Mailport September 2017 Issue

Mailport: The Ideal Dog?

The Ideal Dog?

PFDs for dogs
In the January 2007 issue (available online), Practical Sailor tested PFDs for dogs.

In response to your recent blog post on Inside Practical Sailor regarding dogs on boats, we’ve had two schipperkes aboard more than a half dozen boats for the past 25 years, and they’ve been everything we could ask for in boat dogs. Smart, attentive, loving, mischief-loving, and, did I say smart? Katy, who lived to 13, and Dory, who is 121/2 and still going strong, have been ideal boat dogs for my wife and I.

Schipperke, Katy
Reader Milton Baker’s schipperke, Katy, keeps watch.

Also known as Belgian barge dogs, these canines are said to have been bred to work aboard the barges with three principal jobs. Job one is security, and it’s in a skip’s genes to alert when anyone is approaching the boat. Once someone comes aboard and is properly introduced, he or she is considered crew by the skip. Job two is keeping the vessel free of vermin. As far as we know we’ve never had a rat or mouse onboard, but we cannot say that’s cause and effect. Job three is keeping the barge-towing horses moving by nipping at their heels. While we’ve never had our boat in a Belgian canal, we’ve both had our heels gently nipped countless times by excited schipperkes—that too is in the genes.

Milton Baker

Nordhaven Bluewater 4732

Currently cruising Nova Scotia


Farewell To Teak Trim?

In response to your recent blog post on the end of teak trim, you might be interested in our experience. On our 1983 Olson 40, that is being refit right now at Finco Fabrication in Santa Ana, CA, we have removed all the exterior teak. Finco has fabricated strong, beautiful, graceful, and appropriately minimal handrails and toerails from stainless steel tubing. The exterior teak was fastened with many dozens of holes in the deck. Fortunately, George Olson and Pacific Boats really knew how to build with balsa core, so there was only about two square feet of rotten core which were fixed. Below, nearly all the wood has been sanded and repainted. Just a couple of areas of the mahogany plywood were covered over with new wood, the rest looks really great now. The teak trim below is all in great condition now, again after sanding and all new varnish. So we’ve retained the warmth and beauty of the wood below, yet the problematic wood on deck is gone now.

David Smyth

Olson 40

Santa Ana, CA


Fire Blankets

With regards to your article “Top Fire Blankets for the Offshore Sailor,” (see PS June 2017), why not take a look at welding blankets that are often more heavily constructed than fire blankets? There are also carbonized fiber welding blankets that are rated for higher temperatures. Both seem like they might be more aggressively priced, and better suited for many fire-fighting applications.

Jonathan Schwartz

Islander 30

Via e-mail

Welding blankets are very similar to fiberglass fire blankets, but most are not coated (not liquid-proof) which makes them dangerous on a grease fire (the liquid and fire will come right through the blanket). They are very good for what they do (protect surfaces from weld spatter), but the purpose is somewhat different. But if you’ve got one handy, use it! Another thing to remember is that temperature rating is not everything. In fact, first responders use wool fire blankets because they are better for wrapping a person, whether in a burning building, or after escaping.


Bad Oakleys

Based on your July 2009 review of sunglasses, I purchased a pair of Oakley Hijinx sunglasses in New York in the fall of 2010. I used them during a three-month cruise on a chartered Elan 450 in 2011 from Venice down the Adriatic, around the Peloponnese peninsula, across the Aegean, and through the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara to Istanbul.

By the end of 2011, the lenses had delaminated as you describe in your June 2017 eyewear runaround report. I packaged up my Oakleys and mailed them back to the manufacturer, expecting a replacement. I never heard from them. As you say, they were junk, and Oakley does not stand behind their products.

Martin Walker

Geneva, Switzerland

As a result of the Oakley Hijinx’s failure, Practical Sailor no longer recommends these sunglasses. We are pursuing repairs and will let readers know if Oakley offers any remedy.


Seasickness Remedies

I enjoyed John Neal’s Strategy to Fight Seasickness overview in the July issue. In the article, Mr. Neal did not include a technology ­— Relief Band — that readers should know about. Relief Band ( is a non-drug option for both prevention and treatment of motion sickness. It is an FDA-approved battery powered medical device worn like a wrist watch that transmits small electrical pulses to the underside of the wrist. It was originally developed to be a non-drug treatment for pregnancy morning sickness and chemotherapy related nausea. My wife and I have been boating on the East Coast for several decades and have not found anything that equals the Relief Band’s ability to both prevent and halt seasickness.

Howard Tag

Chevy Chase, MD

Via email

Studies show this and other alternative remedies work for some people, although some questions regarding efficacy remain (see “Drug Free Seasickness Solutions,” PS December 2009). It is preferable to avoid strong medications, so if this works for you . . . use it.


Making Coffee

Regarding your search for the ideal way to make coffee on board (Inside Practical Sailor, PS Online), a percolator is our personal choice. After the water comes to a boil you need to perk about seven minutes according to taste. So the real question is, what is the time difference between the percolator and the time it takes to filter through a paper cone, or to brew in a French press? A little bit longer for sure. But consider this: with the paper filter method you’ve got two disconnected pieces that are just asking to come apart at the wrong moment. In addition, you have a top heavy system with open water at the top until it flows through the coffee all the while cooling off and liable to spill. Press coffee makers appear to be much more sensitive to the size of the grind, but you can fix this by changing how long it brews. French press coffee makers are much more expensive than the cowboy percolator—and glass can break. In a press coffee maker you need two items: something to boil the water in and the press maker itself. The percolator is a single self-contained unit and if you can boil water on your stove without dumping it, you can run a percolator. In fact the percolator pot can be used for all your water boiling needs

Steven Krenz

Via PS Online


ASB Boom Brake

You had an article in the last issue regarding boom brakes (see “Tools to Tame the Jibe,” PS July 2017), but you missed a Swedish model ASB

( The website is only in Swedish but if you get in contact with them you can probably get info in English.


Marcus Rydbo


Thank you for sharing. This looks like a well engineered device. We’ll see if we can arrange a test.

Where Credit is Due

Kudos to Garhauer, Frigibar and Solder-it

Great work Garhauer

I write to thank Garhauer ( for their assistance and support during my recent Bermuda 1-2 race. On the solo leg from Newport I had a problem with one of the seven-year-old Garhauer genoa cars blocks. On getting to Bermuda, I sent a picture of the device in question, they confirmed the model and told me that they now have a newer model and that it was in stock. They also said that I should get two – one for the port and the other to replace the still functional starboard car. I asked for overnight shipment to Boston so that my doublehanded crew member, who was about to fly to Bermuda, could bring them to the boat for installation. No problem. And no charge. I will definitely be a repeat customer and appreciate their helpful service.

Phil Haydon,

SV Prairie Gold, Catalina 350mkII

Boston, MA


Kudos to Frigibar Fridges

I bought a Frigibar refrigerator conversion kit in ( May 1992, for my Hunter 34. I also bought an extended lifetime warranty ($35). The unit recently quit after 21 years of great service. I called Frigibar, provided info from my 21-year-old invoice and the next week I had a new, free refrigerator. I’m 82 and have had 15-20 different boats. This is the best service I’ve ever had. Frigibar primarily builds on-deck freezers and refrigerators for luxury yachts but also builds a quality fridge conversion kit that mounts easily into a boat’s existing ice box.

Carlton O. Wilks

Sandra, Hunter 34

Panama City, FL


Good for Solder-IT

I had a wonderful customer service experience with Solder-it (, a company that manufactures a series of butane tools that are very useful on boats. Several years ago I bought a Solder-it butane torch that I use on my Freedom 38 for burning the ends of synthetic lines, heating heat-shrink wire connector seals and other boat projects that require concentrated heat. Last week the torch suddenly stopped working. I emailed Solder-it and the company sent me two new torches at no charge. The company’s approach to customer service was outstanding.

Bob Allenick

Diamond Freedom 38

Cleveland, Ohio


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