Mailport: Marelon Seacocks


Regarding your recent report on Seacocks (Beneteau Responds to Seacock Query, PS August 2018) I owned a 1987 Catalina 30, Mark II. It had four gate valves instead of seacocks. I had them replaced with Forespar Marelon seacocks. Over the next six years that I owned the boat, two handles sheared off while opening or closing them. I lubricated them every year during the winter layup. I exercised them regularly during the season. Forespar replaced the handles at no charge but I am not a fan of their seacocks. The boat was always sailed in freshwater, Lake Erie. I currently own a 1998 Beneteau Oceanis 321 and am the captain of a 2013 Beneteau Oceanis 50. I lube the seacocks every winter. Both boats have always sailed in freshwater, Lake Erie. Zero problems with the seacocks.

Mark Corson

Moya-Mazi, Beneteau Oceanis 321

Lake Erie, OH

Tapping Spars

If you are into spars (see PS September 2018), consider that taps are extremely strong but brittle. It is very important to secure your work as rigidly as possible. Use aids to insure both the hole you drill and the tapping process are square to the work. If you can put your work in a vise on a drill press do it. You can then drill the hole square and gently start the tap into the hole at the lowest speed possible gently tightening the tap in the chuck so it will slip when some resistance is felt but the tap gets a start. Finish the hole with a two-handed tap handle exerting equal pressure on each side of the tap driver. In thicker materials (and especially stainless steel), after you have achieved a turn or two, reverse the tap a half-turn to break the cut chips and to clear the cutting side for a new cut. I find using a paste-cutting medium to be cleaner and more effective. Some larger marine stores carry this. I always go down a few numbers (up in size) on the drill index when drilling stainless steel. If you do a lot of drilling and fastening with sheet metal screws or plan to do some drilling-and-tapping, an investment in a numbered drill index is money well spent. A 10-32 tap calls for a #21 bit. A 10-24 tap calls for a #25. Be ever so careful, and use a new tap for a part that is very important to you. Broken taps can be very difficult to remove.

Tom Carr

Bluebird, Mirror Offshore 19

Santa Cruz, California.

True that. A broken tap can be as stubborn as a sheared bolt.

Ultra Sonic Testing

Ultra sonic testing (see PS October 2018) is an excellent idea for inspecting metal components, but in my opinion it is much less practical for large area composite inspections, which is a bit like visually inspecting an elephant while looking through a drinking straw. The test instruments inspection area is just too small. PS comments about using a phenolic or metal hammer to search for composite delaminations were contradictory relative to the cost of UT testing. Why use a $20 tool to reach a damage-repair decision that might cost tens of thousand of dollars, or a purchase decision for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Wouldnt infra-red thermography or laser shearography, although much more expensive, be more appropriate for informing those decisions? Again, the inspectors IR or LS qualifications and familiarity with marine composites are critical. Regardless of the inspection method or equipment used, the inspectors experience and qualifications are critical, and this bears careful consideration in the DIY context.

Bruce Pfund

Westerly, RI
Pfund Special Projects

We can see how headline to the article (DIY Materials Testing) could lead one to believe we were encouraging DIY ultrasonic testing. You are right, the price and training required to operate the equipment would not qualify as a typical DIY project. Weve begun researching IR and LS inspection for a future report.

Steering Wheels, Fully Dressed

I enjoyed your informative article on wrapping the steering wheel with rope [for better grip and ergonomics]. There are a few questions remaining: Where do you source the wrapping line? Ive tried West Marine. Also, how do you calculate the length of line to purchase? I have a 24-inch diameter wheel on my Ocean Alexander Fly Bridge and you are correct-the wheel is way cold most of the time.

Mike Michel


M/V Lagniappe 4

Weve used a variety of nylon and nylon/polyester braid lines from the hardware store. The last was from Best Deal Hardware, where you can get 100 feet of 1/4-inch braided nylon for about $15. You want some elasticity in the rope, since that is what keeps it snug. Confirm it is nylon. The length required to cover 1inch diameter wheel is approximately D x 3.14 x 3.14 x 4 = about 80 feet (where D equals the wheel diameter in inches), so use a 100-foot hank. The stretch will reduce the line diameter, but it will also make it longer. Take your time, tightening lightly every few wraps and then very tightly every rung, working in extra turns as needed to keep it gap-free.

Combatting Weevils

Regarding your recent PS Advisor on weevils (PS November 2018), Im not clear if this article is saying all brown rice and grains have eggs or only outside developed countries? It would also be helpful to know if there is any health risk to eating the eggs orlarvae?

David Proudfoot


All grains can contain eggs, even in developed countries; fumigation is quite effective, but often less than 100 percent. Additionally, the infestation can come from outside, after packaging but before purchase; grain weevils are present world-wide as an introduced species and can easily chew through paper or plastic bags. Weve seen the holes! We did not investigate the health risk, but the editor has eaten plenty of weevils during his cruising days, and he is still mostly sane. Weevils may be distasteful to most people, but are not harmful. In fact, one source suggested weevils can serve as canaries in the coal mine to test for the presence of pesticides. Live weevils that die after dining on your wheat suggests pesticide is still present. Yes, bay leaves are helpful as a repellent, but wont drive away weevils from grain that is already infested. We tested that too. Finally, and this advice we credit to reader Tom Carroll. If two weevils wind up in your spoonful of grain, and youve only the appetite for one, always choose the lesser of two weevils.

North Shore Canvas

Regarding your recent PS Advisor, What to Look For in a Winter Cover, North Shore Canvas made my Noreaster cover for Tartan 37. It fits like a glove. It is now in its fourth season, and it is still in great shape. I have a painted hull. The previous owner framed and tarped the boat for the first season I owned it. The paint on the hull was really damaged by chafe, and it was a major project to bring it back. The tarp cover seemed pretty tight, but it still chafed the paint.

Todd McCarthy

Long Island, NY


Shipshape Canvas

We purchased a Hunter 44AC in August of 2016. During the marine survey I asked for recommendations for winter covers. One name and company came out, Jim and Shipshape Canvas. Jim had to measure the boat and I was skeptical about how well it would fit. The cover fit perfectly, was delivered on time and we are extremely happy with the investment. The boat is in the snowbelt of Lake Erie (we measure snowfall events by the foot), and the cover has performed flawlessly. Last winter, we had wind gusts to 60 knots. Several other club members now have Shipshape covers and are as happy as I am. It takes just 90 minutes to install each season, and less than 30 minutes to remove.

David Richards


Gaffe of the Year

Our late night editing sessions finally caught up with us last month when our Gear of the Year Article proudly claimed that we were the wrong publication to turn to for advice about sailing gear. One day, we might finally laugh about this error.

Drew Frye’s Anchor Report
Mailport: Marelon Seacocks

If you’re a long time reader of Practical Sailor, then you are familiar with some of our recent experiments with unconventional anchoring tactics and gear—including tandem anchoring (two anchors joined to a single rode), and anchoring with high-tech fibers. PS Technical Editor Drew Frye has expanded on that report in his new book “Rigging Modern Anchors,” (2017, Seaworthy Press; $25). Based on repeated testing, not anecdotes, the book will hold a few surprises for even the old salt. Multihull sailors, especially, will be interested in Fye’s measures to save weight in the bow. A perfect gift for gear nut on your holiday list.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 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 at