Mailport: 07/01/05


Boat Review Correction
PS is indebted to reader Don Reaves of Pittsford, NY, who pointed out that the D/L ratio for the Catalina 387 we published in our May 1 issue’s review of the Hunter 38-249-seemed quite high. We recalculated the ratio using the displacement (19,000 lbs.) and waterline length (38′ 9″) numbers in that article, and got 146, which is what Reaves calculated as well. However, the 249 is correct. How can that be? Because we mistakenly published the wrong waterline length for this boat. The Catalina 387 actually has a LWL of 32 5″. When that figure is used in the calculations, the resulting D/L is 249.


Thinning Epifanes
[Re: PS Advisor May 1, ’05] Posing a question about “varnish troubles,” Jack Faust wrote that Epifanes’ instructions “do not recommend thinning.” The can that I have (bought last year), specifically calls for it to be thinned 25% on the first coat on teak and other oily woods and 0-5% on the subsequent 4 to 5 coats. On non-oily woods such as mahogany, the instructions indicate that it should be thinned by 50% on the first coat, 25% on the second, 10% on the third, and then 0-5% on at least five additional coats.

When finishing some teak recently, I chose to ignore the advice on thinning the first coat, only to have what might politely be termed a “washboard” finish despite the fact that the wood was glass-smooth to the touch. That necessitated stripping and starting anew, but led to excellent results.

Ken Pole
Ottawa, Canada


White Bottom Paint
[Re: “White Bottom Paint Match-up,” PS May 1, ’05] Your recent test being conducted using the bright white antifouling paints available today looks interesting, and appears to be a test that will be useful to your readers. You may not have considered testing the Interlux Trilux products even though they are available in white, as they have been positioned as “The antifouling paint for aluminum.” In fact Trilux is available not only in white, but also in a range of bright colors, and it works very well on all substrates, including fiberglass.

The Trilux group of products is the largest selling group of bright color and white antifouling paints, not only in North America, but the world over. Interlux has been making white antifouling paints since the 1960s, when we introduced Trilux’s wide spectrum of antifouling paints.

When the use of TBT in antifouling paints was restricted, Interlux introduced Trilux II and it is still being made and sold in Canada. Trilux with Biolux was introduced in 1999 and is still made for boat owners in New York. Interlux began shipping Trilux 33 in 2003, and it is available everywhere in the world except Canada and New York.

All of these coatings are available in the brightest whites and crispest blacks, as well as vivid reds, greens, and blues. To make it easy to apply antifouling paint to lower units of outdrives and outboards, Trilux Prop & Drive Aerosol is also available in white, gray, and black.

Interlux provides the widest range of antifouling products available so that we can deliver to boat-owners the best choice of antifouling protection for their boat. Whether the boat-owner wants white, bright colored antifouling, or a hard racing paint, or the maximum antifouling protection, Interlux has the paint to fit the need.

We also pride ourselves on being the best source of information on marine paints and how to paint your boat. Please feel free to use us as the resource for information on marine paints.

Jim Seidel
International Paint, LLC


Indispensable Absorbers
[Re: “The Absorber,” PS May 15, ’05] I was pleased to see your review of The Absorber synthetic chamois for use aboard boats. We’ve been using them aboard our sailboat for 20 years, and have always wondered why more sailors don’t consider them to be indispensable equipment the way we do.

One stays in the cockpit, hung on the binnacle, for use mopping up the morning dew from the cockpit seats. A second one stays in the dinghy inside the bailer, for use getting dew off of the dinghy seats and for mopping up that last bit of water on the floorboards. A third is kept in the locker, reserved for removing the morning dew from the dodger windows (but nothing else, to avoid trapped bits of sand from scratching the windows). And the fourth is kept around for toweling off after a swim.

All of them will get a bit ripe after a week, but they quickly clean up with a bit of soap in a bucket. We use them so much that we always keep a half dozen on board as spares.

Steve Christensen
Midland, MI


Further Inverter Follow-up
Imagine our company’s surprise when our Cotek S1500 inverter was “not tested,” but still negatively reviewed in your April 15, 2005 issue’s sidebar titled “Caveat Emptor.”

Our response to the Practical Sailor testers posted concerns are as follows:

The Cotek S1500 is approved for Marine use per UL File #458 titled “Power converters/Inverters and Power converter/Inverter Systems for Land and Marine Craft.” Surprisingly, this is the same UL file listing used by other inverters you recommended.

The Cotek S1500 flush-cut cooling vents do not require a “drip edge.” As with all the inverter models that were tested, the Cotek S1500 is not intended to be located where it can come into direct contact with dripping water. The internal circuitry is fully protected with a layer of “Conformal Coating,” which protects against any inadvertent water ingress and provides very robust protection in salt-laden marine environments.

Should the Practical Sailor testers want to perform actual tests on the Cotek S1500 unit with other inverters of similar wattage either environmentally or electrically- we would be pleased to have unbiased results published.

James Dernehl
Operating Technical Electronics

PS opted not to test the Cotek S1500 because it didn’t meet our minimum output rating of 1,800 watts, yet we did study the unit. Our initial surprise came when we discovered that this product is enclosed in a painted steel case instead of an aluminum or stainless steel one like all the other models we tested. Though we won’t quarrel with Mr. Dernhel’s assertion that shipboard inverters don’t need drip-edges on their cooling vents, we’d prefer to have them.

Mr. Dernehl makes an important point regrding UL listings. UL 458 has been revised over the years, and it now carries a heading indicating that it does apply to marine applications. However, the distinction within that listing between marine models and those meant for use only in land-based applications like RVs remains unclear. Additionally, UL has also established a separate Marine Mark that is accorded only to those products specifically manufactured for marine use. This is how the organization describes this credential: “The UL Marine Mark signifies an extra level of safety beyond the traditional UL Mark. Products bearing the UL Marine Mark have been specifically evaluated for marine use. Taken into consideration are such conditions as:

shock (impact),
ignition protection,
water ingress and
salt spray corrosion.”

Though not all the models we tested carry the UL Marine Mark, the Xantrex MS2000, which was our top choice, definitely does. Except for the Freedom Marine 20, all the others carry the UL 458 designation only.


I am amazed you praised Xantrex products so highly without a word about their tech support (or lack of it). I had a Heart inverter and have a Trace now. Before these companies were taken over by Xantrex, their tech support was fantastic. Heart even gave me a free remote when I took my (dead to me but fine to them) inverter in for testing.

Since these engineering-driven companies have been bought by the money-counters, things have gone totally downhill. Yesterday I spent over 10 minutes on hold before giving up. If you do get through you will find that they do not support their older products, as they would much prefer you to buy a new one.

I don’t care if their products are technically superior (I doubt they are), I will not buy another item from them.

I suggest the next time you test this sort of gear you make up a standard installation question and call up each manufacturer for support. I think you will find the experience enlightening.

Steve Dubnoff
Via e-mail


Noise Explained
[Re: “Mailport,” PS May 1, ’05] In his letter responding to your article on portable gas generators, Jason Rife writes: “One thing to remember is that the (loudness) 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.”

Mr. Rife is correct that the scale is logarithmic, but he has it exactly in reverse. It takes large changes in the physical noise level, measured in decibels, to make much difference in what we hear.

Sound pressure is measured on a logarithmic scale using a unit called the BEL. Named, of course, after Alexander Graham Bell. Each BEL is a 10 times increase or decrease in the sound pressure. For convenience, the BEL is divided into 10 parts or deciBELs (dB). A change of about 3 dB indicates a doubling or halving of the sound pressure level. The dB scale is referenced to the human threshold of hearing. More exactly, to a sound pressure of .0002 dynes/cm2 at a frequency of 1000 Hz. Believe it or not, this standard was established by the measurement of hearing of a few thousand country bumpkins at county fairs in the Midwest almost a century ago. That was before urban noise and rock and roll permanently damaged the hearing of the average American.

But those are physical measurements. They only loosely correspond to the perception of loudness of a sound. The human ear responds to changes in sound pressure with its own logarithmic system. The range of human hearing is enormous and covers a 120 dB range from the threshold of hearing to the onset of auditory pain. That’s a trillion-time range.

It is important to distinguish loudness from sound pressure. Loudness is what is perceived by our ears. Sound pressure or intensity is what is measured by instruments. Because of the ear’s adaptive ability and the logarithmic nature of human hearing, slight changes in the intensity of a sound go almost unnoticed. A 3 dB change in sound pressure is barely noticeable. A 6dB drop in sound pressure will produce a trivial change in loudness. It takes at least a 30 dB reduction in sound pressure for a sound-attenuation method to make a real difference. That represents a 1,000 time reduction in the sound pressure level.

Manufacturers who sell sound-reduction equipment rarely indicate the reduction in perceived loudness, merely the reduction in physical sound pressure as measured in dB. They hope that the typical user will confuse the two measures and believe that a 50% reduction in sound pressure corresponds to a 50% reduction in loudness. It does not.

Larry Zeitlin
Cortlandt Manor, NY


Trolling Motors
[Re: “Trolling Motor Test,” May 15, ‘ 05] Your article convinced me to order one of these motors. Unlike the ones you tested-the “saltwater” versions-I found prices for “freshwater” versions substantially lower than the $300 listed in the article. Because you have many fresh water sailors as readers, I thought you might want to alert them to the difference.

West Marine lists a fresh water MotorGuide model 46H (36″ shaft) for $214.99, while Cabella’s (a large midwestern sports store with webpage and catalogue) lists the same model for $189.

Another fact your readers might want to know is that both West and Cabella’s have various kinds and lengths of extension handles for these motors. For inflatables like mine, that’s really important since you have to sit forward of amidships to stay dry in the damn things.

Don Chambers
Via e-mail


[Re: “Gear Graveyard: Hevea Seaboot,” PS May 15, ’05] The sole bad steer I’ve had from Practical Sailor is the Hevea seaboot. I bought them after reading your article in 2002. I wore them a dozen times and within six months they were as bad or worse than the boot pictured in your recent issue.

I was mad. I went out and replaced them with Dubarry Seaquest boots. I spent real money, but got real boots for it.

I stored my Heveas in the closet at home, air conditioned and dry. They only went to the boat in my sea bag when I thought they’d be needed. The damn boots were babied and they just fell apart, literally. They de-laminated, chunks of the blue rubber separating from the rest of the boot. I still have them and they get used now and again in the garden.

I am glad to know what happened to these boots, though because I was curious.

Glenn Elston
Rock Island, IL

The boots we tested for that Sept. 2002 article on seaboots under $100 were the Hevea Pacific seaboots. We’re not aware of any problems with those boots. The disintegration issues that have come to our attention pertain only to the Thermo model seaboots from Hevea.


…Where Credit Is Due
To Wind Energy: “When my AirX wind generator turned out to have a defective regulator, I was in the out islands of the Bahamas where it would have been difficult to return it for repair. Jim Bell, technical support for Southwest Windpower, Inc., offered to send a regulator, but I was not up to installing it. He therefore kindly arranged for me to receive a new Air X at a marina in Florida so that I could make a quick swap and return the defective one in the same package. This company’s flexibility was greatly appreciated.” (

Peter Ashby
Via e-mail

To Jack Rabbit Marine: “When I bought a used solar panel and needed some guidance and equipment to hook it up, I called Jack Rabbit Marine in Stamford, CT. They answered all my questions. Their rep was friendly, glad to help, and obviously knew his stuff. Prices were at least competitive with the big companies, if not better. I got the stuff in two days, with no shipping charge. I was very pleased, and recommend them.” (

Phillip Reid
Wilmington, NC

To Sailors Tailor: “Last summer, I purchased a pristine, 1979 Catalina 30 from a wonderful couple in Au Gres, MI. My first boat-a Coronado 27-had been relatively easy to store for the winter. Drop the mast, haul it home, and put it in the shed. The Catalina 30 was another story. Its too big for the shed, so it had to sit out in the Michigan elements under snow, ice, and whatever Mother Nature threw at it.

“I watched for articles about boat covers for several months, wanting something to protect my new baby; something that would fit my budget. After searching the local canvas shops and too many Internet advertisers, I ended up with Bob Rowland at Sailor’s Tailor. I have to say that his company is well hidden online, but worth the search. After talking to Bob for about five minutes, I knew I didn’t have to look further. Even without having seen his product, our conversation convinced me that I would be dealing with a dedicated professional and true craftsman.

“When the cover arrived, I wasn’t disappointed. It only took about an hour (in freezing temperatures) for me and a good friend to install it and button up the boat. The materials are top notch and look to be up to the task for many years. The entire cover fit like a glove. With a combination of quarter-turn snaps, conventional snaps, and zippers, there is plenty of ventilation and the design channels water off the boat and around the openings with little or no intrusion. I now have a cover that can be used summer and winter. It’s easy to install, and easy to clean and store. The company not only makes covers for Catalina 30s, but also for 156 other one-design classes.” (

Dennis VanBeest
Vassar, MI

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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