Mailport February 15, 2002 Issue

Mailport: 02/15/02

Hull Hole Damage Control
Unfortunately, I have a little experience with this subject ("Hull Hole Damage Control," December, 2001) as my boat has been attacked by stealth rocks before. Here's the method I use:

1. I stop the boat to slow the water flow. 2. I put something flat against the hole to slow the water flow even more. The key is to have nothing sticking out of the hole. 3. I carry a large piece of fiberglass window screen, wax paper roll, and epoxy sticks. I lay out the wax paper, larger than the hole, on a smooth surface. This keeps the mess down. I lay screen over it. I smear the epoxy over the screen like a mustard plaster and force it into the fibers of the screen.4. I go over the side with this patch, press it against the edges of the hole, and lightly tap the goo onto the hull around the hole with a wooden mallet tied to my wrist. 5. That sets in a few minutes and holds pretty well. I will do this again to fill whatever little holes I might have missed the first time. I want the inside to start drying. 6. Once the inside is dry (I use a heat gun) I use my West System fiberglass stuff to repair the hole from the inside (four to six layers). Once that hardens, I don't care what happens to the patch on the outside.

One time I made this repair and waited two months before I hauled out and made a proper permanent repair. I sail around the world on a large catamaran (Prout) and couldn't find a haul-out facility quickly.

The key is to stop the water from coming in, dry the hole, and apply a repair to the inside.

-Larry Ladd
Via e-mail


In the article "Hull Hole Damage Control" from the December 2001 issue, there is a quote from Meade Gougeon regarding his technique for repairing a hole in the hull.  The article refers to using a material called "G-5."  This material is actually "G.S."  or General Sealants #213 Sealant.  You can purchase single rolls of the sealant tape from Gougeon Brothers (989/684-7286) as #883 Vacuum Bag Sealant. It is also available from Airtech Advanced Materials Group (714/899-8100) in 10-roll packages. "G-5" is actually our designation for our Five- Minute Epoxy, which is not what Meade intended to recommend for this application.

-Tim Atkinson, Chemist
Gougeon Brothers, Inc.


The recent article on rig cutting tools (November 15, 2001) mentioned using an angle grinder for cutting the cable, but you couldn't find a cordless tool. I was able to find one after a search through the tool catalogs at the local Home Depot store.

During the last Around Alone race, Brad van Liew suffered a dismasting off of Argentina. In an interview after the race he said he would not go out again without a cordless grinder to cut the rig. This started me thinking about my tool choices on my sailboat.

The tool is the Makita "9500D" angle grinder. The tool is not sold in any store that I know of; it is mainly sold to locksmiths, and is special-order only. It costs approximately $60 and is a natural to be combined with the "6095DWBLE" Cordless Driver Drill with Flashlight and fast charger. The Drill/Flashlight has been upgraded to the new NiMH batteries. Order the angle grinder without battery and charger and use the charger from the Driver Drill. The grinder uses the 7.2-volt battery, while the Driver Drill uses the 9.6-volt (same cross section dimensions, just longer). You can use the 9.6 volt battery in the grinder. While not recommended, the grinder will turn faster and the battery will stick out the bottom of the grip, but in an emergency situation this is of little consequence.

The grinder uses the depressed center 4"x5/8"x1/8 or 1/4" discs. Because of the way the guard is shaped, the 1/16" thick discs won't fit.

I wanted to try the 1/16" cutoff discs, figuring it would take less energy to make a 1/16" wide cut, instead of a 1/8" wide cut. So I machined a small piece of 1" brass rod into a spacer.

I haven't had a chance to test it on the standing rigging yet, but I will be cutting one of my backstays for my ham antennae soon. There will have to be three cuts to put in the insulators. I want to time how long it takes to make the cuts with the following combinations: 1/8" disc @ 7.2V, 1/16" disc @ 7.2V, and 1/16" @ 9.6V. I'll let you know the results later.

-Larry Kroeger
Long Beach, CA


Basic Daytime Distress Signal
I had occasion recently to use a daytime distress signal that was not mentioned in your article (October 15, 2001). It was the second time in my long life that I have used this signal. That is, extending the arms straight out and flapping them up and down like a bird. It may not be well-known, but it is still described in Coast Guard literature. It is effective in high wind and dim light, and it is not necessary to go below for flares.

On September 30, 2001, while ghosting across San Francisco Bay in my Ranger 23, I noticed a red object about 200 yards ahead. I veered toward it and, as I approached, the red object was seen to be an exhausted recreational swimmer who was being swept toward the Golden Gate by strong currents about a half-mile due west of Alcatraz.

Even though the waves and swells were small, he disappeared from sight occasionally, so I really couldn't risk losing sight of him to go below for flares, throw cushions, or VHF. I'm 78 years old and I knew I could not hoist him aboard. I grabbed a coil of dock line, which the swimmer was able to grasp, so I hooked the other end of the coil over the spinnaker winch.

I then freed main and genoa sheets to slow the boat, and planned to get my Lifesling around the swimmer so I could call the Coast Guard.

A fishing party boat was passing about 100 yards off my stern; I flapped my arms, but they ignored me. (It's hard to believe that the skipper didn't understand.) Then I signaled a small, inboard utility boat crossing my bow about 300 yards away and he immediately turned and approached. Fortunately, the operator was a husky young man, and his boat had a swim platform and folding ladder. He literally had to lift the swimmer up the ladder and over the transom, probably because the swimmer was worn out due to exhaustion and the cold water.

It is a good memory to save a life at my age. I don't know how long the swimmer could have held onto the coil of rope, but thank goodness the utility boat skipper knew the flapping arm distress signal.

-Joe Sheehy
San Francisco, CA


Where Dredit Is Due...

To Garhauer Marine, Upland, CA: "This spring I replaced a number of 20-year-old  blocks with new ball -bearing Garhauer blocks. At the end of the season I noticed that one of the blocks didn't run as freely as it did when installed.  I returned it to Garhauer for inspection.  They immediately replaced it with the next heavier model.  They did this promptly and at no charge.  In this era of 'take it or leave it' this sort of service needs to be saluted and publicly recognized."

-Tim Booth
Youngstown, NY

To Northstar Technologies, Acton, MA: "As we were cruising down the East Coast this fall I noticed that my Northstar 952, began losing differential stations, and occasionally satellite signals all together. I contacted Pam at Northstar service and informed her of my problem. She offered to next-day a loaner unit to Newport, our next port of call. The loaner, while an older unit, exactly fit the hole in the nav station and plugged right in. When my unit was fixed (approximately 10 days) she sent it to a marina in the Chesapeake where we were awaiting mail. This prompt service enabled us to continue our trip south uninterrupted. It was handled in such a manner as to cause the least disruption to our plans, and insured that our navigation software had a solid fix as we continued our cruise south. As a liveaboard moving south, it is difficult getting good service. Transients are often at the mercy of technicians who know that they are moving on. I am grateful to Northstar for the professional service I received, but most importantly, allowing me to continue my trip uninterrupted.

-Peter Niehoff
S/V Adelaide

To Hella Marine, Plymouth Twp., MI: "At 10:56 am on November 13, 2001 I sent Hellamarine the following e-mail: 'Dear Hella Marine: I own a Hella Map Lamp (2AB 004 523-161). The on/off switch rattles. The light does not stay on—it turns itself off when the position of the light head is changed. Very annoying to say the least. I took the light head apart and tried to fix it myself but was not able to get into the on/off switch itself. I would like to send it back to Hella Marine for repair or replacement.'

At 2:45 pm I received the following response: 'Dear Paul, You did not mention how old your light was or where it was purchased. All of our Hella products carry a 1-year warranty, which is our dealer's responsibility. We have no repair facilities and there are no replacement parts. Having said all of this, I am sending you at no charge a replacement 19" map light. Thank you for choosing Hellamarine products. Parker Cleveland, Customer Service.' That is what I call exemplary service."

-Paul Walchenbach
Seattle, WA

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