Mailport December 2005 Issue

Mailport: 12/05

Cotter Pins vs. Rings
[Re: "Wrap Pins," PS Nov. 1, '05] When I get a different boat, the first thing I always do is replace all the cotter pins in the rigging at deck level with cotter rings. Pins are great for cutting up feet if you're barefooted, or if you have sandals on. They also chew up deck shoes, but rings don't do any of this.

Further, pins can be hard to get in or out; you usually need pliers. Rings can be put in or out with your bare fingers. Pins often break, and rings do not. I have never gone around the boat checking rigging and found a ring missing, I can't say the same for pins. The only place I have a pin is in the mainsail track because I can't get a ring to fit.

Carl Wojcik
Saginaw, MI


Lobster Pot Debate
[Re: "Mailport," PS Oct. 15, '05] I take issue with Mr. Hargraves' complaints about lobster buoys. When one of us "blow boat" sailors cuts a lobsterman's gear, it costs that fisherman $150. If there are two or more traps on that line, mulitply that figure by the number of traps.

I also object to line-cutting prop shaft rigs like Spurs. Yachtsmen should not be destroying gear that provides the livelihood for fishermen.

Yes, I agree with the premise that traps should not be set in fairways; and most lobstermen would concur. But how could that be regulated for two months of the year when it isn't a problem for the other 10?

Captain Hargraves should consider installing a cage around his boat's propeller rather than installing gadgets to cut the fishermen's gear. That's what lobstermen do, and it works for them.

John Van Pelt
Ellsworth, ME


I am always surprised at other sailors' reactions to the profusion of lobster pot buoys in Maine. However Mr. Hargraves experience is the worst I have heard. In 20 plus years of cruising in Maine waters, I have had my share of encounters with pot buoys. My worst experience actually happened in The Watch Hill passage east of Fisher's Island Sound, where the shock of the wrap broke the shift linkage. This was on an Alden 44 with exactly the same sort of prop aperture configuration as Mr. Hargraves'.

Our next boat was an Alden 43 with an exposed Maxprop, Spurs, a fin keel and spade rudder. With that combination we caught plenty of pots under sail, but always managed to wiggle them off. Under power, the Spurs worked fine, and we never got a wrap. Our current Concordia yawl, with her full keel, circular cutter, and prop encased in an aperture seems to be impervious to catching pots.

I have heard many sailors pass up the idea of a Maine cruise because of their misconceived ideas of the lobster pot menace. Things really aren't that bad. You just have to keep a good lookout.

Mr. Hargraves' suggestions for changes are unworkable for a variety of reasons. No one is going to legislate such changes unless lobster pots can be considered a menace to navigation and safety at sea. For some perspective, I suggest that Mr. Hargraves read the late Joel White's essay "Save that Pot."

Vagn Worm
Old Saybrook, CT


We will never cruise Maine again. I've heard that Maine is a beautiful place to cruise, but even though we spent two weeks there out of a planned four, my wife and I couldn't tell you what we saw because 100% of the time we were on the lookout for lobster pots.

The cruising guide we used warns "when (not if) you snag a pot, have a wetsuit, mask, and knife at the ready, and remember that the water is cold!"

One fellow cruiser related to us how he wrapped a polypropylene line around his shaft and by the time he stopped the prop, the line had melted, leaving a big glob of plastic. He had to have the boat hauled and the yard workers used a hammer and chisel to remove the stuff.

I have two suggestions regarding this dilemma: First, when you spy a field of lobster pots, those owners whose boats have folding props should shift into neutral and glide through. Second, in the hull of my Swan 44, I have an inspection port right above the prop. Once, when we caught a line, my wife went below and called up instructions for me to shift in and out of gear to free the prop, and it worked.

Now if only someone would invent a cutting device for saildrives we'd venture back to Maine to see what we missed before.

William McFaul
Manhasset, NY


Crew or Man Overboard?
["Crew Overboard Report," PS Nov. 1, '05] In reading over the material about COB systems and methods, I started off being confused about the term "COB." When did we change from MOB?

It is hard to believe that political correctness has intervened in such a vital safety term. Most of our GPS systems on board refer to "MOB," and the term has been around forever. It's also incredible that we are actually changing the term and adding even the slightest bit of confusion or delay when we hear the term.

The opening sentence of John Rousmaniere's article talks about the chilling effect of hearing the words "man overboard" and then goes on to talk about "crew overboard" or "COB" in the rest of the article. Who makes these kinds of decisions and why do we allow it?

Olaf Harken
Pewaukee, WI

Our use of the term "crew overboard," was in deference to the safety experts like John Rousmaniere who favor this term over "man overboard." It turns out that the safety community has been using COB since the early '80s when prominent members repeatedly discovered in Safety at Sea seminars that the use of "crew overboard" was particularly preferred by the large number of women in the audiences. We agree that COB is both more accurate (women go over the side, too) and more inclusive than MOB.

Rousmaniere related that the term "sailor overboard" was briefly attempted at these seminars, but it failed quickly. He told us: "While the acronym SOB might apply to many skippers, it seemed inappropriate for everybody else. So COB it became, though some instructors use the Coast Guard term 'person in the water,' or PIW." —Eds.


Leaking Chainplates
[Re: "Leaking Chainplates," PS Advisor, PS Oct. 1, ‘05] I believe there is something else to consider regarding your advice of letting the bedding compound set up before re-attaching the shrouds and loading the chainplates.

If readers do what you advise, they will be putting the cured sealant into some tension, although maybe only a small amount. This approach expects the bedding compound to act in some small way as an adhesive. When you sail, the weather chainplate will further tension the bedding compound, and the sealant bond with the chainplates can fail.

It would be better, as I've done with my chainplates, to attach the shrouds and tension them with the sealant still viscous, pushing the sealant into the joint as best possible, and letting it cure. I think this technique gives the sealant at least a fighting chance of remaining adhered to the chainplates.

Wayne Richard
Via e-mail


Marine Surveyor Redux
[Re: "Evaluating Marine Surveyors," PS Sept. '05] I suffered through two surveys earlier this year on our Beneteau 32s5, and I wish they had been even remotely similar to the two your contributors performed on that Hunter 433 for the sidebar "One Boat, Two Takes."

Our first survey gave a fair market value of $ 33,000, and called our boat "a moderately built production model using poor quality marine materials..." The second gave a value of $45,000 to $50,000 and called her "an excellent coastal or inland water cruiser/racer." I'm not certain that the negative survey prevented the sale of our boat, but I am convinced that, had we used the second surveyor first, it would have sold six months earlier.

I was present at both surveys. The first surveyor did not even want me to set sail during the sea trial, even though the conditions were excellent (10 to 12 knots of wind, 48° and sunny). His idea of examining sails was sticking his hand into their bags—he didn't even want them taken out of their bags.

I sent a complaint regarding this surveyor to SAMS in March '05, detailing the differences in the surveys. The organization acknowledged my letter, but did not send a reply until two months later. That missive merely said: "This letter is to advise you that our investigation into the complaint you filed against SAMS member (name withheld) is completed and appropriate action was taken."

Thereafter, I e-mailed SAMS President James Wood, and told him I hoped this was not SAMS' final response. A week later he responded with slightly more detail. While he defended that surveyor's findings, he did concede that "some of his findings could have been more clearly defined and corrective action has been taken in that regard. As stated above, the surveyor is expected to report what he sees to his client. It is not the surveyor's job to make the deal." Mr. Wood ended his letter by saying that "SAMS will take no further action in this matter and the file is closed."

Though I agree with Mr. Woods— that it's "not the surveyor’s job to make the deal," I strongly feel that surveyors should not make blanket, non-specific statements about poor quality materials being used in boats. SAMS should have a more consistent policy regarding voluntary ABYC, NMMA, and NFPA standards. Systems in good condition on a 15-year-old boat should not be reported as "unfit" when they don't meet these newer—again voluntary—standards. If one SAMS surveyor can judge them unfit while another SAMS surveyor can say they're fine, then something is wrong with SAMS' system. Either the standards are too broad, or the organization does not adequately ensure that its members properly apply these standards in their surveys.

Jim Martin
Dunwoody, GA


Battery Chargers
["Permanent Mount Battery Chargers," PS Oct. 15, '05] Your recent review of battery chargers omitted one feature for comparison that might be of interest to some of your readers. We have been using a Newmar PT-70A for three years and are very happy with the product. One of the reasons for choosing Newmar was because this company's chargers work with both 110V AC and 220V AC input (no manual switching required). This is very important if traveling both inside and outside the U.S. Many Caribbean marinas provide only 220V AC service.

Chuck Poel
Via e-mail


A statement in your article regarding Newmar's PT-25 charger needs to be clarified. The statement on page 8 regarding our product: "three banks of output at 25 amps per,…" might confuse readers as to the total charging current. Indeed, one of your readers called Newmar with the impression that the PT-25 could produce 75 amps total charging current. This is not the case. While each output is capable of carrying 25 amps, 25 amps is the total maximum power output of the charger available to and divided (based on battery condition) among the number of banks connected.

The amount of current that flows to any one bank is a function of the relative state of charge of each bank. If two banks are fully charged and the third is discharged, all 25 amps will flow to the third bank. If all the battery banks are discharged, the 25 amps will be divided up equally amongst the three banks (delivering approximately 8 amps per bank).

Thank you for clarifying this.

Jeff Patrick
Newport Beach, CA


Mercury Gripe
Your recent articles on inflatables give high marks to some of the products from Mercury. People should know in advance how they will be treated by this company before they consider purchasing their products.

I own a Quicksilver inflatable that was made by Mercury. It is now five years old. I had heard that there may be problems with the fabric getting sticky from the sun, but these seemed to be related to boats kept in tropical climates. Being in Michigan, I didn't worry too much.

About three years ago the oarlocks started to get sticky, but as I was still able to use the boat, it didn't bother me. This summer, however, the fabric got sticky all over and the boat is now unusable.

I contacted Mercury about this and even though they admit there is a problem with these boats ( a service order was issued in 2004), they refused to address it. Yes, my boat is out of warranty, but the company's absolute refusal to come to a compromise on the situation has made it so I cannot, in good conscience, ever again buy or recommend a product from Mercury.

Dirk Buttke
Muskegon, MI


...Where Credit Is Due
To Forespar: "Years back, as a young rigger, I appreciated the quality of Forespar equipment. For a long time I have enjoyed that same quality on my own boat. Now I would like to applaud Randall Risvold of Forespar customer's support because he bailed me out of a problem that was minor, but was nevertheless causing serious aggravation.

"A stainless steel plunger spring in a spinnaker pole end fitting had failed after long service. I contacted many riggers and suppliers, but none was able to supply the necessary parts. I then went directly to Forespar, and Mr. Risvold immediately sent the required springs at no charge. My message to all of you is, specify Forespar." (

Ron Sturm
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

To Suunto: "I want to commend Suunto for their service on my M9 wrist GPS. After I got the watch, the GPS function worked OK, but the time required to receive a fix seemed long, and battery life seemed short.

"Suunto has a website for users of their wrist computers, and while trying to solve a different issue, I noticed a posting indicating that the two problems afflicting my watch were serviceable under warranty. So I contacted Suunto. They were courteous and prompt, getting the unit back to me in a matter of days. After that, it worked fine, until a second problem arose.

"After doing some yard work one day, I noticed that the bezel had fallen off the unit. I looked for it and couldn't find it. Again, Suunto replaced it quickly, and under warranty.

"I really use these kinds of products, and I don't baby them. But I believe my uses are within the range of those intended by the manufacturer. When you're out sailing, direction and speed are valuable, so the kind of product support offered by Suunto is great to have." (

Dave Brezina
Chicago, IL

To C&C: "After agonizing for years about what racer/cruiser to buy, I finally purchased a new C&C 115, which was delivered this summer. I completely underestimated the issues involved with a new boat and the problems related to a new design.

"First we had to figure out where the electrical panel would go, how the VHF fit, and where to put the instruments. Then we had to adapt the spin pole design. Thirdly, the carbon mast didn't connect exactly right with the backstay. There were other small items that required attention, but nothing major.

"I contacted Swan's Marine, the C&C dealer in Toronto where I purchased the boat. I had heard from other new boat owners (of other makes of boat) that getting warranty work, and even worse—design changes—incorporated into new boats was tedious, frustrating, and often impossible. But not with Fairport Marine (the C&C builder).

"Tim Jackett (the designer) took the approach that if it is a design issue that Fairport/C&C can incorporate into future models, they would happily replace or rework it on my boat. The electrical panel was replaced with a new design, and the mast is being returned for further review. C&C exceeded my expectations on their approach and service, and I can't give them enough credit. If I ever buy another boat, you can bet it will be from Fairport!" (

Geoff Atkins
Toronto, Canada

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