Mailport: May 2014

In response to your recent blog on removing bottom paint: We totally stripped our 1984 Camper Nicholson 58 in two days. Without a doubt, the best tool in our kit for stripping many layers of bottom paint was a massive linoleum floor scraper. It has one straight blade and one slightly curved. I used the belt sander with 800-grit sandpaper to keep it razor sharp. Sharpening was needed every 5 square feet.

Where Credit Is Due: May 2014

While my wife and I have given up sailing, our current boat, a 1998 Eastbay 38, is equipped with a Maxwell Freedom 800 windlass. When preparing the boat for launch this year, I noticed that the sight glass had been splintered. Likely due to a previously broken seal that allowed water into the gearbox and the water freezing during one of the coldest winters in Connecticut in years.

Share Your Hobie Memories with Us

When Hobart Hobie Alter died at the age of 80 on March 29, I thought about how Hobie Cats touched my life. I grew up just a few miles from Miamis Hobie Beach, so the boats were a staple of my summers. One sharp impression kept coming back, an afternoon at Magens Bay on St. Thomas, USVI.

Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compounds

Gelcoat provides a fiberglass boat with a hard, water-resistant protective shell. When new, its polished and waxed to a bright shine, but after a few years of facing the elements-especially damaging UV rays-gelcoat will begin to oxidize and turn into a dull, chalky film on the surface. There are a few ways to remedy an oxidation problem (see Tips & Techniques), but for this article, we focused on coarse and medium-coarse rubbing compounds, which can be buffed on to remove the chalky layer and fine scratches. The tests evaluated ease of use, ability to remove oxidation and scratches, and whether they left swirl marks; testers also considered price, availability, and eco-friendliness.

Tired Daysailer Hull Serves as Test Platform

Practical Sailor tested the compounds on the badly oxidized hull of a neglected 1974 ODay Javelin daysailer that has been stored uncovered in the Florida sun and salt air for years. Formerly the platform for gelcoat restorer and wax tests, the Javelins once dark-blue hull had degraded into a chalky, light blue mess.

DIY Rigging Hacks

Over the years weve owned Josepheline, our 38-foot Lightwave catamaran, weve figured out a few simple fixes to some niggling onboard problems-some boat hacks, if you will-and we thought wed share a few in the hopes that other boat owners may benefit. If you have any little fixes of your own that youd like to share, email your story to

Do I Need a Life Raft?

Im planning to take our Catalina 36 from our Chesapeake Bay homeport to Newport/Narragansett Bay. The trip may include offshore runs between Cape May, N.J., and Block Island, N.Y.-a distance of about 200 nautical miles, maximum offshore about 30 nautical miles. Im deliberating what, if any, life raft I should have aboard for the trip, mainly for the offshore runs. Life-raft options that Im considering are: none; inflatable dingy lashed to the foredeck; coastal life raft (like the Revere coastal cruiser); full-spec offshore life raft. I have the usual VHF communication gear, as well as a radar, AIS, and a new Class 2 EPIRB. I would like your thoughts.

Mailport: April 2014

In regard to the March 2014 wind instrument reviews: I installed a Garmin package, including a GWS10, a little over a year ago. The unit works well enough, but the flimsy windvane has fallen victim to birds three times. The biggest threat to a windvane is birds, not rough weather. This applies to all models, from a simple Windex (estimated life expectancy about three months) to the old Nav5 all-metal vane.

Where Credit Is Due: April 2014

In November 2013, I bought a 65-pound Mantus Anchor. Living in Maine, I had not yet had the pleasure of using it but was disturbed by your recent report (PS, February 2014) regarding their shank strength. I contacted Mantus about getting a replacement shank.

Shurhold Buffing Pad Cleaner

During our April 2014 performance test of rubbing compounds, we sullied a dozen brand-new wool buffing pads, all of which were Shurhold brand. Since quality buffing pads are reusable (and not cheap), we thought the rubbing compound test was a great opportunity to also check out Shurholds new, professional-grade Serious Pad Cleaner (No. 30803). Mixed with water, this powdered concentrate is formulated to dissolve compounds and waxes from wool, polyester, cotton, microfiber, and foam buffing pads or cloths.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.