Mailport March 2004 Issue

Mailport: 03/04

Marine vs. Aviation Liferafts
I just read the article on the Switlik Rescue Pod 4 [Offshore Log, January 1].  In the past, you have said that having the word "marine" attached to something raises the price. I've been flying airplanes for 40+ years and I thought "aircraft" raised the price, so I was appalled that you have to pay $1,700 to get a 33-pound liferaft that packs into 2,700 cubic inches.

I have a 4-6 person liferaft with full survival gear (food, water, first aid, flares, sea dye marker, etc.). It weighs 23 pounds and consumes 1,700 cubic inches.  What did I pay?  In 1995 I paid $1,050. Today's discounted price is $1,163.

At you can view the various models and MSRP's. From there, go to and do a search for "liferafts." You will notice that they use the words "TSO'd" and "Non-TSO'd."  TSO'd means that it has been approved by the FAA for "Commercial Use."  In both cases, the products are constructed exactly the same.  It's just that when TSO'd, more bureaucratic paper work is sent to the FAA. Aircraft Spruce sells the basic 4-6 person liferaft for $895.  Add the non-commercial survival kit for $268.

Or you can opt for the top-of-the- line full commercial-use 8-12 personraft with loaded survival kit for $2,414.  And there are all sorts of configurations in between.

I suggest that you do a review of Survival Products Aviation Life Rafts as excellent substitutes for overpriced marine products.

-Chet Parham
Via e-mail


Chainplate Rebedding
I have a Tartan 34 which we sail hard and love dearly.  But for four years I suffered with chronic chainplate drip. I followed all kinds of advice using some excellent products that did not stop leaks for long.  One good hard sail and more leaks. I finally took my problem to the tech people at 3M because I had tried several of their products and was weaned on 3M reliability.

Their tech person promptly informed me that as good as their products were, they were not designed for adhesion to stainless steel. This person referred me to Silaprene, a sealant, made by Uniroyal Adhesives and Sealants. Uniroyal Technology Corp., South Bend, IN. 46628. 1/800-899-Glue. I called their rep and told her I had leak problems around stainless steel chainplates.  She recommended Silaprene. I applied it as directed, and have had no more leaks after two years of more-than-average boat use year-round in Florida.

She said Silaprene was made with adhesion to stainless as a design criterion.  She emphasized that the product tends to shrink as it cures, so that I should layer it in, and wait about 45 minutes between layers.  It was not to be used under water, she said. Another good tip was to use toluene to clean the stainless.

I love 3M because they make good stuff and are candid about limits and good application. I love Siliprene because my bunk stays dry.

-Barrie Smith
Via e-mail

As we said in a PS Advisor, January 1, we've seen success with 3M 5200 in this application, but won't argue with 3M if they think Silaprene is better.


In rebuilding our 1976 Newport 28, we found that the port chainplate wasjust about to fail.  Leaks over the years had completely rotted the plywoodbulkhead to which it was attached.

We replaced that section of the bulkhead with pressure treated pine. It's not pretty, but it works—and shouldcontinue to work even if we get some leakage in the future.  We also made an aluminum extension so that the chainplate is now also anchored to the hull liner.

In addition to the usual bedding of the chainplate where it passes throughthe deck, we also took pains to thoroughly bed the top of the bulkhead tothe underside of the deck with filled epoxy, minimizing relative movementbetween the deck and the bulkhead.  It is this movement that will eventually cause failure of the seal and further leaks, even with the best of caulks.

Our starboard chainplate was in somewhat better shape, but receivedsubstantially the same treatment.

After several seasons, we have had no further leaks at the chainplates. For more on our chainplate repairs, see

-Doug Bauer
S. Portland, ME


Poli-Glow and Black Streaks
I just read in the January issue your article on wax products, including a sample of the hull-restorer, Poli-Glow, and thought I'd share my experience with Poli-Glow. I've been using it on my 1985 C&C 33 for about five years, with exceptional results.

The boat had become somewhat dull and chalked. I tried many different wax products, but they didn't seem to hold up, especially to any effort to remove the black streaks on the sides of the hull from the slotted aluminum toe-rail.

With my initial application of Poli-Glow, I meticulously followed the directions, especially the pre-application wax removal and cleaning.  Using their wax remover, I found this to be a reasonable effort. I then applied the multiple coats, as the directions call for.  I was delighted at how easily Poli-Glow wipes on, and while a little "splotchy" after the first 2-3 coats, after the full treatment the hull looked as if it was new.  So shiny, in fact, that it highlights a few of the imperfections.

In subsequent years I have just cleaned the hull with soap and water and then wiped on another 2-3 coats.

This effort is significantly easier than applying even a single coat of wax.  My only issue has been that on the reverse transom, which I assume gets exposed to more UV, Poli-Glow seems to break down three-quartes of the way through the season, and begins to flake off.  I've found it easy to clean up with the remover product they provide, and re-apply, however.

One unanticipated benefit is how easily the hull wipes clean during the season.  With the previous wax products, it seemed impossible to wash off the black-streaks from the rail, and anything beyond a mild soap would remove the wax.  With the Poli-Glow surface, a light wipe of soap and water removes the dirt and streaks with little effort.

Net, I have been thrilled with this product, and recommend it strongly.

A footnote on the black streaks. Years ago I called Starbrite when their Black Streak Remover product came on the market.  I found it extremely effective for removing the black streaks, but it also removed the wax. The person I spoke with told me that the black was actually aluminum oxide from the rail, and that in the Midwest and New England areas, they especially observed the problem and attributed it to acid rain.  They said the reason it was so hard to remove from the side of the hull was that the wax actually attracted the oxide left when the water evaporated. They told me the active ingredient in their Black Streak Remover was one that dissolved aluminum, and that's why it was so much more effective than standard soap based hull cleaners.

-Bob McLaughlin
St. Louis, MO


Boatyards and DIY Liability
[Re: "DIY Bottom Painting," Mailport, January 15, and "Boatyard Work Restrictions," PS Advisor, November 15, 2003] As commodore of the Deep Creek Yacht Club and originator of the disagreement with the New York State DEC's position regarding the law in New York State, I want to point out that the issue of "liability" is a red herring. Individuals are always responsible for pollution, regardless of whether they own the land. There are simple ways for marinas to protect their liability when boatowners do their own boat work, as the guidelines you have mentioned attest. The easy way for the marina operator, and the more profitable way, is to ban boatowners from doing it, and charging for this service (with no more environmental protection than what the boatowner would do). I don't object to operators making a profit as any business must, but when regulations are bent to serve ulterior motives, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

-William H. Woodroffe
Commodore, Deep Creek YC
Brookyln, NY


More Lore on Kellets
Your recent issue where you discussed "Kellets on the Rode" [December, 2003] was interesting, but I think you missed two points:

First, an extra 20-30 feet of chain between the anchor and the nylon rode accomplishes the same as a 30- lb. kellet, but is a lot easier to retrieve and is always there for you. All chain rode is better still, however.

Second, if you anchor in reversing current conditions, a short length of chain with all-nylon rode will often wrap around the boat's keel, with sometimes disastrous results. I once rescued a boat in Nantucket Harbor that had sawed through its nylon rode after it wrapped around its keel. A kellet, dropped down the nylon rode until just before it touches bottom, will hold the rode vertical and prevent wrapping around the keel when the current reverses.

-David Marchand
Newport Beach, CA


When W.H. "Ham" deFontaine was writing the "Gadgets and Gilhickies" column for Yachting magazine, he used to describe kellets as "cherubs," and in fact Dorham—I think owned by Ham and his wife Dorothy—made a very nice bronze rode rider to carry a small lunch hook (or whatever) under it for weight. I have one, somewhere.

I think cherub is a perfectly chosen name: You can picture the little cherub in his role as guardian angel, sitting in the middle of the rode catenary and protecting those attached thereto!

Ham's wonderful columns, full of nifty new products and ideas, almost always illustrated with elegant line drawings, were gathered into one of those softcover publications that Yachting used to sell. I believe the material appeared in the 1946-60 period.

You continue to publish one of the most useful publications that I, as a small-boat user and maintainer (as a business) read, and I am one of your quite early subscribers.

-Townsend Hornor
Osterville, MA

Those deFontaine columns have been much imitated by other magazines over the years—thanks for reminding us of the originals. Dorothy deFontaine was a fine illustrator, too.


Roller-Furler Survey
Congratulations on the "Headsail Roller-Furlers" report [February 1]. We feel the author did an admirable job in condensing what is necessarily a complex subject. However, we would like to correct an error in the "Value Guide" with respect to Reef Rite. The bearings are in fact hardened carbon steel, not straight carbon steel as listed.

We feel it is an unfortunate oversight that Reef Rite was singled out as to the need for sail modifications. Any sail that is not already fitted with luff tape will need modification. The exception to this is the Reef Rite Kiwi Slides, if supplied with long tails. These allow the slides to be laced and hand sewn through the existing hank grommets rather than being sewn to the sail, as is usually done. Many sails, even with tape or slides fitted, need to have the luff shortened regardless of furling system used.

Since the report was compiled, we have changed to two-meter length foil extrusions in place of the original four-meter length. As correctly mentioned in the report, the longer lengths were creating some shipping problems. With the superior section connectors manufactured by Reef Rite, the increase in number of connectors used has not reduced the torsional rigidity of the foil assembly.

We would also like to mention that the Reef Rite system is supplied with every part required for an installation. Unlike some systems, we supply a new forestay complete with toggle, hardware to connect the forestay to the lower unit, stanchion blocks, furling line, and metric Allen keys. The lower unit incorporates a heavy duty turnbuckle with toggle and both upper and lower toggles are supplied to specifically fit the clevis pin size/s used on the customer boat.

While luff captivity and reduced friction were correctly mentioned asbenefits of using Kiwi Slides, another important benefit is that withour standard twin-groove foils, a second sail can be preloaded while thefirst sail is still working. Changing sails then becomes a simplematter of dropping the first, moving the halyard car shackle to thesecond sail and hoisting it.

-Brian Cleverly
Anzam Yacht Refurbishing
Sacramento, CA


Clamp-On Hank Holders
I am a subsciber of yours and noted the article on roller furling in your February 1 issue.  I sailed this past summer on my Gecco 39 sloop, Panta Rei, to Hawaii and back from Bellingham, Washington. On the way back the forestay fitting at the masthead broke, leaving a damaged roller furler hanging by the halyard. We managed to get it down on the deck and reinstalled the forestay (with a little ingenuity) without losing the rig, but had no way to attach a sail. I had thrown on the boat a small storm sail rigged with hanks, so we sailed slowly with that headsail for the 1,000 remaining miles.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I have invented and am producing a method to attach a sail made for roller furling to a stay. The roller furl jib attachment device can be used to attach a jib or other sail to a forestay or halyard, or to a roller-furling foil that is non-functional for rolling the sail. It can be attached to the stay or foil by a variety of methods, including hanks, lines, straps, Velcro straps, carabiners, or wire ties. It attaches to the sail by clamping a slotted groove to the bead on the luff or other portion of the sail. It can be used as an emergency system to raise a sail, or as an alternative to standard sail hanks for sails with a roller-furl bead sewn on without hanks.

It is a two-part device with identical halves fitting in a clamshell fashion. Dimensions are approximately 2-1/2" length, 2-1/2" height, 5/16" width, tapering to 3/16" width. The thicker end has a 1/4" groove inset 3/8" from the end. The forward end has a 1/2" hole set back 5/16" to accommodate attachment of a bend-on jib hank or carabiner. There are two holes with insets adjacent to the groove, which accommodate stainless bolts and nuts to clamp the two halves together. It is available in black or white nylon with UV resistance.

If other readers are interested, they can contact me:

Telephone: 360/739-6751.

-Ken Henderson
Bellingham, WA


... All Hands
We're going to take a break from our usual "Credit Due" item this month in order to prime the pump for another department—an ongoing reader-to-reader service that we'll call Running Fixes. The idea is for readers to be able to share information about competent people and worthwhile places they encounter in their travels—good diesel mechanics and carpenters, good riggers and painters, boatyards with reasonable policies and prices, well-stocked local chandleries, hard-to-find services, even handy watering holes and restaurants. You get the picture—it will be a kind of ongoing cruising guide.

These tips should be based on a certain amount of accumulated experience, not just one-day stands, and they should be very specific. Example: "On the east side of the XYZ River, about a mile from the entrance to ABC Sound, you'll find Fred's Boatyard. It's a small yard, but Fred has a real-live refrigeration expert on staff. They also have a swaging machine that can handle up to 1/2" wire."

After we collect some material, we'll dole it out, region by region.

We ask readers to send information by e-mail only. Write to us at, and put the words "Running Fix" in the letter header. And please, no commercials.

-The Editors

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