Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My new Outboard

No, not really.

This is the drive for an F-25 enter in the Race to Alaska.

A pair of Hobie Mirage drives would only amount to a fraction of a horsepower. It better be flat calm and no tide.

I think is is simpler to follow e-10 best practices:
  • Use a good anti-corrosion additive.
  • Portable Tanks: Close the vent when not in active use.
  • Installed Tanks: Use a silica gel vent filter.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

State of Charge vs. Voltage

I get questions all the time regarding "is this voltage right?" Well, it depends.

Temperature. In the summer they run higher, in the winter, lower. Also, if the battery is heated from the charging process, it can be warmer than the air temperature. As you can see, there is a 0.6 volt range between summer and winter, depending on where the batteries are located. In the winter many electronics will cut of around 50% state of charge due to minimum voltage requirements. Thus, the usable power in the winter is much less. Fortunately, solar charges more efficiently, though for fewer hours and at a lower sun angle. No fans, but more light and heating appliance load.

Surface Charge. Just after charging the voltage can be a few tenths higher, sort of like how a lieden jar stores static, although the mechanism is different. Put a few amps on them for an hour before reading at no-load.

Under Load or While Charging. Both of these affect the voltage due to internal resistance effects. Although in theory these can be corrected for, in practice you will miss by a mile. Always test while resting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

100 Best Buys--Chapter 9

Keeping Warm on Deck

I am, by nature, a 4-season sailor.  I try (unsuccessfully) to avoid sub-freezing temperatures and strong winds, and when the water turns hard sailing stops, but other than that, it's press-on regardless. There is nothing better for combating early spring cabin fever than a quiet mid-winter day of light air sailing, and even cool spring and fall weather require some preparation to be enjoyable. it is always best to be prepared.

51. Dry Suit. I was tempted by these 35 years ago, when I sailed a beach catamaran, but all the finances would justify was a cheap wet suit. I was tougher then. When I took up kayaking a few years ago, I spent the bucks and never looked back. They are great as deck wear on cool, nasty days, where they prevent water from going down the neck or up the sleeve, and they are more agile than full foul weather gear. If you fall in you are basically wearing an immersion suit and will be  safe--even comfortable--for many hours. If you wind a rope in the prop, need to assess underwater damage, or need to enter the water to assist and MOB, there is no other solution. I now consider a dry suit to be a winter sailing safety essential. I like the Ocean Rodeo line, because of the convertible neck and attached feet. Yup, that is ice around me. I was in the water for six hours, running the suit through the US Coastguard immersion suit standard. It was actually fun, since I have no other opportunity to swim in the winter.

52. Shoe Drier. My personal workhorse is homemade, designed for kid's snow gear. However, there are many neat commercial designs available.

53. Hand Warmers. Thick gloves are warm, but you can't actually do anything while wearing them. As an ice climber I concluded that Hot Hands hand warmers were are far better solution, allowing the use of thinner gloves with resulting improvements in dexterity. The gloves must be reasonable air tight; thin fleece or knit gloves do not adequately retain heat or limit oxygen supply, causing the packs to burn out quickly and do little good. Windblocker fleece gloves with leather palms are a good compromise. With heat packs, these are good down to freezing. Lightweight ice climbing gloves can be good. It comes down to fit and wind/water resistance.

54. Ski Goggles. Not just for southern ocean spray. Any time the temperature drops below about 55F, goggles can replace sunglasses, keeping the whole face warmer. Pair these with a light Polar Fleece balaclava (seals the neck) and a fleece watch cap (the balacava helps hold the cap on) and you will be good down to freezing.

55. Fleece Socks. I can stand cold fingers and the wind on my face, but I can't abide cold feet, more specifically cold wet feet.  In really wet conditions, the best solution is a dry suit with attached feet. No more wet toes, ever. In more moderate conditions, I like neoprene socks over fleece, and finally, just fleece when it is cold but dry.

And always take extras for the ride home and for sleeping at night.

So ditch all notions of blue lagoons, substitute visions of the ice fiords and polar exploration, and extend your sailing season by double. Pretty cool (pun intended.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Notice anything different this morning? It's the new sports car (Corsair F-24) in the header image.

But I don't expect too much on this blog to change. It will still be about projects, sailing, cruising, gear testing, and writing. I already have a project list over a page long, little of it vital, and much of it fun, stuff intended to make sailing easier or faster. In fact, my main reason for changing boats was to reinvigorate my writing.

In keeping with my prior boats I've stayed with basic principles:
  • Pick a well-known brand that is in demand.
  • Don't buy a project boat. You won't get to sail and you won't save money, not really.
  • Pick one that calls to you. Be practical, because the next person will be, but remember that sailing is about being in love with being there. If she calls to you, she will call to someone else in the future.
  • Maker her better over time. Fight depreciation. It is also easier to stay in love with a boat which is kept in prime condition.
So what does the future hold?
  • Some maintenance. It's a boat. Much of what I learned from the PDQ and Stiletto will apply, but there will be new stuff.
  • Some upgrades. But I have to sail a boat for a while before I understand the design well enough to actually make it better.  I like subtle upgrades, not bolted-on gadgets. I don't know just what she needs yet. But I have page of ideas.
  • Some cruising tales. The cruises will be shorter, I'm sure, and back to my gunk holing roots. My kayak will be coming along.
  • Some analysis of sailing technique and equipment designs. Always. A new boat brings new perspective.
  • Gear testing. Though only 24 feet, she is a sturdy boat and should make a fine test bed. She is well-built, not tender, and not afraid of a good breeze. The basic needs remain the same.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

You've Got to Watch out for those Guide Book Authors...

... always copying from others, and not always going there themselves. Me, on the other hand, when I decided to write a guide book about the Delmarva for shoal draft boats, I dragged my my young daughter along, several years in a row. And we had some times. The kind you never forget.

There are only 265 markers on the inside passage between Cape Charles and Chincoteage. We took turns.

 Ponies on Assateague beach.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 8

It's been a while. I assume you all understand that while my boat was for sale, the greatest value of this blog was as a marketing tool. However, Shoal Survivor is now under contract and we can get on with business as usual.

Yes, I am momentarily boatless. However, that does not mean this blog will change.
  • PDQ content will become somewhat less. But that does not mean I am reluctant to answer questions or work on PDQ problems. After all, most boat problems are, to a significant extent, universal. I also know the PDQ inside out and enjoy sharing what I know.
  • This blog will not come down or become inactive.
    • PDQ materials, such as the PDQ 32 owners manual, will remain available.
    • My writing, both magazine and e-book will continue unabated. It is my life, and this blog supports both, developing ideas and sharing comments.
  • I am actively searching for a replacement boat. Something different. Writing and research demand a broad experience, and I intend that a new boat will add a new dimension. It will be something much different.
So on with my list of "100 Best." I've got most of the list in my notes, as a backlog of things I've already tested or used anyway.


In celebration of the successful sale of Shoal Survivor to  her new owners, this is a listing of some of the most useful boat prep products. I have been an active sailor and I have never been a clean freak. Good solid maintenance, and fix things stronger than new, but not a clean freak. Shoal Survivor has been well lived in, and we cleaned them up.

41. Oxiclean. over half of the lookers ask whether I had sewn my own cushions or whether I had had them made. They were so clean and in such good shape that none believed they were 20 years old. In fact, I actually used a wholesale-only product for most of the cleaning called CS-530 and marketed for cleaning sails by Challenge Sail Cloth. This is what many of the lofts use for professional sail cleaning. But at the end of the day, it is Oxiclean with a touch of Spic-N-Span added. Hot water, soak for 4 hours, rinse. Leave in the sun, because the sun helps it keep working. If you cannot remove the cover, scrub in place and then extract the water with a carpet cleaner.

 Percarbonate is the key. Unlike bleach, it does not fade colors or weaken the cloth. This later is why Challenge Sail Cloth can recommend it. Long soak times (2-4 hours) are required and some time in the sun helps finish the job. A carpet vacuum extractor is very helpful for overs that cannot be removed.

42. 303 Aerospace Protectant. No, they don't really protect much. Yes, there are many good vinyl and fiberglass cleaners and protectants..

43. Imar and Plexus for windows and vinyl. Both are highly regarded by sailmakers and plastics manufacturers. Both have been put through rigorous testing. Imar polish lasts longer and protects better, but Plexus is more convenient for cleaning and polishing. I use both.

 The best protection is to keep vinyl covered, protected from UV. Can you guess where the cover stopped? I have covers for all of my soft vinyl.

44. Xylene. Always be cautious around plastics with solvents. The compatibility rules are complex and it is always possible to mis-identify a material. That said, xylene is the go-to product for removing most organic goo from fiberglass:
  • Black heel marks.
  • Tape residue.
  • Fender goo rubbed that transfers onto the topsides.

45. 3M rubbing Compound. Although I did not compound the whole boat, she had accumulated plenty of black heel marks from winch handles and bad shoes. Remove what you can with solvent, and then a very light buffing gets the rest. Also good for buffing old acrylic or Lexan windows prior to waxing. (NEVER buff soft vinyl until you study the Practical Sailor guide to restoring vinyl. Without proper procedure and materials, this is  good way to ruin soft vinyl.)  Get a cheap 6-inch buffer from Harbor Freight and save it just for the windows. It is worth it just for that.

46. Boat Zope, Sudbury Products. Both more effective and much more economical in use, since very little is used. In general, it was sufficient to power off both old bird bombs and lichens without further assistance. Allowing a few minutes soaking period helps with any soap.

47. CLR diluted to 5%. You can buy black streak removers and tannin removers (for the ICW smile), but a spray bottle of 5% CLR does the trick for a small fraction of the price. Just lactic acid and a little surfactant. Available at Home Depot.

48. Diluted Bleach. Same thing. Just pre-dilute to about 5% of bottle concentration and save a bundle. Great for mildew and loosening lichens. But do be mindful of fabrics. NEVER use this in sails or canvas. Read # 41, Oxiclean.

49. Easy Off. Our wives know this, but most (non-kitchen savy) men haven't got a clue. An old grimy galley stove or stern rail grill can be relieved of 10 years worth of baked on grease in a few minutes. Be warned that this will burn the skin and that it can remove some paints (latex and bottom paint).

50. Formula B (Practical Sailor). A DIY mixture of Borax, washing soda, and TSP, this pennies/gallon blend is perfect for cleaning bilge spaces and KEEPING mildew from returning. The best available for removing mildew from carpet liners and flooded basements (what drove me to invent and perfect the formulation). Concrobium is also good, if you like paying 20 times more. GoldShield products are more durable if rain is a factor.


Halfway home and I'm not even breaking a sweat.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

PDQ 32/34 Shoal Survivor--Under Contract

 Ready for a tropical vacation? Anchored just off Warrior's Rest, MD.

PDQ yachts are known for superior quality, durability, and ability in heavy going. Quality resins, synthetic cores, vacuum-bagged construction, and strategic use of carbon fiber result in light weight, strength, and freedom from delamination and blistering. Systems are well thought out, designed for easy maintenance, and carefully installed. Unlike the "price point” the boats they often compete with, these were built with years of bulletproof, reliable service in mind; if quality is important to you, this PDQ will make you happy.

The broad deck provides comfortable lounging, both  at anchor and underway. A custom bridle and 35-pound Manson Supreme anchor insure comfortable, secure nights. A Fortress FX-16 provides back-up.

The subject of nearly 100 articles in Practical Sailor and Good Old Boat Magazine, Shoal Survivor has been lovingly maintained and thoughtfully upgraded in many subtle ways to increase comfort,  reduce maintenance, increase reliability, and add to the "cruisability" of this great boat design.

This is was the first extended PDQ 32/34 Altair. Two extra feet of hull clean up the wake, improve performance, and smooth out the ride. A bottom step is now 32 inches wide, providing easy boarding and improved "play time" at anchor. Working with the tender and kayaks is more comfortable, swimming is more fun, and a comfortable transom shower makes for a pleasant end to a summer's day.

Shoal Survivor is simply the fastest, most thoughtfully tweaked PDQ32/34 out there. And she's ready to go anywhere, any time. No question about it.

Listing Price    $109,000

For more information, please contact me using the Contact Form on the sidebar, or by e-mail at I will forward additional information and we can arrange for a viewing and inspection in Deale, MD.

(Note: items denoted with highlight and underline are links to more information. There are also over 360 posts in this blog, most of which detail up-grades and maintenance.) 

  • Builder: PDQ Yachts, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

  • LOA: 34 feet
  • LWL: 33 feet 4 inches
  • Beam: 16 feet
  • Weight: About 8,500 pounds
  • Draft: 3 feet, 3 inches. Keels have been faired and extended for improved windward pointing and speed.
  • Bridge Clearance: 49 feet
  • Bridge Deck Clearance: 40 inches (fwd) / 23 inches (aft)
  • Engines: Two 9.9 hp Yamaha retractable outboard motors (new August 2012). 4-cycle, high thrust, long shaft.
  • Morse MT-3 Controls (New March 2013)
  • Hours: approx. 175
  • Cruising Speed: 6.5 knots
  • Maximum speed 7.4 knots
  • Fuel: 27 gallons
  • Fresh Water: 47 gallons
  • Holding: 30 gallons
  • Two  10-pound propane tanks in factory-vented locker. Sensors in both hulls.

A simple touch screen gives access to all air conditioner functions.
Heating and Air conditioning:
  • Air Conditioning: Dometic Turbo 10,000 BTU air conditioner. Runs on 120V AC, pulls only 8 amps running. Can run on batteries for several hours.
  • Heat: Dickenson P9000 4,500 BTU propane fireplace with sealed flue.
  • Hot Water: Takagi T-K Jr. propane tankless hot water heater. Exterior vented, located in bulk-headed, isolated starboard bow compartment. 

Sail Area:
  • 507 sq. ft. with self-tacking jib
  • 645 sq. ft. with genoa
  • 847 sq. ft. with spinnaker
The squeezer (at top) makes setting by a single person easy. 
The large trampoline makes for easy drops.
 An adjustable tack bridle makes for perfect trim, from close reach to run.


Shoal Survivor’s interior is bright, airy and easy on the eyes. Fitted with the "classic" layout, she has two private cabins with queen-sized beds (standard linens), a roomy salon with 270˚ views, full galley, navigation station, and a head with shower. She sleeps up to 6 people with the use of twin flip-up convertible berths in the salon. The interior finish is fiberglass with all cabinetry in cherry veneers and solid cherry trim. Seating and berth surfaces are upholstered. Flooring is teak and holly throughout.
The trade-mark PDQ 32  slider opens the salon up like few other boats. The helmsman can speak to the loungers--no one is isolated, unless they chose to retreat to one of two private, queen-size cabins.

Vessel Walk-Through:
Entry from the cockpit is through a well-designed full-width sliding hatchway leading to the salon. The salon features a dinette with a solid cherry table with storage in the center. The table provides comfortable dining for six people and folds down if desired (rope tackle). The U-shaped settee surrounding the table is upholstered in dark blue striped Sunbrella removable cushions. Storage space is provided under each of the salon seats, with hinged tops with custom lift-out trays for smaller items. A swing-down television and DVD player provide evening entertainment.

Broad windows and a skylight provide an unobstructed view from the helm. All zip-out, if desired in fair weather.
Enclosure new in 2011

The aft sections of both hulls contain mirror image private cabins with queen-size athwartship berths. The berths use standard queen-size double bedding with 3-inch high density foam mattresses with toppers. Each sleeping cabin has a hanging locker, cupboards, storage bins and six opening hatches to provide excellent ventilation. A huge storage area is available under each bunk to stow sails and cruising paraphernalia. The lids are hinged, with props, to allow easy access without un-making the bed.

Twin aft cabins (port and starboard) feature a queen-size bed (standard size linens), numerous small cabinets, and a small hanging closet. A fan and six opening hatches keep the air moving. There is a cavernous locker under the bed.

The remainder of the port hull is devoted to the galley, including a propane refrigerator, microwave, 2-burner propane stove, and numerous cabinets.

The amidships section of the starboard hull contains the navigation station. A large inset shelf provides ample chart and small part storage. The main electrical panel hinges down for easy access. Air conditioning, heating, inverter, and stereo controls are also located in this area. The opposing wall contains cabinets, a bench seat, and a hanging locker.

The forward section of the starboard hull contains the private head. Equipment includes a Jabsco manual head, shower with hot and cold pressurized water, sump pump and sink, and exhaust vent fan. There is also a mirror, towel racks and two cherry storage cabinets.

There's nothing like fresh crabs and cockpit dining. Parks Marina, Tangier Island.

The hard top makes for good times even with afternoon rain. No need to button up the companionway door or slider.

 Galley Equipment:                                                                                    Dedicated propane locker.

  • LPG propane system. 2 x 10-pound tanks in a vented deck locker. Solenoid interlock system and Fireboy Xintec s-2A gas detectors in both hulls.
  • Seaward two-burner propane stove.
  • Polished stainless steel double sink.
  • Built-in NSF 53 water filtration system removes cysts and greater than 99% of bacteria. Water is also pre-filtered before filling, and the vent is screened. (This post describes prudent and established water filtration practice)
  • Dometic 3.0 cu. ft. propane refrigerator.
  • Plentiful storage in cherry cabinets.
  • A flip-down cutting board and drop-in extension extend usable area. Custom fiberglass countertop guards.
  • Custom cherry slide-out spice rack.
  • Microwave oven.
  • 120 volt outlets.
  • 12 volt fan.
  • Bilges in both hulls are dry and provide excellent storage for bottles and cans.

Design and Construction:
  • Vacuum-bagged composite construction
  • Vinylester resin skin over hand-laid tri-axial knit fiberglass fabric with high-tensile marine resin and Klegecell foam core.
  • Hulls are solid below the waterline.
  • Low aspect fin keels have sacrificial sections to deflect much of an impact away from the main structure of the boat.
  • PCA Gold two-year anti-fouling paint (will re-paint during inspection haul-out).
  • Seldon 39’ aluminum mast (masthead rig.
  • One forestay, two cap shrouds, one set of diamond shrouds; all stays are 1×19 stainless steel wire with swaged terminals and turnbuckles.
  • Lazy jacks.
  • Raymarine ST60 masthead instruments plus Windex indicator.
  • Twin Lewmar 40 2-speed winches at mast.
  • Flag halyard on starboard spreader.
  • Spinnaker halyard and rigging
  • Topping lift.
  • Extra halyard sheave and outlet available.
  • Hood Seafurl 800 furling gear (re-build with upgraded bearings 2009).
  • Main: Mack Sails full-batten main (new 2014). 3 reefs.
 Lazyjacks (retracted) make sail handling a breeze.
  •  Blue Sunbrella main sail cover.
  • 150% Genoa: Quantum, 2006, with UV leach protection replace 2013.
Inside sheeting track allows optimum genoa trim to windward--only PDQ32 with this feature.

  • Self-tacking jib: 1997 with UV leach protection. Seldom used and stored in air conditioned room.
  • Spinnaker, 2006. Red, White and Blue Asymmetrical Spinnaker with adjustable bow bridle.
  • Four self-tailing 2-speed cockpit winches (two Harken 32s, and two Lewmar 40s).
Under Genoa, 7 knots. The value of good bridge deck clearance is clear.
Under Genoa, 7 knots. The value of good bridge deck clearance is clear.

Under spinnaker, 7 knots. Smooth.

Hull and Deck Equipment:                                                                          Big under-bunk lockers!

  • Vinyl-dipped Dacron trampoline, very secure and comfortable.
  • Deck cleats (6): one on each bow, one on each transom and one each side of amidships.
  • Bow fairleads: one on each bow on inboard side for chafe-free mooring.
  • Transom fairleads:  custom line deflectors guide mooring lines under dinghy.
  • Large deck lockers in each bow for storage of anchoring paraphernalia and misc items.
  • Large stern lockers for boat gear and cleaning supplies.
  • Lewmar and Beckson opening hatches: (21).
  • Swim shower on starboard stern steps
  • Manson Supreme primary anchor (35 lb.) with 100 feet of  1/4-inch G43 chain and 150 feet of  1/2-inch nylon rode, stainless anchor roller with hawse pipe (starboard).
  • Lewmar V700 electric windlass (2013) on Port for primary anchor. Controls at helm for single-handed anchoring. Foot controls at bow.
  • Fortress FX-16 secondary anchor with chain and nylon rode. Stored in transom locker for easy deployment in dual-anchor situations.
  • Two custom anchor bridles with locking chain hooks.
A center cockpit is secure in all weather, rain or shine.

Jacklines make moving on deck safe in all weather.
  • Harken 8-foot mainsail traveler with 3:1 Harken controls.
  • 6-spoke Whitlock steering wheel.
  • Padded helm seat.
  • Fan at helm.
  • New cockpit canvas, 2012.
  • Hardtop Bimini including two LED light and 2 x 85 watt solar panel array.
  • Canvas sheet and storage bags (2).
  • Removable cedar cockpit sole.
  • Winch handle pockets (2).
  • Winch handles (3).
  • Numerous dock lines (various lengths).
  • Numerous fenders (various sizes) and fender board
  • Swim ladder on starboard stern.
  • Transoms stretched 2 feet in 2014 to provide improved boarding and speed.

With hull extensions, 7.5 knots. a nice smooth wake.

Looking from port cabin, forward into galley. The hanging locker is on the left, near the door.

Cabins: Two identical aft cabins are equipped as follows:
  • Queen-size bed (uses standard queen-sized linens).
  • Small hanging closet.
  • Numerous small cabinets.
  • Reading lights.
  • Fan.

  • Two Caframo Bora fans.
  • DVD player and fold-down TV screen with Bose speakers.
  • Table seats six. Storage in center of table.
  • Flip-up leaves create two twin berths.
  • Storage under seats, including removable storage trays.
  • Screens and storm windows for all opening ports. Covers (canvas or fiberglass) for all windows.


Electrical system:

  • Three 12-volt 145 AH batteries (435 AH total), new August 2011.
  • 160W Solar Panel array (2 x 80 watts) on cockpit hardtop.
  • Morningstar Solar controller with current and voltage display.
  • Heart 2000W Inverter/Charger battery management system.
  • Full 120 volt AC/12 volt DC Paneltronics electrical panel.
  • Shore power cord, 50 ft.
  • 120V outlets: galley, head, salon, navigation station, and cabins.
  • Low-power fluorescent lighting in salon and hulls. LED lighting in cockpit.

Twin 85-watt rigid panels provide power at anchor.
  • Magellan FX 324 Color Map GPS Chart plotter at helm with charts for Caribbean and North America.
  • Raytheon Autopilot (compass course or wind direction).
  • Raytheon Tridata (speed, wind, depth, water temperature).
  • Standard Horizon VHF.
  • 4-inch Ritchie magnetic compass.
  • Sony Radio/CD player with 2 speakers.
  • Flat screen TV (swing-away mounting) with DVD player and Bose speakers.
Engines and Fuel System:
  • Supplemental Raycor filtration, each engine.
  • Silica gel vent filter reduces fuel evaporation and water absorption, increasing engine reliability.
  • Lifeguard vent trap prevents vent over flows.

  • Mercury 3.5 HP 2-stroke engine will built-in fuel tank. Portable 1.5 gallon tank.
  • 9-foot, 2-inch BoatUS inflatable. Hypalon with hard floor, 2002. Includes composite seat, paddles, anchor, and air pump. New floor 2012, refurbished 2017.
  • Dinghy davits with upgraded 6:1 rigging, plus tricing lines and aluminum spreader bar. Two kayaks are easily carried on top of davits. 
  • Anchor (stainless steel Mantus Dinghy) and rode.
A dinghy and two kayaks are no problem at all. Even with full tanks, the transoms are still out of the water. The boarding platforms and ladder (starboard) make for easy access to all of your water toys. Swim platform shower (door on starboard transom) is great for washing off the salt. (there is also a hot water shower in the head compartment).

Extended transoms make for comfortable boarding of the tenders and kayaks. Great for passengers with mobility limitations and fun for the kids.

Safety Equipment:
  • Whale bilge pumps (2); shower gulper pump.
  • Life Sling with rail-mounted soft case.
  • Full jacklines and dedicated hard points for safety tethers.
  • Signal horn, flares, etc.
  • Six life jackets.
  • Two fire extinguishers.
  • Lifelines with six gates and stanchions surround the deck.
  • Magma barbecue grill with on rail attachment and Sunbrella cover.
  • Mesh slider mosquito screen.
  • Cleaning supplies: bucket, mops, deck brushes.
  • Numerous miscellaneous spare parts.
  • Gasoline jerry cans (5-gallon and 1.5-gallon for tender).
  • Bike rack for transom rail. Carries standard bikes.
  • Trolling equipment (fishing), including several Cuban yo-yos and removable mini-outriggers. 

Why is she for sale? I wish she wasn't. But I've been sailing for over 30 years and it's time for something different.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 7

This will be a weekly feature for the next five months. I figure a goal will keep the pressure on.

I think of this as an adjunct to my book "Keeping a Cruising Book for Peanuts," although certainly there is some overlap. I've tested a lot of stuff. Many of these items were mentioned in some prior post--use the search function to find more information.

While you're at it, subscribe to Practical Sailor Magazine. The product descriptions are better, there are comparisons and options, and the test methods are explained. They research stuff I avoid, like electronics. One good find--or bad purchase avoided--and it'll be the smartest $39.94 you'll ever spend.


Properly selected, these magic fluids prevent corrosion, wear, and keep things moving. small wonder, and a shame, that whales were hunted nearly to extinction, in part in the quest for lubricants for the dawn of the industrial revolution. Today the local chandlery is bursting with magic lubes with all manner of claims. Fortunately, there are only a few you actually need.

Here I am lubing a DIY invention--a mast track cleaner that can be inserted and hauled up and  down the track without accessing the mast gate. Pretty tricky. A future post, perhaps. McLube Sailkote is the lube of choice. Lasts all season, with a few touch-ups on the slugs from time to time.

36. McLube Sailkote. Struggling to hoist sails is a disincentive sailing. There are many things that can make it more difficult than it needs to be. A bent foil or track, sticky sheaves, worn sliders, a dirty track (in the picture above, I cleaned the track before lubing it it), or added friction from leading the halyards back to the cockpit can all contribute. The first step is to clean the track and make certain it is free of gummy lubes and mud dauber nest remnants. Even a good coating of dust hurts. I just finished an article on track cleaners. Then apply something slick. The ideal lubricant will last a long time, never build-up or attract dirt, and can be spread vertically without climbing the mast. McLube Sailkote is a dry lubricant that will stay in place for a year in most applications. Though I don't use it on everything, I do use it on the sail tracks, genoa luff tapes, mainsail slugs, the traveler car, and the companionway slider (used traveler cars). Other common uses include:
  • All blocks.
  • Furler lines (reduces over-rides). I use Nikwax Polar Proof, to similar effect.
  • Telltales (keeps them flying, particularly when wet).
  • Zippers (but not dry-suits--they have special requirements.
37. PB Blaster. A weeks ago I realized the mount on one of my outboards had worked a little loose, but unsurprisingly, the bolts were seized tight. A few years of constant splashing in seawater will do that. So without getting frustrated, I blasted both sides of the bolt with PB Blaster and went to work on something else for an hour. When I returned, I was able to rock the bolt, using less force than I had applied unsuccessfully before. After about 30 seconds of rocking I was able to fully unwind the bolt, grease up with Green Grease (which I forgot to do when installing it--stupid) and re-tighten properly. This stuff has saved my bacon many times, most spectacularly when aluminum is involved. Given time to work, it nearly always does the trick.

38. Green Grease. Not just any grease that is green, but a specific synthetic grease from Omni Lubricants that I have subjected to rigorous laboratory and field testing. Simply the best wash-off and corrosion protection you can buy. Also excellent extreme pressure performance, making it good for winches. Advance Auto Parts carries it. I use it for:
  • Winches. Beat manufacture products in side-by-side testing.
  • Battery cables.
  • Shift cables.
  • Anti-seize on bolts. I think Tef Gel is better, just barely.
  • Trailer wheel bearings and couplers.
  • Seacocks. Unless I need something thicker to prevent leaks.

39. Lanicote, Forespar. If I need something a little thicker than Green Grease, perhaps for a turnbuckle or worn seacock (it will make them very stiff in the winter--sorry), this is the go-to product. Also excellent for:
  • Battery cables
  • Anti-seize
But I would not use it for technical lubrication, such as winches or  bearings. It also has poor high temperature and extreme pressure properties. An odd down side (and a good sign, actually) is that it is tough to wash off your hands.

40. Motor Oil.  Not a specific brand. There is way too much unsubstantiated opinion flying around. Additionally, unlike many products, there are strict standards, developed at a cost of millions of dollars by ASTM and API members. Products that meet these standards work. What is important is using a product that meets the correct standard.

     Two-Stroke Outboards. TC-W3 is the standard of choice. Do NOT use your favorite motorcycle oil. Enthusiast will speak of the terrific high temperature properties of their favorite, but motor cycles are air cooled and run hotter. There have been many cases of fouling and rings sticking attributed to motor cycle 2-stroke oils. On the other hand, corrosion is the bogey man of outboards. Marine oils are formulated for the cooler temperatures and moisture (even salt) exposure of water-cooled out-boards.

     Four-Stroke Engines (In-board or Out-board). FC-W is the standard of choice here. Again, it has been formulated for increased corrosion resistance. Is a good quality automotive oil as good? The folks that run the tests tell me that most probably will pass, but that the manufacturers don't submit all oils for testing. The most important thing is to change at the rated hours, or every fall at a minimum. Look at the oil and make sure it is not milky or brown, sure evidence that there is water or coolant in the oil. There are also one-drop-on-blotter paper tests that give some good hints. I did and article on these (as well as a DIY version based on cover weight paper) for Practical Sailor a few years ago.


I also keep a few specialty products around, just because I have them. Tefgel is good for anti-seize where very high temperatures (not for cylinder heads) are not involved. Overpriced, but it goes a long, long way. Teflon pipe dope is  a good alternative anti-seize when Tef Gel is not at hand. K-Y is just the thing for lubing hoses for lubing head hoses and water pumps seals for installation (grease will damage water and sanitary hoses).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Slow Leak in Your Tender?

One possibility is a bad valve. Often, they look horribly sunburned on the outside. However, because the critical parts are inside, completely protected from  UV, most often a good cleaning is all they really need. Fortunately, they are dead simple to service or replace.

  1.  Deflate the tender.
  2. Grab the inside portion of the valve by squeezing the deflated tube around it. Turn the top counterclockwise using either a valve-specific tool, or a large pair of channel locks or a pipe wrench. They are entirely plastic, so I have never come across one that was stuck. They do not break easily.
  3. Remove the top half and give it a good scrubbing with a tooth brush. The sealing surface should be your focus. Lube the sealing surfaces and the outside o-ring very lightly with synthetic or silicon grease.
  4. Give the top surface of the inflatable fabric a good scrubbing.
  5. Re-install by reversing the process.
  6. Give the plug a good scrubbing. Remove the gasket and get both sides. Even if the gasket appears crusty, it's probably just an accumulation of salt and algae. Scrub it up.  If the keeper string is shot, replace it with whipping twine.

You can lubricate the valve in-place with a few drops of glycerin.

Replacement valves are about $15. You will still need to remove the old valve and clean up the fabric.. You can send a picture to Defender Marine if you are not sure, but if the hole in the fabric is about the same size, many are interchangeable. There is probably no need to remove the inside half--it just a threaded holder, never sees sun, and would probably last 50 years. They can be a little tricky to force through old fabric (might tear).


A parting thought. As I rehab my inflatable for the second time (the first time included paint and a new floor), I find myself amazed by the durability of Hypalon. As the PVC accessories (rub rail and oar locks) crack, the Hypalon remains like new. One one major wear prevention step was the installation of large chafe pads on the inside, where the lifting bridle rubs on the tubes. It has two layers of reinforced rubber, so that when one wears through I can replace it without any risk to the tubes. I wonder if all new dinghies should be fitted with patches everywhere they rub on the davits or transom, much like genoas are fitted with spreader patches by the sailmaker. Of course, this will be a DIY job, since it's hard to say where they should be. Polyurethane caulk works well, as does contact cement--Hypalon cement (a durable, 2-part contact cement) is overkill for holding a wear patch in place.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 6


Every contingency repair kit includes duct tape, along with parachute cord, a knife and a pair of pliers. Some types are by there nature, temporary; masking tape is graded for its ability to peal off. But some types are permanent or very nearly so.

Here is  list of my favorites, some times by brand name, and sometimes more generically. Because there are so many useful types, I'm going for 10 "best" items this time:

26. Blue Masking Tape. It boils down to how long the tape will be in place. If you will pull it today, the cheapest stuff will do. If there is any chance you will be a few weeks getting back, only good quality blue of green extended life tape will do. Generally I go with 3M, but other recognizable brands seem just as good. Still, there are  limits; if it is going to be several weeks in the sun and rain, expect trouble.

27. Butyl Tape. I bought mine in an RV store in North Carolina a decade ago, so darn if I know the brand. It should stick to itself, extend almost without limit when pulled slowly (if you hold a strip, within a minute or so it should start stretching to the floor under the force of gravity alone), and be free of fibers. Great stuff. I like that I can keep it on the boat for bedding small things, and it NEVER goes bad. If in doubt, contact Mainesail for a proven product. I think West Marine also carries it now.

In my experience, it is good for  30 years in most bedding applications. It has no bonding ability, so it is best for items that are secured by bolts and have such a larg bonding area that removal will be difficult other wise. I like it for winches and hatches.

Also good for holding stainless screws in the driver.

28. Teflon Tape. I like the yellow gas-rated tape better. It is softer and thicker, allowing it to seal better at moderate temperatures. You only need the white tape above 300F. Alternatively, Teflon pipe dope is very good, and is also useful as anti-seize on bolts.

29. Sail Repair Tape, Bainbridge Sailcloth. Forget the cheap brands and forget any products that claim to be great for repair of vinyl etc. I've had some real disappointments, and in testing, only the Bainbridge brand resists aging and creep under load.

The cloth must be clean, flat, and you must rub it down well. If it is part of a permanent repair, stitch it down as though it were cloth (polyester tape only). The rip-stop version is incredible for spinnakers and reachers. I've kept old dogs flying with yards and yards of this stuff. Apply to both sides for best results.

It does NOT work on Sunbrella. Either sew the repair or consider gluing using polyester caulk (See "Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts" for a comprehensive review of sail and canvas repair using adhesives).

30. Electricians Tape. I like white and use it for rigging tape and for wrapping lines before I cut them (cut right through tape and there will be zero fraying of the line). No, you won't use much on wiring, though it can be helpful for chafe protection.

31. Duct tape. We all hate duct tape for the mess it leaves when used for a bad "permanent" repair. But it has its place:
  • You've remove some hardware and the hole must be covered to keep the rain out.
  • Need a spare set of hands. Yesterday I was installing a long awning track, and duct tape held the other end.

32. Gaffers Tape. Used in the theater business to secure all sorts of gear, this stuff lasts for years in the elements without noticeable deterioration. I like the Polyken brand, usually in white, though other colors are available. I use it to close the end of the boom to keep the birds out, and under clamps on stainless railings to reduce slipping. I also use it in conjunction with cord when wrapping helm wheels and rails--it is the only tape that lasts as long as the cord. Does not stretch like duct tape, so it does not conform to odd shapes as well. But being non-stretch also keeps it tight.

 X 33. Self Sealing Tape. In my experience, this is a "not favorite." I've used it but never been impressed. IMHO, use something else. Not a "best."

34. Aluminum Duct Tape (Nashua). Good for sealing rigid ducts. But it is also the BEST thing for sealing paint cans, since vapors cannot go through metal (FE, mylar coated balloons). Wrap the lid with aluminum tape and the paint will last. With regular tape it will not. Also good for keeping the stink inside sanitation hoses--the stink can't go through metal either.

35. Athletic Tape. I probably use more of this than any other type, typically Mueller. It doesn't last to long in the weather, but it adds grip to slippery tillers, wraps line while splicing, and makes a useful short term rigging tape. The best material available for preventing a clamp (grill or rod holder) from spinning on a stainless railing.  Even more important is its place in the first aid kit. It is just the thing for bracing weak arches or a sore wrist.