Mailport November 15, 2005 Issue

Mailport: 11/15/05

VHF Headphones or Speakers?
[Re: "Fixed-Mount VHF Radios," PS Sept. '05] I can't recall you mentioning the usefulness of a jack for a headset or external speaker. Some years ago we had a VHF with such a jack. This enabled us to utilize either a headset or a portable speaker on deck. With an inexpensive headset, we could easily understand the communications regardless of the ambient noise. Our current VHF, an ICOM of 1997 vintage, is a good radio, but it doesn't have a jack.

The use of headsets and boom mikes has become the norm in aviation, and it amazes me that sailors will accept second-class communication. I assume the reason for this may be that the use of a jack may degrade the waterproof rating of a radio. However the manufacturers should be able to devise some type of jack that could be sealed from the internal circuitry and which would not have a significant impact on the production cost.

Glenn Irving
North Vancouver, BC, Canada


Leaking Chainplates
[Re: "PS Advisor," PS Oct. 1, '05] After years of wet cushions and worse from chainplate leaks on our Tartan 30, we tried a different approach. We formed fiberglass collars, the insides of which were just larger than the deck holes that the chainplates pass through. The collars are about 1 inch high. We epoxied them to the deck around the chain plates. Each spring, we form boots that cover the bottom stud of the turnbuckle down to the collar. The boot is really duct tape, but we put plastic under it to make removal easy in the fall. The top of the boot fastens to the stud just below the threaded part that goes into the turnbuckle body.

It's a bit of work each year, but it doesn't leak if the taping is sound. And if the taping weakens, another layer fixes the problem.

Marc Auslander
Via e-mail

We applaud your ingenuity and determination. However, if your turnbuckles are fashioned from stainless steel, it's important to tape them in a way that won't trap freshwater next to the turnbuckle. Stainless steel's resistance to corrosion relies on the material's constant contact with oxygen, which is readily available in the atmosphere and in seawater, but not in stagnant freshwater. —Eds.


Having had a problem with leaky chainplates on many boats, I've found a solution that seems to address the issue. Bear in mind, you may have to do this again in a few years, but it's a good solution.

Clean out the chainplate "cavity," and apply a general coating of Dolphinite 2005. Then place a properly sized O-ring over the chainplate and reinstall the cover plate. Incidentally, I've used this same procedure with keel bolts (also using an O-ring) and had good results.

R.D. McLeod
Grand River, OH


Windlass Considerations
[Re: "Midsize Windlass Test," PS Oct. 1, '05] I like to study the Value Guide charts in your articles and try to pick the best units before I read your analyses in the text, but this time your results surprised me.

Before reading the text, I concluded that my boat (39 feet LOA, heavy displacement, with 3/4" anchor rode) would do best with the Lofrans Project 1500. But not only did you give a very poor review of that unit, you also didn't remark on any of the criteria that formed my decision.

First, this unit was one of only two that could handle 3/4" line, and by far the least expensive of those two.

Second, although you recorded working amps and working speed, you didn't correlate the two. Amps are a function of power draw over time, and working speed is measured in feet over time. So it makes sense to ask, "How much power will be drained from my batteries to pull in 100 feet of line?" For those of us who like to sail out of an anchorage, that's an important question.

The answer to this question needs to be phrased in terms of amps per ft./min. By this measure, the Lofrans Project 1500 is the second most efficient of all seven units tested, at 1.03 amps per ft./min., with your pick of the Lewmar V3 Gypsy coming in at 1.26 amps per ft./min., quite a bit less efficient. The Lofrans unit is also much more efficient than the only other unit capbable of handling 3/4" line, the Maxwell Liberty RC2500, which turned in an abysmal performace at 1.64 amps per ft/min.

With regard to the raw maximum pull, 880 lbs. on the line is more than enough to handle any anchor and 20 feet of chain.

Peter Aziz
Litchfield, CT

PS tested only mid-size windlasses for this article, hence the scarcity of units that can accommodate 3/4" line. Regarding your correlation of amps drawn per minute and feet traveled per minute, we'll give that due consideration for future windlass reviews. —Eds.


LED Peculiarities
[Re: "LED Running Lights," PS Sept. '05] I've tried lighting the charts in my nav station with red LED lights (628 nm RL5-R3545 units (from, and found they made the magenta chart markings, including the compass rose, invisible. I then tried yellow LEDs and found that they made it hard to distinguish the tan color of the land from the light blue of the shallows on the chart. Green LEDs, however, though weak on showing pale green, seemed to show all the needed chart information (magenta was visible, though it appeared as black), and even when substantially dimmed seemed to be useable. (I understand that the human eye is most sensitive to green light.) The dimmed green LED light seems to only modestly degrade night vision, though red seems to be better.

Ron Tanis
Via e-mail


...Where Credit Is Due
To D &W Automotive: "I had a painful and expensive learning experience when I first tried to get my venerable Perkins 4-108 engine overhauled at the hands of one company (that advertises often in sailing magazines). That experience proved it's certainly possible for someone to do an incompetent job in rebuilding this engine. In my case, it was so bad that I had to take the engine out again and start over.

"The second time around, I avoided advertisements and personal recommendations, and instead got in touch with the Perkins national distributor through their website, ( They gave me the names of Perkins-authorized service shops in my region with marine experience. Then I contacted the service personnel in boatyards in the region to double-check their experience with the recommended authorized service shops.

"I ended up having Ron Ford, of D&W Automotive, in Sudlersville MD, rebuild my engine. He did a thorough, superb job. I spent hours in his shop watching how he and his ace mechanic—his daughter Cindy— converted a table full of parts into a living, breathing engine. Ron has been great in follow-up service, solving a minor leak in the injection pump.

"Bottom line: these engines can be rebuilt successfully if you go through the Perkins system and use an authorized service facility. There are many companies claiming Perkins competence, but they're not authorized. Thanks D & W Automotive." (410/438-3331)

Ben Stavis
Bala, Cynwyd PA

To Groco Marine: "I have been plagued by sea nettles clogging my raw water strainers (genset and air conditioner). The problem is so acute that during the height of the nettle season—late July and August—it makes cruising the Chesapeake Bay almost impossible unless one wants to clear their strainers at least every half hour, or do without air conditioning and power. (We don't recommend it.)

"While researching alternatives, I came across Groco Marine's Hydromatic Strainer. This device replaces several standard seawater strainers with an electrically-operated, automatic strainer with a built-in macerator that periodically grinds and discharges the strained water.

"I had some technical questions and contacted Groco. I was initially put in touch with the gentleman who builds/assembles the units. For further questions, I was transferred to John Cly, Groco's customer service director. He answered all my questions patiently and thoughtfully. John drew a schematic and parts list and was helpful through the entire ordering process via a local chandlery.

But Groco's customer service didn't stop there: The installation went smoothly and the Hydromatic performed flawlessly. When I had a minor problem with an accessory part, John brought a replacement and switched it out himself. He has been by twice since the initial installation to tweak some odds and ends unique to my boat. All of this hand-holding and customer service has been gratis and has involved John driving 1-1/2 hours each way. I am lucky that I am in close proximity to Groco's HQ, but my sense is that their exceptional customer service extends far beyond geography." (

Harry Cook
Oxford, MD

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