Washer/Dryer Combos
As sales manager for Commercial Products, I supply a great deal of these types of units to the marine industry. Therefore, I would like to comment on the recently published letters regarding washer/dryer combinations (April 15, August 15, 1999) in an effort to educate the readers about these products.

Firstly, there are two types of combos: a) Washer with condensing NON-VENTED dryer and b) washer with VENTED dryer. Although both do a fine job of washing small amounts (8-10 lbs.) of laundry, the latter VENTED model is the only one we recommend for marine use. When it comes to drying clothes, the reason is simple when explained.

Drying clothes in the condensing model is achieved by cold water from the freshwater tank chilling the condenser attached to the drum. As the warm humid air in the drum circulates past the condenser, the humidity condenses and goes down the drain. The hot air remains in the drum and continues to recirculate. Heres the dichotomy: The freshwater temperature must be 75F or below to efficiently chill the condenser. The warmer the freshwater, the longer it takes to dry. Compound this with the dryer being overloaded and the air cannot circulate through the clothes-drying becomes nearly impossible.

The main reason many boat owners opt for the condensing model is the small model depth dimension of only 17-1/2. WRONG REASON! If there isn’t room for the vented model don’t expect the non-vented model to satisfy your drying chores, especially in summer or sub to tropical climates! Although deeper (22″), go with the vented model and you will be significantly happier!

Secondly, as with any equipment, proper installation is paramount! Washer/dryer combos are designed with the intended installation being in a motionless, horizontal home. Keeping this thought in mind, mount the unit far aft, on the floor, at the lowest point possible. Should the unit become slightly twisted or out of level, severe vibration in the spin cycle may cause internal components to fail prematurely. Also, never operate the unit while underway! (Try moving your top load washer at home while its spinning out for a similar experience!)

When the proper unit is installed correctly, it will provide many years of service. On the other hand, how many boats are designed with a space for a washing machine?

Andrew Whittington
Commercial Products International
7060 15th St. East, Suite 6
Sarasota, FL 34243
Phone/Fax: 941/756-5135

Navico and Navik
Following your review of the Navico and Autohelm tiller pilots in the September 1996 issue, I bought a Navico TP100, which was used extensively during my one year Atlantic Triangle (New York to the Channel-canals to the Mediterranean-Canary Islands-Caribbean and back to New York) along with a Plastimo Navik on my Columbia 8.7.

Your tests, I discovered, had one basic flaw: They were static and did not measure the speed of response to the boats changes in course. It would have been relatively easy to construct a cockpit mock up on a turntable to test that.

The autopilot performed satisfactorily at sea, although one had to balance the sails quite accurately in order to have the TP 100 work properly (and that is not easy on the Columbia 8.7, despite your having labeled her an entry-level boat). The TP 100 was useless on the narrow French canals (where I used the TillerStay which gave very good service) whilst a German skipper told me he could use his Autohelm.

On the wider ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) cuts I was able to use it, but had to give it 1 corrections about every 5 minutes, which was about what Id have to do with the TillerStay. According to the reports in the English magazine, Practical Boat Owner, I had bought the wrong TP and should have bought the TP200, which wasnt available here at the time of my purchase.

The Navik windvane is a very well-conceived unit, but this was my second one in which the cast aluminum part holding the paddle broke. Fortunately, when the first one broke in 1981 after 12 days of use, a welder in Mindelo (Cape Verde) made me a perfect copy in mild steel, which served for the rest of the trip to Rio de Janeiro and was subsequently galvanized. I was fortunate to have it on board this time.

A French sailor from Lorient (the home of Plastimo) told me their alloys were known locally as cochonium (pigonium in English). I had labeled it aluzamak (zamak being a well-known alloy composed of machine shop floor sweepings to which a dose of zinc is added). Other parts of the Navik also disintegrated or came loose at one time or the other, but I was able to fix them so as to get the unit back in operation.

John Somerhausen
Douglaston, New York

Adhesive Removers
Regarding your July 15, 1999 sidebar review of adhesive residue removers, I have found from my experience in sailboat service/repair, and house building/repair, that the most effective remover of any duct tape, masking tape, etc. that has not been removed for many days/weeks/months, is kerosene and a paper towel.

All manner of masking tapes from the cheapest to the best and any other adhesive tape product leave a hard residue after they have been baked in the sun. Getting them off without harming the surface underneath, be it glass, gelcoat, paint, or whatever, only requires a paper towel soaked in a liberal amount of kerosene and some elbow grease. I have tried every other chemical available from the ones you mentioned in your sidebar to everything else sold in local hardware and chain home products stores and found that they either dissolve, discolor, dull the underlying surface, or just don’t do anything.

Ordinary kerosene works on everything without attacking the underlying surface. After the residue is removed, I use a little soapy water to wash away the residual kerosene.

Jim Graham
Osiris Sailing Services
Port Canaveral, Florida

Manganese Bronze
Regarding the PS Advisor in the August 1, 1999 issue on brass plumbing nipples, you state: …so-called manganese bronze…(is)…unsuitable for underwater use. Better tell that to the propeller manufacturers; theyve been making propellers out of that unsuitable stuff for decades!

John Camm
Shelburne, Vermont

Manganese bronze is a brass and liable to dezincification. Thats why you must have zinc anodes nearby on the shaft, which isn’t possible with smaller through-hull fittings. The PS Advisor concerned itself with plumbing fittings, not propellers. But youre right, we should have made this distinction clear. Manganese bronze is a common choice for propellers because the metal is fairly strong, can be repaired more easily than some other metals, and is priced reasonably.

Cetol on Gelcoat
With reference to taking Cetol off your gelcoat (June and October 1, 1999) here is one solution that works well.

Use JASCO water rinseable brush cleaner and the rough side of a Scotch Brite heavy duty scrub sponge (or anything similar).

It takes vigorous rubbing for just a few seconds to remove the Cetol. The scrubber may whiten a bit, which indicates that a tiny bit of the gelcoat is being removed.

So, its a tradeoff between cleaning up the splattered Cetol or keeping your gelcoat completely pristine.

I also had a few Cetol drips on my cockpit seats which are a non-skid blue-tinted gelcoat. The Cetol came off again but with longer rubbing.

Bruce Beh
Port Townsend, Washington

Where Credit Is Due…
To Caframo Ltd., Wiarton, Ontario: I purchased a Caframo Mini Ceramic 12v Heater/Defogger. It comes with two bases. One of the bases is a suction cup, the other is a permanent mount. I lost the permanent mount and when I contacted Caframo to purchase a replacement they sent me one for free. The unit is only 100 watts so it cannot clear a window like my automobile defroster, however it can clear enough of my pilothouse window so I can dock my boat. I would also like to thank Myrna, their customer service person.

Pat Harman
Eagle River, Alaska

To Technautics, Newport Beach, California: I bought a new Mason 44 and had the Technautics Coastal 12 refrigeration system installed in the ice box/freezer. The system worked flawlessly until a problem developed…after the expiration of the warranty. I used my local marine electronics company to address what was anticipated to be a minor problem. Everything checked out fine on the bench. Technautics sent replacement parts at no cost. But the problem reappeared soon after the system was reinstalled. At their insistence, Technautics traveled to my boat and changed out the entire system at no cost. This action was neither requested nor expected.

Drew Herron
Los Angeles, California

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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