PS Advisor: 10/01/02
Marking Stainless Chain
My wife and I sail a Dehler 41 Cruising (we bought her new two years ago) out of the Jubilee Yacht Club in Beverly, Massachusetts. This German-built marvel has an anchor that goes out with 200 feet of stainless chain, handled by a windlass. Our problem is, how do we mark the chain? We've tried paint but it doesn't stick to the stainless. If you or my fellow PS readers have an idea that works, you'll reduce the amount of guff my lovely wife hands me when I say, "Let out 50 feet," and she replies, "Fifty feet, schmifty feet, how would I know?"
When the usual devices like bits of tied-on leather, small stuff, colored plastic or Dacron ribbons were suggested, Cooper said they've tried them, but the windlass removes them in a hurry. We didn't bother to mention a couple of commercial sets of plastic tags; they're for rodes made of laid line. We later thought of MDR's Whip End Dip. Painted-on circles of that liquid plastic or modest wraps of self-bonding rigging tape (the report on our latest test was in the March 1, '01 issue; Tommy Tape was best) might survive the windlass. However, this is a situation where an appeal to readers who have faced and solved the problem might work. Any solutions?
Sail Number Glue Removal
I recently purchased a used sail which suits my purpose for sailing, but has the old owner's numbers glued on. The numbers will peel off, but leave the sticky glue residual, which will prevent folding the sail (I haven'tpeeled the numbers yet.) Any suggestions on removing the glue?
We asked Adam Loory of UK Sailmakers for some advice on this topic. His response:
Getting the old adhesive off your sail will take a bit of work, but it canbe done. Take your sail outside or work in an extremely well ventilatedarea. Saturate a paper towel or towels in acetone and cover the affectedarea of the sail. Since acetone evaporates quickly, the paper towel willhelp keep acetone in contact with the left over glue in order to break it down.
After five minutes, remove the towel in a small area and scrape up the old adhesive with a plastic spatula or plastic putty knife. Clean the scraperfrequently on a paper towel to minimize spreading the goo. Keep repeating the scraping and cleaning process. Once you get the sail clean, hose off the area with vast amounts of water to get all the acetone off the sail. If the fumes bother you, stop and get some fresh air. This is not an easy job.
High Voltage Readings
My boat's starting battery (flooded type) is showing what I think are abnormally high voltages. Using an inexpensive Radio Shack digital meter, I'm getting about 12.8 volts after the boat has been unused for a day or longer. The same meter shows as much as 15.9 volts at the alternator with the engine running. I think there's a problem, but the yard people, testing with their own equipment, say everything is OK. Question 1: How much can I trust my meter? It's consistent - the readings are always reproducible to 0.01 volt - and it agrees (within 0.2 volt) with an older analog VOM. Question 2: Could the readings at the alternator be falsely high because of pulsation of the DC output voltage? Question 3: We've had a hot summer. How much does ambient temperature (say, between 60 and 90 degrees F) affect the readings? Question 4: At what (resting) voltage does permanent battery damage begin?
A 0.2-volt disagreement is actually pretty big in this case. Are the guys at the yard getting the same readings with a digital meter? If the two digital meters agree, they're probably correct. In that case, the standing voltage of 12.8 is at far end of the acceptable scale for a rested battery. The voltage at the alternator is definitely high, and might indicate a faulty or badly set regulator, or a bad diode. A reasonable alternator voltage would be 14.0-14.4 volts. We're not sure about false readings because of pulsation.
You mention just the starting battery - what about the house bank? Do the batteries feel hot when they're charging? Are they holding a charge OK? How fast do they discharge under normal use? Are they losing fluid rapidly? If the answers are "yes," "no," "fast," and "yes," then it's likely that they're being overcharged and are on the threshold of being damaged.
Hot weather does affect battery performance and longevity. So does proximity to the hot engine. The temperatures you mention don't seem extreme, though. You should troubleshoot your alternator and regulator. Don Casey has some good instructions for that in Sailboat Electrics Simplified (International Marine).