Mailport February 15, 2005 Issue

Mailport: 02/15/05

Gear Lifts
[Re: "Gear Lifts," PS Nov. 15, '04] Following your review, I contacted Garhauer Marine to buy their model. Since I live less than an hour's drive from their plant, I decided to pick up the unit in person. When I walked into the shop, I met a gentleman about my age who turned out to be the owner, Bill Felgenhauer. It turns out we both grew up in Germany only a few miles away from each other and we both immigrated in the '50s to the U.S.

I mentioned that one of my Garhauer rope clutches needed to be adjusted since it was somewhat wiggly. Bill immediately volunteered to replace the part with a new one. Further, I learned that Garhauer Marine has a limited warranty of 10 years on these parts. But it gets better. The Sunday following Thanksgiving, we were cleaning the boat at the dock when a man showed up with the new rope clutch in hand. It was Bill's son Mark making the delivery.

By the way, the davit worked great on my Catalina 350 and the installation took only a few minutes.

Horst Lechler
Marina Del Rey, CA


I recommend using a cable ratchet winch to pull a man back aboard. These are small, light, powerful, and inexpensive winches that go by many names such as tugger, come-along, etc., and can be purchased at most hardware or automotive stores. Buy one of the larger sizes for boat use and you have 1,000 or 2,000 lbs. of portable, readily attachable pull.

If you put a loop of rope around any convenient high place, like the mast, boom, or rigging, you can pull a 200-lb. man straight through the lifelines if you wish. It would also be useful with a gin pole to lift a dingy over the side. With a snatch block and a stout gin pole this tugger has many uses.

I am surprised that I've never seen any mention of this device as ship's gear.

Russell Frizzell
Via e-mail

Likewise, we've never seen printed mention of such devices being used on board sailboats, but there are at least three good reasons for that.

First, the winches on board most sailboats can be used for similar purposes if the sailors using them can engineer a correct lead for the lines involved.

Second, many boats carry portable tackle like a handy billy for just such uses.

And third, most of the devices that fit this description (found in hardware or automotive stores) are not built with a salt-water environment in mind, and thus they tend to rust quickly.

Still, we don't mean to completely dismiss the possibility that something suitable of this ilk might exist. If readers are familiar with a well-built, marinized come-along (or other and pulling device), we'd be very interested to hear about it.


PFD Safety
[Re: "Inflatable PFD Test," PS Oct. 1, '04] I appreciated your article on Inflatable PFDs. Clearly, making a PFD comfortable enough to wear most of the time will save lives. Hopefully, wearers who fall overboard will survive long enough to be rescued, depending on the circumstances, including the experience of the crew, the weather, and water temperature.

Although your article mentioned the use of the PFDs with built-in harnesses, I would like to suggest that this option be more strongly emphasized. Indeed a harness, used correctly with a good tether is probably a more effective "life-saver" than a PFD. This is especially true for shorthanded crew.

When conditions warrant a PFD, it is time to think about a safety harness. Let's encourage prevention, rather than just enabling rescue. You are much safer on the boat than in the water!

While a separate harness could be used with the PFD, it is awkward at best, and would need to be worn under the PFD. Something simpler like a built-in harness is more likely to be used.

Even if the tether is not attached and the wearer falls overboard, the harness ring on a PFD would make a reasonable attachment point to aid in hoisting an exhausted, hypothermic person out of the water.

Also, perhaps considering how little the PFD is likely to be used in the water, perhaps more emphasis should be given to ease of donning, and comfort while wearing on land, rather than comfort in the water.

Robert Watson
Carmichael, CA


Spinnaker Snuffers
[Re: "Spinnaker Snuffer Test," PS December '04] Your article described each product in great detail, but I would not call launching the chute at the dock a "test." Better to go to sea and test each system using the same test method.

As a suggestion, the sleeve dousing trials might be undertaken not only with the tack fixed, but also with the tack "blown." The latter technique, advocated by ATN, makes it easier to collapse the chute with the sleeve.

Your alert about potential chafe at the head of at the sleeve is a good one. The UK snuffer I have is a good case in point. It came with braided wire pendant and tackle that caused rust and chafe at the sleeve early on and had to be modified. The ATN and North pennant designs appear superior. The UK sock has a large diameter hoop which might be a drawback for some but, overall, it has worked very well for me.

Bill Solberg
Via e-mail

PS conducted the spinnaker snuffer tests at the dock in order to facilitate changing out the sleeves. Since we tested on such a light-air day, we probably had better apparent wind on the dock than we would have had aboard a moving boat on the water, but the comment about dousing with the tack "blown" is a point well taken. We'll add that in future tests.


...Where Credit Is Due
To: Garmin: "After years of reading other sailors' reports of outstanding service I have the opportunity of sharing my experience with the Garmin Co.

"When I bought my first boat (an Albin Vega) five years ago, I also purchased a Garmin 12 GPS unit. It has always performed flawlessly, until this past summer. I found that the 12V power cable wasn't working. After inspecting it, I found the contact on the plug had come off (seems that it screws in, which means it can screw out too). Hoping that I could order only that little bit, rather than the entire cable, I went to Garmin’s website and was pleasantly surprised to find a section for discontinued products (I also learned the unit was waterproof to IPX-7 standards). Garmin still offers accessories for the Garmin 12 and other older units.

"I called their number for technical service to try and get the end piece. The technical advisor said they didn't have that part, but he would send the entire cable—at no charge! Happily, I thanked him and waited for the mail. I did get a cable, but it turned out to be the data interface cable. I called back and another advisor identified the correct part number and said he’d ship it out immediately. By the way, he said to keep the data cable. Each cable took only a few days to arrive. This is excellent customer service and product support. Between the ease of use and performance of my GPS unit and the company's willingness to stand behind its products, I will remain a faithful Garmin customer."

Bob Tantillo
Stamford, CT

To Spectra Watermakers: "While cruising in the beautiful Bahamas last winter, our Spectra Model 380c watermaker began to lose throughput. Several e-mails and conversations with Glenn Bashforth at Spectra led to the conclusion that the feed pumps were failing.

"In early March I ordered two new pump heads from Spectra in San Rafael, CA. Records indicate that the parts were shipped on March 8, arrived in Nassau on March 9, and some time after that went to Georgetown, Great Exuma Island. As we were never notified of the arrival of the parts, and after waiting a week in Georgetown, we called the shipper. We were told the parts were in Nassau. We asked that they be held there for our pickup. Ten days later we arrived in Nassau.

After calling the depot and verifying the parts were there, I biked the 10 miles to the shipper's depot only to be told that the parts were in Georgetown and that $27.00 of Stamp Tax was due before the parts could be forwarded to our Florida address. Angry at the mixup, I paid the Stamp Tax and was assured the parts would be forwarded.

"Late in April, having received no parts, I contacted Mr. Bashforth at Spectra, asking him to investigate. He was told by the shipper that the parts had been signed for by me in Georgetown. I provided him documentation of my presence in Nassau at the time I was supposedly in Georgetown.

"About two months later, Mr. Bashforth shipped me new pump heads. Included were spare parts for the Clark pump and a supply of cleaning chemicals. Both Mr. Glenn Bashforth and Dean in Technical Services deserve credit for their support of this fine product. They have earned my loyalty and judging by the comments I received from other cruisers, the support of many others."

Drew Dolak
Via e-mail

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