In Praise of Saildrives
In Praise of Saildrives
We have never had the corrosion problem described. Our boat is in the Seattle area in salt water. I installed a ground-breaking switch from the batteries to the engine, back when we brought the boat from fresh water to salt water. We always turn this switch off when we are at the dock and even when we are at anchor. It has never had a problem.
I would submit that this is what left us trouble-free and also think it would alleviate corrosion problems on many types of boats. We have also taken the boat to Hawaii, twice, and the boat performed perfectly. Our last trip, the roughest, took us through a handful of tough weather days including one period of 55-knot winds not far off the coast on our return. We hove-to and waited out the storm then continued on into Neah Bay to rest up for the remainder of the trip inland. Never once did I worry about the saildrive or the boat’s ability to hold up. I am very pleased with the saildrive and the dry engine room. So pleased, that I recently purchased a new D-30 with saildrive when we repowered. I am a fan of saildrives and Niagara. Sorry the company did not survive. We would have enjoyed moving up with the same manufacturer. Our boat is built very well, and after 43,000 miles, we are still enjoying it.
Charmante, Niagara 35
Small Boat Hunting
I’m wondering if you might have a short list of suggestions. So far, I haven’t had much luck finding a site on the Internet that lays out all the available options.
Given your penchant for fishing, you might start by looking at sailing dinghies, which are more versatile than your mainstream daysailer. Two classics come to mind immediately: the 10-foot Dyer Dink designed by Phillip Rhodes Sr. and still built by Dyer (www.dyerboats.com) in Portsmouth, R.I.; and the Shellback designed by Joel White. Both are light, fun to sail, and row well. (You might not even want the motor.) Most small wooden boat boatbuilders will build the Shellback for you, though the price is steep. Alternatively, you could buy the plans from the Woodenboat Store in Brooklin, Maine, (www.woodenboatstore.com) for $75 and take it on as a summer project. At the other end of the price and aesthetic spectrum is the Walker Bay with a sailing rig (www.walkerbay.com). This rugged little boat is virtually maintenance free. We also welcome any suggestions from our readers on this subject.
Gimballed Butane Stove
We’ve been very happy with it. As you point out in your recent review of these stoves (July 2006), the heat output and flame control on these stoves are big pluses. Our’s has a lift-out burner tray, and I bought a pot retainer ring from Glo-Mate. I spent about $50 on the whole setup. Our boat is a 1977 Pearson 28 originally equipped, of course, with a two-burner pressurized alcohol stove. My setup fits in that space.
I have installed it on a pivoting frame, so the stove gimbals fore and aft, as well as athwartships. I used an ordinary plastic cutting board for the mounting platform and readily available hardware for installation. Scuba diving weights fixed to the bottom of the stove provide the necessary ballast. Finding the proper location to secure the weights for perfect balance was one of the most difficult challenges and required a lot of trial and error.
Miss Bohicket, Pearson 28
The biggest challenge is finding a bright, sunlight-viewable display to place away from the computer so it can be seen by the helmsman.
This whole area of computers for less than large yachts (with large prices) is a mass of conflicting information. Thanks for tackling this issue.
PS also had a hard time finding an affordable display suited for marine duty. In a future issue, we intend to explore this subject in greater depth.
I was appalled to learn how many of these little beasties are lost overboard. Many do not sink immediately, but drift around, waiting for a nice plastic hull to interact with.
I have seen boats with forward-looking sounders, but the pattern they display does not seem to cover these hazards, at least not at a sufficient range to allow avoidance maneuvers.
Are there such devices, and is it worth a review?
These forward-looking sonars only recently have made inroads into the recreational market. Two companies, Interphase (www.interphase-tech.com) and Pilot Marine Associates (www.pilotmarine.com), offer these units at prices ranging from $900 to $3,000. We have one contributor in the field with an Interphase unit, and he reports that it is best used for creeping into poorly charted areas. He wouldn’t rely on it to avoid shipping containers.
I was wondering whether anyone has ever heard of, seen, used, or evaluated a "Waterlog" towed watermaker (www.yachtwatermaker.com)? A few years ago, I saw one advertised somewhere. It seems to be UK-based and operates like a towed generator, but makes water and has an electrical plug-in possibility when sitting still. It seems to be an interesting idea, and it would not need to be "installed." I have never seen it mentioned in PS or other sailing magazines (except wherever it was that I saw that ad), and would be interested in any experience anyone has had.
Stay tuned. We’ll order one for testing. If any readers have given it a whirl, we’d like to hear their feedback. At first glance, it seems like an awfully pricey piece of machinery to set dragging from your stern.
Radar and Lightning
I am writing in hopes that you can spare some of your readers the expensive lesson I have just learned. In 1997, I purchased a Raytheon 2kW Pathfinder radar, which, at the time, was touted as being state-of-the art technology. As mine was one of the first production units, I had some problems when I installed it in the spring of 1998. However, after these difficulties were resolved, it served me well over thousands of miles.
Last summer, while cruising in Croatia, we experienced a severe thunderstorm. Fortunately, our 35-foot sloop was not struck. However, several days later when I turned on the radar, the display showed a "SCANNER NOT RESPONDING" error message. Apparently, the radar had been damaged by the storm, although none of the other electronics on board were affected by the lightning, and there was no physical evidence of a lightning strike on the boat.
When I returned home in September, I sent the radar to the Raymarine repair facility in Merrimack, N.H. Their inspection confirmed that circuitry in both components was damaged, apparently by nearby lightning. Raymarine has a flat-rate repair policy, $300 for the display and $500 for the radome. The repair invoice indicated that an "earthing" kit had also been installed in the scanner unit.
Interestingly, the introduction to the "earthing" kit instructions states, in bold letters: "It is very important to check the scanner unit when replacing the IF or CPU PCB and to install the appropriate earthing kit...Failure to do so may invalidate the warranty on the spare PCB."
Based on information I have obtained from Raymarine, none of the Pathfinder model radars built between 1997 and November 2001, and sold under the name of Raytheon, Autohelm, and Raymarine, had grounding provision, and were therefore vulnerable to damage from nearby lightning. Units built after November 2001 had a grounding clamp that connected the shield of the inter-unit cable to a scanner mounting bolt, and their installation instructions do address the need for proper grounding of the radar.
When I purchased my radar in 1997, I duly registered my unit using the warranty postcard provided in the instruction manual. What I do not understand is why the manufacturer, after the need for proper radar grounding was recognized, never notified registered owners of the earlier model radars about the vulnerability of their units to lightning damage and of the availability of the inexpensive grounding clamp, which would reduce this vulnerability. I am certain that most owners would gladly pay a few dollars for this protection rather than having to pay $800 for repairs after their unit was damaged by lightning.
I did, however, just discover what I consider to be a problem with the Navionics charts that may be of interest. I found out from Navionics that their charts will be destroyed if the card is installed in a PC card reader (or so they say and I’m unwilling to try it). The only exception is the card reader supplied with Navionics’ own NavPlanner software, which, by the way, is not available.
Having been in the software business, I certainly understand the desire for copy protection for the product, but this seems to be extreme. It seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to be able to use the charts in a PC-based planning package and also on-board in my Raymarine C80.
It appears that the manufacturers are having trouble keeping up with demand for the card reader you need. At press time, we had not yet heard from Navionics, but Raymarine was expecting the imminent shipment of the Navionics multi-card reader, part No. E86026 (approximately $75), which will allow you to store waypoints and routes to a compact flash card. These waypoints and routes can then be imported to your PC. You can carry out planning with the free Raytech Planner Series software, (downloaded at www.raymarine.com) or its full navigation suite, RaytechRNS 6.0. The waypoints and routes entered on your PC can then be transferred back to the C80 using your card. If you want the reader, call Raymarine customer service direct to order it at 603-881-5200. The part is not available via the website.
We do not expect that attempting to read a Navionics card in the wrong card reader will damage the card, but why risk it? Raymarine did not recommend writing to the card. Nor have we tried using a low level copy routine such as Linux dd or Casper to back up a Navionics card. Navionics’ license does not permit such a backup. This is a shame, since an archival backup is in the best interest of mariners. If the card was placed near a strong electromagnetic pulse, or physically damaged, its contents might become lost or inaccessible. That could be a scary proposition for a cruiser whose safety may depend on the charts stored on this card.
Stainless vs. Bronze
There are several reasons the manufacturers use zinc, including its pressure tightness, viscosity (ability to be poured), workability, ability to be machined, and cost.
The bottom line is that not even mighty bronze is impervious to the vagaries of life in a boat’s bilge. BoatU.S. Marine Insurance has had several claims for bronze fittings that failed as a result of stray DC current in the bilge. Boats have sunk when bronze fittings crumbled.
Fittings typically give a warning: a pinkish hue that indicates it is losing its zinc. The fitting must be replaced and the source of problem found and corrected.
BoatU.S. Marine Insurance
... Where Credit Is Due
While preparing for boating season, I found my Waeco/Adler-Barbour refrigeration not functional. I contacted Waeco (www.waecousa.com/), which was very helpful with tests. I ended up sending the unit in for repair, expecting several weeks’ wait and a hefty bill.
Kudos for Waeco
Surprise! A few short days later, the unit was repaired and returned—at no charge, even though it was well out of warranty. Now there is a company that backs up its product.
In August 2005, I purchased (through e-Bay) a Freedom Marine 25 Inverter. It was shipped from Sail Tech out of Kemah, Texas, and arrived at the end of the month. It sat on my back porch, in Silver Spring, Md., for approximately three weeks until I took it to the boatyard where it was going to be installed. Near the end of September, the boatyard called and told me that when they opened the box, they found that the inverter was damaged to the extent that it could not be used. I called Sail Tech and spoke with David Covert, who advised me to contact the delivery/shipping company to put in a claim for damages. Over the next couple of months, I spoke with Mr. Covert on a weekly basis as he and his staff negotiated with the shipping company as to replacing the damaged inverter. Finally, on Dec. 20, Mr. Covert informed me that the shipping company was sending him a check for the full amount and that he would send another unit, at no charge, that should arrive before Christmas. It did, and this time, it was in perfect shape.
Thanks to Sail Tech
Mr. Covert and the staff at Sail Tech (www.sailtechmarine.com/) were always courteous and helpful. I highly recommend them as they stand behind their sales.
Ira N. Brecher
Silver Spring, Md.
Weems & Plath Quality
I read about SeaDek, a stick-on, non-skid material made of closed cell foam (www.seadek.com/) in Practical Sailor, and decided to give it a try on the cockpit seats of my Waterline 38. While placing my order online, I was shocked at the quoted UPS shipping cost: more than $40 for two lightweight pieces of material.
Living in Alaska, I expect high shipping costs, but this was crazy, and that’s what I told employee Chuck Yates in an e-mail. The very next morning, Chuck replied, agreeing that $40 was excessive. He said he did some checking and found that the same two pieces could be shipped via priority mail for half the cost. I called Chuck and placed the order.
While the jury is still out on whether panels from the Florida company will survive an Alaskan winter, if the product is half as good as the company’s service, it’s got to be good.