I was struck by a few things about the enclosed photo [above] taken when Hurricane Katrina hit Florida, and I recall your magazine ran a short piece a while ago [“PS Advisor,” November 15, 2004] on good storm preparations. In that article, you made mention of some of several storm preparation practices. Maybe some review of such preparations is needed again. I also hope that a survey of the damage to boats in the Gulf Coast region will be done so we can all learn lessons from that experience.
The November 15 PS Advisor mentioned the helpful BoatUS website www.boatus.com/hurricanes/, which features weather updates, storm season tips, a hurricane preparation brochure, and a handy pre-storm check list. The brochure makes the several recommendations: double-up lines, install chafe gear and strip all canvas to reduce windage. Your top priority, however, should be to have your hurricane hole selected before the storm season begins, and to secure your boat there at least 48 hours before projected landfall. Look for our upcoming report on marine insurance, which compares rates coast to coast.
I think PS has, in recent articles, become a little casual about the consideration of power consumption. Maybe your editors haven’t spent enough time away from shore power for extended periods. I live on a 44-foot boat with 450 amp hours of batteries and a 100-amp alternator, and I can tell you that power is an issue. I don’t like listening to the engine run, and the engine doesn’t like running just to drive the alternator.
In your discussion of the Northstar 6000i and other networked plotters and instruments (“Northstar 6000i: Easy to Use, But Pricey” Practical Sailor October 15, 2005) you totally skipped the topic of power consumption. When comparing features, I think a comparison of value/amp-hour is just as important as some of the other attributes you compare. For example, I have a Furuno 1833BB radar/plotter and a Northstar 952XD, and the value/amp (other than in the fog) is clearly with the Northstar as it draws less than an amp, while the Furuno plotter and display (with the radar off) draws closer to six amps. In other words, the competitors to the 6000i are not just the integrated units from Raymarine and Furuno, but also smaller units which may deliver 70 percent of the functionality at 20 percent of the power.
You briefly mentioned power in your recent market scan of watermakers (“DC Watermakers: Expensive but Useful for the Cruising Sailor,” November 15, 2005), but the author didn’t bother to do the math or treat this as an important issue, dismissing the differences between products as “three minutes of engine operation daily.” I can assure you that alternators rarely run at rated output, and batteries with three-stage chargers only briefly accept the full actual output of the alternator. All other things being equal, the more power-efficient watermaker should get the nod.
The bottom line is that I feel power is an important consideration in the selection of all components and is worth a little more of your time to analyze. The foregoing not withstanding, I thoroughly enjoy the publication and appreciate your efforts.
Good point, Russ. Collectively, our editors have spent too many years away from the dock — which may explain our infrequent brain lapses. (In 11 years of cruising, our editor and wife only used shorepower while working in Guam.) The last thing we want are inefficient, amp-hungry devices that require big battery banks and charging cycles that take much of the pleasure out of sailing. Look for our upcoming radar test, which will look at power needs, both during full operation and during “stand-by” modes.
Caulks and Sealants
Your update on caulks and sealants (“Update: Caulks and Sealants,” November 15, 2005) could have been more useful. There was no mention or discussion of the generation of new oxime rubber sealers/caulks. TDS is one such example (though there are a few others sold by Jamestown Distributors). TDS has been used for caulking teak seams, but now is being used more extensively for bedding hardware. It has an estimated life of 20 years (they claim) and elasticity of greater than 20 percent. So, is it really as good as the manufacturers claim?
The evaluation of “waterproofness” was useful, but I hoped PS would provide more definitive numbers of this sort, and also a measure of adhesiveness to different materials. If used for bedding, does the compound bond to teak as well as it does to pine, to stainless, bronze, painted surfaces (LPU vs. enamel, etc.)? What is life expectancy in an unopened tube vs. an opened tube? And how does it resist UV? Also, color degradation (mainly of “white”) is another consideration. Does the white material tend to yellow? I have found that 3M’s 4000 series with UV inhibitor turns yellow in a few months.)
In contrast, I liked your article on watermakers. It reflected a careful analysis of the needs and applications of different users.
Harvey Karten, MD
La Jolla, CA
According to Jamestown Distributors, the product you mention from Teakdecking Systems of Florida, is more of an adhesive than a caulk. We will be evaluating many of the caulk characteristics you mention as the test progresses, but some of them are beyond the scope of this project. There is a good deal of research within the chemical industry regarding these concoctions. From what we can surmise, p-Quinone dioxime (C6H6N2O2) is used as a vulcanization accelerator by combining with peroxy-free radicals to tie up free radicals, and it acts as an adhesion promoter between metal and rubber. We’re unaware of research showing that it’s going to increase butyl rubber’s adhesiveness for wood. Because of its oil content, teak has always presented special problems for caulks. We will be comparing specialty caulks for teak in a future issue.
...Where Credit Is Due
To Pro-Techt: I ordered a new product called the Mantis (a quick portable cover for boaters) to use at the helm of my MacGregor 26X. When I received it, I was extremely pleased because it serves as a bimini without cluttering the rear of the small cockpit. I’ve resisted getting a bimini for 10 years because I didn’t want to encumber the cockpit. But the problem I encountered was how to use one of the three applicable bases on the 26’s lightly built, hinged helm seat. A Pro-Techt rep took time to work out a partly customized solution to my unique needs. In a very pleasant and timely way, the company modified its deck/floor mount and back plate for use with stronger and longer bolts that exactly fit my application and resulted in a strong, stable mount. I am an enthusiastic fan of this product and the company’s engaged and willing attitude toward service. (www.pro-techt.com)
To Origo Stoves: We were snug as a bug in a rug in Three Mile Harbor on Long Island, cooking up a pot of pasta and meat sauce on my trusty 10-year-old Origo 3000 when the flame turned from blue to yellow. I tried to turn it down, but nothing happened. In fact, flames started spurting out in all directions. Being on a wooden boat, I was alarmed—and the crew was famished. I grabbed the flaming stove, ran topside, tied a line around the unit, and heaved the whole thing overboard.
I wrote to Origo about the self-immolation of my stove, asking if it could be fixed. Back came an e-mail saying that, as they didn’t have the stove in front of them, it was difficult to assess the situation. No mention of sending the unit, but a long paragraph on the proper way to use the 3000, i.e. no pots bigger than 9 inches diameter, etc. But the last line really lit up my face. “We have arranged to have a refurbished unit sent to you as a goodwill gesture.” Wow!
The unit I received several weeks later looked brand new to me, with only a very slight ding on the front edge. I’m sure next summer’s steaks will never notice. (www.origo-sweden.com)
William C. Winslow
New York, NY
To Espar Heaters & Roton Industries: I bought an Espar diesel-fired air heater [Airtronic D4] for my sailboat from Roton Industries in Vancouver, BC. Shortly after the expiration of the warranty period, the control unit failed and I had it replaced. Afterwards, I approached Ken Johnston and Brian Silk of Roton and, notwithstanding the expired warranty period, they both worked hard to present a warranty claim to Espar, and the company kindly agreed not to charge me for the replacement part. Roton worked diligently to make the out-of-time warranty claim on my behalf and Espar stood behind its product. The manufacturer’s integrity and Roton’s devotion to service are exceptional and much appreciated.
I am very pleased with the Espar heater, and equally pleased with Roton’s service. (www.espar.com)