Mailport & PS Advisor

Mailport: September 2013

In response to Whats in the Practical Sailor Toolbag? (PS, January 2012): How about a list of tools that a live-aboard cruiser should carry? Given storage, power, and workspace limitations, many of the suggested tools are not feasible and may require alternatives. For instance, I carry a major Dremel toolkit, and it cuts the very occasional holes I need for switch installation, etc., plus helps me with sanding and minor refinishing work. I use my Dewalt 18-volt right-angle drill probably twice a month for repairs and upgrades. I also use my cordless screwdriver several times per year, especially when removing and reinstalling my headliner while chasing wires. Most others are tools that don't require electricity, but there are many.

Mailport: 12/08

Regarding safety, the choice to design Glacier Bays system around a 240-volt DC buss was made for reasons of both safety and practicality. Increasing voltage reduces current and, with it, the risk of fire from overheated electrical connections. As for shock hazard, AC voltages above 50 and DC voltages above 80 are potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, the article leaves the impression that DC voltage is more dangerous than AC voltage. In fact, the U.S. Navy has found that DC voltage is five to six times less likely to cause fatality than the same AC voltage. Our system is based on the best practices of numerous standards for DC systems in other industries. We have been at the forefront in attempting to develop American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) guidelines for installations in yachts. Regarding fuel efficiency, the similar fuel burns seen by the Maine Cat 41 with diesel-electric propulsion and the Maine Cat 45 with a 160-horsepower conventional diesel propulsion are exactly what would be expected. It is only under rougher sea conditions that the diesel-electric system will be more efficient than the conventional diesel system. (See our website,, for more on this.) What was not clear in the article is that Maine Cat significantly modified the hull of the boat to improve performance between testing the Glacier Bay system and the Volvo diesels. We believe that the efficiency improvement with the Volvos is a result of the hull changes, not the engines.

PS Advisor: Are Diaphragm Bilge Pumps OK?

My boat has an ITT/Jabsco 36600 diaphragm bilge pump that does not sit in the bilge and is rebuildable. With an 8-foot head on the pump installation, I think this type of pump may be a better type for me than the electric centrifugal pumps you reviewed in the September 2010 issue—although they are more expensive. You did not include any diaphragm pumps in your review. Was there a reason? Do you plan to test this type of pump and perhaps compare them to the ones reported on in the September article? Any information on diaphragm pumps versus centrifugal pumps would be greatly appreciated.

PS Advisor: Replacing Lifelines

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and other regulatory bodies frown upon using PVC-coated 7x7 wire for lifelines. As you noted, this is because lifelines should be easily inspected for corrosion or other signs of possible failure. The corrosion that can take place under the coating is not just a saltwater issue. Air quality and other factors also can lead to corrosion. We suggest uncoated, 1x19 stainless-steel wire with swaged terminals—3/16-inch wire for upper lifeline and 1/8 inch for the lower. Uncoated 1x19 is easy to inspect, and even though the top wire is overkill from a tensile-strength perspective, it will be durable and almost as comfortable to lean against as the coated wire. It’s also more convenient to lash netting to than a smaller-diameter option.

PS Advisor: 02/01/05

Eyeglass QuandaryDo you have any suggestions for sailing in the rain while wearing eyeglasses? I need my glasses for both distance and reading, so...

PS Advisor: Mooring System Failure

My wife and I leave our boat moored in Bahia Coyote, Sea of Cortez, BCS Mexico. Our mooring is a system of anchors and chain that has worked well for us since 1987. Last year, I hired some friends to dive it. They replaced the chains and reported that everything else was in good shape. Days later, a neighbor noticed the boat drifting and rescued her. The cause: a swivel had failed. The swivel was in good shape, but the nut holding the halves together unscrewed. I don’t use jaw/eye swivels because cotter pin-related failures are too common, and I don’t use Chinese swivels because the U.S.-made ones are more reliable. Have you heard of this happening?

PS Advisor 05/01/00

Hull/Keel Joint CracksMy husband and I own a 1978 Columbia 10.7 sailboat. When it came out of the water at the end of last...

Mailport 11/15/98

Rotten RuddersYour editorial regarding weeping foam-core rudders brought to mind my own experience.When my Tartan 30 was surveyed prior to purchase, we found that...

Mailport: April 2016

The hatch cover project you reported on in the March 2016 review of the Outland Hatch Covers offered a right nifty approach to making your own covers. Could we see more details on the cover backside and buttons? Also, how did you keep the holesaw from dancing around without the center bit to pilot off of?

Cure for Holding Tank Clog

Any suggestions about what to do with a clogged holding tank? Ive isolated the clog to between the base of the tank and the elbow after the toilet macerator. Ive been treating the system with straight vinegar down the pumpout tube and thru the bowl to no avail.

Doing ‘The Ditch’ Capt. Frank’s Way

Be aware that a less-experienced sailors report of a great anchorage with plenty of depth, or statements like We ran aground here! don't do you much good if they fail to include basic info such as their boat's draft, state of the tide, etc. Other sailors' facility reviews should also be taken with a grain of salt. For example: The dockmaster hates Algerian Snaggle-tooth Poodles (like our Fluffy), so were never coming back, and you shouldnt either!