December 2008 Newsletter

December 2008 Newsletter

What’s in this issue

This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at It is read by Michael and Patty Facius. We recommend a broadband Internet connection to download, since it is a large file.

You can also Download a PDF version.

Want to look up a previous newsletter? We've added an on-line index of all the Good Old Boat newsletters.

Glamour Photos

by Karen Larson

British Columbia sailor and singer Andy Vine had a great idea when he wrote: I love this magazine! [We love letters that start out this way. –Eds.] It hits just the right notes to make sweet music to this old sailor's ears/eyes…most of the time. [Oh oh! What's the catch? –Eds.]

And…(I was taught that this is a better word than 'but' when you want to make a suggestion) [Yep, here it comes. –Eds.] I would like to see more real sailing photography. I think your photo editor is a bit hung up on tranquility (calm anchorages, etc.) when a lot of us yearn for and love the times when the adrenalin runs high, the lee rail is under, and everything is as taut as a well-tuned fiddle string.

These shots are hard to get, especially of your own boat. That's why my sailor buddies and I make a point of getting shots of each other's boats when we are out on a cruise together. As an example, I offer a shot I took of my friend Ross Walsh's Alberg 30, Anila Vara. As you can see, he is taking a shot of my boat at the same time I was taking this shot as we entered English Bay after a fast and exciting crossing of the Georgia Strait.

To get things rolling, might I suggest a Good Old Boat photo contest? You could have various categories: action shots, tranquil anchorages, hairy moments, etc.

Well, we pondered Andy's proposal over a few glasses of wine in a favorite anchorage and decided that there is no way we want to do another contest! But it's still a good idea. So, we'd like to post photos of people's boats on our website. In that way, they'll take on a life of their own because a page on a website has a much longer life than one in print. So we're asking you to please send photos of your boats to our webmaster. We'll post them as they arrive and every two months we'll print one in our Mail Buoy and send that lucky someone a Good Old Boat hat or T-shirt.

We'll accept 'mystery photos' of boats in anchorages or out sailing, since it's sometimes impossible to identify them. The photos should be high-resolution shots because we may publish yours in the Mail Buoy (magazine printers require much larger images than websites do).

But what we'd really like to do — for the sake of other sailors browsing our site — is to include information about the boats we post. So if you can, please tell us where the photo was taken, the names of the owners, the name of the boat, what kind of boat it is, length overall, and what year it was built…that sort of thing. Add any other information you'd like to share with fellow sailors (maybe when you bought it, how much work you've done on the boat, and so on). Try to keep it between 75 and 100 words. Never fear: we'll do some editing, so don't feel you have to be a writer to send a photo of your boat.

We're most interested in photos of boats that are sailing. We won't turn down dock shots, although those are usually the easiest and least interesting of all boat photos.

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What’s coming in January?

For the love of sailboats

  • Tartan 37 feature boat
  • Pearson Ariel refit
  • History of the Atomic 4

Speaking seriously

  • Signaling for Help 101
  • What size boat works for you?
  • Vessel documentation
  • Cabin ventilation
  • Beth Leonard on defensive sailing
  • Cast-iron keel
  • Rudder repair

Just for fun

  • The making of a young sailor
  • Romantic tale of a dinghy
  • In love with Aurora
  • Serendipitous sailing

What’s more

  • Simple solutions: Modifications to improve a plastic dinghy
  • Quick and easy: A shelf of many purposes; Another way to attach a halyard; Clever pole holder design; Watertight first-aid kit
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In the news

Holiday shopping

No doubt you've realized that the holidays are coming, since not-so-subtle reminders have been everywhere since Halloween. If you're searching for the perfect holiday gift for a hard-to-buy-for sailor (even if you are that hard-to-buy-for sailor), please visit the Good Old Boat website for ideas. We have books, audiobooks, T-shirts, ball caps, fleece items, back issues (print and CD), art and boat models, and chandlery items by the score.

Some of these items are through arrangements with special friends. Others are our own. And some are made available through a special arrangement with If you arrive on the Amazon site by going through our site, we receive a percentage of anything you buy. It's sort of like having a credit card with your favorite university or special cause. (Think of us as your 'special cause.')

What's there? Boat gear and accessories. Anchoring and docking gear. Cabin and galley supplies. Electronic and electrical equipment. Hardware. Plotting, star finder, and weather stuff. Clothing and outdoor gear. Heck, if you buy a camera, a wide-screen TV, or a new microwave, we'll see a percentage of that also (and we'll be grateful). So whatever the goal, start at our place and see what wonders will unfold! Happy shopping.

The Riddle of the Sands

Our 12th audiobook is our best yet! If you're a fan of the classic, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers, you must hear this new recording by Jeremy McGeary. It's simply splendid!

If you're not familiar with this book, now's the time to find out what you've been missing. The Riddle of the Sands has been called the first true spy novel. It was written in a gentler time (just before World War I) and was penned as a warning to the British government about their complacency in the belief that the island nation was secure behind a wall of water and its naval supremacy. Erskine believed the Germans could easily launch an attack across the English Channel and wrote the book to spread the word.

To download your copy or to buy a copy on disc, visit the Good Old Boat audiobook site. Don't forget to download the maps that accompany this story. The recording is unabridged and runs 11.3 hours.

While you're visiting our audiobook site, see what else we have in store for you; there's something for everyone!

Two new back issue CDs

Our newest back-issue CDs are hot off the press. Years 2002 and 2003 now bring our collection of back-issue CDs to a total of five discs covering the first six years of Good Old Boat magazine issues. Those include the hardest-to-find issues — 1998 and 1999 — together on one CD, and the following years through 2003. More CDs will follow as paper copies are sold out in the years to come. All pages as they originally appeared are there for you in PDF format; they work with PCs and Macs. These CDs are small, easy to store aboard (or at home if your local household engineer has considered recycling your paper collection.

Hal Roth: 1927-2008

We were saddened to learn that Hal Roth has died after battling lung cancer. He was 81. An avid sailor, Hal was the author of 12 books, most of them about sailing and his three circumnavigations, including two solo circumnavigations.

Hal and his wife, Margaret, started sailing in 1962. Five years later they sailed around the Pacific. Two on a Big Ocean, published in 1972, tells the story of that voyage. A few years later, a South American voyage resulted in Two Against Cape Horn.

'We had an amazing life,' Margaret said in an AP interview. 'We were married for 48 years and a large part of that we lived on our boat, on our yacht. That became our home and so we were very close together when we sailed.'

A World War II and Korean war aviator, Hal was also a talented photographer. Hal's final book, Handling Storms at Sea, will be published this month by International Marine.

Our condolences to Margaret. Hal will be missed.

Does this happen to you?

In the October newsletter, Phillip Reid, while still in pain from the physical contortions he went through to replace his steering cables, wrote: ' …ask for reader submissions of real good old boatowners paying for our sins in the hole…what we're willing to go through…the hours and hours crammed into impossible places in impossible positions, somehow doing impossible things despite their impossibility.'

In answer to that call for photos, James Todd sent this photo, at right, showing him in what is, at best, an 'awkward' position. He explains, 'This boat was featured on your February cover. This is why I have to contort to wash the stern at the dock. Pride makes me do it.'

Send your own (or others') awkward-position photos to Karen Larson. If we get enough of them, we'll post them on our website.

We're still waiting for the promised photo of Phillip's backside. You started this, Phillip, now hand it over.

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Used-boat buyers beware

How to steer clear of a hurricane-damaged boat
from Boat U.S., Boat Owners Association of the United States

By the time the new owner of a 9-year old, $35,000, 24-foot fishing boat approached the BoatU.S. Consumer Affairs Department for help, it was too late. Shortly after purchasing the vessel the new owner discovered that the boat had been subjected to 'excessive trauma' from a hurricane that caused serious structural damage. Unfortunately, the new owner was now left with only one expensive option: litigation.

While buying a used boat is never easy, recent hurricanes could lead to an increase in the number of hurricane-damaged vessels for sale on the used-boat market. While many boats are properly repaired and sold, sellers don't always tell the whole truth, and sometimes just finding out whether a boat has been hurricane damaged can be difficult — especially if cosmetic repairs have been made. Here are some tips that can help protect you from inadvertently buying a hurricane-damaged vessel:

  • Independent surveys: Having a survey done by an independent surveyor is key. In the case of the 24-foot fishing vessel, the new owner hired a surveyor — who was recommended by the dealer — for the pre-purchase inspection. The true extent of the hurricane damage was never fully revealed until after the boat's new owner, who lived in another state many miles away, received delivery, became suspicious, and hired his own surveyor.
  • State-line shuffle: Anyone wishing to obscure a boat's history need only cross state lines to avoid detection. That's because, unlike automobiles, there are few states that have laws requiring the titles of junked or salvaged boats to be 'branded' as such. And only 36 states even have a requirement that powerboats be titled. In the case of our 24-footer, the boat was damaged in Texas. The absence of a salvage title allowed the unscrupulous seller to simply trailer the boat to Ohio to list it for sale with a dealer. A seller who is not willing to document where a boat has been berthed or registered for the past few years should raise a red flag that extra vigilance should be taken during the inspection and pre-purchase survey.
  • Fuzzy 'background' checks: Although a few websites purport to provide comprehensive background information about used boats, consumers should be skeptical, since there is no one national clearinghouse for boat information, short of checking the records of each boat by calling the boat registration agencies in every state. And be aware that even if you do that, state boat registration records do not include information about accidents or insurance claims.
  • 'As is' could mean 'expensive': Protections afforded consumers by federal warranty laws and state implied warranty provisions are limited when products are sold 'as is.' Without a thorough inspection and pre-purchase survey, you may not find any storm-related damages until something major happens and new repair efforts reveal their true extent. And your insurance policy won't cover the repairs since most don't cover pre-existing conditions. If you do buy 'as is,' consider adding a statement in the sales contract that says the seller has revealed everything they know about the boat's existing or repaired damages.
  • Eyes Wide Open: For certain buyers, purchasing a hurricane-damaged vessel may be appealing, provided they have the time, budget, and sweat equity needed to facilitate repairs. However, knowing it's a 'hurricane boat' is a must.

For more information on boatbuying, or to get a free copy of the BoatU.S. Guide to Buying and Selling a Boat, go to

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Blogging sailors

Several more blog sites have come to our attention since the last newsletter.

Other blogs that have turned up:

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What is means to be a Guardian

by Anthony Turner, U.S. Coast Guard

The definition of 'guardian' is one who guards, watches over, or protects. For the guardians of the U.S. Coast Guard, being a guardian takes several forms. A guardian could be an Coast Guard Auxiliary member confined to a wheel chair but able to maintain radio guard for a 41-foot Coast Guard boat watchfully guarding our nation's waterways. It could be a Coast Guard Marine Inspector crawling into the bowels of a foreign container ship's engine room because the inspector saw a suspicious pool of oil indicating a potential engine failure.

Like guardian angels, the Coast Guard is often unnoticed. Each and every member of the Coast Guard family — the storekeeper providing logistical support, an auxiliarist on a routine patrol, a Coast Guard reservist deployed to Bahrain, a Coast Guard civilian employee repairing a buoy or a Coast Guard retiree recruiting young people to the Coast Guard Academy — they are all, in fact, guardians.

Risk is inherent in being a guardian. Early in September, in Honolulu the Coast Guard family lost three Guardians and have suspended searching for a fourth. Something happened as the aircrew of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter was performing hoist operations with a Coast Guard 47-foot motor life boat. This tragic loss has gone largely gone unnoticed, perhaps because the country was focused on other Coast Guard guardians mobilizing to respond to hurricane threats in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen told the entire Coast Guard family, 'As Guardians, we constantly train and hone our skills in order to operate in hazardous conditions. This terrible accident is a reminder that we operate in an extremely hazardous environment. Coast Guard men and women go into harm's way to train and conduct operations each day.'

The Guardian ethos is deeply engrained in the roots of the Coast Guard. In fact the Coast Guard was formed from the U.S. Life-Saving Service, a government agency, in an effort to save the lives of shipwrecked mariners and passengers. Joseph Lincoln's poem about the U.S. Life Saving Service is equally applicable to today's Guardians:

He is rigger, rower, swimmer, sailor, doctor, undertaker,
And he's good at every one of 'em the same
And he risks his life fer
others in the quicksand and the breaker,
And a thousand wives and mothers bless his name.
He's an angel dressed in oilskins, he's a saint in a 'sou'wester,'
He's as plucky as they make, or ever can;
He's a hero born and bred, but it hasn't swelled his head,
And he's jest the U.S. Gov'ment's hired man.

Surely, each of these Guardians will have his own guardian angel hovering over him on his final flight.

Dedicated to the crew of U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter CG-6505.

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2008 mini-index of Good Old Boat articles

Addresses for previous mini-index listings:

To look up a list of previous newsletters, go to

We also have five CDs available for sale: all the Good Old Boat issues published in 1998-99, all the issues published in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Each CD includes a search feature for the articles. For more about the CDs, click here.

And one thing more: there is a fully searchable article listing on the Good Old Boat website. You can search for articles by title, author, key words, publication date, and so on. That page can be indexed from the Good Old Boat home page.

Feature boats

C&C 27, Number 58, January 2008
J/40, Number 59, March 2008
Seafarer 34, Number 60, May 2008
John Guzzwell's Dolly, Number 61, July 2008
Tanzer 31, Number 62, September 2008
Cal 36, Number 63, November 2008

Review boats

Pearson 28-1, Number 58, January 2008
Nightwind 35, Number 58, January 2008
Monsun 31, Number 59, March 2008
Chris-Craft Capri 30, Number 59, March 2008
Island Packet 27, Number 60, May 2008
S2 8.6, Number 61, July 2008
Ericson, Number 62, September 2008
Hughes-Columbia 31, Number 62, September 2008

Trailersailer reviews

Herreshoff America catboat, Number 58, January 2008
D&M 22, Number 62, September 2008


Ericson Cruising 31, Number 61, July 2008

Sailing 101

EPIRBs, PLBs, SARTs 101, Number 58, January 2008
Fume Detectors 101, Number 59, March 2008
Electronic Lifesavers 101, Number 60, May 2008
Bronze & Brass 101, Number 61, July 2008
Inverters 101, Number 62, September 2008
Anchor Lights 101, Number 63, November 2008


Losing engine coolant, Number 59, March 2008
Avoiding steering problems, Number 60, May 2008
Carrying the dinghy, Number 60, May 2008
Good old electrical system, Number 60, May 2008

Materials, design, and construction

Wooden boat revival, Part 2, Number 58, January 2008
Vacuum bagging, Number 58, January 2008
Seakindliness, Number 62, September 2008
Workboat influence on sailboats, Number 63, November 2008

Maintenance and upgrades

Hull insulation, Number 58, January 2008
Winch maintenance, Number 59, March 2008
Rig maintenance, Number 59, March 2008
Choosing the right antifoulant, Number 59, March 2008
Boom tamers: off-center vangs, Number 59, March 2008
Painting your boat, Number 62, September 2008
Applying bottom paint, Number 62, September 2008
Uses for twin backstays, Number 62, September 2008
Getting the prop off, Number 62, September 2008
Fixing a Cutless bearing, Number 62, September 2008


WaterTender advantages, Number 60, May 2008
Long-distance boatbuying, Number 60, May 2008

Other tech

Check your instrument panel, Number 58, January 2008
The Big Boat Rule, Number 58, January 2008
Extending your range, Number 63, November 2008

History articles

The Clark Boat Company, Number 58, January 2008
50 years: how yachts have changed, Number 61, July 2008


Clarke Ryder, Number 60, May 2008
Good Old Boat founders Larson/Powlas, Number 61, July 2008

Good old vendors

Hilmark Boats, Number 59, March 2008

How-to articles

Sailing off the anchor, Number 58, January 2008
Converting the quarter berth, Number 59, March 2008
Chainplate restoration, Number 60, May 2008
Make links that fit, Number 60, May 2008
Make your own davits, Number 60, May 2008
Produce DVDs of your cruising, Number 60, May 2008
Stern-rail seats, Number 62, September 2008
Mooring buoy pickup, Number 63, November 2008
Adding holes in your hull, Number 63, November 2008
Install a fishfinder/depth sounder, Number 63, November 2008
Make your own dinghy chaps, Number 63, November 2008

Galley life

Fridge-less cruising, Number 63, November 2008

Simple solutions

Nitro-meals, measuring small epoxy batches, Number 58, January 2008
Matching new wood to old, sailtrack lubricator, Number 59, March 2008
Adding the smell of sweet cedar, Number 60, May 2008
Water tank sight-level gauge, removing sealants and adhesives, Number 62, September 2008
Keeping varnish fresh, Number 63, November 2008

Quick and easy

Muffin fans, no-sew drapes, Number 58, January 2008
Plastic scraper, chain hook, Number 59, March 2008
Better-gripping snubber, super stopper knot, fender hanger clips, Number 60, May 2008
Small projects to salvage expensive bits of teak, Number 61, July 2008
Multi-purpose broom, replacing halyards, towel tie-downs, Number 62, September 2008
Eyeglasses holder, easy furling, shrink-wrap vents, Number 63, November 2008

Cruising memories

When less is more, Number 58, January 2008
Neptune's revenge, Number 59, March 2008
Building Miranda, Number 60, May 2008
Riding the wind, Number 60, May 2008
Make-and-mend days, Number 61, July 2008
Remembering Gwendoline, Number 61, July 2008
Life and a little red boat, Number 61, July 2008
Mississippi hero, Number 62, September 2008
Riding out a marital storm, Number 62, September 2008
Apalachicola Noel, Number 63, November 2008
Shadows in the sand, Number 63, November 2008
This is where I belong! Number 63, November 2008

Lighter articles

Into the Light excerpt, Number 58, January 2008
Moving up, a cautionary tale, Number 59, March 2008
A Year in a Yawl excerpt, Number 59, March 2008
Bookends excerpt, Number 61, July 2008
What makes my old boat good, Number 61, July 2008
How a magazine is produced, Number 61, July 2008
A glance astern (Dave/Jaja Martin), Number 61, July 2008
Disabled sailing opportunities, Number 62, September 2008
Telegram from the Palace excerpt, Number 62, September 2008
Danger, Dolphins and Ginger Beer excerpt, Number 63, November 2008

Product launchings

Sailing Wind Wheel, Eternabond microsealant tape, Engine Checkup kit, Number 58, January 2008
Suncor's lifeline kits; Banner Bay Marine's LineLock; Spot, the personal locator beacon, Number 59, March 2008
Seaworthy Goods' PortVisor, Trionic Corporation's shower sump, LockDriver by SMC Innovations, Number 60, May 2008
Rhino Hide, Taylor Made solar-powered LED dock lights, Phillips' floating screwdriver, Number 61, July 2008
Vigilance tank monitors, new Duracell flashlight, improved Wi-Fi connection by 5milewifi, Number 62, September 2008

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Book reviews

The following book reviews have been posted online.

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Mail Buoy

Varnish storage alternative

I just received the latest issue (November 2008) and checked out Ted MacKinnin's article on varnish storage systems. Wow! I'm sure it works, but I preserve varnish and enamels in less than 5 seconds just as effectively.

I saw a product called Bloxygen in a woodworking catalogue once and have since bought it in stores. It is an aerosol can with inert gases in it, so it blocks out the air that causes paints and varnishes to skim over (it's not intended for lacquer). A quick squirt under the almost-closed lid and you're set!

This works for me and, though the cans are feather-light in weight, they last a long time.
Len Lipton

Paint lessons

I recently purchased a Sabot dingy as a tender for my Columbia 22 when we go to the Channel Islands and as a practice boat for painting the Columbia. After researching paints, I chose Interlux Brightside Polyurethane. Its a one-part paint and, because I trailersail my Columbia, I was told that this would be just fine.

I read about the roll-and-tip method of painting and, as I began to paint the Sabot, I decided to try a slightly different method. I'll call it roll and roll. I applied the paint in the morning about 8 while it was nice and cool. As I rolled the paint on with a 7-inch foam roller in my left hand, I 'dry rolled' it with another 7-inch foam roller in my right hand. I gently rolled out the small bubbles using the second foam roller, barely applying any pressure by holding the roller handle pinched between my thumb and index fingers. I painted in 6-square-foot sections (approximately). I used two dry rollers, as they lose effectiveness as they pick up paint.

As the morning progressed into afternoon and the temperature slowly worked its way up to 100, the paint dried to a fabulous smooth luster. By about 4, it was quite dry and had a shine that far exceeded my expectations. My friend, a professional painter, came by and was delighted with the finish. You could actually see the reflections of the nearby house and trees. I highly recommend this method, as it is fast, and I highly recommend Interlux Brightside for its ease of use.

If my Columbia 22 looks this good, I will be blown away.
Paul Sibek

House paint for the rest of us

Many thanks for another excellent issue of Good Old Boat (November 2008). I have been using water-based acrylic house paints on the deck and interior of my boat for some time now. Even in the accelerated weather testing of a tropical climate, it stands up just fine. As author Richard Smith said, it's easy to apply, cheap, and comes in limitless colors. It's also easy to overcoat when required, making it more convenient to keep the boat looking good.

A friend even used it on the topsides of his plywood/epoxy yawl, which he lived aboard and cruised year-round in the tropics. He found it doesn't like to be constantly wet, so he had to raise the boot top several inches. And in our humid wet season (in Australia), it tends to rub off easily from wear areas. But this is a small price to pay for the convenience.

To me, the most important advantage of the water-based paints is their low toxicity. I began investigating water-based paints because I have health issues from using highly volatile marine finishes.

But my primary reason for writing is to mention Aquacote. This is a water-based polyurethane specifically manufactured as a marine paint. BoatCraft Pacific makes a range of epoxy boatbuilding products as well as the water-based paints. Information is on their website at

I've found their product to be tough, durable, and easy to use. As an amateur, my opinion isn't worth a lot, but several professional builders rave about the stuff. One of the most experienced is Robert Ayliffe of Nisboats (Norwalk Island Sharpies), formerly of Duck Flat Wooden Boats in South Australia. Robert has built and re-built dozens of boats and uses the BoatCraft range for all his work. Although this is an Australian product, it can be shipped anywhere and the website is geared for overseas orders as well as customers in Australia.

I know this looks like a commercial product endorsement but I have no involvement with BoatCraft Pacific or any of their products.

I hope this is helpful for anyone looking for a truly professional, tough, easily applied marine finish for good old (or new) boats.
Petrea Heathwood

State of the LED industry

I just finished reading your article on anchor lights and wanted to comment on the current state of LED lighting and the reality of their longevity. I work in the LED industry; my company designs and manufactures light fixtures for street and area lighting applications. We are not involved in interior or marine lighting, but we have evaluated new fixtures and retrofit bulb replacements for existing light fixtures. We do this to monitor the progression of the technology and the capabilities of some of our competitors.

Many of the LED products that we purchase for evaluation state in their literature or packaging that they have a rated life of 100,000 hours. I can tell you that, without exception (in my experience), this is untrue, although the energy savings is nonetheless real.

Some fixture manufacturers will make their service-life claims based on empirical data provided by the LED chip manufacturers, but the chip manufacturers cannot account for what happens to their chips once they are installed in a fixture. They assume perfect heat dissipation when they are calculating their data. In order to enjoy a long service life, the LEDs must be carefully thermally managed, meaning that the fixtures must somehow incorporate proper heat sinks into their design because LEDs generate significant internal heat and will quickly cook themselves if this heat is not drawn away from the LED chip. LEDs soldered onto a standard circuit board or a metal core board will quickly turn a 100,000-hour LED into a 3,000- to 10,000-hour LED. Improper thermal management will not only lead to a much shorter life but, in the cheapest products, the LEDs will start to color shift, changing from a white or yellow light to a blue light as the extreme temperatures erode the phosphors used in the LED chips to make white light.

We have seen some products that incorporate heat sinks in their designs but fail to properly bond the LED chips to them, which requires something more than just riveting or screwing the circuit board to the heat sink. It's very difficult to do properly. As a general guide, if the heat sink on your LED product feels cold after an hour of use, then the LEDs in that product are not being thermally managed correctly (the heat sink should be noticeably warm). In our products, we use a guideline of 2 to 4 square inches of aluminum heat sink surface area per watt per LED used.

Which company manufactures the LEDs also makes a huge difference. This is not the company manufacturing the fixture or the retrofit bulb of LEDs you buy. There are a couple of really good chip manufacturers out there and an ocean of garbage brokers who are in it to make a quick buck while the industry's in its infancy. In my experience, you get what you pay for, and you can expect better results from the more expensive products from reputable companies.

Having said all of this, the reality is that even if you only get 10,000 hours out of your LED anchor light, that is still a significant amount of time, given the amount of time that most of us will use our anchor lights. If you run your anchor light 10 hours a night, that's 1,000 nights of anchoring with your cheap LED anchor light — probably more than I will ever do! The whole point of my rant is that when companies advertise their products as having a 100,000-hour service life, people will expect this performance. When their real-world experience falls short of their expectations, it gives the whole industry a black eye. I would say that my fellow boaters just need to be careful and a little skeptical when shopping for replacement lights for their boats.
Don Lincoln

Cutless bearing experience

I enjoyed your article on replacing Cutless bearings (September 2008) and think your readers might appreciate hearing about the experience we've had at French Creek Marine, in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with another method. We first built our press at the insistence of a Catalina owner. He had read in a user's forum (mechanic's nightmare) that this was the best way to go, as it would save him the 'unnecessary expense' of having the shaft removed. For reasons we never understood, the bearing wouldn't budge and the ½-inch steel plate bent before the bearing would move. The shaft had to come out after all. And good thing, too, as the bronze shaft was badly worn at the strut/bearing and needed replacement. Had the bearing slid out, as intended, replacing it would not have solved the problem, as that part of the shaft turning in the bearing would never have been seen. We now refuse to use the press for bronze shafts.

When we do use it, we press from the propeller end using a solid, not split, tube and then slice the old bearing off the shaft. This means, of course, that the pressing tube conceals the end of the shaft. On another occasion, the bearing was moving forward nicely. Unnoticed, however, was that the shaft was moving with it, gripped ever more firmly as the rubber bearing rolled inward.

In this case, before the condition was detected we had managed to move the engine forward more than an inch, sheering one of the front flexible engine mounts. On further examination, we found that the dislocation had been made easier than might otherwise be expected by the fact that the corresponding rear mount was badly deteriorated and sheered as a result of fuel damage. Again, the press had to be abandoned and the shaft removed. But in this case, the dislocation led us to a unsuspected problem with the engine mounts. Our customer left with two new mounts (which he happily paid for).

Ironically, in both of these cases (but not all) removing the shaft took less time than we spent with the press.

We enjoy hearing your experiences and those of your readers.
Wilfrid Worland

Calling all Tartan 34 Classics

Tartan 34 Classic sailboat owners take great pride in the fact that our sloop was one of the boats designed by Olin Stephens. His graceful, fast sailboats won the America's Cup eight times and the Bermuda Race 14 times, a record that has not been broken.

Many of the 525 Tartan 34Cs that were built between 1968 and 1978 are still in active use as racers and cruisers. They have crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, visited South America and Australia, rounded Cape Horn multiple times, and circumnavigated the globe. They continue to win races worldwide, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes and Europe.

The Tartan 34 Classic Association is dedicated to preserving these great boats and sharing the joy of owning them. We are searching for every Tartan 34C still sailing. We have identified and listed more than 300, but many are still unaccounted for. Please contact Chris Crighton at with any owner information, sightings or photos that will bring us closer to finding and connecting with the rest of this very special fleet.
Grace Holt
Tartan 34 Classic Association

This Tartan 34 Classic, Merry Mary, was launched from Hartge's Boatyard in Galesville, Maryland, in 1978. Owners George and Mary Duffie celebrated the 30th anniversary of their boat's first splash by sailing back to the Chesapeake from their home in Oriental, North Carolina. The design for this beautiful sloop came from Olin Stephens in 1968.

Florida pests

I recently recalled a problem when I first took a boat from Connecticut to Florida many years ago. When I attempted to fill the fuel tank, the diesel blew back in my face. The same thing happened when I tried to flush the toilet into the holding tank.

Mud wasps had completely blocked the vents. In Florida, all vents must have screen wrapped around them.

Another Florida problem is rats. They invaded my boat in my absence, destroying all cushions, chewing the teak trim, tearing insulation from the engine compartment, and building a nest in the drip pan, complete with four baby rats. I put screen on all vents, but they tore out the screen. Hardware cloth on every vent finally kept them out.
Paul Campbell

Emergency flare rack

The Winter 2006 issue of Canadian Home Workshop contained the plans and an article about reproducing a mid-19th century spoon rack. I've adapted the project and created a ready-use rack for the distress flares I carry aboard my good old sailboat, Saorsa II, a Niagara 35 built in 1979. The rack holds the full complement of 12 flares I am legally required to have on board.

In terms of design, the project didn't need much alteration. The only major item was to adapt the spoon holders to hold the parachute flares. This was done with semi-circular recesses lined with a bit of foam. The flares are held with some thin shock cord so they are well-secured but easily removed for use.

The open bin holds three daytime smoke flares (with a little closed-cell foam for padding). There are three parachute rocket flares in the spoon holders, and the drawer is just right for six hand-held locator flares.

The rack is mounted to the athwartships bulkhead at the bottom of the companionway steps. This keeps the flares out of the weather but very visible and readily accessible. The boat and rack have been through a few boisterous outings without any problem.

The project is made from half-inch marine plywood. Joinery was done with biscuits and a few dadoes, the drawer with simple finger (box) joints cut on the table saw. The knobs on the drawer are from a local supplier, Lee Valley. The finish is several coats of Epifanes marine gloss varnish. I've used Epifanes for many years and find it to be excellent.
Bill Henry
Bill also notes that he publishes deck log templates (one for each month) on his website for free download. He updates the templates annually. Bill's site is These templates are very complete and extremely useful. Take a look.

Question about seakindliness

After reading Ted Brewer's article about seakindliness (September 2008), I have a question. While there is a vast and complicated body of knowledge about vessel stability that dictates how a ship must be loaded, how much of that applies to small vessels such as cruising sailboats? I have a boat that is well-balanced and seakindly by design ' a Contessa 26. Her water tank is in the bow of the boat, and when I fill the tank to capacity, she sits well down by the bow.

Besides looking odd, will this affect the physics of the hull in any significant way? If I were to move the water storage amidships, would this, combined with the weight of the diesel engine and fuel in the stern, shift too much weight aft? Perhaps none of this really matters in 26 feet of boat, but then maybe it does. Overall, how much does load distribution matter in small vessels?
Deb Gibson

Ted Brewer replies

A boat that is bow heavy has two strikes against it. First, the underwater hull shape changes, and this can affect the helm balance by moving the center of lateral resistance forward. It will also move the center of buoyancy forward, and this can result in fuller forward sections that reduce performance slightly when beating into the seas.

The second effect is that the added weight forward increases the inertia of the bow so the boat will not rise as quickly in choppy seas. This can add considerable resistance as the boat ploughs through the waves and will adversely affect performance.

Generally, it is considered desirable to keep weight in the ends to a minimum and this applies particularly to the bow. I would say that, if the boat sits well down by the bow, there is definitely too much weight forward and the boat should be trimmed to sit level at rest.

Mystery hole

My Catalina 27 has an 11-hp diesel auxiliary with a 1¼-inch carbon steel exhaust system wrapped in fiberglass (you have to wonder why).

The system was inspected fewer than 20 engine-hours earlier with no problems noted. But then a persistent diesel exhaust smell (as well as unexplained quantities of water in the bilge) dictated another look.

Carbon dioxide and water form a pretty corrosive acid and carbon steel isn't a particularly good choice!

I enjoy Good Old Boat for the smaller, less 'intense,' contents while still containing doable and useful articles.
Marv Crompton
Marv's notes on his photos tell us that the exhaust pipe was connected to his engine at the right and the direction of discharge was to the left. The engine cooling water exit was the leftmost section of pipe. The second photo shows the back side of that fitting. Marv suggests that it has an uncanny resemblance to Darth Vader. Look for more on the subject of mysterious holes in the March issue of Good Old Boat.

More Big Boat Rule

Perhaps the Big Boat Rule has been bantered around more than enough since Jerry's article in January 2008 [it was subsequently discussed in Mail Buoy letters in the magazine in March and May 2008, and in the newsletter in June and October 2008] but I believe two points deserve strengthening.

  1. Respect. This has been alluded to in past writings. We're all out there for a legitimate purpose and there's plenty of room for all of us. Pushing our weight of mass or our weight of rules around is disrespectful and rude. In the recent communication in the newsletter, Moshe Tzalel shows respect for the 35-foot pleasure boat. He received none in return.
  2. Cost. All that shaking and shuddering of the 'big boat' that Moshe and Jerry talk about requires energy. The rapid change of direction of a '22,000,000 ton' vessel (Could there be an error in the number of zeros?) results in energy expended to change the inertia of that mass. Some of that energy is expended shaking the ship. All of that energy has to be regenerated in getting the ship back on course at travel speed. In other words, it is expensive for the big boat to make an abrupt change in direction. It would be interesting to ask Moshe (or his company's accountants) what the cost of fuel is for this maneuver.

Our good old boats are out there for pleasure. It costs us but a few minutes of time to make way for the big boat. The big boat is out there to earn a living. It costs her profits and costs the environment more carbon in the air when the big boat makes way for us.

Add common sense to respect and cost, and it seems to me like a no-brainer.
Geoff Kloster
Geoff is right that the editors got carried away with their zeros. Jerry's cruiser, mentioned in the October newsletter, was 22,000 tons. We're sorry that one made it into print.

Goo be gone

John Gambill's article in the November 2008 issue, '5200 forever,' struck a chord with many good old boaters who frequently use a plethora of these scientifically marvelous and indispensable caulks and sealants in our efforts to keep the water on the outside where it belongs.

These devilish concoctions have an uncanny, inexplicable ability to find their way onto every surface in the proximity. In spite of preparing my work area with sundry drapes, maskings, sticks, and scrapers, and plenty of rags and solvents at the ready, the insidious goo would magically leave a trail of random streaks and blobs from V-berth to lazarette. I always seem to have some on the brim of my hat and some ooze invariably finds its way onto the soles of my shoes — presumably part of its fiendish plan to spread far and wide. I've nearly given up cleaning my tools and toolbox, which are hopelessly contaminated.

But thanks to an ingenious suggestion by John's wife, there now appears to be some hope for us goo-challenged sailors. I can see that I've been taking entirely the wrong approach with these stubborn compounds. My new attack will be a minimalist's solution. All personnel must leave the boat; the work area will be free of any tools, lines, fenders, hardware, and all other loose items for a wide radius, and there will be no hat or shoes to attract the sticky goo. In fact, taking her advice to heart, there will be no other articles of clothing either — nothing to serve as a vector of transmission. Maybe we can finally have our revenge and triumph over the treacherous glop.

So the next time you see a fellow boater operating in the buff on deck, you will understand that he is doing his utmost to preserve the watertight integrity of his vessel while ensuring that the caulk stays where it belongs.
Bob Thomsen
This has been the traditional solution for professionals applying varnish. Some professionals are more interesting than others to watch work. I like silicon rubber (RTV) and LifeSeal because both can be easily cleaned up with a rag. RTV makes a good seal but is not an adhesive. LifeSeal is a mixture of urethane and silicon rubber and has good adhesion, as well as good sealing properties. It still cleans up much easier than 4200, 5200, or polysulfide. These products allow me to work fully clothed, which is best for a 66-year-old guy with gray hair.
Editors (Jerry, actually)

Life jacket decisions

I was just listening to you [Karen Larson] on the audio version of Bookends. You're not the only ones who always wear life vests. I do, too. All too frequently my guests talk about how ridiculous I am; however, in a nicer way than I'm saying it here, I tell them that it is my boat, my rules, and they can stay on the shore if they don't want to follow them.
Brad Glazer
It's interesting that you should bring up that issue since 'the life jacket question' has been on my mind lately after a recent sail on someone else's boat. That boatowner was offended because Jerry and I chose to bring along and wear our life jackets while sailing with him. It struck me as a decision that I should be allowed to make independently without any pressure from others. I'm a grown-up and I choose to wear a life jacket every time I sail.

But, even when they're on my boat, I don't tell other people what to do. It's their choice on my boat, just as it should be my choice to make when I'm on theirs.

Thanks for listening to Bookends, by the way. I had fun recording it.
Editors (Karen, this time)

That's our baby!

I can't tell you how thrilled we were to pick up the magazine (September 2008) and see the D&M 22 reviewed. I was so excited, I squealed; Ken thought I'd seen a bat or something.

We have D&M hull #9. We'd love to find other good old D&M boat lovers.

Thanks for your great publication. We love it.
Vicki and Ken Barnes

Grinning ear to ear

My partner, Paul, and I have a 1973 Newport 30. She was out of the water for about 10 years and alongside a road when we found her. You know you're meant for each other when in December, in Ontario, you're pumping 1½-feet of water out of a sailboat with a cheap shop vac…and you're both grinning from ear to ear!

It's now two years later and she sails beautifully. Lots of work has been done and there's still lots more to do. We are learning as we go and love Good Old Boat magazine! I'd love to get my hands on the May 2006 issue that featured the Newport 30. She is a rare bird here in Ontario — there are Northerns, Grampians, Catlinas, and Albergs, but few Newports.

Thanks again for Good Old Boat. It really is a magazine for the rest of us!
Connie Howes

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Excerpts from The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating

by John Vigor

Distance Off

How to judge distances without using instruments

Every navigator worthy of the name ought to be able to estimate by eye distances up to about 5 nautical miles, and often more. You can train yourself to do this quite easily with the help of these guidelines:

  • The shape of prominent lighthouses, trees, and houses become distinguishable from seaward at about 8 miles
  • You can make out a light-colored beach at about 4 miles — although you may need to stand on deck to see it
  • Individual windows in a building are discernable by day or night at 2 miles
  • A large buoy is visible at 2 miles
  • A small buoy is visible at 1½ miles, but you can't tell its shape or color
  • The shape of a small buoy is discernable at 1 mile
  • The color of a large buoy is discernable at 1 mile
  • You can see a person as a moving black dot without limbs at 1 mile
  • You can see a person's legs or a rower's arms at about 400 yards (400 m)
  • Faces are discernable (but not recognizable) at about 250 or 300 yards (250 to 300 m)

The distance to the horizon from a small boat is often overestimated — it's mostly surprisingly small. For instance, if you eye is 5 feet (1.52 m) above the water level, the horizon is only about 2½ miles away. The rule of thumb is that the distance to the horizon in miles is 8/7 of the square root of your height of eye in feet.

John Vigor's book, The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating, is available from the Good Old Bookshelf at $29.95; 352 pages (hardcover).

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