Mailport September 1, 1998 Issue

Mailport 09/01/98

Radar and Fans
The March edition of Nicholson’s Ditty Bag really brought on a serious guilt complex aboard Constance. We meant to write to you long ago about both the radar problem and especially the problem with Hella jet fans.

Based on the photo in PS, I believe Nick has the same model Questus that we do on Constance. In 1992 we installed a new radar on our Questus and because of problems similar to Nick’s with our older Raytheon radar, we taped the new cable to the mount very securely and left a large loop leading to the dome. The size of the loop and the way it is led keeps the amount of twist to a minimum. The rig has served us well for a return trip to New Zealand. It has needed no care beyond replacing the tape every year or so. We hesitate to lock the gimbaling mechanism as it moves very little in port and you can’t always predict when you will want to use the radar at sea.

The Hella fans are a potentially serious issue. We bought four of them in 1992 and had to discontinue use within six months because all four of them overheated. I tore two of them apart and found that the contact points in the on/off switch were the source of the overheating. These switches have a very small contact surface.

Our solution was to buy three Caframo fans (now available through West Marine). The Caframo fans do use more juice, but the amount of electricity used by all three fans is such a small percentage of our total consumption (150 amp-hours per day including refrigeration),that we don’t notice it. The Caframo fans have run problem-free since early 1993. They move a real gale of wind if set on high and come with a suction cup which, when wetted, can be stuck onto a mirror or the glass of a portlight and will stay in place for weeks.

Stephen and Truus Sharp
Bellevue, Washington

As Ken Clark of Hood Yacht Systems wrote in the June issue, new wiring diagrams are available for the Questus. We encourage owners to consult these instructions, as there is more to it than the size of the cable loop.

Fortress Anchor Sets
I read with interest the letter in your April 1 issue from Berkeley Pemberton regarding problems setting a Fortress FX-11 anchor on his S2 9.2A. I, too, have an S2 9.2A and have used a Fortress FX-16 for the last four years and have had no problems setting the anchor in various locations from Buzzard’s Bay to Maine.

David McDonald
Medford, Massachusetts

As we told Dr. Pemberton, perhaps a heavier model, such as you own, might help.

Fortress addresses the problem in their brochure entitled, Safe Anchoring Reference Guide. The problem is that in really soft bottoms the chain sinks the shank into the mud and the flukes stay on the surface. The solution is to carefully set the anchor at a 2:1 scope before veering out more rode. This gets the flukes going in the right direction, i.e., down.

Using mud palms and setting the flukes at the 45° “mud” position will also help. If all else fails, read the instructions!

Doug Hurst
Culebra, Puerto Rico

Frozen Furler
Before stepping my mast this spring, I examined the Harken headstay system and saw no problems.

After rigging the boat and attempting to raise the headsail, however, the sail could not be hoisted. On inspection from a bosun’s chair, a split was discovered in the uppermost foil section and I had to drop the whole assembly. Apparently water settled in the extrusion and froze during the winter, causing it to split. Harken was extremely helpful with replacement of the extrusion and the necessary parts. No way were the old extrusions going to come apart, however.

A very intelligent local shipwright, Richard Whitman, came up with the idea of using aluminum rivets to compress the split and hold it in place. He drilled holes and countersunk them, then hammered the rivets flush and sanded the whole section. The system works very well.

Robert F. Rozene, DMD
Orleans, Massachusetts

Aries Steering Vane
The name and address of the company that is reported to have bought the rights to Aries and is making them again is:

Aries Vane Gears
Mollegade 54, Holm
6430 Nordberg
Phone: 45-7445-0760
Fax: 45-7445-2960

Robert MacLaughlin
Concord, Massachusetts

Soldering Wire Connections
I thought the June article on crimp connections was very good. I use a pair of AMP Super Champ crimpers. They work as well as you describe.

I would like to offer a divergent view on soldering. I got my training from my dad with a 100-watt soldering iron when I was about 14. I worked in the switchroom for the Bell System, as my father did, back in “the good old days.”

When I undertake a wiring job on a boat, I always use 12-gauge, tinned, stranded wire with oil-resistant covering. Next, I remove the plastic sleeve that comes on the terminal ends. Remove about 1/4" of insulation from the wire. Insert the bare wire into the terminal end and crimp. I use a 100-watt iron, properly heated, and resin-core solder, and solder the crimped terminal. Next, I smear silicone caulking in the area where the insulation meets the terminal, using the end of my finger to insure that there is caulking all around the wire where the insulation ends. Let it cool first, of course.

I have never had any of these connections fail, and if you go to sea, what’s important?

If you are going to use a multi-wire connector, like when you come down the mast, a rubber boot might keep it dry, but try this: Wrap the two connectors with two layers of friction tape. Make it neat and tight. Smear it with silicone caulking from wire to wire, using a finger to work the silicone into the tape. Without worrying about the caulking drying, cover the joint with two layers of friction tape. This will give you a really watertight joint. Some people might not think it’s pretty, but I do, because it will keep those connectors dry.

John Brennan
Miami, Florida

Whether or not to solder seems to be one of those topics upon which the experts seldom agree. Over the years, we have reported on both sides. Here we will only note what Rick Viggiano of Pro Tech Marine in Tiverton, Rhode Island has been telling us for years, and that is that soldered joints better resist vibration. His experience working on many single-handed racers, such as the boats in the BOC Challenge, speaks volumes.

Settling Boat Yard Disputes
I enjoyed reading your editorial, titled “Consumer Rage,” in the April 1, 1998 issue. As a boat owner and boat yard manager, I have experienced both sides of the story!

All owners of sizable boats come to value the services of a reliable and competent boat yard. Yet, even with the best of yards, there are occasions when a difference of opinion over the cost or quality of a service can become a real dispute. When the yard is a member of the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association, you can turn to ABBRA’s Dispute Resolution Process (DRP) for help.

The DRP is a simple method of resolving conflicts quickly and inexpensively, without resorting to legal proceedings. It is a three-stage process. ABBRA has established volunteer, regional administrators around the country who guide the boat owner through the process. The first phase is between the boat owner and the yard. The second phase calls for the administrator to take an active part in mediating the dispute. If the matter is still unresolved, the administrator will convene a DRP committee consisting of one member of ABBRA and two experienced, knowledgeable boat owners in your community.

While the decision is not legally binding, it may well reflect the outcome you could expect from a court. ABBRA’s DRP may not be the perfect Solomon-wise “judge,” but the boat owner has nothing to lose!

Peter Donahue
Tide Mill Yacht Basin, Inc.
Rye, New York

For more information, contact the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association at 425 East 79th St., Suite 11B, New York, NY 10021; 212/396-4246.

You have mentioned two very different processes, mediation and arbitration. The mediation process is the opportunity for the parties to make their own decisions, in their own best interest. Arbitration is where the parties come before an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, present the facts of their case, and the arbitrator makes a decision that is binding on the parties.

Solomon died many centuries ago, but there are processes available to the consumer to resolve disputes. The most common mentality is “Sue the #%@*!” The legal industry has been most successful in conditioning the public to think that they must have an attorney to solve a dispute. I have found that if the parties will not let the lines of communication break down, there is no problem that cannot be resolved.

I have been a sailor for over 40 years. I offer dispute resolution services and do travel. If I may be of help to any of your readers, they can reach me at 972/273-8853 or by e-mail at

Gordon Cizon
Dallas, Texas

Amazing Teak Treatment
In your continuing series on dealing with teak, one treatment—and perhaps the most obvious—has escaped your comment: Not treating the wood at all. Wow! What a novel idea, and, of course, one which the manufacturers of teak treatments would cringe at.

Actually, I am referring to teak decks. Leaving the decks untreated makes them work better and more nearly as they were intended…as a great non-skid surface. Most of the preparations I have tried seem to have one thing in common—they make the decks quite slippery when wet. At least the sealers do, and the last thing I want is a slippery deck underfoot. The other preparations, oils moistly, tend to attract dirt.

The decks of my F&C 44 remain untreated. About once every six or eight weeks I scrub them with a long-handled scrub brush and saltwater. Soap is unnecessary. The brush removes the dirt and brings up the lovely light honey color of the teak. One caution: Scrub across the grain, not with it.

W.H. White
Rumson, New Jersey

Those of us at PS who have or do own boats with teak decks also leave them untreated. We test teak treatments because there is a great deal of reader interest in them, mostly, we assume, for trim.

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