Mailport: 08/09

As a new boat owner, I have no end of questions, but here’s a quickie: I have recently had my boat hauled and sanded to the gelcoat, and repainted with all the right stuff. (The bottom was coated with Interlux CA Bottomkote.) Now, how often should I have a diver clean the underside, bearing in mind I live in San Diego? The service providers have a vested interest in selling frequent cleans—one company running a special at the moment wants me to sign a contract for a bottom clean every three weeks, but that sounds way too often to me. I realize it may well vary with geography and ambient temperature, but there should be some kind of general rule of thumb, perhaps?

Tests Include Panel Testing & Field Trials

Our test fiberglass panels are taped into sections and paints are applied following the manufacturers instructions. Testers rate the paints with no reference to the paint name or manufacturer.

Marine Weather Forecasting

Over the last few decades, theres been exponential growth in the availability of accurate weather forecasts and the net result is safer voyaging. Government spending on weather data gathering and forecast development has soared. Satellites and data buoys have filled in some of the oceanic gaps caused by an absence of weather balloon sampling at sea. State of the art, algorithm-driven, model data and ensemble-based forecasting have turned electronic guesswork into a better understanding of atmospheric volatility. The net result is an increase in the validity and reliability of marine forecasts and a trend that has stretched 24-hour forecast accuracy into 48- and 96-hour time frames. So, if anything deserves the label don't leave homeport without it, it is todays, better than ever, marine weather forecast.

Testing for a Life at Sea

Without the keen eye of experts who know what to look for, product testing can offer only a partial picture. The insight gained through hard won experience becomes more valuable at sea, which is why this months issue focusing on offshore sailing turns to four noted experts for advice on topics ranging from gear selection, to weather forecasting, to boat maintenance.

Quick Fixes for Clear Plastic

Clear vinyl windows are a miracle when they are new, allowing sailors to have an outdoor experience while keeping rain and spray at a distance. As they age, however, yellowing, stiffening, and cracking set in as the plasticizer that keeps them supple begins to deplete. The right fix is new vinyl, but in the meantime we need a quick fix, something fast, easy, and good enough to get us to the end of the cruise or season.

Upgrading the C&C 33 Part II

For hull bottom and topside repair, we love our Porter-Cable random orbit sander and WEST System Microlight Fairing Compound.

Fighting Mildew, Mold, and Lichen

Most boat owners regard their boat as a living, breathing thing, but when real living things-especially the microscopic variety-move aboard and start occupying large swaths of damp real estate, its time to draw the line. Weve done a series of reports on mildew in past articles, but those black spots on the deck, lines, and canvas probably arent mildew. Mildew and mold require darkness, and even the shaded areas on deck are too well lit. Those spots are more likely black algae and lichens, the latter a symbiotic combination of algae and fungus.

Do-It-Yourself Fender Boards

Fender boards are practically a necessity when lying along side pilings. They are designed to ride outboard of two fenders, protecting a larger section of the topsides than the two fenders could provide alone.

Our 10th Annual Bottom Paint Test

Micron Optima rates best at preventing growth on hulls, but its short pot life makes runners-up Trinidad SR, ACP Ultima and Micron CSC Extra look equally good.û

The Ins and Outs of Aftermarket Bowsprits for Light-air Sails

A salty Kiwi named Ross Norgrove once said that the most important tool for the owner of a wooden yawl adorned with a bowsprit is a sharp ax. To some degree, his witty comment holds true for contemporary sailors contemplating a mini-bowsprit.