Mailport May 2006 Issue

Mailport: 05/06

Timeshare Sailing
Thank you for the report “Learning to Share” in the January 2006 issue of Practical Sailor, in which our company, Pinnacle Yachts, was mentioned. We viewed the report favorably overall.

As the oldest and most established company in the timeshare yacht industry, I bring to your attention that the report contains a flaw in the analysis of timeshare boat ownership.

In the report you provide financial analysis regarding the purchase of a timeshare yacht. According to your analysis, a boat costing $155,000 requiring a down payment of $31,000 would have a market value of $104,000 after five years ($116,000 less 10 percent because it is a timeshare vessel); and a loan balance after five years of $94,000. From this you conclude that “With $94,000 owing on the loan after that period, it looks like the owner can be substantially ahead.” This is not true as you fail to subtract the initial down payment made by the owner of $31,000. Doing so creates a negative position for the owner of $21,000 ($104,000 market value - $94,000 loan balance - $31,000 down payment = - $21,000). This is a loss of 68 percent of the capital invested by the owner. This financial loss is, however, offset somewhat by the owner’s personal use of the yacht without charge during this period.

Also, the report refers to “Standard depreciation calculations for sailing yachts…” To our knowledge, no such standard exists—not by yacht finance companies, insurance companies, evaluation companies, or brokers. Given that your financial analysis is highly sensitive to real depreciation, making such a definitive statement may be misleading. Indicating that future depreciation is uncertain and that the analysis is extremely sensitive to such depreciation assumptions would help bring a sense of reality to the analysis.

Finally, the article states that Pinnacle Yachts “arrived not long ago on the timeshare scene.” This is not at all the case. Pinnacle Yachts has been in the yacht timeshare business for nine years, which is indicated in multiple areas of our website including the homepage. We are by far the oldest of all yacht timeshare companies.

Gary Feracota
Pinnacle Yachts


Rescue Cannon?
The article on rescue aids, “Slings, Scoops, and Ladders,” (January 2006) was most informative. One of the aids that was not mentioned is a line-throwing device called ResQmax. It is a device that holds the line, a CO2 powered projectile, and the firing apparatus. Have you heard of this device? If not, perhaps the next time you do research on this area you might consider testing its capabilities. The device is manufactured by Rescue Solutions International.

C. Henry Depew
Tallahassee, Fla.

We review similar devices, throw bags, in this month’s issue. We briefly considered including the ResQmax in this particular test, but thought it would be a little unwieldy for service on a cruising boat.


Insurance Woes
When I began looking for insurance for my newly purchased 47-foot catamaran, I shopped around to several brokerages. I needed coverage for extended cruising in the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and onward from there. There were some interesting results.

Contrary to your experience, I found Pat Bannon at International Marine Insurance Service (IMIS) provided excellent, prompt service. She is a Coast Guard-licensed skipper and very knowledgeable about sailing, the cruising scene, and other factors that play into insurance decisions. She was glad to provide point-by-point comparisons of the various policies they offer, along with detailed explanations of the coverage. Most important, IMIS was able to provide the only policy I found that has reasonable restrictions for cruising in the Caribbean. The Jackline policy referenced in your article was the clear winner for coverage and flexibility (albeit at a hefty price). IMIS is the only company that handles that particular policy, as I understand it.

BoatU.S. provided less than satisfactory service. I felt as though I was speaking to a land-locked sales representative who had very little familiarity with cruising, catamarans, or sailing in general for that matter. Most surprisingly, I was told that because I live in Alaska they could not write insurance for me. She was not able to explain why this should be true or what I could do to challenge that seemingly mindless restriction. She did suggest that I could submit an application using a dummy address in the Lower 48—which seemed like a clear slam dunk for the adjusters to deny coverage in the event of a claim.

Most brokers were going to the same markets, and they exchange information. I found after I had been shopping for a few days, the name of the boat had gotten around, and subsequently, brokers knew that companies had quoted me and on what terms. In one case, the underwriter refused to give the same quote to another broker until I signed a commitment that the latter broker would be the “Broker of Record” (meaning, I suppose, an exclusive representation agreement). As one broker put it, “all paths lead to the same two or three doors.” The choices of policies are very limited, and consequently other factors, such as the broker’s relationship to the underwriter, become more important.

Insurers are funny about details that mere mortals would not ordinarily think about. Some companies declined to quote because of the distance between where I live and the boat. Others would not quote because I did not maintain other insurance, such as homeowner’s or auto, with the company. Still others would not quote because the boat has carbon spars (even though the engineers say they are stronger than aluminum or wood). This is one reason it is important to have a knowledgeable broker. IMIS was able to work through a number of these issues for me.

Paul H. Grant
Shearwater, Conser 47
Juneau, Alaska


Insurance Table
I found your article comparing boat insurances here in Florida very informative and interesting. I have had for the last several years a 34-foot Aloha insured (full coverage/$54,000 replacement value/$500 deductible/5 percent deductible for any named storm) with BoatU.S.. I have never had a claim, and until last year the boat was berthed in the Chesapeake. At that time, our annual premium was $469 (2005). When we moved the boat to Tampa Bay, Fla., in December. we were shocked when the premium increased to $1,249 a year. Your article seems to indicate that even a boat with a higher BUC value should have an annual premium of about $458 if located in Florida waters.

Bill Sirine
34-foot Aloha
Valrico, Fla.

We received a few e-mails on this including one from BoatU.S. that will help clarify this (see below). Because our hypothetical Catalina used for the insurance quote comparison was neither previously insured or surveyed, BoatU.S. would not provide a quote. The BoatU.S. figures in our table were for liability only.


BoatU.S. Correction
All of us at BoatU.S. applaud your efforts to “Wade into the quagmire...” concerning boat insurance. One of the biggest challenges in buying boat insurance are the underwriting variables involved. Some companies are more competitive in one region than another. Other variables could include a boater’s claim history, location of the storage or cruising grounds, and even whether or not a vessel has been previously insured – as your example of the 1994 Catalina 36 mkII pointed out.

But there are exceptions to the latter. For instance, if you had a current survey on your fictional Catalina, full coverage would be available. In most cases, providing more information can possibly lead you to more choices incoverage.

Your feature did a great job of trying to get that information out to your readers, but after researching the chart data presented, we would kindly like to correct some information as it relates to our insurance product:

• All BoatU.S. “liability only” policies have no deductible.
• BoatU.S. fuel spill coverage is always $500,000.
• BoatU.S. medical coverage can vary from $1,000 to $10,000.
• To clarify, all BoatU.S. insurance customers must beBoatU.S. members. The annual fee for membership has been increased to $19 for 2006.

Our most important advice to those shopping for boat insurance is to buy for a policy’s coverage and service provided – not the lowest price. Because when it comes to insurance, it’s only when you have a claim do you find out the real difference.

James Nolan
Vice President, Underwriting
BoatU.S. Marine Insurance


Insure This Cape Dory
Thanks for the informative and timely article on marine insurance. I am trying to obtain insurance for a 24-year-old sailboat that will be homeported in Miami. I have received the following “reasons” why insurance companies will not insure the sailboat I want to buy: “You live in hurricane alley;” “We do not insure boats more than 20 years old;” or “You do not have enough sailing experience.” Yes, I live in Miami. The 24-year-old sailboat is a Cape Dory 27 in excellent condition that has been very well maintained. I started sailing three years ago. I sail almost every weekend (small regattas) on Ensign 22s and Harbor 20s. This will be my first sailboat purchase. Based on your article, I shall continue to search for insurance.

Although National Marine Underwriters (NMU) is identified in the chart as one of three companies who provided price quotes for South Florida, your article (and the footnote in the chart) states NMU does not write insurance in South Florida—presumably because we are in “hurricane alley.” The numbers identified in the Value Guide for South Florida are for International Marine Insurance Services (IMIS).

Robert Bondi

Our apologies to IMIS, which, as described in the text, provided a quick quote for not one, but three options for insuring in South Florida with Zurich Marine Specialty. On our website we have updated the charts accompanying the online version of last month’s insurance article to reflect the above corrections.


Trojan Batteries
Those of us who have used Trojan batteries for years were not surprised with the results in comparison with the Mastervolt, also an excellent battery. My house bank on a Tartan 37 consists of four 6-volt Trojan T105 deep-cycle golf cart batteries in two banks of 12 volts each, switched on together for 450 Ah in flooded batteries. The price was right, and each bank lasts with proper charging about six to seven years before replacement. In your study, Trojan had been slow in getting into the gel batteries, so no comparision was done. The reason the T27 AGM was able to keep up in your study was because it weighed more than the AGM 12/90 group 31 from Mastervolt.

Recently, some floor machine makers approched Trojan to design and make a gel battery that would fit their machines and not be too heavy. The result is the Supergel Cycling series 86 Ah, a group 31 size battery that compares evenly with the same sized MVG 12-volt 85Ah from Mastervolt. The one exception is weight, with the Trojan outweighed by almost 12 pounds. You can find Trojan’s specs for this battery on the company’s website. With both the batteries in the same Ah rating in different weight classes, a face-off in the finals might be interesting!

Lee Guite
East Boothbay, Maine

Thanks for the update. Your 6-volt system raises an important point about estimating amp hours for batteries connected in series. In the March article, we stated that 2-volt cells with capacity ratings of more than 2,000 Ah per cell can yield a 12-volt bank with 12,000 Ah capacity. The correct capacity is 2,000 Ah.


Freshwater Moorings
You are interested in fresh water mooring life. My boat is moored on the Hudson River at Marlboro, N.Y., about 90 miles north of New York City. No salt.

I have a 500-pound mushroom, 60 feet of 3/4-inch chain, a swivel, 40 feet of half-inch chain, a swivel, 2 feet of half-inch chain going through the center of an 18-inch mooring ball, then two 15-foot pendants of 3/4-inch nylon. Water typically is between 28 and 32 feet deep.

My 38-foot Freedom normally swings pointing about half the time north and half the time south due to a tidal current in the order of 1.5 knots max. However, frequently it is pushing on the mooring due to wind.

The original installation was in 1991 (15 years ago).

The main wear is pendants, at the chocks, requiring replacement every two to four years (conservative). Next is the upper 10 feet of chain, etc. A combination of wear and rust requires replacement about every four to six years (conservative). The rest of the small chain lasted 14 years. The mooring and large chain are still in new condition and probably will last more than another 15 years (Looks like new).

I suspect the long life of the large chain is because it is buried in silt protected from oxygen and only is moved when there is a storm. The small chain goes from almost new to deteriorated at the mooring ball. I suspect as it exits the silt and approaches the surface there is more oxygen and motion causing the progressively greater deterioration.

I think the original chain is Acco proof coil. When I replaced all the small chain last year, I used Acco’s “mooring chain” with the long links for its flexibility. I was surprised you didn’t include, or comment on, it in your mooring chain test.

This has gotten a bit long winded but gives you the details.

Ed Weber
Freedom 38, Sea Serpent
Marlboro, N.Y.

We didn’t include Acco’s long-linked mooring chain in our test rank because it isn’t available in 5/16 inch like the other chains in the test. We used the smaller link size to encourage faster degradation. It also makes the test physically easier to manage. Acco’s mooring chain, starting in 3/8 inch, is a low-carbon, grade-30 chain, hot-dip galvanized, like all of Acco’s chain. It differs from Acco’s proof coil only in link size; the mooring chain’s longer links allow you to fasten shackles anywhere in the chain.


Raillight Redux
I am writing for the first time to you after reading PS for a long time and counting on it for the real scoop on new equipment. I had purchased the RailLight you “reviewed” in your December 2005 issue when they first came out, and took it to my boat in the British Virgin Islands on our last trip. Bottom line, the light output is inadequate, the light functions sporadically (I had to “thump it” a few times to get it on, indicating loose wiring) and the hardware is too flimsy for its intended use. I highly suggest that next time you actually have one in hand, and you really test it, before writing such a glowing report. If the manufacturer had made the unit more substantial, with more output, I would have gladly paid five times the current price, as the technology certainly has appeal.

Alfred C. Griffin Jr.
Warrenton, Va.

We test all products that appear in our Chandlery department, although this may be limited at the time of the first report. A chief aim of the Chandlery department is to provide timely reporting on new products, which often precludes rigorous testing. We won’t hesitate to let you know if a product falls short of our expectations or the manufacturer’s claims. Though rare, lemons do slip into Chandlery. The short report on the RailLight was not glowing, in our opinion. The one we obtained was placed outdoors late last fall for an extended test. Because New England winters do not provide very much sunlight (and where it’s mounted gets but a half day of sun), the RailLight is doing somewhat less than mediocre. It has not, so far, made light for eight hours, as claimed. According to the manufacturer, this requires at least 12 hours of daylight exposure. Maybe it’ll do better during the summer months. We promised in the report, “If it falls short of the eight hours, we’ll let readers know.” In the meantime, your much-appreciated report very nicely fills a gap in our coverage.

Since our review, the manufacturer, SolLight, has improved the clamp system. We asked SolLight to respond to your report and got this response:

“We understand this customer’s concerns and will gladly replace any defective product. The RailLight is intended as a small, lightweight, inexpensive auxiliary light.

“As far as having to ‘thump’ the light to get it to work, we have sold several thousand RailLights and had no failures of this type.

“We stand by the light’s rugged construction for its intended use. We designed both clamps so that an accidental knock will not break the light, clamp or railing; instead they will flex, bend or swivel.

“The RailLight was not designed to replace any specific marine light function, nor do we advertise it as such. We think $28 for a stainless-steel LED light is a heck of a deal! It will not light up a marina but does fill the need for a small, wireless boat light.”


Digital Charts
I read your recent article on charting programs with interest. We have been cruising the Caribbean for over two years now. Our primary navigation program is C-MAP on a Raymarine plotter. Your article mentioned chart offsets, in particular where the boat appears to be sailing or anchoring on land according to the C-MAP charts.

We have often had this problem with our charts. We believe the problem is likely that the government charts that the C-MAP was drawn from are based on old surveys and are themselves inaccurate. Indeed, we have often confirmed this with paper charts.

However, I believe that the basic philosophy offered by C-MAP in response to your test results is flawed: “We preserve the integrity of the paper and/or raster charts–errors, blemishes and all! We believe the mariner is better served by this than if we ‘fudged’ the data in order to create a pretty image.”

In one island group, the Roques in Venezuela, we found the C-MAP was offset by a half-mile in the N-S direction and a quarter-mile in the E-W direction. In the center of the Roques is a modern airport, with a beacon, that has been surveyed very accurately. It would have been very easy for C-MAP to use that information to correct their charts. The relative shapes of the islands and reefs are accurately charted. Simply shifting the entire chart to line up with reality would solve the problem. This does not “create a pretty image,” but rather make a chart usable. Mentally trying to add the offsets while navigating a boat through reefs is very challenging and more dangerous than it has to be. At the very least, charting programs should have the capability of offsetting charts so the sailor can himself perform this offset.

In short, C-MAP’s philosophy should be to “Use the best charts and data available to create the most accurate charts reasonably possible.”

My next charting program will probably be Navionics.

Mark Cain
Magic Dragon, Morgan 43
St. Martin, Caribbean

It should be noted that our test took place in the Florida Keys. To assume that a test of accuracy held elsewhere would produce the same results would be speculation. No charts cover the world with the accuracy we’d like, so plotting a “circle of error” remains a good practice. However, it isn’t unrealistic to expect mapmakers to use the most accurate available data and to allow user-defined offsets. These offsets should always be used with caution.


Bottom Paint Update
PS mistakenly classified Micron 66 antifouling paint from Interlux as a “hard” paint in “The Bottom Paint Report” in our March 2006 issue. Micron 66 is a self-polishing copolymer paint with 40 percent copper content that can be hauled and relaunched without repainting. It uses Interlux’s anti-slime formula Biolux to combat soft growth. It earned a Good rating in Florida and a Good- in Connecticut and is one of our recommended paints for 2006.

In the same article, the paint featured as our Budget Buy, West Marine PCA, which was priced at $80 a gallon at press time, is no longer available. It was replaced by West Marine PCA Gold, a new formula from Pettit, which has more copper, includes the anti-slime additive Irgarol, and lists for $130 in the 2006 West Marine catalog. We have not tested this new formula. Our Budget Buy ablative/copolymer paint for 2005 is now the West Marine CPP made by Pettit, which lists at $90 a gallon in the 2006 West Marine catalog. This paint earned a Good+ in Florida and a Good- in Connecticut. Pettit recommends it for single season use, not multi-season as the article indicated.


...Where Credit Is Due

Kudos to Ronco
In the Nov. 15, 2005, “PS Advisor,” you recommend the use of a polyethylene holding tank with the caveat of finding one in the right size and with the right configuration among the ones offered by SeaLand. This can be quite a task, especially on smaller boats where limiting oneself to off-the-shelf tanks can mean a significant loss in capacity or plumbing routes that are far from optimal. When outfitting my Catalina 27, I ordered a made-to-order tank from Ronco Plastics ( Ronco Plastics will make your tank to your specifications at a cost that is competitive with most retail or catalog vendors. In fact, the pricing in their online catalog is 20 percent cheaper than the two SeaLand tanks offered by West Marine, and you get to specify your fittings! With over 400 molds to choose from and the ability to specify exactly what fittings I needed and where, I was able to get a tank that fit my requirements exactly, utilizing the space I had available and keeping my plumbing as short and direct as possible.

The only thing that they could not provide for me is a “Tank Watch” cutout. Their pricing, service, and quality were all that I had hoped and more.

Mark Soldan
Killer Duck, Catalina 27
Redwood City, Calif.

Standard Horizon
Two years ago, I purchased a Standard Horizon handheld VHF. It worked fine until recently, when it seemed to not hold a charge. Assuming that I needed to purchase a new battery, I called Standard Horizon (Vertex Standard 714-827-7600), and they said to send it back, with the charger, which I did. They called me and said that the charger was bad and that they will give me a new one, at no charge, all I had to pay was the shipping costs. What a great company.

Bill Van Winkle
Little Silver, N.J.

Sea Frost
It took me 20 years to decide which refrigeration system I would eventually install on my classic Concordia yawl. Due to a lack of space for additional batteries, an engine driven compressor seemed the only answer. Sea Frost has had an excellent reputation, and I would like to confirm this. Cleave Horton was most helpful from the beginning when I sought information on selecting the correct system through to the installation and eventual start up several months later. The instructions were clear, and the installation was very straight forward. I am looking forward to many years of operation and of finally being liberated from the ever increasing cost and hassle of the ice machine.

Doug Cole
Irene, 39-foot Concordia yawl
Bellingham, Wash.

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