Mailport May 1, 2002 Issue

Mailport: 05/01/02

More Diesel Exhaust
Having read your February 1 article on diesel engine likes and dislikes, I wondered what I was missing. Did these guys know something that I didn't? I took the article to our mechanics and asked for their comments. They too did not agree with the ratings given in your tabulation. We have sold and serviced your first four choices since the late '60s and Yanmar since 1974. We have even seen and serviced the Vetus diesels.

The first two items, smoothest running and least vibration appear to be one in the same, yet some choices showed a difference.

Current Yanmars are every bit as smooth as the other brands. The Q family Yanmar did some wild gyrations if the injection timing was not precisely adjusted. There hasn't been a new one since 1980.

The third item, quietest, is more a function of the boatbuilder. The engineering of the engine space, engine beds, exhaust system, and sound insulation should not reflect upon an engine.

All the cooling systems are good when the engines are new and, with proper maintenance, stay that way. Perhaps the mechanics' choices were based on which ones required the least service. The same may apply to the best lubricating system. I know that we grind more cranks in Perkins than the others, and to me that indicates an insufficient supply of oil.

Easiest to work on also relates somewhat to the boatbuilder. If that category applied only to engines on the bench, it would make more sense, although that would not have a major effect on the rankings.

Low cost parts ratings must have come from those who don't price the invoices.

Putting Universal and Westerbeke one and two for parts availability must reflect the proximity of Rhode Island to Avon, MA. We find the best parts service from Yanmar, but concur with the rest of the sequence of ranking.

In the most reliable category, we swapped Yanmar with Perkins and Universal with Volvo. We made the same swaps in the most durable category. We see many more Yanmars than any other make, and we rebuild or replace more Perkins than the others. We claim the "Maytag syndrome" when it comes to going inside a Yanmar. Perhaps it happens to relate to our fresh-water conditions or the fact that we service about 95% sailboats.

We maintain a website dedicated to sailboats ( and have a very active forum on engines. I personally started working on engines in 1944 and have been dedicated to the sailboat industry since 1965.

-Gordon Torresen
Torresen Marine
Muskegon, MI

We used three closely related category names—smoothest running, least vibration, and quietest—because we realized that any of the three could be interpreted to mean the same thing as the other two, and yet mechanics do associate them with different factors in engine construction. We included them all in order to get what we hoped would be fairer mathematical data.

The mechanics were asked to assume competent mounting and alignment, and to ignore boat design and installation factors, which, as you point out, should not prejudice ratings of the engines themselves.


I enjoyed your article, "Diesel Mechanics' Forum" in the Feb. 1, 2002 edition.  Your creative survey of real- life diesel mechanics was just the kind of practical information most of us pay the subscription price for.  It's no mystery to me and my husband, builder/designers of the Lathrop 39, a performance cruising sailboat, why most boatbuilders continue to use Yanmar diesels. Yanmar engines have the lowest weight to power ratio.  If one is purchasing a boat primarily for sailing, that criterion should  rank higher than "quietest," "least vibration," or even "most durable." 

Maybe more significantly, Mack Boring, Yanmar's U.S. distributor, is, by our experience,  far  more supportive and easier to deal with than other engine manufacturers.  And as you point out in the article, most of us have had positive experiences with Yanmar engines.

-Anne Galliher
The Lathrop Company
Old Lyme, CT


I would like to correct a few inaccuracies in your February 15 "Diesel Mechanics Forum." Roger Penske's Penske Corporation was the principal owner of Detroit Diesel Corporation until its sale to DaimlerChrysler in October 2000. Detroit Diesel Corporation was the North American master distributor of Perkins' products from 1988 to 1996 when Perkins decided to directly manage North America with a new separate distribution system. Penske Corporation has never represented Perkins-Sabre.

Under Detroit Diesel Corporation's distribution Perkins' engine and parts sales, along with customer satisfaction, increased dramatically.

-C. Christopher Cannon, Chairman
Penn / Detroit Diesel Allison
Philadelphia, PA


Going Low Gloss
Painting a boat is a curse we DIY folks thrust upon ourselves. (See "Topside Paint Test Kick-Off, February 15.) We torture ourselves, working inches away from a wet surface that attracts specks of dust and traps legs of insects; haunted by sags, runs, holidays, brush marks, shedding brush hairs (and our own hair), high spots, low spots, too much thinner, not enough thinner, drying too fast, drying too slow, too much sun, too much dampness, too much humidity, too much wind, someone sanding a boat upwind from you… you name it. And when the boat is finally launched and hits the water, all those imperfections visible through a microscope are erased by the naked eye and reflections in the water.

I have gone the way of high gloss in the past with two-part paint and urethanes, and my boat did indeed, look great (especially during the time it was hauled out and didn't actually get in the salt water.) No high gloss on the hull for me ever again. Low gloss is a more practical solution, unless you enjoy endlessly washing down, polishing, and buffing your topsides to maintain that high-gloss look. I'd rather spend my time sailing.

I have used a semi-gloss enamel (a very dark schooner green) produced by the George Kirby Paint Company, established in New Bedford, MA in 1846 and still owned and operated by the Kirbys. The Kirby I deal with is known as "George the IV," which has nothing to do with royalty except, perhaps, in New England paint circles. (The whole family works there.) The paint goes on easily with roller and brush, and is a snap to maintain since I'm not dealing with that demanding Awlgrip look.

I sail a classic plastic (1962) Sailmaster 22C designed by S&S and built in Holland. Oh, I do soap it down once a month maybe, but only if I'm stuck in a no-wind situation on Chesapeake Bay.

By the way, it's the only sailboat on Chesapeake Bay that is not for sale.

-Jack Sherwood
Annapolis, MD


Seahawk Paints Response
The bottom-paint test conclusions in Practical Sailor and Powerboat Reports dated April 2002 are inaccurate.

Seahawk has spent decades and millions of dollars on facilities, testing, EPA registrations and approvals, raw material evaluations, labs, product development, advertising, marketing, and customer service. The Seahawk brand is known industry-wide as a premium product by customers and competition alike, becoming a flagship product in the premium yards including fine companies like Viking Yachts, Palmer Johnson, Carver Yachts, Endeavor Yachts, Egg Harbor Yachts, Christiansen Yachts, Delta Marine, all New Gallant Ladys, Galati Marine, Bradford Marine, and hundreds too numerous to name. Thousands of customers insist that Seahawk be used exclusively on their vessels.

We recognize and understand that media sources sometimes make innocent mistakes, but we can't allow these tests, evaluations, and results to stand. The results published this year must be retracted as the test conclusions were wrong.

Powerboat Reports and Practical Sailor tests have always ranked Seahawk brands with top ratings, even as far back as "Antifouling 1998," when Seahawk's Tropikote brand was judged as "excellent" after three years. This year's test labels it "poor," even though it's the same product!

The Seahawk test results were wrong, our address was wrong, the contention that we don't have product availability is wrong, and the portion that states that our products are not available online is wrong. We have loyal customers and ship products worldwide, utilizing the Internet and select dealers and distributors.

We know that the test results are inaccurate, because our customers understand that we produce high-quality premium products, with service second to none. We thank our loyal customers and invite comments at our website or e-mail address:

Thank you for consideration of our comments. We appreciate and welcome your response. We would hope that in future testing of antifouling paints, Powerboat Reports and Practical Sailor would stick to the strict guidelines of ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standards.

-Erik Norrie, CEO
New Nautical Coatings
Clearwater, FL

The technical lab testing used by Seahawk, utilizing ASTM standards and procedures, is certainly more scientific than our practical evaluations, which involve applying paint to fiberglass panels according to the manufacturers' instructions, putting the panels in the water, leaving them alone for half a year or so, then pulling them out, eyeballing each one, and making empirical comparisons of a lot of products in one place. Our intent has always been to apply the paints just as consumers do, then submit the paints to real-world conditions, with the understanding that nature is not as consistent as a lab. Because of that inherent unpredictability, and our random placement of panels in the water, it's possible for paints to be exposed differently to sunlight, tidal current action, cormorant guano, passing wakes, floating weed, low-tide silt, and so on. We've seen plenty of anomalies over the years, including instances of paints with less copper outperforming ones with more copper, and patterns of growth that swoop neatly across a number of panels coated with different paints.

After carefully reviewing Seahawk's objections to this year's evaluations, we believe Seahawk has some valid points. In the New England tests aboard the Foulbottom II raft, fouling among the seven racks of panels was fairly consistent, with three paints receiving "excellent" ratings, five receiving "good," 33 receiving "fair," and three receiving "poor." (As we noted in the article, ratings appeared more pessimistic across the board this year because we adjusted them to our four-level rating system—but the ratings reflected no changes in the paints or test procedure.)

Two of the "excellent" ratings were on a rack of panels containing Pettit/Woolsey paints, and two of the "poor" ratings were on a rack of panels containing all the Seahawk paints, plus a panel of Super Shipbottom from Innovative Marine Coatings. It's possible that the Pettit rack was more protected—that we randomly put it into a position where it was better treated by the vagaries of nature—and that the Seahawk rack was disadvantaged in the same random way. This points to the shortcomings of our rough-and-ready evaluation methods.

While we don't foresee adopting ASTM standards for our evaluations (these standards, for example, require the use of steel panels for testing, instead of fiberglass) we will continue to look for ways to improve consistency in our own "natural" testing, and can appreciate the blast from Mr. Norrie as a motivation.

For this year, while we want to take nothing away from the Pettit/Woolsey paints, we ask readers to bear in mind the previous excellent ratings of Seahawk paints, and to make purchasing decisions based on all information available regarding their products. The company does indeed have an excellent track record.

We copied the St. Petersburg address for Seahawk/New Nautical Coatings from a label on their Biocop paint. Their correct corporate address is: New Nautical Coatings, 14805 49th Street North, Clearwater FL 33762 727/523-8053.

We said that Seahawk paint "is not widely available in chandleries or on the Internet to private customers, although it's fairly widely used in working boatyards." The Seahawk website,, does contain a list of chandleries and boatyards in North America and the Caribbean where Seahawk paints are available. Orders can be placed online via an e-mail link.


Super Shipbottom
While we're taking our lumps on the bottom paint story, we need to alert readers that we left out contact information for Super Shipbottom—a bad oversight, since the company sells directly to the consumer. It's Innovative Marine Coatings, 15870 Lake Candlewood Dr., Fort Myers, Fl 33908, 800/466-7144. The website URL is

Also note that the Super Shipbottom panel was on the rack with the Seahawk paints (see previous exchange) It rated "fair" in Connecticut and "good" in Florida. Given the possibility that it was on a disadvantaged panel in Connecticut, readers should consider bumping up Super Shipbottom a notch in their minds.


A Place for Everything...
Although I dislike these plastic form-wrapped tool boxes (PS, March) as unnecessarily bulky (especially when space is at a premium), I can see one major advantage to them, and for this I must tell you a story from the Air Force.

Aviation mechanics have these large-drawer tool boxes where every tool has an outlined space. Whenever you are finished with an aircraft, you are required by military directive to examine every shelf to be certain that every space has its proper tool. Most people consider this to be a waste of time... until at one air show the fighter took off, did a loop, then plowed nose-first into the ground at full power. The investigation revealed a wrench in the cable system of one wing, so the investigators simply went to the mech shop and opened every drawer until they found an outline of the offending wrench—with no wrench. Had that mechanic made certain that every tool was in its slot, that pilot would still be alive.

Now, granted, losing a wrench in the bilge at sea is rarely fatal, but noting that every tool is in its place before you turn the diesel over could prevent that wrench from getting twisted around a crankshaft with very expensive results.

It's a pity you can't get a good case and replace the tools with decent ones.

-Rick Johnson
Tucson, AZ


Just read March 2002 and the article on tool kits. I have the Seachoice 76-piece set. Your description is dead on the money, down to the description of the carrying case. I like the idea of the carrying case because when I put that case on board I know that all the tools that I will likely need will be with me. Problem is, the hinge on the case is hanging on by a hair. I called Seachoice today, and they are sending me a new case. I offered to pay for it, and the nicest lady said “No charge.” From time to time I read about this sort of customer service in your magazine, but have experienced it for the first time.

-Lars Steib
Mandeville, LA


I read with interest your article on off-the-shelf marine toolkits. I'm an Instructor of Automotive technology, long-time old car buff, and an ASA-certified Master Automotive Technician, as well as a die-hard sailor who recently retired from the US Navy after 26 years. I've read your magazine for many years, and consider your advice to be gospel unless proven otherwise. You're helping me take the plunge this year into buying a "blue-water capable" sailboat, a dream I've had for many a year, and this is the year! Your reviews of used sailboats have helped me immensely.

When working on cars and trucks, the professional mechanic/technician will begin with a tool chest full of quality tools that are built to last and meet rigid tolerances. I'd bet 95% of the time, that toolbox would not contain one tool made anywhere but the good ol' USA. We've learned from experience that tools made in China or Taiwan just don't cut it. Chances are, the first time a boat owner selects that Chinese or Taiwanese made wrench or socket, to break loose a stubborn nut or bolt with many of the tools you tested in your article, it will fail. I couldn't believe that you would even waste your time testing those offshore brands. No one I know in my profession will use them—we've just seen too many of them break. The best thing one could do with them is use them for ballast, and plug a quality tool into the empty space in the case.

The old standard of "you get what you pay for" fits the hand tool industry. You'll pay premium prices for Snap-On, Mac, Cromwell, or Craftsman tools, to name a few, but you'll have a tool that will get the job done, and won't break off the corners of a bolt head, or even worse, cause injury due to the tool failing with pressure applied.

-Lt. Wm. D. Minnich, US Navy, (Ret.)
Frazeyburg, OH


Refrigeration Survey
If you have a 12-volt refrigeration system aboard, please fill out our online survey. Just follow the link from the "Surveys" button. Thanks!

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