Mailport July 15, 2004 Issue

Mailport: 07/15/04

Outboard Motor Locks
Your advice to Rob Alley (April 1, 2004 in PS Advisor) about locking an outboard engine to a dinghy is right on the money. Sliding pipelocks are simple and robust. These locking devices—commerciallybought and homemade—can be seen all over the Caribbean. Withregard to noise from vibration, a bit of duct tape applied insidethe pipe and along the edge of the slot will probably resolve thatproblem.

Attaching the security cable to an inflatable dinghy can be achallenge, especially if you have a removable or inflatable floor. The ring connections on the tubes could be quickly and easilydefeated with a sharp knife and hence are not at all secure. Iconsidered installing an eye bolt through the transom and brazing orotherwise immobilizing the nut on the other side, but hit on an easiersolution. Once the outboard is locked onto the transom, the securitycable can be looped around the locking pipe and between the two clamp screws.

I have an end-loop Nicro-pressed into the dinghy end of my securitycable. The end loop at the dinghy end of the cable is large enoughthat the end loop at the dock end can be passed through it. Thecable is secured around the outboard lock, passes through the handle on the otherwise portable fuel tank and then passes forward to thebow of the dinghy. This arrangement has worked well for us in fouryears of Caribbean cruising.

Here are some thoughts on security cables. The most secure cable isprobably a sturdy length of chain. Chain is hard to cut quickly without hefty tools, and it makes a lot of noise if someone tries to fool with it in the night alongside your boat. It can be loopedaround the outboard lock and secured in a loop with the outboard lock, a separate lock, or a hammered link. The down side of chain is that it will make a mess of the woodwork and gelcoat on your boat unless you are careful and you string the offending parts of the chain through a flexible plastic tube or other chafe protection.

Vinyl-covered wire cable is easier to handle, but easier for a thiefto cut. I opted for ¼-inch wire cable. A ¼ inch cable is thick enough that a thief is going to have to come prepared with a hefty set of tools and risk being seen cutting the cable. While no security arrangement is absolutely thief-proof, if yours is pretty good and not the easiest pickings in the anchorage, I think you will be reasonably secure.

Whatever type of security cable you choose, make sure it is longenough. If it is secured to the outboard, it should be about three times the length of the dinghy. This gives you enough slack to accommodate the loop at the outboard, a locking loop at the dock end of the cable, and still reach a remote attachment point on the dockor lie in the second tier of dinghies at a crowded dock.

-Tom Greene
Via e-mail


As you read this, PS is busy at work evaluating several outboard motor locking options that are on the market. We'll let you know what we find in a forthcoming issue.

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Weather Forecasting
You mentioned Herb Hilgenberg in your "Private Weather Forecasts" article [May 15, 2004], but you didn't mention the fact that, when necessary, he gives very complete information about the Gulf Stream. As a matter of fact, it was because of a weird GS phenomenon that I first got in touch with him. We were doing three knots on the water in an ENE heading against a weak SE breeze, but the GPS showed that the boat was drifting slowly WNW....Was I in a meander, a cold eddy, or a warm eddy ? Herb immediately told me I was in a meander, gave me the coordinates, and advised patience. He is also very conservative in his advice to people he doesn't know who are on small boats like mine. Once he has seen you through a gale or two, his advice will take your experience into account. He's tops.

-John Somerhausen
Via e-mail


Hear, hear! There's no denying the vital service Herb offers so many sailors. When we wrote to thank Mr. Somerhausen regarding his commendation, we said that Herb has "long given yeoman’s service to sailors along the Eastern Seaboard," and we were subsequently corrected: "You are shrinking Herb´s coverage quite a bit," wrote Somerhausen. "He advises boats all over the North Atlantic and sometimes strays into the South Atlantic. In 2000, he covered me all over the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. His reputation is so well established that his service is mentioned in Reeds Nautical Companion as one of the main weather information resources. And the Canadian government fully recognized him by granting his station the status of coastal radio station (VAX498)."

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Oil Changers
I liked your test of oil changers (May 15, 2004), but rather than buy what I consider an expensive device, I made my own. I used a Par Jabsco Little Pal hand pump that I already had, a paint can, two screw-in tire stems with the air valves removed, and some appropriately sized tubing.

I mounted the tire stems in the paint can lid, then attached the tube from the engine to one, and put the pump on the other. Since the pump pulls only air from the can, it stays clean. The used oil is well contained as long as the can remains upright. When finished, I just empty the can.

-Ed Reed
Kennewick, WA

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Your May 15 issue has a good review of small oil changers. For a number of years we have been using a Tempo Oil Boy both for changing the oil and for vacuuming out the last bit of water from the bilge. I think we are now on our third Oil Boy. I like the product. It works well and it stores in little space. Unfortunately, I don’t like the service, or should I say lack of service, from that company.

The Tempo Oil Boy works well when new. Unfortunately, the pump leather (actually a rubber ring) wears quickly and then the pump workspoorly or not at all. I contacted the company to ask about buying a replacement pump ring and the arrogant response was that they only sell pumps, they don’t sell spare parts.

Thanks to your report, I'm going to check out the West Marine Oil Vac rather than buy another Tempo.

-Don Victorson
Northport, NY


To verify Mr. Victorson's statement regarding Tempo's policy on oil pump replacement parts, PS contacted the company. We were told: "The only replacement parts are the hoses and mercury dipstick attachments." That was the entire response. Disappointing, yes, but at least it wasn't rude.

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Silaprene Sleuth
After reading the "Chainplate Rebedding" letter from Barrie Smith in the March 2004 issue, I decided to telephone Uniroyal Adhesives and Sealants to order a tube of Silaprene. They do not accept orders, but provided the name of the only dealer who will accept orders on their behalf. It is CP Industries at 740/763-2886. The product number is M6324, but I did not have to provide it as they have received many telephone calls as a result of a letter in Practical Sailor.

They only ship two tubes (either black or white) in a package for $18 plus shipping via UPS Ground.

-Dick Guckel
Via e-mail

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...Where Credit Is Due
"I wanted to share a terrific experience I had dealing with a company by the name of Nielsen-Kellerman. I purchased a Kestral 4000 Weather Tracker for my husband back in December 2002. This Spring when we went to use the unit, the LCD display was blank. (The unit was past the one- year warranty). I called Angie Crowe in Repair/Technical Support at Nielsen-Kellerman and she gave me a return authorization number and told me all I had to do was ship it to them and she wouldtake care of it. She was absolutely correct. We got a brand new unit sent to us in mid-April. There were no hassles or questions! This is what customer service is all about."

-Kathy Spence
via e-mail

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