Mailport April 2008 Issue

Mailport: 04/08

Viva the Morgan 30

Reading this article ("30s from the ’70s," February 2008), I could not believe the shameless omission of the Morgan 30, which was built from the 1960s well into the mid-70s. I own a 1976 model.

The Morgan is one of the best 30-footers of this era and competes favorably with the Tartan and Pearson, both in sailing characteristics and value. To my eye, it’s prettier than both of them, and for some areas of the world, the centerboard is a real plus. If you had judged it did not make the top three, I would have disagreed

1970 Morgan 30
Reader Dr. Ray Mummery runs homeward in South Biscayne Bay, Fla., aboard Wave Dancer, his 1970 Morgan 30.
but understood, but to not even include it in the list of boats, several of which it easily outsails, is shocking.

I can’t recall Practical Sailor doing a used boat review on the Morgan 30 in all the years I’ve been reading your publication. Any reason for the blind spot?

Bill Adams
Morgan 30
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Fear not. The Morgan 30 was not rejected. It simply did not fit the mold—so to speak—of the fin-keel boats spotlighted in that article. The Morgan 30 will be reviewed separately in a used boat test this year. If it is to be included later in a group survey, it will likely be among peers with more similar design characteristics from approximately the same era. Some other favorites (see letters below) were also excluded for similar reasons, and we hope, in time, to get to them as well. The well of lovely old classics never runs dry, it seems—nor does the fount of their owners’ pride!

And the Islander 30?

I loved the article about the 30-footers from the ’70s (February 2008). The subtitle was especially appropriate: from the "age of plaid interiors." (I can hear Bachman Turner Overdrive now!) It’s great to read, and dream, about the new boats, but they usually carry the price tag of a house.

I’m sure you’ll hear the "What about the ….?" So I would say, what about the Islander 30? It seems to fit your criteria. I own an Islander 28, which feels to me like a 30 with its 10-foot beam. It has the basic criteria you mentioned, and which I wanted: standing headroom (5’10"), a real head, galley, berths for four or five, and inboard diesel power. My Islander is a 1977, and I paid $9,000 for it. One thing I really like about it is its construction. It is also nice to sail, with a balanced helm and the ability to take San Francisco Bay’s 25-knot winds without much fuss.

It’s sturdy, attractive, good interior, a good value, and there’s enough of them to get info and help for.

Brian Forster
No Agenda, Islander 28
Loch Lomond (San Rafael), Calif.

And The Sabre 30?

I just received my February issue of Practical Sailor. As always, I find it to be the most instructive and useful of all of the sailing publications to which I subscribe, and I subscribe to quite a few.

That being said, when I saw that the cover article was about 30-foot classics, I immediately looked for my own, a Sabre 30 MkIII. Alas, not to be found.

I often wonder why I never see the Sabre 30 featured in any sailing publications. It is a remarkable production boat, well constructed, seaworthy, and relatively fast,

Hamilton’s New Zealand-built Cavalier 39
Think reader Tom Hamilton’s New Zealand-built Cavalier 39 looks stout from the outside? You should see the toilet-paper holder.
even by today’s standards. I know I’ve sailed many an enjoyable and safe passage, even in lousy weather, without ever feeling she was not up to the task. I would love to see the Sabre 30 get a little attention some day.

Bob Thomas
Sabre 30
Ridgefield, Conn.

One Tough TP-Holder

Regarding your request for tough fiberglass boats, I’d like to nominate the Cavalier 39. Built in Auckland, New Zealand, there are approximately 10 here in California. The boat was designed in 1967 by Bob Salthouse, and the first fiberglass hull was built in 1973. It was last produced around 1990. Over 60 hulls were built, and approximately 15 were sent to the U.S., according to Boating New Zealand magazine.

It is 39-feet length overall and displaces 18,700 pounds. Its beam is 11 feet, 6 inches. It is stick-built (no pans) with two watertight bulkheads and has a heavy aluminum toerail screwed down on both sides and an oversized stainless stem fitting/double anchor roller. The hull-to-deck joint is glued, through-bolted on 6-inch centers, and fiberglassed. We have hull core samples of 1-inch solid glass near the trailing edge of keel (for keel cooler) and ¾-inch near the front of the keel (for depth sounder). There is heavy glass tabbing on all sides of the bulkheads. And best of all, the toilet paper holder is attached with adhesive and four large sheet-metal screws. Perhaps that Kiwi TP is some heavy stuff?

Tom Hamilton
Desire, Cavalier 39 Hull No. 57
San Pedro, Calif.

Gone Coastal

I am the owner of TomCat 9.7 Hull No. 1, and I worked closely with the designer on its production. I agree with your view regarding "coastal cruisers" (Mailport, December 2007), but might add another dimension to the discussion.

Cruising sailors live aboard their boats. But, every amenity that is added to a vessel increases the weight and impacts performance and onboard livability. My criteria were that the design should allow four adults to live aboard for seven days without having to return to port, and to be able to travel under motor alone between 150-200 miles. Criteria such as these determine the capacities of freshwater tanks, holding tanks, and fuel tanks. It is adequate, as you indicate, for "short offshore passages and island hopping." One could increase the tankage, but that would increase weight and decrease storage space for other items (food, etc.). Yes, all sorts of craft have made ocean passages, but the risk and comfort levels vary considerably.

I’ve subscribed to your magazine for some time now, and find that it provides sailors the best information available on the market. I’d love to hear more about electric boats. Two TomCat 9.7 owners have been considering this modification to their boats, but more practical information is needed. I’m also very much looking forward to your reviews of tank sensors.

Ted King
TomCat 9.7
Lake Ontario, Canada

Our long-overdue report on electric propulsion and Part 2 of our report on holding tank sensors are scheduled for this summer. An in-depth look at the pros and cons of modern cruising catamarans is also in the offing.

Dutchman System

The article on mainsail handling systems was most interesting ("Taming the Main," February 2008). The Dutchman system was installed on a C&C 29-II when I bought it several years ago, and I loved the way it worked, particularly singlehanding. The first problem I noticed was that the main was rotting around the patches where the Dacron lines passed through the sail. Admittedly, it was an old sail, but the rest

The Dutchman
The Dutchman requires slide spacing of 30-36 inches for optimal performance.
was in good shape. Several sailmakers told me that this was a common problem.

Nothing I could do to the cover avoided this issue, and it was the one big disadvantage of the system that caused me to go back to basics with my Dufour 35. Perhaps a modification using patches around the line entries would be the way to go.

Michael Horton
Dufour Classic 35

From Martin Van Breems, designer of the Dutchman: "It sounds like the sail-cover opening was not a slit, but a circular opening, which is not good. UV will ‘rot’ sails; moisture will not. However, boats in marinas with high air pollution will experience dirt running down the Dutchman lines (and everything else). This can leave marks on the sail. One solution is to add 6- to 8-inch-diameter discs of neoprene (i.e. wetsuit material) with a slit in them loosely laced to the cover. These discs shed most of the water/dirt onto the cover. Of course, with a rigid vang and the A system (adjustable topping-lift), a simpler solution is to simply lower the topping lift and Dutchman lines and store below the cover."

Dutchman Woes

I disagree strongly with your conclusions regarding the Dutchman sail-handling system (February 2008). I sailed with a Dutchman for four years and switched to a lazy jack system at the beginning of last season. Every time I raise and lower the mainsail, I thank the wind gods for giving me a replacement to the Dutchman. The Dutchman is extremely frustrating when lowering sail in any breeze that is not dead ahead. The large folds blow to the side and become difficult to handle. The same and worse apply to reefing.

Other than being careful not to catch a batten on the way up, the lazy jack system is wonderful. The sail is nicely contained on the boom and easy to wrap reefing ties around or to simply hold the sail until anchored or moored, and the lines pulled back for the sail cover.

Rick McCowan
Breezes, Sabre 402
Mattapoisett, Mass.

Reader Jim Hatch reported similar problems with the sail flaking aboard his Bristol 35.5. Dutchman designer Martin Van Breems responds: "It sounds like the sail is blowing off the boom, which means either the topping lift clamps are too low, or the lines are too loose. An easy way to tell if the system is correctly adjusted is to look under the sail. The tabs that the control lines attach to should be above the top of the boom, with the sail hanging off the control lines. It is critical to adjust the topping lift clamp position first, by checking from two to three boat lengths away. The control lines should then be adjusted so they are just slack with the topping lift, halyard, and sheet tight. The topping lift should then be eased off, and secured for the season.

"With regards to the large folds: Slide spacing determines the flake size. We specify the slide spacing, so as to ensure a neat, manageable flake. For a 35-foot boat, we are looking for slide spacing around 30 to 36 inches, which gives a fold of around 15 inches. Since the typical boom is about 7 inches deep, about 8 inches will hang under the boom.

We don’t recommend reefing lines with the Dutchman. We also do not have sail ties on any of our own boats, as 90 percent of the time, they should not be used."

Nylon Endurance Test

Your "Nylon Rope Endurance Test" article (December 2007) was impressive, and I’m grateful to Practical Sailor for this information. I’d like to point out another type of three-strand failure that I experienced on my 2005 cruise to Puerto Vallarta from Los Angeles. While I had inspected my rode before leaving and found no hint of failure or chafe, I nevertheless weighed anchor in Turtle Bay only to observe that 4 feet of my 10-year-old three-strand had become unlayed about 8 feet short of the chain splice. I cut that part out and did a temporary long splice without further problem.

In view of my rode failure, your advice to replace nylon rope at fixed time intervals as opposed to relying solely on inspection makes sense.

William Solberg
Wind Dancer, 1995 Tartan 3800
Marina del Rey, Calif.

A Woman’s Harness

I am a current subscriber to Practical Sailor. In the December 2006 issue, you rated some safety harnesses and included in that test were some inflatable PFDs. The Mustang 3184 was one that got Excellent for Fit/Comfort. We tried on a 3184 at a

The Spinlock Deckvest
The Spinlock Deckvest gets a workout during recent testing off Tavernier Key, Fla.
store, and my wife found it very uncomfortable because of the placement of the inflation apparatus. Do you know of any inflatable vests that are comfortable for women? What about the Spinlock Deckvest? It has gotten high marks in some magazines, but we are not close to a distributor.

Joe Babb
Via email

Our woman tester liked the Mustang 3184 best, but there are some new inflatable PFD-harnesses on the market. We are in the process of testing several new entries, including the Spinlock Deckvest. From our discussions with manufacturers, strict design regulations and a limited market are inhibiting research and development in this product category, particularly for petite women. Input from readers is welcome on this subject.

Foul-Weather Gear

We sail the northern latitudes, so I read with interest the foul-weather gear article in the February 2008 issue. We have always purchased fairly good quality foul-weather gear in the category that you evaluated and have always eventually been disappointed with our investment. Despite our efforts to care for the gear (rinsing and drying and trying to protect it from prolonged exposure to the sun), it always seems to start to grow mold, tear, and leak after a relatively short period of time. We even contacted some different manufacturers for advice on how to combat the mold issue, and no one had any suggestions other than what we were doing. For what we pay for the gear, we feel that we do not get our money’s worth.

Why weren’t the types of foul-weather gear worn by professionals (such as the Grundens gear, included in your evaluation? Those people wear their gear day in and day out, often in conditions much worse than any encountered by recreational boaters, and are obviously satisfied with the gear. Since I was concerned about the condensation issue inside this PVC-coated gear, I asked a professional fishing boat mate about it the other day. He said that he had no such problems and liked the gear just fine. And it certainly is reasonably priced. So why don’t recreational boaters consider using professional gear more often?

Philip & Sharon Merlier
Evergreen, Cape Dory 36
Solomons, Md.

PVC or PVC-coated foul-weather gear is inexpensive, resists chemicals, and abrasion, and is very effective at keeping rain out. However, PVC-coated suits are generally less comfortable, allow less freedom of movement, and fit poorly compared to more expensive foul-weather gear designed specifically for sailing. The design details—cuffs, collars, pockets, reflective material, etc.—found on professional fishermen’s gear also do not lend themselves to sailing. This is a fine low-budget option for infrequent, short-term use. If you do go the PVC route, look for a design that is well-vented, so that you don’t end up soaking in your own sweat.


I read with interest your comments regarding windvane self-steering for a Celestial 48 in your February 2008 Practical Sailor Advisor. We agree with you that more information would be needed on a boat of that size and design before recommending a windvane for it. Our company, Scanmar, manufactures three different brands of windvane, each a different type: the Monitor servo pendulum, the Auto-Helm auxiliary rudder/ trimtab, and the Saye’s Rig, which is a hybrid pendulum/trimtab system. Every boat should be evaluated to see which windvane would work best. Boats around 50 feet or more are in the gray area for all windvanes.

Running the control lines of a servo-pendulum-type windvane from the vane to the cockpit on a center-cockpit boat might seem a problem, but we have achieved good results with proper leads and good quality line and blocks.

We agree that a well-equipped cruising boat should have both a windvane and an autopilot. In general, the windvane should be used for sailing and the autopilot for powering. To use an autopilot and the windvane at the same time is not advisable since a wind shift would force the autopilot and the windvane to fight each other.

It is our view that in strong winds, an auxiliary rudder-type windvane may not have enough rudder area to control the boat, since it is much smaller than the boat’s main rudder. By contrast, a servo-pendulum windvane, which controls the boat’s rudder, thrives in rough conditions. As the boat sails faster, the servo pendulum windvane will get stronger and react quicker.

Finally, we strongly recommend that a windvane be mounted on the centerline. If not, the rudder of the windvane is likely to be too high on one tack (not enough immersion) and too low on the other (increased loads).

Hans Bernwall
Scanmar International

Freshwater Lines

I am planning to replace my freshwater lines in my 1985 Tartan 37 and would like to have some recommendations on what kind of replacement water line is best.

The existing lines are translucent rubber hose. These have allowed green-black algae to grow within the line. Shocking the water system with bleach improves the water quality but only short-term. I imagine an opaque rubber hose designed for freshwater use would be the best replacement. I have contacted Whale and discussed their system but do not find their coupling system ideal. Are there other water line options, perhaps with a solid (not translucent) hose that are recommended? All I can find reviews on are translucent water lines.

Jay Townsend
Tartan 37
Charlottesville, Va.

Don’t skimp on potable water hoses. You want heavy-walled, reinforced PVC. If the hose is to carry hot water, make sure it is rated for that use. You also want to check that drinking water hoses are FDA approved. An example is Trident HD reinforced PVC #161. Switching to an opaque hose may delay, but won’t cure an algae problem. To combat algae, you can flush or treat your tanks more frequently, install a filter, or enjoy the nutritious boost of an algae cocktail.

Practical Sailor online

We are and will be in Central America sailing for the next five months. Can I read my Practical Sailor issues online without having to purchase the articles?

George Jones
Boothbay, Maine

The current month and previous month’s issues are available to subscribers at Click "Get Web Access Now." Remember to download each issue as it becomes available. We are in the process of improving our online archive services to subscribers.

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