Astute Views on the Art of Sailing from around the Globe


Bottom Paint Update?

As a (long term and digital) subscriber I find your articles extremely valuable, but most of all the bottom paint evaluations. I live in Punta Gorda, 50 miles to your south and have to do a bottom job in the next two months. Any recent observations/suggestions on a good ablative that for the coast of Southwest Florida?

Jim Brady

Punta Gorda, Florida

fiberglass mold

Jim, our March 2016 report should serve as a good guide for those buying this spring. Any paints introduced since that test have not yet been fully evaluated by us. We usually advise readers to stick with time-tested blends, those paints that have gone through at least one complete test, which lasts 48 months. Which paint from our March 2016 test is best for you will depend upon your preferences-ablative versus hard, etc. Regardless, our results should serve as a fairly good model for you since the conditions at our test site in Sarasota are probably similar to those you encounter in nearby Punta Gorda.

A Sticky Situation

Regarding your recent report on release agents for molds (see Unsticking Molds, PS September 2016 online). Dont trust all hardware store solvents for wipe-downs. Here is a simple test for contaminants; pour some out on clean glass and let it evaporate. Any residue left behind suggests problems with the solvent.

Your tester suggests trisodium phosphate (TSP) as a cleaner. For me this is a maybe-at best. Give me good solvents, lots of solvents. Beware of rags and sponges. Paper towels, lots of them, are often best. Many rags come from other industries, and are sometimes treated with fabric softener – bad news for bonding. A solvent flush through the rag, dripped on a glass plate, is an interesting test.

Years ago I was spooked by a paint prep washdown demo where the mold release had been treated with a dye detectable only under UV light. None of us did as good a cleaning job as we thought once the UV light was turned on it. Wipe, change towels, wipe again, change rags, etc.

West System, 105/205 is great for low temp/white projects. For darker colors, ProSet or resins that better resist softening at higher temperatures are advisable. Tooling (molds) made with low-temp resin, either epoxy or polyester/vinylester may print-through if thick high-cure temperature parts are made in them.

The substrates in your test seemed to be thoroughly cured laminates. Release from this surface will likely be different from shop/DIY-made tooling. Most small shops and DIY folks do not use production-grade tooling resins, so their molds can often be green, and sticky for the first few parts, even after weeks of room temperature aging. This is especially true when using low-temperature epoxy tools.

Back in the old days green polyester molds would get waxed, then heavily coated with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), followed by a thick chopper-gun skin at a high catalyst ratio to produce a high exotherm. Once cooked, the tooling surface was more thoroughly cured, less likely to grab molded parts. The skin was pulled and discarded, and PVA was not used for the balance of the molds life.

For a short, small-parts run, especially those made with brush-applied gelcoat, which tends to be much thicker than sprayed gelcoat, PVA dimples can be wet-sanded and then buffed away. It can take less time than throwaway skins or stuck parts.

Bruce Pfund

Bruce Pfund Special Projects

Cruising Boat Advice

We are looking for a good-quality, smallish, blue water cruiser. We used to own a Pacific Seacraft 40. She was a beautiful boat and easy to live aboard, but we are looking for something a bit smaller. We are trying to compare Pacific Seacraft 31, Island Packet 35, and the Hans Christian 33, but can only find a review on PS Online for the PS31. Have you ever reviewed the IP35 or Hans 33? Do you have any recommendations for sturdy cruisers in the 31- to 36-foot range that might gives us boats to check out?

Mark & Kimberly Panasci

Niceville, FL

Theres nothing we love more than a hunt for the next bluewater boat. All of the boats you mention have adherents among cruisers and have safely crossed oceans, and there are plenty of others in this category. Although weve not published tests of the boats you mention, we have reviewed dozens of boats that meet your criteria, and you can find them on our website at ­ Former PS Editor Dan Spurr reviewed under-$75,000 cruisers that focused on three popular late model boats the Niagara 35, the C&C Landfall 38, and the Tartan 37, (see Affordable Cruising Sailboats, April 2009), and there are several popular lists online. One list is compiled by PS contributors John and Amanda Neal of Mahina Tiare Expeditions. You can find their comments on several popular boats at Surveyor Jack Horner, who writes for Boat US ( examines some older boats (, and owners associations can also give you some background on problems associated with some older models. Were sure our readers have a few good suggestions. With so many reputable models to choose from, wed recommend focusing on boats with the fewest budget-killing problems. The essentials-engine, rigging, sails, deck and hull-should undergo a complete professional survey. Our article on DIY surveying offers guidance on doing your own preliminary inspection as well as selecting a surveyor (see DIY Survey Checklist for Used-boat Buying, PS June 2012 online). For readers who are just getting started into coastal cruising, we offer a two ebooks that compile our past reviews of some of the most popular low budget, late model boats worth considering (see Maybe some readers could offer their advice on other models in the 31- to 36-foot range?

Seawind 32

From a Seawind Lover

I enjoyed your fine review of the Allied Seawind II (See PS January 2016), and as a proud owner of Hull #19 (1976 Wind Ketcher) since 2000 I can complement its accuracy and thoroughness. Well done. The irony of how frequently ketch and yawl rigs are undervalued while often being superior vessels is lightheartedly touched on in this satirical report to medical journals on Split-rigophobia.

The Signs and Symptoms of the Disease

The first indication of Split-rigaphobia was found in the design review and study phase of our quest to quench our two-footitis. The ideal boat for us would be one capable of blue water cruising within our budget, one responsive to short bay sails and yet spacious enough to allow passage making in comfort, one made in the mid-70s or after and strongly built with traditional features, and one that could reasonably be single-handed. Our research brought several ketch and yawl rigs to our attention, but now the split-rigophobia could get a foothold . . .

Ed M. Verner

Allied Seawind II, Wind Ketcher

Apollo Beach, FL

Nut-and-Bolt Shackles?

Regarding your recent update on anchor shackles (see Anchor Re-test Modifies Initial Findings, PS February 2017) Ive been following along all of the discussion on shackles and I wonder why you limit your test to pin type shackles. Crosby, one of the leaders in the field of lifting hardware, do not qualify pin shackles for permanent installations. In the lifting industry these are rated as pick- and-place, which requires the lifting crew to check and tighten of the pin after every lift and place.

I realize that pins on an anchor rode have to be moused to prevent the pin from rotating, but wouldn't it be safer and more secure to use a bolt type with a nut and cotter pin, along with some thread lock? It seems to me considering the virtually unknown angular loads applied to an anchor shackle at the end of 200-feet or more chain, out of sight perhaps for days in heavy weather, and the cost of a new high quality anchor, it might be worth spending a few extra bucks for the proper shackles?

Perhaps Im missing something but if youre going to use the best Grade B material for the shackle then the best design would also be a good idea? Im interested in understanding why you seem to recommend the use of screw pin shackle.

Our series of tests focused on anchor shackles designated under U.S. Federal standards as Class 2, screw-pin type anchor shackles. This is the most common pin type used for small boat anchors, and is generally regarded as being well-suited for this use. The type of anchor shackle pin you describe-with a bolt secured by a nut that is retained by a cotter pin-is the safety, nut-and-bolt type pin, designated as Class 3 under U.S. standards. A third type of pin, Class 1, features a conventional clevis pin, held in place solely with a cotter pin.

So long as the shackle body and pin meet the Grade B standards under U.S. Federal Standard RR-C-271F IVA, shackle strength is comparable among all three pin types. This leaves the question of which pin is less likely to loosen or fall out. The nut-and-bolt type will provide the most security of all three types, but it will require a little more effort to loosen if you want to swap anchors, add chain, etc. A screw-pin shackle-moused with monel for security and with its pin threads well greased-can make detaching the anchor a simpler task. (See Lanocote vs. Tef-Gel, on page 17 for a comparison of thick greases designed to keep fasteners from seizing.)

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of preference. One thing to watch with the bolt-and-nut pin (Class 3) shackle is the condition of the cotter pin. Also, remember that a shackle that is too difficult to loosen is usually the one that gets left in place too long.

DIY Winch Grease

More years ago than I care to remember I was a boat captain on a first class ocean racing sailboat. Perhaps there were not the multitude of greases available, I do not remember, but most of the pros used a mixture of Lubriplate thinned with Marvel Mystery oil as a lube for our winches and coffee grinders. The worst thing is to have winches loaded with grease. In fact, provided they are serviced regularly, a light film of lubricant is all that is needed.

Bruce Berriman

Grand Banks 42, Tiger Moth

Newport, RI

Tartan 3700

Boat Lifespan

Your comments on the longevity of well-built fiberglass boats (December, 2016) is timely and encouraging. My wife and I are now the proud owners of a 15-year-old Tartan 3700, which will replace a much newer Beneteau which we are trading-in because we are down-sizing. With designer Tim Jacketts help we have planned an extensive re-fit by Tartan including LED lights and new electronics.

We have felt confident that a comprehensive refit of this older Tartan was worth it and after reading your comments on the soundness of older fiberglass that has never been damaged, we are even more satisfied with this decision for our next sailboat.

Ed Weber

Tartan 3700

Annapolis, MD

Most fifteen-year-old boats have plenty of life left in them, and any life that has been shook out of them can usually be restored with a little TLC and some new sails. The things to be most watchful for in sandwich core construction boats like the Tartan 3700 is that the outer skin has not been penetrated to allow water intrusion, which can lead to invisible, structural damage. Newer constructions like your newer 3700 use building techniques to prevent water from spreading through the laminate, but a squishy deck on mid-80s balsa core deck could be warning sign of more expansive hidden problems. As you are probably aware, this particular model boat is a sore spot for Tartan, and this stain will likely impact its resale price (good for buyers, bad for sellers).

In 2008, Tartan wrote a letter telling the owners of 60 Tartan 3700s to have their boat inspected for possible structural defects for repair, at the expense of Tartan. The letter was in response to a near sinking of the Tartan 3700 Blue Heron, which suffered a significant hull fracture at sea. The company acknowledged that the fracture was caused by a manufacturing deficiency.

In 2008, owners of Tartan 3700 hulls 58 through 119 (61 boats built between 2002 and 2007) were invited to have boats inspected by dealers to make sure they did not have the same defect as the Blue Heron. An article by Caroline Ajootian in the January 2009 issue of BoatUS Magazine ( describes the Blue Heron incident and Tartans response, which followed nearly a year-long delay. Given the history of this particular model, we recommend that you confirm its service history, and make sure it is thoroughly inspected by a qualified marine surveyor familiar with Tartans laminate schedules and construction practices. In the case of Blue Heron, it was concluded that not enough laminate had been used along the centerline of the hull.


The price of the Sea Shield Marine 3/4-inch streamlined shaft anode is about $6 to $8. Other information appeared in the January 2017 issue.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here