Mailport March 2014 Issue

Mailport: March 2014

Card Scanner Test

Photo courtesy of Mark Baldwin

When reader Mark Baldwin found that the antifreeze he had used to winterize his boat had frozen, he was understandably concerned about the fate of his boat's systems.

I used Uni-Gard pink antifreeze (rated for -50 degrees) to winterize my boat. The leftover jugs all froze solid at -14—or perhaps they froze before the night got that cold. The consequence for my boat’s systems? No telling until the spring, I guess.

Mark Baldwin
Ella, Seasprite 34
Blue Hill, Maine

It is completely normal for -50-degree antifreeze products to freeze at about +10 degrees. Squeeze the bottle or remove the lid, and insert a knife. What you will find—we hope—is that it’s only slush, not solid ice. Presuming there is no water dilution in your pipes—there shouldn’t be if you drained or blew out all of the water first, or let the glycol run for a bit—you should have burst protection of metal parts to -50 degrees and plastics to about -20 degrees. If there was 25-percent dilution, you may be in trouble; much depends on the geometry of the piping.

For more on winterizing products, check out the Feb. 3, 2014 blog at, and look for a series of PS articles on antifreeze and engine coolants this summer and fall. We will be testing products and exploring topics including burst point, corrosion, and how to avoid foul potable water from winterizing.

Ipad Apps

I’ve enjoyed following your articles on iPad apps (PS, August 2013, April 2013, April 2012, March 2013, February 2012) and have downloaded some that you recommended. I recently downloaded SEAiq (, a charting app. I think it is better than iSailor. The SEAiq website has an excellent user guide. Hope you will report on it soon. I’d also like to see you report on iRegatta and Skipper.

David McMillin
Endless Summer, Ranger 33
The Woodlands, Texas

We’re working on a new test roundup of tablet and smart phone apps, and we’ll plan to include these in the mix. Be sure to check out our review of the Regatta Recon app in this month’s Chandlery section.

Mooring Notes

Your Dec. 2, 2013 blog post, “Boat Mooring Upgrade Primer,” missed two important points. First, a single-leg system is only as reliable as the weakest part in the system; there is no redundancy. Be it a chain link, a shackle, or rope, when it breaks, the boat is gone. Secondly, how is the average sailor going to handle a 400-pound weight to say nothing of handling 1,100 pounds?

The mooring system I have been using since 1995, which was published in Practical Sailor’s September 2003 Mailport section, eliminates those two limitations. The system worked for my 6,200-pound San Juan 28 for 11 years and was upgraded in 2007 to handle my 30,000-pound Tayana Vancouver 42. However, like all things related to boating, periodic maintenance is required.

Mike Hirko
Destiny, Tayana Vancouver 42
Gig Harbor, Wash.

Galley Coffee Making

Photo Courtesy of Doug Blacke

Reader Doug Blacke offers advice on making the best coffee. His Island Packett 420 is docked at Shelter Island, Calif.

I just read your article on coffee making aboard (PS, January 2014), and feel compelled to reply with my path to the perfect cup o’ java (perhaps the 21st expert in the galley!).

The grind is by far the most important piece of the puzzle. As you’ve said, fresh beans are an obvious preference, but grinding to a proper and consistent size is critical. And of course, the optimum size is a function of the brewing method employed. The Hario Skerton Coffee Mill is a manual grinder made of stainless steel and high-quality plastics that uses ceramic cones to grind, is adjustable from coarse to fine grinds, is very affordable ($35), uses no electrical power, and provides a minor aerobic benefit as well.

I prefer a French press method of brewing, and strongly recommend the Frieling stainless-steel products. Cleanup doesn’t seem that challenging to me: While underway, dump the grounds overboard and rinse the carafe, then wash with fresh water. In the slip, it’s a tad messy but certainly worth the effort. And I make my brew powerful enough that the effort is no problem!

Doug Blacke
Bijou de la Mer, Island Packet 420
San Diego, Calif.

Card Scanner Test

Any chance of doing a review of business card readers or scanners? There are a few around, but the first two I had were atrocious. Luckily, I was only out of pocket a few bucks but I got nil reads from them, not even close! I guess like a lot of cruisers, we get lots of business cards. I can type the info in, but I like to see the boat pictures that go with a lot of them.

Terry Hogan
Via email

We usually leave these types of tests to Consumer Reports ( Can any other readers recommend a good business-card scanner?

MOB Searches

Coincidentally, when an article ran in the New York Times about a fisherman rescued off Montauk, N.Y. (Jan. 2, 2014), I had been practicing navigating back to an MOB, and I came up with a simple idea that chartplotter manufacturers should build into their units.

This is the idea: When the MOB button is activated, rather than just dropping a waypoint and activating a bearing back to that waypoint, the computer could generate an expanding square starting at the MOB with each leg no more than 1 nautical mile from the adjacent leg—a route so to speak. This would be the recommended search pattern.

Under my idea, if the MOB is not at the waypoint when the vessel gets there, the autopilot could go into the search pattern, as if it was following the route, freeing the captain to do a visual search and guaranteeing a comprehensive search. This is a very simple thing to program into existing software that can do routing already. It could save a life. I know my idea is no substitute for a seasoned skipper knowing sea state, set, and drift, but it certainly could not hurt as a guide.

Doug Rothkopf
Sabre 402
Sea Cliff, Nassau County, N.Y.


The print versions of the July 2013 review of handheld VHFs and the October 2013 PS Editor’s Choice article both stated that the Icom M92D featured Class D DSC capability when in fact, it does not. Since that time, Icom has changed its claims that the M92D is Class D to state that it is instead SC-101 in the U.S. The European version of the handheld is said to meet the Euro Class D standard, but the Federal Communications Commission is more strict in its classifications. This news does not change the review’s final ratings, nor does it affect the M92D’s status as an Editor’s Choice product.

The May 2012 issue misstated the design loads for strong points on a 35-foot sailboat, according to the table of theoretical loads used by the American Boat and Yacht Council. Indicating minimum design loads for deck hardware used for anchoring or mooring (cleats, bitts, samson posts, etc.), the table shows that the cleat for a working anchor on a 35-foot sailboat should withstand loads up to 5,400 pounds. Other information appeared in the May 2012 issue.

The February 2014 PS Advisor headline should have read “Tankless Gas Water Heaters, Install in well-vented space and get a CO alarm.”

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