Weather System Displays
[Re: "Weather System Displays," PS March 2005] As an avid sailor, storm chaser, meteorologist, and reader of Practical Sailor, I took great interest in your article on weather receivers. I was left with the impression the Garmin system was required to receive and display the XM satellite radio weather data. Actually, you can subscribe and display it on your own computer by purchasing the software, receiver, and antenna bundle from Wx Worx for about $1,000 if you don't want to go with the Garmin system. As your article mentioned, the subscripton to the data will still cost you $49 per month.
Mooring Chain Alternatives
[Re: "Zincs on Mooring Chains" PS Jan. '05] Your recent PS Advisor regarding putting zincs on mooring chain was too vague. Testing some lengths of anchor chain with and without zincs would be very helpful. If zincs work, they would save money and increase the safety of mooring chains by reducing the excessive rates of corrosion.
Our harbormaster recommends replacing the top chain of a mooring every three years. It is good advice because the chain is pretty well gone by then. Because the chain is eaten so fast, I have upgraded to half-inch chain. But the cost from West Marine is $6.49/ft. Replacing the entire 35 feet of chain every three years would cost $227, plus the cost of new shackles.
A June 2003 letter in PS asked about replacing mooring chain and line and you suggested New England Rope's single braid Endura 12. I am using a slightly different approach. I replaced my upper mooring chain with 1" military surplus three-strand nylon line. I ran it through 1 1/4" black plastic pipe (before splicing in the second eye) to reduce the chafe. I parceled the line at the end of the plastic pipe to reduce chafe of the pipe on the line and also parceled each eye splice.
The breaking strength of 1" nylon is 29,400 lbs. compared to a breaking strength of 18,000 lbs. for 1/2" proof coil chain. I assume the loss of strength of the nylon when wet does not exceed the loss of strength of the chain due to corrosion, so it appears to be stronger set-up.
West Marine's catalogue lists 1", three-strand nylon at $2.49/ft. A 100-foot roll of 1 1/4" plastic pipe costs $49. The cost of the mooring line set up is about $3/foot compared to $6.49/foot for chain, a clear cost saving.
Based on experience, I suggest doing this on a hot summer day. I did it on a chilly day in early spring, and dealing with a coil of cold, stiff plastic pipe and 1" line was, shall we say, awkward, and it took a while to get the pipe/line uncoiled and straight enough to work the air out of the pipe and so the pipe/line would sink.
The high rate of corrosion of mooring chain presents a clear danger to the moored vessel. I forgot one time and went four years before replacing the mooring chain and was frightened by how thin a few of the links had become. I doubt those weak links would have lasted another year. Perhaps we can come up with a safer solution?
The rope and pipe solution seems sensible, but we'd caution that, in very cold temperatures, plastic tubing has been known to crack and break. If that occurs, it can leave edges capable of sawing the mooring line over time and weakening it.
More Nonskid Cleaners
[Re: "Nonskid Cleaners," PS Feb. 15, '05] I stumbled upon a good product that has astonished me in its ability to clean. (This was thanks to my mother-in-law, but don't tell her I said that!) It's called "Awesome" and can be bought for $1 at Dollar stores.
Not only does it clean grease and other similar stains, it cleans diesel exhaust stains, waterline stains, and what amazed me the most, it cleaned my fenders. Those fenders had a gray, gummy substance on them, I guess from the petroleum residues of pilings, oil and who knows what else. I couldn’t get it off with anything I previously tried, including Fantastic, 409, and an assortment of paint thinners, mineral spirits, and a few other liquids. I even wrote to Taylor Made to ask them if they had a product that would clean their fenders. Nope.
When I used "Awesome," the gum loosened up, the dirt and grit on the fender began to dissolve, and viola, a clean, white fender. And these fenders had four years of use on them, from sailing through Florida, the Bahamas, and much of the Caribbean.
It took me about 30 to 45 minutes to clean each one. Now that they are clean, about once a month I just wipe them down and they retain that white, gleaming look.
This product comes in two different types, one for normal cleaning and an "orange" type for degreasing and heavy-duty cleaning. There's no odor, and apparently no harmful chemicals, and it comes in easy to stow, plastic spray bottles. Next time you do a cleaner test, try this. I'd be interested to know the results.
Scully Fin Out of Business
Reader Tremain Bradley of Granville, OH, wrote to inform us that he was initially unable to contact Scully Fin, the makers of the Propulsion Rudder and the Scully rig, which PS reviewed in the Dec. '04 issue. After several weeks, he did receive the following reply from Jeff Jelten, the proprietor:
"I regret to inform you that, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are no longer able to operate the business. Your order has not been processed. Your credit card information has been deleted. We are trying to find a buyer for the business who can continue on so there may be a future for these great products."
... Where Credit Is Due
To Ocean Marine Systems: "I recently installed rail-mounted davits on my Catalina 36. I obtained the davits from Ocean Marine Systems in Richmond, BC, Canada. The quality of the product, the ease of installation, and the customer support was excellent.
"I was leaving for an extended cruise from Tacoma, WA, to Desolation Sound and the day before leaving, I dropped a mounting bracket into the drink. Mike Thomas of Ocean Marine Systems responded to my cell phone call on a Sunday afternoon, and had the replacement part to me the following morning at no charge. It's great to find quality products and customer service that exceeds expectations! Kudos to Ocean Marine Systems." (www.oceanmarinesystems.com)
To Standard Horizon: "This weekend I found a problem on my Ericson 29. While replacing my through-hulls, I noticed that the speed impeller connected to my Standard Horizon multimeter was originally installed incorrectly. The through-hull is keyed to the transducer/impeller and was facing aft. I e-mailed Standard Horizon asking if this was correct, and got a reply in 24 hours. They explained how the installation should have been done and said they'd send a new manual.
"I received an unprompted follow-up e-mail a day later from Standard Horizon tech support saying that they figured that I would have to destroy the old through hull in order to correct the situation and offered to send me a new one at no charge. The unit was installed before I got the boat so I don't know who purchased the unit or when, which makes this even better post-sale support.
"If you want this kind of support from the companies that you give your boat bucks to, then I suggest you consider Standard Horizon.I'm not affiliated with the company, nor am I one of their distributors, just another satisfied customer." (www.standardhorizon.com)
To Suunto: "I sail a San Juan 24, which has no generator, so I have battery backups for any navigation instruments. My wife gave me a new Suunto M9 wrist-top computer for Christmas. The GPS worked OK, but receiving a fix took a long time, and battery life seemed short. Further testing indicated that the unit was not performing as I had hoped.
"Suunto has a website for users of their wrist computers, and while trying to solve a different issue, I noticed a posting there indicating that the two problems I was experiencing were serviceable under warranty. I contacted Suunto, and they were courteous and prompt. I sent the unit off and they returned it in a matter of days. After that, it worked fine, until a second problem arose.
"While doing yard work, I noticed that the bezel had fallen off the unit. I looked for it and couldn't find it. Again, Suunto replaced it, quickly, under warranty. I've always thought highly of Suunto instruments, and their customer support is good as well." (www.suuntousa.com)