April 2015 Newsletter

April 2015 Newsletter

What’s in this issue

This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at <AudioSeaStories.net>. 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 printer friendly version <in MS Word> or as a <PDF file>.

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

Help spread the word

You must know sailors who fit the description of a good old boater but have not yet discovered the magazine we publish six times a year just for them. What's it take, we wonder, to get our magazine in their hands where it will speak for itself?

Every so often as spring comes to the boatyard, we welcome volunteers who offer to put copies of Good Old Boat directly in the hands of those who would welcome it . . . or to leave a box in the social place where fellow sailors will find it (perhaps a reading room or laundry room) . . . or to leave copies all over their cruising grounds at marinas up and down the coast. Some people spend the summer spreading copies like Johnny Appleseeds of the sailing world. From personal experience, we'll mention that it's a great way to meet fellow sailors.

In late June, we'll send boxes with copies of our July issue directly from the printer to all volunteers to distribute as you think best in your sailing area. Contact Karen Larson —karen@goodoldboat.com — and let her know how many you'd like to receive: 10, 25, 50 or more. Let's talk! To make it work, Karen should hear from you by April 17.

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Boat dogs encore!

Hudson, boat dog

We thought everyone who has an opinion on the best breed for a boat dog had already spoken up. But, although we received several more notes on the subject, we conclude that discussion with one last photo. Graham Mellen sent this shot of his dog, Hudson, who is thinking hard about the summer sailing season to come, Graham suspects. We think Hudson wants to learn to read. He has the chart mastered but knows he's missing out on some valuable maintenance information in Good Old Boat.

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About that two-foot-itis disease . . .

Chris Campbell started something when he asked for reader input abut the itch to buy a slightly larger boat and also whether big boats or small boats get sailed more often.

Randy Graves writes:

All the boats I have owned through the years have been relatively small: 14 to 24 feet. The boat that gets sailed the most is the boat I have had for the past 10 years, a 1988 Montgomery 17. This boat gets sailed a lot. Excluding the Laguna 24 (a good boat while our kids lived at home), the other boats have been 14, 15, and now 17 feet. I thought our Montgomery 15 would be the "perfect" no-kids boat and we owned it for 13 years. But I've found that a slightly larger 17 is more forgiving to sail and handles rough weather better. If I were a "better" sailor, the M15 would have been fine but the larger size and weight of the M17 have proved perfect for me to sail alone. She is small enough to easily trailer and has visited the San Juan and Gulf Islands several times. We keep her in a seasonal slip on Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho panhandle. 

A smaller boat would require more attention from me to sail and I can't think of what advantage I would gain with a larger boat.

Contributing editor Allen Penticoff, self-described as having too many boats, says:

Our MacGregor 26D, Thebote (bought new in 1989), is all we've ever needed. It does everything sort of good enough. Being trailerable, it has been to many places we'd have never gone had we had a keelboat. We sail when the bigger boats are motoring, not simply because of light-air performance, but because it is easy for us — and we love sailing.

In hindsight, we should not have bought the big steel boat, Coppelia (a 42-foot Beister cutter built in 1955). It is a beautiful boat that we fell in love with but we had different plans at the time that never came about. It has languished in the barn while we've continued to sail the MacGregor for more years than I care to remember. Our smallest sailboat, TheLittleBote, is an American 14.6. It's nice for our local lake since setup is so easy, but it's not like the Mac that we can hang out on all day. From my observations, the 20- to 30-foot good old boats are easy to enjoy so they get used more.

I've been to many marinas where there are beautiful big sailboats tied in slips. Something universal among them all is that they are rarely seen out sailing. Seeing people on or near them is often uncommon too. In the meantime, my group of trailersailors have towed our boats hundreds of miles to these big boats' marinas and are enjoying ourselves immensely. We go sailing. By the end of our time there, nary a line has been loosened from a cleat on nearly any of the big boats. In Marathon, Florida, there are hundreds of big beautiful sailboats on moorings as the owners hide from winter. It's a rare day when they take them sailing. I think they'd sail more if they had a sailing dinghy with their floating home. It is a pleasant life on the water, but you can't call it sailing.

At the recent boat show in Chicago I, like most visitors, prowled around the big new boats. They are very nice but most are designed to be comfortable when sitting quietly in a marina slip. Many have few features that lend them to safe sailing. Instead, they have big saloons and big cockpits with little to hang onto or brace against while heeled, much less when pounding to windward. Big new boats have become waterfront condos. Little boats are for sailing.

John Fletcher says:

My first boat was a Sunfish when I was 11, then a Holder 14 when I reached my mid-30s, a Laser, and finally a Johnson Weekender 18. It was a great boat and was easy enough to care for except I sailed about 4 to 5 times per year compared to 20 to 25 times per year with the Holder and Laser. After 10 years, I got two-foot-itis in reverse and made the move to a Precision 15. At times I even thought of moving down another foot or two. The smaller the boat, the more I sail. Fair winds!

Reidar Sand sends his message from Norway:

Oh yeah, a small boat is sailed more often! I started with a 36-foot Swedish coast sailer as a 16-year-old and made my way to a Swedish Gotland Cutter (33 feet). Then I went on to a 30-foot Comfort, a 30-foot Finnsailer (on which I lived for four years and sailed more often than the other boats together), then to a 39-foot American ketch for living aboard for about six years but hardly sailed, then to a 33-foot French cruiser. I sailed that one twice before I sold it. Now I have a 20-foot Havsfidra and I'm sailing all the time. For me, the smaller (but seaworthy) the boat, the more sailing and joy! I just love that little boat. Fair winds!

Richard Shoemaker adds:

I have been sailing since 1971 when I started crewing on 38- to 40-foot boats. Over the years I have crewed on similar boats up and down the West Coast and on the Atlantic. My family started sailing in 1983. Our first boat was a 12-footer, then a 14 followed by a 25.

Our crew has been comprised of five children who are now in their 20s. Many of their friends and our friends became part of our sailing crew. We live in California north of San Francisco, 15 minutes from a popular sailing lake. We are also an hour west of Clearlake, an hour east of the Pacific and two hours north of San Francisco Bay. We have sailed all those venues, have chartered a few times, and have cruised with friends on their boats.

What do we sail? I love to tell people we own more than 140 feet of waterline. That statement usually gets a quick look of disbelief. We have four 12-footers, three 14s, a 17 with swing keel, a 22, and a 25, all ready to sail. Not one of these boats is newer than 1984. All are trailerable.

Doug Tate says:

I write this email while sitting in New Hampshire amongst a recent huge snowfall and preparing for more. Dreams of sailing always warm the perspective.

Over the last 30-plus years, Beth and I have owned several boats and have subscribed to many a sailing or cruising magazine. While those magazines have all offered something of value, we have found Good Old Boat to truly strike a powerful chord with our boating journey together.

We began our matrimonial passage together with a proposal, a ring, and a set of blueprints for a 20-foot sloop. After building our ship of dreams, Windsong, and launching her on Buzzards Bay, we realized that a light trailerable sloop was no match for the Bay. We upgraded to a 1965 Pearson Vanguard, Poetry, which we gutted and rebuilt. Our beloved Poetry caressed our cruising dreams for nearly 20 years until a unique opportunity to buy another project boat suddenly appeared.

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Chicago boat show changes

We asked for comments about the changes to the Strictly Sail show that happens in Chicago each January and we heard from you.

Jerry Dillinger says:

I think your take on the show is spot on. We live in Suttons Bay, Michigan, so we have a fair slog to get to the show in the winter. We stopped by your booth to renew and catch a smile, but were disappointed at the small number of gear vendors/suppliers at the show. Our good old Islander 32 needs periodic upgrades and we've depended on the show in the past to provide hands-on gear evaluations and the occasional boat show special deal. The Garhauer guys were good to us this year but we missed the Sailrite folks and West Marine especially. We've been pretty loyal visitors, probably eight out of the last 10 years, but likely won't go back.

Paul Maravelas adds:

I enjoyed your review of the Chicago boat show. Though I wasn't able to attend, I was very impressed with the quality of the speakers scheduled at the educational seminars. Among these were the well-known authors John and Amanda Neal, Nigel Calder, and John Rousmaniere. The seminars were a strong attraction for me, and I was a little surprised not to see any mention of them in your review.

Karen replies:

Not mentioning the seminars was indeed an oversight, perhaps because that part did not change. The Chicago Strictly Sail show has always offered the most extensive list of seminars on the boat show circuit. It could be because Navy Pier offered great seminar space and other boat show locations are not similarly blessed. The move to McCormick Place did not change that. The seminar rooms were comfortable and plentiful. The presenters and the material they offered were superb once again. Expect good seminars to continue to be a hallmark at the Chicago show.

David Schroeder says:

Thank you for this report on the new version of the show. My brother and I have always looked forward to attending the Strictly Sail show in Chicago and have attended numerous times over the last 10 years. We live in Omaha, Nebraska, and ride the Amtrak train into Chicago. The hotel stay at the Fairmont Hotel with a shuttle to Navy Pier was convenient and great fun! The last few years we have noticed a decreased number of boats displayed, attendees, and not having the shuttle and Fairmont Hotel last year was a big disappointment for us. Therefore, this year with the RV and powerboats on display, we chose to stay home. As you stated, the best time to view the show is the first two days — in the past those days were Thursday and Friday. As for 2016, we shall wait and see what the plans and location for the show will be. Your report regarding the show that occurred this year will help us in our decision-making process. Thanks for your great publication and hard work!

Roy Cohen, of Superior Marine Service, in Michigan City, Indiana, offers the perspective of a vendor at the show:

I am very happy to see the changes from our old Strictly Sail Chicago show. For some years, the Chicago Strictly Sail show was shrinking for many reasons. The time had come to redesign and make major changes in Chicago, along with a lot of other cities that have boat shows throughout the boating industry. As the new show evolves at McCormick Place, we will see many changes as boating has changed. The show will grow and encourage new vendors to join. I am sure we will be seeing many positive changes in the future. The new Chicago Boat, RV, and Strictly Sail show has the potential of becoming a Total Boat Show for the Chicagoland area.

A whole new generation of customers will have so much more to look at. As they enter the world of boating, they will also be looking at the high-tech electronics that are now available. As you know, the new boaters are very smart and, in some cases, they know more than the sales people do about the product.

Lake Michigan will never support a houseboat or large mega-yacht market like you would see on saltwater. That's why the Chicago show is a fresh-water pearl. As sailboat dealers and sailboat builders see it as a new show, they will find show options and attendance increasing.

I've been involved in Chicago's boat shows for 29 years. I've had powerboats, sailboats, inflatables, and the largest outboard motor display in the old Strictly Sail's history. I know what it takes to bring a first-class display to Chicago. The new Chicago Boat, RV, and Strictly Sail Show expanded the hours for the customers' convenience, not the exhibitors'.

David Andersson says:

I agree that the event seemed to have fewer boats and vendors than the previous Strictly Sail shows at Navy Pier.

On the other hand, the events for kids seemed to be larger and better — and as a parent that's a biggie. Since the kids' stuff was co-located with the sailboat section (which I thought was pretty clever), it drew some people over to the sailboats who might not have otherwise been exposed to them. And because (I assume) the entire show kicked in for the kiddie events, they were better and more numerous than in previous shows.

The ability to look at RVs and powerboats was a nice change (for one adult and the kids). I'm still not clear on why pontoon boats and fishing boats need so many engines (that puts me in mind of Bill Cosby needing a car that goes 200 mph to get to work) — but hey, that's not my area of interest.

I had a great time and our kids had to be dragged away — they did not want to leave.

Dennis Olmstead says:

I really enjoy the electronic newsletters. The report on the Chicago boat show, however, bothered me. I've never been a powerboater, but putting them down doesn't serve any purpose. Sure, they can be expensive and lacking in belowdecks space, as pointed out. But a powerboater would say a sailboat is expensive for being so slow. To each his own. I can't imagine that all those 35-foot sailboats I keep reading about are exactly cheap.

To which, Jerry Powlas responds:

You are absolutely right. We took some heat for a recent editorial in which we called motorboaters stinkpotters. I like to think that all this is in good spirit and just fun and jest between two branches of the same sport. Not everybody feels that way, however, and one reader (a powerboater) cancelled his subscription.

To make matters even more obtuse, the boat show in Chicago really didn't have all the different types of powerboats. Absent were the ones most likely to attract older sailors when they decide to give up life behind a mast.

Still, there really was a 600-horsepower pontoon boat. I used to work our yacht club's pontoon reasonably well with my trusty 2-horse Evinrude that could push my Flying Scot to near hull speed in flat water. I used that little 2-horse to break ice with both the pontoon and the Scot.

There also really was a 45-foot sport fisherman down the aisle from our booth with four 350-horsepower Yamahas. One of our staff went aboard and learned that belowdecks was a very small galley and a head with a Portapotti. The rest of the belowdecks space was taken up by some hydraulics and massive fuel tanks. Cruise speed was 29 knots and fuel consumption was 49 gallons per hour.

I will offer no judgment on these craft except to say that I had not thought such things existed or were likely to exist. In that sense, it was very educational.

Steve Namenye writes that the move to a week earlier made all the difference for him (and for Good Old Boat — he subscribed for the first time there):

This was my first show, so I have nothing to compare it to. The reason it's my first show is that, as long as I've been aware of it, the Strictly Sail show has been too late in January for me to attend. I'm a CPA. If the show had been a week later I wouldn't have been there due to the start of tax season, nor would I have subscribed to Good Old Boat.

I upgraded from a mid-'70s Rascal 14-foot daysailer to a 25-foot Catalina (fixed keel) late last fall. I sailed her from Holland, Michigan, to Muskegon, Michigan, to put her on the hard for the winter and hope to make that our homeport in the spring. She's ugly and has a name I can't pronounce (Moe Uhane . . . it's Hawaiian), but she floats!

My wife, Linda, and I attended many of the free seminars and found them all pretty good for us as "newbies" to bigger boats. (Who knew there was an art to anchoring?) My one disappointment was the failure of any of the "There's an app for that"-type classes to have a suggestion for a good Android chart/plotter/GPS application. Everybody seemed to love iNavX on their iPads.

Can't wait for spring! Fare thee well!

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Podcast music: "Bluegreen Sea"

Those of you who listen to the podcast version of the newsletter will hear "Bluegreen Sea" written by Mike Roston and performed by Mike and his band, Salvadore Dali Llama. Other newsletter readers can see the Youtube version with photos here <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWdNZci2TDE>.

Mike tells how the song came to be: "Salvadore Dali Llama is an original rock quartet based in Bellingham, Washington. We are just a short distance from one of the premiere cruising areas of the world, the San Juan Islands. In the summer we occasionally perform at one of the small clubs in either Friday Harbor or Lopez Island. If things work out, we like to take my boat, Galena, a 1970 Alberg 37. Rooms are sometimes scarce in the busy summer season, so the boat is a convenient place to stay, and the five- to eight-hour sail each way makes the whole trip that much more enjoyable.

"On one of those voyages I got the idea for some lyrics about my love of sailing. I sat down with my acoustic guitar and came up with an arrangement, which we then recorded with the full band as "Bluegreen Sea." It was released along with three other songs on our CD "Foretoken" and is available at all the usual digital music services.

"The song has become somewhat popular with local sailboaters, and we get lots of requests to play it. We like to think it captures some of the emotions we all feel when first we cast off from the dock and head out to sea, whether for a daysail or a longer voyage, or whether we prefer solitude or the company of like-minded friends and family.

"I learned to sail in the mid-1970s, on the spectacular waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. That first boat was a World War I-vintage Seabird Yawl — designed in the 1890s for the editor of Rudder, Thomas Flemming Day. In the 1990s I built a wooden Buehler Emily cutter off the grid near Skagway, Alaska, eventually sailing that boat down to Bellingham. I purchased the Alberg 37 in 2006, feeling I needed a larger boat. The Emily was fine for a couple, but not large enough for a band sleep-over, especially with instruments — to say nothing of the necessary libations!

"Personnel on the recording were Mike Rostron, lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars; Jim Nelson, backing vocals and lead guitar; Dennis Skaugrud, backing vocals and bass; and Gary Snyder, drums and percussion.

"We hope you enjoy our little sea chantey, and do say hello if you see Galena sailing out among the San Juan Islands or around Bellingham Bay, our usual haunts.

"May you always find favor with the Sea Gods and Goddesses!"

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More podcast music: "Land Bound Sailor"

Apparently if you're a sailing musician, it helps if your name is Mike. We received a second wonderful song. This one was written by Mike Green. His song, "Land Bound Sailor," evokes all the poignancy of a sailor who is somewhere far from the sea or boatless in any location. Mike says, "'Land Bound Sailor' is a song I penned while waiting for my next good old boat to come sailing over the horizon. At my age, I know I have less than 67 more years to enjoy the simple pleasures of living an uncluttered lifestyle near, in, and around the water."

Mike wrote and arranged the song, played guitar and was the lead vocal. The backing vocals and mandolin were added by his friend Ron Litschauer who also did the recording in his studio, Acoustic Music Productions, West Palm Beach, Florida.

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What's coming in . . . May 2015

For the love of sailboats

  • Ericson 34 review
  • Rhodes 22 review
  • Chris-Craft Sail Yacht refit

Speaking seriously

  • Boarding Ladders 101
  • Keel evolution, Part 1 by Rob Mazza
  • New Zealand cruising
  • Changes wire to rope
  • Anchoring when solo, part 2
  • Making a seacock alarm
  • Drilling that first hole!
  • Adding a bowsprit
  • Marine soldering

Just for fun

  • A gentleman's raft

What's more

  • Newburyport in November
  • Reflections: Rite of Spring
  • Simple solutions: Transom platform
  • Quick and Easys: Multi-purpose cushions and Inexpensive dock cleats
  • The view from here: Pardey time
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In the news

SSCA Cruisers' equipment survey helps all sailors

When you buy new equipment for your good old boat, nearly 10,000 Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) members have advice to share about what equipment has worked (or not worked) on their boats. The SSCA members test their own boats' equipment while cruising and report back to fellow members through an ongoing equipment survey introduced in 1988, which has recently been converted to an online open-ended version. The survey ratings and comments come primarily from the most demanding of test beds: cruising sailors who live aboard their boats.

Through this survey, SSCA members rate the type of boat they selected and everything aboard. This open-ended equipment survey is available to fellow SSCA members (and new members) now and into the future. The database of ratings and comments will be allowed to grow indefinitely; participants are able to update their own surveys as they add gear to their boats or their experience with current gear changes over time.

If you are not yet a member and would like to see an example taken from the survey, go to www.ssca.org, choose the Virtual Tour for prospective members, and click on Equipment Survey, where you can see the choices SSCA members have made concerning anchor types. If you would like to join SSCA and have access to the complete survey and other member benefits, membership starts at $55 per year.

To participate in the survey, members must log in to the password-protected Members' Section and click on Equipment Survey. You must first complete the survey before viewing the results. If you are an SSCA member who does not yet have a boat, contact survey@ssca.org to find out how you can view the survey results before submitting the survey yourself.

Seven Seas Cruising Association, Inc. is the oldest and largest non-profit organization of voyaging cruisers in the world. The goals of the original founders are still the goals of SSCA today: sharing cruising information, camaraderie, and leaving a clean wake. For more information, go to <http://www.ssca.org>.

She was the SSCA for many years: Ginny Filiatrault, 1936 – 2015

Ginny Filiatrault

On Sunday, January 18, 2015, Ginny Filiatrault lost her long battle with cancer. Born into a California sailing family on October 3, 1936, Ginny built her first boat at age 12 with her father and was living aboard her third boat before her 20th birthday. A friend of the SSCA Founders, Ginny was a member of SSCA for almost all of the association's 63 years. She sailed her own boat, cruised with family and friends, edited article submissions, typed bulletins (and prepared the ditto stencils for reproduction), served on the board and, for a dozen odd years, literally held SSCA together by her sheer determination. When times called for a change, she packed up the organization's books and records, drove them east, formed the SSCA's modern Florida non-profit corporation, continued to edit the bulletin, ran the office, hosted the Gam, and kept in close touch with members in person, by phone, and, later, by frequent email. For many, Ginny was the SSCA.

Eight bells: BoatUS Founder Richard Schwartz

Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) Chairman and Founder Richard Schwartz, who created and grew the association, which became the predominant advocacy and boater services organization for the nation's recreational boat owners, passed away in February after a short illness. He was 85.

Kidde recalls disposable plastic fire extinguishers

The Kidde Zytel disposable fire extinguishers can fail to fully discharge during a fire emergency. This recall involves 31 models of Kidde disposable fire extinguishers with Zytel black plastic valves. The recalled extinguishers are red, white, or silver and are either ABC- or BC-rated. The ratings can be found to the right of the nameplate. Manufacture dates included in the recall are July 23, 2013 through October 15, 2014. For more information: <http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Kidde-Recalls-Disposable-Plastic-Fire-Extinguishers/#.VQnfJNMvKxM.email>.

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Larimore/Moynahan Regatta

April 4
Biscayne Bay, Florida
Miami's extensive sailing community, led by the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, is honoring veterans John H. Moynahan (93) and Taylor C. Larimore (91) by establishing a permanent trophy in their name: the Larimore/Moynahan Regatta Trophy. The cup will be awarded annually to the winner of the BBYRA's PHRF Class Regatta on Biscayne Bay, this year to be contested on April 4 with trophy presentation at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club that evening. Both men are avid sailors and long-time fixtures on the Miami racing scene.

For more information, contact Harry Emilio Gottlieb (hgplace@bellsouth.net) 305-445-0300.

Strictly Sail Pacific

April 9 – 12
Jack London Square
Oakland, California

The West Coast's largest original all-sail boat show will sail into Jack London Square with all that is hot in the world of sailing. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned sailor, this four-day sailing spectacular is the place to immerse yourself in the world of sailing, check out new sailboats, talk to experts, participate in hands-on seminars, get on the water, and have fun. More information: <http://www.strictlysailpacific.com>.

Annapolis Spring Boat Show

April 24 – 26
City Dock and Harbor
Annapolis, Maryland

One of the country's largest in-water sailboat shows, possibly second only to the iconic fall United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, this show's nearly 80 boats in the water is a great blend of both new and brokerage boats. For more information, go to <http://www.annapolisboatshows.com/annapolis-spring-sailboat-show>.

National Safe Boating Week

May 16 – 22

Participate in Ready, Set, Wear it! on May 16 and wear your life jacket to work! View a PSA about the importance of wearing a life jacket at <http://youtu.be/3RQ4QNT1a40>and watch an inflatable life jacket video that Karen Larson says is useful at <http://www.safeboatingcampaign.com/instructional.htm>.

Seven Seas Cruising Association Summer Solstice Gam

June 19 – 22
Essex, Connecticut

The 3rd Annual SSCA Summer Solstice Gam in Essex, Connecticut, will once again be held in June. Be sure to include a five-mile trip up the Connecticut River to Essex in your summer cruising plans. The Essex Gam is perfectly timed for your summer cruising in New England, Maine, and points east.

Speakers this year include Monty and Sarah Lewis, authors of the Bahamas Explorer Chartbooks, the bible for Bahamas cruisers, and Chris Parker, the weather router for cruisers. Wally Moran, leader of last year's SAIL Magazine's ICW Rally for cruisers will share secrets of the ICW and have a session on visiting Cuba. There will be a live life raft and safety demonstration and much more. For more information, see <http://www.ssca.org>.

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Looking for

Water stains the sole

Greg Pitts wants to know how to clean dark stains left on teak-and-holly sole by standing water. He's been looking at boats to buy and is surprised by how many show dark stains on the lovely sole . . . usually around the mast or near the bilge. He's wondering how much work it would be to bring a stained sole back to like new. Does anyone have experience with this? We wondered about diluted bleach or light sanding. We'd all welcome the input of other sailors who have been there and done that. Send comments to Greg Pitts: gp7981@gmail.com and to karen@goodoldboat.com, who will share your ideas with the rest of us.

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Book reviews

The following book reviews have been posted online.

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Moisture inside the headliner

Note: the following is from an email exchange with reader David Padgett, author Mike Reed, and Technical Editor Jerry Powlas. We found it particularly scintillating and might prove interesting to you too. Editors

My wife and I are avid readers and we always find great information to help us in the up-fit of our Caliber 38, Regina Maris. One thing on my list is to get behind our headliner so I can see if we have any evidence of water intrusion. I've been very hesitant to do this because I don't think I will be able to get it reattached once I break enough of it loose to examine the ceiling. I've heard of using FRWB (fiberglass-reinforced wallboard) from others so I was very happy to see the "Renewing the Headliner" article by Mike Reed in the March 2015 issue.

However, I have a question. I've noticed that our boat, and most others I've seen, has a headliner designed so that there is some means of ventilation for the space behind it (ours has a perforated pattern in it). The FRWB solution has a lot of appeal since it is readily available and can be installed so it is removable, but I'm wondering if sealing the headliner like that (especially with the kind of insulation behind it that Mike used) is a good idea since condensation and any other moisture that gets in that space will stay there. I'd appreciate any insight you can share on whether this is a concern and if there are other solutions to replacing the headliner that I should look at. Since we have lots of good old boats out there, these questions may be of interest to other readers as well.
—David Padgett

Jerry replies

David, you are bringing up a very real concern. I think that if you could work in a very modest ventilation of that space, it would be well worth doing. More than likely, the hot sun on the deck will make that space warmer than the interior of the boat and, if there was provision for even a modest air flow, the space would not build up moisture. A rule of thumb in refrigeration system design is that moisture will always tend to migrate from the warmer space to the colder space.
—Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor

Mike answers

When planning out my headliner replacement, the one concern that came up the most often was that of condensation and that is why I glued the Reflectix to the cabintop. Condensation forms on the warmer side of a solid surface — envision a frosty can of brew. By gluing the insulation to the cabintop, the insulation became the "cozy" around the frosty can, removing the air voids and thus eliminating the ability of moisture to form. In addition, the plywood supports for the FRWB were designed thick enough for an air space to be formed between the headliner and the insulation, which not only added insulation but left space for air flow. There were enough voids between the supports and between the panels for air to move between the headliner and the insulation.

Not only did I use Reflectix behind the headliner, but I have glued it onto the insides of the lockers where one or more sides are formed by the hull. In those areas, I fronted the insulation with a teak veneer for its aesthetic value. With all the insulation I have added behind the headliner and in the lockers, condensation and mildew have been almost entirely eliminated. However, I have yet to figure out a good way to keep condensation from forming on the insides of hatches, especially in the V-berth when sleeping there, and will continue to work on those areas.
—Mike Reed

Mike, I'd agree with all except your comment about condensation forming on the warmer side of a solid surface. It is actually the reverse. It forms on the cooler side. All air found in nature has water in it. The more water in it the higher the dew point. Below the dew point, condensation forms. The lovely beads of water on a can of beer reflect the fact that the beer in the can is colder than the dew point. The thin aluminum wall of the can conducts heat extremely well, so the outside of the can is below the dew point. If the beer was warmer, such as at room temperature, no condensation would form.

Jerry, sounds like a good discussion is starting to form. I am not a trained condensation specialist, but have noted that here in the far northwest corner of the United States when the heat is on in my boat and it is colder outside, the uninsulated fiberglass forms condensation on the warmer inside. I would agree that in order for moisture to form on a solid surface there has to be warmth and cold, so perhaps you are correct in saying that the cold air draws the moisture out of the warm air and the moisture attaches itself to the side closer to where the warmth is. I don't have the tools to check the temperature differentials of both sides of the fiberglass, so I may be incorrect in saying there is a warm side and a cold side of the fiberglass. However, condensation does form on the side of the hull where the warmth is, not on the side where the cold is. Hmm, semantics?

In the most recent issue of Sail magazine, Don Casey stated that, ". . . [ the way] to prevent condensation from forming on the interior surface of the hull and deck in cold weather is to keep your cabin heat away from those surfaces." Anyway, I will stand with the analogy of the can of cold beverage and the cozy, which keeps the moisture from forming on the warmer outside with the cozy being the added insulation. I am going to work on finding a device to accurately measure the temperatures of each side of the hull.

Mike, I think the reason moisture forms on the inside of a boat hull and not the outside is because people are on the inside. Respiration from people puts a considerable amount of moisture in the air. There is also moisture added by cooking and even some forms of space heating. The interior is often heated, which raises the amount of water the air can hold, and the hull and deck surfaces are often still pretty cold. On the outside, there is no respiration, or it is highly dispersed, so there is not as much water in the air. The dewpoint is a function of what is sometimes called the absolute humidity, or in more specific terms, the grains of moisture per pound of dry air. As a given volume of air is heated or cooled, its relative humidity changes, but its absolute humidity stays the same unless you add or remove moisture. There might not be much difference between the skin temperature inside and outside, but the skin will be colder and often below the dew point. So the higher moisture content of the interior air will have a higher dewpoint and the skin temperature will often go below that. Thus it sweats from water condensing on it.

Our diesel heater brings in outside air (dry) and heats it and pushes out interior air (moist from respiration, sweating, cooking, etc.). We have very little sweating in our boat when we are heating with the diesel heater. We have a lot when we heat with the electric heater because we don't bring in dry outside air. The same thing happens in our house. Code requires we have a duct from outdoors that leads to the furnace and water heater. This brings in dry outside air to make up for the air the furnace and water heater burn and send up the chimney. The outside air brought in has very little water in it so the house dries out and we have to add moisture with a humidifier.

Jerry, thanks for a very thought-provoking and enlightening afternoon! I just returned from our boat, which is in the water here in Bellingham, Washington. Today's weather is unseasonably mild with the air temp hovering around 50 degrees and humidity at about 65 percent. My home weather station gives the dew point at 43 degrees. While at the boat, I read temps with a digital infrared thermometer. Inside the boat, temps were only a couple of degrees warmer than outside. With the infrared thermometer, I found that the surface on the inside of the hull, where there was no liner, to be anywhere from .5 degree to 1.5 degrees warmer than the corresponding outside surface. The hull is solid fiberglass with no coring. What I also observed was that the inside of the boat was very dry — no condensation to be found with the exception of one spot. There was condensation on the inside of the forward hatch. Interestingly, the hatch was 2.5 degrees warmer on the outside than on the inside, which supports your point of moisture migrating to the cooler side. There is no artificial heat running on the boat, but there are fans circulating the air.

So, let's go with your point that moisture forms on the cooler side. That's what happened on my forward hatch. Why then in the winter does my hull get condensation on the inside when the cabin is warmer than the outside environment? For the moment, let's leave human breath and cooking flames out of the conversation as most of the time neither are on the boat this time of year. No matter whether I run an electric heater or my Espar diesel heater (the Espar uses outside air only for combustion, which is then exhausted outside, inside air is recirculated) when the cabin heat exceeds the outside air temperature, moisture generally forms on the inside of the boat, not the outside.

Keep in mind that it is always damp in the northwest — that is why Washington is called the Evergreen State. We know that humidity and dew point are important factors. I would agree that dew point plays a very important role in this phenomenon, but as every maintenance professional in this area knows, and agrees, you do not heat your boat, by any means, more than a few degrees above the outside temperature unless you are running a large dehumidifier to pull the moisture out of the air and thus keep it from condensing on the inside (read: warmer side) of the boat.

I would agree that considering the amount of moisture in the air, the air temperature, and the surface temperature, that moisture would migrate from warm to cold condensing on the surface. However, by observation, I would argue that condensation can form on the warmer side of the surface as it does on my boat. The can of brew remains as an example. While in the dry, cold refrigerator the can is cold and dry on the outside, however when brought out into the warmer, damper environment moisture condenses (sweats) on the outside, thus getting my hand wet. If I put the can cozy on the outside surface that my hand touches, it is dry. By insulating the inside, warmer cabintop condensation is eliminated as the temperature differential has been eliminated. In conclusion, I wonder if it would help if I changed the first sentence of the second paragraph to read: "Condensation can form on the side of a solid surface — envision a frosty can of brew." Thank you for the opportunity to take my mind off the world today and get focused on a more satisfying good old boat-related topic. The conversation has been interesting, enlightening, and enjoyable.

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Mail buoy

Engine fever

I had to smile while I read "An Engine With a Fever" by Ed Zacko in the March 2015 issue. When the March issue arrived, I was about to start writing an article to send to you about the thrills of diagnosing an engine overheating problem aboard Onrust (Dutch for "unrest"), my 48-year-old Spencer 35. Starting last August, when the overheat warning buzzer went off while I was taking some friends out for a short sail on San Francisco Bay, I had several months of diagnostic problem solving including:

  • Change the water-pump impeller, even though it looked fine.
  • Put in a new thermostat.
  • Check and replace all of the raw-water hoses.
  • Confirm free flow through the heat exchanger.
  • Remove and inspect/clean the transmission oil cooler.
  • Disconnect and plug the galley seawater take off from the raw-water line (to prevent any potential air backflow into the system from the galley seawater pump).
  • Remove and have the exhaust elbow inspected professionally.
  • Remove and inspect the mixing muffler.
  • Remove and completely replace the exhaust line from muffler to exhaust exit through hull.

I worked over the whole system from water intake to exhaust outflow with lots of bruised knuckles, cut fingers, and sore muscles from twisting into the tight spaces required to reach, remove, and replace the hoses and such. And the engine still overheated at normal running rpm!

In the end, my friendly mechanic and I went back to the water pump and opened it again for closer inspection to find that the impeller housing and the cam were age-worn just enough that, when the rpm climbed, the pump would lose suction efficiency. At the end of all the search-and-replace, a new water pump was the answer. We replaced the original with a larger flow capacity and the engine now runs at perfect temperature. So just like with Entr'acte, the pump was the bad guy after all. Through all this I learned a lot about the whole system and although it was frustrating to have to remove, inspect, and replace so much before finding the real culprit, now it's nice to know the whole system is in tip-top, like-new condition. No more engine fever.
Jamie Harris, Lafayette, Calif.


Upon reading "All Overboard!" (March 2015), I thought back on our borderline paranoia about our own lifelines and having our O'Day 32 Center Cockpit boardable from the water — without assistance from those onboard. A year ago, my story about our swim step and ladder project appeared in Good Old Boat (March 2014). Based on a voluntary swim and a not-so-voluntary struggle to get our friend back in the boat, it propelled us to make several safety improvements for lifeline safety and reboarding.

First, I noticed in the article that the family overboard was unable to bring down the ladder in such a way they could feasibly reboard without any assistance. That was the basic premise in our swim step — if someone falls out, they must be able to reach the ladder and use it to get back on the new swim step and then back onto the boat. Mandatory.

Second, I wondered why the article didn't address the root cause of the lifeline failure. Was it corrosion? Did a fitting come unthreaded? We approached our lifelines with an almost obsessive tendency so all lifelines were replaced with correct gauge and installed by a professional rigger. Additionally, we followed the typical European configuration — no plastic sheathing or covering that would facilitate and hide corrosion.

Finally, we make sure to use Loctite or even a strong marine UV-resistant silicone that will prevent a fitting from coming loose.

I highly recommend that all sailors visualize and test their own systems for lifeline safety and reboarding. Unplanned overboard misadventures all too often lead to tragedy on the water.
Walter Gaines, Desert Hot Springs, California

Art's response

After further investigation, we found that the steel cable underneath the PVC coating had rusted, weakened, and separated at the gate eye where it connects at the first port-side stanchion. Our boat has always been in fresh water, so I can only assume that it failed due to "old age." Needless to say, at Lisa's directive, replacing all the lifelines moved to the top of our renovation list and, as in Walter's case, she still doesn't trust them either.
Art Martin, Florence, South Carolina

Tiller-friendly cockpit table

The article "A Tiller-friendly Cockpit Table" by Gary Gerber in the March 2015 issue is ingenious. The style of table solves a big dilemma. I went online to find stainless-steel table brackets and met partial success. I couldn't find anything resembling the sketch — both pieces flush. I found some by Sea Dog, but they would mount on the bottom of the box, not on the face as shown. I found another (stainless-steel) bracket made by Monarch Metals used for hanging finished panels, called a Heavy Duty MFSS clip. Can you please inquire from the author what his source is for those brackets? I look forward to enjoying a great idea this summer!
Tom Simmons, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Gary's answer

I used Sea-Dog Table Brackets (Mfr. #148DPOCHR) for mounting the table to the bulkhead and for storage in the locker because the female portion mounts almost flush and does not protrude into the cockpit. I used Sea-Dog Take-Apart hinges (Mfr. # 205270) to fit the table to the condiment box because these parts present a low silhouette when the table and box are removed for storage.

I can suggest an alternative mount for the condiment box, which is used to determine the table height, should a bulkhead fitting not be suitable because of the cockpit configuration. The box can be affixed to a teak board that spans the cockpit and can be secured to the tops of the seats. The removable board would bridge the width of the cockpit and the condiment box (also removable) would set at the height of the dining table.
Gary Gerber, Annapolis, Maryland

Another table concept

Cockpit table

I read with interest "A Tiller-Friendly Cockpit Table" in the March 2015 issue. My boat, a Miura 31, is also tiller-steered and I have a similar but different table concept. Having an external transom-hung rudder, my tiller sweeps the afterdeck. Mounted permanently to the bottom pushpit railing are two "hooks" fashioned from stainless steel. Two slots in the cockpit floor grating perfectly match the spacing of these "hooks," which hold the aft end in place while the forward end of the grating (while in table mode) merely rests on top of the centered tiller. Storage is not a problem because when it's not in use, the table becomes the cockpit floor.

I can't take credit for this clever idea, however, as it was already in place when I bought the boat. Had the previous owner not pointed it out to me, I probably would still be puzzling over the reason for those oddly placed "hooks."

(Unbelievers, we asked how the table is supported at the forward end. David says it just rests on the tiller. –Eds.)
Dave Marx, Evanvale, Gauteng, South Africa

Albin Vega Trans-European Challenge

The Albin Vega Trans-European Challenge starts at Veere (Netherlands) on April 10, 2015, and ends at Lake Balaton (Hungary). I am doing this trip aboard of my Albin Vega (#2611), built in 1977, in memory of my grandfather.

During WWII, the Nazi army took my grandfather and his brother to Germany. They were children at that time. My grandfather managed to escape and later returned to the camp to save his brother as well. The two of them paddled a stolen punt all the way down the Danube River back to their hometown in Hungary. This trip was his first big experience on the water. After the war, my grandfather started his long career in 1947 as a cabin boy and completed it in 2001 as captain of his own pleasure boat, when he had a heart attack while docking. His expertise was even recognized by Jacques Cousteau, who asked my grandfather to be his guide when he explored the Danube's wildlife. Follow my trip on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/pages/Albin-Vega-Trans-European-Challenge/603133123154717?fref=nf&_rdr> where I will publish every day's accomplishment. Be part of the challenges. I will need a lot of positive thoughts during the 30 days!
Jaksa Tamas, Balatonakarattya, Hungary

Mixing elbow threads


The article "Dead in the Water" by Ed Zako (January 2015) is well written, but there is an important detail missing concerning the mixing elbow on a Yanmar diesel engine. I have attached a parts breakdown from the parts book that might make this clearer. The mixing elbow is attached to a pipe nipple (item 16, circled), which is attached to the elbow on the engine (item 17, circled). This pipe nipple has right-hand threads on one side and left-hand threads on the other side. This makes the dismantling of the mixing elbow somewhat problematic if you do not know this fact. One other note — to counter the effects of the saltwater corroding the elbow, a common solution is to add a tee to the cooling waterline from the seacock and hook up a fresh-water line to it, thus flushing the cooling system with fresh water with the engine running. I have done this to my boat (Ericson 27 with a Yanmar 2GM20 diesel) and we flush the system when we return to the dock after a day out.
John Askitis, Parksville, British Columbia



I believe good old boaters, as do-it-yourselfers, are the ones best prepared for disaster. My fellow readers are the ones I want to have around when nature reminds us who's in charge. I wrote much of my new novel, Destiny, while sailing along the coast and around the islands of Maine in my well-used Cal 25 II. In Destiny, I tell a story that may offer a bleak future, but I have faith that there is still hope. That hope falls on those of us who are not intimidated by a sudden crisis to respond to by doing what is necessary, one step at a time until we conquer the problem, or we adapt to the consequences.

I invite you to explore the pages of Destiny and follow the Petersen family's attempt to survive an event that threatens the future of human civilization. Estranged brothers, geo-political drama, an adventurous rescue, first love and, of course, sailing amid the challenges of an offshore trip from Maine to the Chesapeake all contribute to a fast-paced novel. Rebecca Pepper Sinkler, former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Book Review, said Destiny is a " . . . rip-roaring thriller with a heart." Good Old Boat founders Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas encouraged me when I wrote Destiny. In the spirit of giving back, a portion of the proceeds will go to support the Island Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes community sustainability on Maine's islands — <http://www.islandinstitute.org>.

Destiny will be available starting May 8, 2015. Ask for it at your favorite bookstore, purchase it from Amazon, download an ebook, or visit <http://www.carlhowehansen.com> for more information.
Carl Howe Hansen, Sandwich, New Hampshire

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How do you say good-bye?

We asked readers for their nautical salutations in the previous newsletter. Here are some replies:

Doug Tate says:
I have used "Fair Winds and Following Seas" to close my written communications with others for many years. For me, it heralds the inviting and comforting aspect of sailing over the horizon. While we often find ourselves beating to weather on the boat and in life, we want our guests and friends to remember the most enjoyable moments under sail.

Kurt Lorenz writes:
"Stay on top of the water and off the rocks." This should be said with a warm smile.

Pat Pytlak says:
I sign off or say good-bye with "Happy Sails" to the tune of "Happy Trails to You."

This one is well understood in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to Gerry Taylor:
"May ya get where you're goin' . . . and back!"

Steve Christensen says "This one takes a bit of pondering, but I think you'll agree that summer or winter, it's a good rule to follow":
May the windspeed in knots never exceed the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Bill Jaine sends three fare-thee-well sayings:
"There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
"Sailing is like peeing, always downwind when you can; if you can't, don't go!"
"The water is always bluer on the other side of the ocean."

Bill Huesmann writes:
I like to sign off with a "Sail Safe Out There." It's a gentle reminder to go sailing, but make sure you are safe for both you and your guests. After 28 years in the Navy, I've seen how failing to keep one hand for yourself and one for the ship can make the day go terribly wrong.

Tom and Kaye Assenmacher add this:
Our motto for sailing and every other endeavor in our lives is "Keep Calm and Carry On!"

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How to contact us

You can find all of the details on how to contact us on our website.

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