Mailport February 2007 Issue

Mailport: 02/07

Outboard Woes

I am writing in reference to the article "Dinghy Engines," which appeared in the December 2006 issue. As a longtime subscriber, I read the article with interest, anticipating your usual thorough job of analysis and critical insight. I realized, however, that nowhere in the article does your analysis address how robust the

Norwalk Islands Sharpie
Reader Rick Wrightís lovely Norwalk Islands Sharpie was once owned by its famous designer, Bruce Kirby, whose creations range from the ultra-popular Laser to 12-meter Americaís Cup challengers Canada I and Canada II. For more information on Kirbyís sharpies, check out
cooling systems are in the engines you tested.

I think it would be very helpful to your readers if you devised a measurement of this aspect of outboard motor design. Perhaps the amount of "through-put" of cooling water during a fixed time period would be useful.

My suggestion is based on my own unhappy experience with my 2001 8-horsepower Yamaha outboard (model 8MSHZ), which I currently use as an auxiliary for my 26-foot Norwalk Islands Sharpie.

The Chesapeake Bay contains a high level of organic matter dissolved in the water. As this rich organic soup is pulled into the tiny capillary-sized labyrinth of the Yamahaís cooling system, the organic matter is heated and then precipitates out of suspension and is subsequently free to clog cooling passages, the thermostat, water outlet, etc. During the last sail of the season, I was literally upside down with my head in the engine well, simultaneously trying to stay within a narrow channel and use my homemade, bent-coat-hanger probe to dislodge yet another blockage from the Yamahaís cooling system.

Just then, a sailing buddy passed going the opposite direction with a new, similar-sized Honda outboard on the stern of his boat. As my fingers holding the probe were being parboiled by a dribble of scalding water from the rapidly overheating Yamaha, I couldnít help but notice the veritable waterfall of cooling water cascading from my buddyís Honda.

Rick Wright

Annie, NIS 26 #001

Davis Creek, Md.

Thanks, Rick. It sounds like Bruce Kirbyís Annie is in good hands. Weíll take a closer

The Cap'n
The dated interface of The Capín turned testers off.
look at this subject in our test of 9.9-hp outboards soon. Without seeing the engine, we suspect some other issues may be causing or exacerbating your problem. Historically, lazarette-bound outboards are starved for oxygen and a cool breeze. We would try running the engine with the lid open to see if that helps.

The Capín lives?

In one of the last few issues, Practical Sailor wrote that the software for "The Capín" was discontinued. I just received a catalog from Captain Jack advertising "The Capín" and updates. What gives?

Tony Pizzuti

Blanca Luna, Pearson 385

Galveston Bay, Texas

Since our report, Maptech, the new owners of The Capín, have apparently reversed course. According to Maptech, due to "popular demand" and delays in the release of the new Capín Integra, the company is going to continue to sell and support the The Capín Version 8.3. This software earned the worst rating in our review of navigation software. Unless youíre a Capín fan, either Maptech Chart Navigator Pro or Rose Point Navigationís Coastal Explorer are better choices.

Child harness

Crewsaver Venturer Childís Harness
Roan (left) and Alec Morwood-Portoles clip into the family Catana 48 with the Crewsaver Venturer Childís Harness.
As a follow-up to your article on harnesses (December 2006), Iíd like to let readers who are looking for a childís harness know that there actually is a good alternative to the West Marine childís harness. This is the Crewsaver Venturer Childís Harness, available through Landfall Navigation ( The Crewsaver harness is well made, with a standard D ring for attaching a tether, which makes it possible to use normal tethers with a clip on each end. It has patches to prevent the straps from twisting and simple, secure adjustment buckles.

We always rig the jacklines when sailing on our catamaran, and leave a tether attached to each jackline so that our 5-year-old twins can clip on whenever they leave the cockpit. Being able to clip/unclip the tether easily makes it easy for them to leave the harnesses on all day. We initially tried the West Marine childís harness, but found its design did not work well for us we wanted a harness with the features you would look for in an adult harness, but sized to fit a child. The Crewsaver harness fit the bill. Crewsaver has some nice products, but unfortunately many of them do not get to the U.S. Iíd really like to take a look at their junior combined Harness and Inflatable PFDs for kids (

Mark Morwood

Catana 48

Bedford, Mass.

Crewsaver scored well in our inflatable PFD test ("Inflatable PFD Test," October 1, 2004). Unfortunately, the lack of universally accepted standards for recreational safety gear can prevent or delay the U.S.-introduction of some very good equipment that is readily available in other countries.

miracle cloth believer

I used the Miracle Cloth ("Metal Cleaners" winner, June 2006) to get after some ugly rust spotting on my dodger and bimini tubing took it off in a jiffy. Easy, quick, no mess, and I get to use it again, all for about $7. Iím totally happy. Good recommendation. I couldnít find one locally, but it was easy to order online (

Phillip Reid

1977 Pearson 28

Wilmington, N.C.

AIS update, please

AIS is a godsend to cruisers crossing shipping lanes. Unfortunately, the sailing press is lagging in useful info on the availability and suitability of low-cost AIS receivers.

So far, the NASA AIS Radar system has been worth every penny ($450, Here, the unit aboard contributor Scott Rosenthalís boat picks up the signal from the Queen Mary at anchor.
Could you please do an article and possible review of the Chinese-made Smart Radio SR161 and SR162 and the English-made NASA AIS "Engine" and AIS "Radar" (both are sold in the U.S. under Sitex brand and available at The SR161 is available from Milltech of Seattle for $185, and at that price, it should be on many cruising boats...if it works.

Jerry and Nancy Wertzbaugher

Via e-mail

We recently tested NASAís stand-alone Automatic Identification System (AIS) during a sea trial from New England to Nova Scotia. Look for the upcoming report this spring.

Anchoring in MUD

Beautiful Scrollwork
The beautiful scrollwork on John and Linda Sloanís Tayana 37 Early Liberty reflects the long-running debate among cruisers: When does wood on boats become impractical? Or does it ever?
I always enjoy your anchoring articles and quote from them often during my anchoring lectures at boat shows. This time, I must comment. (I performed anchoring tests for Fortress when they first came out, and much of my research material is still used by them. That test spanned two years and covered 300 completely different anchoring incidents at locations starting in Newport, R.I., down the East Coast of the United States, and at many islands in the Bahamas.)

I note that in your test, you had considerably heavy chain that appears to be either 5/16 or even 3/8 in the photo and more than six feet in length. Again, I implore all Fortress users and especially the testers, to RTFM (read the fine manual). If the factory recommendations and my own proofs were followed, you would have had quite different results from your test. You cannot use chain in those circumstances and the greater initial scope you try, the worse the problem becomes. The cantenary in the chain simply makes a groove in the mud, the shank is quite blade-like, and the moment tension is put on the rode, especially if there is considerable scope, the sharp-edged shank follows and dips below the points of the flukes. The then-upward facing flukes make the anchor plane on top of the mud. You could pull it forever in that mode and never get it to set. I have personally rescued several people from predicaments of this type, notably up Spa Creek in Annapolis, Md., where there is just slimy ooze that has been building for generations. Unshackle the chain, and the anchor works well and holds far better than most.

Fortress Anchor
Using mud palms and an all-nylon rode with a Fortress anchor improves its performance in mud.
I also noted to Fortress that the reason they came out with the "mud palms" was really because people were not following directions and pre-loading the shank with too much weight. There is little reason for using chain in mud.

Charles E. Kanter
Marine surveyor

We spoke with the folks at Fortress anchors, who applauded your research in this matter. They also pointed out that the addition of mud palms a set of plates that bolt onto the crown of the anchor have improved the Fortress anchorís ability to set in all bottoms, particularly in mud, where the palms keep the anchor from "planing" as you describe. Although Practical Sailor wonít deny that shorter scope, and/or an all-nylon rode might improve an anchorís ability to set and hold in some unusual circumstances, given the myriad bottoms (not to mention, underwater junk) that a sailor may encounter and our long history with anchor testing, we still believe a sensible working ground tackle arrangement will include adequate scope (at least 5:1 where swinging room permits) and an appropriately sized chain leader or chain rode. Then again, whatís right is what works, and you seem to have found a formidable solution to the anchoring problems in Spa Creek.

tayana rebuttal

As the proud belay that, extremely proud owners of a classic 1984 Tayana 37, we take umbrage at the comment in the December 2006 "Boat Review" that the Tayana 37 "will likely be the laggard in this group." Early Liberty rides the seas like a sprite, and does her fair share of arriving on time and under budget.

Another small nit-pick is the mention that the woodwork requires more maintenance. If your home is made of wood, then it requires the maintenance necessary to keep it "shipshape." Any structure will deteriorate if not properly maintained. Wood is a classic material, and the joinery and craftsmanship of fine materials make a world of difference in whether you have a showcase or a bookcase. The esthetics of a fine teak interior versus sterile white fiberglass can hold no comparison. Good wood wins out every time in our minds.

Besides, who really wants to come home to a sterile environment of white when you can bask in the golden glow of a finely crafted saloon. Have you ever heard of a fiberglass living room in a log cabin?

John and Linda Sloan

Early Liberty, Tayana 37

0ur testersí comments regarding relative performance of the Tayana 37 were in no way meant to detract from the many great attributes of one of Bob Perryís most popular designs. It remains one of the most affordable long-range cruising boats on the market today. Several readers remarked about our testersí comments on interior woodwork. To clarify, wood makes for a beautiful interior, but it can be taken to extremes. For long-term cruising, the hassles of having varnished wood in areas that see a lot of water and hard use wood countertops and fiddles in the galley or head, for example outweigh the aesthetic advantages, in our opinion.

Wichard hooks

In your January 2007 article on safety tethers, your comment "The Wichard hook takes some practice and a strong grip to use quickly," has to be one of the yearís greater understatements. Try it with cold hands, gloves, in the dark, or when you are just plain tired. You wonít be moving back to safety very quickly. Wichardís legal department may love the engineering, but for my money and my safety, the Wichard is too heavy and too hard to use.

I look forward to your test of the Kong Tango snap hook. If it is really "light" and "easy to open," we may be able to avoid the choice between getting multiple face-fulls of water trying to open the darn Wichard, and worrying about an accidental opening of a regular snap hook.

Bob Heaney

Catalina 36

Annapolis, Md.

We agree that the Wichard hook requires far too much effort to open and close. The only one in our test that was more difficult for gloved hands was the screw-lock style mountaineering carabiner.

keep water out

I read your response to a query on cleaning fuel tanks ("PS Advisor," November 2006). I concur wholeheartedly with what was presented. However, in early 2002 ("Deck-Fill Fuel Filters," Nov. 15, 2002), I wrote about additives, etc., and made the point that keeping water out of the tank was much more important than methods to remove the water and sludge. I saw no mention in your response that the fuel fill O-ring is a vital part of keeping water out. To me, it is vital to anyone with a fuel tank. I hope it is still remembered at Practical Sailor.

Gordon Torresen

Torresen Marine

GPS Reflections

The November 2006 article about handheld GPS devices hits the nail on the head in

Garmin 76
Unless youíre captivated by color, the $200 Garmin 76 offers more features than an average coastal sailor will need.
the review of the West Marine 76 CS when it commends the trend toward less memory reserved for chart data and using it for more practical features.

This summer, my dependable Garmin GPSMAP 175 was starting to act up and would require a $150 tune up from Garmin. I then started using the old GPS 75 after several years of it living onboard as a backup and found that it met my needs perfectly. With its keyboard of dedicated buttons for every digit and easy access to every letter, entering waypoints without computer support at home was easy, quick, and dependable. The screen is large enough so that data is very readable without having to dedicate space for charts. The plotting function shows the track relative to any nearby waypoints and gives the same record as the chartplotter for computing tacking angles, man-overboard maneuvers, and tracking such things as whales or fish schools. Acquisition time is a little longer with the older eight-channel units than the newer 12-channel units, but in practice it is a relatively small difference. Once the older unit locks in, it retains the signal just as well as the others, as it is usually in the clear anywhere on coastal waters. The GPS 75 has all the marine features that you point out in the current article as necessary for a primary marine GPS. I also found out that the GPS 75 local helical antenna works better in the pilothouse than the GPSMAP 175 using its local patch-style antenna. Both units received about the same signal strength with the remote external antenna connected.

I would like to take [your testerís comments] a little further and say that the newer units with charting capability are really not worth the money, when the high cost of the charts themselves are anything but practical for most of us sailors. When you eliminate the charts, then you can also eliminate the color and expensive screens. Maybe your reviews of these devices in the future could reveal the true costs of the electronic media when long cruises are contemplated.

Fred Wales

Manchester, Mass.

Cutter Tupilak

Onboard computing

I was pleased to see Practical Sailorís series on marine computers as I now find my onboard laptop invaluable for navigation, e-mail, and weather. Unless I missed it in your comparison of laptops to custom desktops, however, I see one other big advantage of the laptop. You can carry it home and use your high-speed internet connection to quickly download all the updates. To do this on your boat, you will need Wi-Fi. My wife and I spent last winter on our boat in the Caribbean and then sailed to Bermuda and Newport, R.I. We were able to pick up unsecured Wi-Fi in virtually every major harbor. Also, a review of antennas and different PC cards would be useful.

Jim Maye

Oyster 56

Coral Gables, Fla.

While we round up some Wi-Fi antennas, weíd love to get some field reports from those out there using them this winter.

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