Mailport November 15, 2001 Issue

Mailport: 11/15

Personal Rescue Lights
As a long-time subscriber, I continue to find your articles well done and extremely useful. Regarding the review of personal rescue lights (July 1) let me add one factor, which I think makes them "less than brilliant." It has nothing to do with illumination.

For years we attached the ACR Firefly to harnesses for night use on offshore passages. Frankly, we never liked the idea of just using Velcro straps. The conditions under which you really might need these lights to stay with you call for very strong Dacron or nylon line of sufficient diameter to insure that one would not get separated from these potentially life-saving devices. However, it's nearly impossible to get line of any strength through the small openings made for attachment. We ended up using marline, but it seemed crazy not to have openings that would permit a more reliable fastening system.

-Richard Olney III
Marblehead, MA


I am a relative newcomer to sailing and was becoming very frustrated when I recently started having trouble taking correct bearings of landmarks using a hand-bearing compass—I thought this was one skill I had finally mastered.

After complaining about this to my partner, John Harries, we startedexploring what was causing the problem. We eventually narrowed it down to the Firefly Waterbug2 strobe which I recently started wearing in a smallpocket sewn onto my lifejacket/harness. It appears that the strobe (with or without batteries) and the batteries themselves (alkaline batteries), both cause deviation of up to 20 degrees in the compass reading when within about 12 inches of the hand-bearing compass (with even greater deviation when closer).

We were also storing the handbearing compass on a shelf with our extra strobes which could, I guess, eventually cause permanent deviation in the compass. Thankfully we realized what was happening prior to making any mistakes that could put us on the rocks but felt it might be important to mention it to others who, like us, think it's important to carry a strobe in ready reach in case of falling overboard.

Thanks for your informative and helpful articles.

-Phyllis Nickel
S/V Morgan’s Cloud
Hamilton, Bermuda


Teak Treatments
I read with mounting excitement your latest article on teak treatments in the July 2001 edition, warming to what sounded like a real breakthrough in creating a finish that really lasts and still looks like varnish. I have a tremendous amount of brightwork on my boat and if Honey Teak had been what you seemed to be saying it was... well I'd be in some kind of boaters heaven by now. Sadly,it is not.

Your article concluded with: "...while some (teak treatments) aren't as attractive as varnish, the top-rated products look every bit as good."  Honey Teak got your top rating and hey... no way it looks as good as varnish! Now I admit, I've only seen one boat that used Honey Teak, but what I saw looked a lot like Cetol. Maybe it lasts longer than Cetol, but I saw the same orange pigment thatobscures much of the grain and, clear topcoats notwithstanding, the stuff looks flat beside any decent varnish job. Trust me, it does not work for a purist.

As for ease of application, apparently it's not nearly as wonderful as one would like to think. First of all, though I realize that you're not recommending that Honey Teak be left on one's boat without any maintenance for 57 months, (as you did with your teak panel) I do think your readers deserve to know that the manufacturer doesn't even recommend going beyond 12. In fact, he recommends that 2 topcoats be added each year. Sounds darn familiar to us varnish purists.

I hope someday the great breakthrough happens, and I do appreciate you keeping us posted as to how it's going. But if your investigation had included feasting your eyes on a well-varnished rail I'm sure you'd have concluded that Honey Teak is just another little stop along the way to that breakthrough and that the journey is far from over.

-Bill Henderson
Salt Spring Island, BC


EPIRB Battery Choices
(re: PS Advisor, July 15) My legal consultant says that while you may waive your right to sue for negligence, (but not for gross negligence) the waiver is not binding on spouses, offspring, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, or others who might have an interest in losses that might be attributable to failure of a product or service. All this righteous indignation brings to mind Oscar Wilde's definition of a cynic— "...a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing."  Also, the complainers might consider the problem from the perspective of whoever is servicing the devices.

-Bill Bornstein
Mt. Sinai, NY

P.S.  I have no connection with any manufacturer or service facility.

So much for the waiver idea. There had to be a hitch.

In any case, it's clear that in the US, the high cost of battery replacement is split between the expense of the batteries themselves and the fees charged by the replacement facilities for their labor and testing, with what we must assume are fair profits built in along the line. The care and time required for installation and testing at those facilities are linked directly to the liability worries on the part of the manufacturers.

Let's leave the discussion alone and give the final word, for now, to Don Davis, who follows up Ray Seiffert's letter in the September issue with more information.

We are full-time cruisers sailing the Canadian Maritimes, U.S. East Coast, Bahamas, and Bermuda.  Maintenance of equipment is something we try to do as much as possible by ourselves.  Happily, for EPIRB owners, this is standard with the ProFind 406 EPIRB from Seimac Limited, Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It is advertised as the only user-serviceable unit in the world.  Their battery sells for $99 and you replace it yourself. Their contact information is 902/468-3007; website

It seems to me that antiquated design engineering as well as "corporate inertia" is holding back Litton and the other manufacturers.  Hopefully, this new competition will change that.  When our EPIRB battery wears out, ProFind will be our choice.

EPIRBs are not the only culprits.  Our $300 Furuno GPS 30 requires a battery to be replaced by an authorized dealer for approximately $90 ($15 battery. $70 labor) every three years. While we are pleased with the operation of the unit, we will not buy this brand again. Would anyone buy a car that required  30-75% of its original cost to be spent on standard maintenance every few years?

-Don Davis
S/V Chautauqua


Where Credit is Due

To Marinco, Napa, CA: "About six years ago I bought a folding pedestal table made by AFI, a division of Marinco. After years of exposure and no maintenance, two of the hinges holding the leaves corroded and broke. I called Marinco and spoke to Lynn Dougan in customer service about purchasing replacements. She told me she would look around and see if there were any available. A few days later a priority mail package arrived with four new hinges, along with a note that said 'We are pleased to send these at no charge.' Hats off to Marinco at a time when a lot of other suppliers are obviously cutting back in this area."

-Bob Russell
Kamuela, HI

To Yandina Ltd., Beaufort, SC: "I had a very positive experience withYandina, Ltd., of Beaufort, SC.  They manufactured the Battery Combiner 150 that I purchased about 18 months ago.  It quit working last month,leaving the combining circuit 'open' and basically useless.  Thepaperwork I had indicated only a 12-month warranty.  Upon calling them, they immediately sent me a new (overhauled) unit for no charge.  It is nice to know some companies still take pride in and stand behind their products."

-William R. Odell
Annapolis, MD

To ITT Jabsco, Costa Mesa, CA: "A while ago, our Jabsco Par-Max 4 fresh water pump stopped working while still under warranty, and changing the micro switch didn't solve the problem.  So I  e-mailed Mr.Keith Evans at Jabsco, who put me in touch with Mr. Martin Greenfield, who without further ado sent me a new pump via UPS. No hassle with sales receipts or requirement that I return the broken pump to them first.

No big deal so far.  But when I tell you that the US-purchased pump failed in France, Mr. Evans is at Jabsco in California, and Mr. Greenfield is at Jabsco UK, then, I hope you'll agree that Jabsco's after sales network is quite impressive.  It's a pleasure to deal with a company that provides true worldwide service.  Well done, Jabsco."

-Gerard Lacroix
via e-mail

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