Mailport November 2006 Issue

Mailport: 11/06

Your article on safety gear for kids highlights a crucial matter of importance.

I have been sailing with each of my kids since they were about 3 to 6 months old. The first time I took my son, Joshua, on the boat alone, he was 3 years old. We had a great day sailing on our Cata-lina 34. The safety lines were up as the launch approached. In the few seconds it took me to turn around and pick up one of our carry-on bags, Joshua somehow slipped beneath the lower safety line and into the water.

The Mustang Lil’ Legend (above) was among the few jackets that stood out in our recent test of infant and children’s life jackets.

The launch operator was quick as a whip, and in less than a minute, he had pulled Joshua out, grabbing the collar grab strap on the Mustang Type III life jacket Joshua was properly strapped into.

The kid was wet, but did not even know what had happened to him. That fall, Joshua started swimming lessons. Now, he is 12 years old, but still is required to wear a life jacket when on deck, just as I wear my Sospend-ers inflatable whenever we are underway.

I am now a zealot for kids wearing life jackets. When I see a family or a child on a boat without a life jacket, I have no hesitation to go over to the people and tell them my “Joshua story.”

People who care enough to spend lots of money and time on their boats, ought to care just as much about their children.

Clifford A. Rieders
Catalina 34, Dream Extreme

Your article on child PFDs was very informative. As important as flotation is, comfort is a real prob-lem. On a hot day, three blocks (bricks) of semi-rigid foam in an airtight fabric causes most young kids to become, shall we say, irritable.

I will definitely look into the Sospenders vest reviewed, but would hope someone might consider softer foam as well as ventilation. Cost is not the issue. It’s comfort first, then safety.

As to the loss of the sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race. Sailing small boats across large oceans, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, or putting a motor between two wheels and riding on roads with trucks and cars etc., are all risky and done by individual choice—sometimes, fate just jumps in, sad as it usually is.

Mandating equipment being aboard is one thing, but mandating its use is wrong. Once one of these, “for your own good” laws goes into effect, we can’t get rid of them, and it gives the Fun Police another revenue-producing violation they can write.

We have the right to pursue hap-piness; there is no right guaranteeing its attainment. Everyone has the ability to think and reason. Let common sense rule; it’s becoming a lost art.

Norman Northgard
Sea Cliff, N.Y.

How disappointing was the editorial “The High Price of Safety Rules” (August 2006) and PS’s apparent endorsement of future legislation for wearing PFDs.

By jumping on the “life jacket should be worn at all times” bandwagon, you are promoting legislation to require all to wear life jackets while on the water at all times. Is this really what you want to promote?

It has been an issue that has come up over and over. It was an agenda item at a past meeting by all the state governors. In 1997-98, the U.S. Coast Guard allowed the public to comment on the issue before they made suggestions to Congress for legislative changes to our laws. Many states already have laws that pertain to minors and also to the use of certain types of activities and certain types of watercraft, like jet skis.

The following is an excerpt from my letter to the USCG, sent during the period for open comment: As hard as it is to believe, and as politically incorrect to say so, I don’t find it unacceptable that 629 people drowned in the pursuit of exercising their freedom of choice to go boating without PFDs. Personal safety is just that, personal. We do not need the federal government or anyone else to protect us from ourselves. We are not talking about someone causing harm to someone else or putting others lives in harm’s way. This is a personal issue and should remain so. It is an idiotic pursuit for our government to set about protecting individuals from themselves.

I accept that to venture out into life requires some risks? Would man have ever left the cave if he craved such security? Would we have ever made it to the moon?

Capt. Timothy C. Dunlap
Via e-mail

Thanks for the letter. To clarify, Practical Sailor does not endorse any legislation requiring life jackets or harness use for adults on sail-boats, nor did we mean to imply this. We encourage cruisers and racers to abide by U.S. Sailing’s prescriptions for offshore safety, and we support laws advocating the reasonable use of life jackets for children on boats.

One of the hallmarks of a good consumer publication is the occasional publication of a useful “homebrew” solution among the product reviews. Consumer Reports does this on a regular basis, and it is quite useful.

One of the solutions to metal polishing that was omitted from the June 2006 article on metal polishes was the relatively simple (and inexpensive) business of making one’s own metal polish. My own preference is to blend a quantity of polishing compound (not rubbing compound) which is available in most stores that carry an auto paint display, including the large chain retailers, with a small amount of silicone car wax. The results are comparable to Simichrome on bicycle, motorcycle, boat, and car parts. A little experimentation will yield your best mix.

Scott A. Morris
Ensenada 20, Rumply Bateau
Clinton Lake, Ill.



]In regards to the PS articles “Bye Bye Black Blight” and “Star Brite-Rust Erasers” (May 2006): From my experience, Turtle Wax’s Chrome Polish and Rust Remover does a better job than any special purpose marine cleaner that I’ve tried, and at a fraction of the price. It’s great for removing all types of marks, stains, and streaks, including rust stains on fiberglass and painted surfaces, vinyl upholstery, and of course stainless. It is non-damaging to gloss finishes.

I’ve passed this tip on to many boaters and had many come back and confirm my findings. Turtle Wax should be repackaging this stuff, marking it up by 300 percent and flogging it in marine stores—it’s a winner.

It has been hard to find the past few years in Western Canada, but luckily still readily available in the U.S. I stocked up with several years’ supply on a recent trip.

Jack Dosenberg
Fisher 34
Vancouver, B.C.

Our Pearson 386 has a Perkins 4-108. We like the engine a lot, but the filter originally was located at the bottom of the engine block and in an inverted position. This made it very difficult to change because you couldn’t see what you were doing.

I searched the Internet for an oil filter relocation kit and found one at It cost about $45 and took less than an hour to install. The filter is now located near the front of the engine room in an upright, easy-to-change location. There are several brands of oil filter relocation kits available. I chose the one I felt was the best value.

Jim and Loy Norris
1984 Pearson 386, Lakota
Centerport, N.Y.

Regarding “Nav Software Wars” in your September edition, you state that GPS NAVX is the only software for Mac OSX. NavimaQ is still alive and well under the new manufacturer, Barco Software, which transformed it to work with OSX. We have been selling this program and its predecessor for many years, and hope you might revisit this topic, or issue an addendum to it soon.

Kenneth Gebhart

We were told that Barco’s software did not provide AIS support, one of the criteria for our product selection. Apparently, it does provide this support now, and we will request a trial copy.

I have read Nick Nicholson’s dramatic article about the Volvo Ocean Race in the August 2006 issue of PS. In his article, he refers to a list of safety equipment for offshore sailing in the Volvo Notice of Race that “should be required reading.” However, on the Volvo web site, the Notice of Race seems to have been replaced by a brief teaser that has no technical content.

Mark Van Baalen
Cambridge, Mass.

Unfortunately, the safety equipment list was pulled from the VOR website after the article went to press. Nick, who was recently named Race Chairman for the 2007 Newport-Bermuda Race, suggests that by reviewing the ISAF Offshore Special Regs ( and the Newport-Bermuda safety requirements from that Notice of Race, (, readers will have a complete and diversified summary of safety equipment for offshore sailing.

I just read the letter from Herb Connelly, Vancouver, B.C., in the August issue of Practical Sailor. Recently, I stumbled across an ad for the Wonder Wash, a manual, small (12 x 12 x 16-inch, 6 lbs.) washing machine available at for $43. I had read about these things in one of the many of my cruising books (all were lost in Hurricane Katrina). If it works as advertised, I don’t see how the manufacturers can keep up with the demand.

Van Ness Tanner
Former Morgan 24 owner
Bay St. Louis, Miss.

PS actually tested the Wonder Wash for the September 2002 issue. It performed well and used little water. Since then, the makers have redesigned the washer’s handle and have come out with a dryer. We plan to test the new Wonder Wash and the dryer for a future article. Stay tuned.

You should have included the Wallas 800 kerosene stove ( in your test of one-burners. I’ve had a propane stove and an Origo alcohol stove. The Origo overheated when it didn’t shut off after the damper was closed. I was told that this happens sometime and was sent a new stove. The Wallas is expensive, but much safer with external combustion air, external exhaust, and a sealed burner. Burner temperature is well controlled and it doubles as an excellent cabin heater. I love it.

John Honekamp
via e-mail
Richland, Wash.

Kerosene stoves were not included in the last test, but we’ll be sure to check this one out and let you know how it stands up against those we did test for the July 2006 issue.

Too bad I didn’t know the insulation question was being published last month (PS Advisor, October 2006). I could have sent you a sample of what I believe is the exact OEM replacement of the aluminized polyester faced foam used in my 1986 Hunter 34. After 20 years, my foam panels are still pretty much intact, except for obvious signs of age. The foam is not crumbling or spewing debris as shown in the inset photo of the October issue. It’s just not as resilient and as shiny as when it was new.

The only reason I’m changing it is because I rebuilt the entire interior of my boat, including the engine box, and I didn’t want to put the old stuff back in. I purchased my foam online from McMaster-Carr (; SKU No. 5692T53). It came in a wide roll, 1-inch thick, 54-inches wide. I bought enough to do the entire compartment with lots to spare for a measly $38 ($12.58/running foot). The color of the foam is a dark charcoal gray, and the aluminized facing is glass reinforced.

Bob Talpa
Hunter 34, BOHICA
Chicago, Ill.

Practical Sailor welcomes letters from our readers. Please include your name, home port, boat type, and boat name. Send e-mail to and mail to Practical Sailor, 7820 Holiday Dr. S., Suite 315, Sarasota, Fl 34231.

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