The Hassles of Hockles

Taking the advice of a PS review, I installed a Lewmar V2 windlass on my boat in 2008. I went with the installers recommendation of 100 feet of galvanized chain and 100 feet of eight-part braid, connected with a rope-to-chain splice, and I have a Delta 35 anchor. I found that a chain hockle (a twist in the chain that jams the windlass) will terribly mangle the vertical windlass. I have just completed my second mangling and ordered replacement parts-but these parts will not save me from the next mangling. The Lewmar distributor told me to install a chain swivel, but PS has warned about this (PS Advisor, May 2010). Is an all-chain rode a dumb idea? Is there some solution?

Mailport: 12/06

MARINE INSURANCE REDUXI have been reading with much interest your articles about marine insurance this year (April and May 2006).

Where Credit Is Due: January 2015

I dropped off my fabulous 33-kilogram Spade anchor at San Diego Galvanizing ( to get rid of some rust stains. The shops owner, Lewis Wise, called me and said he couldn't do the job. Why? Safety. As a metallurgist, Wise said that due to a small patch of corrosion at the junction of the stock and the flukes, he believed the anchor should be retired. What an incredible example of true integrity!

Stopping Deck Hatch Leaks

When I searched the internet for advice on repairing a small leak between the lens and sealant on a 20-year-old Lewmar Ocean 60 hatch, on my 1996 Valiant 42, I was dismayed by the dearth of information. Even the Lewmar site does not provide a schematic of the hatch or a service manual. You can purchase a new gasket but that is not what is leaking. There is no mention of the sealant. Hatchmasters quoted a repair cost 1/2 the price of a new replacement with a greater than four-week turnaround. I would still have to remove and replace the hatch. I will wing it, but thinking that if it came to that, I would definitely not want to replace it with a hatch I could not readily service myself. In my subsequent search I found a reference to a PS July 1, 1994 comparison of Offshore Deck Hatches. I was then dismayed to find that the PS archives stop at year 2000. Fortunately, after some rummaging I found the print version. It was still relevant and useful. In fact as far as I can tell, it is the most recent hatch comparison out there.

Lifesling Webbing Beckets Fail

I recently inspected our Lifesling MOB rescue device. The webbing beckets that attached the polypropylene float line to the horseshoe float had deteriorated. These straps tore free from the float with only about 40 pounds of pressure. The Lifesling came with our boat, so I don't know how old it is or how it had been stored previously, although I do know it was stored in a translucent, polyethylene hard case for a while. This safety issue deserves a recall, in my opinion, and highlights the need to periodically inspect safety equipment.

Mailport: July 2011

Letters to Practical Sailor, July 2011. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Boat Shoes, Rope Cleaning, Rigging Care, Drain Surgery and More!

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.

Mailport: December 2014

I bought the Perfect Home dehumidifier based on your October 2014 report. You mentioned that you bypassed the converter to use 4 amps at 12 volts; how did you do that? Is there a cord or something that I can buy?

PS Advisor: Thermal-Imaging vs. Radar

Practical Sailor tested the FLIR system ( in the June 2008 issue, and we tried out the company’s new First Mate recently (look for that report in an upcoming issue). While the FLIR images are impressive and offer some information not available with radar or even night-vision gear, infrared thermal imaging is no replacement for radar. FLIR bases its readings on thermal contrast, and objects that are the same temperature as their surroundings remain invisible. Take for example, a steel buoy or granite ledge that’s the same temperature as the sea surface at night. Another drawback: FLIR doesn’t offer any range or bearing information.

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.