Mailport October 1, 2005 Issue

Mailport: 10/01/05

COB Response
[Re: "Crew Overboard Safety," PS Aug. 1, '05] Congratulations to John Rousmaniere for working so hard to save lives at sea. Having been around boats much of my life, and crossed a few oceans in naval vessels, I have some experience and a few ideas on this topic.

I own a LifeSling®, but have never needed to use it. Hauling a victim aboard certainly seems to be the hardest problem. Using a heavy net instead of cloth could solve the parbuckle drainage problem, but hoisting would still be difficult, especially for a small crew. Maybe a hydraulic boom vang could be used to operate the boom like a gin pole to hoist the victim?

Bernie Boykin
Ruxton, MD


Compass Adjustment
[Re: "Compasses: Winners, Losers Abound," PS July 1, '05] The article on steering compasses was timely because, as it points out, magnetic compasses must provide independent and reliable headings by which to navigate, independent of on-board electronic systems, for the reasons you cite. This is frequently overlooked.

I'd like to share three recent experiences with magnetic steering compasses that make this point. None of these were particularly adverse, but they were all disturbing:

1. During my delivery of a Hunter 320 from Barnegat Bay, NJ, to Stratford, CT, the binnacle compass deviated approximately 4° to 6° E of magnetic North, depending on the boat's heading.

2. During my delivery of a C&C 110 from Norwalk, CT, to New York City, the binnacle compass was mounted approximately 5° off the boat's fore-and-aft axis.

3. During my delivery of a J/105 from Mamaroneck, NY, to Edgartown, MA, the binnacle compass deviated by 5° E from the electronic compass in the chartplotter, and 10° E from the fluxgate compass driving the autopilot.

In each case, accurate steering courses were determined with my handheld GPS receiver, and I advised all three owners to take corrective action. But one wonders about the many other uncompensated compasses out there now. They should all be adjusted and then verified to be correct.

Capt. Bernie Weiss
Norwalk, CT


Cotter Pins
[Re: "Wrap Pins," PS Chandlery, Aug, 15, '05] In your article, you mention "cotter rings" in passing. Those of us in fresh water and northern latitudes appreciate those rings because we haul our boats annually and never can find cotter pins when we need them, or don't have pliers to remove them because the last pair got dropped overboard last spring. So, a few years ago I switched over to rings for all clevis or turnbuckle pins that must be removed to unstep the mast. Cotter pins are reserved for those pins that don't get removed. That also helps the yard crew (and myself) to pull the right pins. I also use them on my old iceboat because there's a lot of stepping and unstepping with that vessel.

But some folks on sailing-related Internet discussion lists warned that cotter rings are subject to inadvertent or accidental removal, and must be taped. I was skeptical, but others chimed in to affirm the impermanence of the rings. So now, all rings on my boats are taped to prevent snagging.

Perhaps you could do an analysis and report on the use of cotter rings and the experience of readers with snagging and other unexpected losses of them.

Chris Campbell
Traverse City, MI

We'll investigate the use of cotter rings and report on that in a future issue. As for reader experience on this topic, we hope the appearance of your letter in this issue will generate some informative feedback. In the meantime, you might want to experiment with a similar product from Johnson Marine called Locking Rings. These come in five sizes and are designed expressly for use with Johnson's slotted body turnbuckles, but could be applied in a number of other functions to secure hardware.


Furling Manual Issue
I’m writing to alert the readers about an important issue that surfaced after I purchased a Hood Sea Furl 5 roller furling unit for the headsail on my 1980 Bristol 40 yawl. Regular readers might recall the article "Headsail Roller Furlers" (PS Feb. 1, '04), which started all this business. As a contributing editor to PS, I researched and wrote that article. My research examined all the roller-furlers that I could find, with the objective of selecting the one that would work best on my boat. After 24 years, the Hood Sea Furl 2 had too many Band-Aids holding it together.

Ultimately, I ordered the Hood Sea Furl 5 in November last year. It arrived around Christmas time. The first thing I did was open up the boxes to read the manual. To my surprise, there wasn't a manual included. However, the nice folks at Hood Yacht Systems did send me a Hood T-shirt.

I called the company and spoke to Mike Haber (Product Line Manager). He told me that Hood had redesigned the furler and there wasn’t a manual for it yet. Against Mike's advice, I did get my sales representative to fax me a copy of the old manual, which was not much help, as Mike had indicated. I received that fax on Dec. 28, ’04.

Since I was planning on installing the furler myself, and since I had never installed a roller-furling unit before, a manual would have been very handy to have. And, there was also the small matter of my having stated in my article that Hood does indeed provide buyers of this unit with a manual. At least that was what Mike Haber had told me back in September '03 when I was conducting research for that article.

After many phone calls to Hood during January, February, and March of this year, I still didn’t have a manual. Even a parts diagram that Mike promised to send me in December '04 never arrived. In March, however, I did manage to get Mike to send me a CD with photos showing the assembly that were shot for inclusion in the new manual. Finally, I had some information, but without any text, it really wasn’t an owner’s manual.

Since I was under a deadline to get my boat ready for a trip, I ended up hiring Ken Broman at Oak Harbor Marina to put the system together for me. He assembled it and put it on the dock, whereafter I installed it.

Well, its now mid August '05 and the manual is still not ready for distribution. Yes, I was offered an unedited version this summer, but I declined.

To me, this is amazing. For the price of $1,500, I received the furling unit and no manual. I ended up paying $250 to have the unit assembled, which was a reasonable if unexpected expense. The lesson here is that no matter how much research one does, the unexpected can still happen. Who would have thought that a device advertised as user-installable would not have an owner's manual available?

Scott Rosenthal
Columbia, MD


Windlass Follow-up
Your recent windlass test articles are interesting and timely for me (PS Aug. 1 and the current issue). However, I'd like to see a couple more pieces of information in your charts:

1. Does the windlass have a manual override? This is a key feature if you are going to be gone for awhile and away from a repair station. It would also be interesting to hear your testers' thoughts on how well the manual overrides work.

2. The weight of these windlasses is also important. There seems to be a wide variety of weights for similar types of windlasses. If I can take 20 lbs. off my bow with the same performance, that's great. Alternatively, I could opt for a heavier, better performing windlass, or put that extra weight into a bigger anchor.

Paul Lever
Via e-mail

The units we tested for our Aug. 1 article are all suited for smaller vessels, and none except Lewmar's Pro Series 1000 comes with manual override as a standard feature. The majority of the vertical windlasses featured in this current issue, however, do. Representatives from Maxwell told us that engineering a manual override into a windlass this size really isn't necessary as the weight of the ground tackle ordinarily used with such a windlasses is more easily managed by hand than with a manual override.

Regarding the weight of these units, that was an oversight. Here are the weights of the five windlasses we tested in our Aug. 1 issue: Lewmar Pro Series 1000—21 lbs.; Maxwell HRC 8—24 lbs.; Quick Genius 1000—32 lbs.; Quick Crystal 1000—22 lbs.; and Powerwinch 40—23 lbs.


Prop Performance
About eight years ago you ran two articles comparing folding and feathering propellers. I have an Endeavour 33 and up until this year had a three blade 14 X 14 fixed prop. A friend purchased a new feathering prop last spring and loaned me his old 16 X 10 Martec folding prop to try. (He told me he switched because of lack of control in reverse.) I've used his folding prop all summer, and have two observations:

1. The folding prop has increased my boat speed under sail by at least 3/4 of a knot.

2. I have great difficulty backing into my berth and cannot stop as quickly as I used to. Reverse just doesn’t seem to work.

I am so pleased with the increase in boat speed that I plan to buy a feathering prop this winter. (My friend is very pleased with his as well). Does Practical Sailor plan to update its previous articles, or do you still consider the Autoprop the best buy?

Mike Brennan
Quispamsis, NB, Canada

The articles you refer to (PS Oct. 1, '93 and PS Jan. 1, '95) detailed the findings of in-depth propeller tests that PS conducted at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. In the latter of those, we noted that the Martec propeller didn't open completely in reverse "for any combination of reverse rpm and forward flow speed. This is due to the tendency of the backwards thrust on the blades trying to close the blades even though the rotating shaft is trying to throw the blades open."

Though we haven't tested propellers since then, we continue to follow developments in the field. We still regard the Autoprop as a top choice for the reasons articulated in that 1995 article: "The Autoprop will probably satisfy most sailors...though drag is a wee bit more...the self-pitching characteristic means potentially less engine wear and reduced fuel consumption."


Response to Westerbeke Woes
["Westerbeke Woes," PS Aug. 15, '05] I have seen many "nearly" seized Sherwood 908 pumps (the type used on Mr. Appell's Universal M25-XPB) and every one had clear signs of leakage down the front of the timing cover from the drip hole in the bottom of the pump. (The drip hole is there specifically for the purpose of identifying a leaking pump; and the timing cover below it shows signs of the leakage because it is aluminum and corrodes quickly in contact with salt water). Although Mr. Appell stated that the engine was serviced annually and run weekly, the failure was caused by a seawater pump that leaked long enough to get seawater over the drip hole area and up into the adjacent pump bearings, where it worked its way past the bearing shields and caused the bearing(s) to seize. It is unfortunate that when the pump seized it broke the end off the camshaft, but that is only typical of what happens when any drive component suddenly seizes, it’s not an indication of poor design.

I think the root cause of the failure was that the customer had a leaking seawater pump and didn’t repair it, and when it failed it, caused other related damage.

Most mechanics and manufacturers recommend that rubber impeller water pumps be completely rebuilt every three years. In Mr. Appell’s case, that would have prevented the failure. By following that maintenance frequency, his pump would have been rebuilt twice, since it had been in use for six years when it broke.

Unfortunately, the Westerbeke service bulletin does not recommend rebuilding the sea water pump more often or as soon as the seal starts leaking, it only advises that the collar be fitted around the joint where the water pump connects to the engine flange. Even when the collar is fitted, it doesn't prevent the pump from seizing and damaging the camshaft, it just makes that a bit less likely. So, even those owners who received the technical bulletin and had the collar fitted can still experience the same problem that struck Mr. Appell's engine if they don't keep their pumps from seizing by rebuilding them as soon as they start to leak.

One thing that Westerbeke could do to make sure that more of their customers are aware of the problem is to include that service bulletin on the company's Internet website ( The company has posted a long list of bulletins available there, but not that one.

Robert Hess
Delta, British Columbia, Canada


...Where Credit Is Due
To AirFX Sails: "As most of us know now, (the online marine retailer) went down in July and took Air Force Sails along with it. They locked their doors on July 1. Frankly, I was caught in the crease. After researching a dozen or so sailmakers, I chose Air Force to build a new main and genoa for my classic Luders 33. Bill James of Air Force promised to have them for me in six weeks. True to his promise, the new main arrived from Sailnet about late June and the genoa was due to ship on July 6. I was really impressed by the quality of the main and anxiously awaited the genoa. Sailnet charged the balance on my sail order, the cost of the new genoa, to our credit card account on June 30, but the sail just never came.

"About July 22, I received a call from Bill James explaining the demise of Sailnet, and the fact that he and his AirForce Sails colleagues were locked out from their loft. He mentioned that other customers had received refunds to their credit card accounts and wondered if I had received mine. He then said that the loft would reopen under the name AirFX Sails, Inc., and promised to build me a new replacement genoa, and have it ready in three weeks.

"I then checked our credit card account—no refund. Sailnet had billed me for a completed sail and then just shut the doors. I was out $1,900. I quickly notified our card company and filed an appeal. Then I called Bill James to let him know that the money had gone south with Sailnet.

"After a crummy weekend with no genoa, I was surprised by a phone call from Bill the first thing on Monday morning with a solution to the problem. He said that AirFX Sails would build me a new genoa as promised, but if I couldn’t get the amount that Sailnet charged to my card reversed, AirFX Sails would cover it. I'm now awaiting the new genoa again, but my faith is restored, and if and when Visa cancels the Sailnet charge on my account, you can bet that Bill will get his payment." (

Curt Larsen
Lusby, MD

To Fischer-Panda: "In the middle of a short shakedown cruise—and a week prior to a several week cruise—my Fischer-Panda generator stopped producing power. Upon checking the unit, I noticed a fair amount of water flowing out into the bilge. Because this was at the height of the sailing season, finding technicians to work on my generator was simply not possible within the few days I had left before starting the cruise. I contacted Jeff Till at Fischer-Panda and explained my problem. He was sympathetic and, to my amazement, arranged for a Fischer-Panda warranty technician to check out my generator the next day.

"It turns out that the sacrificial block anode failed prematurely due to two stripped bolts securing the unit. Even though my unit is four years old and out of warranty, Fischer-Panda covered the cost of the repair. This is service and warranty coverage that speaks volumes to meeting the needs of a cruising sailor. Fischer-Panda demonstrated both customer support and warranty coverage that makes for a happy customer. I wish more companies in the marine industry would learn to be more customer-oriented. The net result would be more sailors enjoying the sport and more business for the marine industry." (

Bob Clark
San Diego, CA

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