[Re: "Jackline Options," PS Advisor, PS Aug. 1, '05] I'd like to add my tuppence worth regarding the choice between wire and webbing or line for safety jacklines.
That PS Advisor reply missed one consideration in the choice—sunlight. No material is perfect, but if the jacklines are rigged permanently, or indeed deployed intermittently for many seasons, wire, unlike rope or webbing, doesn't lose strength through UV degradation. It's probably not much of an issue in Maine, but a point worth considering for cruisers closer to the equator, where a boat may remain in commission for years on end. Sun would presumably have a greater effect on webbing, because the exposed surface is relatively large, and the woven structure exposes all fibers to the sun. At least a braided sheath would protect the core.
Avalon Beach, NSW, Australia
Mooring Bridle Plate Response
[Re: "Mooring Bridle Plate," Chandlery, PS July 15, '05] The Bridle Plate's primary function is to maintain line separation at the line-to-chain connection. This has been well proven and we have seen customers using the same mooring lines for 1.5 years and running. Our own research vessel has had the same three lines connected to our multi-hull system for 14 months with no chafe to date. I might add that these lines are connected to the mooring under the mooring float, below the surface of the water, and are continually wet.
Our Bridle Plate Mooring system is substantial, and needs to be, and the weight of our system (approximately 10 lbs.) needs to be factored in, along with the weight of the chain, when sizing the mooring float that will be used.
We also recognize that mooring balls are responsible for a good deal of damage to boats, and we're currently working on some new product ideas to minimize contact between the ball and the boat.
One trick that I have seen used by boats with bowsprits is to run a line with a swivel from the end of the sprit to the mooring ball, taking care not to allow the line to tangle with the mooring lines. This line should be short enough so that it doesn't allow the ball to come in contact with the boat, but long enough to allow the mooring lines to take the full load of the boat on the mooring. This works particularly well if the mooring lines are attached to the chain under the mooring float.
Radar Mount Problem
We had a problem with a newly installed Questus backstay radar antenna mount on our C-36. The mount was installed this spring, configured with the tube passing over the starboard side of the split backstay, and the gimbal mount suspended aft. During the first encounter with sustained heavy weather, the gimbal mount twisted off the tube, leaving the gimbal, mount, and antenna suspended by only the radar connector cable—all this in heavy seas. Fortunately, we were able to tie off the radar to keep it from swinging wildly, and were close to our homeport, Zahniser's Marina in Solomons, MD. The yard crew at Z's responded on short notice and had us back on the water within half a day. And the Furuno radar antenna wasn't damaged and continues to work fine.
In the course of the repairs, the yard crew contacted Questus and that company acknowledged the problem with the gimbal unit detaching in heavy seas. Their representative also admitted that the problem was not addressed in the company's literature or installation instructions. The fix prescribed by Questus was to set a cable clamp on the backstay to restrain the gimbal unit from walking off the tube. That's not a very glamorous fix, but it has worked so far. My biggest gripe, though, was Questus' refusal to take any ownership of a problem they knew existed, but to my knowledge have not conveyed to customers. Questus summarily refused to cover any of the repair costs—and their representative even hung up on me mid-call when I tried to discuss this.
The crew at Zahniser's Yachting Center, Solomons, MD, are heroes in my book. As for Questus, I won't do business with them again.
Solomon's Island, MD
Lobster Pot Menace
Lobster pots are an increasing menace to sailboats in Maine. Recently, our prop tangled with a toggled pot warp in Casco Passage. My wife and I were both watching and zigzagging among pot buoys. Our boat is a Mason 44 with a three-blade Maxprop in an aperture in front of the rudder — the least likely configuration to be affected. Just behind the prop is a line cutter—a sharp disk to cut the line. It didn't work because the line grabbed the prop blade and rotated it around the shaft and cutter with no slicing action to cut the line. The engine stalled immediately as a dozen revolutions wrapped tightly around the shaft. Eventually, the fifth person on our crew to brave the cold water, cut and freed the line. Still, the damage was more than $2,000 for towing, hauling the boat, replacing the damaged engine mounts, and realigning the engine.
Lobstermen have rights, but so do sailboaters. I suggest lobster pot regulations be adapted as follows:
1. No lobster buoys within 100 yards of navigational marks.
2. No lobster buoys within 100 yards of the centerline of a channel or route from one navigational buoy to the next.
3. Prohibit toggles, which dangle horizontal line loops that can be easily caught in a prop.
4. Reduce the number of vertical lines. Not every pot needs a line if they are linked on the bottom. (Whale advocates suggest this as well.)
How might sailboat owners influence lobster pot regulations? Any ideas out there? Meanwhile I'll figure out how to fit Spurs on the tapered shaft.
...Where Credit Is Due
To Nicro (a division of Marinco): "I've purchased several Nicro solar powered vents over the past 10 years for several boats. My oldest one is eight years old and is still going strong, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The only maintenance required has been to replace the batttery every three or four years. Not many motors will run that long continuously without repair and maintenance in a hostile marine environment. The vent's maintenance-free performance is evidence of Nicro's high standards of design and manufacturing.
"Recently, the motor in the newest vent seized up a couple of months after the two-year warranty expired. I called Nicro to inquire about ordering a replacement motor. I was pleasantly suprised when the company offered to replace it for free, even though I no longer have the sales receipt. With service like that, I wouldn't hesitate to buy more of these excellent products in the future.
"One additional comment: I'd advise owners to buy the vents with stainless-steel covers rather than ABS plastic covers. The stainless-steel vents cost $30 or $40 more, but they last many years longer." (www.marinco2.com)
San Francisco, CA
To Schaefer Marine: "After unsuccessful trips to all the local marine supply shops (and their respective catalogs), trying to get a replacement spring for the stand-up swivel block on my 20-year-old O’Day 192, I e-mailed Schaefer Marine with a request for a local source. The very next day, Steve Majkut of their Technical Sales and Marketing Support e-mailed me that a spring was in the mail, and he sent me advice on how to install it. Wow!" (www.schaefermarine.com)
To Technautic Autopilot: "I purchased an autopilot from this company almost three years ago before circumstances allowed me to install it this summer. Not being the handiest person when it comes to electronics, I was having some difficulty with the set-up codes. I sent an e-mail to the company asking for a little help or guidance, but not expecting much given the time between purchase and installation. I was certainly not expecting the response I received.
"Otto Hollborn of Technautic spent over three hours with me on a long-distance call from Switzerland (on his bill), and patiently walked me though all the necessary steps. Unrequested, he sent me, without charge, a new upgraded chip, a dimmer, and alarm system for the autopilot, and an updated schematic. At all times he was friendly, understanding, and very helpful. On top of that, the autopilot outperforms anything I have used in the past. A first-class product backed to the hilt by first-class service. Thank you Otto." (www.tecnautic.com)
Saturna Island, BC, Canada