Mailport January 1, 2004 Issue

Mailport: 01/01/04

More About Cruising Guides
Thanks for the great article on cruising guides [September, 2003]. A good guide accompanied by an updated chart is a navigator's dream. One of my favorites is A Cruising Guide to Nova Scotia by Peter Loveridge. It covers from Digby to Cape Breton Island, including the Bras d'Or Lakes. This is firsthand knowledge from a sailor who has sailed to all the places he writes about. His coverage of and advice about sailing these rough and often fogbound waters is thorough and to the point. His diagrams, like the one he gives to round Cape Sable, are precise and extremely helpful in deciphering complex currents and finding alternate routes.

Like any good guide, this one gives solid information about approaches, anchorages, dockage, finding fuel (not to be taken lightly on these coasts), provisioning, local knowledge, and a host of references. Add to this a witty writing style and you have a guide that is as fun to read as it is practical. I would not sail these waters without it. The original edition, published by International Marine, is sold out. Loveridge is self-publishing an updated version that should be available in the spring through Bluewater Books and Charts.

-Richard Probert
Albany, NY 


I enjoyed your article in the September issue on coastal cruising guides, but was disappointed that you didn't mention my Cruising Guide to Lake Erie and Cruising Guide to Lake Ontario. The guides have been published for 20 years, are revised and updated about every two years, and are available through West Marine and local ship's stores and chandleries bordering Erie and Ontario in the US and Canada. The US retail price is $9—a bargain!

-Frederick L. Davis
Cruising Guides
Buffalo, NY


You missed a major player in the Pacific Northwest in your write-up on cruising guides. The two-volume Marine Atlas consists of spiral-bound copies of marine charts with suggested magnetic courses along with distances laid out. Each page carries a wealth of information regarding harbors, anchorages, marinas, location of sawmills, canneries, and mines, both past and present. It is published by Bayless Enterprises.

Volume One covers Olympia to Malcolm Island. Volume Two covers Port Hardy to Skagway.

I found the 1988 edition to be invaluable in my cruise from Port Townsend, WA, to Glacier Bay, AK. A 2000 edition is reported to be available.

-Tom Bowers
Nipoma, CA


LED Lights
I read with interest your "LED Flashlights" article in the October 15th, 2003 edition, and I hope you'll be willing to further investigate other LED applications for sailboats. For the past year I've been interested in the potential of LEDs to reduce the power requirement on my Ericson 38.  Recently I replaced the masthead light with two 4-LED bulbs from The results are great: slightly less intensity than the two 10W incandescents I was using, but they're highly visible from long distances. A knowledgeable friend says this is because LEDs tend to emit more "coherent" light than incandescent bulbs. 

But I digress.

What I really want to do is replace the 10W bulbs in the interior cabin lighting fixtures, thus saving a substantial amount of power while at anchor.  I've searched high and low on the web and found a wide variety of 1156 bulb replacements ranging from under $10 to over $100 per bulb.  I've purchased the Autolumination bulbs from the above website and the Davis LED clusters from West Marine. Both were too dim, and the beam was too narrow.

Rather than continue this trial-and-error approach, I would greatly appreciate a Practical Sailor evaluation of LED clusters as replacements for 12V incandescent cabin lighting.

Here are a few of the websites I've investigated: 

Happy surfing.  It's a confusing marketplace.  As the "LED Flashlights" article indicated, vendors don't do a good job of providing comparative intensity ratings.  Can you do it for us?  It would be much appreciated.

-Brandt Faatz
Seattle, WA


I was glad to read your review of LED flashlights because I believe LEDs will continue to spread into new areas of usage. (LED Christmas tree lights are now available!) For the sailboat owner they seem almost too good to be true due to their durability, longevity, and low power draw. Drawbacks only include price (for now) and, in some places, low temperature (snow and ice just doesn't melt off the darn things, a factor for exterior or navigation lights in cold climates).

I only wish there were more LED choices on the shelves right now. I'm restoring a 1977 Cape Dory and would love to upgrade to LED nav lights, but the majority of the lights that are available are the same as the original equipment. Articles such as yours help generate interest and demand for LED’s, and that is what gets products to market at reasonable prices.

-Greg Bakos
Bow, NH


Winter Covers
The sailor who asked about winter covers [PS Advisor, November 1, 2003] should get one quickly. I sail in Minnesota (Lake Superior) and my boat lives under a canvas cover more than she lives in the water. Winters here are not for the timid.

The cover is by Fairclough, fitted to the boat, has an internal frame, and is vented. A zippered door permits entrance. It was pricey, but it is bulletproof, and is 12 years old. In the spring, the only downside is that the topsides are dusty. The winter sun and freeze-thaw cycles will do serious damage if not blocked by a barrier.

Canvas breathes, so the chance of mold is less.  I recommend them.

-Mark Matuseski
Via e-mail


My Pearson 38 is now in North Carolina, but for many years I kept it on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands. I found that having it shrink-wrapped after haulout each fall was a cost- effective way of protecting it from the thawing and refreezing of ice and snow.  As I recall, it cost about $100 to $150 each season to have it done.  It was always done with the mast up. In the spring, I would remove it myself, saving large pieces to use on my 17-foot runabout the following fall.  I shrink- wrapped the runabout myself, using a propane heater to both fuse the large remnants together and shrink it to a tight fit. There was always lots of "shrink" left in the large pieces.

-Mike Poskozim
North Carolina


I would like to give you another alternative which has worked well over the past five years on a Tartan 37 stored along the shores of Lake Michigan (lots of wind).  We have used a shrink wrap over and over.  It is put on with the lower cord below the deck level adjustable, so that in the spring, it can be lengthened and loosened. The cover is then lifted off the frame and rolled up to be placed again next fall. The cover has shrunk enough to be relatively tight, but not as tight as you see in boatyards, where they cut the covers off.  If necessary, to get the cover off, a slit can be made and then retaped each year. Also, it is a big help to place a zippered window  so that you can get in and out.  It is really comfortable to work under the cover in the winter sun.

Regarding the frame, another idea in place of wood posts:  Schedule 80 PVC pipe can be used and actually heated to place permanent curves to make bows, which can then be fastened to the stanchions using plastic tubing to protect the metal, with a hose clamp on the upper and lower portion of the stanchion.  Also, they make a four-way connector of ordinary PVC, which can be used to join the bows to a mid-ship pipe to give stability end to end. Again, this is lightweight, and relatively quickly put together. It makes an excellent frame for the shrink- wrap.

-Doug Sleight
Via e-mail


More on Penetrol
[Re: "Penetrol For Gelcoats," Mailport, August 1, 2003] I own and operate a motorsailer (Jason 35) with red gelcoat based in Sitka, AK.  It's primarily a commercial salmon power-troller and gets used a lot. The boat had built up a dirty smudge overall over the last 26 years. I decided to try Penetrol on the hull a few years back during its annual haul-out. (I normally wipe on a linseed oil/turpentine mix after pressure washing.)

The Penetrol literally soaked in and looked great, lasting through the summer.  Next spring it started looking a bit whitish, but I decided to paint on another coat of Penetrol and call it good.

The following spring saw the boat looking like it had a really bad case of mold on the hull. The mold would not scrub, buff, or sand off.  Argh!

While stripping off the old painted-on letters for the new vinyl replacements, I discovered that Citristrip removed not only the old letters, but the oxidized Penetrol as well, plus all the old nasty dirt. I therefore used a small paintbrush, a wide-bladed metal putty knife (good-quality one), rubber gloves, face mask with filter, eye protection, and lots of paper towels, to remove the old Penetrol as well as 25 years of smudges from diesel stove, engine, creosote pilings, etc.

The Penetrol penetrated down through to the clean, pure gelcoat. Peeling it all off (like shearing a sheep) was a total eye-opener. I got lots of compliments on how nice the boat looked, and I added much value to the boat.  It was easy to do, too. The original gelcoat underneath was gorgeous and in fine shape.  Now I think I'll go back to the linseed/turpentine wipe with occasional clean-ups using Citristrip. Beware of the Citristrip fumes though!

-David Glazier, F/V Ulla
Via e-mail


Sails and Sailmakers
The article on sails [October 1 and November 1, 2003] is an excellent article. I only wish I had read it before my purchase of a new main last spring.  Not that I did not get a good sail, only that with the additional knowledge I would have made different decisions.

I did notice that, as is often the case, the Pacific Northwest was largely ignored.  Specifically one of the best makers of custom cruising sails is inPort Townsend, Washington. Port Townsend Sails makes the finesttraditional, hand-made, sails that you will find anywhere. Carol Hasse andher dedicated crew of sailmakers produce the toughest, longest-lasting sailsthat you can find.  Here you find old- fashioned craftsmanship and individual pride in making a product that you can be proud of.

I have been a customer of theirs only for repair work.  I'm sorry that mynew main came from North. The price was better, but the workmanship and the customer care were not up to Carol's standards.

-Jim James
Via e-mail


For the first time I am disappointed in you. In regards to your recent sailmaker review you failed to mention Carol Hasse, owner of Port Townsend Sails. It is true that she is in a small market of offshore sailmaking, but she ranks very high in that market. I may be a little prejudiced, having attended one of her sail repair seminars, and seeing the comparison of what she makes and what the other large companies  are calling offshore sails.

-Marv Fritts
Via e-mail


Deks Olje
In your excellent evaluation, "Teak Treatment All-Stars" [November 15, 2003], you were very rightly led to call the Flood Company when you saw that the Deks Olje coating all but disappeared. For significant exterior protection their product is really a two-product system.

Deks Olje #1 is a penetrating oil that gives teak excellent grain color and beauty. It is to be applied wet-on-wet until the wood is fully saturated, then it is wiped dry. After two days or so, four to six coats of Deks Olje #2 are applied.

Some years, such finishes last up to three years in the Pacific Northwest climate (the Canadian Gulf Islands) without touching up. However, as with most finishes, it works a lot better when a new coat or two of Deks Olje #2 is applied every season.

The one advantage of Deks Olje seems to be that the top coat remains flexible and is easy to sand off with a few strokes if necessary while refinishing, unlike classic spar varnishes that, when neglected, may end up as hard-to-remove stubborn patches.

Though we still continue to use Deks Olje on several places on the exterior, and everywhere on the interior of our wooden boat (for a warm, natural feel), for exterior applications we have been slowly moving toward pigmented finishes such as Cetol. The durability seems better, and it is forgiving in the application of maintenance coats, even though it means some compromise on the feel and look.

-Tom Navratil
Salt Spring Island, BC


Halyard Hell
My wife, who enjoys a sail, but whose main focus in life is not marine, has often asked me why I subscribe to Practical Sailor, and why in the world I would keep all of those back issues.

Your November 1 editorial ["Spars Ashore"], which mentioned a fix for electrical wires clattering away in an aluminum mast, is a case in point for me. Not only did I not know about the very clever idea of cinching heavy wire ties on the cables as a stand-off from the inside of the mast, I have been buffaloed why my own Sonar mast (which never gave me any problems before I installed those running lights and masthead VHF antenna) kept talking to me when the boat rolled on the mooring.  I had never considered the wires after putting them in. Next spring when I refit the mast, I'll pull those offending buggers and cinch them up!

-Eric Anderson
Narragansett, RI


Santa Cruz 70 Molds
Just read your article on the Santa Cruz 27 [November 1]. Did you catch that the SC 70 hull molds just sold on eBay? Search on "sailboat hull molds," then click "completed items."

One bidder, $100! Quite the end of quite an era. I hope it's not going to end up a big planter.

-Wanderdog, S/V Pilar
Moss Landing, CA

Astounding. True story. There are pictures on eBay of the split hull mold. The item description reads, "Santa Cruz 70 hull molds. Production fiberglass tooling hull molds with support cradle in good condition. Ready to build fiberglass sailboat hull. Buyer must pay shipping costs. Paypal accepted."

If you go to Bill Lee's website,, you can see Geri Conser's stunning photo of the Santa Cruz 70, Silver Bullet, reaching at very high speed, with a relaxed crew, in the TransPac. It appeared on the cover of Sailing World's May, 1990 issue—a mighty inspirational photo.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


In the October 15, 2003 issue there is an explanation of heating systems for boats. It is a frequently overlooked fact that the air for combustion has to come from somewhere, and goes up the chimney.  In colonial times the combustion air came out of the room, causing drafts and a loss of heat, and in many boats this air comes directly from the cabin.

In modern residential fireplaces there often is an outside source of combustion air in the side wall of the firebox. The ideal heater on a boat should have air ducted from outside to the firebox to supply oxygen for the flame. A supply duct should be at least as large in diameter as the chimney, or larger if it is very long. It should have a damper to be closed when the fire is not burning. There should be no opening between the firebox and the cabin.  This would keep heated air in the cabin and prevent the escape of carbon monoxide into the cabin.

A second stainless steel pipe around the chimney could provide a source of air, but I am not aware of anyone making this double-walled pipe for boats.

-Ron Dickson
Mooresville, NC

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