Mailport February 2011 Issue

Mailport: February 2011

Micron in Fresh water

Photos courtesy of Sea Education Association

SEA students (above) spend six weeks aboard one of the non-profit’s research vessels, both 135-foot brigantines.

I have a 23-foot trailer-sailer that I keep on a saltwater mooring in the summer and on a trailer in the winter. To control slime and barnacles, the bottom is painted with Interlux Micron 66 over an epoxy barrier. Should I be concerned if I sail the boat in a freshwater lake? I’ve heard that Micron 66 is not friends with fresh water. What would happen (if anything), if I sail the boat in fresh water for a few days then haul out and return to salt water? Do I need to repaint the bottom if I want to sail in fresh water occasionally?

Sterling Levie
Via e-mail

If the Micron 66 has been “cured” in saltwater and then put into fresh water for a few days—a long weekend or possibly a week—it should be fine. According to Interlux (, the problem arises when Micron 66 is kept in fresh water for long periods of time or launched in fresh water and kept at the dock for a while.

New source for old knife

In Practical Sailor’s March 2004 review of rigging knives, you rated the fixed-blade Benchmade 100SH20 as the best. The knife has been discontinued and was replaced with a blunt-nosed model that I don’t like as much. Fortunately, I found a business that still has some of the older ones available: a small company in Missoula, Mont., called Bob Wards ( They were very easy to work with, and we had the knife in a few days.

Brian Brown
Jinx, J/22
Flathead Lake, Mont.

Onboard washing

I’ll be cruising in a year or two to Baja and the South Pacific, and a discussion of washing clothes and bathing at sea came up. I think an article on what products prove to be good would be an interesting read: what methods do people use in washing clothes and drying them at sea; what soaps are preferred; and good ways and products to use when bathing at sea.

Don Grass
Grasshopper, 1981 Islander Freeport
Shelter Island, San Diego, Calif.

It’s in the works; look for an upcoming article on the topic. One soap that we use regularly for camping and cruising is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile Liquid Soap ( It can be used as a shampoo, body wash, dish soap, and laundry soap. It’s biodegradable and works in salt or fresh water. We also have a bottle of Savon de Mer ( that we plan to test soon; this shampoo/body gel also is biodegradable, can be used in fresh or salt water, and has a balanced pH of 7. Unlike Bronner’s and other natural soaps that can dry out hair and skin, Savon de Mer claims to have special emollients that counteract the drying effects of the sun and salt. However, it’s not marketed as safe for dishwashing or as a laundry detergent.

Paint-away Spiders

A thread on the Catboat Association’s forum ( was on spider extermination. A suggestion was to paint robin’s egg blue paint wherever possible. It’s not as bright as white, but plenty light, and spiders seem to hate it. “The rafters of our porch were painted that way five years ago, and never a web,” the thread stated. “Not traditional for boats, I know, but catboaters are nothing if not practical, and I hear Norwegians put that color on the inside of their barns for the same reason.

C. Henry Depew
Sisu 26
Via e-mail

Glazing and Bonding

In regard to your test on adhesives and sealants (August 2010) and your suggestion that silicone is a proper adhesive for re-bedding plastic lenses: A major and sometimes overlooked issue in producing a seal between FRP, wood, and metal and Lexan/polycarbonate is the large difference in thermal expansion between glazing and the frame. This can produce significant shearing force at the bond, which results in seal failure over a couple of seasons.

Sika has an excellent product system specially formulated for producing a long-lived and tenacious bond between Lexan/polycarbonate and FRP, wood, and metal. The products are Sika Cleaner 226, Sika Primer 209, and Sikaflex 295UV, but they have to be used correctly for the project to be successful. That entails making sure that there’s sufficient space in the frame for glazing expansion and that adhesive thickness will allow the glazing to expand and contract without bond shearing.

Luke Freeman
Quest, CS36T & Ailes d’Ange, CS40
San Francisco and Delaware

You have a valid approach to bedding hatch lenses using Sika products. We also have had good success with this approach. In our view, it is a good idea to always check first with the hardware manufacturer and use their recommended product for the job at hand. Some hatch makers advise using 3M Marine Silicone or similar marine silicones for glazing replacement. This approach would differ from the one you describe, and, done correctly should provide long-lasting results.

MDR Dinghy Paint

After reading Practical Sailor’s review of inflatable boat coatings (June 2010), I decided to coat my seven-year-old PVC inflatable with MDR’s gray Inflatable Boat Coating. My motive was less focused on appearance than with providing UV screening and prolonging the life of the boat as I sail year-round.

I gave the dinghy a good scrubbing and rinsed it with copious amounts of fresh water. The MDR paint ( went on easily and smoothly with a brush and foam roller, and covered at the recommended rate (two coats on the tubes). It withstood rolling and folding for transport after five days of drying in late summer temperatures.

However, after only three months in service, significant areas of the paint are beginning to peel. I suppose it is going to serve its purpose of protecting most of the tubes from the sun, but as a cosmetic improvement, it’s short of perfection.

All of the peeled areas are below the rubrail. Perhaps sun-worn areas supplied a better profile for the paint to adhere to. However, sanding an inflatable can’t be a good idea.

Drew Frye
1997 PDQ Altaire 32
Chesapeake Bay, Va.

As reported in the June 2010 issue, PS testers saw no adhesions problems with the PVC test panel coated with the MDR paint. However, that test and past experience have shown that most coating adhesion problems result from surface preparation hiccups. When it comes to painting inflatable boat materials—and most other substrates—the key to successful adhesion is proper surface prep ahead of painting. We contacted MDR Amazon about your concern, and the company said the adhesion failure likely could be the result of an ineffective cleaner or oil left on the surface after it was cleaned. Silicone coatings are a particularly troublesome challenge. According to MDR: “The cleaner should have ample ‘degreasers’ as well as cleaning surfactants. This will remove any remaining unseen oil, even sweaty fingerprints from the surface.” The company suggested using its MDR’s Inflatable and Dinghy Cleaner or a typical dishwashing detergent like Joy or Dawn, which all have adequate degreasers.

Pressure Cooker

In regard to your pressure cooker test (December 2010): Beyond heating speed, is there any advantage of an all-stainless pot over one with aluminum on the bottom, or vice versa? I’m thinking in terms of longevity, wear resistance, and similar characteristics. Thanks for the excellent review.

Ken DeLavigne
Temecula, Calif.

The combination of the two is the best: A stainless pot with an encapsulated-aluminum base is typically preferred over an all-stainless pot because aluminum conducts heat better, but stainless is more durable. If a pot, or its base, was all aluminum, it would eventually warp or become dented, creating an uneven cooking surface that affects the pot’s performance. However, according to pressure-cooker maker Fissler, base thickness should also be considered. A thick aluminum base is better than a thin stainless-steel one, but in an encapsulated-aluminum base, the stainless protects a thick aluminum core.

WhirlyBird Upgrades

The WhirlyBird Repeller, one of the better rotational deterrents we evaluated, is still undergoing long-term testing in Sarasota, Fla.

I want to comment on your April 2010 article, “Boat Care that’s for the Birds,” and offer some information about improvements made to our product, the rotating WhirlyBird Repeller, which was included in your testing.

You are absolutely correct that durability is a major issue with bird repellers, especially when used in the harsh marine environment. According to the PS report, the bushing on the WhirlyBird Repeller you tested became worn down, inhibiting its ability to spin freely. As the inventor of the WhirlyBird Repeller, I am always looking to improve our product. We’ve made a number of improvements to the device, including the use of a teflon bushing that appears to have solved the premature wear problem your testers noted. However, because airborne salt and grit are often a fact of life on the water, we still recommend that the WhirlyBird occasionally be inspected and rinsed off with fresh water, especially if salt and grit have accumulated on its surfaces. We also recommend that the WhirlyBird be mounted 6 to 8 feet above the area you are trying to protect, which will maximize exposure to the wind and sun, and minimize accumulation of salt and grit.

Thank you, and once again, great job on an article well done.
Rob Turkewitz
President, WhirlyBird Solutions
Charleston, S.C.

Wiring Tools

I saw in Practical Sailor’s recent wiring tests that ratchet crimp tools were mentioned. I wanted to let others know that MCM Electronics sells a good one for $19.99 (Number 22-770). I have been using one of these for the last 10 years and am happy with it. It is a HUGE improvement over the cheap non-ratchet tools—much better crimps.

WaveFront TillerClutch

This photo shows a cutaway view of the TillerClutch’s synthetic pivot bushings and the epoxy layer that separates the stainless steel from the coated aluminum internal parts.

In your December 2010 article about the WaveFront TillerClutch, “Tiller Taming with Two Fingers,” you raised a valid concern that the device’s two main components, aluminum and stainless steel, are “galvanic enemies” in a saltwater environment.

Many marine hardware products, including the TillerClutch, safely use a combination of hard-coat anodized aluminum and passivated stainless steel because they are very solid, high-quality alloys. On the outside of the TillerClutch, the thick oxide surface of the treated aluminum protects it from interaction with the stainless-steel mounting hardware. The stainless spring seats are separated from their aluminum keepers by an insulating layer of epoxy. Most importantly, the aluminum lever pivots on specialized synthetic bushings that lubricate and separate it from its stainless axle.

This protection against wear and corrosion has proven effective over a four-year test period, giving WaveFront the confidence to offer the TillerClutch with a lifetime warranty.

Pete Crawford
President, WaveFront Inc.
Pittsboro, N.C.

You make excellent points. Testers did note the bushings, anodizing, and other corrosion prevention measures on the TillerClutch. The unit’s lifetime warranty is also reassuring. We plan to put the TillerClutch into field testing on our Catalina 22 test boat for a 24-month long-term evaluation and will keep you and PS readers posted on how it weathers time in the marine environment.

Bilgekote Search


For some years, I have been using Interlux’s Bilgekote as my bilge paint. They have stopped selling it in gallon cans, and I’m having trouble locating a substitute. Are you aware of any good bilge paints?

Roy Warner
Blue Heron
Sechelt, B.C.

A change in labeling requirements—and a lack of sales—prompted Interlux to quit selling gallons of Bilgekote in Canada several years ago, but quarts are still available. Bilgekote is still sold by the gallon in the U.S. Pettit makes a similar product called EZBilge. Both are effectively high-solid, industrial-grade alkyd enamels. Most major paint lines offer comparable products. Another option is a two-part epoxy finish. Back in 1998, boat-maintenance guru Bill Seifert recommended two-part Rustoleum. This would be a good PS test, and we’d be interested in hearing from readers on this topic. Whatever the choice, the bilge will need to be thoroughly degreased before painting. Avoid strong solvents if possible, and make sure the cabin is well-ventilated; follow safety instructions closely.

SailING School Survey

I am 73 years old, and sailing has always a dream so I selected Club Nautique ( this past summer as my school of choice. I took the basic keel-boating and cruising classes with a somewhat younger group and completed both classes in two weeks.

All the instructors were outstanding and made sure that students understood both sailing principles, techniques and safety.

One reason I selected Club Nautique was that they use only first-rate boats and equipment. Basic keel-boating is taught on Colgate 26s and basic cruising on 30- to 36-foot Hunter’s. Club Nautique is very selective in their boats for teaching and chartering. My wife and I are, admittedly, cruisers not racers so I’ll complete the club’s bareboat class in 2011 and start chartering. The Club also has a number of “continuing education” classes apart from the normal curriculum.

I wanted to respond to your overall rating of Club Nautique being based on eight respondents, one of whom seemed to be confused by teaching procedures. Since the school graduated 800 students in the last year, how can you draw your conclusions about Club Nautique with a 1-percent response rate? I, and many others, somehow missed your invitation to participate in the survey. The Club Nautique staff, including the president, Don Durant, are extremely knowledgeable folks who are genuinely concerned in making competent sailors of us all.

Thomas C. Jones
Via e-mail

We appreciate your feedback. The sailing schools report was intended as an overview of the schools, not a comprehensive test. Recommendations were based on the poll feedback from readers, past PS evaluations of the schools, and research. However, because our poll pool was small, as you noted, we did not rate the schools. As mentioned in the report, prospective sailing-school students should use the article as a supplement to their own research.

Comments (1)

has practical sailor done testing on bilge paint

Posted by: joe b | October 7, 2014 6:46 PM    Report this comment

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