Mailport: July 2001


More on Leaky Portlights
This letter is in response to the leaky portlights letter in the May 1 PS Advisor. I have 11 Beckson portlights in my 36-foot sailboat that I built 23 years ago. The best way to prevent gasket leaks is to remove the seals and screens once a year and wash them and the lens in a mild soap solution. I use a toothbrush to get the crud out of the grooves. Then I spray the gaskets with a silicone lubricant and replace them and the screens in the port. Its a good idea to put a little silicone spray on the hinge as well. Sometimes the screens develop a warp that prevents a watertight seal. Since sunlight destroys the screens in five or six years, it is a good idea to replace them periodically.

I have been able to stop leaking through the frame by merely removing the outer rim, cleaning off the old sealant, wiping thoroughly with alcohol, and resealing the rim with silicon sealant. The major difficulty in this process is removing the rim of aged portlights without breaking them. Age and sunlight turns them quite brittle.

Only once have I needed to remove an entire portlight. It ended up in little pieces and required a complete new replacement.

-Dan Van Sickel
Panama City, FL


As a subscriber Im always very interested in what you write-yourmagazine has saved me tons!

I read with interest your article on sunglasses. I too enjoy Maui Jim glasses on the water but my experience hasn’t been so positive. My latest pair of Maui Jims delaminated (the lens) after only six months of limited use. When I called Maui Jim about this, they would not provide me with a new pair. Their warranty is very limited. They don’t stand behind their own manufacturing (the lens lamination process) and wanted $40.00 to replace the lens. My next sunglasses will not be Maui Jims.

-Doug McGrigor
Via e-mail


I hate to be too critical of you guys, as I normally find a lot of good information in your publication. You acquire and test a barrage of items which could be thought of as necessities of sailing and some that truly are. You test these for us, so we can disregard the salesmens spiel to save time and money. But come on now, $100 sunglasses are a bit much!

Maybe you should take a survey of your readers: My idea of a reasonable price for sunglasses might be on the low side, but I have a feeling $100 glasses are not going to be considered practical by most. Maybe you guys just wanted some fancy shades and this was a good way to get them. If this is the case, Bravo – anyone peddling $100 sunglasses should be taken for a little ride.

I did a little survey myself (I just wanted to be sure I wasnt too far off with my thinking). I asked several people and even the two I feel live on another planet when it comes to conservative shopping said $100 would be at the very end of their sunglasses price range.

I think you could have found some less expensive glasses to test.

-Catherine Webb
Via e-mail


I was very disappointed in your article on sunglasses. The article had no value to the practical sailor. What would have been helpful, and practical, would have been a test of impact and scratch resistance, as well as a test of UV-A/B transmission.

-Ed Weber

Editor’s note: A good real-world test might have been to drop them in a gravel driveway and step on them. But who could bear to do that to a bunch of expensive sunglasses? (See Catherine, above.)


There is a problem with polarized sunglasses that readers should know about before purchasing them. The way to test if glasses are polarized is to take two pairs, place one lens of one pair in front of a lens of the secondpair, and rotate the first pair so the lenses are at right angles to each other. The “sandwich will become virtually opaque. It turns out that just about every liquid crystal display-my laptop, DS, KM, VHF, autopilot, Loran, is also polarized. If I view any of these with my head at an angle to the LCD they can get quite dim. You would be surprised how often this is the case. Polarized glasses do reduce the glare very significantly, but sometimes they can be a real pain.

-Dick Pell
Sarasota, FL


Bob Bavier
All my adult life I have followed the sailing prowess of Bob Bavier. Hewas the best. My personal knowledge of Bob was in WWII when he was Lt. Cmdr. Robert N. Bavier, Jr. Captain of USS Gantner (DE-60). I was a junior ensign fresh out of Midshipmens School at Columbia. Once we were coming into New York Harbor, returning from convoy duty from Casco Bay, Maine to Londonderry, Northern Ireland. There was a 50-knot offsetting wind from the dock in New York. Captain Bavier took the Gantner in at flank speed, threw over the lines, and you could have put an egg between the ship and the dock and not cracked the shell.The rest of our division had dropped anchor and did not get liberty for two weeks! From that time on our crew called the Gantner Bobbys Rowboat! He was the finest shiphandler I ever saw in the Navy.I have been proud of the opportunity to get to know first-hand one of the greatest sailors that ever lived.

-Don Flanders
Fort Smith, AR


Bilge Alarm
In response to your recent cover article on high water alarms (May 15) I believe that a freestanding-i.e. not tied into ships power- alarm is an essential piece of safety gear. I have used a Sonin Water Alarm with remote sensor for years. It was particularly helpful on a boisterous trip to Bermuda and worked as advertised. At another time it flagged a water tank leak before a problematic amount of fresh water was lost. This is a Radio Shack item, and can be ordered by phone: (800-843-7422, item # 9800111). It works similarly to the item described in your cover article, but costs only around $15. It is not a substitute, however, for wiring in an alarm that goes off when the bilge pump is activated.

-Dick Stevenson
Larchmont, NY


Link 2000R Update
In the April 1, 2001 edition, Jim Lyons submitted a complaint regarding the Link 2000R Monitor. He spoke highly of the monitoring capability, but was distressed about the loss of battery charging capability in the event that the Link 2000R failed.

We installed the Link 2000R along with a Freedom 10, and a high-output alternator on our Caliber 33 in March 1995. Since 1997, we have lived and cruised aboard with the luxury of power to spare, thanks to the system. We are able to routinely operate a breadmaker, a cell phone charger, vacuum cleaner, and various other AC devices.

A couple of weeks ago we were anchored waiting for a storm to pass.Lightning struck what seemed to be very close to our boat. The next morning during battery charging via engine operation I noticed that the Link 2000R display was frozen, and no charging was taking place. Since it is primarily a monitor I opted to unplug it. The moment I pulled the plug the alternator loaded down the engine, and battery charging resumed. Unlike Mr. Lyons further problems, when I plugged the Link 2000R back in, it reset itself and is still doing the job for us.

-Pat Hanifin
Bokeelia, FL


Yacht Brokers
I took early retirement from my clinical dental practice in 1996 and succumbed to a well-deserved mid-life crisis by getting a position as a yacht broker.

I take issue with your contention that brokers automatically try to get the highest price for a boat. This is a false assumption. If we did, we wouldnt sell any boats; theyd be sitting at the docks looking for customers. We realize the laws of supply and demand and try to price a boat based on the value compared to other like vessels, and what the market will bear. In my experience, it has been the customer, not the broker, who expects that his or her vessel is worth more than the others. The brokerages I represented did their best, not always successfully, to convince clients to place a reasonable value on their vessel.

Yes, be careful when dealing with yacht brokers. Just as careful as you would be when selecting a physician, dentist, accountant, attorney or any other professional.

-H.B. Koerner
Mt. Pleasant, SC


Rope Clutches
I read the piece on stoppers (April 15, 2001) and thought you might like some practical feedback. Weve been using standard Lewmar clutches on the 78′ ketch Beowulf for the past 30,000+ miles. In some places, like the main and mizzen sheet/traveler controls, they are operating at the top of the suggested load limit. At about the 15,000-mile mark some shine on the control lines was noted, but they were otherwise OK. Even when were fullypowered up these clutches can be used to (carefully) bleed off sheet or traveler.

The only problem weve had has been with small-diameter high modulus halyards-Spectra core covered with polyester. On a couple of occasions weve broken the cover (but the core was OK) when releasing the clutch under high load. For these halyards weve gone to stitching the cover to the core and/or adding an extra layer of polyester to give the clutch more to grip. Overall, these are amazing pieces of hardware.

-Steve Dashew
S/V Beowulf


WeatherFax 2000 Advisory
After our May 1 story on weatherfax computer programs we received a letter from Jonathan Selby, director of Xaxero Marine and the author of the WeatherFax 2000 (Weatherfax for Windows) software. Mr. Selby informs us that Coretex is no longer representing Xaxero in the US, but is distributing a program called Coretex 2000 SC, billed as a replacement for the Coretex-distributed WeatherFax for Windows. Mr. Selby disavows any association with the current Coretex product.

Practical Sailor reviewed the original Selby-written Weatherfax for Windows, not the new Coretex software.

Bjorn Iversen of Coretex confirms the rift between the companies, and is sending PS a copy of Coretex 2000SC to review.

The current authorized representative for Selby’s WeatherFax for Windows in the US is NavCom Digital, P.O. Box 1352, Kemah, TX 77565, 800/444-2581. Contact that company for local dealers.



Reader Call-In Number
Practical Sailor is continuing its policy of opening an editorial phone line twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1130-1300 Eastern time (GMT- 5), for subscribers with questions about boats and boat gear. The number is (401) 849-6081. Executive Editor Dale Nouse will be happy to gam with readers who call during those hours. For customer service or subscription-related questions, please use the numbers listed in the masthead on the facing page.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at