Mailport: 04/01/03


Liferaft Follow-Up
I purchased a Viking Self-Righting Life Raft a couple of weeks before yourmost recent review [January 15] and I am still reluctant to bring it on board until somehow I learn exactly what is in the bag. It came without a manual.

I feel outraged that the manufacturer does not provide the owner with adetailed description and illustration of every component-what it lookslike, where it’s located. “The immediate-action instructions are hung fromthe water collector in the canopy and are readily accessible,” you say, butdon’t you think that I should read them now? Where exactly are thesehandles and assist ladders? Where is the knife…and the light switch?

Do I have to waste the critical time when the raft is deployed and the crew hopefully in, to find out?

In response to my insistence, I got a promotional video and few pages of grossly inadequate material, but not a manual one would expect. I was told to find a service station where they might have a Viking Raft to see. It is hard to believe. Did you know that?

-Peter Gradeff
Via e-mail

Doug Ritter, author of the article, replies:

“You have a very legitimate gripe. As we have said previously, with few exceptions the industry does a poor job of providing recreational sailors with the information they need to use their life rafts to their best advantage.

“Avon, Zodiac (both Groupe Zodiac brands), and Switlik supply a video that provides instruction on launching and basic use of the life raft, though it is not model-specific and is of little use for briefing crew and passengers unless a video player is handy. Avon and Zodiac also provide a brief manual; Zodiac’s is little more than schematic drawings and a list of equipment, but Avon’s provides more of the information you’d expect to receive when purchasing a lifesaving appliance of this sophistication.Some sales brochures are detailed enough to help provide some useful information.

“Even with a video or manual, nothing beats hands-on training. Every life raft owner should, at a minimum, physically examine their model of life raft at a boat show or at a service station, and we suggest that owners be present when their raft is serviced, so they know exactly how the raft is equipped and how things work.”


Topside Paints
Having just read the topside paint article [February 15], I would just like to make a couple of comments.

In 1986, I was fabricating a new mast for my 18-1/2 foot sloop. I obtained a new anodized mast section and decided to paint it white, more for looks than any other reason. I bought a couple of spray cans of white Rust-Oleum and proceeded to lay down a couple of coats. Since then, there have been some sporadic touch-ups, and it is now showing many dings from flying shackles, etc. But it is still the same basic paint job. I wax it with Trewax Four-Seasons boat wax every spring and it still passes the “15-foot standard”-sail past 15 feet away, and it still looks pretty good.

The formerly white hull topsides have been done in Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel. Two coats lasted about five years, then I put a new topcoat on. Other than touching up the dings, and with a spring waxing each year, that also passes the “15-foot standard.”

I keep the boat on a river mooring, so that standard is more than good enough.

-Douglas W. Meyer
Guilford, CT


Perpetual LED Light?
Here’s a thought your article on LED lights [January 1] brought to mind. Using the Night Star’s idea of an oscillating magnet for generating power seems a natural for a self-contained nav light system. The pitching motion of a boat should provide enough motion and energy to drive the constant recharging of an LED system. In the calm anchorage we all seek this might prove a problem, but is it ever really motionless?Other uses may be more practical, but this one came to mind after I re-wired all my badly corroded nav lights. The contortions required while completing the rewiring job put me in great shape to enter the “how many people can you cram in a VW contest” that was so popular years ago.

-Frank Tansley
Dana Point, CA


Check Your Charter Fuel
In your February 1, 2003 issue you have a Chartering Checklist. I wouldlike to add that you should manually sound the fuel tanks.On our charterlast spring we checked the fuel level of the dual tanks with the electronic gauge at the nav station, and it showed both tanks full. Six days into the charter, in the middle of the main channel entrance to Fort-de-France, Martinique, we ran out of fuel. The nav station gauge still showed both tanks full. Manually check the tanks.

-Donn J. King
Grapevine, TX


Termin-8 vs. Cuprinol
[Re: “Cuprinol, Anyone?” in PS Advisor, January 15] FYI, an oil-based 25% copper naphthenate product called Jasco Termin-8 Wood Preservative is available at Home Depot for about $17 per gallon. It is made by Jasco Chemical Corp., Santa Ana, CA 92701. In the Pacific Northwest, dry rot is a never-ending problem, and I use Termin-8 on any exposed wood near the ground or that will be exposed to the weather.

By the way, great publication. I’ve been a subscriber for several years. I’ll let everything else lapse before PS. Keep up the good work.

-Mark A. Panasci
Boulder, CO


Dodger Window Cleaners
Your February 1 article on clear plastic cleaners left out a product which I’ve had great success with303 Aerospace Protectant.It sprays on and wipes off, taking all but the toughest dirt with it, and leaves a penetrating bonded protective film which contains UV protectants.I vouch for the claim on the bottle which states that “treated surfaces are extremely anti-static and repellent, stay cleaner longer, and clean up easier.” It also works great for polishing gelcoat.

I’ve had trouble lately finding it in any retail stores except for West Marine, but it can be ordered over the Internet at several sites. Just do a keyword search for “303 protectant” at

Incidentally, their 303 Fabric Protectant is designed to protect and restore Sunbrella and other canvas. (I should get a bonus from them for this!)

-Warren Blanchard
S/V Banana Wind

We liked the 303 Aerospace Protectant as a vinyl cleaner, too, back in the August 15, 2002 issue. Readers can get information directly from the manufacturer at


I noted that Collinite Insulator Wax was mentioned in passing as a protective coating recommended by Edwin Irvine in your excellent February 1 article; however, I’d cast a strong vote for Collinite hull wax as general cleaner/protector for dodger windows as well as lifelines. The stuff is amazing. It transformed almost opaque vinyl on our dodger last year to absolutely clear, like-new condition, and it kept it that way all season. Suggest you check out this magic stuff. It’s not recommended for these applications, but it certainly works. Pragmatism prevails.

-John Kocher
Rock Hall, MD


Perfect Screen Search
While reading the February 15 Chandlery item on Maptech’s Pocket Navigator, I was reminded of a problem that I have been seeking an affordable solution to for some time now.

I use Nobeltec’s Visual Navigation Suite for navigation. Yes, I still carry all the paper chart kits for the area I’m operating in, but having my laptop connected to my GPS and autopilot is so convenient that I would only consider reverting to paper charts in an emergency.

The problem I have is that I would like to install a remote display for my laptop on deck where I can view it from the helm.I have found displays that are sunlight-viewable, and sufficiently waterproof to do the job, but none that completely satisfy all my criteria. The criteria I have established for the remote display of my dreams are as follows: 1. Sunlight and night viewable.This usually means 1200 NITS or more, and dims to black. 2.Waterproof rated to IP67. 3. 1024 by 768 pixel capable. 4. Powered by 12V DC. 5. Color screen with a diagonal between 10″ and 13″. 6. Mountable on pedestal guard. 7. Single cable for video, mouse/trackball, and power. Cable should divide at nav station so it can be plugged into PC. 8. Anodized aluminum enclosure. 9. Cost less than $2,000.

Some of the sites I have visited are:

I would like to know if you can suggest other sources for remote displays, and if you would consider reviewing this type of product?

-Bill Cassellius
Via e-mail

It may be impossible to get your whole wish list. For example, VEI,, has a 12″ sunlight and nighttime viewable LCD active matrix screen at 1,500 nits, 1280 x 1024 resolution, that runs on 12 to 24 volts, pedestal-mounted-but it’s…well, it’s $5,000 over your price.


Isolate Those Metals
Your PS advisor on corrosion between aluminium and stainless steel [January 15] omitted one obvious reminder: If you buy anything with this combination that is going to be exposed to salt water, first remove the fasteners and coat them with Tef-Gel or suchlike before you put the equipment into service. Another option I have used, especially on steering pedestals (your correspondent’s problem), is to replace the machine screws with studs and Nyloc nuts so that you will then be undoing a stainless-to-stainless thread. On reflection, I can’t think why the makers don’t do this in the first place.

-Malcolm Fuller
Via e-mail


Red Cap!
We are in the process of selling everything we can part with (house, vehicles, etc.) and moving on board our 36′ Cape George Cutter. We will be heading down the coast (WA state) by mid- August to begin what I hope is our world cruise.Didn’t know how much of a sense of humor you may have, so if the material below is a bit too colorful, I won’t be insulted to see it changed if you wish to publish it.

After reading “ReaderTips” in the February 15 Mailport, aboutsaving caulking tubes, I absolutely must pass this hot tip about Red Caps. They are aminiature condom you roll down over the tip of thecaulktube. Then you squeeze a little caulk into the tip. I know, it’s all pretty graphic, but it works brilliantly.

I dashed to the store as soon as I heard about these little wonders and asked if they had any caulk condoms. The guy behind the counter turned bright red with embarrassment, but directed me tothe jewels. When we got our new treasures back to the boat, (we were hauled out at the time, with plenty of other folks around the yard) of course we had to do a demo. I grabbed a caulk tube and without even thinking put it between my legs, since you need two hands to perform the task. Need I say more? We’re all still laughing about that one.

-Dianna Denny
Via e-mail

We did cut out the bit about the store clerk’s nickname, but just for space reasons. See

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.


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