Mailport November 2010 Issue

Mailport: November 2010

Don't Knock My Irwin!

I’m hurt, and so is my boat Lady Lady. In your review of Rod Johnstone’s J/95 (August 2010), you said it was not your fathers’ Irwin 38! So what’s wrong with my Irwin 38? It matches my Buick, with its faded maroon color combination. Seriously, I love my 1983 Irwin 38 center cockpit; it is a fantastic, roomy coastal cruiser and live-aboard.

In the early days of plastic boats, Irwin was not rated well in quality boatbuilding—compared to Bristol, Hinckley, Pearson, etc.­—but today, the old Irwins seem to far outshine the new Clorox bottles being passed off as yachts. I never hear much about the I-38 in classic plastic. Check out some Irwin blogs and see what other owners are saying.

Jim McGuire
Lady Lady, Irwin 38
Via e-mail

Photos courtesy of Jim McGuire

Reader Jim McGuire’s Lady Lady, an Irwin 38, lays at anchor off Newport, R.I.


Hydrogen Peroxide and Mildew

I tried the top mildew removers PS reported on in the January 2009 issue on mildew-ridden life jackets and fabrics. None could do better than reducing the staining by about 50 percent. Then I tried spraying hydrogen peroxide and laying the gear out in the sun. The result was 80-100 percent elimination of the staining. Bottom line: Hydrogen peroxide is cheaper, more effective, and better for the environment.

Harry S. Anderson II
Via e-mail


Marine Cleaners

I have two suggestions for a degreaser and a mildew cleaner, both of which I believe would make the top of your list. Kafko Oil Eater ( is by far the best cleaner/degreaser I have ever used, and Wet & Forget ( is quite remarkable for killing mildew and mold. Developed by Rod Jenden from New Zealand, it is non-caustic, non-acidic, pH neutral, and biodegradeable. The bottle actually claims the product is safe to use on sails. For the ultimate test, I gave some to my engineering professor friend, who was looking for something to get rid of mildew inside his J/22. He ended up using it to clean half his driveway, half his deck, taped off portions of the railing, etc., and was amazed at the results. It requires no scrubbing; it just seems to kill the spores, and they eventually wash or rub off.
One caveat, it is slow acting, so if you want to see the mildew gone immediately, this is not the ticket.

Bill Coleman
Via e-mail

Oil Eater actually was among our Recommended degreasers in the February 2010 test, but we’ve not yet tested the Wet and Forget. We’ll be sure to add it to our next report on mildew removers.


Hasse Sails

In regard to the detail photos that ran with the “Sensible Sails” article (page 20) in the September 2010 issue: Mahina Expeditions is glad that you published the photos of our clew ring, but we wanted to clarify that the sail in the picture had 60,000 miles and five years on it when we had to make the repair in the Canary Islands. We were finally able to replace the sail once we arrived in Hawaii. At that time, the sail was six years old and had 70,500 miles on it, the equivalent of nearly three circumnavigations.

This Carol Hasse-made sail (Port Townsend Sails) performed for five years and 60,000 offshore miles before needing repair.

I just didn’t want readers to think that the sailmaker, Carol Hasse at Port Townsend Sails (www.port, makes sails that fall apart quickly.

John Neal
Mahina Tiare III, Hallberg-Rassy 46

We hope no readers got that impression as well. Port Townsend Sails is well-known for its quality sailmaking, and the September article shows several photos of the loft’s handiwork in the “A Closer Look” sidebar.


Search for Chafe Gear

 I am trying to locate chafe gear for my dock lines. I am trying to protect both eyesplices and straight sections. The off-the-shelf polyester chafe gear is only 18 inches, and I am looking for 24- to 36-foot lengths. Can you point me in some direction?

P. Hickey
Via e-mail

Over the years, Practical Sailor has tested chafe gear from various makers (Perma Buoy, Seadog, Davis) as well as household items that can be used as chafe gear (hose, towels, denim, etc.). Our last full-fledged test of chafe gear was reported in the Jan. 15, 2000 issue; we looked at solid hose, woven fabric, leather, tape, and toweling. We determined that removable nylon gear, like that offered by Davis Instruments (, and neoprene or rubber hose outperformed other types of anti-chafe materials.

Most off-the-shelf products we’ve seen are offered only in the shorter lengths (less than 24 inches), however, there are some companies that will make custom-fit chafe gear.

Fjord Inc. manufactures several lines of chafing gear. Testers reported that Fjord’s ChafePro was flexible and abrasion resistant. It also can be custom-made to order.

One that PS has reviewed is ChafePro, made by Fjord Inc. ChafePro ( is a double-layer nylon tube that features a full-length velcro slit, which allows it to be installed on dock or mooring lines without untying the lines. Testers found the ChafePro to be flexible, abrasion resistant, and easy to use, and it conforms tightly to bends. Prices start at $20, and custom sizes are available.


Jet Lube Clarification

I enjoyed Mark Johnson’s information on making good electrical connections in the “Reader Workbench” section (September 2010), but I would appreciate more information on the “Jet Lube” product that he mentions as a “copper powder-loaded grease.” I’m familiar with the copper-based anti-seize products on the market but not with the specific product that he mentions. I have held all the engineering department jobs on nuclear submarines including chief engineer and have had a yacht services and delivery business for over 20 years, but there is always something new to be learned. I am re-wiring my own Island Packet 38 and would welcome specific information on a source for “Jet Lube.”

Master Alan H. Donn
Island Packet 38
Groton, Conn.

The specific Jet Lube product the reader was referencing is the Jet Lube SS30, a pure-copper high-temp anti-seize lubricant. We found it online ( and for $20 in 16-ounce sizes, which will last for many years, according to the Reader Workbench author, Mark Johnson.

Here’s some further info from Mark regarding the SS30: “I have used it for over 10 years now and really believe in the stuff. WARNING: It leaves a nasty copper stain on your hands, clothes, and the surrounding area. Use sparingly. My favorite utility solvent, 91 percent Isopropyl alcohol, will not clean it up. Only mineral spirits.” You can also read more about the product at


Stovetop Thumbs Up

 In regards to the Chandlery review of the Omnia stovetop oven that ran in the August 2010 issue: I used to use an Omnia on my previous boat, which did not have an oven. It worked fine! A definite good addition to any galley without a built-in oven.

Len Lipton
Norwalk, Conn.



 I wanted to share some info regarding the Pro Blaster wash-down pump made by Shurflo ( After a recent failure of my pump, I discovered that the repair parts listed for the model (4901-4282) do not fit pumps manufactured on or before April 2006. In speaking to the customer service representative, I found out that there was a design change to the pump head, but that the company did not change the product’s model number. Additionally, the picture used in the West Marine catalog shows the old model, which added to my confusion. If any other readers need parts for this pump model, they should call Shurflo (800/762-8094 or 800/854-3218).

Bill Whitney
Via e-mail


Non-Profit Sailors

Thank you for bringing attention to sailing non-profits like Aquarian Quest, which you mentioned in your editorial in the August 2010 issue. I am the founder and executive director of the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay, Mich. The program, like Aquarian Quest, is the spawn of Pete Seeger’s Clearwater (

After working aboard Clearwater in November 1987, I became convinced that we needed a program like that in the Great Lakes. The rest is history, as they say, and after 21.5 years of sailing and teaching, Inland Seas Education Association has 85,000 students to our credit. This is done with a paid staff of five and over 200 volunteers. We also have helped several other water-based environmental programs get underway in the Great Lakes region.
Anyone wishing to join our program is most welcome. Please check out our website:

Thomas M. Kelly, Executive Director,
Inland Seas Education Association
Suttons Bay, Mich.

We’re all for non-profits that promote education of the sea and seamanship. 

The Inland Seas Association, a non-profit based in Michigan, has helped educate more than 85,000 students on sailing and environmental stewardship, using a Friendship sloop and a schooner as the classrooms.

Mailport Feedback

 I have several comments regarding the reader letter on the Blake Hitch (Mailport, August 2010) and Mark Johnson’s Reader Workbench (September 2010) on electrical connections.

The Blake Hitch will also be useful when it becomes necessary to reduce sail on a roller-furling headsail. The jib car must be moved forward to restore proper sail shape after furling. Attaching a second line between the clew and jib car and using a second winch removes the load on the working jib sheet, allowing easy movement of the jib car. This eliminates the need to tack and allows you to maintain most of the boat speed.

Another excellent and low-cost method of preventing corrosion of battery and most other electrical connections is to apply a coating of No. 3 Permatex ( over the entire connection. I have used that method successfully for years on automotive and marine applications. Removal of battery connections and renewal of the coating is simple and straightforward. Use of No. 3 Permatex (sparingly) to seal wiring from the condensation/fogging problems mentioned by reader Gary Lucas is also effective.

Dr. Charles F. Barth
Crazy Horse, C&C 37 TR
Port of Lorain, Ohio

Permatex was not included in our most recent test of corrosion inhibitors (September 2007) because it did not fare well in previous testing (May 1, 1998). But those tests used metal coupons as the platform, not wiring. Testers determined that it would best serve as a lubricant or for automotive wiring.



Reading the bottom paint article in the October issue brought back some old memories. Back in the ’70s here in Puerto Rico—and I figure up in the mainland—we had a system that was like a giant pool for applying antifouling. Who knows what sort of poison we were dumping in the water.

Now, since my boat is hauled out every year for hurricane season, the bottom paint only needs to last eight months. But like you said, you need to know the type of water where the boat will be. I have my boat in a marina, and no matter what I used, if the bottom was not scrubbed at least every two weeks, it would be a nightmare to clean. Just a few miles down from the marina, boaters are seeing a totally different situation and their paints last much longer.

Emilio J Torres-Requena
Rikki Tikki Tavi III

A PS tester applies the latest paints to a set of fiberglass test panels destined for Sarasota Bay, Fla.

I found the October 2010 article on bottom paints to be most informative. In addition to all the other considerations, did you consider the color of the paint? The local agreement here in Tallahassee is that black does better than any other color to keep off the various marine growths in our area of the Gulf of Mexico. I had Trinidad SR (black) put on in November 2008, and it is still “doing its thing.”

C. Henry Depew
Tallahassee, Fla.

Black bottom paint definitely hides growth on a hull better than white or light colors, but in all our years of testing, we’ve not seen any conclusive evidence that one color of paint performs better than any other color. In fact, some perennial winners like Micron 66 and Trinidad are blue or green. We did note that a high number of black paints did quite well this year, but we can’t definitively say it’s a result of their color.


Going Bananas

In regard to the Rhumb Lines editorial in the October issue: You are not the first one to “go bananas” over how to test toilets. I designed many of the toilets for Raritan ( and have done serious research and development on how to test toilets. Ripe bananas are probably a good first test, but as a designers, we had to look more closely, answering questions about flotation and density. 

First help came from NASA, which actually developed a recipe for “poop” when the space-shuttle toilets were being developed. Then there is an ANSI standard for house toilets. (Raritan designed its Atlantes electric toilet to meet ANSI standards.) After several discussions similar to what your fellow PS tester and you had, we finally settled on a recipe suggested by a consumer magazine to duplicate ANSI tests. The recipe: 6 parts coarse saw dust, 2 parts flour, 2 parts shortening, 1½-2 parts plastic beads (hollow if possible) for flotation; mix ingredients together and form simulated waste material 1-inch in diameter by 4 3/8-inches in radius on each end.

Vinod Mehta
Raritan Engineering Co.
Millville, N.J.


Pump Curves

As a mechanical engineer, I read pump curves to determine pump performance characteristics. It continues to baffle me why bilge pumps like those you recently tested (September and October 2010 issues) are sold with questionable and possibly irrelevant pump ratings (gallons per hour) and without informative and easy-to-read pump curves.

Walter Heins
Golden Eagle, Passport 40
Seward, Alaska


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