the shine as well as the color of the cove and waterline stripes.  And for a fraction of the cost of having the boat painted.

One question: When I removed the fiberglass cap from the toerail, some of the teak "plugs" covering the screw heads were lost.  I use the term plug loosely, because they are about the thickness of veneer.  Is there someplace I can buy those things?

Thanks, and keep up the great publication! 

-Ken Klemme
Via e-mail


Teak plugs, or bungs, for covering screw heads, are sold by West Marine and other chandleries. They're usually about 1/4" deep. Insert one on top of a screw with a drop of glue, let it cure, then shave it flush with a sharp chisel. Or make your own bungs from teak veneer with a hole punch or hole chisel.

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Thermoelectric Coolers
I read with great interest your article on thermoelectric coolers in theJune, 2003 issue, as I had recently purchased the Coleman Powerchill 5640B. I think it is important to note that when the construction and performance differences are relatively insignificant for me price became the primary deciding criteria. Given that the Coleman Powerchill is widely available at Wal-Mart for $68.77 and includes an AC converter, it was hard to justify the purchase of the others. I can certainly fashion a secure latching system with the $40-50 left over, and the included AC converter makes it all the more flexible on and off shore.

You also failed to note that some of these coolers like the Coleman can be used in both a top-loaded andfront-loaded configuration, very much like a small fridge. It is nice to havethe front-loading option as not only does that makes the cooler moreconvenient to use at times, but also provides a different footprint for useon board, allowing it to fit where others won't. Yes it is a little largerthan I would prefer, but given the room on board I will probably appreciate the extra capacity the Coleman provides. I would frankly have preferred to purchase the Coleman Powerchill III, which had a few more features, including a light and an internal thermostat to prevent freezing, but that model is apparently discontinued.

-John I. Gray III
Richmond, VA


You make a good point about the advantage of the front-opening configuration in offering a footprint option. The downside, of course, is that in a front-opener, when you open the door, the cold air tumbles out on your feet. You lose your cool, dig? We've been trained so firmly, for so long, that top-opening is the way to go, and, even there, not to tarry with the lid open, that we didn't even mention the vertical option.

Also, these coolers already demand so much electricity that we wouldn't want to give them an excuse to have to pump heat out all day long.

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Scrub Against, Sand With
I usually have great regard for the information printed in Practical Sailor. But...in your March '03 article about teak treatments I find that your "immutable law of never scrubbing wood against the grain" is either a misprint or a ploy by marine carpenters to drum up business.

The use of two-part cleaners—oxalic acid, Ajax, or any other cleaning agent (including good old salt water)—and brushing with the grain will rout out the softer fibers of teak, leaving raised hard grain which will crack and splinter. I agree with you that you should always sand with the grain, but scrubbing should be done lightly against the grain. Are you saying that all my Old Salt mentors are wrong in their teachings?

-Rick Ferguson
Annapolis, Maryland


No, they're right, Rick, and in fact the author of the article had it correct, too, originally, when he wrote: "Never scrub raw wood linearly." But then the phrase reached the hands of a benighted editor who thought that "linearly" sounded confusing—and changed it to something very clear and wrong. We would sack this person, but he writes the corrections.

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Athwartship Switches
(say that three times fast)
Was on a reach the other day and someone with good hearing noticed the bilge pump running.  The hinged float switch had been installed with the hinge axis fore & aft, so when we were on a port tack and heeled over a bit, the pump was always on.  Needless to say, the pump motor was a little hot.

The solution: Always install hinged float switches with the hinge axis port to starboard. This way the pump only switches on when there's water, or the boat's heeled past 90 degrees. 

-Robert J. Schulke
Via e-mail

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Cal 35 Follow-Up
I read Gary Hubert's comment on you Cal 35 review.  I disagree with his#1 and #6 comments.

1. The boat is tender and I have the 6' deep-keel version.  The PS review was correct.  One only needs to sail on a Islander 36 to confirm this.

6. There is no overheating problem with the Universal 5452.  I'd suggestthat Gary check his impeller, heat exchanger, and that his exhaust is notplugged up with carbon deposits (a problem I had).

-David Biggs
San Francisco, CA

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Balancing Act
It seems that every time I finish reading PS, I want to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoy it.  Of course, the equipment reviews and other tech stuff you look at or comment upon make it an essential part of any sailor's library.  But lately, you have been putting in pieces like Nick Nicholson's "Waypoints" [May 1] and your editorials, which touch us in special ways.  I was almost in tears when I finished "Waypoints."  On top of that, Nick tells us he sold Calypso.  Doesn't he realize that boat belongs to all of us?  We've followed it all around the world. It's like one of our kids.

Anyway, I value and enjoy your publication.  Let's have more of your opinions on non-tech sailing issues as well.

-Ted Tedesco
Via e-mail 

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My PS subscription is due for renewal shortly, but I am seriously considering whether it will be worth it.  I subscribed originally to obtain unbiased information on marine equipment, but it appears that you are losing your way as more and more filler material is being put in the journal to pad it out. 

Look at the May 1, 2003 issue.  It assesses only two main items: solar panels, which many readers may be considering buying, and a cruising catamaran, which few, if any, readers will consider buying.    

There were no less than four pages of cruising reminiscences by Nick Nicholson, and almost one and a half pages of comment on the America's Cup, put in to make the magazine look thicker.  This sort of stuff is OK in magazines like Cruising World, but it has, in my opinion, no place in Practical Sailor.    

The May 1 edition has a cover price of $7.50 (US), but according to its contents, it is worth no more than two bucks. If you want my continuing readership, you are going to have to do better than this. 

-Alan Porter
Victoria, British Columbia  

P.S.  Dare you to print this in Mailport.

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...Where Credit Is Due
To Garhauer Marine, Upland, CA: "About four months ago, I purchased a new roller furler for my 43-foot Hans Christian. I installed the system, but couldn't get it to unfurl without the furling line going off the drum (Spin-Tec furler). It was due to the angle that the line had on its drum approach. The fix was to mount another block to alter the angle to 90°. To do this required that the block be mounted on my bow pulpit. Most bow pulpit rails are 1" in diameter, with some 1-1/4". Mine are 1-1/2" in diameter. This required a special block mount. After I called a few suppliers, someone told me to call Garhauer Marine in Upland, CA.

"The people of this company could not have been more responsive. Not only did they agree to make a custom mount for my boat, but they provided it with a block twice as strong as required, in a time frame that is amazing for the marine business. They built and shipped my custom block to me within 1-1/2 weeks of my ordering it. The truly amazing part was that they charged me far less than a standard, off-the-shelf block of lesser strength from the 'larger' companies would cost.

"I cannot say enough about the customer service of Garhauer. In the future I will go directly to them for all my hardware needs."

-Ron Ramsey, Mission Viejo, CA


To Forespar, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA: "I am outfitting an old Able Poitin (I know—a what?). I laminated up an S-curve tiller and decided to add a tiller extension. I had a 'new' one in stock that I picked up somewhere. It had not been used, but it had been around for a while. It was a ball and extension twist-lock from Forespar. It did not lock.

"I contacted Forespar, spoke with Randy Risvold, and described my problem. 'Send it to us,' he said. 'It may still be under warranty.'

"Wow! No receipt, and no idea when I bought it. I told them to do the repairs and ship it back with a bill. I got it back. It works perfectly. I actually think they replaced it, as it sure looks better than it did when I sent it. And no charge. I've always liked Forespar products, and used them a lot, but this was a pleasant surprise."

-Bill McLearn, Atlantic Boat Works, Hull, MA

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Correction
In the Solar Panel Survey article in the May 1 issue, we listed an incorrect phone number for Hotwire Enterprises. The correct number is 727/217-9809.

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Sail & Sailmaker Survey
These was a scam ad years ago that said only, "Last chance to send in your dollar," with a mailing address. It made thousands before it was shut down. Well, this is your last chance to let us know what you think about your sails and your sailmakers, but the difference is that we will, eventually, make an article for you. You can fill out the survey at www.practical-sailor.com/surveys/sailmaker.html.

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