Mailport: 05/01/05


Atlantic Sail Traders
[Re: “Discount Sail Options,” PS March ’05] I think a little more information is in order regarding Atlantic Sail Traders. As the proprietor of Latitude Sailing Charters, I have done business with them exclusively for over 10 years and have always received top-notch sails and good, friendly service.

Steve Fahrer and his parents developed and have operated this well-repected family business for over 20 years. Steve is a world-class sailor, ex-Olympic weightlifter, and a great guy. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease and ALS. He is now 30 and is among fewer than fivepercent of ALS victims surviving after that length of time.

To say that he, his family, and their business have been struggling would be an understatement. They spent the month of December in China in a last-ditch effort pursuing a stem-cell transplant, with remortgaging of houses and the business. Small improvements were shown.

The company is very much in business. I have just purchased a new suit of sails and am as happy with the quality of service and sails as ever. I stand squarely behind Atlantic Sail Traders and hope that others will as well. You will not only be pleased with the choice, but will also know that you’ve supported a fellow sailor in his fight.

Stan Ensner
Sarasota, FL


Map Seal Alternative
[Re: “Map Seal,” PS March ’05] Good article on the Map Seal product. You can do the same thing with Thompson’s Water Seal. Put some in a spray bottle and cover the chart/map on both sides. Or, use a brush to cover the chart. Let it dry (expect some odor for a while), and you are in business.

My place of employment makes emergency response maps on demand and we needed an inexpensive way to protect the products from the elements (disasters seldom happen on a sunny day). After letting the sealant dry, we used a water hose and drenched the sealed maps. None of the ink ran, and they all seem in good shape.

C. Henry Depew
Via e-mail


Chainplate Advice
[Re: “Chainplates Revisited,” PS Feb. 15, 2005] Thanks for the excellent article on chainplates. I’d like to make a small point, however, because it might lead a DIY type astray to say that it’s “a relatively easy and straightforward fix” to retrofit annuluses at chainplate bolts. It is easy and straightforward to install annulses to begin with, but retrofitting these can be a messy and finnicky project. It may well have to be done, but one shouldn’t start a project like this lightly.

Dave Gerr
Westlawn Institute


Nonskid Cleaners
[Re: “Nonskid Cleaners,” PS Feb. 15, 2005] Have you ever considered Spray Nine as a nonskid cleaner? The household kind seems stronger than the marine version.

Also, including fish guts was a good idea for the test. Now if you can figure out how to include seagull droppings in each one of those test boxes, I’d really be impressed.

Dan Steinberg
Via e-mail


I enjoyed your article on nonskid cleaners. In my experience (over 50 years on the water), I’d say throw all of those commercial expensive cleaners away. Use water, Joy dishwasher liquid and Clorox. Mix one part Clorox and Joy to 150 parts water and you can clean most everything. If you need to tackle a stubborn stain, sprinkle a little baking soda and scrub it with the liquid mixture. This costs about 2 pennies per cup.

Joe Periard
Attica, MI


Gasoline Generators
[Re: “Portable Gas Generators,” PS March ’05] I enjoyed your recent review of small, portable, and presumably quiet gas generators for I have been considering buying one for some time. The main criteria I had were power output, cost, and loudness; your review also made me consider the quality of AC output.

One problem with reading about noise levels in decibels is that I have an uncertain feeling for how “loud” 61 decibels is relative to 78 decibels, and whether I would find either suitable for use when anchored in a quite cove on a summer night.

In case other readers have less than a bedrock familiarity with the decibel scale, I offer some real-life noises with their accompanying decibel value. One thing to remember is that the scale is not linear, but rather logarithmic, which means that small differences in noise level on the decibel scale will translate to large differences in what we hear.

The following information I gleaned from a website at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC( Barely audible sound: 0 dB; a quiet home: 40 dB; normal conversation: 60 dB; inside a car: 70 dB; automobile (at 25 feet): 80 dB; food blender (at 3 feet): 90 dB; and a chainsaw (at 3 feet): 117 dB.

The loudest model you tested was the Coleman Powermate (78 dB at 10 feet); the quietest was the 1000-Watt Honda Super Quiet (61 dB at 10 feet). From a real life noise scale, I can imagine that the Coleman Powermate at 78 dB (equivalent to loud singing at 3 feet) might be too loud for a pleasant night’s sleep and for neighboring boats in a tight anchorage, while the Honda Super-Quiet at 61 to 62 dB for both the 1000 and 2000 Watt models should permit a restful night’s sleep for all. And the dB level of one’s spouse reacting to the idea that $1,000 of the household income will be spent on a gas generator, is, in my estimation, about 75 at 3 feet.

Jason Rife
Richmond, VA


I will be buying a portable generator for my 26-foot catamaran to power a small air conditioner or microwave along with some battery charging. I have been looking at the Yamaha and Honda models as weight and noise are high on my list of selection criteria. I am currently leaning toward the Honda for a reason not mentioned in your review.

Honda has the ability to join two units together to double the output. My thinking is that the Honda 1000 will be easier to pull in and out of storage on a small boat (and my wife would be able to lift it where she would have a hard time with the 2000 model). And if we find we really need the extra power, we can get a second unit and have a backup as well as double the power (actually more than the 2000 according to your specifications), while still being managable in tight spaces.

Terry Dill
Via e-mail

Does having a gas generator to power either a microwave or an air conditioner really add to your comfort level? Given the noise and hassle-and that it might very well add to the danger level-we doubt it. Never forget the carbon monoxide threat. These machines are really best for duties like powering hand tools in a boatyard or far shore, and for battery charging.


Bottom Paint Quandary
[Re: “Annual Bottom Paint Test,” PS March ’05] Six years ago when I was completing a serious blistering repair to my 1968 Morgan 45, I applied the West System barrier coat then covered that with Interlux’s barrier coat just as Practical Sailor had with a Tartan 44 some years before. I then applied three coats of Interlux, Micron CSC, shark white. The boat stays in Connecticut waters and is hauled every second year with a reapplication of Micron CSC at that time.

Once before reapplying the Micron CSC, I was stupid and used a hand sander to prep the surface (not required by manufacturer), and sanded thru the Interlux barrier coat in several areas.

PS, March 2004, rated Interlux Micron 66 as “Excellent” in Connecticut and Micron CSC was rated “Fair+.” I keep my sailboat on a mooring in North Cove, Old Saybrook, CT. There is a lot of marine growth in this cove, and as the summer progresses, the shark white bottom becomes covered with a black slime.

In October last year, the boat was hauled. I applied Interlux, Interstrip 299E paint stripper, which I am told will remove the antifouling paint, but not the barrier coat. Well you guessed it, it did remove enough of my barrier coat that I discontinued using it and reported my experience to Interlux.

I then used a dustless sander with 80-grit sandpaper to remove the Micron CSC and much of the Interlux barrier coat. Two weeks later, I began to reapply a new Interlux Interprotect barrier coat 2000E/2001E, 5-gallons and 5 coats later ($350), then followed with Interlux Micron 66, first one coat of blue, then two coats of green ($480).

With much chagrin, a few months later I read the annual bottom paint report in your March 2005 issue and saw that Interlux Micron 66 was rated “Fair” and Interlux Micron CSC “Fair+” in Connecticut waters. This is a story of research and hard work, not to mention a significan’t money, only to end up with a “Fair” bottom.

Edson Bourn
Old Saybrook, CT

As we say in all our bottom paint articles, what’s Fair these days would have been considered Excellent a few years ago. Not one of these paints showed any hard growth in either testing place. We also point out that no one-including the paint makers with whom we consult every year-knows how any particular paint will perform year to year and place to place. There are simply too many variables. Micron 66 is a great paint with an overall excellent track record. Mr. Bourn made a good choice.


I’ve been a subscriber for many years; I even have some issues from the early ’80s. For the past four years, my wife and I have been cruising in the Caribbean, mostly around Trinidad and Venezuela. The time has come to haul the boat again and we will be doing it in Puerto La Cruz for the first time. Other times, we have hauled in Trinidad, but I didn’t relish the idea of going 250 or so miles into the wind and current just to haul the boat.

The problem in Venezuela is that, although there are some chandleries around, many of the brands we are familiar with aren’t sold here. The U.S. products that are here are very expensive and the local ones are completely unknown to us. We’ve painted the bottom with Pettit ACP Ultima the last few times (found in Trinidad) and before that, ACP50, but it isn’t available here. I could have it shipped in, I suppose, but the cost of that would add about $30 per gallon to an already expensive product.

So, based on the experience of some cruising friends, we’re planning on using a new paint, ABC3, by Ameron. Ameron is an international company, and according to its website, this paint has been used on U.S. Navy ships. I guess if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me, but I wonder if you have ever heard of it or if it’s ever been reviewed by PS? Cruising friends we know have had a good experience with it, and it’s much cheaper than the other bottom paints here. We’ll let you know what happens.

Larry Rudnick
Via e-mail

Though we’ve heard of Ameron’s ABC3 bottom paint, we haven’t tested it, mostly because this paint is marketed to and used on commercial vessels. We understand that the Ameron people promote ABC3 as applicable for use in fresh, brackish, and salt water, so it sounds versatile. And it’s evidently compatible with most surfaces, so that, too, is a plus. We’re also told that theres no maximum allowable time before relaunching once the boat is coated, and veteran boat owners will understand that advantage.


RayTech Software
[Re: “Readers Review,” PS March ’05] My boat is outfitted with a full set of Raymarine HSB2 electronics, so I have been a slave to RayTech RNS for five years. Joe Kosheff adequately catalogs some of the quirks of the latest version of the software, but he failed to convey just how truly frustrating it is to use on a daily basis.

How could anyone conceive that it would be a good idea to fill half of the available screen space with a useless “boating lifestyle” picture while crowding out the operational content of the menus? And who would want the dozens of configurable settings that Raymarine touts as a feature? Never mind that the first response from tech support is always to run the “raycleanup” program, which resets all of those settings to the default. Just give me the one or two best settings based on on-the-water research. Maybe that is the real problem.

I wonder how much outdoor testing RayTech RNS sees before it ends up in our hands? If the programmers had to spend a month or so out on the water, using the software 10 to 12 hours a day, Id bet those annoyances would be gone before their sunburns started to fade.

Duffy Mazan
Via e-mail


… Where Credit Is Due
To Garhauer Marine: “Taking your advice, I purchased a lifting davit from Garhauer Marine. When it arrived, one of the pieces had been so badly bent in shipping that it wouldn’t fit the rest of the assembly. I called Garhauer and they immediately rushed me a replacement, at no cost. That seemed reasonable, but when I went to install the davit I discovered that the bracket they had supplied to hold it in place was too short for the stern rail on my boat (Catalina 400 Mk II). I called them back, and they immediately offered to fabricate one for me according to my specific needs-again at no charge. I argued that this was beyond any obligation they should have to a customer, and that I’d be happy to pay them, but Mark at Garhauer insisted that, since it didn't work as it was, they needed to make it right. The piece arrived within a few days, and now I have an outstanding lifting davit, and Garhauer has a customer for life.” (

John Lehman
Kemah, TX

To Battery Outlet, Inc.: “I would like to make your readers aware of a resource I recently discovered to replace rechargeable batteries that no longer hold a charge. I have an old ICOM M15 handheld VHF that I hardly ever use. When I found that the battery pack could no longer hold a charge, I contacted the manufacturer and was told that that battery pack was no longer in stock and a special order battery pack would cost as much as a new radio. Discouraged, I started to shop around for a new radio and found that a local battery store, Battery Outlet, Inc., repacks old battery packs with new cells for a fraction of the cost of a new battery pack.

“To my surprise Andros Charalambous of Battery Outlet, Inc., was able to replace my old sealed battery pack with improved-capacity batteries that worked great. I found that he could replace almost any sealed battery pack with new batteries at a very reasonable cost. His firm is located in Chesapeake, VA. And you can find the company on the web. Your readers may have to send the old battery pack to him for an estimate, but if you need it replaced, it’s a no brainer.” (

Thomas Pantelides
Hampton, VA

To Gross Mechanical Laboratories, Inc. (GROCO): “After 12 years of reliable performance from my Groco HF head, I decided to replace the entire unit in 1999. In September 2004, after a problem related to abuse (pumping with the inlet valve to the holding tank closed), I installed a new seal kit.

“I had problems with leaks immediately thereafter, and contacted Groco. Patrick, in technical support, was very helpful in suggesting some quick fixes, and since I was cruising on the Chesapeake Bay in the Annapolis area, John Cly, head of customer service, offered to meet our boat in Annapolis to help us out. Our schedule did not allow this, but Patrick told me to return the pump assembly after the season and he would rebuild it free of charge. I returned the pump assembly and not long afterward received a package. It wasn’t our rebuilt pump, but a brand new one. This level of service is certainly above and beyond!” (

David Malcolm
Hamburg, NJ

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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