PS Advisor November 1, 2003 Issue

PS Advisor: 11/01/03

Rubrail Protection
I have had a '68 Cal 28 for 10 years. Recently I was able to find a new rubrail to replace the old cracked and stained original.  That, plus repainting the blue stripe below it, has considerably improved her looks.  My question: Is there anything that I can put on the new rubrail to prevent (OK, slow down) oxidation and aging? It's white rubber.  In only six weeks, if I rub my hand on it, I get a white hand.And in a light rain it runs down that new blue stripe.  I guess I could give it a sponge bath every week, but I'd rather try to protect it from the hot Texas sun.  Any ideas?

-Aurin Tesoro
Via e-mail

Assuming the rubrail is clean, for protection we'd suggest a regular treatment with any of the following products:

- Collinite Sapphire Vinyl Wax
- 303 Aerospace Protectant
- Starbrite Vinyl-Brite Vinyl Protector
- Dolphinite 929 Vinyl Protectant


Winter Covers
I live in Michigan, and am wondering about the pros and cons of using winter boat covers. Has anyone ever looked into this? As my old heavy canvas cover is deteriorating to a point where a replacement would be in order, I have second thoughts: Is it really necessary? I'm getting up in age, and do all the framing every year, lugging that tarp up the ladder, etc.

To save myself a lot of work I decided to leave the mast up this coming winter and asked a local canvas shop for a quote with the mast up. They quoted $1,100. That's a lot of bread. My old cover was $160, 10 years ago.

I would appreciate any answers you may have.

-Adam Lawall
Via e-mail

We did a comparison of boat covers back in the  November 15, 1996 issue. The main argument for covers, especially where you live, is to keep ice off the deck and out of scuppers, holes, nooks and crannies, where it can freeze, expand, and damage the boat. With the mast up it will be more difficult, but if you have decent drainage on deck we would at least recommend trying to cover the cabintop and the cockpit with one of those blue poly tarps you see everywhere. They don't last more than a season or two, but they're cheap, and would be good insurance if you decide to go without a serious cover.

Any tarp will also mean a cleaner boat in the spring. If you leave a boat completely uncovered, it will collect leaves, blown dirt, bird droppings, and who knows what. It will get stained.

Blue poly tarps are not suited, however, for serious boat covering over the long pull, even if they have a good frame under them. As we said in the '96 article, and have had many chances to confirm since then, they're just not tough enough. They can't resist abrasion; they pull free of their grommets, and they disintegrate quickly. It's false economy to buy them year after year.

The quote for an $1,100 custom-made canvas boat cover is not out of line with reality. However, as we discovered on the Tartan 44 test boat in '96, you can buy plain canvas tarps for much less, and rig them over a simple frame. Quoting from the article:

"We made a three-piece ridge pole from pressure-treated 2x6s. We use two covers, one aft of the mast, the other forward. Because canvas is fairly heavy, two are easier to manage than one. Plus, this obviates the need for custom slits for the mast."

Aside from being quite tough, waterproof, mildew-resistant, and non-flammable, canvas can be fixed with patches, so that it can (and, as you know, often does) last longer than the five years generally expected of it.

In 1996, we found that a rectangular canvas tarp, 25' by 15', cost about $160. Today we looked around on the Internet and immediately came upon (Yes, there's a website for anything these days.) If you follow the link to "Cotton Canvas Tarps" you'll find a 20 x 20 tarp in 12-oz. olive-drab green for...$160. A 20 x 30 tarp in 17-oz. OD green is $240.


Golf Cart Batteries
I enjoyed the article about group 27 and 31 marine batteries in the September issue. But with all of the rap on Internet discussion groups about the six-volt choice, I'm surprised there was not even casual mention of the "golf cart" batteries. Are six-volt batteries worth considering, or are 12-volt batteries the "hands-down" best choice for marine use?

-Max Miller
Via e-mail

Six-volt golf cart batteries, wired in series, are definitely worth considering. They're designed to be run down and recharged in a way that suits them to sailboats, and they can be found for much less than "marine" 12-volt batteries. They do require a bit more wiring, and think-through on how to stow and secure them.

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