Mailport October 2016 Issue

Mailport: Water Lift Muffler, Drogues, Hunter 30, and More!

Water Lift Muffler

I read the letter regarding a do-it-yourself (DIY) water-lift muffler project (PS February 2016) with great interest. Many years ago, the original water-lift muffler on our Irwin 37 corroded to the point that it no longer functioned. I was unable to locate a replacement that would fit the available space. I decided to fabricate one out of schedule 40 PVC. Using 6-inch pipe and end caps and 1.25-inch pipe and elbows, I constructed a new muffler that is approximately 3 feet long. This gives an internal volume several times that of the exhaust system upstream of the muffler and pretty closely matches the original.

This muffler worked perfectly for about 10 years before a design flaw showed itself. I had used a threaded section of pipe to penetrate the end cap. The threads cut almost halfway through the pipe wall, weakening it. Vibration caused a crack where the exhaust exited the muffler. I made a new one, using straight, unthreaded pipe. It has served us well for the last 10 years.

Gene Millard

Mariah, 1972 Irwin 37

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Although it has served you (and no doubt others) well, we strongly recommend against using Schedule 40 PVC in an exhaust system. Murphy’s Law compels us to recommend only materials that comply with the UL-1129 standards for Wet Exhaust Components for Marine Engines, as stipulated in section P-1 of the American Boat and Yacht Council’s (ABYC) technical standards. You can find the standards on the ABYC website (



In regard to your report on drogues in the September 2016 issue: Crossing the North Atlantic in May this year aboard our 44-foot catamaran, we were overtaken by a significant weather system. The problem was not so much the wind, which was mostly between 30 and 40 knots with gusts into the 50s, it was the swell, and the challenge of preventing the boat from surfing the swells (which maxed out at about 7 meters). After deploying two rope warps (50 meters of rope with a 5-meter length of chain in the middle), and using them for three consecutive days, I can attest to the efficiency of the rope warp. The warp did not slow us down that much—maybe a half-knot—but it stopped us from surfing the swells and made it easier to steer, so that the autopilot could cope.

We do carry a parachute anchor, which we used once to stop and effect repairs, and a Jordan series drogue, but we never felt that conditions were severe enough to require the series drogue. So for my money, I am very happy with a rope warp weighed down, and if the weather gets too severe, I will use the Jordan series drogue.

Francois du Plessis

Zigzag, Maverick 440

Road Harbour, BVI

During drogue testing, we also tested towed warps (see the text of the September 2016 article), but we did not include that data in the Value Guide. We towed 200 feet of half-inch, three-strand rope with 30 feet of 3/8-inch chain across the U from cleats separated by 15 feet. The results: 4.2 knots = 24 pounds of load, 7 knots = 62 pounds, 10 knots = 127 pounds. This is five to 10 times less than typical drogue recommendations, which is not to say that it can’t be the perfect answer when a little less speed and more directional stability are needed. It is also by far the easiest gear to deploy and retrieve. What is vital is that the loop is at least 200 feet long, that the cleats are well separated (warps may be more effective on catamarans than monohulls), and that there is weight in the center.


More Drogues

In your excellent article on drogues in the September 2016 issue, you were looking for input from people who have used a drogue in gale conditions.

During a trans-Atlantic crossing in 2003 aboard a Westsail 32, we were overtaken by a strong gale. The anemometer broke when the needle hit the stop at 40 knots, so the wind was on the high side of 40 knots. We were unable to sail in those conditions and deployed our Jordan series drogue.

The drogue was sized according to the recommendations of the manufacturer, Ace Sailmakers. My recollection is that it had 120 cones. The drogue deployed smoothly. It’s sort of like deploying a spinnaker: You need to plan in advance and have the thing properly packed before you need it.

We lay to the drogue for four days, then retrieved it to continue our voyage. I was off watch when the drogue was recovered, so I cannot attest to it being “notoriously laborious to recover,” but no one commented on the recovery later, so it couldn’t have been all that bad.

While lying to the drogue, boat speed was less than 2 knots and the motion was comfortable in conditions that would have been pretty awful without it. The JSD is not a drogue for speed control; rather, it’s a safety device that keeps you aligned to the weather and nearly stationary, an alternative to a sea anchor deployed from the bow.

Emanuel Laufer

Ceol Mor, C&C 34

Halifax, Canada


Hunter 30

I would like to say that the June 2016 review of the Hunter 30 was right on the mark. I owned a 1978 Hunter 30 (hull number 770) for almost 30 years. They are amazing boats.

After owning a number of small daysailers, I bought my Hunter, RiverDragon, in 1995. Over the years, I made a few modifications. I led all the lines to the cockpit, and I added roller-reefing for the 170 genny and added a windlass. I installed a bigger holding tank and replaced the alcohol stove with a butane one. I upgraded the electrical and replaced all of the interior lights with LEDs. I didn’t replace anything else. She still had most of the original hardware she came with.

In the 30 years that I owned RiverDragon, I sailed her on the Hudson River, Long Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor (Fla.), and up and down the west coast of Florida. She loved a 20-knot breeze and was just as happy to sail in a 10-knot breeze. She always handled like a dream. She was so well-balanced, I could walk away from the wheel and she would stay on course.

The Yanmar 18-horsepower diesel ran great for years, but after 25 years of faithful service, it began to fall apart. When it died last year, the cost of replacing it was more than I thought was economical, so I sold the boat. In hindsight, I should have spent the money. If so, I’d still be sailing. If anyone is looking to invest in a great old boat, I highly recommend the 1978 Hunter 30.

Jeff Ellis

Englewood, Fla.


Lifeline Fenders

In regard to your July 26, 2016 blog post, “Building a Better Boat Fender”: The post offers some good suggestions, especially about the fender boards. But it amuses me that—not just Practical Sailor—but other “reliable sources” suggest tying fenders and bumper boards to the lifelines. Especially on a sailboat with so much potential for leaks, you’d think the fenders would be tied to the toerail or the bottom of a stanchion, not the lifelines, as shown in the photo. The tension placed on the lifelines isn’t necessary and could very easily create a wiggle that would eventually cause a leak, and no one would know where it’s coming from.

David Bartilson

Via Inside Practical Sailor

You make a very good point. Fenders should not be hung from lifelines. 



The Value Guide in the September 2016 article on drogues incorrectly reported that the Shark data was from drag testing (Note 1 in Value Guide). The data was in fact calculated from data published by the maker.

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