HANDHELD GPS UNITS
Your recent GPS review (Pint-sized Navigators, November 2006) hits the mark. Too often, I encounter new boaters who tend to spend mega-bucks for fancy-schmancy, latest-generation chartplotters that offer no more practical utility than the less-expensive units described in your article. Even the older handheld non-chartplotting GPS receivers (such as the Garmin 48) are fine for many of us.
HANDHELD GPS UNITS
Captain Bernie Weiss
GARMIN 76CSX TIDES
It looks like I wasnít the only one who had a hard time finding the tide tables on the Garmin 76CSx handheld GPS. I had to call Garmin to find it myself. You can access tide data via the "Find" button.
Tampa Bay, Fla.
Thanks, Jerry. Apparently, the folks who write the 76CSx manual are in the dark, too. Despite its terrestrial bias, the unit still ranks as one of our Recommended handhelds.
GOOD SHOW, DALE
I have been a happy subscriber for over 25 years. I used to think that the content ofPS was better because the pages were not glossy as compared to the other sailing rags that collect in the various reading venues in our home.
Really,PSís quality has nothing to do with its glossy pages. It has everything to do with the late Dale Nouse ("Eight Bells," September 2006) and the standards he set. I once asked an experienced sea captain at an outdoor tavern in Beaufort, N.C., which of the various sailing magazines out there he thought were the most beneficial to his needs. This guy was experienced. He had to count on more than two hands the times he has sailed back and forth across the Atlantic. He said, "Practical Sailor, of course. Now let me think of the rest. Give me a few minutes." Thatís a tribute to Dale.
White Bear Lake, Minn.
FREE NAV SOFTWARE
When reviewing PC/laptop navigation systems, have you ever looked at SeaClear II, a free system that uses free electronic charts? You can find it atwww.sping.com. I havenít used it on the boat, but it looks very capable and you canít beat the price!
Cíes la Vie,Krie Feeling 920
Fishers Island Sound, Conn.
We have used the SeaClear software, as have several of our contributors in the field. We will be providing an update on free charting software, including SeaClear and a similar one called SOBvMax fromwww.digiboat.com in an upcoming issue. Also ahead is our test of the latest version of Raymarineís software, Raynav 6.0.
DONATE SAILING GEAR?
I write to inquire whether you have a list of organizations that are open to receiving donations of sailboat equipment, i.e. Barient #27 self-tailing winch, horseshoe lifesavers, small turnbuckles and shackles, etc. Itís time for me to cut down on the spares.
East Norwalk, Conn.
A few sailing clubs that we know of support their youth programs with "bilge" sales, but we donít know of any in your area. Perhaps a reader can offer some suggestions. And we love to get any broken gear and the story that comes with it.
In your review of the Maine Cat 41, you missed some things. Anyone who has sailed any distance knows that diesel engines must be maintained on a regular schedule. In a bad sea, trying to maintain the engines through hatches on the aft deck is extremely difficult, if not impossible. There is no convenience or comfort there.
The other problem is the galley sink. It has a sump, a pump, and a filter. That filter must be cleaned out, and itís a very nasty job. Again, no convenience or comfort.
James R. Allison
FOUL WEATHER GEAR
I am writing in reference to your last test of foul weather gear ("Foul Weather Jackets," July 15, 2003). My wife and I purchased West Marine Explorer jackets and pants. We have used them for approximately 40 days of offshore sailing in heavy weather. We have noticed that both sets of foul-weather gear are flaking off the rubberized inside lining in rather large areas. Those areas are no longer waterproof. This is quite a rude awaking when you discover this situation 300 miles from the nearest replacement. I hope this comment will give others more information when buying new foul weather gear. One final note, we agreed with all other likes and dislikes pointed out in the review of this foul-weather gear.
The folks at West Marine said your foul weather gear would be covered by their "No Hassles Guarantee." Without knowing more specifics, they could not tell you what caused the problem. Weíve had this problem with similar products, and it is possible that the fabric used for your gear slipped past quality control. West Marine reminded us that the first "Gore Tex" foul weather gear, introduced in the early 1980s was notoriously leaky. It has since been improved.
In addition to the concerns that you detail in "Childís Play," (October 2006), all childrenís life jackets should include a safety harness; something that apparently is not found in any American infant/toddler life jackets. It is much better to keep the toddler in the cockpit with a strap than to have to fish them out of the water unattached. I keep toddlers in someoneís arms, or in a basket hung in the companionway, but always with a safety strap attached to their life jacket (or the harness underneath) as well.
In my experience, colorful figures on the jacket are crucial to acceptance. Annoying, but true. I have resorted to using stickers on otherwise bland life jackets.
I do not understand your consistent interest in in-water comfort of life jackets. But out-of-water comfort is very important. A big problem with infant/toddler life jackets is their tendency to jam between the thighs and throat. It is hard for an infant or toddler to explain the problem, but they are being choked. The problem can be resolved by giving the front panels horizontal flexibility, or keeping them very short, as in kayak vests.
There is a basic design flaw in all these life jackets. Rather than have the flotation section also act as retention, the two functions should be separated. The toddler/infant should be in a full, comfortable harness, and flotation should be attached to that harness. By full harness, I mean either one similar to those used by mountaineers or riggers, or it could be a reinforced version of a playsuit.
The best childrenís harness Iíve seen was handed down to me 21 years ago from an ocean sailing couple who brought their infants up aboard Beth and Gary Schwarzman. It was a Sears harness with a great grab strap. Since that one has disappeared, I make my own similar to a mountaineerís harness. Stitching it onto the outside of a playsuit makes it comfortable.
Some of the toddler life jackets made for the European market by Baltic (www.balticlifejackets.com) do have harnesses built-in.
Sea Sprite 23
Woods Hole, Mass.
I am writing to you to inform you that you have overlooked two horns that can be very inexpensive. I donít know how they would do in your tests ("Make Some Noise," September 2006), but I would consider using them aboard my boat as a low-cost alternative.
The conch cost $12 (already made into a horn), and I donít remember what the green horn cost (it was New Years Eve), but bigger ones can be had for pretty cheap. It does take a bit of practice, but if you would like I could demonstrate how it is done.
At the time this issue went to press, our technical staff was diligently preparing to test these devices on New Yearís Eve. If they have anything memorable to report, you can bet youíll read about it here.
I paid very close attention to the details of your bottom paint update ("Fending off the Funk," October 2006) since I will be hauling our boat this spring for new bottom paint. I have used Pettit Ultima for as long as the brand has been available and am very satisfied with the results. So when an attractive sale price appeared, I pre-purchased the five gallons I needed, but then I noticed something different.
Some of the cans had an additional ad just to the right of the Pettit name stating "New Clearer Colors." I then noticed another change that is in very small type: The "Cuprous Oxide" content is now 40 percent instead of the 60 percent that is found in the original formula. This is a big reduction, and I assume that it has something to do with the four-fold increase in the cost of cuprous oxide.
Your test results indicate you used the paint with 60 percent copper, which is almost sold out. Is it possible to introduce, at this late date, the 40 percent version for comparison? Also, what is your opinion of the change in the paint performance due to the cuprous oxide change and what does Pettit have to say about all of this?
New Bern, N.C.
To answer your questions, we will test the new Ultima SR formula (40 percent copper) this year, but unfortunately, results wonít be available until February 2008. Our recent tests have shown that more copper doesnít always equal better performance (the biocide "delivery" system is also important), so we wonít guess how the new formula will compare. Hereís Pettitís response:
"Yes, the Ultima SR did have the formula adjusted, which resulted in cleaner colors, better cosmetic appearance, and a reduction of copper. We changed the resin/delivery system of the coating, and we have not seen any drop-off in performance with a lower copper level. As you know, ablatives in general can use less copper in the formula because the copper is delivered to the surface at a controlled rate, maximizing the coatings effectiveness.
"To ensure consistent color, we would recommend that the boatowner box the different gallons of Ultima if he has both 60 percent and 40 percent. What this means is that he should combine all the gallons and mix them. This will ensure a constant color and cosmetic appearance, needless to say, they are compatible with each other.
"Ultima Pro, which is only sold to boatyards, is still at the 60 percent copper level."
DURABAK COLOR SHIFT
Last winter, I applied some Durabak-18 nonskid to an engine cover I made for my F-27. I followed the directions, and it went on well and had an aggressive texture. The white color matched an Interlux paint perfectly. After a month of exposure, the nonskid turned light gray. Now, after a year, itís a definite medium gray.
Second Chance, F-27
Lake Dillon, Colo.
Thanks for sharing your experience. This product was recommended by another magazine, notPractical Sailor. Interlux Toplac with Awlgrip Griptex additive was our best "coarse" finish in our most recent non-skid test (June 15, 2004).
This spring, we are starting a new test series on marine finishes, beginning with varnishes and wood treatments.
ONE DAYSAILER, PLEASE
May I please request the editors consider developing an article (or series) covering a range of large fine daysailers, perhaps including both old and new designs such as the Stuart Knockabout, Buzzardís Bay 25, J/100, Morris M36, and the like.
We will be looking at the M36 in an upcoming issue as well as the E33, being marketed by Robbie Doyle. Weíll try to review the others as time permits.
VHF ANTENANA TEST, PLEASE
It would be great to have a rundown and ratings on VHF antennas for the mast. Iíve been aPractical Sailor reader for many years, and I canít find any.
We are just wrapping up that test. Look for the results in an upcoming issue. However, our favorites in the last antenna test (July 15, 1996) were the Glassmaster Commander and Shakespeareís 5225.
I read your review of the Standard Horizon Chartplotter CP1000C ("Big Screen Chartplotters Under $2000," May 2005), and it seemed to be the absolute best bet. While online, I read a review where a purchaser complained that the unit had to be returned several times because the screen was fogging up. Before I purchase this unit I would like to know if you had heard of this problem?
We did not experience any fogging of the CP1000C screen during testing. If we had, we would have reported it. In our experience, screen fogging has been and continues to be a problem in numerous brands of chartplotters. We find it to be most prevalent when temperatures and humidity levels are high. Normally, the worst screen fogging takes place right after the unit is turned on and internal temperatures begin to change. After a period of time, usually less than 20 minutes, the fogging will disappear or dissipate enough to make the screen easy to read again. Weíve also seen quirky things like screens that fog as soon as the boat moves and airflow increases. Most manufacturers that we have spoken to about this problem will replace a unit that fogs excessively.
A LEXAN SEALANT
I wanted to share my experience with sealing Lexan. I used half-inch Lexan MR10 to replace all porthole glass and all overhead hatch windows. I used Dow Corning 3145 RTV Mil-A-46146. It has very high mechanical strength, UV and high temperature resistance. I primed the MR10 with Dow Corning 1205 Primer. It does take the 3145 a week or so to cure thoroughly. After four years in Florida, Mexico, Guatemala, and Roatan, itís still sealing well.
The sealant and primer is available from most industrial supply houses. I use Ellsworth Adhesives, Germantown, Wisc. (800/888-0698,www.ellsworth.com). This product is used on aircraft where tensile strength and resistance to UV and heat are important. Most places Iíve used 3145 have both high UV exposure and high temperatures caused by strong tropical sun heating up exposed metal surfaces. This product isnít cheap (approximately $60 list per 10.5 oz tube). Iíve tried a lot of "marine" sealants and been disappointed with their short service life. The way I justify the price is that the cost of the labor to install a port hole, hatch, etc. far outweighs the sealantís cost. If this sealant lasts 10-15 years rather than three to four years, it has paid for itself several times over. There is also the safety issue of inconvenient leaks at sea. I recently purchased a case of 3145 on eBay for $17 a tube. Surface prep is important in getting a good seal. I use MEK first. Then light sanding, and finally a wipe with acetone. This is per the Dow Corning spec sheet. The 1205 primer is necessary on Lexan MR10 because of its very hard and smooth surface. MR10 has 20 times the impact resistance for the same thickness of tempered glass!
S/V Intrepid,Tayana 37
SUNSCREEN AND CETOL
My crew and I race my sailboat in Charlotte Harbor, Fla., on Sunday afternoons and, because of the typical sun exposure of six hours per race, we use liberal amounts of sunblock lotion.
For some time, I noticed more and more bare spots on the cabin sole as well as the chart table, immediately after refinishing the latter with Cetol Lite. That had me puzzled, until one of the crew left the bottle of Coppertone on the regular Cetol covered companionway (see adjacent photo). I applied a dab of Coppertone to the same slat of teak a few inches away and was able to verify that, if left overnight, a brown, slimy goo forms. When wiped up with a paper towel, a bare spot results.
I have since laboriously refinished the slats in the cockpit with Cetol and am about to do the same to the cabin sole made of teak veneer plywood, but hopefully with a more impervious product.
Rudolf W. Gottschlich
Charlotte Harbor, Fla.