Mailport July 2006 Issue

Mailport: 07/06

Key of D, anchored in Fiji, is a custom-built cat designed by Australian Lock Crowther. According to the owner, all of the boat’s equipment was bought on advice from PS and the Seven Seas Cruising Association.

PS Cool Cat
A couple of months ago, I promised to send you a picture of the Key of D in Fiji. You can’t see much of Fiji in this shot (at right), but you can see a Practical Sailor boat. Every piece of gear that went into Key of D was purchased after reviewing Practical Sailor and the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s equipment survey.

We didn’t always pick the Best Buy, but we took your assessments seriously and have been very happy with the result. We have been cruising for four of the past five years and have covered 20,000 miles. We were laid up for a year after I nearly died of a heart attack and had to be resuscitated. The boat has proven to be dependable and easy to maintain, except for the Yanmar engines and saildrives, but that is another story.

Steve Sharp
46-foot Crowther design, Key of D
Opua, New Zealand

Steve, we’re glad you’re still with us and glad we could be of service. We are interested in hearing more from readers regarding the pros and cons of saildrives for a forthcoming article.


Vanishing Marinas
I just thought I would address a major problem we have here in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area. We are losing marinas to developers as fast as they can find them. In the last few years, we have lost some of the biggest marinas (Bahia Beach Marina and Imperial Yacht) to developers for condos. These condos are not the average condo; they are so expensive that most citizens can’t afford them to get a slip. Our county and even state officials only see the bucks. They don’t see the average citizen not being able to enjoy the water in the near future. Most of these marinas have boat ramps that once were available to the public also. Those are history now.

This week I learned that my marina—with approximately 40 wet slips—and an adjacent four-story office building is being sold to condo developers. Where are we to go?

I have been in the market to paint the bottom of my boat. I have only found two boatyard marinas that can do it in the Tampa Bay area. Only one is on the Tampa side. Mariners here are in trouble. I don’t think the average citizen is aware of this problem. I hear this is happening in other areas of the U.S. as well.

Dennis Brook
Tampa Bay, Fla.


DIY Throw Bag
I found the material on throw bags in last month’s issue of great interest since I saw an alternative method at the last D/22 Spring Conference in the Safety Roundtable. The demonstration used a two-liter plastic bottle, a discarded softball (they float), and some line.

The line was attached to the soft ball and all was put into the 2 liter bottle—which had been cut in half—with the end of the line sticking out the neck of the bottle. The bottle was then taped back together to make a single unit. You hold the line and then throw the bottle underhand toward the person in the water.

The line comes out of the bottle through the neck as the soft ball provides the “weight.” It is an interesting, and inexpensive, alternative to the throw bags that you tested.

C. Henry Depew
Sisu 26
Tallahassee, Fla.


Radar Reflections
I disagree with your conclusion that mast mounting of a radar scanner is the best solution. Unless you are going whole hog with a backstay mount with gimbals (most of which cost as much as the radar itself), a stern pole mount is the obvious way to go. When I installed radar on my own boat (a 40-foot Jeanneau), I called the Raymarine tech people who told me not to consider anything else.

First, the height differential between mast and pole mounting is inconsequential in performance. But second, the most important thing you did not mention is servicing the system: With a pole it is a pain in the butt, but with a mast mounting it is a nightmare. In the four years I have had my Raymarine system, I have had it apart three times—twice during commissioning and trials and once in Maine fog when I actually needed radar, as opposed to having it as another toy.

There are three components to the system that have to be checked if the system fails: the control head, the scanner, and the cable. Have you tried to thread a system cable from the control to the scanner, up through the coachroof and mast? Forget it!

After checking the control head and then the scanner, it only left the cable as a possibility. Surprise, that is what it was, or some part of the crazy 16-pin connection that they have into the scanner. As it was, diagnosing and fixing the fault took hours for one person as opposed to maybe a day or two for two people, one in a bosun’s chair.

For a pole support, go to a local aluminum fabricator with an old section of Laser mast or aluminum alloy equivalent. For $200, they will weld the pole to a mounting plate for the scanner and give you a pivoted spigot for the bottom end. Depending on the application, you can stabilize the pole with thin Kevlar line laterally and an aluminum tubular brace or pushpit connection fore-and-aft.

Geoffrey Smyth
Jeanneau 40, Solent
Tiverton, R.I.


In Depth
I am looking at your web review of small plotter/sounder units. I will have to point out the obvious: Most sailboats do not need fishfinders. They do, however, need depth sounders.

I have looked at these combo units at various boating stores. The one thing that the ones I viewed had in common was either a GPS screen or fishfinder screen, or in some cases both but with a split screen. Perhaps I missed something, but one would think that the GPS screen, which seems to accommodate 6 or 8 items on view at all times would have a simple depth window.

Combining both functions in a single unit is attractive as long as depth is continually on view. Seeing bottom contours is sometimes useful, but not too often. I have a Garmin 88C on an Albin 27 powerboat. I find that your publication is quite useful even now that I have sold my old trusty sailboat.

Gordon Brewer
Albin 27, Caprice IV
Corner Brook, NL, Canada

As we stated in the articles on plotter/sounders in the April and June 2006 issues, most of the plotter/sounders we tested can show the depth (and, usually, other nav data) in digits that can be read from at least 5 feet away. The digital depth reading is often overlayed on the plotter/sounder’s graphic display, or you can select the unit’s “databox” view to simply see a digital readout of depth along with other nav data. Our top picks in each test group excelled in this feature.


Western Insurance
I was surprised that BOATU.S. did not reply with a Northwest quote for your recent article on marine insurance (May 2006). I have carried their insurance on my San Juan 28 since 1996 and have been satisfied. I’ve submitted two claims over that time frame, one covering a break-in and the other a dinghy theft. I was satisfied with the settlement and their service in both cases.

My biggest objection is the policy’s stated coverage area: “U.S. Pacific Coast Waters: Pacific coastal and inland waters tributary thereto of the U.S. and Canada between Cape Scott, Vancouver Island, and Point Banda, Mexico.” This doesn’t cover the popular Inside Passage to Alaska and connecting waterways, which from my experience, I would consider a safer area than the west coast of Vancouver Island, Washington, and Oregon—better known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” These East-Coasters need to make the cruise to understand that there are many beautiful places to hide in bad weather. As always, listen to the forecasted weather and use good judgment and you’ll be OK.

Mike Hirko
NOLHI, San Juan 28
Gig Harbor, Wash.


Isocyanate Sense
Responding to Jarred Swalwell’s query in the June issue regarding the safety of isocyanates in two-part paints like Perfection, I can say that at International Paints we take great pride in providing products that are safe for our customers to use, and we are constantly reviewing current products and raw materials to make them safer.

Respirators should be used any time you apply marine paints. I use a 3M 5206 Dual Cartridge Respirator, which sells in marine chandleries and hardware stores. This respirator will last long enough to be able to put on all the coats of primer to complete the paint job on your boat. It works extremely well when brushing and rolling.

Finishes containing isocyanates will last longer than one-part marine enamels. The amount of isocyanates in a two-part polyurethane like Perfection is very small, and if you are wearing a respirator and gloves as described on the label (always read the safety label) it would be difficult to come in contact with when brushing and rolling. During spraying, it is the atomization that requires professional applicators to wear the appropriate safety equipment. Spraying of two-part polyurethanes requires a respirator with an outside air supply.

Surface contamination is difficult to control when working outside. Paint when winds are calm, and wet down the surrounding area to minimize dust. When working inside, clean the shop before applying the finish and wet down the floor if possible. Fish-eye is usually caused by contamination from sources such as oil, grease, wax, or silicone, and can be controlled by carefully cleaning the surface and the tools.

Jim Seidel
International Paint


...Where Credit Is Due

Harken Gloves
I purchased a pair of Harken sailing gloves last November. I was not happy with the way they wore and e-mailed Harken with my complaint. Within the day, I received an e-mail from Mauri Pro Sailing asking the brand, size, etc. Within two days, I received a new pair of gloves from Harken! You can’t ask for more prompt or fair service than that!

Ed Cass
Punta Gorda, Fla.

Black Magic
There is a product that was not included in your test of black streak cleaners in the May issue, Capt. Chomp’s Black Streak Remover, which I discovered last summer. It is truly a “spray on and wipe off” product that tackles those miserable, stubborn black streaks that defied everything else. It doesn’t seem to be noxious to skin or boat parts, either. It was so effective I used up a fair portion of the bottle amazing other owners and the staff in the boatyard. It is available at

Pete Tollini
West River, Md.

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