Mailport February 2006 Issue

Mailport: 02/06

Susan Woolsey enjoys a decadent moment, thanks to a Spectra watermaker, as the Morgan 41, Circe III, motors across a glassy sea south of Andros Island in the Bahamas.

Fresh Water Bonus
Thanks for the recent watermaker review (“DC Watermakers: Expensive but Useful for the Cruising Sailor,” November 15, 2005). Based largely on your 1998 article on these devices I took an expensive chance on a then little-known Spectra as an upgrade from my Powersurvivor 35. Now we make a lot more water, and run the engine a little less than we used to. Our Spectra performs generally as advertised, about 1.2 to 1.3 amp hours per gallon, and technical support from the company is excellent.

In the November 15 article, I think you underestimate the impact of a high-output, efficient watermaker on a small boat with no generator. Summer cruising in the Bahamas is an entirely new game for us now. Not only do we keep the salt off of ourselves, but we wash the deck after passages, which means we don’t track so much salt down below. And our varnish lasts longer, too. The noise is manageable as well because we try to run the watermaker when the engine is on, or when we’re away from the boat at the beach.

How much water do we use? I’m embarrassed to say, but we can produce 14 gallons an hour.

Dave Woolsey
Circe III
Ft. Lauderdale, FL


Surveyor Woes
I really appreciate Jim Martin’s salient comments regarding the problems with marine surveyors (“Marine Surveyor Redux,” December 2005). I have received disparate marine survey results, too. My Cooper 416 sloop was severely damaged while sitting on the hard during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake in Puget Sound.

A marine insurance surveyor later accused me of lying about the damage and the position of the boat in my report to the insurance company. The boat moved almost 18 inches during the quake, rocking back onto the rudder and forcing the boat stands into the cored hull. The boat stands themselves sank nearly three inches into the asphalt! His report stated the boat sustained no damage. In agreement with his assessment were his methods. He never ventured into the boat to view the bilge containing ruptured tank stringers, aft into the lazarette to assess the fractured rudder tube, or the damaged cable sheave. He performed no assessment to determine if delamination of the core occurred. I hired my own surveyor who easily documented the damage. Shortly thereafter, the boat was towed to a major Seattle boatyard where another surveyor, obviously attached at the hip to both the yard and insurance company, milked the claim for all it was worth. Copies of some boatyard bills documented charges far out of line with industry standards; other charges made absolutely no sense. These hugely inflated charges are evidently a standard practice that the insurance industry has learned to tolerate. I reported the discrepancies to the well-known insurance company and was greeted with a pat on the head and told, “Why do you care, we’re paying the bills?” I care because my premiums only go up!

I hired yet another surveyor who charged me from the moment he stepped out of bed on the morning of the survey. He charged nearly three times what my previous surveyor billed, missed obvious problems and assessed the boat with a well-worn phrase, “moderately built production model using poor quality materials.” This phrase is evidently a universal catch phrase among surveyors, meant to humble owners and place the surveyor onto a pedestal. I have rebuilt several boats over the years to a very high standard and became incensed at his condescension. I contacted the Society of American Marine Surveyors (SAMS); but it did nothing. Later, I was solicited by a small boat repair magazine to write a piece on evaluating surveyors and yards. SAMS President James Wood would not respond to my interview inquiries save to say, “I’ll meet with you only in person after I review a list of written questions.” I live and practice in Washington State and he lives and practices in New England! The piece eventually became so critical the survey industry the magazine wouldn’t (or couldn’t) publish it.

Curtis J. Edwards
Olympia, WA
Via e-mail


Hatch Sealant
I read with interest your update on caulks and sealants (“Update: Caulks and Sealants,” November 15, 2005). I opted to replace the half-inch acrylic in my boat’s alloy-frame forehatch when the original became scratched and somewhat opaque, but wanted to eschew the mechanical fasteners in the original. Having consulted my plastics supplier, I used Spectrem 2, a single-part medium modulus silicone sealant which my local glazier supplier said is routinely used for installing windows in buildings. It grips almost like 3M5200, which I have used in other applications, but remains flexible and permits the acrylic to be removed if sufficient force is applied. I found out the latter when I did a sloppy job first time around. You might want to consider Spectrem 2 when you do another update. A variant, Spectrem 3, is non-staining. Made by Tremco ( of Beechwood, Ohio, Spectrem evidently is available from glaziers through the U.S. and Canada.

Ken Pole
Ottawa, Ontario
C&C 27 Santiva
Via e-mail


WondaFix Clarification
In the November 15 “Chandlery,” we evaluated the ability of Pratley’s WondaFix flexible urethane-epoxy to adhere underwater, something it is not designed to do. Pratley manufactures two different, unique adhesive products. Pratley WondaFix can set underwater, but can only tolerate intermittent exposure to water. Pratley Putty is a hand-moldable, high-strength, moisture-resistant binding adhesive that can set and remain underwater.


...Where Credit Is Due
• Poliglow: I just delivered my 1989 Catalina 42 from Annapolis, Maryland to Fort Pierce, Florida. While every other boat I saw on the Intracoastal Waterway developed an “ICW mustache,” five months after applying Poliglow my boat is as shiny as new. No mustache, no black streaks, and the exhaust wiped off with a sponge. Poliglow’s ability to repel stain makes it a winner with me. All the waxes I tried would stain faster than bare fiberglass. I followed the application instructions and lightly wet sanded the hull with 600-grit paper. The hull did have a light layer of oxidation before I started. Though it sounds like a lot of steps, (six coats you say?) the total application process was much easier than cleaning, compounding and waxing the hull.

Guy H. Collins
Avondale, Penn.
Via e-mail

• Boye Knife: Thank you Practical Sailor for recommending Boye knives, and to David Boye for making the perfect sailing knife.

After reading Practical Sailor’s recommendation in its June 1, 2000 issue, and after speaking with Mr. Boye at the Newport Boat Show a couple of years ago, I purchased a Boye Cobalt sheep-foot serrated bladed knife. Late last year I was offshore racing in Sydney, Australia on a 12-ton, Holland-designed 44-footer built in 1980. The breeze was a fresh 25 knots, gusting up to about 35 knots; waves were rolling steadily from three to six feet. We were five miles off shore, racing downwind with a spinnaker pulling the boat at speeds of more than 9 knots. I was crewing at the mast, setting up for a dip-pole spinnaker jibe. The gusting winds, the swells, and the pitching boat during our jibe caused the pole to jet for the sky. The mast fitting slammed down on the deck, the pole unlocked from the mast, and, still attached to the spinnaker end, whipped violently across the foredeck. The foredeck crew member was forced forward to the bow, unable to move aft past the thrashing spinnaker pole.

The crew member who was working in the pit came forward to help me. In doing so, he accidentally placed his foot within the spinnaker sheet and brace. I was looking forward and trying to sort out the pole situation when I heard a blood-curdling scream behind me. Because the boat was dead downwind for the jibe, all the spinnaker sheets and braces became fully loaded with a 35-knot gust. I turned around to see my friend’s leg wrapped in a fully loaded spinnaker sheet. He was hanging upside down, with half his body being dragged through the lifelines. I grabbed my Boye knife and within seconds positioned myself outside the lifelines. With a mere single swipe, the Boye sliced the spinnaker sheet clean through. I’ve attached a photo of the cut line remaining on the boat side (the cut non-loaded side is obvious, and yes, the inner core was stretched six inches under the loaded cut side). The shackle snapped off the spinnaker end, so fortunately all we lost was the other end of the line. My friend’s leg and life were saved.

My biggest lesson learned with respect to my Boye knife is DO NOT wrap the lanyard around the knife blade. The few seconds it takes to untangle the lanyard may make the difference between life and death.

USCG Capt. John Brown III
Via e-mail

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