Mailport July 15, 2005 Issue

Mailport: 07/15/05

Mooring Chain Alternatives
[Re: "Mooring Chain Alternatives," PS, May 15, '05] I continue to find discussions on mooring systems and corrosion interesting. I will install a zinc on my mooring's 3/8" chain and give it a test.

I think we have still a lot to learn about corrosion. In my case, understanding the source is exacerbated by the fact that my boat is in open water without another boat around or dock in the immediate area, so there is obviously no AC power source. The DC master switch on the boat is kept off unless I'm using the boat, and I have disconnected the automatic bilge pump. Additionally, all the metal parts of my mooring system are of the same galvanized metal.

Perhaps there's some minimum level of metal corrosion that occurs irrespective of any other factor. And perhaps three years with 3/8" chain is as good as it gets.

The fellow who suggested he was using line encased in plastic pipe should know that there is no free lunch. His cost of $227 for three years equates to $6.31 per month plus a proportional share for shackles. While I know there are other costs he didn't mention, over the life cycle of his system, that's pretty cheap moorage.

Mike Hirko
Gig Harbor, WA


Inverter Follow-up
[Re: "DC-to-AC Power Inverter Test," PS April 15, '05] After reading your glowing review of the Xantrex MS2000, I decided to install one in our new boat. Weeks later, I asked the electrician who installed it to remove it and replace it with a Freedom 20. Why? Because the two cooling fans are so noisy.

I could have lived with the noise when inverting or charging, but the unit will not pass through 110v shore power unless it is turned on, and any time it is on, the fans run. I called Xantrex service and was told, "yes," they are aware of the problem. A solution will come, but it's not imminent and probably almost a year away.

I didn't notice in the article any mention of operational noise on any of the units tested and think that noise output should be included. After all, inverters used to be advertised as "The quiet alternative."

Bruce Gorle
Sidney B.C.


Froli Sleep System
[Re: "Chandlery" PS April 15, '05] Thank you for your recent review of the Froli Sleep System. This ingenious modular "boxspring" equivalent has transformed our master cabin berth from a reasonably comfortable stand-in for a proper bed—worth sleeping on simply because it meant we'd be on our boat—to a truly comfortable sleep experience.

While we have only slept on it a few times since installing the system, there is no question that this is the kind of solution we have been seeking for some time. It's not cheap, but it does work, and in my view is superior to a custom mattress/boxspring arrangement for both light weight and moisture resistance, as well as cost (we've priced the latter at about twice or more what we paid for the Froli kit).

Jonathan Fox
Annapolis, MD


Hevea Seaboots
[Re: "Gear Graveyard, Hevea Seaboots," PS May 15, '05] I bought a pair of Hevea Thermo seaboots at West Marine in Sausalito, CA, back in 1999. They were never used and were kept in my seabag. Well, then we moved to Florida in 2000, and when I opened up the bag after that move, the boots were in a rotted pile. I was going to send them back, but forgot to do so.

Carroll Skov
Via e-mail


Radio Problem Appeal
I have an ICOM M-802 HF radio that appears to have an intermittent failure of the transmitter. Signal reports given back to me from folks hearing my transmissions say that it sounds like the microphone is cutting in and out.

I have listened to the same failure on other folks' ICOM 802s—thesignal drops abruptly to nothing and then slowly comes back to fullpower, and the repeats the cycle.

I've also checked with technicians at ICOM and they can find nothing wrong with my radio, but there is some problem as evidenced by my radio and those aboard three other vessels that I have listened to and heard the same intermittent transmission failure. I am looking for other readers who have the same problem with the ICOM M-802. If have an this radio and you've experienced this problem, perhaps together we can identify the common failure point in the installation of the radio or the trigger of the intermittent transmit failure in the radio. Please contact me online at

Craig Owings
Via e-mail


[Re: "Seaberths Examined," PS May 15, '05] Your piece on seaberths was a great article on an under-reported topic. After bashing up the Baja coast recently on our Tartan 3800, I'd add a couple of thoughts based on this experience. First, as you say, the upper padeyes and lashings on lee cloths should be bulletproof, but far more sturdy than those shown in the first picture of the article. One can only appreciate how strong these upper anchor points and lines should be when you've seen a 200-pound man break through the padeyes and demolish the saloon table, as I have.

Second, while a rolling hitch or friction plate may suffice as line tensioners, the king of seaberth tensioners, in my opinion, is the trucker's hitch, backed by two half hitches or a rolling hitch. Once one learns this understudied hitch, one will find that it has a myriad of applications around the recreational boat.

Bill Solberg
Marina del Rey, CA


...Where Credit Is Due
To Flexcharge: "I purchased a Flexcharge PV7-D solar charge controller two years ago and installed it on my small boat, then in Belize. It seemed to work great, but after a few months I noticed some odd behavior—the charging light stayed on when the sun went down, plus a few other things that didn't add up when I did some testing. After returning home to the U.S., I left the unit installed on the boat. I wasn't sure whether it was functioning or not, but I needed the batteries trickle-charged while I was away, and that seemed to be happening. I e-mailed Flexcharge a description of the symptoms and promptly received a reply. They requested my address so they could ship me a new unit, and that I return the old one for them to check out after the new one was installed.

"Unfortunately, my boat was several thousand miles away and I would not be returning to her for a number of months. No problem, they told me. Just let them know before I left and they would ship me the new unit.

"Seven months later, I wrote them again, mentioned the previous correspondence, and promptly received the replacement unit. A month later I had it installed, and it has functioned perfectly since.

"This isn't a particularly expensive component, but a company's response to any problem is generally indicative of the quality of their service and their products. With service like that, I will be delighted to do business with them again." (

Gary Aitken
Ovando, MT

To Raritan: "Earlier this year, we took delivery of a new Catalina 387. The boat came from the factory with a raw-water electric head. We had wanted a pressurized fresh-water head (in order to minimize odors), however, Catalina does not offer that option.

"As soon as the boat arrived, I contacted Raritan Engineering for advice on converting the raw-water arrangement to pressurized fresh water. I spoke with Kim, who very patiently walked me through the entire process of converting the head to fresh water.

"As it turns out, the bowl and motor are the same for this application. However, there are some fairly expensive parts that are used for the raw water set-up, namely the raw-water pump, that are not used on the fresh water set-up. Likewise, there are some fairly expensive parts that are used on the fresh water set-up, namely a solenoid valve and vacuum breaker, that are not used for the raw-water option.

"Without me asking, Kim volunteered to swap out the unnecessary raw-water parts for the necessary fresh-water parts at no charge. She even offered to ship me the fresh-water parts first so long as I agreed to return the raw-water parts as soon as I finished the conversion.

"I took Kim up on the offer. The conversion went well and the head has worked flawlessly ever since. Based on my experience with Raritan Engineering, I would highly recommend the company and its products." (

Hugh E. Aaron
Topping, VA

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