Mailport June 1, 2000 Issue


Henri Wauquiez
Your January 1 editorial on the passing of Mr. Hinterhoeller was well deserved. However, another builder of superior production boats, Henri Wauquiez, passed away in late 1999. Surprisingly, only one very short article appeared in one of the boating magazines commemorating his death.

Mr. Wauquiez built some of the finest production boats in the world. Although not really recognized by most American sailing enthusiasts, knowledgeable sailors and many industry executives were cognizant of this man’s work. Although not as popular, his boats are in the same league as Swan, Baltic, Hinckley, Passport, Oyster, etc. Unlike most production builders, his boats were built with offshore conditions as the main criterion. The construction details incorporated into his boats were extraordinary by any measure.

I own a 1985 38' Mark II designed by Ted Hood and built by Wauquiez. The boat is amazing in many ways. The boat is beautiful in appearance and most importantly, seakindly due to its moderately heavy displacement, sensible hull configuration and proportion. There were approximately 250 of these boats built in the Mark I and II versions between 1981 and 1986. I think you would be doing your readers a service by reviewing this extraordinary vessel and alerting them to the loss of this great builder.

Matthew Cusumano
Cutchogue, New York

Ferroresonant Chargers
The article about battery chargers in the November 15, 1999 issue was informative. However, I must take exception with some inferences in the article that are, in my opinion, erroneous and/or misleading:

1. The photograph and caption on page 5 would lead the reader to believe that a ferroresonant charger is built from nothing more than an ordinary transformer and diode; nothing could be further from the truth! A ferroresonant transformer is a very specialized kind of magnetic structure which inherently regulates its output by taking advantage of the nonlinear saturation characteristics of its magnetic core. This is not the same thing as an ordinary transformer. You can often recognize a real ferroresonant charger by the inclusion of a large oil-filled resonating capacitor, usually mounted directly to the transformer.

Ferroresonant chargers have one overwhelming advantage over conventional circuitry-based chargers— there is no circuitry to fail. Its chief disadvantage is noise. Because it is impossible to completely encapsulate and/or seal the windings, ferroresonant transformers do tend to hum noisily.

2. Throughout the article, the reader is left with a clear presumption that a so-called “multi-phase” charging arrangement is somehow best. The marketing hype of charger manufacturers contributes to this presumption. I think it would be fairer to say that a multi-phase charger’s circuitry offers the boater a faster recharge capability, but at the possible expense of battery life. Technical documents from several major lead acid battery manufacturers state clearly that the slow tapered charge from a constant voltage charger provides the best battery life. For boat owners whose vessels spend the week plugged in at the dock, and are then day sailed or cruised for just a weekend or so, a constant voltage charger would probably be a better solution.

Norm Bernstein
Marisystems, Inc.
Stoughton, Massachusetts

The photo was intended to show conceptually how simple a basic ferroresonant charger is. It’s nothing more than a transformer (specialized as you point out, but nonetheless a transformer), plus a capacitor and a rectifier. Some solid state circuitry has been added to more expensive models, but it doesn’t change the basic limitations of ferroresonant chargers.

While constant-voltage, low-current charging may theoretically be best for maximum battery life, it seldom works out that way in the real world, particularly with the design of deep-cycle batteries. Without the electronic feedback circuitry to control input charging voltage, the charger output is affected by every spike and surge on the feedline. Dockside power is notoriously bad in this respect, but the effects were even evident in our tests. Simple ferroresonant charger output varied all over the place; computer recorded data from the ferroresonant charger tested exceeded safe float voltage levels. This means that over time the electrolyte would boil away. Add the life-shortening effects to deep-cycle batteries from constant undercharging, and it’s hardly a prescription for long-term battery life. We believe multi-stage chargers are the only way to go.

Cost of Upgrading
In your March article on the economics of boat restoration, I think you have seriously underestimated the cost of owning a boat and at the same time underestimated the benefits of restoration. Let’s look again at your Tartan 44. What is the price of a somewhat equivalent brand new boat with comparable capabilities? A new Tartan 37 is $210,000 and an Island Packet 420 is $309,000. Would you put your Tartan 44 in between these, at say, $250,000?

If you had put $250,000 into a comparable boat for six years, you would have given up about $125,000 in capital accumulation (at 7% compounded annually). Additionally, the insurance would have been at least $1-$2,000 per year more, say $10,000 for the six years. So simply the opportunity cost of owning a project-free boat (obviously an oxymoron) would have been about $135,000 for the six-year period, even if the boat could be sold for its purchase price after 6 years. If after six years the new boat sold for $150,000, the cost of owing that boat would have been $285,000.

Instead, you tied up $35,000, forgoing the likely growth of $17,000. Your upgrades cost $40,000 for a total of $92,000. You recovered $65,000 when you sold the boat, so your six-year ownership cost something like $27,000. By restoring an old, depreciated boat, your costs for depreciation and capital were around $4,500 per year. If you had done this with a new boat, your capital costs would have been $25,000-$47,000 per year.

Looked at another way, your 600 hours of labor saved you maybe $180,000, so your 600 hours of labor was worth $300 per hour. Working on an old boat is very cost effective.

However, I suspect that neither your wife nor mine is convinced by this accounting. Funny thing, they think that our time is better spent cleaning the garage.

Of course this accounting deals only with depreciation and capital costs. The basic annual maintenance and dockage would be the same for the new or old boats, so I haven’t included this cost. Also, I am sure some tax accountant could recalculate this from yet another angle.

All this reminds us that boating is expensive. I was stunned when I thought about the cost of redoing teak decks. If a teak deck costs $20,000 and lasts 20 years, depreciation on the decks only is $1,000 per year! (I now have fiberglass decks.)

Ben Stavis
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

Bristol Finish™
We are very pleased that you mentioned our product, Bristol Finish, in your March review of teak treatments. We would like to correct a small number of erroneous facts.

Our product was variously referred to as Bristol Fashion as well as Bristol Finish. The name of the product is Bristol Finish, which is trademarked. Bristol Finish was also referred to as a polyurethane, but is in fact an acrylic urethane, with much greater flexibility than common polyester (“poly”) urethanes. Bristol Finish may also be buffed, and recoated at any time for maintenance without stripping .

The table accompanying the article listed Bristol Finish with a price of $59.95 per gallon. The actual price is $159.95 per gallon kit (1-1/3 gallon). We also offer a quart kit (1-1/3 quart) for $49.95.

The table also shows a total of five coats applied during two days. Our application literature plainly calls for a minimum of six coats to be applied for maximum ultraviolet resistance. We also state in our application literature that Bristol Finish can be recoated in approximately 1 hour, and have applied as many as 8 coats in only one day. Two days are not required for a full application.

You stated that “Bristol Finish claims to be very similar to Honey Teak…” We do not claim that Bristol Finish is similar to Honey Teak. We have stated that our firm worked with Honey Teak for a number of years, and that Bristol Finish is a product with many improved qualities and a better price/performance ratio.

We were somewhat disappointed that your article was not able to devote as much space to the attributes of color and appearance, or relative ease of use as the installments of the past. We have taken a great amount of care to ensure that Bristol Finish produces an appearance that is exactly like that of traditional spar varnish, and not muddy or overly dark. We have also worked very hard to produce a product that is easy to use with a minimum of labor required. These two points, along with the ability to stand up to ultraviolet degradation, are the major reasons boat owners have for choosing Bristol Finish as a brightwork coating.

Finally, although your articles have been entitled “Teak Treatments,” we would like people to know that Bristol Finish is a very suitable coating for mahogany, oak, spruce, fir, ash, and any other type of wood used on boats.

Marshall Nix
C Tech Marine
Melbourne, Florida

Step-down Transformers
In the February 1 issue, Nick Nicholson mentions he is having a step-down transformer manufactured for his boat. I hope it is also an ISOLATION transformer.

For this discussion, we will refer to 220V 50 HZ shorepower as European power.

The step-down transformer
ûsold by Mid Atlantic Yacht
Actually, it is the most prevalent power available in the world. European power does not have a dedicated ground like US AC power. Standards for US shorepower wiring are: Black = hot; white = neutral; green = ground. The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) requires the green wire to be connected to the negative engine ground. On most boats, the negative side of the ship’s battery system is also connected to the same ground. Yachts having a generator or inverter may have the green and white wires internally connected within the equipment. I have witnessed a yacht plugging in to European shorepower through a rental step-down transformer (which does not necessarily have isolation) and blowing out all electronics, motors, and everything else connected to ship’s batteries. Not pretty.

For the yachts we manage which are going to use European power, we have isolation and step-down transformers made by Olsun Electrics. The transformers also have multiple taps, as European power can vary from 208 to 250VAC. Boats going transatlantic via the Azores can purchase isolation and step-down transformers at Mid Atlantic Yachts Service in Horta. Mid Atlantic has qualified electricians to check a vessel’s electrical systems.

Even in the US, we find that an isolation transformer installed in the shorepower system greatly reduces underwater zinc loss.

Contacts- Mid Atlantic Yacht Services, Horta, Faial, Azores PT-9900 Portugal; Tel: 011-351-292-391616, Fax: 011-351-292-391656, e-mail: Olsun Electrics Corp., 10901 Commercial St., Richmond, IL 60071-0001; Tel: 815/678 2421.

Bill Seifert
Warren, Rhode Island

As a 30-year industrial electrician I know you can buy a 240V/120V weatherproof, epoxy-impregnated unit for around $200. It will not have a stainless steel case but will last for 25 years or so if kept painted. They can be purchased from W.W. Grainger or any large electrical supply house.

James DeLong
St. Clair Shores, Michigan

We are not familiar with any of the above transformers, but note that ABYC has certain requirements pertaining to the isolation of galvanic currents—E-8, Alternating Current Electrical Systems on Boats. Among others, the transformer “shall be of the encapsulated [potted] type… A metal shield shall be located between the primary and secondary winding and be electrically isolated from all other portions of the transformer.” E-8 goes on to specify other aspects of transformer wiring and construction.

Another source is Charles Marine Products, 5600 Apollo Dr., Rolling Meadows, IL 60008; 847/806-6300, We spoke to Bob Kress at Charles Marine, who told us that the principal difference between UL Marine-listed transformers and others is indeed a full current carrying shield between the primary and secondary windings. Charles Marine’s shield is 50-mil copper, whereas others, he said, use only 3-mil foil. UL Marine-listed transformers also must pass other tests, such as for shock and vibration. Kress said their transformers are the only ones UL listed.

On a related note, Tom Hale of ABYC told us that they are seeing increasing problems with European boats brought into the US with 220V appliances that are switched out for 110V appliances. The problem lies with the boat’s wiring, which isn’t of sufficient ampacity to handle 110V appliances (220V appliances draw half the current of 110V appliances; therefore, 220V-wired boats may have smaller gauge wires).

Davis Chafe Gear
Thank you for your excellent comparison of chafing gear in the January 15 issue. May I correct two points?

The Secure Removable Chafe Guard does not require any additional fastenings as referred to in your comparison chart. The beauty of our product vs. Perimeter’s removable product is that we have included Velcro® fastening in the entire interior of our product, thus we need no extra cable ties, whipping or tape to Securely (sic) hold ours in place. This allows the boater to quickly and easily reposition the chafe guard if the dock line stretches or more anchor rode must be payed out.

Your price on the Perimeter removable product as it appears in the table is incorrect and misleading with regards to our product. Their list price for removable is EACH and their list price for the permanent is by the PAIR. If you refer to the West Marine 2000 Sailboat catalog on page 342, you’ll find their SKU #181356 is $11.99 EACH. Please also note that the Perimeter SKU number covers only line to 5/8"; the Davis product covers line from 3/8" on up to 7/8" (and some 1" line as well).

Niels Kisling, Marine Manager
Davis Instruments
Hayward, California

Thanks for the clarification. One more: West Marine also sells Perimeter chafe guards for 3/4"-1" line, the size we tested, and they sell for $13.99 each.

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