Pushpit seats: Comfort in the cockpit

Pushpit seats: Comfort in the cockpit

By Bill Dimmit

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 6, November/December 1999.

Grandson steers the boat

on many newer stock boats, pushpit or stern pulpit seating is a great addition
to any good old boat as well. The pushpit is the stainless steel framework
aft of the cockpit. It’s an important safety feature on any cruiser and,
therefore, generally well constructed. This makes it a perfect location
for the addition of seating areas that are not only great sailing thrones,
but also provide out-of-the-action perches for non-sailors as well.

This is a reasonably
simple project. Materials are readily available and fabrication is easily
accomplished using tools found in most household workshops. These instructions
will loosely guide you toward results similar to what you see in the photos,
but every boat is as different as its owners’ personal tastes.

A support for the seat

It is essential that
your pushpit frame have a center horizontal rail. You really can’t consider
the project without it. It supports the seats and gives you something
to fasten them to. You’ll need some stiff corrugated cardboard for patterns.
The sides of a cereal or tissue carton will do. Most frames will have
one or two vertical supports near the bends in the corners. In our situation,
these supports neatly defined the location of the seats. Your frame may
be different. Lay the cardboard on the corner of the center rail. Doing
so may require you to notch around a support or two. This is a trial-and-error
challenge and may take a bit of time. Also make sure the pattern covers
the entire area being considered for the seat. Then simply trace the outside
contour of the rail onto the pattern. Also mark where you want the seats
to end up on the frame. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that both sides
of the frame are the same. Port and starboard seldom mirror each other,
and you will need to make a pattern for each.

With the outline of
your frame in hand, lay out the seats. Keep in mind that what you are
doing will have some impact on the appearance of your boat. Your seats
should be well proportioned in respect to the rest of the cockpit. Older
cruiser/racers often have narrow transoms, so keep the seats fairly small
– just enough to give support, with enough room left over for a
beverage holder, if you want one. Another tip: there are very few truly
straight lines on a boat. Use smooth flowing curves when laying out the
inboard edge. Your final design should be pleasing to the eye and look
like it belongs on the boat. Set both patterns on the frame to satisfy
your eye before plugging in the saw. Then label them port/top and starboard/top.

The seat supports

Bill and grandson appreciate the newly added seats on his Ericson ’74. A strut was added for support. Clamps, shown above, were made from the same HDPE as the seat. Stainless steel clamps would also work. Use smooth flowing lines and keep the seat fairly small, as shown at right and below.

The seat in place

We used 3/4 inch polyethylene
stock for our seats because it was readily available. This may not be
the case in your area. A better choice would be Starboard, a material
made specifically for marine environments. Starboard comes in several
sizes and colors. It can be ordered from most mail-order distributors.
(I got mine from Elastomer Engineering Inc., 801 Steuben St., Sioux City,
IA 51102. Phone: 712-252-1067.) Be sure to use material thick enough to
give good support. I recommend 3/4 inch.

Transfer the patterns
onto the material and simply cut them out with whatever you have on hand.
A band saw is best, but a handheld sabre saw will do nearly as well. Take
your time and try to cut right to the outside edge of the line. The holes
for the beverage holders are best made with an adjustable circle-cutting
bit mounted in a drill press, but the sabre saw will work here as well.
Whatever tools you use, you are going to end up with edges that need some
additional work.

Sand or file them
smooth and fair. After they match the pattern and look good to the eye,
you can contour them for comfort. This is easily done with a router, and
if you don’t have one, a friend probably will. All that is necessary is
to round over the top. But we chose to bullnose ours. The router should
leave you with a nearly finished edge. Use a Scotch-brite pad to do any
final smoothing.

With the seats shaped
and edges smoothed, it’s time to mount them on the frame. Ours
are held in place with custom clamps made from the same material as the
seats. But making similar clamps would be difficult without a drill press.
Stainless steel straps are an easier and better choice. Whatever you use,
they should be through-bolted like hardware subject to stress. Countersink
the heads and plug the holes just as you would if doing traditional woodwork.
The beverage holders are held in place with marine-grade silicone.

Two seats on the aft rail

Unless your seats
are very small, they will probably require additional support. Our Ericson
32 has a split cockpit with an athwartships bench behind the helm. This
made it easy to extend struts down to the original seat level. Most conventional
cockpit arrangements should work. The struts are short sections of stainless
or aluminum tubing with the same kinds of ends and mounting brackets used
in Bimini frames. These items can be found in any boating area and also
ordered from marine catalogs. Position the struts for good support. Ours
run from near the center of the inboard edge, down to the back of the
original cockpit seat. This retains some useful space on the bench below.

Our seats have endured
two Midwest sailing seasons and we immediately found them to be one of
the best improvements we’ve made on our good old boat.

Bill Dimmit, shown with grandson, Isaiah, and the new pushpit seats,
has had a lifetime fascination with sailing, primarily sailing dinghies
until a charter in the Virgin Islands convinced him and wife, Laurie,
of the pleasures of the cruising life. They now sail a 1974 Ericson on
Lewis and Clark Lake near Yankton, S.D.

Cooking under pressure

Cooking under pressure

By Theresa Fort

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 6, November/December 1999.
This and other cooking aboard articles are also available in the Good Old Boat Galley Book CD.

It bakes bread, makes hearty soups, distills water, and holds the kids’
“critters.” Who could ask for more?

Pressure cooker, cooking tools

Long, long ago in another lifetime far, far away – well, 17 years ago
in Montana when sailing hadn’t infected our lives – we received a 6-quart
pressure cooker as a wedding present. I remember staring at it and wondering
if it would become an enemy or a friend. Memories of steaming pork chops,
potatoes, and sauerkraut fresh from my mother’s pressure cooker gave me

My mother had a friendly pressure cooker. She used it weekly to speed-cook
dinners for our large family. In fact, when microwaves first came onto
the market, she didn’t see any reason to get one. “Why microwave when
I can pressure cook?” she’d say.

Now that I had my own, everything seemed different. I listened to my friends’
stories of boiling hot soup splattered on the ceiling and steam burns.
Were some pressure cookers enemies to humankind? I went to my mother for
help and learned that pressure cookers are safe and easy to use as long
as you follow a few basic rules.

Mom’s safety rules

  • Always check the
    vent for debris before using and while cleaning after use. Hold the
    lid up to the light and look through the vent tube to be sure there
    are no clogs.
  • Always check your
    gasket to assure that it is pliable and free of any cuts or degradation.
    If it takes a long time to reach pressure or if steam escapes during
    pressure cooking, you need to replace your gasket.
  • Never interrupt
    the pressure cooker while it cools and releases pressure on its own.
    It is cheating and dangerous to jiggle the jiggle-top to speed up release.
    (But, if no one sees you jiggle it a tiny bit, does that count?)
  • Always open the
    top away from your face. No matter how badly you want to see your creation,
    you have to wait for the remaining steam to escape.
  • Never overfill
    your pressure cooker. When cooking rice and dried vegetables, fill only
    to the half-full mark. With stews, soups, and other dishes, fill only
    2/3-full. Overfilling a pressure cooker can cause food to clog the vent
    tube when the food expands or boils, especially with beans.
  • Do not pressure
    cook cranberries, lima beans, applesauce, cereals, or noodles in jiggle-top
    pressure cookers. These foods tend to foam, and sputter which could
    clog the vent pipe.

Her guidelines were
straightforward and simple. But my pressure cooker and I didn’t develop
a very strong relationship. In fact, for years I hesitated to use it.
I only grudgingly brought it from the cupboard when my husband, Chuck,
requested a favorite pressure-cooked dinner. “Why pressure cook when I
can microwave?” I said.

Then sailing came into our lives. The microwave wouldn’t work aboard our
new (to us) 30-foot sailboat. We spent weekends sailing, fishing, and
crabbing in the Puget Sound area. Now with two kids who were starving
after a full day of fresh air and boating, we needed hearty meals fast.
My pressure cooker got dusted off and brought aboard to live. That’s when
the friendship began. Slowly I began to understand my pressure cooker’s

When we set off to cruise, this new friend became a necessity. Its locking
lid prevented any boiling hot food from splattering when we were cooking
under way in a rolly sea. In the tropics, it baked bread with less energy
than our oven would have used. In Alaska, it made quick hearty soups in
less than a half hour that tasted as though they had cooked all day.

It cleans up easily after being used as a bucket for holding critters
the kids have caught. Set up as a distiller, it has the potential to save
our lives if we need it to make drinkable water at sea. Top that with
the fact that it requires only a little maintenance, and that makes it
a great addition to our crew list.

Maintenance tips

Pressure cooker diagram

When bringing your pressure cooker up to pressure, instead of using
high heat, turn the burner to between high and medium high. This prevents
warping the bottom. It may take a little longer for it to reach the proper
pressure, but it will extend the life of your pressure cooker.

Store your pressure
cooker with the lid nestled upside dow n and over the top of the pot.
Keep the gasket out of the lid to prolong its life by letting air get
to all edges. Storing it this way will prevent warping of the gasket,
release odors that may linger, and allow air to get to all parts. To save
room, you may be able to nest spare bowls or bottles inside along with
your rack and pressure regulator.

While gaskets don’t
need to be replaced very often, it is a good idea to carry a replacement
gasket and pressure-release plug on extended trips. We have experimented
with different gasket materials from auto supply stores but have been
unable to find any satisfactory materials. (Note: not all gasket materials
are safe for foods.)
If you decide to experiment with other types
of gasket material, test your experimental gasket with a few cups of water
inside your pressure cooker. Bring your cooker up to pressure and maintain
it for 15 minutes before you try cooking a dinner. Needless to say, you’d
have a big mess if the gasket didn’t work with dinner inside.

Check the vent pipe to be sure it's clear

Hold the lid to the light to see if you can see through the vent pipe. If not, use a pipe cleaner, twist tie, toothpick, or other thin object to clear it.

Don’t forget to check
your pressure release plug whenever you check your gasket for wear. This
is the plug that will release steam and built-up pressure if your vent
pipe becomes clogged. It is usually made of the same rubber as your gasket
and may need to be replaced at the same time. Ours is located on the inside
of the lid near the handle.

A little vegetable
oil occasionally on your gasket will keep it pliable and soft longer.
But be careful: too much oil will actually reduce the gasket’s ability
to form a good seal. (Note: check the owner’s manual for your cooker,
some discourage the use of oil on gaskets.)

Check your
pressure cooker for screws that will rust in a marine environment and
replace them with stainless screws before bringing it aboard. Our pressure
cooker had two screws in the main handle and one on the helper handle
that needed replacing with stainless screws. If your pressure cooker is
aluminum, consider putting a barrier of silicone or other material between
the stainless screws and the aluminum of the pot to reduce the corrosion
that can occur when these two metals join in marine conditions.

How it works

A stainless steel bowl as a heatproof dish

Theresa uses a medium-sized stainless steel bowl as a heatproof dish which fits inside the pressure cooker and is called for by some recipes. A ceramic soufflé dish also works for recipes of this nature.

The concept behind pressure cookers is simple. When liquids come to
a boil, they give off steam. Because a pressure cooker has a locking lid,
that steam builds up and creates a higher pressure inside the pot. With
the pressure regulator jiggling atop your cooker, it releases small amounts
of steam to maintain the proper amount of pressure for the system. That
amount is usually 15 pounds of pressure for most brands and models – others
have adjustable pressure regulators, and some use lower pressure. With
that higher pressure, a higher temperature can be realized.

Under normal sealevel
conditions, the water in food can only reach boiling point temperature
to cook – that’s 212F. At 15 pounds of pressure, that same water can reach
and maintain temperatures of 250F. Thus, food cooks faster.

Inside the pressure
cooker, there is also an almost airless environment. The quickness in
cooking combined with that environment allows food to maintain its nutrition
value without water-soluble vitamins and minerals boiling away. It also
allows for stronger flavors to develop, allowing cooks to use smaller
amounts of salt and spices.

The rack

Most pressure cookers come with a rack that can be very helpful when
cooking rice, vegetables, meats, breads, puddings, or even cheesecakes.
Its job is to keep food off the bottom of the pan and away from the intensity
of the flame. This is especially helpful during steaming and baking. Vegetables
and rice can be quickly steamed in a separate heatproof dish that will
fit inside your pressure cooker set atop the rack. The rack is also helpful
when baking breads or puddings in a separate dish. And it helps prevent
scorching when cooking roasts and other larger pieces of meats that can
sit directly on the rack.

Considerations when buying

Amie bathe the dog in the pressure cooker

Daughter, Amie, gives the family dog a bath in the pressure cooker.

Deep-pressure pans can be used both for water-bath and pressure canning.
It’s good to have a large pot aboard for cooking large amounts of food
wi thout pressure as well. Heavier models with thick bottoms will scorch
food less easily and serve better as ovens. Two handles are a necessity
when it comes to carrying a full pot of steaming hot food.

Aluminum is lighter
in weight and conducts heat better than stainless steel, but some people
may want to limit their exposure to aluminum due to possible links to
Alzheimer’s disease. If this concerns you, you may want to do your own
research on the subject.

A new generation of
pressure cookers has come on the market in the last few years that may
be safer for boaters though more expensive (some brands are in the $150-$200
range). Instead of the weighted jiggle-top regulator, they use a spring
valve that allows for more precise timing and pressurization. The new
non-jiggle-top cookers also have a way to release pressure without any
need to carry them to a sink or bucket of cold water to reduce pressure
(though this feature cannot be used with any foods that foam). Also, since
they have a spring valve that is self-cleaning and nearly impossible to
get clogged, it is safe to cook the forbidden foods like cranberries,
applesauce, lima beans, and cereals.

Great emergency rescues

As any good friend would, your pressure cooker is able to help out
in any number of “emergencies.”

    • Saving your
      food when the fridge dies
      – A pressure cooker can become a water-bath
      canner or pressure canner if food is in danger of spoiling. We like
      to bring along pint canning jars with lids whenever we leave on an extended
      trip. Our 6-quart cooker can hold three regular-sized pint jars for
      water bath canning and pressure canning. Even though we have no fridge,
      we have the ability to can extra fish and produce, and to make jams
      or pickles if we arrive in an area rich in produce. To turn your cooker
      into a canner, experiment with different sizes of canning jars. For
      water-bath canning, the water level needs to be an inch above the jars
      while boiling to insure proper immersion.Water-bath canning is used for most fruits and all types of pickles.
      Pressure is not used for this type of canning. There are many books
      available that have excellent canning recipes. One I would recommend
      is Putting Food By by Janet Groene.

      Pressure canning is used for all non-acidic foods. It can be done easily
      with your pressure cooker, but you are limited to only one pressure
      setting. For this reason you will need to refer to your owner’s manual
      for recipes, times, and proper procedures. Other recipe books may not
      have the proper times for the amount of pressure that you would be using.

    • Storing leftovers – You have just finished a wonderful dinner of soup or stew, but
      there are leftovers. What do you do with those leftovers if you have
      no fridge? Well, when we have leftovers from our pressure cooking, I
      bring the food back up to pressure in my cooker and heat at full pressure
      for two minutes. Then I set the cooker aside with its regulator undisturbed
      and lid locked. I leave it for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. Many times
      we have kept leftovers for up to 24 hours this way.

      I use my pressure cooker for any leftover meat as well. That same evening,
      I simply bring out my pressure cooker and make a quick soup of the meat
      with any vegetables I have around. After the soup cooks under pressure,
      I set it aside on my stovetop and leave it for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

      In both cases, I let the pressure cooker cool on its own. I do not break
      the seal by opening the lid or removing the regulator. And, it is always
      served within 24 hours. The only drawback to this method is that you
      cannot use it for dishes that have tomatoes as one of the ingredients.
      These rules are very important to the safety and healthfulness of the
      leftover food.

    • Turning your
      pressure cooker into a distiller for emergency drinking water
      See below for more information on distillation
      using a pressure cooker.
    • When running
      low on stove fuel
      – With a pressure cooker’s locking lid, it can
      become an ideal fire-less cooking pot. Fire-less cooking is a method
      of slow cooking that has been around long before slow-cookers were invented.
      All sorts of one-pot dishes like stews, chili, soups, even rice and
      noodle dishes can be made with only a little amount of heating and some
      blankets and pillows. Here are some basic instructions:

      In the morning, bring your dinner up to pressure and heat for five minutes
      at full pressure. Take from heat and wrap your pot, upright, in a blanket
      or sleeping bag, being careful not to burn yourself or disrupt the jiggle-top
      or pressure safety valve. I place my hand on the regulator as I put
      the first wrap on the cooker to make sure I do not disrupt it. Pile
      pillows all around the pot (including underneath), and then wrap any
      other blankets or sleeping bags you may have aboard around your cooker.
      Try to insulate your cooker so that minimal heat is released. Wedge
      this huge bundle somewhere safe while you are sailing. In 8-10 hours
      you’ll have a steaming dinner all ready for eating. Aboard Lindsay Christine
      we use two sleeping bags and all four of our family pillows. One of
      the kids’ berths, depending on the tack, is the ideal wedging place
      for our fire-less cooking bundle.

      By the way, using this method with dried vegetables such as beans still
      requires a pre-soak before preparation, which would have to be done
      the night before.

The pressure cooker as an aquarium

Son, Alex, uses the pressure cooker as an occasional aquarium.

Storing bait

  • A weapon
    As a safe weapon aboard a boat, pressure cookers are second only to
    a large cast iron frying pan. It will never be confiscated when entering a new country, you don’t have to reload, and even a child can use it.
  • An extra bucket – Buckets are usually stored outside near the cockpit of most boats.
    But, when stored inside the galley of your boat, a pressure cooker may
    be closer at hand if water enters your cabin while you are below. A
    pressure cooker is a perfect bailer with two handles for carrying heavy
    loads of water.
  • During a medical
    – While pressure cookers are nowhere near as effective
    as an autoclave in a hospital or lab, they do work to sterilize items
    in the same general way providing a higher temperature with an increase
    in pressure. And they could be your only solution for sterilizing supplies
    when a medical emergency at sea occurs.

    Pressure cookers attain 15 pounds of pressure and 250F, the very minimum
    requirement to sterilize medical equipment, water, and bandages or cloths.
    If a medical emergency were to occur, you could sterilize your supplies
    by putting them into a heatproof dish fitted inside the pressure cooker
    with 2 cups of water in the bottom and the rack in place. Water could
    be sterilized inside canning jars filled with 1 inch of air space remaining
    and sealed with lid and ring. The minimum amount of time at full pressure
    (I would have the jiggle-top regulator rocking at a consistent speed
    because I wouldn’t be worried about overcooking anything) would be 20
    minutes. But this is not a guaranteed procedure. There is no way to
    assure that everything received enough steam and heat under pressure
    to say that all supplies are sterile. However, as an alternative to
    boiling supplies in water, it is a superior method because everything
    reaches a higher temperature. This is in no way condoning the use of
    a pressure cooker as a substitute autoclave on a regular basis. But
    it is a possible alternative in an emergency situation when someone
    is far away from medical services.

Aboard Lindsay
, we try to make most of our items aboard have a dual purpose.
Our pressure cooker has more than satisfied that requirement. Here’s a
list of the ways we have used ours: pressure cooker, non-pressurized cooking
pot, distiller, slow cooker, steamer, oven, canner, bucket, weapon, temporary
leftover storage unit, temporary critter home, weight training equipment,

Could a microwave do that? I doubt it. These days I agree with my mom
more and more. I say, “Why microwave when I can pressure cook?”

Theresa Fort

another life long, long ago and far away, Theresa was a home economist
with a specialization in consumer education. After receiving her BA in
home economics at the University of Montana, she went on to become a master
food preserver with the co-operative extension office in Montana. Still,
it took life aboard a sailboat to convince her to use her own pressure
cooker. Theresa and family have lived and cruised aboard
Lindsay Christine, a Mercator Offshore 30, since 1995.

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Making a distiller

some experimentation, our pressure cooker has become a successful
distiller with the addition of these items:

  • 10-feet of 1/4-inch outside diameter copper tubing
  • two 3-foot lengths of 3/8-inch outside diameter (1/4-inch inside diameter)
    food-grade vinyl tubing
  • two hose clamps
  • a bucket
  • a water container

How we put the distiller together and run it:

First, we fill
the bucket with cool seawater and bring it below to our galley. Then
we fill our pressure cooker 2/3 full with seawater or any other water
that may or may not be contaminated. Our copper tubing is wound into
a coil around something cylindrical so it will fit completely into
the bucket of cool seawater with one end pointed up toward the pressure
cooker on the stove.

Our pressure cooker has a vent pipe with an outside diameter of 1/4-inch.
We slide one of the 3-foot lengths of food-grade vinyl all the way
onto the vent pipe in the lid. Then with a hose clamp over the vinyl
tubing, we slide the copper tubing into the remaining loose end and
tighten the clamp. The remaining piece of food-grade vinyl tubing
attaches to the copper tubing end at the bottom of the bucket with
a hose clamp as well. Then the remaining end of vinyl tubing is placed
inside the water container, which sits next to the bucket. It helps
if your container is shorter than your bucket.

Now we are ready to assemble the pressure cooker and heat the seawater.
As steam builds up inside the cooker, it begins to make its way through
the tubing. When it reaches the copper coils, it condenses into pure
water and flows into the water container. The key to making this distiller
run efficiently is to replace the seawater in the bucket once it warms
up. Be careful not to burn yourself when you lift the coil out of
the bucket to change the water. As the flow develops, we turn the
burner to medium low because less heat is required. Once the steam
begins going through the tubing, we usually get about 1 cup of water
after about 25 minutes on medium heat.

Keeping the copper tubing in a coil with the vinyl tubing already
attached helps with storing and quick assembly. Before using the tubing
for the first time, rinse it with clean water. Be sure to use only
food-grade tubing, as not all vinyl tubing is safe for drinking water
use. We have never found the vinyl tubing to pop off the vent pipe
or melt with the heat. The pressure that builds up is not the same
because of the lack of the weighted regulator on the vent pipe, so
the temperature is not as high either.

While this process is slow and uses quite a bit of energy, it could
save your life in an emergency. In many situations you could use this
process to create pure water. Water tanks can run dry or become contaminated.
Or you may be somewhere which only has contaminated water available.
You may also need distilled water for your boat’s batteries.

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Chicken and Mushrooms

This one-pot dish requires few ingredients.

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup thickly sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup rice (I use a mixture of 1/2 long-grain white and 1/2 brown
  • 1 1/2 cups water (pressure cookers use less water than would be normal
    with conventional cooking)

Place first eight ingredients in cooker. Place rice and water in a
heatproof dish that fits loosely inside your pressure cooker. Place
dish in pressure cooker with chicken mixture surrounding it. The dish
should stick up a few inches above the level of the chicken mixture.
No food or containers should be over 2/3 full. Close securely. Place
pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook 10 minutes with pressure
regulator rocking slowly. Let pressure drop. Lift out rice bowl, and
let sit 5 minutes. Thicken chicken dish, if desired, with cornstarch
mixed with a little water. Serve over cooked rice. Serves 4.

Rice can be cooked separately in the pressure cooker by combining
1 cup rice and 1 1/2 cups water in a heatproof dish. Place dish inside
the pressure cooker with 1 cup water in the bottom. Pressure cook
10 minutes if using 1/2 white and 1/2 brown rice, 5 minutes if using
white rice only. Let pressure drop. Open lid and let rice sit 5 minutes.
Fluff with fork.

Sun-dried Tomato/Herb Bread

This bread is an example of steam-baking in the pressure cooker.
It is done under pressure. The amount of time for steam-baking is
a bit shorter than when using an oven, and you save fuel by heating
only the pressure cooker.

Pre-heat the pressure cooker on medium heat five minutes before putting
in your food to be baked, covered with aluminum foil to retain heat.
Turn your burner down very low. A consistent low flame will produce
a moderate oven temperature. Cakes and other sweets seem to take a
little longer than breads this way.

We love this bread sliced and toasted under the broiler with cheese
melted on top. The crust is chewy and not browned on top. You can
make plain bread this way by leaving out the seasonings. I like to
use 1/2 whole wheat to hide the fact that the bread is not browned
on top.

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 F)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 reconstituted dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Dissolve yeast and sugar in small bowl with 1/4 cup of the warm water.
Add remaining water to large mixing bowl. Add salt and oil and allow
to cool while yeast is dissolving. Add yeast mixture and 3 cups of
flour along with basil, garlic, dried tomatoes, and cheese. Turn out
on floured counter and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic,
adding flour as needed. Place dough in a greased 2-quart oven-safe
casserole dish or bowl that will fit in your pressure cooker. Let
rise until doubled in volume in a warm draft-free place 40 minutes
to 1 hour. When doubled, punch down, turn out onto counter, and knead
a few times. Place dough back in dish and let rise a second time for
1/2 hour.

Pour 2 cups fresh or salt water into pressure cooker with rack. Place
container of dough in the pressure cooker and seal with lid. Bring
up to 15 pounds pressure. Turn heat down to maintain pressure, and
cook 40 minutes. Cool cooker immediately by placing in a pan of cold
water or letting cold water run over cooker. Open lid carefully and
remove bread. Cool in baking container for 10 minutes, then invert
and take out of dish. Cool 15 minutes before slicing. Makes 1 loaf.

Mercator Brownies

This is an example of baking with a pressure cooker. To bake in
the pressure cooker, remove the gasket, leave the pressure regulator
off the top, and use the cooking rack and a separate heatproof dish
that fits inside the cooker for the food.
Doubling the recipe
and baking it in an oven will produce a 13×9 pan of brownies. It is
a scaled-down recipe tailored to using my medium stainless steel bowl
(that holds 6 cups) as a baking pan. A soufflé dish would work well
as a heatproof dish.

  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Pre-heat pressure cooker over a medium flame with rack inside and
top locked on but without a gasket or the pressure regulator. Do not
put liquid inside. Lightly grease the heatproof dish that will fit
inside your pressure cooker for the batter.

In a pot over very low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring constantly.
As soon as it’s melted and smooth, remove from heat and add sugar.
Stir until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Add flour
and nuts, if desired. Stir mixture well. Pour into heatproof bowl.
Cover with aluminum foil. Open your pressure cooker and place dish
inside on rack. Turn heat down to low and bake 45 minutes or until
a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove
from pressure cooker and cool. Enjoy!

Cooking Dried Vegetables

The pressure cooker is ideal for cooked dried beans, peas, and lentils. Remember to fill the cooker only halfway.

Pre-soaking dried vegetables

  • 2 cups dried vegetables
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • Water to cover vegetables

Place dried vegetables in cooker. Add remaining ingredients and soak
8 hours. I start soaking beans in the morning in our cooker, keeping
it secured with fiddles on the stovetop.

Cooking pre-soaked vegetables
Pour off and discard water from soaking. (This water could cause indigestion.)
Place vegetables in cooker, adding enough water to cover well. Add
seasonings and any other additions you desire. Adding 1 tablespoon
cooking oil will decrease the foaming action of the vegetables.

Do not fill the cooker over half-full.
Close cover securely.
Place pressure regulator on vent pipe and cook under pressure according
to the following timetable. Let pressure drop.

Dried vegetable
Pinto beans
Black beans
Great northern beans
Kidney beans
Navy beans
Pink beans
Black-eyed peas
Cooking time
25 minutes
35 minutes
20 minutes
25 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
20 minutes


The Pearson Era

The Pearson Era

By Steve Mitchell

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 6, November/December 1999.

Starting in a garage, cousins Clinton and Everett
initiated an era in yachting history

It’s a familiar story to sailing buffs. The Pearson cousins, Clinton and
Everett, began the modern era of fiberglass production sailboats at the
New York Boat Show, in January 1959, with the introduction of the Carl
Alberg-designed Triton. They sold 17 of those 28-foot boats at the show,
and “it started us chasing money,” says Clinton. Indeed, that one show
put the fledgling company on the map and in solid financial shape, but
this well-known story reveals only part of the roots of Pearson Yachts.

Pearson 10M

“The Navy ROTC sent me to Brown University,” says Clinton, “so after I
graduated, I had to serve three years of active duty on the destroyer
Joseph P. Kennedy. This was from 1952 to 1955. While on the Kennedy, I
built a small model for an 8-foot fiberglass dinghy. Later, I built a
mold for the dinghy in my father’s garage. I started the company in May
1955 with the $2,000 I received when I left the Navy.”

Clinton tried making the dinghies using a vacuum process. “But I had no
luck with it after six or seven attempts. So I started making them from
mat and resin in a lay-up in the garage.”

It didn’t take Clinton long to run out of money. He started working for
an insurance company during the day and making the dinghies at night.
But sales were promising enough for him to incorporate in early 1956.
A high-school classmate named Brad Turner helped out by investing $5,000
in the business.

Clinton’s cousin, Everett, who was a couple of years behind Clinton at
Brown, also served in the Navy after graduation. He worked with Clinton,
building the dinghies when he could, and was able to come to the new company
full-time in 1957. Fred Heald, a fellow Brown alumnus, joined them as
head of sales.

At the request of customers, the cousins built larger dinghies, which
they exhibited at the New York Boat Show in 1957. Sales were so good that
the young company needed room to expand. The Pearsons found an empty textile
mill on the waterfront on Constitution Street in Bristol, R.I., with a
flexible lease that allowed them to pay just for the space they used.
Soon they were renting the entire first floor. By the time of the show
in 1958, they also were making 15- and 17-foot runabouts based on Clinton’s
designs, in addition to the line of dinghies.

Things started to gel in 1958. “A fellow named Tom Potter, who worked
for an outfit called American Boat Building, over in East Greenwich, asked
us if we would be interested in building a 28-foot fiberglass sailboat
that would sell for under $10,000,” says Clinton. “Tom knew Carl Alberg,
who was working at the Coast Guard Station in Bristol, across from where
we were renting space. We agreed, and Tom had Carl design the boat for
us. So Tom Potter was really responsible for the concept of the Triton.”

Big in Europe

“I had an idea for a family cruising boat using fiberglass,” says Tom.
“Family cruising was a big thing in Europe at the time, but not in the
U.S. The idea hit me that we could do the same thing, and it would be
successful if the price was under $10,000. Everyone was still building
boats from wood, but I thought fiberglass was the way to go.” Building
with fiberglass allowed for a much roomier interior compared to wooden

Tom adds: “I approached a number of people about my idea. My employer
at the time, American Boat Building, wasn’t interested. I talked to Sparkman
& Stephens. They wouldn’t give me the time of day. I got to know Carl
while I was at American Boat Building, and talked to him about the idea.
He’s the one who introduced me to Clint and Everett. He knew they were
building fiberglass dinghies and runabouts across the way from him and
thought they might be interested in building a sailboat. Naturally they
were. So Carl designed the boat, and I financed the tooling for it. Carl
had been designing ammunition boxes for the Coast Guard when the Triton
idea came along.”

The cousins built the boat and had to borrow money to truck the Triton
to the 1959 New York Boat Show. They didn’t even have the cash between
them to pay the hotel bill. The boat’s base price was $9,700. When it
became an instant success, with $170,000 in orders, the hotel bill was
paid, and the young company was off to a solid start.

“Right after the boat show,” continues Clinton, “we still needed money
to build those 17 boats. We already owed the bank $6,000, and we had to
go back to the bank to ask for even more. We asked for – and got – $40,000.
That started us chasing money. From the very beginning, we had to chase
sales to pay off loans, a never-ending process.

“Carl sold the Triton plans to us for $75,” states Clinton, “and then
he wanted royalties of $100 per boat sold.” The Pearsons agreed to those
terms, although eventually it would work against Carl.

Flush with the success of the January 1959 show, the cousins took the
company public that April. “The shares opened at $1,” says Clinton. “They
were $3 a share the next day. By the end of 1959, the price was $13 a

Sales stayed strong enough for the company to add another production site.
Pearson bought the legendary Herreshoff Yard in November 1959 for $90,000,
half in cash and half in stock. Production also continued at the Constitution
Street site in Bristol.

Clinton explains, “In 1959, the market was just right for us. The price
[of the Triton] was right. Leisure time was a big thing. They were pretty
simple boats to build at the time, and we tried to build one boat a day
to keep up with the demand.”

Pearson 26

Pearson 10M, above, and a Pearson 26. Both photos from Pearson marketing materials dated 1977. Our thanks to Tom Hazelhurst for sharing these treasures.

Controlling interest

In 1960, the Pearsons were trying to obtain approval for another stock
offering, but had trouble getting the proposal through the Securities
and Exchange Commission. The money chase was continuing, and the company
needed another cash infusion to finance its rapid growth.

“Luckily, Grumman was there and interested in the company,” says Clinton.
In 1961, Grumman Allied Industries bought a controlling interest in Pearson
Yachts for $800,000. Grumman wanted to diversify its military-aircraft
business. It already had an aluminum-canoe division as a toehold in the
boating industry. Grumman sought a stake in the developing fiberglass-technology
area, and Pearson was a leader in the field at the time. The Grumman purchase
started a long period of growth and stability for the yacht manufacturer.

With the full backing of the new owners, the Pearson cousins expanded
production to include more boats, both large and small. Most also were
Alberg-designed boats. The 20-foot daysailer called the Electra, “which
we made into an open 22-foot daysailer called the Ensign,” says Everett,
was added in 1960. The Alberg 35 followed in 1961.

According to Clinton, “When we started building the Ensign, it was an
exception [to the one boat a day goal.] We eventually got that line up
to two a day, then three a day” to meet the demand. It became a popular
one-design racer, with nearly 1,800 produced in its 21-year production

Other Alberg designs were the Rhodes 41, a 26-footer called the Ariel,
and a 16-footer called the Hawk. Pearson also built the Invicta, a 38-footer
designed by Bill Tripp, in the early 1960s. “It was the first production
fiberglass boat to win the Newport-to-Bermuda Race, which was the 1964
race,” Everett says proudly. The young firm also produced powerboats,
including the 34-foot Sunderland.

States Clinton, “A lot of credit for the early success of the company
has to go to Tom Potter for selecting a line that would sell.” For his
part, Tom says, “Fred Heald and I were close friends, and we ran the marketing
end together. I primarily worked with the designers on boats we thought
would sell, while Fred worked more on marketing the boats. It was a pretty
exciting period of my life.”

As with the Triton, Carl Alberg received a royalty on each of his designs
that was sold. “As the boats got more expensive, the royalties went up,”
states Clinton. “By 1964, Carl was making $40,000 a year from us, on top
of what he made from the Coast Guard. Grumman wasn’t happy at all with
the royalties and said we should hire our own architect.” But first, Everett
approached Carl about renegotiating the deal on royalties. “He was a stubborn
Swede and refused,” says Everett. “So we had to say: ‘No more boats from
him.’ ”

A Grumman employee named John Lentini had a hand in the next serendipitous
step for Pearson Yachts. John had purchased a sailboat designed by the
prestigious New York firm of Sparkman & Stephens. One of the naval architects
involved in that boat was a young fellow named Bill Shaw, and he and John
became acquainted. When Lentini learned of the opening at Pearson Yachts,
he mentioned it to Bill, who went to Bristol, R. I., for an interview
with the Pearson cousins.

Momentous year

“I had worked for Sparkman & Stephens for 11 years before leaving to work
for an outfit called Products of Asia, which also was based in New York,”
says Bill. “It imported custom wooden yachts from Hong Kong, and I ran
their marine division.” The company’s most famous import later on was
the Grand Banks line of trawlers.

The interview went well, and Bill was hired as the Director of Design
and Engineering with a starting salary of $18,000. “We hit it off,” says
Everett. “It worked out very well.”

“Rhode Island was my home state, and I was thrilled to be able to return
there,” he adds.

As it turned out, 1964 was momentous for Pearson Yachts for more than
the hiring of Bill Shaw. Grumman financed the construction of a 100,000-square-foot
manufacturing plant in Portsmouth, R.I., and planned to move the company
there the following year. “Lots of people didn’t want to make the move,”
says Clinton. “Plus, Grumman fired me in 1964.”

“Yep, fired.”

“My boss was a sailor,” explains Clinton, “and thought himself an expert.
He was the comptroller of Grumman but actually acted more as the treasurer.
We got along OK for a couple of years, but what set him off was a new
concept we had. Tom Potter had an idea for a full-powered auxiliary. This
comptroller said we needed to sell five of them before we could go with
it. We discussed this for an hour at a board meeting. At the end of the
discussion, they took a vote, and I won. I knew that sealed my fate. The
boat turned out to be the Countess 44, which was quite successful.

“I really hated working for a big company,” Clinton goes on. “I had already
made plans to do something else. I was ready to resign anyway. If they
had just waited a few more weeks, I would have left on my own, and everyone
would have been happy.”

Clinton bought out a troubled sailboat-maker called Sailstar in West Warwick,
R.I. “I still had the lease on the Bristol factory, and moved the company
there,” he says. “Carl Alberg designed a 27-footer for me. I called it
the Bristol 27, and soon the Sailstar name faded away.” He changed the
company’s name to Bristol Yachts, and thus was born another famous sailboat
manufacturer with a Pearson pedigree.

Back in Portsmouth, business was booming for Pearson Yachts, but not everything
the company was building would float. Grumman combined the sailboat company
with its subsidiary that made aluminum canoes and truck bodies. “Grumman
was building aluminum trucks for United Parcel Service,” states Everett.
“Soon Pearson Yachts was making the fiberglass rooftops and fronts for
the trucks. We did it really just to accommodate Grumman.”

Tom Potter was the next to leave. “I hated working for Grumman,” he says,
“and I quit. I actually was out of work for a while when Clint asked me
to join him at Bristol. He was building stock boats, and I wanted to do
custom work.” Tom stayed with Bristol Yachts until he retired in 1972.
He then went back to school to become a naval architect and began a second
career designing boats. Today at the age of 84, he’s still designing sailboats.

Pearson 30

Pearson 30 from Pearson marketing materials.

Special permission

By 1966, Everett Pearson also was ready to leave. According to Everett,
“We were run by a board of directors. We had to write quarterly reports
and go to board meetings. I didn’t like it at all. My interests were in
producing sailboats. I decided to go out on my own. I agreed not to compete
with the company for three years, so I decided to go into the industrial

“But first,” continues Everett, “I helped out with a 58-footer for a fellow
I knew named Neil Tillotson. I had to get special permission from Grumman
to do the boat, which was granted since it didn’t compete with anything
Pearson was building.” Later, he teamed up with Tillotson to form Tillotson-Pearson,
Inc., which has become a major force in industrial uses of fiberglass-reinforced
plastics and other, more exotic composites. Known today as TPI Composites,
its varied product line includes windmill blades, flag poles, aquatic
therapy pools, and J-Boats, among other sailboats and power boats. Everett,
65, now serves as chairman of the board of TPI. Just 10 short years after
it all began in Clinton’s garage, no one named Pearson was running Pearson

“Shortly after [Everett left], Grumman asked me to run the company,” says
Bill Shaw. “Never having done that, I said sure.” Bill was made the general
manager of the Pearson Yacht Division.

“We put together a great team,” he continues. “And Grumman was great to
work for. They were very supportive in getting us the best equipment and
machinery. We had computers to help us cut out materials. They also expanded
the Portsmouth facility later on so that we could build bigger boats.”

According to Bill, Grumman also started making firetrucks and motor homes
based on a truck body. “It’s interesting to build boats on one side of
a plant, and motor homes on the other. I had to be a diplomat. At one
point, we even built some modular housing for Grumman. We erected it at
the plant and used it as an office as a prototype.” Grumman began manufacturing
the housing at another site and continued making aluminum canoes in New

Under Bill Shaw’s leadership, Pearson Yachts enjoyed rapid growth in sales
in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The product line was varied and included
powerboats as well. Sizes ranged up to 44 feet, thanks to the new production
facility Grumman funded. Then the fuel crisis hit in the early ’70s, and
the company found itself at a crossroads of sorts.

“When the fuel problems hit,” says Bill, “the powerboat business was hurt
badly. We found that people went to sailboats who never thought they’d
set foot in one previously. We decided we were a sailboat company and
wanted to concentrate on that. We also came face-to-face with the realization
that to be successful in that line of business, we had to be committed
to the dealers. Other manufacturers were always after our dealers, too,
trying to steal them away from us.”

Bill started holding meetings with an advisory board partially composed
of dealers. “The boats were developed with specific price points in mind
and with dealer input,” he continues. “A new design had to satisfy a lot
of people; otherwise it wasn’t worth the trip. More than once we had what
we thought was a great idea, but the dealers would turn it down. We would
pull them into the plant and bounce ideas off them. They were extremely
helpful to the success of the company.”

Condo boat

John Burgreen, who now owns Annapolis Yacht Sales in Annapolis, Md., one
of the earliest Pearson Yacht dealers, was one of those dealers Bill counted
on. “Pearson would get a group of us together from different parts of
the country,” explains John, “to brainstorm new ideas. We talked about
what should go in a particular boat, what the market was demanding. We’d
discuss such things as heads that had to be bigger, or we had to have
stall showers, or we needed more performance-oriented boats, or more cruising
boats. All the dealers worked together pretty well.

“One boat that comes to mind,” muses John, “is the Pearson 37. We called
it the condo boat. We had more fun than you can imagine working on that
boat. We went berserk. Everyone there was at fault for that one, although
it did pretty well.”

The 37 was introduced in 1988 to considerable dock chatter. At the Annapolis
Boat Show, people could be heard saying, “You’ve got to see the Pearson
37!” The boat had a queen-sized island berth forward, two swivel chairs
in the saloon, a television and stereo center, and a separate shower stall.
The cabin was about the most luxurious to be found in a production sailboat.
It made a definite statement about how serious Pearson was at attracting
new customers in a changing market.

Another key factor in the company’s success was its advertising firm,
Potter-Hazelhurst. “Their strength was marketing, not necessarily in printing
pretty ads,” Bill says. “One of their employees developed an index of
buying power by county and city for the whole country.” The company used
the data to develop sales estimates for particular markets, a most effective
tool. “It worked well for the dealers, giving them sales goals, and a
good idea of what their sales should be,” he adds.

According to Tom Hazelhurst, his firm handled Pearson’s marketing and
advertising efforts from 1969 until the end in 1991. “Pearson grew during
that period, and so did we,” he says. “Under Bill’s tutelage, they built
damn good boats. I’m not saying that because I was their advertising man,
but because I bought two of their boats. The boats just don’t break.”

In 1980, Grumman expanded the Portsmouth plant to 240,000 square feet
to build even larger sailboats. The Pearson 530 was the largest boat the
company ever built. The firm also began building power boats again, although
none was designed by Bill.

By the mid-’80s, Grumman started looking for a buyer for Pearson Yachts.
“I tried to buy the company in 1985,” says Clinton, “when Grumman made
it known they wanted to sell. But the deal didn’t come off. Times were
already starting to change in the sailboat business. Pearson only lasted
as long as it did because of the kindness of Grumman. I doubt the company
ever made any money for Grumman.”

Bill Shaw disagrees. “We certainly had some lean years, but we also had
some very productive ones,” he states. “Sure, Grumman looked at it as
a business, and we turned a good profit for Grumman in the healthy years,
especially when we started building the larger boats with larger profit
margins. I don’t think they would have kept the company that long if we
weren’t doing well for them.”

Business downturn

Pearson Ensign

The Pearson Ensign has remained a popular one-design racer since its introduction in 1962.

In March 1986, Grumman sold Pearson Yachts to a private investor group
headed by Gordon Clayton.

“Gordon had no prior experience in the boating business,” says Bill. “When
he came on board, we looked forward to taking advantage of his overall
business experience to add a healthy element to the company. It’s unfortunate
that when he came along, business started going badly for the entire industry.”

The company was also faced with an aging model line. “Things like aft
staterooms and open transoms were popular, and we couldn’t add those features
to many of our boats,” Bill explains. “We worked with the models we could
adapt. For example, we brought back the 34, and we also changed the 36,
which we extended and called the 38.”

In 1987, Pearson introduced several new designs with wing keels and 10-year
warranties against hull blisters. “I’m partial to centerboarders myself,”
adds Bill, “but not everyone is. The wing keel was a good way to get shoal

Gordon Clayton was “aggressive in picking up Sunfish and Laser for us,”
says Bill, “and also O’Day. That gave us entrée to a segment of the market
we had missed before.” O’Day also had acquired the Cal name earlier, so
Pearson had a number of well-known names for marketing purposes.

But a general drop in business was well under way. The money chase that
began in 1956 for Pearson was getting tougher.

Bill Shaw says of the demise of the company: “It was a number of things,
not the least of which was a rapid fall-off in sales volume. When we thought
about it, the most serious competition we had going against us was our
old boats. Also, sailing was getting so expensive, and that created a
loss in interest [by the public.] When the Ensign first came out, it sold
for $4,000 to $5,000. At the end, it sold for $14,000, and not one screw
was different. The Ensign association wouldn’t let us change anything.
Add to that the rising costs of slips and insurance, and owning a sailboat
was simply too expensive for many people.

“We needed volume to make a go of it,” continues Bill, “and without that,
we had to increase prices. We couldn’t just cut out the unneeded overhead.
We had that huge 240,000-square-foot plant for one thing.”

By 1990, the boating industry was rocked to its roots by an economic recession,
and by a 10-percent federal luxury tax on such items as new boats costing
over $100,000. While Bill maintains the luxury tax had little impact on
Pearson, because few of its sailboats cost over $100,000, the buying public
was confused about what the tax did and did not apply to. For example,
the tax did not apply to brokerage boats – but sales of those fell, too.
Many wealthy clients simply stopped buying boats altogether, refusing
to pay the luxury tax on general principle even though they could easily
afford it.

The end result was disastrous for many boat manufacturers. The drastic
drop in sales forced Pearson into bankruptcy court in 1991, with Bill
retiring just before the end. “I miss the business tremendously,” he states.
Bill, now 73, has had some health problems, but “with medical science
these days, they keep me going,” he says.

Record production run

When asked to name his favorite from the many designs he did for Pearson
through the years, Bill laughs, saying, “I get that question a lot. When
I was active in the company, my answer always was ‘the next one.’ In its
day, the Pearson 30 (pictured on Page 19) was quite successful, especially
with racing in mind. I’m helping my son do some alterations to his 1972
P-30. I also am very partial to the 365 as a cruising boat. It was so
popular we had two production lines for it. It’s a good, wholesome cruising
boat. The Pearson 35 was one of our most successful. It was in production
for 14 years, which was quite a record. We never approached that again.
Most designs would last five years or so.

“I get several calls a week from boat owners, asking for help,” he continues.
“When the company went on the blocks [with the turmoil of many ownership
changes] we lost control of so much. Everything was documented so well,
and that’s all gone now. When I get calls now from owners about their
boats, I can’t answer them unless I can remember, and that is getting
to be more of a problem,” he chuckles. “It was a wonderful 27 years for

Shortly after the bankruptcy, the Pearson molds and trademarks were sold
to Aqua Buoy Corporation. To make the situation even worse, Aqua Buoy
went bankrupt before taking possession of the molds and moving them from
the Portsmouth plant, which Grumman still owned. Grumman reacquired the
molds in a bankruptcy sale.

This began a tumultuous time for the remnants of the Pearson name and
molds. Through a series of other sales and actions, the Pearson and Cal
molds and trademarks eventually were sold to a new company, formed in
January 1996, called Cal-Pearson Corporation. In the disclosure statement
sent to prospective stock purchasers, the principal office was listed
as Bristol, R.I., but the corporate office was in Bethesda, Md. Clinton
Pearson was listed as the chief executive officer and Christian Bent as
the chief financial officer. The company began a campaign to raise the
capital needed to build Cal 33s and 39s and Pearsons ranging from 27 to
39 feet. Bristol Yachts, then owned by Clinton’s two sons, was to build
the sailboats.

The exact number of boats Cal-Pearson actually built is not known, but
certainly is in single digits. The company exhibited boats at the Annapolis
Sailboat Show in 1996 and 1997. By 1998, no one was answering the phone
at the Bethesda office, and the company disappeared in a cloud of lingering
debt. A big part of its demise was the bankruptcy of Bristol Yachts, which
left Cal-Pearson with no manufacturing partner. According to one insider,
Cal-Pearson essentially ceased to exist when Bristol Yachts was forced
into bankruptcy and its assets were sold at auction.

According to Clinton, “The Bethesda group offered me some stock to help
them start the company. They were looking to publish the fact that I was
involved to stimulate interest in others. They found it harder to raise
money than they had thought. They did raise money in New York, but the
overhead was so high with lawyers and accountants. It was a good idea,
but only if they could have gotten proper financing. Training a new crew
is so hard. It just takes quite a bit of money to get something like this
started. Quite a few dealers were enthusiastic about the name returning
to the market, too.”

Clinton, who is now 70, is “not currently active in the boat business,
and I have no intentions of getting back into it,” he says.

Different world today

Sailboat Introductions, 1957 to 1980*
Triton 1959
Tiger Cat 1960
Electra 1960
Invicta 1960
Hawk 1960
Alberg 35 1961
Bounty II 1961
Petrel 1962
Ariel 1962
Rhodes 41 1962
Vanguard 1962
Ensign 1962
Packet 1963
Resolute 1963
Commander 1964
Countess 44 1965
Coaster 1966
II 1966
Lark 1966
Renegade 1966
Wanderer 1966
Pearson 22 1968
Pearson 24 1968
Pearson 300 1968
Pearson 43 1968
Pearson 35 1968
Pearson 33 1969
Pearson 39 1970
Pearson 26 1970
Pearson 390 1971
Pearson 30 1971
Pearson 36 1972
Pearson 10M 1973
Pearson 26W 1974
Pearson 419 1974
28 1974
Pearson 365 1975
Pearson 323 1976
Pearson 31 1977
Pearson 23 1977
Pearson 424 1977
Pearson 26OD 1977
Pearson 40 1978
Pearson 32 1979
Pearson 36 PH 1979
Pearson 530 1980
Pearson Flyer 30 1980
Pearson 36 Cutter 1980
* (Other sailboats came
later, of course, and
dinghies and motorboats
also were manufactured
in the early years.)

Says Everett of the Cal-Pearson Corporation, “So many people jump into
the boat business without knowing what it takes. They were trying to market
10-year-old designs, and that is tough to do in today’s climate. People
knew they were old designs because their competitors were constantly pointing
it out to the public. And trying to start the Cal line at the same time
was too much.”

Bill Shaw has a similar take on the short life of Cal-Pearson. “People
absolutely lose their smarts when they get around boats,” he says. “It’s
a different world out there today. Unless you have a big bankroll, you
can’t make it. To develop a new 35-footer, with molds and tooling, would
take several hundred thousand dollars. If you are looking at a line of
eight to 10 boats, as they were, it just doesn’t make sense.”

But the venerable Pearson Yachts name refuses to die. At the National
Pearson Yacht Owners’ Association rendezvous in Bristol, R.I. in August,
Everett Pearson announced to the group that his company, TPI, had just
purchased the trademarked name of Pearson Yachts. (See related article
on Bristol Yachts on Page 73.)

Says Everett, “I wanted to grab the name while I had the chance. We didn’t
buy the molds. All that stuff is too old.”

He continues, “We do plan to develop new models. I bought the name so
we’d have it there. But we have some projects involving buses, people
movers, and a couple of other things that I need to get moving before
we start [on a new Pearson product line]. We have some guys working on
it, studying the market. Up here in New England, we’re more efficient
at building large boats, rather than competing with small-boat manufacturers.
So we probably will start with something over 35 feet, maybe in the 40-
to 42-foot range.” It probably will be at least one to two years before
any new Pearson yachts hit the market.”

When asked the purchase price of the trademarked name, Everett replies,
“I haven’t told anybody. I paid too much. But when you’re buying your
own name back, you get carried away.” He was determined to make the purchase.
“It took me three months of phone calls to track these people down,” he

TPI will handle the marketing itself, as it has done for several of its
other boat lines. Everett foresees a network of six to eight dealers.
“That’s all we’d want. We need to give them enough territory so that they
don’t compete with each other.”

With some 20,000 boats out there bearing the Pearson name, from eight-foot
dinghies to 53-foot sailboats, the Pearson legacy is already well-established
in the history of boating. Very active owners’ groups keep interest in
the boats quite high. In some areas, certain Pearson models sell by word-of-mouth
without even being advertised. The Pearson name also is one of the most
active on the Internet. Pearson bulletin boards abound on the net, and
usually are among the most active in the online sailing community.

Certainly, Pearson owners can take solace from knowing that for the first
time in over 30 years, someone named Pearson once again is in charge of
Pearson Yachts. The symmetry of events is satisfying for a company that
has endured so much turmoil in the last decade. Pearson Yachts sails on.

The original publication of this article included sources of more information on Pearson sailboats, most of which is long out of date now. You can find Pearson information on our Owners’ Associations page.

Steve Mitchell

When not working at his job for the federal government or singlehanding his
1989 Pearson 27 in the Annapolis, Md. area, Steve Mitchell is a part-time
freelance writer. He writes for a variety of business and boating publications.

Painless Anchoring

Painless anchoring

By Norman Ralph

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 4, July/August 2000.

When your
good old back’s not up to it anymore,
let a windlass do the donkey work

strange how much difficulty we owners of older boats have in finding
$500 to $1,000 to replace an old kitchen appliance or to provide new
furniture for the den … and how little difficulty we have spending
it on new stuff for the boat … especially when priorities change.

Anchor windlass on a Valiant 32

Thus it was with
our Bluebonnet, a 20-year-old Valiant 32. An anchor windlass was something
we had mentioned in passing several times, but it wasn’t even considered
when we upgraded her. We had never owned a boat with a windlass and
had always raised our anchor by hand (or rather, by back) on previous
boats. Once our 30-something-year-old son remarked after breaking loose
and raising our 35-pound Delta: “Boy, that was set well, I really had
to grunt to get it up.” But such comments sailed over my head until
last fall.

We were involved
in a household painting project. When I bent over to pick up a gallon
of paint, it felt as if someone hit me with a baseball bat across my
kidneys. A trip to the doctor revealed that I had a sprain. I was told
that my back showed my age, and I should take care of it with exercise
and common sense.

Suddenly the windlass
went to the top of Bluebonnet‘s list … above the autopilot that
was previously on top. My wife, Jeanette, and I are planning several
cruises. As our plans call for living on the hook much of the time,
our anchoring equipment was re-evaluated. After all, if I couldn’t get
the anchor up, it would have to stay down. In most sailing skills, Jeanette
is my equal except where significant upper-body strength is required.

Many questions

The research started.
What kind? Electric or manual? Horizontal or vertical? How big? The
results were as expected: there is no “right” windlass. As with everything
on a boat, it’s a compromise.

The first choice
was between manual and electric. The cost of a manual windlass was comparable
to an electric windlass of the same capacity. A “Waldenese” approach
to sailing had always appealed to me, thus the simplicity of a manual
windlass had much to offer. Installation is much simpler: no heavy expensive
wiring to run nor solenoids and foot switches to buy and install. The
cost of these items can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of the windlass
itself. Battery capacity has to be re-assessed and possibly increased,

Cruising classics
(by Hiscock, Pardey, Roth, and others) extolled the advantages of the
manual windlass. Against these arguments was the obvious ease of operation
of an electric windlass. Many electric windlasses can be operated manually
in an emergency. In most cases, the engine will be running when you’re
raising or lowering the anchor, and the battery drain is compensated
for by the alternator output. The added safety factor of an electric
windlass is that it’s much quicker to re-anchor if winds shift. What
confirmed my decision to go with an electric windlass was a statement
in a book by a well-known and respected cruising writer who said that
on his boat, comparable in size to ours, he had used his manual windlass
only twice in eight years. He found the manual windlass to be so slow
he just pulled it up by hand. I thought: “So why have it?”

Easier answer

The question of
horizontal or vertical gypsy windlass was easier. As the stem of a Valiant
32 is about 8 inches higher than the foredeck where the windlass would
be installed, a vertical windlass would need be mounted on a fairly
high pedestal to get the proper angle of lead to the bow roller. With
a horizontal windlass, this problem is not as critical and can be solved
much more easily. The top of the gypsy, where the rode leads off a horizontal
windlass, is already several inches higher than on a vertical windlass.

In many applications,
a vertical windlass has several advantages. It takes up less space on
the foredeck, although the below-decks motor does intrude into the anchor
locker. Some horizontal windlasses also have their motors mounted beneath
the deck. These are usually of a “worm and gear” construction, which
has considerably more internal friction and a much higher current drain.
After considering all factors, a horizontal windlass was the choice.

Size was a difficult
decision. As a do-it-yourselfer, I tend to overbuild things, so my choices
are frequently overkill. Offshore cruisers advocate heavy ground tackle.
As the first line of protection for their home and possessions, this
is a logical and proper approach. The manufacturer of the Maxwell windlass
recommends that the windlass have the reserve capacity to handle three
times the weight of the anchor and rode. If I were preparing for an
extended cruise to the Caribbean, I would have heavier ground tackle
than I presently have, which is a 35-pound Delta and a 25-pound CQR
as primary bow anchors. I might also go to all-chain rode instead of
a mixed rode of chain and three-strand nylon.

What size?

50-amp circuit breaker for starting and stopping the engine

For easy access from the cockpit, the 50-amp circuit breaker and up/down toggle switch is mounted inside the companionway, adjacent to the controls for starting and stopping the engine.

So should I buy
a windlass to fit the ground tackle we have now and our present cruising
plans? Or should I get one that would be adequate for any future far-flung
dreams? Three times the weight of an anchor and rode for offshore cruising
would be in the 1,000-pound range. Some 300 feet of 1/4-inch high-test
chain at 0.74 pounds per foot weighs 222 pounds. Add 45 pounds for a
bigger anchor, and the result is 267 pounds. Three times that is 801
pounds. (We’ve seen windlasses in catalogs with a maximum load rating
of 3,500 pounds. Make sure your deck is strong enough to handle the
load of your windlass, or reinforce it. -Ed.)

While I was trying
to reach a sensible decision, a flyer came from a discount marine store.
It featured a new Simpson-Lawrence horizontal windlass, the Horizon
600. It’s a larger version of their popular Horizon 500. It features
a much larger permanent magnet motor of 550 watts compared with 150
watts, and an increased pull of 625 pounds vs. 500 pounds. It came with
a 50-amp breaker and an up-and-down toggle switch. All this at a price
that was $120 cheaper than the Horizon 500. This caused me to re-evaluate
my windlass needs.

The lifting capacity
of the Horizon 600 is only 625 pounds. Using my existing anchors (which
are more than adequate for our boat even in storm conditions) and if
I went to 250 feet of 1/4-inch high-test chain, I would have a total
weight of 220 pounds. Three times that is 660 pounds – close to the
capacity of the Horizon 600. As I intended to use a mixed rode, the
total load would actually be much less. These factors, along with the
reality of the checkbook, made the Horizon 600 the final choice. Not
the perfect choice but the best one for us, all things considered.

Small footprint

When the windlass
arrived I was impressed with its small footprint on the foredeck. I
decided to mount it on a 1 1/2-inch pedestal. This would give a better
angle of lead for the rode to the bow roller. And it would prevent water
on deck from going down into the anchor locker through the chain-pipe
hole. I made this pedestal from two thickness of 3/4-inch exterior-grade
plywood. I cut two pieces of plywood in the desired rectangular shape
and epoxied them together, smooth sides out. I then cut the holes in
the pedestal for the chain-pipe hole and for the wire and mounting studs,
using the template provided with the windlass. Then I gave the pedestal
several coats of epoxy to seal it from moisture. I painted it white
to match the paint on the topsides and made a Sunbrella cover for it
which was attached to the pedestal with snaps.

Using the template
furnished with the windlass, I marked the deck for the holes for the
mounting studs, wires, and the chain pipe. I drilled the holes and then
cut the chain-pipe hole with a hole saw and saber saw. I covered the
holes from below with duct tape. I mixed a small amount of epoxy resin
and filled the holes with it. I liberally painted the edges of the chain-pipe
hole with this mixture. After allowing the mixture time to thoroughly
saturate the edges of the holes, I removed the duct tape and caught
the excess mixture in a disposable cup. This is to ensure that moisture
won’t get into the core of the deck, saturate it, and cause delamination.
I positioned the pedestal and windlass over the holes to make sure everything
lined up correctly with the studs and wires through the holes. I placed
strips of masking tape on the deck around the pedestal.

Final mounting

Then I removed
the pedestal and windlass and applied a bead of non-adhesive caulking
around the perimeter and holes in the areas under them. I mounted the
windlass and pedestal on the deck. Using large backing plates, I attached
locknuts to the studs from below in the anchor locker. Back on deck,
I cleaned the area around the pedestal of excess caulking and removed
the masking tape. The windlass was ready to be wired.

A 50-amp circuit
breaker and an up/down toggle switch was included with the windlass.
The toggle switch would be fine for installation at the helm of a powerboat
where clear observation of the foredeck and windlass is possible. However,
on a sailboat you need to be on the foredeck during anchoring and to
have some means to operate the windlass from there. The most common
method is to have foot switches on the foredeck and a reversing relay
mounted in a dry accessible place aft. After surveying all possibilities,
I mounted the circuit breaker just inside the companionway, adjacent
to the controls for starting and stopping the engine. This would offer
easy access from the cockpit. This location has access from the rear
in a locker that is high and dry and also has room for mounting the
reversing relay. I mounted the foot switches on the foredeck on opposite
sides of, but adjacent to, the windlass. Once again, I coated the holes
with epoxy when mounting the switches.

According to the
instructions, the size of the wire needed depended on the current draw
and the distance from the windlass to the battery. After measuring several
times, I decided that the most direct route for the wiring wound up
being between 40 and 45 feet. As the current flow is from the battery
to the windlass and return, this length must be doubled. For lengths
of 90 feet, the recommend size wire is #4 AWG.

Range of prices

In checking several catalogs for tinned battery cable of this size,
I found a wide variance in prices. West Marine listed the wire at $2.39
per foot. Jamestown Distributors in Jamestown, R.I., (800-423-0030 http://www.jamestowndistributors.com)
had the same wire at $1.03 per foot. They also had the wire in 50-foot
rolls for $43.09. Because I needed 90 feet, and at $1.03 it would cost
$92.70 for 90 feet, I purchased two 50-foot rolls, one of black and
one of red, for a total cost of $86.18. This would give me a margin
of error in my calculations and a savings in price as well. (The Jamestown
wire quoted is SAE wire, while the West Marine wire is AWG. The SAE
wire has less copper and a lower theoretical ampacity for a given length.
This must be considered in any calculations but may be quite acceptable
depending upon actual requrements. -Ed.)

I also purchased some #4 copper terminals to be swaged
on the cable for connecting to the battery and other terminals. I swaged
these with my Nicopress tool and heated them with a propane torch until
rosin-core solder flowed into each terminal. Then I covered each terminal
with a piece of heat-shrink tubing.

I ran and connected the shorter lengths of cable: a
red cable from the positive battery post to the circuit breaker and
then to the reversing relay, and the black negative cable to the engine
block and to the reversing relay. It could have been connected to the
negative post of the engine-starting battery, but that would have required
an additional 6 feet of cable. The run of wire for the foot switches
required a three-conductor cable of 16- to 18-gauge wire, as they only
carry the current of the reversing-relay coils. I then routed the wiring
from the reversing relay to the anchor locker, taking care that the
wires were not damaged and stayed clear of the bilge as they were routed
forward. I was able to bring the wiring from the windlass and foot switches
back from the anchor locker into the V-berth area behind a panel in
the overhead. This enabled the final connections to be made in a relatively
dry area.

Reversed switches

Reversing relay in a locker

The reversing relay is mounted high and dry in a locker near the companionway.

I connected
the heavy battery cables to the windlass wires with copper split-nut
connectors. Then I covered these with electrical tape and then with
friction tape for abrasion protection and a final wrapping with plastic
electrical tape. The foot-switch wires were connected with crimped connectors
and covered with heat-shrink tubing.

When it came time to turn the circuit breaker on and
try the foot switches, I discovered that the switches were reversed.
It was a 50-50 proposition, so I wasn’t surprised. I swapped the switch wires at the reversing-relay coil connections.

I needed to splice my 1/2-inch, three-strand nylon
rode to the 20 feet of 1/4-inch high-test chain I had bought to replace
the 5/16-inch proof chain I had been using. Although the 1/4-inch high-test
chain is smaller and lighter than the proof 5/16-inch, it is much stronger:
it has a working strength of 2,600 pounds, compared with 1,900 pounds.

This splice was not as hard as I had imagined it. Anyone
who has made “eye splices” on docklines or around thimbles will have
no problem completing this splice. About a foot of the three-strand
is unlaid and two strands are fed through the last link of the chain
while the third strand is fed through the same link in the opposite
direction. The strands are back spliced with five tucks and then tapered
for several more tucks. At the end the splice is whipped for a finished
look. The splice runs through the gypsy smoothly and without hesitation.
A customer service representative from Simpson-Lawrence told me that
tests have shown that a splice of this type is as strong as either the
chain or the three strand. However, I intend to check it frequently
for signs of chafe and wear.

How does the windlass work? So far, I have been well
pleased with the project and ease of operation. The anchor goes down
and back up much faster than I had anticipated. I feel that it has been
a very worthwhile addition to the boat. I know my back will appreciate

Ralph and his wife, Jeanette, were late bloomers when it came to sailing.
A 1988 trip to the Gulf Coast exposed them to the concept of year-round
sailing and sowed seeds that initiated early retirement and a move to
Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana.

New Sail Blues

I’ve got the new sail blues

By Bill Sandifer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 4, July/August 2000.

Happiness is finding a sailmaker who understands

Talk about confused! I’ve never been offered so many contradictory opinions
in answer to one question. All I wanted was a new sail.

The boat I purchased recently came with a brand new mainsail and three headsails
of different shapes. One was about a 150-percent genoa, very long on the
foot with a leech that swept up to the head in a long curve.

Next was an 80-percent working jib that was notable for its high-cut clew.
Last was a really small Yankee of unknown age. All of the headsails were
old and in need of washing and repair. The Yankee was mottled with numerous
rust stains. Its sailmaker has been out of business for more than 20 years,
so the sail was at least that old.

After flying all three sails, it was apparent that not one was really usable
for everyday use. They were either too large or too small. What I needed
was a good, roller furling 125-percent cross-cut genoa. I had come to rely
on the Schaefer 1000 roller furling on my previous boat and wanted the same
level of safety and ease of handling on this new, larger boat. Adding impetus
to the project was my wife’s reaction to the 150 genoa the first time we
flew it: “Get rid of it!

My wife’s a good sailor, but this sail, with its strange shape and long
foot, was more than she wished to deal with. We decided to buy a new roller
furling system and a new 125-percent genoa.

I called sail lofts. They supplied quotes based on their recommendation
for sailcloth and weight. But here is where it gets complex.

Not so plain

Each loft uses a trade name and a weight for the cloth it proposes to use.
We’re not talking about exotic cloth here, just plain Dacron. But it turns
out not to be so plain after all.

All sailcloth in the U.S. is manufactured by one of five companies: Challenge
Sailcloth, Contender Sailcloth, Dimension Sailcloth, Performance Textiles,
and Bainbridge-Aquabatten. All except Performance Textiles and Dimension
Sailcloth originated from a single parent, Howe and Bainbridge Company,
of Boston, which was the biggest original purveyor of sailcloth. People
left Howe and Bainbridge to form their own companies. Dimension has a Dutch
connection and Performance Textiles a Spanish one.

There are other overseas companies making sailcloth, and it varies in quality
and type. To limit my confusion, I stuck to the U.S. suppliers. Given the
fixed dimension of my rig and my preference for a 125-percent genoa, the
dimensions of the sail and its area were determined to be about 300 square
feet, plus or minus 10 percent. After that, nothing was easy.

The sail lofts quoted Dacron cloth weights between 6.30 and 7.62 ounces
with a 6.77 thrown in for good measure. Various cloths were offered: a 4800
Cruise from North, a Sails 5400 NorDac, a Challenge High Modulus, a Challenge
High Aspect, a Marblehead and more. What is the difference and what does
it all mean?

First, the weight of the sailcloth will vary, from lot to lot, as much as
half an ounce, so you might be quoted a 7.3-ounce Challenge High Modulus
and actually get a cloth that weighs 6.8 ounces. Half an ounce is about
as close to the designed weight as the manufacturer can make it. Second,
weight within a range is a relative factor. True, a 5.4-ounce Challenge
High Modulus will be lighter than a 7.3-ounce Challenge High Modulus, but
a 6.77-ounce Marblehead may serve as well or better for a particular sail
than the 7.3 Challenge. It may also set better and feel softer.

More expensive

cloth weight
length in feet
weight in ounces

High Modulus cloth is used for headsails and mains. High Aspect is used
for mains, roller mains, and high aspect jibs. It’s more expensive than
High Modulus but serves better in particular sail designs. Marblehead cloth
is more expensive still, but it serves well for gaff mains and miter-cut
genoas because it has a softer “hand.” To further confuse the issue, there
are laminated cloths made for racing and performance cruising, but we will
not consider them here.

Usually, a cruiser wants a durable, softer sail that will hold its shape
and last a long time. The racer will want a faster sail with a smoother,
harder surface even if it will not be long-lasting. The answer to sail life
lies in material itself and the way the sail is designed and built.

Sailcloth may be woven as balanced or unbalanced. In balanced cloth, the
yarn is close to the same denier (a measure of density or weight) in the
lengthwise (warp) and crosswise (fill) width. The warp yarns run in the
direction that the cloth runs through the loom. Because the yarns are so
long (the length of the roll of cloth), it is more difficult to control
the tension of the warp yarns, so warp strength is lower for a given yarn
size. The fill yarns are shorter (only the width of the loom) thus it is
easier to control their tension. It may seem confusing, but by using fewer
heavier yarns in the warp, which is not generally as highly tensioned, it
is possible to make unbalanced cloth that has more nearly equal strength
properties in both directions.

To increase warp strength it is normal to decrease the count and increase
the size of the warp yarns. This cloth is often used to take greater loads
which radiate up from the clew along the leech, and it is often used for
radial cuts. Cloth with opposite characteristics may be called high-aspect
fabric. High-aspect jibs and mains need this strength. High-aspect cloth
is often selected when the sails are of cross-cut design. The manner in
which the sail is designed dictates the way in which the loads will be distributed
within a sail. Sail lofts now use computers to design sails, but there is
still a bit of art in knowing how to apply the computer results to building
a good sail. The choice of sail cut and appropriate material is part of
this process.

The standard cross-cut sail is the simplest and lowest cost sail to build.
With the proper material selection it is a very satisfactory sail indeed.
The miter-cut sail is really only a valid alternative when the buyer wants
a certain “look” on older boats and replicas. The cut served a purpose once
in the history of sail design and manufacture, but it is no longer an appropriate
choice for best use of modern fabrics. The radial-cut sail is a more difficult
sail to build, and when it is made from modern laminates, it may offer some
performance advantages. It is argued by at least some sailmakers that the
radial cut offers little advantage in cruising sails made from woven Dacron.
Pick your expert, take your choice.

In detail

Miter cut

Miter Cut

Cross cut

Cross Cut

Radial cut

Radial Cut

What, then, does all this mean? It means you can purchase exactly the sail
you need only if you communicate in detail with the sail lofts.

The first important question to answer is what use you wish to make of the
sail. Is it for day-sailing, club racing, coastal cruising, or bluewater
sailing? Approximate recommended sail weights for boat length are shown
on the table as a guide to start a discussion with your sailmaker, but it
is only a guide. The table is useful if you want a lightweight sail, and
the sailmaker suggests a 9-ounce cloth for a 30-foot boat. You will be able
to challenge his choice and maybe consider another sailmaker.

The value of the table is to allow you to talk sensibly to a loft. In my
case, I am now able to say I’m seeking a 7-ounce genoa for bluewater sailing
for my 31-foot boat.

The next question concerns my expectations for the sail. Is it long life,
low price, speed, UV resistance, roller furling, and/or finally, size? Do
I want a 150-percent genoa, a 125-percent genoa, a blade jib, a light air
spinnaker, or drifter? My own requirements are for a long-lived, UV-resistant,
roller furling, 125-percent genoa.

Once I had defined my needs and communicated them to the sail lofts, I asked
them for quotes. It’s up to the sailmaker to make a recommendation to meet
my requirements. The second table shows the wide variety of sails offered
in response to my inquiry.

Price ranges

The prices ranged from $1,190 to $1,800, with an average price of $1,495.
Out of eight lofts quoting, three were near the average price. If I excluded
the highest and lowest price, the average price became $1,598 which left
five lofts to consider (A, B, C, D, and F). I eliminated the lowest-priced
sail based on the experience of a fellow sailor who had used the loft’s
services in the past and was not pleased. I also eliminated the highest-priced
sail based on price. It did not offer anything the others didn’t offer and
was just plain expensive. The loft was full, I guess.

Now here’s the tough part. Of the five, one was quoted through a discount
house and the actual loft building the sail was unknown (A); one sail was
smaller than 125 percent (F); one was a miter-cut sail that I decided I
did not want (D). This left B and C as finalists. Both offered 7.62 High
Aspect cloth, cross cut with a foam luff and Sunbrella UV protection on
the foot and leech. One loft was six hours away, and one was two hours away.
In addition, the nearer loft spent considerable time on the phone discussing
my requirements and explaining their approach to building a sail. A fellow
sailor who does lots of offshore racing also recommended them. I placed
my order with loft B.

loft, foam luff, Sunbrella
discussion from the loft, foam luff, Sunbrella
luff, Sunbrella
cut, foam luff, Sunbrella
cut, foam luff, Sunbrella
7-oz English cloth
luff, Sunbrella

You may ask: “Why didn’t you just go to this loft in the first place?” I
have greater confidence in my choice of sail. I know the price was fair,
and the sailmaker understood my needs and will be available if I have a

No discussion

The discount lofts were only a little cheaper than the selected loft, did
not offer detailed discussions of my sail, and seemed to say, “Here – buy

An interesting note is that another of the unsuccessful lofts, even nearer
to my home port, quoted a lower-grade cloth for a higher price with little
or no discussion. It is a well-known loft, but I got the feeling my order
was “small potatoes” and did not merit much effort.

Mine may not be the large order craved by a large loft, but my sail is very
important to me. The selected loft treated me as if my sail was also very
important to them.

I know I did not select the cheapest, fanciest, or most expensive. I selected
the sail and the loft that best suited my requirements, and this gives me
confidence that the finished sail will provide weeks and months of good
service in the years to come. As I was writing this, I received a call from
the selected sailmaker saying he will be near my marina this weekend and
would like to stop by my boat to check all of my sails and answer any questions.
This was an unsolicited, but welcome, call and reflects the level of service
I expected but had not requested. I believe I’ll have a satisfactory relationship
with this loft for all of my sail needs.

Yes, the time I invested to gather information and quotes on my new sail
was worth it.

Bill Sandifer

Sandifer is a marine surveyor/boatbuilder who’s been living, eating, and sleeping boats since he assisted at Pete Layton’s Boat Shop in the ’50s. He’s worked for Charlie Morgan (Heritage) and Don Arnow (Cigarette). And he’s owned a commercial fiberglass boatbuilding company (Tugboats).

Renaming a boat? How bad could that be?

Renaming a boat? How bad could that be?

By John vigor

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 4, July/August 1999.

Superstition got you down? John Vigor
offers tips for renaming your boat and keeping it lucky

I once knew a man in Florida who told me he’d owned 24 different yachts and renamed every
single one of them.

“Did it bring you bad luck?” I asked.

“Not that I’m aware of,” he said. “You don’t believe in those old superstitions,
do you?”

Well, yes. Matter of fact, I do. And I’m not alone. Actually, it’s not so much
being superstitious as being v-e-r-y careful. It’s an essential part of good seamanship.

Some years ago, when I wanted to change the name of my newly purchased 31-foot
sloop from Our Way to Freelance, I searched for a formal “denaming ceremony” to
wipe the slate clean in preparation for the renaming. I read all the books, but
I couldn’t find one. What I did learn, though, was that such a ceremony should
consist of five parts: an invocation, an expression of gratitude, a supplication,
a re-dedication and a libation. So I wrote my own short ceremony: Vigor’s inter-denominational denaming ceremony. It worked perfectly.

Freelance carried me and my family many thousands of deep-sea miles
both north and south of the equator, and we enjoyed good luck all the way. I used
the same ceremony after that to change the name of my Santana 22 from Zephyr to
Tagati, a Zulu word that means “magic” or “bewitched.”

I’ll give you the exact wording of Vigor’s denaming ceremony,
but first you must remove all physical traces of the boat’s old name. Take the
old log book ashore, along with any other papers that bear the old name. Check
for offending books and charts with the name inscribed. Be ruthless. Sand away
the old name from the lifebuoys, transom, topsides, dinghy, and oars. Yes, sand
it away. Painting over is not good enough. You’re dealing with gods here, you
understand, not mere dumb mortals. If the old name is carved or etched, try to
remove it or, at the very minimum, fill it with putty and then paint it over.
And don’t place the new name anywhere on the boat before the denaming ceremony
is carried out. That’s just tempting fate.

How you conduct the ceremony depends entirely on you. If you’re the theatrical
type, and enjoy appearing in public in your yachtclub blazer and skipper’s cap,
you can read it with flair on the foredeck before a gathering of distinguished
guests. But if you find this whole business faintly silly and embarrassing, and
only go along with it because you’re scared to death of what might happen if you
don’t, you can skulk down below and mumble it on your own. That’s perfectly OK.
The main thing is that you carry it out. The words must be spoken.

I compromised by sitting in Tagati’s cockpit with the written-out ceremony folded
into a newspaper, so that any passerby would think I was just reading the news
to my wife, sitting opposite. Enough people think I’m nuts already. Even my wife
has doubts. The last part of the ceremony, the libation, must be performed at
the bow, just as it is in a naming ceremony. There are two things to watch out
for here. Don’t use cheap-cheap champagne, and don’t try to keep any for yourself.
Buy a second bottle if you want some. Use a brew that’s reasonably expensive,
based on your ability to pay, and pour the whole lot on the boat. One of the things
the gods of the sea despise most is meanness, so don’t try to do this bit on the

What sort of time period should elapse between this denaming ceremony and a new
naming ceremony? There’s no fixed time. You can do the renaming right after the
denaming, if you want, but I personally would prefer to wait at least 24 hours
to give any lingering demons a chance to clear out.


Now you can pop the cork, shake the bottle and spray the whole of the contents
on the bow. When that’s done, you can quietly go below and enjoy the other bottle
yourself. Incidentally, I had word from a friend that the Florida yachtsman I
mentioned earlier had lost his latest boat, a 22-foot trailer-sailer. Sailed her
into an overhead power line. Fried her. She burned to the waterline. Bad luck?
Not exactly.

He and his crew escaped unhurt. He was just very careless. He renamed her, as
usual, without bothering to perform Vigor’s famous interdenominational denaming
ceremony. And this time, at long last, he got what he deserved.


Vigor’s denaming ceremony

“In the name of all who have sailed aboard this ship in the past, and in
the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient
gods of the wind and the sea to favor us with their blessing today.

“Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the waves; and mighty Aeolus
(pronounced EE-oh-lus), guardian of the winds and all that blows before

“We offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel
in the past. We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from
tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port.

“Now, wherefore, we submit this supplication, that the name whereby this
vessel has hitherto been known _____, be struck and removed from your records.

“Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with another
name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the selfsame
privileges she previously enjoyed.

“In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to your domain in full knowledge
that she shall be subject as always to the immutable laws of the gods of
the wind and the sea.

“In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation
offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea.”

Christening ceremony

After a boat is denamed, you simply need to rename it using the traditional christening ceremony, preferably with Queen Elizabeth breaking a bottle of champagne on the bow, and saying the words:

“I name this ship ___________, and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”

Dan Moyer, Atomic 4 Guru

Don Moyer, Atomic 4 Guru

By Karen Larsen
Photos by Steven Moyer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 1, January/February 1999.

A successful business that just ‘evolved’

Don Moyer didn’t start out to become the Atomic 4 guru, he just loved ‘messing about with engines,’ and an Atomic 4 was the engine he had … the rest, as they say, is history

In 1985 Don Moyer was just another sailor with a “new” good old boat
– a 1971 Seafarer 31 complete with an Atomic 4. His wife, Brenda, laughs at
their naïveté in agreeing to attend a used boat show with the mission, “We’re
not buying anything.” They were restoring a historical townhouse in Harrisburg,
and they both had full-time jobs. It seemed like enough.

So how was a guy like this transformed into the Atomic 4 guru one boat and less than five years later?

Don Moyer

“One thing about him,” Brenda says, “is he’ll delve into anything body and soul until he knows everything there is to know about it.” A man who enjoys knowing why things work and making them work better, Don soon had that Atomic 4 out of the Seafarer. In fact three or four perfectly good Atomic 4s came and went in that boat for the sheer joy of understanding and tinkering with them. “It got to be a humorous thing for people on the pier,” Brenda notes.

During the next four years, Don became the acknowledged guy to ask about Atomic 4 problems within their community of sailors. People asked for advice, and Don offered it. Eventually he began writing down new things he was learning about the engine and distributing this information to those who’d asked, in an effort to keep his previous advice as current as possible. This blossomed into a small newsletter to 65 people who Brenda identifies as “people we met along the way.”

Don’s springboard into regional and national prominence was unplanned. Early on, Dan Spurr, editor of Practical Sailor, gave a positive – and unexpected (given his historic lukewarm feelings for the Atomic 4) nod to Don’s modest efforts. This important blessing made all the difference. Don hopes that at some level Dan has actually rekindled some sort of affection for the Atomic 4. But Don says more than likely the nod was simply an example of Dan’s profound interest in all aspects of the boating fraternity.

Then, Brenda says, she and Don left for a vacation. When they returned after a week, Practical Sailor had profiled Don and established him as the answer guy for the Atomic 4. “We had 75 letters in the mail slot, and the answering machine was full,” Brenda recalls. “We had to take a look at what we’d been doing as a hobby and what we wanted it to become.” They went into business, incorporating as Moyer Marine Inc.

Don didn’t quit his day job however. He continued working at an environmental resources company until his retirement two years ago. While there, he was granted a number of patents which resulted from that need Don has to see how things work and to make them better.

His home-based business grew steadily until his retirement became not so much a retirement as a “job change,” as Brenda characterizes it. “He changed jobs and brought one home. It worked very well,” she says of the challenges of having a couple go into a full-time business together. “I reminded him, ‘You’re coming into my workplace now.’ ” Jokingly, she says she issued him the equivalent of her own “employee handbook” and noted who had seniority around that office. “We learned to give each other space,” she says, adding, “This had become his dream, and I’m here to help him accomplish his dreams.”

Dirty Valves

the beginning, Moyer Marine offered parts, the newsletter (which had gone upscale
over the years and was named the Atomic-4 Caster), technical service and advice
on the phone to newsletter subscribers, engine overhauls and checkups, and workshops.
Slowly the newsletter began melding into chapters of a service manual. And finally,
Don felt he had run out of material for the newsletter itself, so in April the
last newsletter was mailed from Moyer Marine. But fear not because Don and Brenda
have just published his Service and Overhaul Manual. It compiles the newsletter
information in a manual that should be easier to use than the collection of

The business has expanded in other ways over the years. John and Ardis Featherman, longtime friends of the Moyers, handle the sale of new Atomic 4 parts, although Don still sells used parts to people as the parts become available. The business relationship with Featherman Enterprises has freed Don from the computerized aspects of tracking parts inventory and billing.

0ther relationships have developed as well. Don and Brenda have discovered a “metal genie,” Brian Nye, of Nye’s Machine & Design, who fabricates parts for the Atomic 4, such as the water pump extender bolt that Don designed to improve the Atomic 4 owner’s odds of getting at that bolt and removing it in one piece. They have a relationship with Spring Garden Repairs, which repairs blocks and heads for them when the need arises. And Don’s nephew, Terry Kuhn, of Engines by T.K., rebuilds the mechanical fuel pump and helps Don in the rebuilding operation as needed. Don’s son, Stephen, the photographer who illustrated these pages and the cover, helps with the print production of the newsletter and manual.

Don still conducts workshops on the engine, and does rebuilds and engine checkups. He continues to offer technical advice on the phone when he’s home, but he’s not as tied to the phone as he was. These days the Moyers want to go sailing, and they should.

Two years ago they sold the Seafarer and bought a 1980 Catalina 30. Don had a bias against widebody production boats, telling Brenda that boats, such as the Seafarer, were much safer in the event that they ever took multiple rolls some stormy night near a rocky shore … and the rest of the litany. The trouble with the Seafarer was that it was a bit tight for two in the cabin. Brenda says down below they passed each other by sliding sideways. They like to entertain, too, and they felt the space was too tight for that.

Brenda Moyer

Brenda Moyer supports Don’s dreams.

They say friends chuckled at them behind their backs when they returned from that first used boat show beaming with the excitement of prospective boatowners. They told everyone about their “new boat” – about how it had ‘everything on it and wouldn’t need another thing. “Ten years and $10 grand later,” Don says, “we realized we’d done everything we could do to that boat except make it bigger. Then one day Brenda walked down into (and it really is walking down into) a Catalina and asked, “Tell me again why we can’t have one of these?” Before long the Moyers had a Catalina.

The bad news was that the Catalina had a two-cylinder, 11-hp, Universal 5411 diesel inside. The good news was that the boat was being sold for a very low price because the diesel didn’t work anyway and of course Don intended to put an Atomic 4 in it. The bad news is that the engine is working perfectly now. Don discovered that someone had connected the hoses backward, and not even the diesel experts had caught on.

Don says of this engine that it was Universal’s first answer to the aging Atomic 4 fleet. But he mocks the thing: “All my friends have bigger engines in their riding lawn mowers,” he says. That diesel engine (perish the thought!) is going to stay in the Moyer’s boat for awhile, however. Don says, “Whenever I go near it, Brenda throws her body in front of it. She wants curtains, cushions, and so on. So it won’t get an Atomic 4 anytime soon.” As it turns out, that’s just as well. The shaft of the Atomic 4 is at such an angle that repowering with one would cause structural modifications to the boat itself. Even Don doesn’t relish that thought.Besides, he’s just ordered an auto-pitching prop for it, which he notes is “worth 10 percent the retail cost of my boat, but is – by all accounts – a magical device. I’m like a kid at Christmas over this.”

Of course Don deliberated about whether he was being “called.” Perhaps this was a new directive, this time to save the Universal 5411. But Brenda’s common sense prevailed. “I asked him, ‘We’re still working on accomplishing this dream; could we put the next dream on hold for a while?”‘ she says. So expect the Atomic 4 guru to stay in the business for the foreseeable future.

Mildew Wars

Mildew Wars: a fight you can’t win

By Bob Wood

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 3, May/June 1999.

You may not be able to win the war, but you can win
occasional battles. Regardless of the odds, you must fight!
Now’s the
time to meet your opponent.

It’s the ultimate
mismatch: you versus an enemy infinite in numbers, awesome in reproductive
power and blessed with all the time in the world.

In the Mildew Wars, eternal vigilance (and a bottomless bottle of bleach) is
the price of freedom from odors, ineradicable black stains, allergies,
and possibly even disease. You may not win, but the alternative to a ceaseless
delaying action is to be driven from the water.

Behold the enemy

A moldy wall

Up close and personal: a shot of a moldy wall in a home that experienced standing water for more than a month.

Mildew is the common name for several varieties of fungi, tiny organisms
also known as mold. They reproduce by spores, an extremely efficient method
of propagation. Some species can fling their mature spores several feet
as a means of enhancing dispersal. And if they land on a spot not conducive
to growth, the spores can lie dormant for years – even centuries – waiting
for conditions to improve. And they can wait almost anywhere, remaining
viable even when subjected to temperatures approaching absolute zero.

can eat almost anything, anywhere – preferably somewhere warm, dark, and
damp. Like your boat. Mildew grows by sending out long cells that sprout
additional side cells in an endlessly repeating cycle. Under ideal conditions,
a single mildew cell can become a half mile of cells within 24 hours and
up to 200 miles, yes two hundred miles, of densely packed, interlocking
cellular growth in 48 hours. The mildew chains that can propagate in a
warm, moist hanging locker during a couple months of storage are able
to attain lengths approaching the astronomical.

than engulfing and digesting their food like higher life forms, mildew
excrete their digestive enzymes onto the food source (host), turning complex
molecules such as insoluble starches into soluble low-molecular-weight
compounds that can be absorbed directly through the cell walls.

The ravages of war

Aspergillus, common mildew

Aspergillus, a.k.a. common mildew: typically black, brown, gold, or bluegreen, mildew grows on damp surfaces and has a familiar "musty" odor.

When something reproduces like mad and eats almost anything, it’s a serious
enemy, even if it’s microbe-sized. It quickly becomes a visible mass and,
in the case of mildew, a very unattractive one. The splotchy staining
that appears on everything from portlights to leather to Dacron is a sort
of spy plane view of a mildew forest – and of the damage it has done to
the underlying surface, as you discover when you remove the mildew and
part of the discoloration remains.

And then
there’s that musty, unpleasant odor. That’s from the decomposition of
whatever surface the invaders’ digestive enzymes destroyed as they were
turning your boat into fungus food.

are known to cause allergic reactions. However the greatest risk associated
with mildew is the change that occurs to the host as a result of mildew
digestion. As the enzymes convert the host surface to a soluble substance,
the host is eroded and weakened. Fungicides, bleaches, and whiteners may
return the surface to like-new appearance, but the appearance is deceiving.
Even if it’s too slight to see with the naked eye, there is permanent
pitting, which attracts dirt, grime, and new mildew infestations. At worst,
the host may be so weakened that it will fail under high stress. Mildew-damaged
sail stitching that lets go in a gust is one particularly notorious example.

But wait!
Aren’t there mildew treatments, and mildew-resistant products on the market?
Yep. But they only buy you time. The mildew-resistant treatment on fibers
or hard goods loses its effectiveness in proportion to the conditions
it confronts. In ideal growing conditions, its mildew-fighting ability
is used up quickly. There is very little that is mildew-proof in this
world. Ask anyone who has discovered that it has etched the lenses of
his binoculars so badly that they are unusable. It won’t slow down for
most paints or surface treatments and thrives on many. It does prefer
natural plant- and/or animal-derived substances such as cotton, silk,
leather, or wood, but can make do quite nicely on artificial surfaces
like Biminis, sail covers, Formica, plastics, wiring insulation, or fiberglass,
adhesives, lubricants, and sealants. About the only substances mildew
can’t digest are metals.

The battlefield

Stachybotrys, requires high moisture content

Alternaria, common carpet and windowsill mold

Penicillium, common mildew similar to Aspergillus

From top:
Stachybotrys, a mold with an extremely high moisture requirement (a cellulose digester which likes straw, hemp, jute, and sheetrock and looking like a greasy black growth); Alternaria, a common carpet and wet windowsill mold with a high moisture requirement, looks black and fuzzy; Penicillium, another common mildew similar to Aspergillus with a similiar musty odor.

Mildew prefers a sub-tropical climate – high humidity, warm temperatures
(about 85° F is ideal), and still air. The still air helps maintain the
moisture critical to its life processes. But it can adapt to much more
extreme climates on both the high and low sides of the heat and humidity

they can challenge us at any moment in any suitable setting, our fungalfoes are especially likely to attack on three vulnerable fronts:

  • Winter or off-season storage. A sealed-up boat, summer or winter,
    is a sitting duck for a mildew onslaught. Just because it’s 15 degrees
    and a blizzard out doesn’t mean that mildew isn’t on the march in your
    sailbag. Its digestive and life processes generate heat. The bigger the
    colony grows, the more heat it produces. Mildew has been known to generate
    enough heat to produce spontaneous combustion in hay.
  • Closed spaces and lockers. Boat designers enclose every available
    nook and cranny for storage. But every bulkhead, overhead, locker, drawer,
    and bag impedes air circulation, promotes condensation, and encourages
    heat buildup. Mildew doesn’t have to work nearly as hard to heat the few
    cubic inches of unoccupied air in a locker packed with stuff as it would
    several hundred cubic feet of open cabin, nor will its precious moisture
    evaporate as quickly. Not a big problem, perhaps, if your boat is an ultra-light
    racer with nothing much below decks but ribs and hull. But cruising in
    such Spartan surroundings wouldn’t appeal to most of us.
  • The marine environment. Marine means wet, and not just the water
    upon which your good old boat is floating. There’s also condensation where
    the cool insides of the hull meet the warm, moisture-laden air in the
    cabin. Under the sole. Or behind the settee and cabinetry. Marine also
    means dripping packing glands, anti-siphon valves, and (to those of us
    who are truly cursed) an ice locker draining into the bilge. Water, water,
    everywhere . . . and all of it being used against you.

Fighting back

Most traditional remedies rely on sodium hypochlorite (household bleach)
to remove mildew. You can add TSP (tri-sodium phosphate, available at
most hardware stores) to the formula to make it more effective. A good,
strong, all-around solution is four quarts of fresh water, one quart of
bleach, 2/3 cup of TSP, and 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent. Do
not use liquid detergents in combination with bleaches and TSP. Scrub
the affected surfaces, using rubber gloves and eye protection. Rinse thoroughly.

Some caveats:

  1. Some fibers may be discolored by this treatment, especially animal
    fibers like leather, silk, and wool.
  2. If you rinse with salt water, finish with a fresh water rinsing. A
    salty surface attracts moisture and fungus ninjas.
  3. Never mix acids, rust removers, or ammonia with bleach while cleaning;
    poisonous fumes will result.
  4. Bleach may weaken some fabrics. If you are unsure about yours, try
    the solution on a small, hidden spot. Most commercial mildew removers
    also use sodium hypochlorite or near relatives. Follow the directions
    and warnings on their containers.

washers work with lightning speed but may force spores deeply into porous
surfaces. I don’t recommend them for removing mildew.


Your best strategy against the fungal foe is prevention, and low,
dry heat may be the single best weapon. High heat is theoretically even
better, since it is deadly to mildew. But it would be a Pyrrhic victory.
You would have to keep your boat interior at 200° F plus to reliably destroy
mildew – a heat level which would do more harm than the mildew. However,
a low-temperature electric heater designed for marine use can do a great
deal toward halting the mildew hordes. In combination with a fan, it safely
reduces the humidity in a boat, even during the warm summer months. Such
heaters are almost required equipment in the misty Pacific Northwest.

Dry is
good. In fact, dry is best. Taking away moisture will stop most mildews
from growing or reproducing. Open every possible airway, big and small,
to enhance circulation. Install fans to keep air moving throughout the
boat. See that lockers and companionway doors have as many louvers as
possible. Bulkheads between staterooms can also be louvered. (How much
privacy do you have on a boat, anyway?)

the head bulkheads can be louvered, with the louvers angled downward toward
the head side to deflect shower water back in. Shutting down after the
weekend or vacation should not mean buttoning your boat air-tight. Use
Dorade vents or solar-powered vent fans, leave a porthole open in the
head, and put louvers in the companionway drop boards.

the sole boards and bilge inspection ports open while you’re away. For
long-term idle periods (seasonal storage, etc.) bring your PFDs, cushions
and bedding home to a nice dry attic. Look into professional sail storage,
where sails are washed and dried, then hung, not folded, in order to avoid

Sunlight’s ultra-violet
radiation can inhibit mildew. Airing gear, hard and soft, that can be
brought topside provides the triple benefits of drying out, imparting
a fresh smell and zapping the mildew with UV.

And while you’re doing that, a few hundred miles of the little monsters will be
growing in some dark recess of your bilge.

No fear mast stepping!

No fear mast stepping

By Ron Chappell

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 3, May/June 2001.

No trained elephants? Here’s an alternative

Terrell Chappell Single-handing the mast

In an article in November 2000, I touched upon the use of a quick
and easy way for the lone sailor to raise or lower the mast on the
small cruiser. Ensuing months brought a number of inquiries clamoring
for more details regarding rigging. In truth, ponder as I might, I
could never come up with a suitable mast-raising method on my own.
I have a good friend, Gerry Catha, who is an airline pilot, aircraft
builder, and fellow Com-Pac 23 sailor. He grew tired of my whining
and worked out the following solution. I am grateful to him for redefining
and perfecting the hardware involved and generously passing along the
method to be adapted by his fellow sailors.

The instability of the stand-alone
gin-pole has long made its use fraught with many of the same safety
concerns associated with the use of trained
elephants in mast stepping. The greatest fear factor involved in the
process has always been the tendency of the mast-gin-pole combination
to sway out of control during the lift. I can’t tell you the
number of “wrecks” I have heard of, or been personally
involved in (read, responsible for) over the years, due to a moment’s
inattention, insecure footing, or errant gust of wind at some critical
moment. All
of this becomes a thing of the past with Gerry’s no-nonsense
bridle arrangement.

While systems
may differ slightly as far as materials and fittings go, the basic
tackle remains the same: a six-foot length of 1 1/2-inch
tubing, two 2-inch stainless steel rings, enough low-stretch 3/16-inch
yacht braid for the bridle runs, a few stainless steel eyebolts,
some snaps and, of course, a boom vang to take the place of the elephants.

Eyebolt installed

Eyebolt installed

My own gin-pole has a large eyebolt installed in one end, which can
be attached by a through-bolt (with a nylon spool cover) into a matching
eye at the base of the mast’s leading edge and secured by a
large wingnut. This is the pivoting point for the gin-pole, which,
of course,
supplies the leverage. On the upper end of the gin-pole, two smaller,
opposing eyebolts provide attachment points for bridles, halyard, and
boom vang. Again, I must say that I have already heard of a number
of different variations regarding attachments, hardware, and so on,
as each
individual adapts the idea to his particular boat, budget, and attention

The critical thing to understand about this mast-raising technique
is that in order for the mast and gin-pole lines to stay tight and
the mast and gin-pole centered over the boat, the bridles must have
their pivot points located on an imaginary line running through the
mast pivot
bolt. If the bridle pivot points are located anywhere else, the supporting
lines will be too tight and/or too loose at some points during the

Terre; Chappell attracting help with the mast

Terrel Chappell used to attract sympathetic onlookers to help with mast raising by appearing to struggle with the problem alone. These days she and Ron can raise the stick without help, and they prefer it that way.

There are two
bridles. Each bridle consists of four runs of line, one
end of each terminating in the same stainless steel ring, which forms
the central pivot point of that particular bridle. In operation,
this ring must be centered directly across from the mast step pivot
The longest of the four lines will go to a point as high as you can
reach on the mast (secured to a padeye using a stainless snap). The
longest run attaches to the top of the gin-pole, snapped to an eyebolt.
The two bottom runs, your shorter lines, are attached fore and aft
to stanchion bases, though a toerail will work as well. It is imperative
that the steel ring be centered directly in line with the mast pivot
point when all lines are taut. This is accomplished by the location
lengths of the two bottom lines.

Clip the jib halyard
to the uppermost eye on the gin-pole and bring it to an approximate
90-degree angle
to the mast and tie it off.
Next, secure
one end of the boom vang (cleat end) to a point as far forward
on the deck as possible and the remaining end to the top of the gin-pole
the jib halyard.

At your leisure

With all bridle lines taut and the mechanical advantage of the boom
vang facilitating the lifting, you can slowly raise the spar at your
Since the mast and gin-pole are equally restrained port and starboard,
they will go straight up or down without wandering from side to side.
Using the auto-cleat on the boom vang, you can halt the process any
time shrouds or lines need straightening or become caught up. This
the stress factor tremendously and allows for a calm, orderly evaluation
and fix of the problem.

Ron's mast-stepping process

This photo, printed in the November 2000 issue of Good Old Boat, drew dozens of requests for more information about Ron’s mast-stepping process.

I might note that, due to variations in shroud adjustment and slight
hull distortions, you may find the port and starboard bridle will
be of slightly different dimensions, making it necessary to devise
sort of visual distinction between the two sides. I spray-painted
the ends of the lines on each side, red or green, for instant identification.
Stainless steel snaps on the rigging end of these lines make for
and easy setup. I find that it takes us about 15 minutes to deploy
the entire system and only 10 minutes or so to take it down and put
it away.
Each bridle rolls up into a bundle about the size of a tennis ball
for storage. The bridles go into a locker, and the gin-pole attaches
to the
trailer until next it is needed.

Granted, launch time is extended by a
few minutes, but the safety factor gained is immeasurable, especially
for sailors who must perform
the entire operation by themselves. I have used this method on masts up to 25 feet long and in quite strong side winds with no problem and have
found it to be the most expeditious way to raise or lower a mast should trained elephants not be readily available.

Cool, Quiet, and Trouble Free Exhaust

Cool and Quiet and Trouble-free

By Jerry Powlas and Dave Gerr

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 1, Number 2, September/October 1998.

Guidelines for evaluating and installing wet exhausts

The most popular sailboat exhaust system today is a wet exhaust system
which includes a waterlift muffler. This system offers many advantages
and seems deceptively simple. Almost all engines are cooled with seawater,
either directly or though a heat exchanger. The seawater must be discharged
after it has picked up the engine heat, so it is logical to inject it
into the engine exhaust. This cools the engine exhaust so it can be routed
through the boat without too much concern for the parts of the boat that
it passes near and through. Wet exhausts are the best choice for the majority
of sailboats, but they can cause trouble if not properly designed, installed,
and maintained.

At first
glance it looks like all that is required is to plumb the parts in series
in the proper order. That approach, however, will likely cause trouble.

We assume
that naval architects and boatbuilders know how to design and build a
wet exhaust system. We speculate that wet exhaust problems have come mainly
from boats that have been modified during repair or converted from other
types of exhausts by owners or technicians who did not thoroughly understand
wet exhausts. That could easily happen for two reasons. First, not all
boats are configured to allow a system to be installed which complies
with the guidelines; and second, the requirements are more complicated
than they appear.

The following
outline lists common wet exhaust fault modes. The most serious problems
with wet exhausts involve seawater working its way back into the engine,
where it gets into the cylinders and flows past the rings into the crankcase.
This kind of water penetration may require engine rebuilding or replacement.
In extreme cases after flooding the engine, a defective system can even
flood and sink an unattended boat.

Water in engine fault modes (See Figure Four.)

Rigging a siphon

    1. Siphon faults
      1. Water siphons from the cooling water seacock past the raw-water
        pump into the injection elbow when the engine is off. It fills the muffler
        and floods the engine.
      2. Water siphons backward up the exhaust piping, fills the muffler, and
        floods the engine.


  1. Heavy weather faults
    1. Following seas force water back up the exhaust system where it fills
      the muffler and floods the engine. The use of a stern-deployed drogue
      can aggravate this problem. b. The boat heels or pitches enough to make
      the muffler higher than the engine, so water flows from the muffler into
      the engine.
    2. The boat pitches enough to get the raw-water intake out of the water
      frequently and for long enough periods to starve the exhaust system of
      the cooling water it needs causing the plastic and rubber parts to overheat
      and fail.

Other failure modes


  1. The raw-water circuit fails from:
    1. Plugged intake.
    2. Plugged raw-water filter.
    3. Pump impeller failure (most likely of all failure modes).
    4. Plugged water line from pump to injection elbow (pieces of impeller).
    5. Plugged injection elbow (rust, scale, pieces of impeller).

If the raw-water circuit fails, the exhaust system will overheat very quickly. Most of the exhaust parts on most boats will not withstand the overheating caused by a raw-water system failure. The following can occur before the engine overheats enough to get your attention:

  1. Hoses burn out.
  2. Muffler melts, if plastic.
  3. Muffler liner separates, if plastic or rubber-coated steel.
    1. Corrosion can cause failures of:
      1. Injection elbow.
      2. Exhaust hose (it is wire-reinforced).
      3. Waterlift muffler (if steel).


  1. Freeze damage
    1. If the muffler is steel.

Wet exhausts
are not foolproof, but given proper design, installation, and maintenance,
they are a good choice for most sailboats.

Siphoning, velocity pressure, water head

Water Head in a water tower

Siphoning, velocity pressure, and water head (pressure) are three concepts
that are important in understanding wet exhausts.

will occur when you put a small hose overboard, suck on it until it is
full of water, and then bring the inboard end into your boat below the
water level. (See Figure One.) The water will flow up the hose and down
the other side, filling your boat until it sinks. No pumping is required.
Any bilge pump through-hull that is ever below the waterline can cause
siphoning after the bilge pump fills the piping with water. The pump shuts
off, and the flow reverses. This is a fairly common problem. Think in
terms of the heeled waterline, the waterline with full cruising stores,
the waterline when the boat squats under power, or a combination of these

head is a way to describe the pressure in a system. In this term, the
word head equates to height. The pressure at the base of a water tower
is a function of the height of the water in the tower. (See Figure Two.)
Sometimes very low pressures are described in terms of inches of water
column. These pressures can be converted to pounds per square inch, which
is the more familiar unit of measure. The conversion is 27.68 inches of
water column equals one psi.

pressure is a way of expressing the speed of a fluid in terms of the pressure
it causes when it strikes something. This phenomenon is used to make simple
speed-measuring devices that measure the height of a column of water caused
by the velocity of the water flowing past it. (See Figure Three.) Note,
six knots is equal to a velocity pressure of about 19 inches, and in Figure
Three the pressure is measured directly in inches of water column.

Four shows a complete wet exhaust system and is similar to other diagrams
published on this topic. The discussion which follows is absolutely unnecessary
if you have a boat that allows the specified features, including dimensions,
to be followed faithfully.

The important
point is that some good old boats were not designed with this type of
exhaust system in the first place, and either their machinery spaces will
not allow the installation of this type of exhaust per the specifications
of Figure Four, or the persons making repairs or modifications did not
completely understand the requirements. You may want to check your boat
to see how closely your current layout complies with the requirements
of Figure Four.

In studying
your boat and the diagram, note that features are positioned relative
to each other and relative to the waterline. You can find the waterline
in your machinery space by making a siphon like the one shown in Figure
One. Remember you are finding the at-rest waterline by this method. Sailing,
heeling, powering, pitching, and rolling will all change it.

Now let’s
follow the water into the boat and back out again. The water enters by
a through-hull and seacock and flows through a raw-water filter. The through-hull
may include a scoop. If there is a scoop, it will develop some velocity
pressure when the boat is moving. (Six knots produces about 19 inches
of water column pressure.) An allowance may be needed when considering
other aspects of the system design if there is a scoop facing forward.
Some systems are built without the filter, but it is a good investment
because it protects the raw-water pump. The water flows through the raw-water
pump and either through a heat exchanger or two, or through the engine
itself. After leaving the engine, it is discharged into the exhaust.

The injection
point should be 4 inches (minimum) below the exhaust manifold exit point.
(See Dimension H on Figure Four.) This distance is required to keep the
steam and other nasty chemicals created at the injection point from attacking
the exhaust valves. The engine manufacturer knows this and will provide
an arrangement that protects the engine.

The injection
point must also be located relative to the waterline. If it is high enough
above the waterline, a vented loop is not required. The minimum height
varies depending on which authority is consulted. We found minimums from
6 to 16 inches recommended. This may be because a scoop at the through-hull
can raise the water level in the piping, leading to the injection point
when the boat is sailing (engine off). In addition to allowing for velocity
pressure,it is necessary to allow for maximum loading, rolling, and pitching
mo tion.

If the
injection point is closer to or below the waterline than the allowance,
there is the potential for a siphon to form. This siphon is prevented
from forming if the raw-water pump does not leak. There is the risk, however,
that it will leak. Small leaks may occur at the rotor sides or tips, and
the common failure mode for this pump is for the lobes on the impeller
to break off and be carried downstream to do mischief elsewhere in the
system. The lobes don’t all break off at once, so the pump may deliver
enough water to keep the engine cooled, but it will leak when the engine
is not running. Even a fairly small leak can, over time, flood the muffler
and then the engine.

The vented
loop shown in Figure Four breaks this siphon. The top of the arch of the
loop should be at least 6 inches above the waterline. Some authorities
say 12 inches minimum, with 16 inches being better. Remember, if you have
a scoop at the through-hull, it will raise the level of the water in this
part of the system by virtue of its velocity pressure. As mentioned above,
depending on how fast your boat is, you need to allow for this. At the
top of the arch of the vented loop there must be either a siphon break
valve, or an additional tube extended from a tee.

In saltwater
service, the siphon break valve may become clogged with salt crystals
and either become inoperative (not break the siphon) or leak constantly.
The constant leak failure mode can result in spraying seawater around
in the machinery space. This seawater is needed to cool the exhaust. For
these reasons, some authorities recommend dispensing with the siphon break
valve and locating a tee in the line vented higher up, such as in the

if there is a tee, with a tube extending from it to a higher location,
it is necessary for the top of the arch in the vented loop itself to be
positioned 6 to 16 inches above the waterline. If it is not, a siphon
may still form in some circumstances. In other words, extensions from
the tee don’t count against the 6 to 16 inches requirement. The extension
tube from the tee should extend higher than any other point in the system.
This can be a problem in some boats.

we leave this part of the system, we should mention that a cranking engine
is pumping water into the exhaust system. If it cranks a lot and does
not fire, the muffler may fill up with water and eventually flood the
engine. Some authorities recommend closing the cooling water seacock during
prolonged cranking such as when bleeding air out of injectors, the first
start after lay-up, or when troubleshooting a reluctant engine. As soon
as the engine starts, quickly open the seacock again. If the muffler has
a drain, it could be left open instead until the engine fires and then
be quickly closed.

The distance
from the injection point to the muffler inlet is specified by various
authorities as 10 or 12 inches minimum. This is intended to be both a
minimum length and a minimum vertical distance. We think that on some
significant number of good old boats this is the dimension that will be
most difficult to comply with.

On Mystic
(our C&C 30), the machinery space will not allow the muffler to be
much lower than the exhaust outlet because the bottom of the boat slopes
up sharply behind the engine. Worse, the boat was designed for an Atomic
4, which has the exhaust on the port side. The Bukh Pilot 20 diesel that
was fitted later has the exhaust on the starboard side. The original muffler
platform was used, so the muffler is on the opposite side from the exhaust.
Moving the muffler platform would have been complicated because the cockpit
drain and raw-water through-hulls and seacocks occupy the space where
the muffler should go on the starboard side. That may be why the mechanics
who did the conversion to diesel did not put the muffler on the same side
as the exhaust. When our boat heels to starboard, the muffler is elevated
above the engine, providing an opportunity for it to pour water into the

the muffler would be mounted directly behind the engine exhaust so it
is not elevated above the engine as the boat heels. We were told by one
knowledgeable person that Dimension A is also the minimum distance the
exhaust gases must travel to ensure that they are cool enough to enter
a plastic muffler without damaging it. This seems logical. All the cooling
will not occur at the exact point of water entry, and the process of heat
exchange will take some time, and therefore distance, to be completed.

Velocity pressure

we said, the space for an 8 to 12 inch (minimum) vertical drop from the
engine to the muffler is not available on some boats. There are two possible
solutions to this problem: both involve some manner of exhaust riser.
Where a short riser is required, engine manufacturers can provide an exhaust
riser that is a water-jacketed exhaust pipe which lifts up and turns back
down. After the downturn, the jacket water is injected. Contact your engine
manufacturer about this option. If you have room for it, it may be a very
good way to obtain the minimum drop distance.

a larger lift from the manifold is required, it may be necessary to run
a dry unjacketed (very hot) insulated pipe to another location, where
either a conventional exhaust elbow is fitted or a standpipe is used.
See the companion article by Dave Gerr which deals with several special
versions of wet exhausts that can be used to overcome layout problems.
Remember as you contemplate variations on this theme, when the flow reverses,
the drop becomes a rise, and this rise is what protects a flooded muffler
from dumping into the exhaust manifold when water backs up in the hose
leading from the muffler to the exit.

C is the vertical rise from the bottom of the muffler to where the hose
turns back down. This is the lift. We found maximum dimensions for this
lift of 40 to 48 inches, with 20 inches being cited for turbocharged engines.
Some literature seems to suggest that the height of the lift determines
the exhaust back pressure in some simple way so that (for example) a 48-inch
lift would give a 48-inch water column back pressure. It seems logical
that if there were enough water in the muffler to fill the lift pipe,
and if the pressure were slowly increased on the engine side, as perhaps
in a case of cranking and not firing, this reasoning might pertain. Once
the engine is firing, however, it is doubtful that there would ever be
a solid column of water in the lift pipe. With exhaust gas flowing in
the lift, much more complex things are happening. The flow in the lift
is probably a chaotic mixture of gases and liquids. One source said that
engine manufacturers know this and are not too worried about this maximum
lift dimension. In individual cases, it would be best to contact the engine
manufacturer and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

the hose from the muffler exit to the top of the lift is vertical, not
slanted. The reason for this is that a vertical pipe achieves the maximum
rise with the least volume. The concern here is that the water in the
lift pipe will fall back into the muffler when the engine shuts down.
This is a critical issue. The muffler volume must be large enough to accept
the water that falls out of the lift pipe. The rule of thumb is that the
muffler should have at least 130 percent of the volume of the lift pipe.
Note here that if the muffler is fairly well filled from water falling
back from the lift pipe, it is much more likely to cause mischief in other
ways. At the upper end of the lift pipe the exhaust hose should slope
down toward the exit through-hull. Note: the intent is that everything
from the top of the lift pipe either drains to the muffler or drains overboard.
At least that is the way the story goes for a system without an exit gooseneck.
Some authorities go so far as to say that there must be no sags in the
sloping pipe from the top of the lift to the exit through-hull. The sags
would allow some water to be trapped, while a straight sloping pipe would
drain overboard.

Figure Four

Alternative gooseneck
The exit through the hull

The alternative
gooseneck shown in Figure Four is a variation sometimes seen where there
is not only a sag, but in fact a large trap. The hose loops down and back
up and down again. The gooseneck provides some added protection from pooping
seas by forcing the water to lift up the gooseneck to get into the system.
We found one reference that suggested a minimum dimension of 16 inches
from the top of the gooseneck to the waterline. One manufacturer makes
a plastic gooseneck that looks like it might take less space than a looped
exhaust hose. Because the price of exhaust hose is fairly high, it might
be less costly as well.

to the top of the rise again (See Dimension D), the minimum dimension
from the top of the lift to the waterline is 12 inches. More is better,
and 18 inches is recommended by some authorities. Dimension D should be
viewed as a minimum vertical dimension. Its purpose is to provide resistance
to water flowing back up the hose to the top of the lift and then falling
into the muffler.

The exit
through-hull should be located above the waterline. Suggestions for this
dimension vary from 3 to 6 inches to the centerline of the exhaust pipe.
(See Dimension F.) The reason it is desirable for the exhaust to exit
above the waterline is so it can’t create a siphon. The reason the outlet
is not located very high, just below deck level for example, is to help
prevent exhaust fumes from coming back into the boat. Because it is fairly
low however, it will be submerged by waves, and the pitching motion of
the hull. The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) recommends that the
outlet be located near the intersection of the hull and transom because
this also helps prevent exhaust fumes from getting back into the boat.

The total
length of the piping from the muffler to the exit is shown as Dimension
L. Very long piping runs increase back pressure. This hose should have
a length of less than 30 times the exhaust line diameter as it enters
the muffler from the engine. For example, for a 1H-inch diameter hose,
the run shouldn’t be over 45 inches total length from the lift outlet
to the throuh-hull. This run is commonly much longer than 48 inches. If
the run has to be longer, you may need to make the hose diameter larger.
(These long runs and larger hoses will also require a larger muffler canister.)
For runs up to 60 times exhaust diameter, increase the hose diameter by
20 percent. Still longer runs are possible, but you must increase diameter
still more and check with the engine manufacturer about the maximum acceptable
back pressure. As with any exhaust, you should use as few bends as possible
with the largest radii possible; tight bends also increase back pressure.

If, when
inspecting your system, you find that your hoses are too long and should
be larger in diameter according to the rules of thumb just mentioned,
it would be a good idea to get an opinion on your specific system from
your engine manufacturer. You may even want to check back pressure in
actual operation before buying all that new larger diameter hose.

J on Figure Four is a valve which is intended to be closed when sailing
in rough seas. It should be able to withstand the temperatures involved
(200 degrees Fahrenheit minimum) and should be located where it can easily
be reached in rough weather. For this reason, it is unlikely to be located
at the through-hull and should not be thought of as a seacock. While we
understand the intent of this valve, we have the following concerns about
its installation and use:

  1. It is not a passive device that tends to work automatically. The crew
    must close it when conditions warrant and must open it before starting
    the engine.
  2. If the crew tries to start the engine with the valve closed, the best
    thing that could happen is for the engine not to start.

For these
reasons, we consider the valve as an option of last resort to be used
only if the geometry of the boat does not allow a layout that can function
properly without it.

Mysteries and nuances

the engine off:

Imagine the boat being pushed down by the stern so the exit through-hull
is submerged. Or imagine the exit through-hull being slapped by a large
wave. Combinations of these two cases will occur when the boat is pitching
in a large following sea. We speculate that some interesting things will
happen in this situation.

A trapped
air pocket will form in the tube between the muffler and the exit. The
pressure of the pocket will be a function of how fast the waves hit the
stern, and how deeply the stern is pushed down by pitching. In the worst
case, velocity pressure and water column pressure will add together. It
is not unreasonable to assume 10 knots for the wave velocity (it takes
only Force 6 for this) and, thus, 51 inches of water column pressure increase.
If the stern is pushed another 6 inches below the water, the total reverse
pressure would be 57 inches of water column pressure.

Now let’s
return to how full the muffler is when the engine shuts off and the water
in the lift column falls back into it. If the muffler is not very full,
air is pushed into it and out the inlet toward the engine. If seawater
did not manage to push its way to the top of the lift column, the muffler
does not gain any water, and the water in the sloped section from the
top of the lift drains back out, ideally before the next pitch/wave slap.

If the
muffler is nearly full, the pressure in the piping downstream of the muffler
will force water, not air, out the muffler inlet toward the engine. Now
consider Dimension A again. If this dimension is a vertical dimension,
the water must lift against gravity to reach the engine. If it is a sloping
horizontal dimension, the lift is not great, and the engine is more likely
to be flooded. The dimension should be a vertical dimension, but in some
boats that is not possible.

Four shows an alternative in which a gooseneck is located at the end of
the piping before the exit through-hull. One manufacturer cites a minimum
dimension of 16 inches from the top of the gooseneck to the waterline.
With a gooseneck at the exit, the water must lift against gravity to the
top of the gooseneck before it can enter the system to stay. This seems
like a very positive improvement.

Significance of dimensions

  1. 12″ min.
  2. 12″ min., 16″ better
  3. 42″ max., 20″ max.,
  4. 12″ to 18″ min.
  5. 12″ min.
  6. 3″ to 6″ min.
  7. 4″ min.
  8. 16″ min. (optional)
  9. use as last resort
  10. highest point in piping

Dimension A

12-inch minimum vertical, 12-inch minimum total, sloped downward H inch
per foot minimum. (The slope is not likely to be this small if the other
criteria are met.)

vertical dimension from the injection point to the top of the muffler.
(Also) minimum total distance from the injection point to the top of the

When the engine is running, this minimum total distance gives the water
time to mix with the exhaust gases and cool them. This minimum is necessary
to protect plastic and fiberglass mufflers from excessive temperatures.

the engine is not running, this minimum vertical distance helps retard
the flow of seawater from the muffler to the engine where it will damage
the engine.

If the
minimums cannot be achieved, the alternatives are:
1. Use a special exhaust riser supplied by the engine manufacturer to
increase the vertical distance. (Yanmar calls this a “U mixing elbow.”)
2. Run some dry (hot) exhaust piping to some other location where there
is space to get the height needed, and then use a mixing elbow or a stand
pipe. See Dave Gerr’s article on Page 20 for alternative exhaust systems.
3. In the worst case, where there is no space for any of these options,
a water-jacketed or dry exhaust system may be the only alternatives.

Dimension B

12-inch minimum, 16 inches is better. Minimum vertical distance from the
waterline to the bottom of the vented loop.

If the injection point is above the waterline (6 to 16 inches are quoted
figures), you don’t need a vented loop. Remember that a scoop at the through-hull
takes away from this margin, as do heeling, pitching, squatting, and loading.

A siphon
break may be used in the vented loop, or a tee and extension may be used
with no valve. Siphon valves may become salt-encrusted and leak. Tees
and extensions should vent to a point higher than any other part of the
exhaust system.

Dimension C

42 inches maximum.
20 inches maximum with turbocharger.
Maximum vertical distance from the bottom of the muffler to the top of
the lift.

When the engine stops, the top of the lift divides the water in the system.
The water in the lift flows into the muffler, (which must be able to hold
it all) and the water in the down-stream piping flows to the through-hull.
Excessive lift
is thought by some authorities to cause excessive back pressure. Other
opinions minimize the significance of this.

Dimension D

12 to 18 inches minimum (depending on which authority is consulted).
Minimum vertical distance from the top of the lift to the waterline.

When the engine is off, and water is being forced backward into the system
through the through-hull from following seas, or the through-hull is forced
under water from the motion of the boat, or some combination of these,
this lift helps to keep water from getting over the top of the lift and
draining into the muffler. Sometimes this protection is enhanced by using
a gooseneck as shown with Dimension I.

Dimension E

12 inches minimum (this dimension is redundant if Dimension D is complied
Minimum vertical distance from the top of the lift to the through-hull
(similar to Dimension D).

Significance: When the engine is off, and water is being forced backward into the system
through the through-hull from following seas, or because the through-hull
is forced underwater from the motion of the boat, or some combination
of these, this lift helps to keep water from getting over the top of the
lift and draining into the muffler. Sometimes this protection is enhanced
by using a gooseneck as shown with Dimension I.

Dimension F

3 to 6 inches minimum (depending on which authority is consulted).
Minimum vertical distance from the waterline to the through-hull.

When the engine is off, it is desirable to have the exhaust exit point
above the waterline so that it cannot start a siphon. Safety margins are
eroded by heeling and loading.

the vessel pitches, the through-hull can be submerged, and pressure formed
in the piping that will try to force air (or water) backward out of the
muffler and into the engine.

successful layouts have been built that have the exhaust outlet lower.
Powerboats sometimes have it below the water.

Dimension H

Minimum distance from the exhaust manifold to the injection point.
4 inches minimum

Highly corrosive chemical combinations form at the injection point.
The intent of this dimension is to keep these from reaching the engine
exhaust valves and guides. In most cases, the engine designers will take
care of this parameter.

If the
dimension is too long, it may be necessary to insulate the part of the
exhaust that is dry (and hot).

Dimension I

Minimum lift in (optional) gooseneck.
16 inches minimum

Significance: Where this last gooseneck is used, it provides added protection against
water flowing backward into the piping and reaching the muffler. It is
interesting to note that not all authorities recommend this feature. We
think it is a good idea.

Dimension L

Maximum length from muffler to exit.
30 times manifold outlet diameter. An alternative is to increase hose

Significance: It may be necessary to increase the diameter of the piping to reduce resistance.
See the North Sea Exhaust description in Dave Gerr’s article.

the forgoing, you can see that the issues associated with wet exhausts
and waterlift mufflers are not simple, and it is possible for a boat to
be configured so that a “conventional” installation is not possible.
We would expect this to be more common in the case of good old boats that
were not designed for a wet exhaust in the first place. We would also
expect this to be more of a problem for fin-keel designs without a lot
of depth from the engine compartment to the transom. In a companion article
in this issue, Dave Gerr explains some of the other methods for dealing
with wet exhausts that cannot be laid out according to the recommendations
we have presented here.

A quick disclaimer

We have tried to present the most detailed information possible on this
topic. The application of a wet exhaust and waterlift muffler can be complex.
As we have said, not every boat has the space available for the “standard”
layout. Some boats don’t even have spaces that are suited to the alternative
layouts. It is important to contact your engine manufacturer and the manufacturer
of your exhaust components for specific parameters and to resolve any
questions or doubts with these sources. One muffler manufacturer said
they regularly provide this information to their customers, and it is
likely that the other manufacturers will as well. We have presented this
information believing that if you know the intent of each characteristic
and parameter in the system, you will be better prepared to evaluate variations
that may be needed to accomplish the same intent.

In the
end, as in so many things on your boat, the responsibility for the safety
and good functioning of your exhaust system is yours.

Lazy-jacks: Mainsail Tamers

Lazy-jacks: Mainsail tamers

By Guy Stevens

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 4, July/August 2001.

Take the pain out of the main, make your own lazy-jacks

Lazy-jack lines diagram

The easiest way for the shorthanded
sailor to control the mainsail when reefing or stowing is a set of
well-fitted lazy-jacks. Lazy-jacks
are made from a set of fixed or movable lines led from the upper section
of the mast to the boom, with lines on each side. They guide the
onto the top of the boom when reefing or dousing it and keep it there
to be tied up at the crew’s leisure.

When properly installed, a lazy-jack system adds to safety and sail
control. Lazy-jacks function well with sails with no battens, half battens,
or full battens. When installed and used correctly, they prevent chafe
and tearing. A well-thought-out installation makes the lazy-jacks convenient
to use, puts them out of the way when stowed, and does not require expensive
alterations of sails or sail covers.

There are several varieties of lazy-jacks. The fixed systems permanently
attach to the mast and are not stowed. These require altering the sail
cover, may chafe the sail while sailing, and sail battens may catch in
the lazy-jacks, making hoisting difficult. The better systems allow the
lazy-jacks to be stowed and are deployed only when the sail is being
doused or reefed.

Off-the-shelf and custom-built lazy-jack systems are available. Sail-loft
versions start at $200; mid-range systems cost about $400; and high-end
systems can cost $1,500 or so if professionally installed. A scratch-built
system can be fabricated for less than the cheapest off-the-shelf systems,
and has some advantages in the way it fits and functions with your boat.

Not always better

The off-the-shelf systems are not necessarily better designs. Most off-the-shelf
systems use blocks at their segment junction points. When stowed, these
blocks may bang on the mast. Correcting this situation requires the
installation of hooks on the mast or boom and sections of shock cord
to pull the support segment away from the mast. The need for blocks
at the segment junctions is questionable, and they are more costly
than thimbles.

Systems that use a line through
the sail can cause sail chafe and require modifications to the sail
and cover. Since the average do-it-yourself
sailor can’t perform these modifications, the work can be expensive.
These lines can also interfere with the shape of the sail when set. Changing
the sail requires re-threading the lines through the sail each time it
is changed or removed, neither a quick nor an easy task.

Some systems use shock cords to support the leg segments of the lazy-jacks.
However, the shock cord provides too much stretch, and the sail may fall
out of the lazy-jacks. Most of these systems use a plastic clip-on fitting
to secure the lazy-jacks to the boom and mast. This plastic deteriorates
in sunlight and often fails within a season or two.

With about an hour more than you would invest in the installation of
an off-the-shelf lazy-jack system, you can make your own custom set,
tailored to your boat. By buying the individual components, you can create
a custom system for less than $175 (see parts list).

Four choices

he line you select should match your splicing abilities and rig construction.
There are four types to choose from: three-strand nylon; three-strand
Dacron, standard double yacht braid, and more exotic fibers, such as
Sta-Set X or Spectra line. Lazy-jacks made of three-strand nylon for
the average boat can be assembled for about $91. The same lazy-jacks
in Sta-Set would cost about $160. Don’t let cost be the only
deciding factor; each line has advantages and disadvantages.

Three-strand nylon is simple
to splice, requiring no tools and little knowledge. It’s inexpensive and available from most chandlers
for 13 cents a foot or less for 1/4-inch diameter. However it is stretchy,
so it is not as well-suited for high-aspect-ratio rigs where the stretch
could allow the sail to fall off of the top of the boom. It’s
susceptible to chafing where it contacts other lines, and it may cause
twisting when deploying the lazy-jacks, necessitating the untwisting
of the support lines.

While this is the cheapest
line, with the most disadvantages, it served well on my 39-foot racer/
cruiser for more than five years, until recent
replacement with double yacht braid. I’ve constructed a number
of lazy-jack systems using three-strand nylon for people who wanted to
spend as little as possible on the initial trial of the lazy-jack system.
Each system I created with three-strand nylon has occasionally required
some intervention to untwist the support lines. Using this line, you
could first build a three-legged system, expand to a four-legged system,
or experiment with other aspects. As it is the least expensive material,
making radical changes in lazy-jack rigging rarely involves more than
a $30 expense.

Less stretch

Three-strand Dacron is as easy to work with as three-strand nylon. It
is less expensive than yacht braid or exotic fibers and has significantly
less stretch than nylon: 4.2 percent compared to 16 percent when loaded
to 15 percent of breaking strength. This makes lazy-jack deployment
and tensioning easier. It has less tendency to twist than nylon, lasts
longer, and is significantly less prone to chafe. It is also 10 to
20 percent stronger than the same-sized nylon. It looks great on traditionally
rigged vessels on which the rest of the rigging is three-strand and
costs about 18 cents a foot. A system constructed with three-strand
Dacron for an average boat costs about $106.

Double yacht braid line has
still less stretch than three-strand Dacron – only
2.4 percent. It is less prone to chafe than either of the three-strand
lines and looks a lot more at home on a boat with braided running rigging.
It is more difficult to splice than three-strand line, and splicing requires
the use of a fid and pusher like those produced by Samson or the Splicing
Wand from Brion Toss. Both come with excellent directions. Double yacht
braid eliminates twist. It costs about 36 cents a foot. A system would
cost about $160 for an average boat.

The exotic lines are more
expensive, and there is no need to make your lazy-jack system out of
these because lazy-jacks are not normally subject
to the kinds of loads these lines are meant to handle. They do rate a
single mention. Should your boat have an extremely high-aspect-ratio
mainsail, you might wish to make the support segments out of Sta-Set
X. This line is harder to splice but has the advantage of the least stretch
for the money, at 1.6 percent stretch and about 59 cents per foot. This
would reduce any tendency of the high-aspect-ratio sail to stretch out
the lazy-jacks and fall off the top of the boom. An alternative to splicing
might be a good seizing job; it’s almost as strong and a whole
lot easier.

Chafe on the mast cause noise and wear

Chafe on the mast is an issue because of noise and wear.

Excessive chafe

With the exception of a turning block for the support segment, blocks
are not well suited to use in lazy-jacks; they cause excessive chafe
on the sail and bang on any surface they contact. They also add unnecessary
expense to the installation. They’re prone to jamming when deploying
the lazy-jacks and to sunlight damage to their sheaves. Blocks are
meant to make adjusting a line under load easier, but in deploying
your lazy-jacks there shouldn’t be any load. The weight of the
sail is placed on the lazy-jacks after they have been deployed and

There are three types of thimbles available. These are used for the
inserts that go into the eye splices to reduce the chafe and friction
where the segments of the lazy-jacks meet.

Galvanized steel thimbles
are really cheap, but they rust quickly and make a mess of the sails,
mast, and anything else they contact. Nylon
thimbles are cheaper than stainless steel, are a nice white color, and
won’t remove the surface coating of the mast should they come
into contact with it. However, they do chafe more easily and are subject
to degradation in sunlight, often being the first part of a lazy-jack
system to fail. Stainless-steel thimbles last longer than nylon thimbles
and have the least friction. If allowed to bang on the mast, they make
a racket and remove the surface coating. I use them only when I’m
certain they’re not going to contact the mast. They will outlast
the rest of the lazy-jack system and probably even the boat itself.

Stainless wire

Most off-the-shelf systems use vinyl-coated stainless wire for support
segments. The wires are mounted to pad-eyes on the mast. Since both
ends of the support segment are next to the mast when the unit is stowed,
the segment bangs against the mast in rolly or windy conditions. A
fixed-support segment requires lazy-jacks to be adjusted, stowed, and
deployed from a spot on the boom. The disadvantage is that you have
to adjust them from the center of the boom. If you position the lazy-jack
controls on the mast, it’s much easier to deploy them when the
boom is moving or not centered on the boat.

Mounting control lines on the mast also makes it possible to mount the
support segment blocks 6 to 8 inches out on the spreaders. This prevents
banging on the mast. Mounting the support segment blocks on the spreaders
works best on the upper spreader of double-spreader rigs. If your boat
has a single-spreader rig, or if you are mounting to the lower spreader,
three-strand nylon may stretch too much and let the sail fall off of
the boom. In these cases, the easiest solution is to use a stiffer line.

For free-standing rigs, a general rule for the placement of the support
segment blocks is: the higher the better. About 70 to 75 percent of the
height of the mast off the deck provides a good angle. If the support
segment blocks are too low, the tension is more forward than upward.
In this situation, the sail pushes the lazy-jacks out of the way and
falls off of the boom when it is lowered.

Spreader blocks

The parts list on the previous page is for a 40-foot boat I recently
equipped with lazy-jacks. On this boat I was able to use spreader-mounted
blocks for the support segment. The rig is modern, so we used 1/4-inch
double yacht braid for the installation. Since the support segments
were spreader-mounted, I used stainless-steel thimbles. If we had not
been able to use the spreaders for the support segment blocks, I would
have used two Harken 092 cheek blocks at a cost of about $8.79 each.

The first step in the installation
is cutting the lines for the support segments. If you’re installing
lazy-jacks on a double-spreader rig and are able to use the spreaders
as a mount for the support segment,
measure the height of the second set of spreaders to the deck. Double
this measurement and add 3 feet for splicing room. You will need to cut
two lines this length for the support segments, one for each side of
the mast.

If you are unable to use the spreaders as a mount for the support segments,
you will want to mount the support segment blocks about 70 percent of
the way up the mast. Measure this spot on the mast by using a long tape
and a halyard. Make sure the area is clear of other fittings and there
is sufficient room to mount the cheek blocks.

If you’re mounting
the support segment blocks to the bottom of the spreaders, position
them about 8 inches from the base of the spreaders
at the mast. Double-check the location. If there are spreader lights,
they must be far enough away that the line for the support segments will
not chafe on them. Make sure the drill does not hit the spreader-light

Small dimple

Stainless steel thimbles have low friction Mount support segment Support segment turning blocks

Stainless steel thimbles have low friction and long life. Keep them from chafing by mounting the support segment turning blocks on the spreaders.

Once you are certain there are no obstacles, use a center punch to make
a small dimple as the mark for the first hole. Drill the hole, using
a little light oil on the bit. Then lightly oil the tap and tap the
hole, being careful to start and keep the tap perpendicular to the
bottom of the spreader. With each turn you should turn the tap back
a quarter of a turn. This helps to avoid breaking the tap off in the
hole because it clears the chips from the tap. When the hole is tapped,
spread some Ultra Tef-Gel or anti-seize on the screw, and screw one
end of the eye strap into place just barely tight. Use the other end
hole as a guide. Center punch on this mark, drill, and tap it as before.
But before inserting the screw, slide the block onto the eye strap.
String one of the two support-segment lines thorough the block, one
end on each side of the lower spreader.

If you are mounting the support-segment cheek blocks to the mast, the
procedure is much the same, except you are going to measure up to the
position you determined earlier and mark in the middle of the side of
the mast. Using the cheek block for a pattern, drill and tap each hole.
Exercise caution while drilling in the mast; go slowly so as not to over-drill
and damage wire or lines in the mast. Thread the support-segment lines
through the blocks, keeping one end on each side of the spreaders below
you (if any).

Next, mount the cleats on
the mast. They should be about level with the end of the boom, on the
side of the mast. Make sure they are not
going to interfere with other control lines on the mast. If they do interfere,
moving the cleats up or down several inches might solve the problem.
If the area on the mast is too cluttered, you can mount them about a
foot or so aft on the boom, making sure you lead the support-segment
control lines aft of any spreaders to avoid chafe and noise. I’ve
found that moving the bottom of the cleat slightly toward the bow of
the boat makes cleating the support segments a lot easier than an absolutely
vertical cleat.

Various effects

Boom length, batten length, and the hand of the sail cloth all have an
effect on the perfect number and placement of the leg segments for
the lazy-jacks. I have had excellent performance with three-legged
systems with booms up to 16 feet. Many rigs have mainsails that are
shorter on the foot than the length of the boom. In these cases the
sail’s foot length is the critical measurement. The best way
to determine the number and placement of the legs is trial and error;
every rig is slightly different.

Here are some good starting points for placement, but they are only
starting points; 20 minutes of testing will make sure that the lazy-jacks
are dialed in perfectly for your boat. Measure 25 percent of the length
of the foot of the sail, back from the gooseneck on the boom. Mark this
position on the bottom of the boom. Repeat at 60 and 85 percent of the
length of the foot of the sail, and mark the bottom of the boom for these
points. These will be the starting position for the legs on a three-legged

Both the forward leg segment and the single line that makes up the middle
and aft segments should initially be 2.5 times the length of the boom.
The forward leg segment passes under the boom at the mark closest to
the mast and is hoisted by the eyes spliced in the support segments.
It, in turn, supports the after and center leg sections in a three-legged

The luff of the sail is held
to the mast by the sail slides, so when adjusting the forward leg segment
keep in mind that it should attach
to the boom at about the most forward point where the sail first starts
to fall off of the boom. About 25 percent of the sail’s foot length
aft of the mast is a good starting point. Too far forward, and the leg
provides no support for the center section of the sail; too far aft,
and the top of the sail tends to fall off the boom.

Through thimbles


Parts and price list

feet double yacht braid  $108.00
4 stainless steel thimbles    $6.76
3 eye straps for boom          $8.07
2 cleats for mast                 $2.78
2 eye straps for spreaders   $5.38
2 Harken swivel blocks        $24.18
1 pkg fasteners for eye straps
10 x 24 x 1.5 inch              $3.49
1 pkg fasteners for cleats
10 x 24 x 0.5 inch              $1.79
Anti-seize compound (on hand)
Light machine oil (on hand)
Total expenditure: $160.45

The aft and center leg sections in a three-legged system make a loop.
They are supported by the forward leg segments where they pass through
the thimbles spliced to the ends of the forward segment. The center
leg segment supports the large belly of the sail so that the sail does
not spill off the boom. Slight adjustments of the center segment fore
and aft can have large results.

The aft leg attachment point is generally the first place to start adjusting
the system. If the sail falls out the end of the lazy-jacks, you will
need to move it aft; if the center section needs more support, try moving
it forward to add some support to the center section.

When you are roughing in the system and testing it, attach the middle
of one of these lines to the aftmost mark on the bottom of the boom,
using a constrictor knot or some good tape wrapped a couple of times
around the boom. Lead the ends forward to the center mark on the boom.
Tie them together making a loop out of this line. Secure it to the boom
with a constrictor knot or tape. You can use a loose bowline in place
of all of the thimbles while testing.

On sails that have slides on the foot, it is often possible to use these
slides as mounts for the leg segments of the lazy-jacks. This does, however,
limit the options for placement, and does not function well in all cases.
It also means that you will have to remove the leg segments from the
boom to remove the sail.

Attached to boom

Now you have a roughed in lazy-jack system. The legs should be attached
to the boom well enough that you can hoist and drop the sail into them.
Hoist the sail on a calm day, drop it into the lazy-jacks, and adjust
until the sail stays stacked on top of the boom.

Should you have a boom over 16 feet long and the sail falls out of the
middle no matter what adjustments you make, you may need a four-legged
system. A simple addition to the system you already are working on makes
the transformation an easy one. Instead of the forward leg supporting
the center and aft leg loop, as it does in a three-legged system, it
is going to become a loop just like the one between the two aft segments.
Connecting the two loops are two pieces of line, each about half the
length of the boom, one on each side, that are supported by the support
segment. Good starting positions for the boom attachment points on a
four-legged system are at about 24 percent, 45 percent, 55 percent, and
84 percent of the boom length, measured aft from the gooseneck.

Once you have tested to make sure you have the legs roughly where you
want them, test to see if the system stows cleanly away. To put the system
in the stowed position, ease the support segments and place the aft side
of the segments under the cleats on the mast, then tension the support
segment halyard. At this point you may have to shorten the forward or
aft leg segments to remove any excess line that drapes below the boom.
Do this by simply retying your bowline on one side of the aft or forward
section. The leg sections should lie parallel to the boom when stowed.
Naturally, this may change the way the segments support the sail, so
hoist the sail again and drop it into the lazy-jacks, making sure that
everything still looks correct before splicing the thimbles in the ends
and attaching the eye straps. This is the trial-and-error part.

Anti-seize compound

Mount the eye straps that hold the leg segments, with the holes fore
and aft, using machine screws drilled and tapped into the bottom of
the boom. Remember to put the lines through them before attaching the
second screw. Some riggers use pop rivets for these attachments, however
I have not found them to hold up as well as properly tapped screws
coated with anti-seize compound.

Tie a small knot on each side of the center of the leg segments under
the boom to prevent having to readjust the system periodically. Alternately,
a couple of stitches through the line and around each of the eye straps
looks neater and serves the same function.

Splice thimbles into all of the segments where there are bowlines. Make
sure that you place the line going through the thimble in the thimble
to be spliced before making each of the splices.

Using the system is straightforward: simply ease the support segment
halyards on the mast, remove the leg segments from the cleat bottoms,
and tension the support segment halyards. The lazy-jacks are ready for

Deploying the lazy-jacks allows you to drop the mainsail any time the
wind is on or forward of the beam. I have used them when picking up a
mooring and when sliding into a slip under sail. Simply let the mainsheet
out and drop the sail. Pull the mainsheet back in when the sail falls
into the lazy-jacks and you have quickly de-powered without having to
head into the wind.

If your sail should hang on the track and refuse to allow the sail to
drop easily, check for bent sail slides, and lubricate the track and
slides with a dry Teflon lubricant.

Guy and his wife,
Melissa, are working on a circumnavigation aboard Pneuma, their good
old 1973
Ericson 39. Currently they’re in the

Readers’ comments

What about sail containment systems: lazy-jacks and furlers?

preparation for this issue we asked our readers what their thoughts
and experiences were with sail hoisting, dousing, and reefing systems.
These are some of the remarks we received.

  • Don Launer, of Forked River, N. J., has lazy-jacks on
    the jib, foresail, and mainsail of his Ted Brewer-designed Lazy
    Schooner (what else, right?). All three lazy-jack systems are
    simple two-legged arrangements that do not stow. Don reports
    that all
    work well, but he needs to go head-to-wind to hoist the Marconi
  • Ron Bohannon,
    of Big Bear City, Calif., says his previous boat, a Phil
    Rhodes Chesapeake 32, had a roller-furling
    main. (This
    is the older rolling-boom type of reefing where the sail stows
    around the boom, rather than inside of it.) He says this system
    works fine as long as a main is cut properly and the topping
    lift is adjusted correctly. He adds, “It sure is simpler
    than any other system.”
  • Fred Bauer,
    of Marblehead, Mass., says, “I have a
    classic boat with old-fashioned lazy-jacks, but don’t miss
    the Hood Stow-away system.” He points out that Dodge Morgan
    had the Hood system on American Promise when he sailed around the
    world in her. Fred says, “It’s by far the easiest
    and most precise way to trim sails to the power of the wind I’ve
    ever used.”
  • Patrick
    Matthiesen, of London, England, sent a detailed opinion of
    the Hood Stoboom.
    He thinks it may work
    well with short
    booms but did not work well on the 22-foot-long boom of his Sparkman & Stevens
    CCA 47 yawl. He would not have another one.
  • Gary Heinrich,
    of Chippewa Falls, Wis., said that he has slab reefing on
    his S2 9.2 with “no furling system for the
    main, other than the arms of those available and, in a pinch, the
    deck and lifelines, followed by sail ties.” He has no
    plans to change his S2, but has chartered larger boats with
    lazy-jacks and sailcovers built into the sail. On these boats
    it was necessary
    to go head-to-wind to hoist the sail, and it took more than
    one person to do it.
  • Larry
    Helber, of Rochester, N.Y., said he had installed a Schaefer
    system on his Grampian 28. He
    liked the leather-covered
    blocks and the one-cleat design for storing the lines. He felt
    the hardware supplied was of good quality. He did say, however,
    that the system turned out to be a very poor design and cited
    problems with raising the sail and jamming of the jacks where
    they pass
    under the boom. A friend of his bought the cheapest set of lazy-jacks
    he could find in a catalog, and they worked better. “I would
    do it again (install lazy-jacks), but I would choose the cheaper
    version,” he says.
  • Bruce
    Goldman, of Southfield, Mich., reminds us that almost every
    aspect of
    is some kind of
    compromise. “We
    have an in-mast ProFurl system on our Beneteau Oceanis 300.
    The convenience, ease of sail handling, and ease of setting
    and striking
    the main and genoa more than compensate for the sad sail shape
    (and resulting poor performance). We had some initial trouble
    with the furling line, but a good wash and ample Sailcote solved
  • Jerry
    Powlas and Karen Larson, of Maple Grove, Minn., wondered “how
    complicated does all this have to be?” Our 20-foot Flying
    Scot had a longer boom than our C&C 30. With such a short boom,
    our high-aspect-ratio mainsail couldn’t get in much
    trouble when we dropped it. It was not control that we needed,
    it was
    order. We wanted the main to flake neatly over the boom. Obviously
    a neat
    flake has alternating panels to port and starboard. We made
    a very neat flake in calm conditions and then marked the luff
    the main
    with red and green permanent markers to show which side of
    the boom the sail should fall on at that point on the luff.
    We did
    the same for the roach.

    Now when we lower, the person at the halyard at the base of the
    mast guides the panels to port and starboard as they fall. The
    roach can be made neat at the same time by another person or later
    by the same person. Once the luff is laid down correctly, the roach
    can be made to follow with minimal effort. The main was soon so
    well-trained that it almost always falls correctly and unaided.
    We think the sail is too small to require extra gear to control
    it. We use the same red-green markings on our heavy 110-percent
    jib to help us get it flaked prior to bagging it. It works so well,
    we will probably mark all our jibs that way.

Outboard – Long Shaft Conversion

Long-shaft Conversion

By Cory Carpenter

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 4, July/August 2001.

A 27-year-old outboard starts a newer, deeper life

7-hp Eska outboard

I bought Brushfire, my 1975
San Juan 24, from the Sea Scouts. Before I agreed to the deal, the
Sea Scouts offered to throw in an outboard as a sweetener. The motor
they dug up for me was a 7-hp Eska of 1973 vintage, a two-cycle with
an integral three-quart fuel tank.

It ran well enough once I did some research and discovered that it
wanted a 24:1 fuel-to-oil ratio, but I found that even with my 180
pounds as far aft as possible and Brushfire’s scissors-style
motor mount at its lowest setting, the Eska’s cavitation plate
was barely below the surface. The whole prop came out of the water
with any kind of wave action and the motor would race madly with a “www-AH,
www-AH, www-AH,” like a hydroplane running through chop. My original intention was to use the Eska just long enough to get
Brushfire about 3-1/2 miles down the Columbia River from the Sea Scouts’ base.
Outboard engine out of the water
I figured I would return it to the Scouts and treat myself to a new
long-shaft Honda four-stroke. Then I started checking prices . . .
and concluded that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to have an
outboard from the same era as the boat! In the course of researching long-shaft outboards on the Web, I happened
upon Bay Manufacturing of Milan, Ohio, which makes shaft-length conversion
kits for Mariner, Mercury, OMC, and Yamaha outboard motors, but not
for 27-year-old Eskas. Looking at the pictures on their Web page
caused me to wonder what it would take to do my own long-shaft conversion.

The motor

My Eska is a model 1747-C. It uses a Power Products/ Tecumseh recoil-start,
two-cycle, air-cooled power head, much like a lawnmower engine’s
except that the exhaust port is on the bottom of the cylinder, rather
than the side. I’ve seen discussions on the Web that indicate
this motor was also sold under the Sears Gamefisher and Ted Williams
trademarks. It has a spring clutch to engage the driveshaft, providing
neutral and drive gears. (Mine was frozen with rust, and the motor
had to be started in drive. Soaking the clutch in kerosene for a week
or so helped free it up.) For reverse, you swing the motor all the
way around and, while hanging precariously over the transom, you try
to remember which direction to twist the throttle. In drive, a small
pump provides cooling water to the exhaust manifold/adapter plate that
mounts the engine to the lower unit of the motor. I obtained a service manual from Certified Parts Corporation, which
purchased the outboard and trolling motor divisions of Eska in 1988
and still provides most parts for these units. Some study of the
exploded diagrams in the manual showed that, given the proper tools,
it would
be fairly straightforward to construct a shaft extension. Regular shaft, long shaftConveniently,
the housing containing the propeller shaft, gears, and water pump
separates from the main section of the column just above the cavitation
cooling-water tube merely connects to the pump with a friction fit
into an O-ring, while the top end of the driveshaft fits into the
clutch on the engine’s output shaft in much the same way, torque
being transmitted by splines. Because of this simple design, all I
needed to do was add length to the cooling-water tube, fabricate a
new driveshaft, and build an extension fairing, a shell that would
conform to the cross-section of the column where it joined the gear
housing. I decided that an additional six inches would be about right. For the best corrosion resistance and electrolytic compatibility
with the rest of the motor, the new parts should have been fabricated
aluminum and stainless steel. Because I wasn’t willing to go
to the trouble and expense of obtaining the ideal materials, because
my MIG welder won’t handle aluminum wire reliably, and since
this project was experimental anyway, I used mild-steel stock that
was lying around my garage for the major components of the extension.

The long driveshaft

The piece to add to the shaft

To avoid doing unnecessary work in case the project proved infeasible,
I started with the driveshaft, the most critical piece of the extension
in terms of tolerances. The original driveshaft is a 7/16-inch
steel rod approximately 24 inches long, splined at each end and keyed
at the lower end to drive the water pump. (I note that the original
shaft will deflect the compass aboard Brushfire, so it may not be stainless
steel.) What I had on hand was 1/2-inch rod, but since the center
of the shaft runs free inside the column, the diameter is only critical
at each end. After cutting it to length, I turned the ends of the 1/2-inch
stock down to 7/16-inch. Then after fabricating a flycutter
and index latch for my lathe, I cut the splines in each end of the
shaft. Since I’d removed the pinion gear to disassemble the
old driveshaft from the gear housing, I had it available to test the
fit of my new splines. Once the splines were finished I matched the bottom end of the new
driveshaft with the original, marked the locations for the snaprings
that retain the pinion gear, and used the lathe to cut seats for
them. The keyway for the water pump impeller is just a flat spot on
the driveshaft.
It was simple to rough it out with a hacksaw and an angle grinder
and then to clean it up with a file.

Extending the column

Identifying the trailing edgeWelding

The HotCoat system

From top: identifying the trailing edge, welding, and the HotCoat system.

Reassured that this whole exercise might actually work, I tackled
the extension fairing for the column. What I had available was 14-gauge
sheet steel (approximately .075 inch thick). I quickly determined
the curve at the leading edge of the column fairs back into a straight
line, so I could match it with just five sections of material as
shown at right: two curved for each side of the leading edge, two straight
for the trailing edges, and one flat piece for the back edge. I first obtained the outline of the required section by clamping
a sheet of heavy paper between the column and gear housing and tracing
around the joint. This also punched holes in the paper, providing locations
for the fasteners that connect the gear housing to the column. I translated
the tracing of the fairing cross section inward by the thickness of
my sheet stock, then cut templates from 1/2-inch plywood. Laying
the template on a flat surface, as shown in the top photo on the opposite
page, showed me where the trailing edge would begin. I marked this
location, then wrapped a strip of paper around the curve to the tip
of the profile, marking it to establish the length of sheet metal that
I would need to bend in order to form each side of the leading edge.
Later on, I used the templates to align the pieces of the extension
fairing while welding. Creating the curved sections for the leading edge of the fairing
involved lots of hammering with the sheet metal supported against cylindrical
objects of various diameters, such as an empty propane-torch tank and
a length of 2-inch iron pipe. I checked my progress frequently against
the plywood templates. I found that it worked best to create a curve
that was tighter than what I needed, then flatten it out progressively
by hammering against the anvil surface of a machinist’s vise.
(It took a while to form acceptable curves, but I got there eventually.) Once I had all the pieces of the fairing worked to their proper lengths,
I ground a chamfer of about 45 degrees on the outside of each edge
to be joined. This was to ensure good weld penetration of the entire
thickness of the sheet metal. This was important because I wanted
to build up a bead that I could later grind down flush with the outside
surface of the extension fairing. Assembling the pieces around my plywood templates, I tack-welded
them together with a MIG welder, then removed the forms. I completed
welds a bit at a time, allowing them to cool between passes in order
to minimize distortion of the sheet metal. I built each seam up into
a nice, heavy bead as shown in photo.

Once the shell of the extension was welded together, I used an angle
grinder to clean up the top and bottom edges, checking often with
a framing square to make sure the surfaces were parallel with reference
to the back edge of the fairing. I ground the edges until the height
was uniform and slightly more than six inches, then did the final
with a large mill file across the entire top and bottom edges of
the shell to get the mating surfaces as straight and square as possible.
The holes that allow water to drain from the column after the motor
is hauled out were cut with a hacksaw and shaped with a file.

Finished result of the baking

Don’t try this at home, kids, without your mom’s permission: fairing after coating and the finished result of the baking (done in a home oven).

When I was satisfied with the fit of the shell against the gear housing
and the column, I fabricated alignment tabs from 1/8-inch by 1-inch
steel strap and welded them into the top and bottom of the fairing.
These provide lateral rigidity as well as ensuring that the extension
stays centered against the inside surfaces of the column and gear

I fabricated mounting flanges from 1/8-inch by 1-inch strap
to provide the connection points at the top and bottom of the fairing.
I first drilled the holes in them and then lined them up with the holes
in my templates and traced the outline that would become the edges
to be welded to the inside of the fairing shell. As the drawing above
shows, the flanges at the rear of the fairing are threaded for the
mounting bolts. Here I cheated: instead of spending a lot of time messing
around with taps to thread holes in the flanges themselves (in which
case they would have needed to be made of thicker material), I installed
a nut and bolt on each flange, with the nut on the inside face, then
I tack-welded the nuts to the flanges and removed the bolts. This provided
for a strong connection in a situation in which it’s impossible
to get a wrench on the nut. The bottom flange at the leading edge is constructed in much the
same way, but it uses a section of threaded rod to mirror the stud
on the
leading edge of the column. The upper flange merely has a plain hole
that the column stud passes through. It’s secured by a nut and
lockwasher from inside the extension fairing. (The original trailing-edge
mounting bolt was frozen; I was forced to drill it out. I elected to
install its replacement from the outside of the column, otherwise both
top flanges would have had plain holes.) Once the construction was complete, I ground the welds down flush
with the surface of the fairing, then polished the whole outside surface
with a 3M Scotch-Brite surface conditioning disc installed on an angle
grinder. This is the best way I’ve found so far to remove rust
and mill scale from steel components. It also left a very smooth, shiny
surface, which was important for the next step. Had I been thinking
ahead, I would have polished the inside surfaces of the fairing before
welding it together. Since I hadn’t polished the inside, I did
as much cleanup as I could afterward with wire brushes and a sand blaster.
Live and learn.

Powder coating

Joining the cooling water tubeReassembling the gear housing and driveshaft

Finished project

From top: joining the cooling water tube, reassembling the gear housing and driveshaft, and the finished project.

Because my materials were very susceptible to rust, it was important
to protect them. Epoxy-based or even enamel spray paint would probably
have been adequate, although getting good coverage on the inside
of the fairing would have been tricky. Luckily, I had a better alternative
available. Powder coating is a process that leaves metal parts with a smooth
protective layer that is harder and more durable than most paints,
covers irregular
surfaces more readily and uniformly, and is non-toxic to boot. The
process involves applying an electrostatic charge to a finely powdered
plastic that is then sprayed at low pressure over a grounded metal
part. The powder sticks to the metal surfaces just like dust to a
TV screen. Once it’s been coated, the part is baked in an electric oven
until the plastic melts, flows, and cures to a durable covering that
is resistant to abrasion and to most solvents. (The only thing I’ve
found to date that will attack powder coating is methylene chloride,
found in products such as spray-on gasket remover. Acetone dulls the
surface slightly; gasoline and oil run right off.) This was an industrial
process that required expensive equipment until a couple of years ago
when The Eastwood Company started selling a hobbyist’s powder-coating
package. Their basic HotCoat system sells for about $150. The nicest part of using the powder-coating process for this project
was that the charged powder was attracted to and covered every surface
of the fairing, inside and out, even the irregular surfaces of exposed
welds. To avoid fouling the threads, I installed bolts in the threaded
holes and masked off the trailing-edge stud with high-temperature fiberglass
tape (also from Eastwood) before coating everything with the shade
of powder I had on hand that came closest to matching the Eska’s
paint. Photos on Page 12 show the fairing after coating and the finished
powder-coated fairing after it was baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees
F. I also powdercoated my new driveshaft after taping off the splines
and the surfaces that would bear on the bushings and seals. (Any
color would have done for the driveshaft; I happened to have black
in the
HotCoat gun at the time.) The final piece of the project was the extension for the cooling-water
tube. In this case I actually had to break down and go to the hardware
store to buy aluminum tubing that matched the 3/8-inch outside
diameter of the water tube, as well as vinyl hose with a 3/8-inch
inside diameter to join the extension to the original tube. (Since
I was there anyway, I also purchased stainless-steel cap screws, nuts,
and lockwashers.) I cut the ends of the new 6-inch extension to the
same angle as the end of the original water tube so they would fit
together flush, then smeared the outsides of the two aluminum pieces
with RTV silicone and joined them with a length of vinyl tubing as
shown in photo. (Epoxy might have been a better choice for this, but
so far the RTV seems to be working fine.)

Assembly is the reverse of removal

To reassemble the motor, I first coated all the bare metal surfaces
on the bottom end of the new driveshaft with a generous layer of
waterproof grease (meant for the wheel bearings of boat trailers) to
protect them
from rust, then reassembled the gear housing and driveshaft as shown
in photo.

With the motor supported upside down on an empty 5-gallon bucket,
I applied RTV silicone along the entire upper surface of the extension
fairing, then fitted the extension in place and bolted it on. The
part of this operation was getting the nut started on the threads
of the stud inside the leading edge of the fairing. I found that a
parts-retriever, a tool like a walkie-talkie antenna with a magnet
at the tip, was invaluable for this. Once the nut was finally engaged
with the threads of the stud, I tightened it with a socket on the
end of a long extension. With the motor still upside down, I coated the bottom of the extension
fairing with RTV, applied grease to the exposed metal at the top of
the driveshaft, and carefully lowered the gear housing assembly onto
the column until the driveshaft splines meshed with those in the clutch.
Working through the exhaust port and the small gap that remained between
the gear housing and the extension fairing, I used a long screwdriver
to jockey the end of the water tube into location in the water pump.
Once the driveshaft and water tube were started, I simply pushed the
gear housing down until it was seated on the extension fairing and
bolted it loosely into place. Before tightening the fasteners down
for good, I put the clutch selector in the “drive” position
and gave several pulls on the starting cord to make sure the driveshaft
wasn’t binding and in the hope that it would tend to align itself
by shifting the gear housing around slightly. The assembled result
is shown on the opposite page in bottom photo. After the RTV had cured, I refilled the gear housing with SAE 90
lubricant as specified in the Eska service manual and, using the time-honored
outboard-motor test stand, a sawhorse and a 55-gallon trash can full
of water, fired up my motor. With the gear selector in “neutral” I
was gratified to see that the clutch was now working properly. The
propeller remained motionless while exhaust racketed from the relief
port at the top of the column, sounding like a leafblower on steroids.
Once the motor warmed up and the idle settled down, I cautiously moved
the selector to “drive,” and . . . it worked!


I’ve been very pleased with this conversion’s performance
aboard Brushfire. With the motor mount in its lowest position, the
entire extension is underwater, giving the propeller plenty of bite,
and I can move forward in the boat without it becoming a menace to
low-flying birds. The tip of the gear housing’s fin is just
barely in the water with the motor mount in the topmost position. With
the motor rocked forward in its tilt bracket, everything is high and
dry. One odd side effect of the extension is that with the motor idling
and the gear selector in “neutral,” the exhaust resonates
inside the comparatively thin-walled extension fairing with a funny “bloop-bloop-bloop-bloop” note
that puts me in mind of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

If you don’t have a well-equipped metalworking facility in your
garage, you should be able to find a machine shop willing to fabricate
all or part of a similar shaft extension “kit.” Some
research in my area turned up two shops that were capable of the job,
one specializing in high-volume CNC production and not interested in
one-off jobs; the other a gear-making business that estimated $225
just to make the driveshaft. Though I haven’t had to take work
to a machine shop for nearly two decades, I find it hard to believe
that there’s nothing left but specialists.

Fabricating the driveshaft obviously requires some moderately specialized
equipment, but the operations involved are straightforward and shouldn’t
be too costly in terms of labor. (It took me about six hours all told,
but 80 percent of that was in building a flycutter.) If you don’t
have a welding outfit, any decent machine shop should be able to construct
the extension fairing as well. If you don’t know of a shop already,
talking to a few old-timers around your marina should turn up someone
who can do the job. Anyone who can cope with simple hand tools can
handle the fabrication of the cooling-water tube extension and the
final assembly. I’ve noticed that even a reconditioned long-shaft outboard starts
at $900; new ones are going for $1,500 or more. If you have an older
motor available, this project could be cost-effective even if you have
to farm out the actual fabrication work. (Not too long ago, I noticed
a 7-hp Eska identical to mine offered for $350 at my local marine exchange.
Now if I were to buy that and modify it I might be able to clear about
$500. Hmmm . . . )

Potential problems


While I hadn’t noticed any signs of rust on
the exterior of the extension assembly, it still concerned
me that the whole thing is potentially susceptible to corrosion.
I’m relieved to report that, after four months and
about four-and-a-half hours of accumulated running time (including
two extended motor-only runs of an hour each), there was
no sign of a problem when I disassembled the extension to
take photos for this article. Brushfire sails in fresh water.
I would definitely go to the expense of using inherently
corrosion-resistant materials for saltwater operation, or
if the motor were semi-permanently installed in an outboard


The through-the-prop exhaust system depends on a
good seal between the mating surfaces of the column, the
extension fairing, and the gear housing. The walls of the
column casting are about 1/8-inch thick, and the sealing
surface of the gear housing is a nice milled area that varies
from 1/4-inch to about 1/2-inch wide. The walls of the extension
fairing are roughly 1/16-inch thick, providing only minimal
sealing area. Almost immediately after I put the converted
motor into service I noticed bubbles of exhaust gases forcing
their way between these junctions. The RTV silicone obviously
wasn’t enough. I later made gaskets from 1/32-inch
automotive-gasket material and bedded them in hardening-type
gasket sealer. These worked for a while, but they eventually
started leaking also.

I’ve since welded lengths of 1/8-inch steel rod along
the inside of the extension fairing at the top and bottom,
making a generous bead that I ground down flat to provide
a wider sealing surface. I also filed the powder coat off
the mating surfaces. I suspect that the coating is so slick
that the sealants I’ve tried have not been able to
adhere to it very well. I have yet to put enough run-time
on the motor to tell whether this change will be effective.

Drain holes:

When I originally designed and built the extension,
I neglected to do anything about the original drain slots
at the bottom of the column’s leading edge. These
slots are right at the waterline, and when I first tried
the converted motor aboard Brushfire I noticed quite a bit
of exhaust escaping from them. My remedy wasn’t pretty,
but it does work: I threaded stainless-steel sheet metal
screws into two scraps of wood about 1/8-inch thick and,
with the extension fairing removed, filled the drain slots
with thickened epoxy, using the wood on the inside of the
column as backing. I tightened the screws down to hold the
wooden backing blocks in place while the epoxy cured, then
filed everything down flush with the mating surface of the
column. With the extension reassembled, the epoxy seals the
original drain holes. (The screw heads are visible in the
bottom photo on the opposite page, just above the top of
the extension fairing at the leading edge of the column.)

Shaft alignment and vibration:

I have no way to evaluate
this, since there’s so much incidental vibration when
the motor’s running. I’m reasonably confident
that the drive shaft itself is true, since I could check
that while I was machining it; I don’t know how accurately
it is aligned between the motor and gear housing but there’s
not a lot that I can think of to correct such a problem.
(I try to ignore the possibility, apart from making sure
I have fresh batteries in my hand-held VHF transceiver in
case the gear housing should fall off in mid-river and I
need to call for a tow.)


Bay Manufacturing
P.O. Box 1250
Milan, OH 44846

Parts Corporation

1111 W. Racine Street
P.O. Box 8468
Janesville, WI 53547-8468
orders 800-356-0777

Eastwood Company

263 Shoemaker Road
Pottstown, PA 19464

Sea Scouts Ship 601

Cory’s uncle taught him to sail when he was in high school. After 20 years, he’s
relearning those skills with the help of
Brushfire, his 1975 San
Juan 24. Most of his sailing is done as a singlehander on the Columbia
River in Portland, Ore., but the right 30-something crewwoman could
change all that.

Boat Identifiers S to Z

These pages are for the little painted bits on the bow, stern and sides of a boat, that might assist in identifying a Make or Model. Another identifier is the insignia on the sails, which we have listed on our Owners Associations pages. And Bill Lamica spent years putting together an incredible Sail Insignia Guide (PDF). It’s easy to print for handy reference aboard as another sailboat floats by.

S – Z

S2 (first version)

The S2 company was good about putting its S2 logo where you could find it. The series of fine black lines is a good clue also.

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S2 (second version)

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S2 (third version)

S2 cabin S2 cabin

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Sabre (Old style logo)

Thanks to Eric Miller for his clarification: “After the financial rescue of the company by Ed Miller, they redesigned the Sabre ‘S’ on the aft end of the cove stripe.”

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Sabre (New style logo)

Sabre bow Sabre stern

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Seafarer Meridian?

Charlie Jones writes: “This is a picture of the cove stripe on my 1961 Seafarer Meridian 25. It doesn’t look a thing like the one posted on your website.” So now, we wonder, who can resolve this mystery for us? Did Seafarer make several cove stripes, perhaps a special one for the Meridian? They wouldn’t be the first boat manufacturer to do that or to change the company cove stripe over the years. If you have answers, please contact karen@goodoldboat.com and we’ll try to set the record straight.

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Shannon stern

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Sparkman and Stephens

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Spencer stripe, bow Spencer stripe, Aft

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Tanzer 7.5

Tanzer remembered to put a logo where the dockwalkers could see it. Most have faded now, no doubt, but you can still make this one out in the mid section.

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Tanzer 22

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Tartan 37

Tartans are well-marked also. In addition, note the distinctive coaming around the dodger.

Tartan 37

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Tartan 34

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Tartan Ten

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Tradewinds (Monk Tradewinds)

Skookum yard in Port Townsend WA built a mold from Ed Monk’s plans and was in turn sold as a “Tradewinds.”

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Unison 45 amidships

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Valiant sail cover

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This is a 1975 Viking 33 designed by C&C (hence the C&C logo cove stripe) built by Ontario yachts. The cove stripe has a gap amidships. — James Dallimore.

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Yankee Dolphin

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Yankee Yachts

Boat Identifiers J to R

These pages are for the little painted bits on the bow, stern and sides of a boat, that might assist in identifying a Make or Model. Another identifier is the insignia on the sails, which we have listed on our Owners Associations pages. And Bill Lamica spent years putting together an incredible Sail Insignia Guide (PDF). It’s easy to print for handy reference aboard as another sailboat floats by.

J – R


At least some of the J/Boats have a distinctive retracting bowsprit.

JBoat cabin

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Jeanneau Sun Odyssey

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Kenner Privateer

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Kirie Elite

Kirie Elite amidships

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In the olden days, many of the whaling ships were schooners. In recalling this past, the Lj-32 cove-stripe is terminated with the toggle at the end of a harpoon on the forward end of the cove-stripe, and the point of a lance on the aft end of the cove-stripe.

Lazy Jack bow Lazy Jack stern

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The MacGregor 26x is identifiable as a critter unlike other sailboats, since it has addopted some powering skills with a modified hull and a large engine mounted on the stern. Besides they put a name on the stern where we can see it. MacGregor made other sailboats long ago. We’ll see if we can’t find a cove stripe or two on a MacGregor Venture as this page evolves.

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Many Moons

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Built by Ta Shing of Taiwan. (Thanks to David Cranke for recognizing it.)

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Mirage 25

The covestripe is from a Mirage 25. The same stripe was also used on the Mirage 26/27 models. Cheers – Matt Koch

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Mirage 35

The Mirage folks made it easy on dockwalkers also. They put a label where you can see it.

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Mirage 275

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Moody (version 1)

And you can’t miss recognizing a Moody!

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Moody (version 2)

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Najad cabin

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Nicholson 35

You don’t see too many Camper Nicholsons around. But the later ones are easy to recognize with an embossed name set in the cove at the stern. Unfortunately, the earlier boats did not include the embossed name. The cove stripe ran all the way through that blank area shown here at the stern. (We know this embossed name is hard to see in this photo, but it does say Nicholson all the same.)

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Forget the cove stripe! The distinctive feature in the Nonsuch is the unstayed mast in the bow and the wishbone rig.

Nonesuch cabin

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The O’Day company was very busy making good old boats once upon a time. It remains to be seen whether those boats shared a look-alike cove stripe. Here’s one. Nice of them to label the boat and size for us also. This company was good with logos!

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Paceship Acadia Yawl

Admittedly this one’s a bit rare also. But she’s a beaut!

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Paceship 23/26

“This was the stripe used by Paceship Yachts, and later by AMF on the Paceship 23 (PY 23) and the Paceship 26 (PY26) Check out some pictures at http://www.paceship.org/PY26/py26-photos.htm.” — Matt Koch

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Pacific Seacraft

Pacific Seacraft amidships Pacific Seacraft cabin

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Pacific Seacraft Dana

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Pacific Seacraft Flicka

First built by Nor’Star, then (1977/78 & later) by Pacific Seacraft. Aft hull scroll (right) different design than forward scroll (left). —Sandy Wills

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Pearson (first version)

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Pearson (second version)

This Pearson also had a nameplate in the cockpit.

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Pearson (third version)

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August Hahn writes: “These are Gary Mull-designed Rangers (as opposed to the Kent Rangers, a different boat entirely.”

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Sail identifier and bow cove from Robert Feldmann, owner/moderator of “The Rawson Owners’ Network.”

Sail identifier and very distinctive bow cove …

Rawson bow Rawson stern
Rawson cabin

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Rob Roy

Another good old Ted Brewer design.

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My boat, an RK-20 which is 30 years old, was made by RKA Industries, in Strasburg VA has the same hull as a Balboa 20 and Ensenada 20.� All with the Hess design.� The decks, hardware and interiors differ somewhat. — Dean P. Gagnon

RK 20, stern markings

Boat Identifiers A to I

These pages are for the little painted bits on the bow, stern and sides of a boat, that might assist in identifying a Make or Model. Another identifier is the insignia on the sails, which we have listed on our Owners Associations pages. And Bill Lamica spent years putting together an incredible Sail Insignia Guide (PDF). It’s easy to print for handy reference aboard as another sailboat floats by.

A – I


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Albin Stratus

The Albin company made several popular good old boats such as the Albin Alpha, the Albin Ballad, the Albin Cumulus, and the Albin Vega. If you have one of these boats, please send photos.

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Allied Chance 30-30

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Allied SeaBreeze

“I just had to submit the Allied Seabreeze cove stripe. The fwd end is not all that unique, but the aft “swallow tail” is quite distinctive.” – Art Hall.

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Nappy Napolitano writes: “I remember the Allmand logo. It was one of the first small aft-cockpit aft-cabin sailboats.”

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The Baba has a distinctive scrolled bulwark and cove stripe.

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The taffrail at the stern and the clipper bow with a trailboard design sets the Bayfield apart.

Bayfield bow
Bayfield stern

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Beneteau First (version 1)

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Beneteau First (version 2)

Beneteau First cabin

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Beneteau Oceanis

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Brewer 12.8

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Bristol 38.8, version 2

“I was checking your website pictures of covestripes and noticed that the bow arrow is different than that for our Bristol 38.8. It may be that the difference is due to the 38.8 being the second generation.” –Dave Belchamber

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Bristol Channel Cutter

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Buccaneer cabin

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We thank Cuthbertson and Cassian, the C&C guys for making this star symbol easy to recognize and consistent from model to model.

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Cape Dory

We apprecite little hints like CD right in the cove stripe also. We can take a hint!

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Catalina (first version)

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Catalina (third version)

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Cheoy Lee

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A little cherub, a “cherubini,” on a Cherubini 48. It is also on the trail board for the Cherubini 44. -Ben Stavis, Webmaster, Cherubini Yachts


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The Columbias usually had their logo somewhere on their boats. A big help for dockwalkers.

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Columbia 9.6

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Com-Pac sail cover

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The Contessa has a distinctive cabin house and curved shape to its hatchway opening. Please send photos if you own a Contessa or have one in your marina.

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Cornish Crabber

The unique lapstrake pattern helps identify the Cornish Crabber.

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This is our new to us 1990 CS 34. The orange is newer, she had teal when shipped from the factory, but the gold was a factory color. We plan on removing all the stripes and redoing them in a grey blue colour this spring. Many CS 30s, 34s, and the 36-foot Merlins had stripping like this boat. — Bart Toby

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Delphia cabin

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D Wogaman sends: One photo of the bow cove stripe dashes and one photo of the stern cove stripe dash. Our boat, a 1974 Dickerson ketch, was the last woody built by Dickerson Boatbuilders in Trappe Maryland.

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This is another boat with a distinctive clipper bow and trailboard.

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DS sail cover

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Dufour helps dockwalkers with the addition of a nice-looking logo.

Dufour cabin

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Attached are snapshots of my ’77 E27 cove stripe including the logo on the stern portion. —Jerry Van Baren

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Ericson (Version 2)

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Express 35

A Steve Killing design.

Express cabin

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The Fishers have a very recognizable and distinctive design.

Fisher cabin

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The distinctive feature on the Freedoms is the free-standing mast.

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Grampion bow
Geampion cabin

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Graves Constellation

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Hallberg-Rassy cabin Hallberg-Rassy sail cover

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Heavenly Twin

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“The Hinckley cove is interesting in that it is not just a graphic design. It depicts the Talaria, which, if you remember your classical mythology (and I’m sure you do!), are the small wings depicted on the ankles of gods. Hermes is usually shown with them. Henry Hinckley chose this image back in the 30’s (I think) to connote swiftness, agility, and stamina.” — Morris Hancock.

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Hunter (first version)

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Hunter (second version)

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Hunter (third version)

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Hunter Legend

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Intrepid 9 meter

Intrepid amidships

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Irwin (version 2)

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Irwin (version 3)

Irwin amidships

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Bless their souls. The folks at Islander made it easy on us. Look for the lacy arrowhead at the bow and the sailboat logo at the stern. They even tell us what size Islander we’re looking at. Another blessing is in order.

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Islander Freeport

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Island Packet

You can often recognize the Island Packets by the creamy white they use for their boat paint. But not always. The little logo at the mid-section of this one was a good clue, though.

Island Packet sail cover

Neal Doten added a photo of the step plate at the boarding gates of most Island Packets. They’re located on both sides. Neal says, “This is one more way to confirm the boat’s lineage if other means aren’t obvious.”

Island Packet Step Plate

Keel design


Keel design: What’s best?

By Ted Brewer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 4, July/August 2000.

Ted Brewer reviews the ins and outs and ups and downs of keel design

The purpose of a keel,
fin, or centerboard is to provide resistance to making leeway; in effect,
to keep the yacht from sliding sideways through the water due to wind
pressure on the sails. Various shapes of underwater plane have been in
and out of style over the past 150 years.

Fisher full keel
Fisher series Stylized shark fin

The Fisher series, above, shows the full keel typical of Scottish fishing boats. The highly stylized shark fin, at bottom, has extreme rake and a sloping tip chord.

The basic full-keel
shape had the longest run, as it was the standard for bluewater sailing
craft from pre-Roman times to the earliest days of yachting. The deep,
full keel was supplemented in the mid-1800s, for the shoalwater areas
of Britain and North America, by centerboard craft. These cover such
working types as the sharpies, Cape Cod catboats, and Chesapeake Bay
oyster skiffs, to mention a few.

The first truly
modern keel yacht, with a cutaway forefoot and highly raked rudder post,
was designed by Capt. Nathanael Herreshoff with his Gloriana design
of 1891. But it did not catch on for bluewater sailing. Until the late
1920s, the typical offshore yacht, whether cruiser or ocean racer, resembled
a sailing fishing craft in the shape of its lateral plane: a long, full
keel with deep forefoot and fairly vertical sternpost. Such a shape has
the benefits of good directional stability, ease of steering, and the
ability to heave to in heavy weather, all desirable traits for a boat.
However, its faults may include slowness in stays, excess wetted surface
Ñ making it slower in all types of air Ñ and an inefficient lateral
plane shape that has excess leeway, considering its relatively large
area. Typical small yachts of this type are seen today in the Colin
Archer types and the Tahiti ketch and its copies, while replicas of
traditional sailing craft such as Bristol Channel Cutters, Friendship
sloops, fishing and pilot schooners, and similar lovely vessels still
appear in our waters. Fortunately, many of these workboat types have
been developed to the point where the ills of the true full keel have
been greatly reduced. Then the result is a handsome cruiser that sails
quite well and attracts a great deal of attention wherever she drops
her hook.

Successful keel

Full keels
Fin Keel variations

cutaway keel was revived for ocean racing by Olin Stephens in the late
1920s, with his lovely yawl, Dorade, still sailing and winning classic
yacht races more than 70 years after her launching. Her offshore racing
successes finally proved that the full keel was not essential to seaworthiness,
and it definitely detracted from speed and weatherliness. As a result
of its improved performance and handiness, the “modified full keel”
form caught on quickly once Dorade showed the way and became the standard
for the next 35 years. This type of lateral plane is still sailing in
many popular older designs such as the Albergs, the Folkboat, the Luders
33, the Whitby 42, and even some newer yachts.

The modified full-keel
form features generally good handling and directional stability plus
reduced wetted surface, compared to her true full-keel sister. The yachts
can perform well in all conditions and, as they are generally of heavier
displacement than contemporary ballasted-fin boats, they do not give
away much in light air, despite the added wetted area. A yacht with
a modified full keel can sail right up with the best of them if she
is given sail area commensurate with her typically heavier displacement.

In my own work,
I developed a modified full keel, with the rudder set aft and vertically
in the contemporary fashion, in order to improve directional stability
and handiness. Then, to reduce wetted area, the lateral plane is substantially
cut away ahead of the rudder in what some have termed “the Brewer bite.”
The Cabot 36 and Quickstep 24 of my design were early examples of this
form. The size of the cutout depends to a large degree on how insistent
my client is on having a “full keel,” and I try to make the cutout as
large as I can decently get away with. I don’t claim to have originated
the shape, though, as the late L. Francis Herreshoff used a not dissimilar
profile many years earlier in the design of the lovely 57-foot ketch,

Taken to extremes

Like all good things,
the modified full keel was cut away more and more for bluewater and
inshore racers in an attempt to reduce wetted area until, finally, some
designers took it to extremes. This reduced directional stability and
produced craft that were almost impossible to steer in breezy conditions,
broaching with monotonous regularity. I can recall working on the design
of many short-keel 5.5-Meter yachts in the 1960s, and we always said
they were three-man boats with six-man spinnakers! It’s hard to believe
none of them were knocked down and sunk, as they were extremely difficult
to control on a reach or run, and the hulls were pure leadmines, with
3,500 pounds of ballast in their very short keel and only 1,000 pounds
of wood and rig above it!

Olin Stephen’s genius
began another fad in the mid 1950s, the keel-centerboard design. After
Finisterre showed the way, keel-centerboard yawls were built in sizes
from 24-foot midget ocean racers, to the largest offshore yachts, in
order to take advantage of favorable ratings under the CCA rule and
emulate Finisterre’s record of wins. The keel-centerboard hull has gone
out of fashion now, but the type still has merit where a stable, beamy,
shoal-draft yacht is desired with little sacrifice of weatherliness
or seaworthiness. Indeed, the Bill Tripp-designed Block Island 40 and
Bermuda 40 are keel-centerboard ocean racers from the old school and
have been in production for more than 30 years now. These classic yachts
have made many long ocean voyages, including several world circumnavigations
and are first-class bluewater cruisers in every respect.

Here to stay

Squared-off fin
Less extreme fin
Contemporary bulb fin with winglets

At top, a rather squared-off fin, not unlike the Cal 40 keel. In
center, a less extreme fin than the one pictured on Page 13, with
a more parallel tip. At bottom, a contemporary bulb fin with winglets.

The fin shape is
not new either, as ballasted fin yachts were pioneered by Herreshoff
at the turn of the century for inshore racing. Then, due to excesses
and bad design, the shape died out, except for a few one-design classes,
until Bill Lapworth dropped a bomb on the ocean-racing scene in the
mid-1960s with his Cal 40 design. The Cal 40s made believers out of
many yachtsmen who could not believe that a ballasted-fin/spade-rudder
yacht was a serious bluewater ocean racer. After wins in the Trans-Pac,
many East Coast races, and the 1966 Bermuda Race, it became evident
that the fin was here to stay for ocean-going and coastal cruising yachts.
Please note that I do not use the term “fin keel” anymore, as I feel
it is a misnomer. The keel is the structural backbone of the vessel,
and the fin hangs from it. Fish have both backbones and fins; so do

A well-designed
fin, in conjunction with a skeg-hung rudder, can provide excellent directional
stability, handiness, reduced wetted area and improved weatherliness.
The fin/spade rudder combination reduces wetted surface even more. It
may have a little (or a lot) more sensitive helm than a fin/skeg rudder
yacht, but it has one big advantage over it and all other forms of lateral
plane: it can be steered in reverse under power. This can make life
a great deal easier in today’s crowded marinas, as many have discovered.

These are some of
the reasons that we see fins on the great majority of our new yachts
today; they are not simply a fad. There are good fins and bad fins,
of course, and it is not always easy to tell them apart. The shape of
fins over the years has been limited only by the designer’s imagination.
Fins have been set at every angle from the vertical to highly raked
aft. They have been deep and narrow, shoal and long, resembling a shark’s
fin or whale’s tail, or boxy fins similar to the original Cal 40 design.

Major problem

A very deep, narrow
fin can be a problem to haul on a marine railway, so the cruising skipper
should consider haulout ease when boat shopping. A crane or travel lift
is the best method for hauling yachts with extreme fins, but may not
always be available in out-of-the-way areas. There is also the danger
of damage to the shaft or strut if slings are improperly positioned.
Still, the major problem of the high-aspect-ratio fin is structural
strength, as it can impose extreme loads at the point of attachment
to the keel. Indeed, some years ago I was an “expert witness” in a court
case concerning three men who drowned when their yacht sank as a result
of its fin tearing off when the vessel ran aground.

The cruising skipper
would do well to avoid yachts with extreme fins, both for considerations
of haulout ease and structural strength. Fortunately, the heavier, deeper
hull and generally shoaler draft of the typical cruising yacht mean
there is less height available between the bottom of the hull and the
point of maximum draft. So, a longer, lower-aspect-ratio fin is the
only solution. On the other hand, the racing sailor will want a fin
with an aspect ratio as high as the draft rule will allow. Such a fin
is more efficient per square foot, so the area can be smaller and the
wetted surface reduced. In Aero-Hydrodynamics of Sailing, C.A. Marchaj
recommends about 4 percent of the sail area as a good guide for fin
area, and I feel the cruiser should err on the high side, as a small
increase in resistance is preferable to increased leeway. On the other
hand, I have used as low as 1.75 percent area with good results on an
extreme racer with a fin of 2.75 aspect ratio.

Aspect ratios

Fin Tip types
Fin nomenclature
Typical NACA Section

“aspect ratio” is the ratio of the span (depth) squared to the fin area;
that is, my extreme fin had an 11-foot span and 44 square feet of area,
so its aspect ratio was 121/44, or 2.75. If it had a 4-foot span with
44 square feet of area, not uncommon proportions for a cruising yacht,
its aspect ratio would be 16/44, or a low 0.3636.

The aspect ratio
can also be described as the span divided by the mean chord, the average
fore-and-aft length of the fin, and this gives the same result.

A large part of
the resistance of a keel is created by the vortices, similar to miniature
whirlpools that form when the water flows across the bottom of the keel
from the high-pressure (leeward) side to the low-pressure (windward)
side. It requires energy to form those vortices and that energy is then
not available to propel the boat forward. Obviously, the shorter the
keel or fin tip, the smaller and weaker those vortices will be, and
that translates to reduced resistance. This is one reason that racing
yachts usually feature high-aspect-ratio fins with short tip chords.

However, the formation
of vortices can be greatly reduced by using end plates, or wings, to
change the flow direction and eliminate crossflow. My own preference,
for a fin of average span, is for an end plate that is but a few inches
wider than the maximum width of the fin bottom. We tested an actual
yacht with such an end plate on one side only and noted a substantial
improvement in performance when she was heeled so that the end plate
was on the leeward side. Where the draft is shoal and the fin span is
on the small side, then a wider end plate, or even a wing, might prove
beneficial. However, a wide wing can be a structural weakness, particularly
if the boat goes hard aground and has to be towed off, or pounds on
the rocks for any length of time.

Sweepback angles

In the 1970s, I
saw more than one very-high-aspect-ratio fin with tremendous sweepback
angle. This certainly gives an impression of speed but, as Marchaj pointed
out, tank tests have shown that the sweepback angle can be related to
the aspect ratio: the higher the aspect ratio, the more vertical the
fin should be. Indeed, the very-high-aspect-ratio fin on my BOC racer
was set absolutely plumb until a hard grounding set the tip back a quarter
inch or so, the result of taking a yacht with a 13-foot draft through
a channel dredged to 11 feet! Most cruising-yacht fins are of low aspect
ratio, of course, so should have substantial sweepback, up to 57 degrees,
with an aspect ratio of 0.5, according to Marchaj. Although most designers
try, it is unfortunate that obtaining the perfect sweepback angle is
secondary to locating the fin to balance the sailplan, as well as fitting
the ballast at the correct spot for proper fore and aft trim. The taper
ratio (tip chord length/root chord length) also deserves consideration.
Tests on one series of fins showed that a fin with 0.32 taper ratio
was 1 percent more efficient than an untapered fin and had very slightly
less resistance. This is a small difference but cannot be ignored by
the racing skipper. Again, the reduction in drag may be due to reduced
vortices from the shorter tip chord. Marchaj also states that the taper
ratio should be reduced as the sweepback angle increases. However, the
very-low-taper-ratio fins may not be the best solution for a cruising
yacht. The tip chord should be long enough so the vessel can be hauled
on a marine railway with no major problems. Too, on a moderate-draft
cruising yacht, a short tip chord forces the ballast higher, so stability
can suffer.

Lower ballast

Another consideration
in the fin profile is whether the tip chord is sloped down aft or parallel
to the waterline. The parallel tip chord makes good sense. It allows
the ballast to be lower for added stability, it eases blocking up the
boat when hauling and, fortunately, tests have shown that it is also
superior to the sloped tip chord in other ways. Having the aft edge
of the tip chord deeper than the leading edge has no practical effect
on aspect ratio, and such a fin develops less lift and more drag than
one with a parallel tip.

The National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) tested a large variety of streamlined
shapes for lift and resistance and the information on these is available
in a book, Theory of Wing Sections, by Abbot and Von Doenhoff. These
are the shapes that designers refer to when they say their new magic
fin has an NACA section. Generally, the shape selected will be similar
to NACA 0010-34 or 0010-64 series. The leading edge will be elliptical,
as a blunted nose increases resistance while a pointed leading edge
promotes stalling. The maximum width will be about 40 to 50 percent
aft, and the shape will be streamlined to a fairly sharp (but not razor-sharp)
trailing edge. The thickness ratio will be 0.8 to 0.12 of the chord
length, although this may be increased to 0.15 to 0.16 at the tip chord.
There are advantages to having an increase in thickness ratio at the
tip chord, including being able to fit the ballast lower. This need
not mean that the fin is bulbed, though. For example, a fin that is
8 feet long at the root and 5 feet long at the tip may have a 0.10 thickness
(0.8 feet) at the root and 0.15 thickness (0.75 feet) at the tip. The
fin is still slightly thinner at the bottom than at the top, but the
thickness ratio has increased.

Increased resistance

It is not uncommon
to see fins wider than 10 to 12 percent of their length, as the designer
may need to fatten the fin in order to locate the ballast in the correct
spot for proper trim. Very shoal-draft boats may require fatter keels
or fins in order to get the ballast as low as possible for stability.
Still, extra width does increase resistance so there is a tradeoff;
added stability increases performance while a thicker fin reduces performance.
Thirty-five years ago, when I worked for Bill Luders, we tank-tested
dozens of 5.5-Meter models. These very short-keeled 30-foot sloops had
a minimum keel width of 4 inches under the rule, and whenever we tried
a model with a wider keel in order to get the ballast lower, we found
that overall performance suffered.

We also tested a
number of bulb keels on the 5.5 models but they never proved out in
the tank, either, although several different shapes were tried. Then,
in the late 1970s, I tank-tested the model of the new Morgan 38 at Stevens
Institute, first with a fairly fat NACA fin in order to maintain the
desired 5-foot draft, and then with a patented bulb fin that we let
its designer draw up, with no stipulation on draft. The bulb saved only
2 inches of draft but showed so poorly against the NACA fin that the
38 was put into production with the more conventional shape.

The tip shape, viewed
from ahead, may be flat, round, elliptical, or bulbed. Tests show that
the flat, squared-off tip develops a bit more lift to windward and that
the round or elliptical tip has less drag on a run. The differences
are slight but, today, I favor the squared-off tip with an end plate
for yachts of average draft. A vee tip was tried in the 1960s on a few
yachts, but never became popular. Bulbs and wings, often in combination,
are fairly common on contemporary production boats. Usually they are
an attempt to produce a very shoal-draft yacht for use in waters where
the bottom is close to the top and, in those cases, they may make sense.

There is a never-ending
variety of fin shapes and, to be honest, I’m not sure which is best.
Generally, I prefer a fin similar to the old Cal 40, a little shorter
perhaps, and fitted with an end plate. Such a fin provides a desirable
combination of good performance, ease of haulout, and structural strength,
all very important factors for the cruising skipper.

Ted Brewer is
one of North America’s best-known yacht designers, having worked on
the America’s Cup boats,
American Eagle and Weatherly, as well as boats
that won the Olympics, the Gold Cup, and dozens of celebrated ocean
races. He also is the man who designed scores of good old boats . .
. the ones still sailing after all these years.

Quit Horsing Around

Quit Horsing Around

By Steve Christensen

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 1, January/February 2000.

Use a riding sail to steady your boat at anchor

Rag Doll at anchor

Rag Doll at anchor

You’re all settled
in for the night in that well-protected cove, when the wind picks up.
What had been a nice quiet anchorage is now alive with motion as the wind
causes the boats to weave back and forth on their anchor rodes. Your boat
rolls and jerks from one “tack” to another, and you begin to
worry about what all this motion is doing to the set of your anchor. Your
nice quiet evening is now anything but restful.

people call this weaving back and forth “sailing at anchor.”
But my favorite nickname for the activity is “horsing around”
because the image it creates is so descriptive of the motion. And while
the name may sound like fun, the motion it describes can lead to real

causes this phenomenon? For most boats, the center of effort (or windage)
of the topsides and rigging is well forward of the underwater center of
lateral resistance. This means the boat is out of balance while on the
hook, and doesn’t really want to weathercock. Whenever the boat drifts
backward during a gust (or there is a slight change in the wind
direction) the bow will fall off faster than the stern, putting the boat
broadside to the wind. Once that happens, the bow continues to fall off,
and the boat will “sail” away in the new direction, up to as
much as 30 to 40 degrees off the wind, until brought up short by the rode.

Detail of riding sail 1
Detail of riding sail 2

Detail of riding sail above.

seems as if the boat should eventually settle down, given a steady wind.
But in reality, the wind is never steady in either direction or strength
for very long. During the lulls, the boat is drawn forward by the weight
of the rode (creating slack), only to fall back and turn broadside during
the gusts.

Why all the concern?
Well, at the very least, all this weaving back and forth can make things
uncomfortable down below. More importantly, it is quite possible for two
boats anchored side by side to get “out of phase” while sailing
at anchor and actually collide. We witnessed this a few seasons ago while
anchored in Bear Drop Harbor in the North Channel on a day with gusty
25-to-30-knot winds. Two nearby anchored boats began to sheer, on opposite
tacks, and exactly out of phase. The boats kept getting closer and closer
with each tack as the skippers looked on helplessly. A collision was avoided
only when one skipper broke the cycle by letting out more rode.

By far the biggest
concern of “horsing around” is the effect it has on the set
of your anchor. The shock loads on the rode from coming up short on opposite
tacks are practically at right angles to each other, and all this stress
can eventually break the anchor free. Even if the anchor holds, the sideways
motion at the bow can chafe right through a nylon rode in a few hours.

So, if you want to
sleep better at anchor, you need to do all you can to reduce this sailing
at anchor.

But what can you do?
While we’ve never tried it, a couple of skippers we have met swear
by anchoring stern-to. This places the center of effort behind the center
of resistance, and keeps the boat steady. (It also looks really weird.)
The downside is that some boats are not very seaworthy stern-to, and most
companionways are not designed to be very weatherproof from the stern.
So I would worry about being caught in a storm anchored backward, but
in fair weather it seems to work quite well.

Riding, or anchor, sail at stern

best thing you can do to reduce “horsing around” while at anchor
is to use a riding (or anchor) sail. We first learned about riding sails
by reading Steve and Linda Dashew’s The Bluewater Handbook. It seemed
like a good idea, so we had a local sail loft make one for us, and have
used it every night at anchor since. The ability of a riding sail to reduce
horsing around is just amazing and has to be seen to be appreciated. On
that day in Bear Drop Harbor when many of the other boats were sailing
up to 40 degrees off the wind, our riding sail kept the bow of our Ericson
38 to within five degrees of the wind direction. Considering how well
they work, it is surprising that you don’t see more of them being used.
(We’ve only seen one other riding sail in 10 seasons of cruising the Great

Just what is a riding
sail? It’s essentially a small and heavily built mizzen, rigged on the
backstay, and sheeted forward. The added windage of the sail brings the
overall center of effort well aft of the center of lateral resistance.
Now when the boat drifts backward during a gust and the bow begins to
fall off to one side, the effort of the wind on the riding sail quickly
pushes the stern in and brings the boat back head to wind.

A riding sail should
be constructed board-flat, of heavy (4- to 8-ounce) cloth, with a hollow
foot and leech to reduce flutter, and a straight luff with hanks for attaching
to the backstay. Adding full-length battens to the sail is also a good
idea to reduce slatting in high winds. As for size, a good rule of thumb
is to have the sail made about the same size as a storm jib, or from 5
percent to 10 percent of the total sail area. In fact, you can use a storm
jib on the backstay as your riding sail. And for that matter, ketches
and yawls can achieve the same effect by just leaving their mizzen up
(perhaps with a reef or two). But since whatever you use will be left
up constantly while at anchor and exposed to a lot of ultraviolet radiation,
it’s a good idea to have a dedicated riding sail, and not subject your
storm jib or mizzen sail to all that abuse.

How to rig a riding sail diagram

do you rig a riding sail? First, attach a pendant between the stern of
the boat (the top stern rail works well) and the tack of the sail, long
enough to keep the sail well clear over the cockpit. Then attach a halyard
to the head and hoist the sail aloft. Finally, rig a sheet from the clew
to a place on deck amidships, or – better, but more work – run a sheet
to each side of the deck or cabin house. You can leave the sail flying
free like this, but it will tend to slat a bit in high winds. So it’s
best to attach the luff of the sail to the backstay with a number of hanks.

Riding sails may not
be common, but any sail loft can make one up for you. Or you can contact
Sailrite, which markets a basic anchor riding sail kit with a 75-inch
leech, a 58-inch luff, and a 72-inch foot (15 square feet) designed for
boats over 20 feet. It costs between $68 and $73, depending upon the size
of the snaps needed to fit your backstay. This kit was just upgraded to
use Top Gun sailcloth, rather than Dacron. This makes the sail hold up
much longer.

Our riding sail came
from Kent Sails, in Mount Clemens, Mich., and is 150 inches on the luff,
124 inches on the leech, and 62 inches on the foot (26 square feet) with
seven hanks along the luff.

Kent Sails designed
our current riding sail with a fiberglass rod running between the backstay
at the luff and the grommet at the clew. This rod does a nice job of stiffening
the sail, and keeps it quiet in high winds. But more than that, this unusual
design has the interesting feature of holding the clew out away from the
backstay, in much the same way a wishbone boom on a sailboard holds the
clew of the sail out from the mast. With the clew held out taut, you can
swing the sail around on the backstay to point aft, which not only gets
it out of the way of the cockpit, but has the advantage of putting the
sail’s center of effort even farther from the bow, making it even
more effective at keeping the boat steady.

Riding sail pointing to deck diagram

you already have a riding sail with hanks on the luff and would like to
try this arrangement, it’s a simple matter to modify the sail to be able
to point aft. All it takes is a few feet of hollow aluminum rod, a short
piece of webbing, and a couple of sheet metal screws.

First lay out a line
between the luff and the clew, perpendicular to the luff, and mark where
the line meets the luff. Then buy a length of hollow aluminum rod that
is at least 6 inches longer than this line, and slightly smaller in outside
diameter than the clew grommet (so the rod will slide through the grommet).
Using your sail repair kit (you do have one aboard, don’t you?)
sew about 4 inches of 1-inch webbing to the side of the luff at the position
you marked, with enough slack to hold the rod. (The purpose of the webbing
is to keep the rod in position on the backstay.) Then cut about a half-inch-deep
slot into one end of the rod so the end fits over the backstay.

The final step needs
to be done with the sail hanked onto the backstay and hoisted taut. Slide
the slotted end of the rod through the clew grommet, through the luff
web loop, and over the backstay. Then pull the clew out taut, and mark
the point on the rod where it enters the clew grommet. Remove the rod
and mount a couple of sheet metal screws at that point on the rod, which
will keep the clew from sliding down the rod toward the backstay. Next,
cut the excess rod off about 4 inches beyond the screws.

you now place the slotted end of the rod through the web strap, then the
other end through the grommet up to the screws, and finally slide
the slot over the backstay, the clew should be held out nice and taut.
Finally, just rotate the whole sail aft, and add a sheet from the end
of the    rod to each corner of the stern rail. Using rolling
hitches for each sheet makes it easy to adjust the centering of the sail.
And that’s it – you’re done.

Riding sail pointing aft diagram

nice side effect of any riding sail is that it makes your boat easier
to find in a crowded anchorage, as there aren’t too many boats out there
with big white triangles at their sterns. (This has come in very handy
when returning by dinghy from a late evening ashore and trying to find
our boat by flashlight.) Our unusual aft-pointing rig is also very sociable,
in that we usually have at least one sailor in each anchorage stop by
to ask about it. Last summer we even had the skipper of a nearby Alberg
30 so intrigued that he spent an hour trying to construct a similar rig
using his storm jib and a telescoping awning pole. At one point when things
weren’t going too well and the pole fell to deck for the second or third
time (there was no webbing at the luff to hold the pole in place) he good-naturedly
called over, “Look what you started!”

Whether you choose
the traditional forward-sheeted arrangement, or the unusual aft-pointing
rig, I highly recommend you consider using a riding sail to steady your
boat at anchor. Leave the “horsing around” for on shore.


Kents Sails Co.
35942 Jefferson
Mount Clemens, MI 48045

305 W. Van Buren St
P.O. Box 987
Columbia City, IN 46725

Steve Christensen
and his wife, Beth, sail their Ericson 38,
Rag Doll, out of Saginaw Bay
on Lake Huron and spend each August cruising the North Channel . . . with
their riding sail.

The rest of the ratios: On helm balance


The rest of the ratios: On helm balance

By Ted Brewer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 6, November/December 1999.

Hull resistance diagram

As you are
aware, proper helm balance is a very desirable factor on a sailing yacht
and can make the difference between a craft that is enjoyable to sail
and one that has a helm that would rupture a gorilla, exhausting and exasperating
her crew. The ideal vessel will have about 3 to 4 degrees of weather helm
and will still retain a light and easy feel to the tiller or wheel under
all conditions of weather. Excess weather helm, besides being extremely
tiring for the helmsman, adds unnecessary resistance and can make it difficult,
or even impossible, to jibe.

helm is a term that describes a yacht that sails with her tiller, or quadrant
if she is wheel steered, slightly angled to the windward side of the vessel.
This is a vital safety factor, as such a yacht will turn to windward,
head up into the wind, and simply luff if the helm is released. With the
opposite, lee helm, the yacht would turn to leeward and risk a knockdown
or a dangerous accidental jibe.

having 3 to 4 degrees of weather helm improves performance. The rudder
steers the yacht, of course, but it can also provide lift and reduce leeway
if there is a slight weather helm, acting like the flaps on the aft end
of an airplane’s wing, in effect. Conversely, a bad lee helm gives negative
lift, adds resistance to slow the yacht, and can make it difficult or
impossible to tack.

Correct lead offsets side force diagram

weather helm in all conditions of wind is eminently desirable but not
always possible. It is not uncommon to find a yacht with a neutral or
even a slight lee helm in light air changing to a moderate weather helm
as it breezes up. Such a helm is acceptable since leeway in light air
is not a serious problem, nor is an accidental jibe. In any case, such
a helm is preferable to having moderate weather helm in light air that
increases to a bear of a weather helm as the breeze stiffens. Of course,
the helm balance will change as sails are reefed or changed down, but
the experienced skipper will determine which reefed sail combinations
provide the best balance as the yacht is snugged down for a blow.

It must
be noted that a heavy, tiring helm can be mistaken for a strong weather
helm, yet the two can be worlds apart. If the tiller or quadrant is only
2 to 4 degrees off the centerline and the helm is still too heavy for
comfort, then the cause is probably not helm balance but, rather, a too-short
tiller or, with a wheel steering system, a quadrant that is too small
or a wheel of inadequate diameter. These problems are readily corrected.

helm balance is governed by the lead (pronounced leed) of the rig. The
lead is the amount that the center of effort (CE) of the sail plan is
forward of the center of lateral plane (CLP) of the hull, and the figure
is usually expressed as a percentage of the LWL. If the CE is too far
aft, the lead will be small, and a heavy weather helm will result. If
the CE is too far forward, the result is excess lead and a dangerous lee

At first
glance it might seem that the boat will balance well if the CE is directly
above the CLP, in effect no lead. However, the locations of the centers
are calculated from a flat sheet of paper and it is obvious that these
are not the true centers of pressure of a yacht that is heeled and moving
through the water. When the boat is underway, the CE moves forward and
to leeward due to the shape of the sails, the eased sheets, and the angle
of heel. Also, the true hydrodynamic center of lateral plane of the boat
moves well forward of the geometric CLP when the boat is close-hauled,
but moves aft as she bears off. So the true centers are not easy to pin
down except by testing in tanks and wind tunnels. As a result, the designer
will usually work with the geometric centers, some general rules for lead,
plus his own experience and intuition when drawing up the sail plan.

Finding CLP

The longitudinal position of the CLP is simple to locate if you
have a profile drawing of the hull. Copy the drawing up to the LWL on
a piece of tracing paper, cut it out, crease it to stiffen it and balance
it on a pin or sharp pencil. Ensure that the ends do not hang down by
folding it parallel to the LWL a few times as required to prevent this.
Note that it is only necessary to locate the longitudinal position of
the CLP. The vertical position is of no importance in the lead calculation,
although it is necessary for stability work and masting calculations.
In working out the CLP, some designers omit the rudder area, most use
the forward half or third of the rudder area (me), and a few use all the
rudder area. The individual designer will interpret the results based
on his experience.

Calculating sail area

The mainsail area is calculated by multiplying the luff
(P) by 1/2 the foot (E). The foretriangle area is the hoist (I) multiplied
by 1/2 the base (J). See sketch on Page 63 for calculating the areas of
individual jibs and gaff mains and mizzens.

Calculating CE

Locating the center of effort diagram

To find the center of a triangular mainsail (Cm), draw a line
on the sail plan from the mid-length of the boom to the head of the sail
and another from the clew to halfway up the luff of the sail. The roach
is usually ignored, and the center is considered to be where these two
lines cross. For a gaff mainsail, divide the sail into two triangles,
find the center and area of each using the above technique and obtain
the center of the sail by using the formula below or, more simply, use
the geometrical system shown in the diagram.

To find
the center of the foretriangle (Cf), draw a line from the tack point of
the headsail to a point halfway up the mast and another from the masthead
to a point on deck halfway between the mast and the tack. Again, the point
of intersection is the center of the area. With these centers found, and
the areas worked out, the location of the overall CE of the sail plan
is readily calculated. Connect the two centers, Cm and Cf, with a line
and measure its length, L. Then the distance that the CE is from Cf =
(Main area x L)/Total area main and foretriangle (see example at left).

The foretriangle
area and center are used if genoa jibs are to be set but if only a working
jib is carried, its center and area may be used instead. In the case of
yachts with bowsprits and multiple headsails but no genoas (i.e., a Friendship
sloop), it is a matter of choice whether to use the foretriangle area
and center or work out the overall center and total areas of the individual

In any
case, the areas of light sails – such as fisherman staysails, mizzen staysails,
main topsails, etc. – are ignored when working out the overall sail area
and CE. Some designers use half the mizzen area in the calculation of
the overall CE of yawls and ketches. However, I feel this may be an error
which could result in insufficient lead since it tends to result in a
CE further forward than if the actual mizzen area is used.

you have the CE and the CLP, it is simple to mark them out on a sail plan
of the boat, measure the distance between them, and calculate the lead
as a percentage of the load waterline (see illustsration above). However,
even leading authorities do not always agree on the proper amount of lead
to give different types of yachts. I suggest the reader take with a grain
of salt anything they read about lead in the otherwise excellent books
written by Chapelle, Kinney, Baader, or Henry and Miller. The problem
is that hulls and rigs have changed greatly over the years, and the definitive
leads given in these books do not take into account the variables of hull
form, beam, rig height, etc. in contemporary yachts. These have changed
drastically, and they all affect the amount of lead required to obtain
a balanced helm.

Calculating areas of Jibs and Gaff mainsails diagram

example, Kinney states that a schooner requires a 5 to 7 percent lead;
Baader recommends 3 to 5 percent. Yet our 1960s Ingenue schooner design
started life with 10.5 percent lead and still had to have her bowsprit
lengthened to correct excess weather helm. Baader suggests 4 to 6 percent
for a “beamy, long, keel yawl and ketch,” and our beamy, long,
keel ketch Traveller III balanced beautifullywith 22.5 percent lead. The
second edition of Kinney’s work did come close with a 20 percent recommendation
for a ketch but with Baader’s 4 to 6 percent lead, the Traveller III would
have had an impossible weather helm. Kinney also comes close in suggesting
a 14 to 19 percent lead for sloops, but I’ve had a yacht with 17.5 percent
lead develop such a heavy weather helm that we had to move the mast a
foot forward.

a number of factors affect the amount of lead required for a balanced
helm, and these factors simply cannot be taken into account by any table
that simply says “a ketch requires x-percent lead.” Consider
two yachts, otherwise identical except that one is heavily built and has
a 35 percent ballast ratio, the other is lightly built and has a 50 percent
ballast ratio. In a stiff breeze, the more lightly ballasted boat will
heel to a greater degree, her CE will move farther to leeward, and the
luffing moment will be higher than that of her heavily ballasted sister.
The more tender hull will require greater lead in order to maintain a
reasonable weather helm.

consider two identical hulls with exactly the same sail area but one has
a low, broad rig, and the second has a tall, high aspect ratio rig. The
yacht with the tall rig will heel more in a breeze and her CE will move
even farther to leeward due to the height of the rig. Thus she will need
more lead in order to eliminate excess weather helm. There are many other
factors that affect lead and some of these are noted in the chart on Page

Locating the center of a Gaff sail diagram

of these factors will seem to contradict each other. Wide beam creates
a stable hull, but it also tends to result in full waterlines forward.
A narrow beam may mean a tender hull but also fine forward waterlines
as a rule. Obviously a certain amount of interpretation and experience
is required when designing a hull/rig combination so each new design has
to be analyzed, and the sail plan must be designed to suit. A rough estimate
of the percent of lead necessary can be obtained by starting with a figure
of 14-15 percent and adding 1 percent for each characteristic of the boat
that falls into the Lengthening column and subtracting 1 percent for each
characteristic in the Shortening column in the table above. This is not
a very scientific rule to live by, but the whole issue of helm balance
and proper lead really comes down to intelligent guesswork based on previous
experience. There is no sure way to pin it down any closer than that.

examples: A narrow (-1%), heavily ballasted (-1%), long keel (+1%), shoal
draft (+1%), yawl (-1%) with fine forward waterlines (-1%) and a high-aspect-ratio
rig (+1%) works out to a required lead of 13-14%. A beamy (+1%), lightly
ballasted (+1%), short keel (-1%), deep draft (-1%), sloop (+1%) with
full forward waterlines (+1%) and a tall rig (+1%) works out to 17-18%
lead. In either case, these leads may be too small and our tendency today
would be to use a slightly longer lead than derived as above, but never
a shorter one.

In that
regard, Bill Luders taught me that it was very unusual to find lee helm
on a modern hull and that most yachts could stand even more lead than
they had. I quite agree. A modern beamy hull can stand quite a long lead
but a too-short lead will result in a severe weather helm every time.
Bill also felt strongly that the mast location in regard to the keel leading
edge was as important as any consideration of lead. Bob Perry and I have
discussed this and are in general agreement that locating the mast in
the area where the fin of a modern fin-keel sloop or cutter meets the
hull will usually result in a good helm. I must say that in my 40 years
in this business, only one of my designs developed a lee helm and that
was a boat with less than 11 percent lead. We had to shorten the bowsprit
and cut some area off the aft end of the centerboard to correct it; very
unusual indeed.

Using the helm to offset wind direction diagram

Correcting an uncorrected helm

The designer is fortunate. If he finds in the
design stage that a boat has insufficient lead, he can simply pick up
his eraser and move the mast, lengthen or shorten a boom, even add a bowsprit
if necessary. The owner of a boat with a bad helm is not so lucky, for
the cure is going to require more than an eraser or a fresh sheet of paper
on the drawing board. It can mean a costly stay in a boatyard!

If your
boat does have a problem, first calculate the actual lead and compare
it to the designs of other yachts of similar type to ascertain if you
truly have a lead problem. I suggest this because poor balance can be
caused by warped rudders, skegs, and centerboards, and even by baggy sails.
I even came across one production boat that had good balance on one tack
and poor balance on another because her fin was not fitted perfectly down
the centerline of the hull and, as well, was not vertical when the hull
was at rest! These problems are usually hard to discover and even harder
to correct, but examine the yacht carefully in any case. If the helm problem
is not a result of one of the above aberrations, then you can try to alter
the lead by making one or more of the following modifications.

Factors affecting lead

Shortening lead
keel (fore- and aft-dimensions)
Deep draft
Narrow beam
Fine forward waterlines
Stable vessel (heavily ballasted)
Low-aspect-ratio rig Two-masted rig
Lengthening lead
Long keel (fore- and aft-dimensions)
Shallow draft
Wide beam
Full forward waterlines
Tender vessel
High-aspect-ratio rig Single-masted rig

To correct weather helm (lengthen lead)

  • Reduce rake of mast or even plumb it up
  • Move mast forward
  • Move headstay tack forward, adding or lengthening a bowsprit if necessary
  • Shorten foot and/or hoist of main
  • Recut mainsail flatter, or buy a new main if the old one is blown out
  • Decrease mizzen area by shorter boom and/or mast
  • Move centerboard aft if feasible
  • Increase rudder area slightly, but be careful as you can overload the

To correct lee helm (shorten lead)

  • Increase mast rake by lengthening headstay, shortening backstay
  • Move headstay aft, or shorten bowsprit
  • Move mast aft
  • Lengthen boom and fit larger mainsail; ditto with mizzen
  • Adjust main to greater fullness
  • Move centerboard forward, if possible.

that cannot be corrected by the above changes will probably require a
major rig change or an alteration to keel shape, rudder, skeg, etc. In
such cases, the advice of a competent yacht designer should be sought.

The result
of your changes and experimenting should be a weather helm of 2 to 4 degrees,
and that, in turn, will result in your boat taking on a new life as regards
handling ease and even performance. It is well worth some tinkering, especially
if you have developed arm muscles like Popeye from fighting a runaway
weather helm.

Brewer is, simply put, one of our favorite people and a terrific naval
architect. Seems like this should be enough.

The Comfortable Cruiser

The comfortable cruiser

By Bob Wood

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 1, January/February 2000.

Controlling your environment makes you a better, safer sailor

Dressed for foul weather, dreams of easy sailing

As a person to whom quality time and time aboard are synonymous, I often
daydream of idyllic passages through tropical seas with steady trade winds,
puffy white clouds, and sun-sparkled wave tips at my back. Moments later,
reality returns to find me clutching a warm coffee mug and watching my
steaming breath join the rest of the condensation coating a frigid cabin.
Or it finds me pondering, with burning eyes, the flies gathered on the
mainsail during a windless, steamy August afternoon.

We need to cope with an amazing range of temperatures and conditions over
the course of a typical boating season. Moreover, we do it in a comparatively
Spartan way, without a basement full of extra equipment. We do our best
to cope with this temperature range for two basic reasons: comfort and
safety. A sailor preoccupied with discomfort is going to be at a disadvantage
when decision-making time suddenly arrives.

Basically, we must address two environmental issues while boating; how
to stay warm when it’s cold, and how to cool off when it’s hot. Let’s
look at the mechanics involved and then take them in turn.

Heating and cooling are two sides of the same coin: the physics of heat
transfer. When heat is transferred from place A to place B, A will get
cooler while B gets warmer. There are three ways that heat is moved around:

  • By conduction, when your hand touches a hot stove, directly transferring
    the stove’s heat.
  • By convection, when fan-blown air delivers heat from the stove.
  • By radiation, when the hot stove’s surface or its flames emit infrared
    waves that warm the objects that absorb them.

Those are warming situations; but keep in mind that if you were the stove,
they would be cooling situations . . . different sides of the same process.
To stay comfortable, our human efforts are directed at either enhancing
or reducing the transfer of heat.

Staying warm

Types of heaters

There are several ways to combat cold. Each of the following five basic
types of marine heat generation has advantages and disadvantages.

Electric heat is quick, inexpensive to install, very easy to start
and adjust, requires no exhaust venting, and doesn’t add moisture to a
boat’s already moisture-laden atmosphere. It is also impossible to use
away from the dock without running a generator. Electric heat must be
carefully designed to prevent shocks and fires. And, finally, not all
marinas provide sufficient power to run these heaters. There are electric
furnaces with blowers and air ducting to efficiently heat the long skinny
interiors of boats, but many medium-sized boats can do quite well with
a portable, fan-assisted electric heater. If your home port is north of
the Mason-Dixon Line, dockside electric heat represents a good investment
for chilly mornings and evenings, often extending a season by two or three
months. When buying a portable heater, make sure that it has:

  • a three-pronged safety plug;
  • a thermostat that shuts it off at the desired temperature;
  • a tip-over sensor (if it’s portable) that shuts it off should a wake or other sudden motion knock it over; and
  • a ground-fault interrupter (GFI) or receptacle. In fact, all alternating current-powered appliances aboard should have, or be plugged into, a GFI.

Those precautions, along with sensible and prudent operation, will make
electric heat an enjoyable convenience.

Solid-fuel heaters have the advantage of burning a wide variety
of readily available fuels such as charcoal and wood. They produce a quiet,
dry heat and sometimes a nice ambiance if the fire is visible. The price
is also moderate, and they can be used under way or while you’re swinging
on the hook. On the downside, they do require venting, and their smoke
can foul sails or topsides. They take the longest of all heaters to begin
producing heat, and a bag of charcoal is not the cleanest item to be rattling
around in a locker. Finally, burning ocean driftwood can create mildly
corrosive smoke that hastens your heater’s demise. Still, solid-fuel heaters,
with their warmly glowing flames, rank second of all heating types with

Propane, butane, and compressed natural gas (CNG) are gas fuels
with some commonalities. They are quick to produce heat and difficult
to fine-tune; they will work at the dock or under way; and they are clean-burning.

Most require venting, and I would advise against those that don’t on two

First, some of the catalytic types that don’t require venting are designed
for a semi-open space with plenty of fresh air moving through . . . and
moving the waste products out as well.

Second, the combustion process for gas fuels produces a lot of water vapor
that will be deposited in the dark cold corners of your boat unless it
is vented outside with the other fumes.

There can also be a definite fire hazard when you use a portable catalytic
heater in your boat, especially while under way. I would caution against
doing it. Period.

CNG is lighter than air and will, therefore, not settle in the bilges
like propane could. CNG is also much harder to find than propane wherever
you sail. Propane is quite safe when it’s installed with properly isolated
storage bottles, a correct solenoid shut-off valve, systematic maintenance
of the lines, and a good gas-detection alarm. If you already have propane
for your galley, it may make sense to use it for heating, also. Permanent
marine propane heaters are more expensive than solid-fuel ones, but less
expensive than liquid-fuel heaters.

Liquid-fuel heaters are primarily kerosene- and diesel-fuel heaters.
They are the benchmark by which traditionalists rate all others. They
provide a steady source of low-cost heat while under way, on the hard,
and all points between. If you already have a diesel-fuel galley stove,
you probably don’t need a heater, since the stoves I’ve been around warm
a cabin very well.

The heaters require venting, and the smoke can stain sails over a period
of time. They are also among the most expensive of the different types
of heaters. Since they require gravity-fed or pressurized fuel, a special
tank is sometimes the easiest way to install the system.

Lastly, your cabin can get smoky if fluky winds swirl fumes from the stack
back around the mandatory open hatch or port. A diesel-fuel heater is
for hard-core sailors who rejoice in the glitter of frozen halyards. Serious

Alcohol heaters are portable and inexpensive, but not in the same league
as kerosene/diesel types. Their flame is difficult to see, increasing
the possibility of burns, and they pump lots of undesirable water vapor
into the cabin air. It’s hard to recommend them for boating purposes.

Hot-water radiators. This last heat source is probably the least
used. Radiators produce heat from the water used to cool your inboard
engine. These are not often seen on sailboats, despite the fact that many
a voyage transforms our wind yacht to a displacement-powerboat-with-mast.

Radiators work only when the engine is running, which allows powerboats
to make good use of the free, quiet heat. They produce a dry heat with
no venting required, no fire danger, or smell. They begin providing heat
within minutes of the engine’s being started, and are easy to adjust.
Most installations are custom-made and, therefore, can be expensive. The
radiator preferably uses the heat-exchanger fluid since it’s hotter, but
raw cooling water can be used – although a broken hose or fitting could
flood the cabin.

Humidity’s effect

Humidity, or water moisture in the air that you’re heating, makes a difference.
The more water moisture, the more heat that air can hold. Dry air requires
a higher temperature to be comfortable. Since most heat sources do not
add water vapor, the air becomes drier as it gets warmer. Unless you have
the perfect boat with bone-dry bilges, chain stowage, lockers, and bedding,
you probably won’t have to worry about over-dry air while bobbing on the
waves. The exception would be heating while hauled out during sub-freezing
winter weather; then a pan of water boiling on the stove might help.

Circulation – air layering

The numbers game

are formulas for converting watts to Btu (British thermal units),
determining resistance to heat loss (insulation factor), and number
of tons of air conditioning needed. But forget the numbers; boating’s
wide array of types and conditions make them impractical. Your electric
heat will be limited to what your marina can provide: typically
enough to run a 1,600-watt heater at 110 volts.

With care, this will keep a saloon and one stateroom comfortable
down to around freezing . . . remembering that comfort is a relative
term. Any requirement greater than that in size or temperature is
going to require a fuel heater. Heaters made for permanent marine
installation will advertise figures in Btu output, but basically
they’ll be good for boats up to about 45 feet and temperatures down
to 300F. Dealers in marine air conditioners will help you figure
your cooling requirements based on climate, boat insulation, and
installation location.

A boat has a lot of nooks and crannies, is poorly insulated (compared
to a house), and usually has a single point of heat. If a fan isn’t used
to push the air around, the nooks and crannies and outer surfaces stay
clammy while the air immediately above the heat source becomes uncomfortably

Unless those on board can levitate to the 720F air layer, everyone is
going to be miserable – cold and clammy from the knees down, and feverish
from the shoulders up. A fan is essential for heating comfort. Small,
low-wattage fans can be mounted in passageways forward and aft to immensely
improve the main fan’s function. Layering is good for clothes, bad for
cabin air.


An airtight heated cabin is an invitation to disaster. At the very least,
you’re inviting headaches, as the oxygen content is depleted by fuel-burning
heaters. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels increase, aggravating
the stale conditions. Moisture from respiration and perspiration has no
place to go to, except onto exposed surfaces. It will cake your sugar
and salt into unusable blocks. You need to have a hatch, porthole, or
Dorade vent partly open, even if it’s below freezing and snowing sideways.


The opposite of an airtight cabin are drafts so bad that a candle or lantern
can’t stay lit. This is unworkable, because all the air that you’re heating
is leaving. It’s going to take a lot of fuel to raise the temperature
if you’re heating the entire Western Hemisphere. You don’t need all downwind
hatches open . . . maybe just one, or a half of one.


Don’t overlook the value of dressing for temperature rather than changing
the temperature for your dress. It’s quite possible to be comfortable
at 550F or cooler temperatures with warm boots, hats, and gloves. You
lose the most heat from not wearing headgear . . . a warm hat and scarf
are probably worth 50F of cabin temperature by themselves. You’ve heard
it before, but dress in layers: a layer closest to the skin that will
wick moisture away, then a bulky insulating layer or layers to hold body
heat in, finally an outer layer that’s wind-resistant, to reduce loss
of heat by convection or drafts. If you typically sail in colder weather,
have boots large enough for two pairs of socks and make the outer layer
a pair of good-quality wool . . . wool retains heat even when it’s wet.

Keeping cool(er)

For many sailors, comfort means any way to stay cool on hot days. For
some, staying cool is synonymous with air conditioning, but there are
other approaches.

Air conditioning

Marine air conditioning is much like marine electric heat; it works well
with shore power, with gen-set power, or with an extremely long extension
cord. For powerboaters, there are air conditioners that work from a power
take-off on the engine. Like radiator heating systems, the engine has
to be running for power take-off systems to operate. Air conditioning
accomplishes at least four things: it cools the air, creates air movement,
removes excess moisture, and filters some airborne particles.

It also requires a well-sealed cabin to be effective, and a compressor
location with plenty of fresh-air circulation to take away the heat. Systems
can be on the pricey side, but if you’re lying alongside the dock at West
Palm Beach for an extended stay in July, life as we know it suffers without


Air circulation helps in reducing the effects of uncomfortable heat. It
promotes the evaporation of perspiration, which lowers our body temperature
and makes us smile. If your boat is swinging on the hook, or otherwise
moored on a windless day, circulation is spelled f-a-n-s.

For a very few dollars (less than $10) mail-order suppliers such as Northern
Hydraulics or Harbor Freight often sell small, surplus, 12-volt box fans
that draw less current than a light bulb. You may even find some that
have hinges, so they fold against a bulkhead when not in use. Having two
of them in the main saloon and one in each stateroom is not overkill,
andyour batteries won’t go dead in a day, either.

For best results, aim them directly where people will sit (or lie) at
about chest level. They make a big difference and also help during the
frosty season for distributing your heater’s munificence. If you run your
engine about an hour a day, your batteries will never suffer any undue

Under way or on any windy day, circulation is spelled h-a-t-c-h-e-s. The
more, the merrier. The bigger, the better. Opening ports are nice but
usually too small, and their insect screening further reduces the airflow.

Ideally, on a good old boat of about 35 feet, there should be two hatches
in the cabin overhead, one above the galley and one above the seating
area. There should also be an overhead hatch in each stateroom. All of
this is in addition to opening ports.

Incidentally, I don’t like forward-opening hatches in the V-berth area
or anywhere else. Boarding seas will quite likely carry them away if they
catch them undogged. Trawlers, whose foredecks are much higher, fare much
better with forward-opening hatches.


Hand-in-hand with circulation goes ventilation. On hot sultry days, you
need fresh air below, unless you’re running the air conditioner. Seasickness
is not eliminated by fresh air but it sometimes helps. And fresh air always
helps those who are aboard with the seasick victim. Fresh air also means
keeping engine room air separate from cabin air. Even in a spotless engine
room without exhaust leaks, engines get hot and fill the air with lubricating-oil
fumes and bilge fumes. They need lots of fresh air and ventilation, but
not via the cabin.

There is one particular no-win situation: running downwind under power.
It’s much better to bear off a few degrees than to suffer the exhaust
fumes in the cockpit and cabin, no matter how good your ventilation is.


Our natural cooling systems depend on the evaporation of perspiration
(sweat) to reduce body temperature. The moisture for sweat is carried
by the vascular system. If you don’t drink sufficient water, your blood
doesn’t have as much to give the skin, and you’re going to feel warmer.

Drinking lots of liquids on hot days helps our cooling systems. Taking
salt tablets helps the body increase the vascular volume, thus more liquid
is available for the skin. For those of us on the far side of 39, perspiration
is generally reduced. We therefore really appreciate any additional cooling


Increased humidity slows our rate of perspiration evaporation, and thus
our cooling off. You will feel more uncomfortable at 900F and 90 percent
relative humidity (RH) than at 900F and 50 percent RH. Aside from cranking
up the air conditioning or heading for the clubhouse, combating high humidity
requires shade, air movement, and loose-fitting clothing.


The value of shade is often underestimated when you’re trying to cool
your boat. A Bimini top is wonderful for the cockpit if the sun is directly
overhead. Short side-panels dropping down from the Bimini about a foot
will increase its shade area by at least 50 percent and won’t noticeably
reduce the ventilation, especially if the panels are made from weighted
screening. Lastly, consider a Bimini extension over the cabin roof. Shading
this area will definitely make the cabin cooler and help the air conditioner.

Bob Wood

Bob Wood learned to sail on small O’Days more than 30 years ago. He has owned an odd assortment of sailboats and sailed them in waters from the Florida Keys to British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and from New York’s Finger Lakes to Colorado’s and Idaho’s impoundments and reservoirs.

Fuel and Water Filters

Fuel and water filters: Simple insurance policies

By Bill Sandifer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 2, March/April 1999.

Picture a hot, windless Sunday afternoon as you power home on a
glassy sea. Suddenly your engine slows and stops or overheats. Today
of all days! You really did not need this, and it could have all been

Fuel filter cross-section diagram

How? By installing and maintaining filters to clean the fuel
and water systems you and your boat need to operate successfully in a
water environment. Filters come in many types and sizes and are
custom-designed to serve a specific purpose. Many sailors tend to
ignore the mechanical side of their vessels and assume the attitude
that, "It’s a sailboat; it should sail, right?" Well yes, but the
wind does not always blow in the desired direction or with the
desired velocity. In times of need, our mechanical friends on board
make the difference between a reasonable end to a cruise, no matter
how long or short, and a long wait on a hot and windless sea.

Filters fall into three groups. Required, for fuel and engine
cooling water. Desirable, for engine oil, potable water,
refrigeration cooling, and seawater uses. Cosmetic, for air and sound
filtration. Let’s take a detailed look at each type available for
today’s vessels.

Pre-tank filters

Fuel filters can be defined as pre-tank, primary, and secondary. A
pre-tank filter would be a funnel type that provides basic filtering
of the fuel as it is poured or pumped into the tank. This type of
filter is very basic but very valuable. They range from a plastic
funnel with a screen in the bottom to catch dirt, leaves, and large
contaminants such as bits of plastic, to the more sophisticated Baja
filter. The Baja filters are aluminum funnels designed for cruisers
who travel remote cruising grounds such as the Sea of Cortes,
adjacent to Baja California in Mexico, where fuel is scarce and
supplied in used 55-gallon drums of dubious origin.

Baja filters have two extremely fine stainless steel mesh
screens to trap fine particulate matter (sand, dust, etc.) and a
water-resistant filter to keep out a large majority of water that may
be present in the fuel. The filters are really designed for diesel
fuel but will assist in filtering gasoline. The Baja filter protects
your tank from water-loving bacteria and helps prolong the useful
life of the onboard primary and secondary filters.

Primary filters

Primary filters are the off-engine filters, usually added as
after-market equipment to your fuel system. Their manufacturers have
names like Racor, Fram, Sierra, and Groco. The filters come in single
or multiple units, in-line or independent mount, spin-on element or

Filters are sized in accordance with the projected fuel flow
per hour required by a specific size engine. Diesel engines, because
they return unused fuel to the tank, will have a larger flow rate in
gallons per hour (gph) than equivalent gasoline engines but will
consume less fuel per hour. The filter must be sized for the flow
rate, not the consumption rate, of the engine. The gasoline engine
either burns or discharges as unburned all fuel fed into it.

A rule of thumb for sizing filters for gasoline engines is 10
percent of maximum horsepower equals gallons per hour (gph). My 30-hp
Atomic 4 gasoline engine has a potential maximum gph of 10% x 30 hp =
3 gph. I don’t think the engine will ever burn this amount as it
never runs at peak power but, theoretically, it could. My primary
filter is a Racor 200 series turbine with a 15 gph flow rate.
Overkill? Sure but it works all season long.

A diesel engine flow rate is horsepower x 18% = gph, thus a
30-hp diesel would have a theoretical flow rate of 5.4 gph.

A filter that is oversize for the projected gph will work and
last longer than an exact gph filter. A filter that is too small
(less than the calculated potential gph) may restrict fuel flow and
cause engine performance problems. With filters, bigger – within
reason – is better.

The newest type of fuel filters is the spin-on canister type
which looks like the familiar spin-on oil filter we use for our
automobiles. They are very differenton the inside, however. Spin-on
filters are commonly chosen for gasoline engines, while spin-on and
turbine type filters are commonly used on diesel engines. The larger
diesels usually use turbine type filters. Pure fuel is more critical
to diesel engine operation as the injectors of a diesel are
particularly sensitive to particulates in the fuel.

Spin-on elements are easier to change out than turbine units,
and when you change a spin-on element, you renew the whole filter. In
turbine units, you can change the paper element and still have
particles and water in the filter if you do not completely
disassemble and clean all parts of the unit. Some of the fine
contaminants in the fuel of my Atomic 4 adhered so tenaciously to the
turbine vanes they required scraping to remove. Is it any wonder we
need good filters when the contaminants in our fuel harden up like

Filters come as filters alone or as a combination filter and
water separator. Three-stage filters have a turbine section for large
particles or gross amounts of water, a coalescing ring to trap the
remaining water, and a micron element to remove fine particles.
Filters are classified by microns. Different engines have different
micron requirements. Racor’s standard filter size is 2 microns for
their spin-on type filter/water separators. Their turbine type has
elements that can be interchanged between 2, 10, and 30 microns. A
common combination is a 10-micron primary filter and a 2-micron
secondary (on-engine) filter.

If we use a Baja filter when we fill up the tank and still
have water in the tank, where does the water come from? Since boat
fuel tanks are vented, regular air interchange between the atmosphere
in the tank and the external atmosphere takes place. A cycle is
established in each tank when the air heats and expands during the
day, and excess air is expelled through the vent line. When the
ambient air cools, the air in the tank contracts and sucks in
external air to equalize the pressure. The air that is sucked in is
cool and damp, bringing moisture into the tank. This moisture
condenses on the exposed interior of the tank forming droplets which
fall into the fuel and settle on the tank bottom in the form of water.

If we never introduced water from contaminated fuel into the
tank, we would still have some water in the tank from the
condensation process. A good way to reduce this air interchange is to
keep the tank topped up with fuel, thus limiting the air space
available in the tank and minimizing atmospheric condensation.

In an effort to keep operating even with a plugged fuel
filter, boats with larger engines may have multiple primary filters
piped in such a manner that one filter may be used in the system
while the other filter is being cleaned. This setup is more common to
power boats and trawlers than to sailboats, but has definite merit.
Multiple filters can be piped together as Primary A, Primary B, and
so on. Finer and finer filtration is possible as the fuel passes
through each stage. Usually single filters are designed to clean the
fuel down to 2 to 10 microns (a micron is one one-thousandth of a
millimeter). Filters are manufactured down to two microns so a
multiple filter system could commence with a Primary A at 30 microns,
Primary B at 10 microns, and a Primary C at 2 microns. At 2 microns,
the fuel is very, very clean. Commercial firms that advertise that
they "polish" your fuel use this multiple filter approach plus a
centrifuge for a complete cleaning.

When considering a multiple filter system, remember that two
filters piped in parallel to a common manifold will have a combined
gph of the capacity of both filters, e.g., two 60-gph units will
equal 120 gph. Three 60 gph filters piped in series (Primary A, B,
and C), will have the gph of the single unit which is 60 gph.

Before we leave the primary filter discussion, let’s talk
about filter maintenance. The best way to determine the state of
cleanliness of a primary filter is to install a vacuum gauge on the
discharge side of the filter. The gauge shows how hard the engine is
having to "suck" to pull fuel through the filter. The higher the
vacuum, the dirtier the filter and the greater the need to replace
the element and clean the filter unit.

Racor makes a vacuum gauge that replaces the tee handle on
the top of their turbine filter. This makes for a very neat
installation. Individual vacuum gauges on single or multiple filters
may be teed into the discharge line of each filter to reveal the
state of the filtering element. The other ways to determine when to
change a filter (other than vacuum gauges) are more subjective. A
good method is to rely on running hours to set a time to change
filter elements. This can be anywhere from 50-hour intervals to 200
hours depending on how careful you are in providing clean fuel. This
is where the Baja filter will help extend the life of the primary and
secondary filters.

If you do not use a pre-tank filter and put a load of
contaminated fuel in the tank, a brand new filter may only last five
minutes. Use a pre-tank filter or know, for sure, you are pumping or
loading clean fuel. When I was a kid and worked at a fuel dock in
Oyster Bay, New York, Gulf Oil provided off-pump, in-line gasoline
filters in an effort to assure clean, waterless fuel. One of my daily
jobs was to check the large storage tanks with a long rectangular
wooden combination fuel gauge smeared with water finder paste to see
how much fuel we had and if it had any water in it. Some ports today
are not as careful about providing clean fuel. Even fuel purchased at
the local gas station may not have an in-line filter and may give you
a good dose of water.

Secondary filters

Pre-tank fuel filter location drawing

Assuring clean fuel to start with is your best guarantee of
trouble-free engine performance. After the fuel has passed through
the pre-tank and primary filter stages, it flows to the engine and
the secondary filter. The secondary stage may be as simple as a
screen in the intake line of a gasoline carburetor or another
canister-type filter mounted directly on a diesel engine. The
secondary filter on my Atomic 4, which is equipped with an electric
fuel pump, is in the bottom of the fuel pump itself and is a fine
nylon screen on a round plastic frame. I recently received a
communication from Don Moyer of Moyer Marine recommending the
addition of an in-line filter between the fuel pump and the
carburetor. Compared to a 10-micron primary filter, my screen is
pretty coarse, but then this is a gasoline engine, not a diesel.

The engine manufacturer normally provides the secondary fuel
filter, sized to the engine. Other than carrying a spare element or
having a screen you can clean, there is little to be done with the
secondary element. If the primary filter system is efficient in
cleaning the fuel, the secondary system should be trouble-free except
for an annual maintenance. Remember, clean fuel is the lifeblood of
your engine. Take care to purchase a high quality marine (not
automotive) type primary fuel filter and learn how and when to
maintain it. You’ll really be glad you did when you are powering home
over a hot or cold windless sea.

Engine overheating

In our second problem scenario, the engine overheats. The probable
cause is trash in the seawater intake or strainer or a failed water
pump impeller. Most sailboat engines are seawater cooled, either
directly by seawater circulation or indirectly through a heat
exchanger. The seawater enters the hull through a through-hull intake
with a perforated round bronze screen over the outside or a
rectangular finned through-hull. It is possible for the screen or fin
to plug up with foreign debris or marine growth, but if the engine
was running cool when you left the mooring and suddenly overheats,
the problem is probably elsewhere.

I once chartered a sailboat in the Bahamas. I left the dock
under power, and within five minutes the engine overheated. The
problem was marine growth on the seawater strainer. The boat had not
been properly maintained. On my own Pearson, I routinely check all
the through-hulls with a mask and snorkel. Zebra mussels, barnacles,
and even oysters love the cozy atmosphere of a through-hull

If it is not the through-hull, then where? The next step is
the seawater strainer. This strainer should be installed in the
seawater intake line between the seacock and the downstream
distribution. I say downstream distribution because it is possible to
use the seawater intake for more than one purpose, but that’s fodder
for another article. The seawater strainer should be as large as
practical. The larger it is, the more trash it can hold before
becoming clogged. Groco makes a fine line of bronze and Plexiglas
seawater strainers. Some other manufacturers are Puritan, Par, Vetus,
and Forespar.

A pre-sail checkout should include making sure the seawater
strainer is clean. A few minutes’ work will assure a trouble-free
trip. I realize it is a pain to crawl into the bilge to check the
seawater filter, but it is worth doing. I know it’s time to diet when
I cannot easily climb into the cockpit seat lockers to check out the
seawater filter. (Something about the ratio of sun to beer intake,
according to my wife.)

Finally, if it is neither of the above, check the seawater
pump impeller. Old impellers tend to throw off their blades, which
then get caught in the engine cooling system and block the water
flow. The only defense against this is to replace the impeller
annually. Globe/Barco impellers are made of niprene, which is an
elastomer combining properties of rubber, nitrile, viton, and
neoprene. The impellers are self-lubricating. They are used by the
U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and are sold by marine outlets. Carry at
least one spare impeller, if not two.

If you change your impeller every season, or at least inspect
it, you will know which tools are required and how much time it will
take. On some engines, it is fast and easy, and on some it takes
several hours. (Editor’s note: We remove ours during winter layup and
lubricate the housing with Vaseline or water pump grease when we
reinstall it.)

Water filters

Racor Water filter

Next let’s look at filters we need for our health and well being.
Consumable water is a requirement for all manner of life on earth,
sailors included. The concept of fresh water in our homes and on our
boats is sometimes a misnomer. Scientists studying pollution
worldwide are coming to the conclusion that water quality and
quantity around the world is in serious decline and will constitute a
major problem in the 21st century for the developed and developing
countries of the world. Bacteria and toxins, along with chemical and
hydrocarbon contaminants, endanger all of our earth’s water.
Antiquated water treatment facilities are ill-equipped to handle
today’s level and type of pollutants. Many of the new breeds of bug,
especially cysts like Cryptosporidia cannot be effectively removed
from the water supply. If this is true of the municipal water supply
of the United States, consider the out islands and other remote
locations. Even rainwater can pick up contaminants from the
atmosphere on its way to the earth.

Now consider the water on board our good old boats. It may be
anything but pure and fresh. It may taste of the bilge, smell of
fiberglass, look like mildew, and carry particles of unknown origin.
We need to take care of this most precious commodity. Remember, a
person can live without food for more than 30 days but cannot live
even five days without clean water.

We can have clear, sweet, clean fresh water on our boats
through the care of our freshwater tanks and the use of filters to
cleanse the water of many of its impurities prior to use.
Pre-tank water filters are the equivalent of the Baja filter,
which is used as we fill our fuel tanks. The least we can do in this
regard is to use a funnel with a fine mesh screen to remove any
solids that may be present in the water and, of course, to carefully
select the source of our water in the first place. The best we can do
is to use a pre-filter such as General Ecology’s Dockside Pre-Filter
to keep dirt and sediment out of our freshwater tanks.

Letting the water in the fill hose run for a short while will go a
long way toward assuring that we are getting fresh water from the
supply, rather than the water in the hose. Water that has been
sitting in plastic hoses will usually add an unpleasant taste to your
water supply unless you have a special potable water hose made to
eliminate the problem. Even if you do use a special hose, unless you
can hook up to the hard piping of the source there may still be
conventional plastic hose between your hose and the water source with
the associated taste problem.

Water will also contain dissolved chemicals and contaminants
that cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled but are not good for humans.
These can be parasitic cysts, solvents, and other nasty critters and
substances. Pre-filters will not remove these contaminants. Our water
tanks provide an almost ideal breeding environment for these nasty
substances to grow and multiply. Fungi, Giardia cysts, amoebic cysts,
microscopic worms, larvae, and other undesirable creatures and plants
thrive in this environment. The problem is exacerbated by taking on
water from different sources. Various water supplies contain
different pollutants which can "gang up" to create problems they
would not normally cause by themselves.

We are usually our greatest enemy in the fight for clean
water. We fill the tanks at the beginning of the season and use the
water sparingly during our time aboard. Weekend to weekend the water
sits in the tank and "grows" things. We don’t want to waste our water
supply and dump it every week, and we can’t clean the tank every
week, so, what to do?

The first step in assuring a clean, sweet water supply is to
find a supply that is sweet to begin with. We are going to use a lot
of water to clean up our onboard supply. Next, we add 2/3 cup of
bleach (sodium hypochlorite) diluted in one gallon of sweet water for
every 10 gallons of tank capacity. Fill the tank to the brim with the
mixture and let it sit for 24 hours. Dump all of the water and start
over, this time add one quart of white vinegar for every 5 gallons of
tank capacity, fill to the brim again, and let it sit for 48 hours.
Then dump it – all of it.

Next, fill the tank with sweet water with no additives, let
it sit for another 24 hours and dump it. Refill the tank adding one
teaspoon (1/6 oz.) of sodium hypochlorite for every 10 gallons of
water. The water in your tanks should now be sweet and clean. This
procedure is time-consuming but not hard to accomplish. The hardest
part will be assuring you have completely drained the tank at each
stage of the cleaning process. (Editors’ note: If you have any
physical reaction to water with bleach in it – a sore throat, for
example – keep flushing until you don’t, and then don’t add more
bleach. We have experienced problems with bleach, even in minute
quantities, in our drinking water.)

The bleach should have killed off any mold, mildew, or other
bacteria in the tank. It will not kill cysts and parasites, but we
will handle them with our onboard filters. The vinegar will
neutralize the bleach taste and fiberglass smell. The series of
rinses will remove any particulate matter leaving a clean water

Be sure, when you are accomplishing the above, that you flush
the supply lines from the tank to the fixtures, as these sometimes
enable things to grow. Pulling water through the system for all
treatments will accomplish this for you easily. You need not pull all
the water through the system. Pull till it runs clear, then dump the
rest. As the water is not hydrocarbon contaminated, it can be pumped
overboard through the bilge pump system.

Our water supply is now back in business, and all we need is
a final treatment to remove those things we cannot see but will hurt
us. We need a high-quality water filter between the tank and the
outlets. Water filters range in design from UV (ultra violet) water
sterilizers such as Water Fixer to in-line carbon filters similar to
units we would use in our homes. There are sediment filters, taste
filters, softeners, odor filters, and Structured Matrix technology
that combine the capabilities of several types of filters. The
Seagull IV System has an ultra fine submicron filter layer to remove
all visible particles combined with a molecular sieving and broad
spectrum absorption layer which removes chlorine, organic chemicals,
specific pesticides, herbicides, solvents, taste, smell, and color.
The final layer of the filter works by electrokinetic attraction
removing small positively charged particles of the larger
contaminants by attracting them to the negatively charged surface of
the filter to remove colloids and other even smaller particles than
those removed by the microfine filtration layer. By the time the
water has passed through a filter of this type, it is probably purer
than the tap water we have at home.

The cost of these filters runs from $30 to $500. You
definitely get what you pay for, but for most of us a good annual
tank cleaning and a $30 carbon filter will meet all of our
requirements. Water purifiers are available if the quality of water
you receive in a foreign port is in doubt. Purifiers can be used in
conjunction with other filters to clean up most potable water
problems. Remember, the water you take on must be potable. The
world’s best filter cannot make contaminated water safe to drink.

The filter you have on board will need to be serviced once a
year, preferably in the spring when you flush the tank after the
winter layup. This usually means pulling the old cartridge and
installing a new one at a modest cost.

The best way to assure a clean water supply is to exercise
diligence in selecting the source of supply in the first place.
Protecting your own and your family’s health are worth all the effort
in cleaning your water supply.

The fore and aft rig

The fore-and-aft rig

By Ted Brewer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 2, March/April 2001.

While economics favor the sloop, other rigs have much to offer

Sunshine, a 33-foot gaff sloop drawing

Sunshine, a 33-foot gaff sloop with a bowsprit

The history of the fore-and-aft
rig is a fascinating one. It is particularly interesting when you realize
that two of the earliest fore-and-aft rigs, the lateen sail of the
Middle East (Egyptian feluccas and Arabian dhows) and the Chinese junk,
have remained largely unchanged over the centuries and are still in
use in the areas where they began.

21-foot catboat drawing

21-foot catboat

in the West, the fore-and-aft rig has been under constant development:
from the
dipping-lug rig
based on the old square sails
to standing lugs, gaff rigs, and finally to “leg o’mutton” sails,
spritsails, and the modern Bermudan rig. And, of course, the rig
is still being developed with newer materials, fully battened sails,
vangs, in-mast reefing, sprit rigs with wishbone booms, and so forth.

will note that I use the term “Bermudan” rather
than “Marconi.” The reason is that the rig first
became more widely known in the late 1600s after reports reached
of the good performance of the small sloops of Bermuda. So I prefer
use the island name, rather than call it after a radio mast that
was not invented until 200 years after a Bermudan rig first caught

42-foot sloop drawing

Sandingo, a 42-foot sloop

Gaff vs. Bermudan

The gaff rig and the Bermudan are the two major rigs today. Each has its
advantages, but truly they operate on different planes. The racing sailor
and the average yachtsman stay with the Bermudan rig, while the gaff is
favored by a few diehards and is used, of course, for character boats and

gaff rig does feature a lower center of effort for a given
sail area and so develops less
moment. This is partly
offset by
the heavier weight of the spars, but the weight of the gaff
comes down as the sail is reefed. Furthermore, a quick “reef” can
be achieved in a squall by dropping the peak halyard to scandalize
the sail and immediately reduce the effective mainsail area
by 30 to 40 percent. The gaff sail itself is slightly more effective
offwindthan the Bermudan as it presents a flatter area to the
breeze and, in addition, the gaff can be fitted with a vang to reduce
twist. More
important to the serious cruising sailor is that the gaff rig
is simpler and cheaper to set up, less sensitive to bad tuning,
and generally
simpler to repair if something goes wrong at sea.

42-foot double-headsail sloop drawing

42-foot double-headsail sloop

The gaff rig hasn’t had
the advantage of the development that has gone into the Bermudan rig in
the past 50 years. The British designer, J. Laurent Giles, showed the gaff
rig the way over a half-century ago with the lovely 47-foot gaff cutter
Dyarchy. Her single-spreader rig supported a tall, wooden, pole mast with
an unusually large main topsail’s luff rope sliding up into a groove. Despite
Dyarchy’s success, this did not stir interest in further development unfortunately,
so the gaff rig of today is little changed from that of a century ago with
the exception of synthetic sails and, possibly, aluminum tube spars.

The contemporary, highly
developed Bermudan rig, with its lighter spars, higher-aspect-ratio sail,
inboard chainplates, close jib-sheeting angles, and so on, has much the
better windward ability. Also the development of the spinnaker and (more
importantly to the cruising sailor, the asymmetrical spinnaker) has more
than offset the gaff rig’s advantage downwind. A major feature of the Bermudan
rig, of course, is that a permanent backstay can be fitted, adding to safety
and reducing the need for running backstays.

these and other reasons, such as rating handicaps and manufacturing
economy, the
Bermudan rig is vastly in the
majority today for
cruising and racing, while new gaff-rigged craft are
few and far between.
Still, the gaff rig finds favor with those who love traditional
craft andreplicas of the working sail of yesteryear.
I’ve been fortunate to have been commissioned to design
wide range of gaff-rigged yachts,
from 25-foot catboats and Bahama sloops to 70-foot schooners,
and I know that our waters would be very dull indeed
if the gaff rig ever
vanished completely.


In the 1960s, the Royal Ocean Racing Club of Great Britain
developed a handicap rule that estimated the efficiency
of the various




Handicap (%)

sloop or cutter
Bermudan yawl
Bermudan schooner and gaff sloop
Bermudan ketch and gaff yawl
Gaff schooner
Gaff ketch


37-foot triple-headsail sloop

37-foot triple-headsail sloop

effect, the rule said that a gaff ketch rig has only 81 percent of the
efficiency of a
Bermudan sloop
or cutter
the same sail
area, but that was with other things being equal.
not always the case, and it is obvious that a gaff
ketch with a well-designed
hull and a slick bottom can sail circles around a
poorly designed Bermudan sloop with ratty sails and a rough
bottom. Also, the cruising sailor
must consider that efficiency is not necessarily
handiness or safety.
Safety in cruising is having sufficient windward
ability to claw off a lee shore in a gale, but only
if the
rig can be
by a short-handed
crew. If a sloop’s sails are too large for
the crew to change or reef under storm conditions,
then you have no safety and would be
better off with a divided rig with its smaller sails
and greater ease of handling.


the 1980s, the cat rig was limited to small character boats, usually
gaff-rigged, and designed
along the
lines of the Cape
Cod model.

29-foot sloop drawing

29-foot sloop

Now we have beamy fin keel/spade rudder
Nonsuch catboats in sizes to
36 feet, spreading over 700 square feet in one
huge sail. I know from racing against them that these
new catboats
sail well to
certainly much better than the old gaff-rigged
cats, but how
much of
that is due to the rig and how much to the modern
hull design is open to question.

Cat rigs

The cat rig is certainly suitable for coastal cruising,
with an eye on the weather, but I don’t
consider any single-masted cat rig, not even
the most modern, to be a true bluewater cruiser.
Someone will
cross an ocean on one, probably has already;
oceans have been crossed in all manner of small
craft, from rowboats to sailing canoes . . .
just not with me aboard!

Sloops and cutters

The sloop rig and the cutter are almost indistinguishable today. If the
boat sets only a single headsail, she is a sloop, of course.

46-foot cutter without bowsprit

Blue Jeans, a 46-foot cutter without a bowsprit

With or without
a bowsprit, if the mast is set well aft, abaft 40 percent of the waterline
length, and the boat carries two or more headsails, she is a cutter. Confusion
arises when a boat has her mast located forward but sets several headsails.
Many will call her a cutter but she is, in reality, a double-headsail sloop.
Even with a short bowsprit she’ll be a sloop unless the foretriangle is
larger than the mainsail.

The sloop and cutter
are the most efficient of all rigs. Indeed,
a sloop with a self-tending
jib would
be as easy
to handle
as a catboat and a better all-round performer.
The single-headsail sloop
has a slight edge over the double-headsail
as the staysail is
not an easy sail to trim for maximum performance.
Properly set
up, either rig is simple to handle, and with
modern (and very expensive) gear they are
suited to cruising
up to 50
feet or more.

An important point with
cutters and most double-headsail rigs is that running backstays are required
to properly tension the staysail stay. Often, you’ll find an intermediate
shroud fitted, running from the point where the staysail stay intersects
the mast to a chainplatejust abaft the aft lower shroud.

38-foot cutter drawing

Kaiulani, a 38-foot cutter

The angle this
shroud presents with the mast is far too small to tension the staysail stay,
so all it really does is add undesirable mast compression. On many designs
I have fitted a heavy tackle to the lower end of the intermediate shroud
so it can be left set up as an intermediate in light air and, when it breezes
up, brought aft as a runner, properly tensioning the staysail stay and reducing
mast panting at the same time. Don’t cross an ocean without one!

It should be noted that the
most efficient setup for a given sail
area is a sloop
with a large
mainsail and a
The big
150-percent masthead genoa jib beloved
of modern racers
only pays off under handicap rules that
do not penalize the extra
area of
the overlap.
In class racing where every square foot
of sail area is counted, such as the
5.5-Meter class,
the rigs
quickly settle down
to using the largest
permissible main and the smallest jib
to make up the allowed
area. Such a rig can make good sense
for the coastal cruiser also, as
it simplifies handling. The main can
be quickly
reefed when it blows,
eliminating the need for a headsail change.
Tacking with the smaller jib is much
easier on a husband/wife
than handling
a whopping
big genoa. Such rigs were once common
but are now out of style in this era of masthead


52-foot yawl drawing

Julie, a 52-foot yawl

Despite the efficiency of the single-masted
rigs, my own preference for bluewater
cruisers over
40 feet
is a divided
rig, the yawl
or ketch. A true yawl has the mizzen
set abaft the rudderpost and the
sail area
about 10 to 15 percent of the total.
It’s a useful rig wit

some of the advantages of both the
sloop and ketch. It is almost as
weatherly as a sloop and, like the ketch,
set an easily handled
mizzen staysail to increase area
in light air or jog along under jib and
mizzen in a blow. At anchor, if you
leave the mizzen set with a
reef or two, the boat points quietly
into the wind and no longer sails
around its mooring. The yawl’s mizzen
must be strongly stayed so the sail
can be set to balance the jib in
heavy weather and, in
a real gale, to keep the yacht head-to-wind
with a sea anchor off the bow. It’s
difficult to design a yawl today,
though, as the rudders on contemporary yachts
are usually so far aft that you’d
have to tow the mizzen in a dinghy
for it to be abaft the rudderpost.


44-foot ketch with small mizzen drawing

A 44-foot ketch with a small mizzen

The ketch has her mizzen forward of the rudderpost, and the sail area is
comparatively larger than that of the yawl’s mizzen, up to 20 percent or
more of the total. As a result, the ketch is slower and not as weatherly
as the yawl because the large mizzen is partially backwinded by the main
when beating to windward. The answer is to design ketch rigs with a smaller
mizzen, closer to yawl proportions. This makes a good compromise rig with
some of the advantages of both. The mizzen mast can be well stayed, and
the mizzen sail is not so large that it unduly affects performance.

the ketch and yawl can be balanced
under a wide variety of reduced
sail combinations in a
blow and,
to many cruising
thishandiness more than offsets
the loss of a
fraction of a knot to windward.
Both rigs can be built in smaller sizes,
of course. I’ve owned a
22-foot ketch and 22-foot, 25-foot,
and 30-foot yawls. Still, it is
generally considered that over
40 feet is the
proper size for the rigs,
although I would not dismiss them
in smaller sizes for extended bluewater
cruising. The versatility and handiness
of yawls and ketches can more than
make up for an extra day or two
at sea on a long voyage.

By the
way, there is no such rig as
a “cutter-ketch” but
I’ve heard a Whitby 42
called that when one is fitted
with a
bowsprit and double headsails.
The term makes about as much
sense as
calling a Maine Friendship a “cutter-sloop.” The
correct term is simply a ketch
or, if you wish to be exact,
a double-headsail

double-headsail ketch with bowsprit drawing

Miami, a double-headsail ketch with a bowsprit


The schooner rig is rarely seen today and, to my knowledge, there have been
only two schooners in production in North America, the beautiful Cherubini
44 and my own little 32-foot Lazyjack (see January 2001 issue of Good Old
Boat). The usual schooner is set up with one or more headsails, followed
by a gaff foresail set on the foremast and either a gaff or Bermudan mainsail
on the mainmast. The staysail schooner replaces the foresail with a staysail
between the masts. Nina, a famous old staysail schooner, was winning silver
from her first trans-Atlantic race in 1928 to her last Bermuda win in the
late 1960s.

A few schooners have
been built with Bermudan
sails on both
masts. My
Ingenue design
was a CCA rule-beater
this type,
a lot of silver in her day
and beating many larger yachts
when the wind
was free.
Still, although
the schooner is fast
the wind,
she is not as weatherly as
the sloop
or yawl. A schooner can be
a handy rig for cruising,

70-foot schooner drawing

Tree of Life, a 70-foot schooner

A well-designed schooner can
beat slowly
to windward in a blow with
her foresail set and is well
suited to
handling in
adverse weather
by a
short-handed cruising
Schooners have been built
as small as 20 to 22 feet, and
Murray Peterson designed
many traditional beauties
in the 30-foot
range. The rig is best suited
to larger craft, generally
40 feet
or more,
but if
you like the
rig and want a small schooner,
go for it.

When I started in this business more than 40 years ago, the waters
were dotted with schooners, ketches, yawls, cutters, and sloops of
all types, sizes, and colors. Today, unfortunately, rating rules
and the economics of modern mass production have decreed that the sloop
rig is the way to go. Over the years, the factories have turned them
out by the thousands, usually with blue trim or, like the bathtub
my home, all white with no trim at all. As sailors, we have lost
much of our heritage, and our waters are a great deal less interesting
a result.


Tanks A Lot – Epoxy Cure

Tanks A Lot, Part 3

By Norman Ralph

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 1, January/February 1999.

The epoxy “cure”

One of the most annoying
problems that can occur on a sailboat is a leak in the diesel fuel tank.
If you don’t have the time, expertise, or courage to attempt to
repair it yourself, you can always arrange to have your boatyard repair
it. But you can do it yourself, if you are willing to try.

If your boat is
constructed so that tank removal is possible without major disassembly
of the interior, make the repair with the tank removed. The repair will
then be fairly straightforward. Since most diesel fuel tanks are made
of aluminum or black iron, a welding shop can repair either material
with relatively little expense. First remove the inspection cover and
thoroughly clean the interior of the tank. While you’re at it,
inspect it for pitting and other potential future problems. If the tank
doesn’t have an inspection cover, now would be an excellent time
to install one. If you ever get bad fuel or have a sludge buildup in
your tank, you will be glad you have access to the interior of your
tank to clean it.

If you cannot remove
your tank or don’t have an inspection port, let me walk you through
my experience in repairing the fuel tank on our boat Bluebonnet, a Valiant
32. During the second year of a multi-year refit I was doing on the
boat in our back yard, I became aware that diesel fuel was seeping into
the bilge. We had bought the boat in Texas and had it trucked to our
home in Missouri, where I was repairing extensive blisters and bringing
the boat back to her former glory.

At first I pushed
the leak out of my mind, since I was involved with other work on the
boat. However, when the smell wouldn’t go away I decided that
it would have to be fixed. The Valiant 32 has a 47-gallon aluminum fuel
tank that is mounted aft of the L-25 Westerbeke diesel engine under
the cockpit sole. Due to its size, the only way to remove it would be
to remove the engine first.

Even then, removing
the tank would have been questionable because offshore sailboats tend
to have small, narrow companionways. I decided to repair the tank in
place. The first step was to empty the remaining fuel from the tank.
This was accomplished by pumping the fuel into five-gallon cans.

Squeezing into the
starboard cockpit locker, I found that I could lie next to the fuel
tank and work. I had 10 to 12 inches of clearance between the top of
the tank and the cockpit sole. In the flat area on the top of the tank,
I cut a 10-inch square hole with a right-angle drill and a sabre saw
to give access to the interior of the tank. If you have removed your
tank and are installing an inspection port, make sure the location will
be accessible when the tank is re-installed. I removed the fuel gauge
sending unit and set it aside. Then I cleaned the inside of the tank
using rags first and solvents later.

During this process,
the engine access panels were removed and a high volume fan circulated
air throughout the area. I wore a respirator at all times. There was
evidence of pitting in the aluminum in the lowest part of the tank,
and one of the largest pits was paper thin. To repair the leak, I called
Gougeon Brothers of Bay City, Mich. For blister repair on the hull,
I had been using their West System epoxy and fillers.

I had called them
before with other questions and found them to be very cordial and knowledgeable.
I was told that they had used epoxy to repair fuel tanks with excellent
results and was given instructions about how to proceed. With special
attention to the pitted areas, I gave the entire interior of the tank
a final cleaning with acetone to remove any oily residue. I mixed some
epoxy and hardener with some filler to make a putty the consistency
of peanut butter. This was worked into the areas where the pitting had
occurred. After this cured, I sanded the area smooth. Then I lightly
sanded the entire area with number 100 emery cloth and wiped it down
with acetone. Using a disposable brush, I coated the interior with epoxy
and hardener.

I then purchased
a piece of 3/16-inch thick aluminum, 12 x 12 inches. I drilled three
holes on each side H inch in from the edge. I centered this plate over
the hole, scribed the top of the tank, and center-punched the holes.
Then I drilled holes and tapped the top of the tank for G x 20 aluminum
bolts. Aluminum bolts were available, and I used them to prevent corrosion.
I cut a piece of gasket material to size and fitted it. Before the cover
was bolted in place, I checked the fuel gauge sending unit and verified
that it was working, then I installed it and replaced its gasket. I
bolted the cover in place and used an RTV gasket compound that I purchased
at an auto parts store.

After two years
of service, including a trip down the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway,
I have been very pleased with the repair.

Dream Boat

Diamond-in-the-rough, perhaps, but how rough?

By Bill Sandifer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 1, Number 2, August/September 1998.

What to look for when buying your Dream Boat

Sailboats side by side

In the nautical lexicon, it seems these three words – good old boats – always go together. Some of the most aesthetically pleasing designs from the boards of
America’s greatest naval architects – Alden, Alberg, Gillmer, Herreshoff, Rhodes, Sparkman & Stephens and many others are now well along in age and, like old debutantes, in need of a face and structural lift.

When, in our wanderings, we find an older boat, a fiberglass boat which appeals
to our hearts, our spirits soar, and a smile lights our faces and then fades.
It fades when we consider the work and cost associated with the required plastic
surgery. But need it fade?

Let’s assess our new love and evaluate the potential under the layers of grime.

The earliest fiberglass sailboats were built from designs originally intended
for wood construction. The beam was narrow and the overhang long the waterline
short and the interior small but the beauty is there.

A Herreshoff H-28 is still a Herreshoff, in wood or glass. A Hinckley Pilot
is still a Stephens’ design, Seawind a Gillmer, Cape Dory an Alberg, Bounty
a Rhodes, and a Pearson Countess an Alden.

Start with the basics

To evaluate our find, let’s start with the basics.

The earliest fiberglass hulls were thick and sturdy, approaching the originally
designed wood thickness. The resins, until 1972, were of a formulation that
resisted blistering. So the hull, barring physical damage, should be sound.

This is not necessarily so with the decks and cabinhouse. Take off your shoes
and walk on every horizontal surface; dig your toes in as you walk. If there
is a soft spot or delamination, you’ll feel or hear it. A crackling sound or
a soft feeling will tell you of a problem. Don’t panic. Make a note of the location
and keep looking.

If the boat is out of the water, next check the underwater gear. The older hulls
– Triton, Ariel, Reliant – all had wood rudders with bronze shafts and strapping.
Age, electrolysis, and marine life may have eaten holes in the wood or bronze.
It can be fixed. Keep going.

Check mast, rigging, sails

The mast and rigging are next. The spars were usually wood or heavy-walled aluminum.
Unless rotted, the wood can be reglued and the aluminum painted. The problem
with the rig will be the standing rigging.

Most standing rigging will be stranded stainless steel wire with swaged fittings.
There is no reliable way to evaluate the condition of rigging wire until it
starts to break. To check for breaks, put on leather gloves and wipe all wire
rigging with a paper towel. The paper will catch on the broken strands (called
“fish hooks” for a good reason) and flag the break. This sure beats using your
ungloved hand and marking the break in blood.

If you can’t be sure the wire is in good condition and has been replaced within
the last 10 years, plan on replacing all standing rigging. Check each swage
fitting by cleaning with metal polish and using a magnifying glass. Check for
cracks or corrosion.

Just one fitting failure can bring your rig down. The cheapest way to replace
standing rigging is with new wire and swages. The more expensive alternative
is to use new wire and reusable fittings. Consult your budget and make notes.

Running rigging, sails, and all canvaswork can be evaluated visually. Raise
all sails and check their shape. Are they baggy or stretched, do they set poorly
under wind pressure? Try the poke test. Ask the owner for permission to hold
a small section of the sailcloth in one hand and see if you can push your finger
through it. If it gives, or if you make a hole, the cloth is deteriorated. This
is probably due to ultra-violet rays from long exposure in use or just from
being uncovered on the boom.

Sails will last a long time if properly cared for. They can be re-cut for better
shape a whole lot cheaper than they can be replaced. Used sails can be bought
from any number of sail brokers or lofts. Sometimes new sails are available
at 50 percent of the original cost, if they were ordered and not picked up.
Check your budget and your intended use. I’m not a racing sailor, so my old
sails are fine for cruising use. The added speed from new sails is not worth
the cost for me.

What about woodwork?

With one exception, the ondeck woodwork can be replaced or sanded down and refinished.
The 37-year-old teak on my Ariel is still serviceable. The former owners never
cleaned it, so they did not wear away the soft wood between the grain as happens
when harsh chemicals and hard scrubbing are used to clean the wood.

The exception on deck wood is teak decks. The usual method of fastening teak
to a fiberglass deck is to screw the teak directly to the fiberglass below.
The teak is 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick and more of a veneer for looks than for a
structural deck. The soft wood between the grain is worn away by the elements,
people’s feet, washing, gear dropping on the deck, and other impacts. Over time,
the deck gets so thin that the bungs covering the fasteners fall out, and the
fasteners begin to work loose.

If the decks are very worn, and the bungs covering the screws are popping off,
you will most likely find delamination underneath and a very large job ahead.
Think about whether you’re willing to tear it all up and fill all those holes
or just take a chance. Either way, it will be expensive in the long run.

Let’s go below

Open up all the hatches, cupboards, and drawers. Use a flashlight and a fine
ice pick. Poke any discolored areas for rot. Check the area where bulkheads
are bonded to the hull. Has the fiberglass tape pulled away from the wood? Has
the mast step sunk into the keel? How about the keelbolts? Most, but not all
of the earlier fiberglass boats, had encapsulated ballast. Some had lead or
iron exterior keels. Check the bolts for corrosion. They will all look rusty,
but determine if they have lost material. Are the nuts octagonal or rounded
off? Hit the nuts gently with a small metal hammer. If you get a clear “ring,”
they are salvageable. A dull sound means deterioration. Check the “floors” or
supporting beam around the keelbolts. Are they discolored or soft? That fix
is expensive.

Operate all the seacocks. They should open and close and be a nice bronze color.
Yellow is brass. Pink/purple is bronze from which electrolysis has leached the
zinc. In either case – yellow or pink – replace them.

Shine a light at as much of the hull-to-deck joint as you can to check the seam.
See if there are any signs of leaks. Did water get in around the bolted fittings?
Look for water stains. Investigate all deck hardware from underneath. Is it
adequately bolted with a backing plate? A wood or fiberglass plate is nice,
an aluminum plate is better, and a large stainless steel plate is tops. Carbon
steel is OK, but it must be coated to resist rust. Carbon steel was seldom used
in fiberglass yachts.

Check ports and hatches for operation and leaks. The aluminum port light on
my Ariel fell apart in my hand when I tried to fix a leak.

Evaluate the systems

Finally, check the electrical, mechanical, and piping systems. The electrical
system may need breakers to replace old fuses or new wire and/or fixtures. Are
the running lights legal? The rules have changed over time.

The engine is a whole subject unto itself. If it runs, it is a plus. If it does
not, a replacement may cost more than the boat is worth. Price replacement engines
before making a decision.

Check the shaft and Cutless bearing for wear. If it moves up and down, replace
the bearing. This is a big job, but not an expensive one, with the boat out
of water.

An old Atomic 4 can be rebuilt and serve for years. These engines are simple
and can be made reliable with upgrading. You are safe if care was taken to keep
the fuel system in tight shape and you use your nose to check the bilge before
each start. Blowers are required, but the nose is infallible. Diesel engines
are really nice, but they’re expensive as a new or replacement system.

Check all tanks. Fuel tanks can leak and be almost unremovable. Water tanks,
if fiberglass, can encourage the growth of various things and cause the water
to taste terrible. Tanks can be cleaned out and repaired, but it is a labor-intensive
job. As an example, you may have to remove the engine to replace the fuel tank
or remove the cabin sole or V-berth to replace the water tank. Unless you are
independently wealthy, you really don’t want to ask a boatyard to do the work.

Take a final look all around. I hope you’ve been taking lots of notes. Find
a quiet place to review your findings and decide if the boat of your dreams can become your Dream Boat.

Back To Top

Common-sense boat buying

by Bill Sandifer

As a young adult with a wife and one child, I wanted a sailboat in
the worst way. As with everyone at that stage of life, money was a
problem. But I took my last $1,500 and made an offer on a used wood
catboat “subject to survey.”

I’d owned boats all my life and had actually built several.
Still, I was not trusting in my own abilities and felt I was doing
“the prudent thing” in engaging a professional marine surveyor to
protect my investment.

The surveyor inspected the boat, noted nothing wrong except,
“the cockpit flooring will probably leak, ought to cover it with
plywood,” and picked up his fee. Blinded by the “professional
report,” I bought the boat.

It was only on a hard beat in the middle of Long Beach Sound
that the knots began to fall out of the “knotty pine” wood planking.
Using the anchor rope to plug up the holes, I was able to reach shore
with my wife and young daughter.

I never could find the surveyor to ask him about the problem.
It was probably just as well, as I had visions of sending him to sea
in the very same vessel he had pronounced “seaworthy.”

The moral of the story? I ignored my own capabilities and
common-sense judgments in favor of a “professional opinion.” If I
would have taken the trouble to carefully inspect the hull myself, I
would have seen the knotty planking, rejected the boat and been saved
from a potentially life-threatening situation.

Any person who wants to buy a boat must like the water, have
seen other boats, and have a good idea what type of boat is best for
him. If a person takes his abilities to think, talk, observe, and
reason and couples those abilities with common sense, that person can
assess a boat’s condition on his own.

Basic common-sense questions should be considered: Is the
boat clean? Does it look good? Does it do what it should do? For
example, does the engine start easily and run well? Do the sails look
good without wear? Do they raise and lower smoothly? Finally, is the
owner/broker being honest? We all can sense when we are being conned
or “sold a bill of goods.”

Three old cliches come to mind. “Handsome is as handsome
does.” “If it looks right, it probably is right.” And, finally,
“Buyer beware.” All three can be applied to any boat and will go a
long way to assure the prospective buyer a successful purchase.

Having said all of the above, does this mean that a person
should not hire a marine surveyor? Certainly not! Once a prospective
buyer has applied his own common sense to inspect the vessel in
question and decided in favor of the boat, then a surveyor should be
called in to apply his detailed knowledge of marine design and
construction to assess specific details about the boat.

As a person employs an accountant to do his taxes, a doctor
to tend to his ills, and a mechanic to repair his car; a surveyor
should be hired to assess and value the potential purchase. But only
after the buyer’s common sense tells him or her, “It’s just what I
want and in the condition I want it.”

A surveyor provides verification of the judgment already
arrived at by the purchaser and simply points out the more technical
points that need attention and are beyond the purchaser’s own

In selecting a surveyor, use common sense, ask for
references, ask to see reports on previous surveys, and, finally,
don’t abdicate your responsibility in favor of the surveyor. Use
common sense.

Improve your dodger

Get a grip: Improve your dodger

By Don Launer

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 4, Number 2, March/April 2001.

Handholds are an easy and inexpensive way
to increase your security afloat

Simple canvas dodger

Dodgers are not necessary – that is, if you’re a masochist
or a Spartan who enjoys being hit in the face with water from every
wave when beating to windward or developing windchill in the off-seasons.
Since I’m neither a Spartan nor masochist, I wouldn’t
do without my dodger. I find it an indispensable accessory for creature
comfort. It provides protection from the spray, wind, rain, and sun
and prevents downpours from entering the cabin when the companionway
hatch is open.

For all of the obvious
advantages of a dodger there is one glaring, and potentially dangerous,
disadvantage. If you have to go forward
when the seas are kicking up and the deck is bucking like a bronco,
the trip around the dodger becomes hazardous. There are no handholds
except for the low lifelines; you can’t clip your safety harness
onto the safety line until you’ve made it around the dodger;
and the shrouds are usually too far forward to be of any use. For any
member of the “over-the-hill gang’ like myself, especially
when sailing solo, the risk and insecure feeling is compounded.

a) Marking the handle position on the fabric

The obvious answer is to have a handhold available. I recently installed
handholds on our dodger, and it has increased our sense of security

The stainless steel tubular
frame that is an integral part of dodgers provides the mounting spot.
I used streamlined stainless steel handles
manufactured by AFI Industries. They’re made from bent stainless
steel tubing with 2-inch-long by 1/4-inch threaded studs at each end.
These handles are widely available in 12-inch, 18-inch and 24-inch
lengths from West Marine, BoatU.S., and many other catalog and retail
marine-supply stores.

The first decision is to determine what length handles suit your
installation. Try a simulated trip around the dodger to find the best
height for
a handhold, then at that spot measure the distance between the two
diverging frame members. The figure closest to one of the three sizes
is the one you want. Remember that by just moving the handle a few
inches up or down, a fit can be obtained.

Burning a hole through fabric with a soldering gun

b) Burning a hole through the fabric at the marked location

After purchasing the length
closest to your needs, place the handle on the Sunbrella fabric and
slide it up or down until the 1/4-inch mounting studs are directly
over the centers of the stainless steel tubing beneath the fabric.
Check this position with a level, or have someone away from the boat
look at the position of the handle to see if it is at an aesthetically
pleasing angle, then mark where the threaded studs touch the fabric.

Now loosen the dodger fabric so it is away from the frame. Most of
the fabrics used for dodgers are made of acrylic material, such as
Sunbrella. The hole for the threaded studs of the handle can be made
through these synthetic fabrics with a hot soldering iron, a heated
screwdriver, or even a heated nail. The hot tool melts its way through
the acrylic fabric with surprising and disconcerting ease, like the
proverbial hot knife through butter. As the hole for the stud is made,
the fabric ends are simultaneously sealed to prevent unraveling, in
the same way the end of a nylon or Dacron line is sealed with a hot
iron or flame.

Marking the frame through the hole in the fabric

c) Marking the stainless steel frame through the hole in the fabric

Now replace the dodger cover and tension it to its normal position.
This is important, since the stainless steel tubing will be held in
this final position by the handles. Mark the stainless steel tubing
through the holes you have made in the fabric. Pull back the dodger
cover and drill 1/4-inch holes in the dodger’s tubular frame
at these marks.

The cover now goes back on again, and the handhold studs
are put through the fabric and frame. The 2-inch-long studs on the
handle will probably
protrude too far on the inside, and you may want to cut them off to
make them shorter. As always, when cutting a threaded bolt, put a nut
on before cutting. After cutting, removing these nuts helps to clean
out the thread where the cut has been made.

Drillinga hold through the frame

d) With the fabric removed, drilling 1/4-inch holes through the frame

Two rubber gaskets come with each handhold. When installing the handle,
these should be between the handle and the fabric, cushioning the contact
as well as making the hole watertight. Although 1/4-inch stainless
steel washers and nuts also come with the handles, you might want to
consider using stainless steel wing-nuts on the inside rather than
the nuts supplied. This makes disassembling the dodger simpler and
faster, with no tools required. These wing-nuts are available at nearly
every marine-supply store.

Now do the same
for the other side of the dodger, and your job is completed. The
whole project
shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.

Mounting handles and gaskets Using wing-nuts on the inside to ease disassembly

e) Mounting the handles and rubber gaskets, and f) Using wing-nuts on the inside of the dodger to make disassembly easier.

The first time
I used my new handles in a seaway I wondered why I hadn’t done this
long before; they solve the problem perfectly. And I discovered
that as an added benefit, the handles stiffen up the whole dodger
frame remarkably. Installing handholds on your dodger is an upgrade
and safety
project that is well worth the small time and expense required –
and may pay off in unknown dividends sometime in the future.


Soft Dingy – Hard Choice

Soft dinghy? Hard choice!

By Bob Wood

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 3, May/June 2000.

Check the pros and cons before you decide which tender is right for you

Rubber dinghy waiting near shore

The age-old question of what dinghy is best will never find a
universal answer. Each boating situation has too many variables to
recommend a “one-dinghy-fits-all,” but it is possible to list the
advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Traditional dinghies

With a history predating the larger boats and ships they serve,
hard-hulled tenders or dinghies have much to offer the recreational

They are durable. Made of fiberglass or wood, a well cared-for dinghy
will last as long as the boat she serves. Combating the tar or
creosote souvenirs collected from wharves is not a problem for them;
paint removers or solvents that could attack soft dinghies can be
used with impunity. Their ruggedness extends to another common
occurrence: being tied to a barnacle- or mussel-encrusted wharf
piling results in mere scratches, whereas an inflatable would be

Similarly, a hard dinghy can be dragged onto a rocky beach, or
scraped over a reef, without the catastrophic failure many
inflatables would suffer. Tiny salt crystals wage an unseen war
against an inflatable’s seams, weakening and abrading them with each
movement of the boat, while their fabric ultimately degrades from the
ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Neither of these affects a hard
dinghy’s structural integrity in the least.

They are versatile. Their skegs, small keels, and sometimes
centerboards, provide directional stability, dramatically reducing
wandering, leeway, and sideways skittering. This important advantage
is the basis for their multi-functionality, making them a joy to
operate with any form of power: paddling, rowing, motoring, or
sailing. Rowing through a chop from your anchorage to the public dock may take three times as long in a smooth-bottomed inflatable … and it may be impossible if a good breeze is lifting the nose.

Better value

Fiberglass dinghy

They are relatively inexpensive. Traditional fiberglass dinghies
start at prices well below those of good-quality inflatables. With an
indefinite lifetime, as opposed to the very finite five-to-10-year
lifetime of inflatables, traditionals are usually the better value.
However, handmade wooden dinghies can easily cost as much as an

They’re beautiful. There is really no comparison between the looks of
a classic lapstrake sailing skiff and an inflatable. A skiff’s
timeless lines and graceful sheer bespeak generations of nautical
tradition, while most inflatables are strictly utilitarian. The hard
dinghy is often an aesthetic extension of the boat she tends; an
impossible feat for an inflatable unless the mother yacht is a

Versatility, durability, economy, and beauty. Can there possibly be
any other attributes for this type of dinghy? Very definitely. In
addition to everything else, they are (or can easily be made)
unsinkable. Hard dinghies should have flotation built into their
seats, bows, and/or gunwales. A hard-shelled dinghy will be safer
aboard the mother ship during a blow if it is inverted and made fast
securely. Its V-shaped or rounded hull will help press it down, while
its rigidity prevents it from flexing and lifting to catch the wind .
. . an inflatable idiosyncrasy.

One last advantage, small for some but large for me: my pets seem to
prefer a solid dinghy. They balk at giving up the security of a
larger boat for the squishy uncertainty of an inflatable. A minor
point, but coaxing a sizable dog to shore for his morning ablution is
not an option; it’s a necessity, and cooperation is appreciated in
foul weather.

Inflatable dinghies

Inflatable dinghy being unfolded

Despite the advantages of traditional dinghies, there are significant
reasons for having an inflatable as your boat’s tender. If there
weren’t, you wouldn’t see a majority of yachts with them.

Inflatables are the hands-down choice when it comes to variety.
Especially suited to mass-production methods, with all the attendant
savings and compromises, inflatables are commonly made from polyvinyl
chloride (PVC), neoprene rubber, and coated nylon. They can cost
anywhere from $75 to as much as a sizeable yacht. They can carry one
person on a still pond, or 20 people through fierce rapids, and they
can weigh anything from five pounds to one ton.

They can have smooth bottoms, inflated bottoms, or rigid bottoms made
of wood or fiberglass panels. There are more manufacturers, models,
and retail outlets than you will ever find for traditional dinghies.
If you’re a comparison shopper, you’ll be in heaven sorting through
the endless choices among inflatables.

Inflatable assembled

Inflatables have outstanding stability. Stand up in a traditional
dinghy (if you can) and put half your weight on the gunwale. Or, try
climbing aboard after swimming. You’ll either be perilously close to
swamping, or treading water as the dinghy turns turtle. Try the same
thing in a modest eight-foot inflatable, and you can stand there all
day. Stand there fishing, stand there handing bags of groceries
aboard, or stand there off-loading small children. Inflatables are
unbeatable when it comes to being safe and docile, as opposed to the
tippy traditional types.

Inflatables have a large carrying capacity. Pound for pound, or per
foot of length, inflatables can carry almost twice as much as
traditional dinghies. This is a critical feature on smaller yachts.


Inflatables are soft. If you do find yourself flipped into the water,
a hard dinghy can seriously injure you in the capsizing. The
inflatable will dunk you but not knock you out. The same softness
will not mar your big boat’s topsides while you are anchored, nor
will it keep you awake by banging against the hull. Your deck or
cabintop will be gouge-free if you carry an inflatable aboard during

Inflatables tow well. A traditional dinghy is a constant concern
under tow. The bridle arrangement, the length of the tow line, and
the dinghy’s position on the stern wave are all critical. An
inflatable placidly slides along in the wake, while the hard dinghy
tends to hunt back and forth, slowing a smaller yacht. At worst, an
inflatable will flip over when being towed in a crosswind. A hard
dinghy can turn from a dinghy to a submarine if pooped, flipped, or
filled with spray and rainwater. If you’re lucky in those instances,
you’ll merely have some anxious shoulder-wrenching moments pulling a
few hundred pounds of deadweight aboard after killing the engine and
dropping sail. If you’re unlucky, the slamming force of a diving
dinghy can rip out your towing cleat, leaving it and dinghy to
disappear in the stormy night.

Inflatables stow like no traditional dinghy can. Any tender, hard or
soft, when lashed on deck or towed, is vulnerable to damage from
weather, other boats, sunlight, and bird droppings. A pure
inflatable, however, can be deflated and placed in a quarterberth or
cockpit locker. For offshore work, this is the preferred method, as
boarding seas can sweep a deck clean despite the best tie-down
efforts. This portability also means your inflatable can go home with
you after the boating season to be washed, repaired, and stored, thus
extending its useful life.

Achilles inflatable Boston Whaler dinghy

Left: An Achilles inflatable speeds through the water.

Right: The smallest of the Boston Whaler line moves its passengers between boat and shore.


Zodiac Cadet dinghy Walker Day dinghy

Left: A Zodiac Cadet moves effortlessly through an anchorage.
Right: The Walker Bay dinghy is suitable for sail, oars, or motor.


Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport Pram

The brand-new Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport Pram comes as a kit and is put together using stitch-and-glue methods.

Double duty

Rigid-hulled inflatable on top of the car

Inflatables are versatile in their own way. They serve double duty as
tender and life raft. Even full of water, they provide survival
buoyancy. With an emergency abandon-ship bag, they can literally save
the day. Inflatables also make luxurious freshwater bathtubs during
summer rainstorms. Most inflatables are relatively lightweight, which
means they can often be carried up a beach, rather than dragged
ashore or tied to a dock.

There are also boats that attempt to offer the best of both worlds.
These are the rigid-hulled inflatable boats, or RIBs. They have a
conventional fiberglass hull with superb directional capability, plus
inflatable air chambers along the sides that provide buoyancy and
stability. Larger RIBs can have steering consoles, Bimini tops, and
even radar arches. They can handle large outboards and safely attain
speeds in excess of 30 or 40 knots. These boats carry large payloads
and, with a cover to protect occupants from the elements, may just be
the ultimate tender or lifeboat.

Rigid-hulled inflatable in the water

Yet, there are tradeoffs that prevent RIBs from dooming traditionals
and inflatables to extinction. RIBs are more expensive than the other
types. Significantly more expensive. They are heavy and require
davits or some other lifting device. Because of their weight and
size, most are suitable only for larger yachts. I’m aware of no RIB
that can sail. With a rigid hull they give up the deflating and
stowing advantages of inflatables. Nor, because of their large air
chambers, will they ever have the pleasing aesthetics of the
traditional tender. Still, would I have one if a magic genie offered?

Your dinghy can be a constant source of pride and satisfaction,
enhancing your time on the water. It deserves considerable thought
and research in the planning stages. In addition to reading the
glossy ads and promotions, talk to owners of each dinghy type and, if
possible, borrow it for a row or sail. Ask them about durability,
maintenance, and any problems they’ve had. Finding the right one for
you is part of the wonderful journey.

Bob Wood

Bob has owned an odd assortment of sailboats and sailed them in
waters from the Florida Keys to British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and
from New York’s Finger Lakes to Colorado’s and Idaho’s impoundments
and reservoirs.


* Traditional tenders
Bauteck Marine Bauer sailing dinghies

Chesapeake Light Craft dinghy kits;

Dyer Boats/The Anchorage;

Edy & Duff Fatty
Knees dinghies;
Glen-L dinghy kits

Porta-Bote folding boats;

Trinka Dinghies-Johannsen Boat Works

Walker Bay Dinghies;

* Inflatable tenders
AB Inflatables

Achilles Inflatables

Apex Inflatables and RIBs

Avon, Bombard, Sevylor, and Zodiac
Marine Inflatables and RIBs
http://www.avonmarine.com &

Caribe Inflatables and RIBs



Quicksilver Inflatables (Mercury Marine)

Sea Eagle Inflatables

Seaworthy Inflatables (BOAT/U.S.)

What’s more

The following specialize in inflatable boats, offering multiple product lines and valuable expertise:

Inflatable Boat Center
Portland, Oregon

Inflatable Boat Specialists
Ventura, California

End The Dinghy Dilemma

End the “dinghy dilemma”

By Susan Peterson Gateley

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 2, March/April 2000.

It’s quick and inexpensive to stitch together
the one that suits you best

Homebuilt dinghy
Dinghy fitted on boomkin

Susan’s first homebuilt dinghy fit on the afterdeck and boomkin of her 23-foot sloop, Ariel. She says, “I carried it back on the boomkin (well lashed) in some fairly rough water. Once in a while, when we heeled, the ends would dip in, and the dink would try to launch itself. The roughest crossing we ever made with it on deck we had a few honest seven-footers. We were on a beam reach to a close reach, and the dink behaved fine. The biggest problem was on a run with following seas and heavy rolling.”

Dinghies are a mixed
blessing. They are a “must” for cruising, allowing you the option of anchoring
out in a quiet cove or in a busy harbor when all the docks are full, and
they are wonderful for entertaining the kids in a quiet anchorage. A dinghy
also makes cruising safer, since you can use it to carry out a second
anchor on a windy night, or to kedge your cruiser off, if she is not too
inexorably grounded.

However, finding
a good dinghy that meets your needs and desires is no simple task. An
ideal dinghy in our view was one we could sail, row, or tow, while being
stable but still fairly lightweight. It also had to be narrow enough
to fit on our 32-footer’s foredeck. (As a good old boat, she’s not too
beamy.) We soon concluded that the only way to get the dinghy we wanted
was to build it ourselves.

Where and how to
transport the dinghy while you’re under way is a common cruisers’ dilemma.
Small motherships all too often lack space to carry a dink on board.
Towing it leads to frayed painters and nerves and the occasional embarrassment.
More than one cruiser has managed to wrap a prop shaft up in a lovely
bundle of dinghy painter while working into a strange harbor.

Limited deck space,
especially on good old boats of 30 feet and less, prompts many sailors
to opt for inflatables. These skippers reason that their blow-up boats
can be easily deflated and stowed compactly. The only thing is, they
usually aren’t. It’s too much of a pain to disassemble and re-assemble
the darned things every day. So they end up dragging astern just like
hard dinks.

Inflatables have
a couple of drawbacks, too, when compared to rigid dinghies. In my opinion,
the worst is their utter dependence on outboards. In anything more than
a light breeze, your standard inflatable rows like a wet noodle. The
stubby little oars are so short you can’t manage more than a dainty
little snatch at the water with the oar tip at best. And the bulky blow-up
boat presents ample sail area to the wind, making manual propulsion
in anything more than a light breeze problematic at best.

Build your own

One solution is
to customize your own dinghy to fit the available deck space aboard
your cruiser. With new materials and techniques, even amateur carpenters
with five thumbs can manage a fairly serviceable and completely watertight
dinghy. Thanks to epoxy and fiberglass cloth, it should prove fairly
durable, too, given normal usage. And those assorted sticky-goos and
cloth coverings allow you to slide by with something far short of the
perfect bevel. Three or four winter weekends in the basement with a
minimal tool kit (that should include a circular saw and an electric
drill for speed’s sake) will produce a very serviceable custom-made
plywood dinghy.

Second dinghy, bow
Second dinghy port side

Susan’s next dinghy was one she and husband, Chris, built using the stitch-and-glue method. Plans for this one, a D4, are offered by Jacques Mertens.

My first custom-fitted
dinghy was an Itty Bitty pram (shown at left), designed many years ago
by master naval architect William Atkin. He wrote that, inch for inch,
you get maximum carrying capacity in minimum space with the basic boxy
pram. By flaring the sides outward sharply, you gain additional carrying
capacity and stability in a very small dink. Putting as much rocker
as the quarter-inch plywood will tolerate greatly improves rowing performance
and seaworthiness of prams.

I built my tender
several inches narrower than the usual beam of most production dinghies.
This allowed me to jam the 7-foot 7-inch pram onto my 23 footer’s afterdeck
and boomkin, between her rudderpost and backstay. If a small tender
is still too big for available deck space, another alternative is to
build a two-piece dinghy. Each piece is a discrete watertight entity,
and each will float independently. By joining the two halves with a
latch or hinge arrangement, you end up with a more-or-less regular-sized
dinghy. (Phil Bolger carried this folding boat idea to an extreme a
few years back with his folding 30-foot schooner.)

Downloaded plans

Thanks to the rise
of the stitch-and-glue technique so well promoted by Harold (“Dynamite”)
Payson and others, almost anybody can craft a watertight dinghy. This
was the method we used recently to build the dinghy pictured above.
We used plans downloaded off the Internet for a tender called the D4
Dinghy, whose creator supplied dimensions for the bottom and side panels
of plywood. This eliminated any tricky lofting steps. The D4 tender
plans were developed by Jacques Mertens, who operates a website called
Boat Plans Online. Mertens has been selling marine supplies and books
online since 1986, when he operated from a bulletin board via Fidonet.
Today, he offers plans for several small tenders, including the D4,
whose plans were downloaded by more than 80,000 people last year.

After cutting out
the sides and bottom of plywood and the stiffening athwartships bulkheads,
the stitch-and-glue method of building requires that you drill approximately
two million holes, spaced about three inches apart, near the edges of
adjoining plywood pieces. Then you stitch your boat together, using
bits of copper or steel wire three or four inches long. We twisted the
wires together on the outside, giving the developing dinghy a distinctly
prickly aspect. The next step was to build up a fillet of epoxy putty
along the inside joints between the bottom and the sides and the bulkheads.
A light bulb worked well for shaping and smoothing the fillet of putty.

Dinghy diagram

For more on the stitch-and-glue method of boatbuilding, email: Jacques Mertens at jmg2@aol.com or visit his website at http://www.bateau.com/.
The postal address is Mertens-Goosens Inc., 2032 Old Dixie, Ste.
3, Vero Beach, FL 32962. The book Building New Instant Boats, by
Harold Payson, also contains information on stitch-and-glue building. It’s available through Jacques’ website.

After this had set
up, the developing hull was quite rigid. We then clipped the excess
wires off the outside and faired out the joints externally with more
putty before applying 3-inch biaxial cloth tape on the seams for strength.
The seams were glassed on both sides and now, even with just two bulkheads
in place, the developing dinghy hull was stiff and strong.

Prone to checking

Ultimately, we also
covered the entire plywood exterior with a fine-weave, 3-ounce cloth
to increase the dinghy’s
durability. We also tried to seal all exposed edge grain with epoxy
resin. Fir plywood is very prone to checking and

and we thought that covering the dinghy’s bottom and sides might extend
its life as it sat upside down through
the summer. My previous pram of painted plywood had to have a new bottom
installed after only four years of daily use to and from a mooring and
being left upside down on the dinghy float between trips. The epoxied
and painted stitch-and-glue hull has weathered well to date after a
full year of upside-down exterior storage.

Dinghy assembly

The finished D4
pram proved highly satisfactory as a tender and sailing dinghy. I found
it more stable to step down into than a friend’s Dyer dinghy, and it
seems to tow well in a Lake Ontario chop of up to, perhaps, four feet.
Best of all,
when it gets really rough, we don’t have to tow it because it will fit
on our foredeck.

Susan Peterson
Gateley (featured in the January 2000 issue of
Good Old Boat) has written
two books about boats she has known. Ariel’s World and Sweet Water both
feature her good old 23-foot 1930s vintage homebuilt sloop. She now
sails Lake Ontario with her husband, Chris, on
Titania, a 32-foot Chris-Craft,
and gives sailing lessons with a Lippincot Lightning. Both are circa
1968. Visit Susan’s website at http://www.silverwaters.com.

Honey, I tossed out the cooler

Honey, I tossed out the cooler

By Karen Larson
Illustrated by Dave Chase

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 2, Number 1, January/February 1999.
This and other cooking aboard articles are also available in the Good Old Boat Galley Book.

Digging through the cooler

Sailor and writer Webb Chiles is credited with saying something to
the effect that when the engine in his boat died he was set free – no
maintenance chores, no need to get fuel, no more worries associated
with whether it would run or not.

I am married to a refrigeration engineer who was prepared to
design the onboard refrigerator to beat all refrigerators, but the
choice to live without an icebox during a recent vacation set us free
in ways we hadn’t expected. There was no need to run to civilization
in a quest for ice. We had no worries about the quality of the food
left on little ice or concerns about what must be eaten soon because
it surely must have been thawed too long. And we didn’t have to run
the engine to keep a refrigerator alive.

Above all, our icebox was no longer a bottomless cubicle, the
purpose of which seemed to be storing ice and little else. It became,
instead, a marvelous vast storehouse for flour, spices, and canned
goods. It offered stowage space the likes of which I’d never had on
our bilgeless racer/cruiser.

The biggest freedom was in the escape from civilization. We
generally take our vacation cruises to the north shore of Lake
Superior and Isle Royale National Park. In that part of the world,
marinas and facilities are not handy. Civilization is usually at
least a day’s sail away. With ice melting in about six days, our
stays in the wilderness were limited to about four days at a time or
longer if we went without once the ice was gone, but planning for the
transition is a bit challenging.

To avoid the awkward stage, we had proposed two
possibilities: build a refrigerator or learn to live without ice. We
chose to try the sans ice approach first. We may never again consider
the alternative. Our diesel engine thanks us for making this choice,
since it won’t have the wear and tear associated with running a
couple of hours a day for the sake of cold food. And we’ll avoid the
need to return to civilization in search of fuel to power the engine
that keeps things cold so we don’t need to return to civilization to
buy ice. (If that isn’t a Catch-22, what is?)

My first major adjustment, as provisioning officer onboard
Mystic, was in cooking to avoid leftovers. At home I thrive on making
large batches – pots of spaghetti for example – so I can freeze the
excess for later use. Frozen blocks of spaghetti sauce and other
mass-produced meals also helped when we were living with a cooler.
They served as “ice units” until thawed. Then we ate them. On board,
with an ice chest for food storage, I couldn’t cook by the potful,
but saving leftovers to eat another day was not much of a problem.

With our changed lifestyle, however, I began buying the
smallest cans and jars and thinking critically about how much rice or
pasta to cook. It’s a science. You don’t want to go hungry, but on
the flip side, you don’t want to encourage overeating. And you
certainly don’t want to throw food away. We found, fortunately, that
leftovers easily last one day, so when I miscalculated, we polished
off the rest the following lunch or dinner. Some leftovers worked out
nicely as omelet filling for the next day’s breakfast.

Eggs don’t need ice

Omelets require eggs, of course, and we typically think of eggs as
something requiring refrigeration. In her book, Cooking on the Go,
(from 1971 and unfortunately out of print) Janet Groene argues that
many foods do not need refrigeration:

“Because we have roomy refrigerators at home, we get in the
habit of chilling many items that can be kept safely without
refrigeration. Cheeses and sausages traveled the world long before
the days of refrigerators or ice lockers.

“Of course you keep fresh meats chilled for safety, but we
have kept cooked meats for second and even third appearances on our
table. Packaged bacon doesn’t last more than three days in warm
temperatures, but well-salted pork and slab bacon, as well as cured
hams, date back hundreds of years before the discovery of electricity
— it really isn’t necessary to go without many of the items you keep
refrigerated at home.”

Groene notes that not too long ago people packed fresh farm
eggs in salt, where they kept for a year. In three and a half weeks,
we never had an egg go bad onboard Mystic, although I was skeptical
at first. There are a number of actions you can take to help eggs
last. One set of routines deals with sealing the shells. These
involve smearing them with shortening, Vaseline, or salad oil. Other
people swear by dipping them exactly two seconds in boiling water.
Another set of routines involves keeping the inner membrane moist by
turning the eggs regularly. Mother hens do this on the nest. Just to
be safe, I decided to grease the shells with Vaseline AND turn them
every day. It’s possible that either method would have been enough.

We are not big egg eaters at home, typically, but we left for
vacation with nearly four dozen eggs, since I planned to use them in
baking, hard boiled in salads, and in omelet making.

In the beginning I was cautious and tested each egg before
using it. People who have lived without refrigerators suggest that
you crack each egg into a separate container and not directly into
your frying pan or bowl full of ingredients, so if it is bad, you can
toss just the egg and not the rest of your meal. Even before breaking
an egg, you can test it in a glass of water. If the egg has developed
gas and floats, it’s bad. If it sinks to the bottom of the glass,
it’s good. It’s a bit like testing for witches in Salem. If she
floats, she’s a witch and has to be burned at the stake. If she
sinks, what a pity. We’ll let the record show that she wasn’t a
witch. This time-honored test works better for eggs than people.

Cheese tricks

Refrigerators and coolers are also nice for keeping cheese. How do
you go three weeks without cheese, we wondered. As it turns out,
grated parmesan can last, as can cheese that comes in wax. In her
book, The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, Lin Pardey talks of
long-life processed cheese that can last up to two years without
refrigeration in sealed containers, and of other wonders, such as
canned cheese.

Lin probably led the way for all of us who have tried the
non-refrigerated lifestyle. Not that she did so on purpose. She
appears to enjoy cooking, and she and Larry both prefer fresh foods.
So Lin prizes her well-insulated cooler on Talesin. Unfortunately the
Pardeys’ icebox runs out of ice on long passages and at anchor, just
as ours does. As a result, Lin wrote The Care and Feeding in 1980 and
republished it with new information in 1995. It’s a terrific
reference for anyone provisioning for a long trip or planning to do
without ice.

Lin reports that waxed cheeses keep perfectly for up to two
months at temperatures below 55 degrees F. Unwaxed cheese, she says,
“should be wiped lightly with vinegar and then wrapped in plastic
wrap and stored where it will not be bumped around too much.” She
also discusses storage of feta and hard cheeses in oil.

I read Lin’s book after we returned from our trip, however I
had heard that cheese stored in olive oil will keep, so I tried that.
I kept chunks of cheddar and havarti for three weeks in containers
full of oil. The Tupperware container leaked and was a mess to store,
but a jar with a tight lid worked very well. This process offers a
nice way to store oil for cooking, too. The cheddar lasted well,
while the softer havarti turned very mushy before we returned to
civilization. Hard cheese is the key for this storage technique. Lin
mentions in her book that cheese becomes “creamier” as it ages with
this technique. I’d second that opinion. Lin’s directions for storing
cheese are more elaborate than mine and sound like a process worth
trying. She also mentions the concept of waxing your own cheeses and
of the “drunken Stilton.” All of this is in the chapter she titles
“Day 37” and should be in either version of her book. The Pardeys’
books were available from the Good Old Boat Bookshelf.

Baking aboard

Baking bread aboard

The next obvious problem with life without an icebox is what to do
when the bread turns blue. Over the past year or two we’d
experimented with onboard bread baking. We’d cooked bread in our
pressure cooker, pan-fried Indian fry bread, and baked a couple of
yeast loaves. We make muffins regularly, but creating good bread was
a bigger challenge. I wasn’t crazy about the taste of the
pressure-cooked bread, and baking yeast loaves seemed messy and
time-consuming. This year, however, I came armed with 40 pounds of
white and wheat flour (twice as much as we needed, it turns out) and
a number of new yeast recipes. The second recipe we tried turned out
to be such a winner that we never tried another one. It simplified
the risings and didn’t seem so messy somehow. It was a mock French
bread from the James Beard Cookbook, and we liked it so much we’ll be
cooking our own bread with all that extra flour this winter even
though Minneapolis abounds with wonderful bread shops. (Recipe is below.)

With each baking I made two small loaves. The first we
consumed almost in its entirety straight from the oven. There may not
be anything better than warm bread, and we reveled in the luxury of
having it. The other loaf lasted a couple of days. Now that we’ve
discovered this easy bread, we may leave the dock with fewer loaves
of the store variety. We prefer those we can cook ourselves, and the
vacation lifestyle seems to encourage the breadbaking routine.
Marilyn Palley (wife of Reese Palley) recommends a book called, Fast
Breads! by Howard Early and Glenda Morris.

Bread recipe

(from The James Beard Cookbook, 1959*)

  • 1 package yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 5-7 cups flour
  • (one egg white, if desired)
  • Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm
    water in a large bowl. Add sugar and salt and dissolve them.
    Gradually add flour.
  • Turn out on a table and knead. Cover with the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes. Knead.
  • Let it rise in the bowl for another 1-2 hours until it’s double in bulk. Knead.
  • Form into two loaves (French-style long ones, round ones in an oven-proof bowl, regular pan loaves, etc.). Sprinkle the bottom of each container with cornmeal and place the bread on it. You don’t need to grease these pans. Slash the tops of the bread and spread with an egg white, if desired. Let the bread rise another five minutes.
  • Place in a cold oven and turn it on to 400. It should cook in 35 minutes. (In reality, with our boat oven, we turn the temperature on about halfway, whatever that setting might be. Then when we think about it, we turn the temperature up all the way. We remove the bread when it looks done, but it probably takes longer than 35 minutes.)

*My copy was purchased in the 1970s, but I guess it is a bit of a relic.

Meat or meatless meals

Meat is another issue for the sans-cooler cook. While we don’t eat as
much meat as we used to, we weren’t ready to go without. Canned
chicken and ham are available on the grocery store shelves in small
tuna-sized containers. I also found small containers of corned beef
and tiny little hams, canned shrimp and crab meat, salmon, and fish

There are a number of spreads along the lines of deviled ham
and chicken. And of course there are small canned hot dogs
(masquerading as sausages), Spam and other “delicacies.” I also
planned to supplement our supplies of meat with completely acceptable
no-meat pasta meals. Jerry wasn’t so sure he’d find even the
occasional vegetarian meal to be all that acceptable. There’s nothing
quite like being held captive a day or two from a grocery store and
learning there’s nothing on board you like to eat. He may have feared
this new “adventure” to be a ruse of mine to take a few pounds off
him when he would be unable to defend himself. (See article below for
his thoughts.)

I had just finished reading Don Casey’s book, Dragged Aboard,
in which he makes it seem like anyone is capable of canning meat. I
was inspired by this and shared the book with Jerry, who went on a
dedicated hunt for a larger pressure cooker – one capable of doing
canning. The small one on our boat was not up to the task. In the
days of microwaves, instant meals, and grazing, pressure cookers are
becoming a thing of the past. Small ones, such as our boat pressure
cooker, were available, but large ones may be disappearing from the
North American scene along with buggy whips.

Jerry’s search began with Target and K-Mart, where the small
ones can be found, and moved to an upscale home cooking specialty
store, where a sweet young clerk asked in all innocence, “Pressure
cooker? Is it an electric appliance?” and led him to the toasters and
coffee makers. Once he found the pressure cooker section, there were
only small ones and another clerk who asked, “What do you do with one
of these anyway?”

The obvious answer, for anyone who grew up with a mother who
used one frequently, is you blow up your kitchen with these devices.
It seems we all have fear-of-pressure-cookers tales to tell. Perhaps
that’s why they’re falling from favor these days. Jerry finally
landed a full-sized canning pressure cooker at the Fleet Farm store,
a chain in our part of the country that caters to farmers, truckers,
and other independent types.

By now, however, we were only a couple of weeks away from the
start of our vacation, and wewere in the usual pre-trip blitzkrieg of
vacation preparations and work project wrap-ups. I was no longer
interested in canning additional meat for our trip. One evening we
invited Jerry’s younger daughter over for dinner, and I prepared a
pork roast and simultaneously baked a couple of turkey thighs for use
in the next night’s meal. Jessie is a marvelous pitch-in gung-ho
daughter, and before the evening was over, the three of us had canned
the remaining pork roast and turkey as a great group activity. We
left for the trip with 11 half-pint jars of the best canned meat we’d
ever tasted. Next year we’ll do more of this and include cubed beef
and hamburger.

Mayo’s not untouchable

We hear so many stories about mayonnaise and are likely to be
confused by them. I’m no expert on the subject, but my current level
of understanding is that if the stuff is kept pure, it can last.
Mayonnaise mixed with other foods must be kept cool, it would seem.
And you shouldn’t “contaminate” a jar of mayonnaise by sticking a
utensil back in there after it has been in contact with other food.

We have heard of some people getting small packages of
mayonnaise from fast food places for their boats. That works, too. We
bought small squeeze bottles of mayo, and one lasted two weeks. It
was emptied before it began to smell or cause any concerns. Unopened
jars of mayonnaise sit on grocery store shelves for months. As it
turns out, they can do the same once they’re opened, as long as other
food doesn’t come into contact with the mayonnaise. I’d love to
understand why this is so and will welcome further dialogue on this
subject for our Mail Buoy column.

Milk is a problem

Cold milk only lasts a week or so. If it isn’t kept cold, the number
of days diminish dramatically, of course. I like milk. As an aging
woman, I need to drink it or get my calcium in some other form. So I
missed this on our vacation. I bought powdered milk, which we used in
cooking, but I used it on cereal twice and never again. I never drank
it straight. Jerry can happily drink that stuff, and I really wanted
to be able to do so also. But life’s too short. I ate cheese and took
my vitamins. I’m told that UHT (ultra heat-treated) milk is a
passable substitute, but I don’t have any experience with it (and it
doesn’t appear to be available in the U.S.).

The following information is from Michael Greenwald’s The
Cruising Chef Cookbook, an excellent cooking resource I’ve just
discovered (Paradise Cay Publications, 1996.):

“Pasteurized milk takes up precious space in the refrigerator
and spoils within a few weeks. Long life, ultra heat-treated milk is
an unrefrigerated product which comes in a paper box. It tastes as
fresh as pasteurized milk, contains more vitamins, and lasts six
months without refrigeration. It comes in half-quart and quart
(liter) boxes which are slightly more expensive than refrigerated
milk. This product is hard to find in the USA but is the most common
way of buying milk in many parts of the world.”

Margarine lasts well

Butter and margarine are also part of the non-cooler cooking
equation. I had read somewhere that stick margarine, softened and
repackaged in plastic tub containers, keeps well without cooling.
This is true. I had feared that it would turn into liquid gold
without the help of an icebox, but it did not melt. Toward the end of
our vacation, when we did a touch-and-go in civilization for diesel
fuel and a pumpout, I was able to buy a few groceries at a camping
store. We were running short on margarine, so I bought a couple of
sticks of butter. I repackaged these sticks in the margarine tubs,
and the butter lasted as well as the margarine did.

Fruits, vegetables suffer

By the end of three weeks, we were left with apples, oranges,
grapefruit, potatoes, onions, garlic, and cabbage. We also had a
large assortment of canned fruits and vegetables. The other fresh
fruits and vegetables had long since vanished, and even the apples
and oranges had seen better days. I had read about a West Marine
product called Evert-Fresh bags, which keep certain fruits and
vegetables fresh longer. These bags were particularly recommended for
lettuce. The lettuce must be absolutely dry when placed in the bag,
however. Unfortunately I shop at one of those stores which tries to
impress shoppers with a fine-mist spray on the leaf lettuce and
spinach. Even when I’m not provisioning for a trip, I hate that
“blamed” mist.

I waited until the last day possible to purchase the fresh
foods for our trip and wound up at home trying to dry out the leaf
lettuce and fresh spinach. Something halfway, but not completely, dry
went into the Evert-Fresh bags. The result was that these foods
didn’t last as long as they might have in a fresh-air environment.
Wiser now, I will try this again with improved drying on our next

Ice for drinks? Come on!

Cold drinks aren’t terribly important to us. We didn’t miss ice for
our drinks, since we don’t tend to put ice in them anyway. However,
Lake Superior stays cold all summer long. The 50-degree water is an
excellent cooler for cans and bottles, if we choose to use it that
way. We found that storing cans next to the hull below the waterline
was enough for us.

We did meet one cruising couple traveling with a freezer, who
offered to give us some ice, since they felt so sorry for us. But I
had to turn down the offer. What could we do with a small supply of
ice, when our cooler was already filled with bags of flour? Another
pair of friends who anticipated seeing us on that vacation had just
gotten their cantankerous refrigerator to work after several years of
frustration. They were so self-assured now with their working freezer
that they threatened to sail by pummeling us with frozen Brussels
sprouts. This wasn’t pity. This was revenge Š perhaps because we had
chosen the easy way out.

No big deal, really

Living without the cooler was not the challenge I had thought it
would be, but I wasn’t alone in believing that we were facing a
tremendous lifestyle change and challenge. When buying supplies at
the grocery store one day, my collection of purchases looked a bit
unusual, so I mentioned to the clerk there that my husband and I were
going off into the wilderness for three and a half weeks without
refrigeration or a cooler. The clerk was so impressed you’d have
thought we were heading off to scale Mt. Everest without gear.

But in fact Jerry and I were just going back in time to
great-grandmother’s day Š to a time even before the ice man came
around from door to door Š back to a time when people canned and
prepared food for the seasons when they wouldn’t have any. Most of
these people never had the luxury of sailing off to remote places in
sailing yachts and living from the stores they had aboard. (Even the
menus of the sailors of the same time period were far from grand.)
Their lives seemed hard and uncompromising, while we experienced the
best vacation we have ever had. There were no hardships. We were
better off without the trappings of civilization because we didn’t
experience the tyranny of ice or endure the rattlings of the engine
in order to keep a refrigerator going. Great-grandmother never had it
so good.

Back To Top

No cooler? What did you EAT?

by Karen Larson

Perhaps I can share a few menus – not recipes – I’m all for simple,
uncomplicated onboard meals. I don’t go along on sailing trips as the
galley slave. I want to be on deck sailing and sightseeing, not below
creating gourmet delights. My ideas were culled from those who’ve
been there and done that: sailors Cathy and Dan Haupert, sailors Ken
and Pat O’Driscoll (who introduced us to cold pasta salad even though
they were using a refrigerator), sailing writers Reese and Marilyn
Palley, author Janet Groene, and world cruising women who communicate
on a listserver I subscribed to. Next year I’ll incorporate meal
ideas from Lin Pardey also.

Typical breakfasts included omelets, cereal with blueberries
or bananas (early in the trip while we still had the fruit and before
I decided that powdered milk is not a beverage fit to ruin good
cereal and fruit), pancakes, eggs, French toast, oatmeal, and coffee

Typical lunches included ham, tuna, or chicken salad
sandwiches; pasta salad; grilled cheese sandwiches and soup; peanut
buttersandwiches; and leftovers. Canned spreads worked as picnic food
when we wanted to leave the boat and spend the day exploring. Wary of
taking a pre-made chicken salad or similar mayonnaise-based lunch
along for a day in the sun, we ate strange spreads from small cans.
These are adequate, but not exciting. The best is the deviled spread,
but variety in all things mundane is best. They all got dull and
downright boring after several similar lunches. But they fueled our
bodies, and the sights we were able to take in while unattached to
the mother ship fueled our souls. It’s a tradeoff.

Dinner presented more variety. We had salad in the beginning,
fresh broccoli for a while, and an endless variety of ways to cook
potatoes. Canned vegetables picked up where the fresh food left off.
Dinners included mashed potatoes with the meat we canned; pasta with
beef and broccoli; chicken with rice and spinach; stuffed cabbage
using canned corned beef; pasta with sauce (small jars of marinara,
alfredo, clam and other sauces are available in the stores); and
corned beef and cabbage.

I got creative with cold pasta dinners. Some of our favorites
included pennette rigate pasta with canned corn, olives, canned
shrimp, chicken, or no meat at all. After one such meal, Jerry vetoed
the use of canned crab for this, but others might like it. I did. All
this went well with whatever else I had to throw in. Carrot slices,
hard-boiled egg slices, and artichoke hearts work, too. We mixed
these ingredients with oil and vinegar dressing. I bought several
small jars of prepared salad dressings for variety, but preferred the
oil and vinegar styles best. Mayonnaise would work, too.

We made a scalloped potatoes and ham recipe in the pressure
cooker that has been a real winner for two years now. We tried some
prepared rice packages: curry, saffron, stir fry rice, lentils and
rice, black beans and rice, red beans and rice, and so on with our
canned meat or with canned sausages (a.k.a. hot dogs). Salmon fish
cakes mixed from canned salmon and mashed potatoes were a big winner.
The possibilities were endless.

Jerry (ever the engineer) suggested several years ago for our
standard two-week vacations that I create full menus on a spreadsheet
and then sort this by item to determine how much of each item to buy.
It’s far more organized than I would have been, but it worked very
well. However, when asked to share our provisioning lists with fellow
sailors, I realized how hyperdetailed our food preparations appeared
to be.

This year’s longer trip helped me understand for the first
time what planning must be like for a much longer voyage without
reprovisioning stops. Although I did create daily menus, I didn’t
live by them. I had so much variety aboard in our food lockers that I
cooked serendipitously Š more like I do at home. It starts with,
“Let’s see, it’s somehow gotten to be dinnertime. What needs to be
eaten? What is fast to prepare?” And finally, “What would we like to
have tonight?” I often referred to my onboard menu lists for
inspiration, but I was able to manage the use of fruits and
vegetables, eggs and potatoes, leftovers and partially used cans of
things more effectively without the constraint of a previously
prepared menu.

This is how we’ll go in the future. Menus will guide my
shopping and help inspire my cooking, but daily meals will be planned
at the time of the meal. That might be called “just-in-time menus.”
I’ll keep the food lockers supplied as I would at home, and meals
will happen when they happen. From now on, we will not bother with
the hassle of ice for our weekend trips. We won’t take a cooler full
of ice and a few perishables back and forth to the boat. Even for
weekend trips, we have been set free.

Back To Top

You what? Tossed out the cooler?

by Jerry Powlas

The first time Karen suggested that we spend a whole vacation without
ice, I talked her out of it. I had visions of a very unpleasant
couple of weeks eating some of my least favorite foods — all from

I’d been a refrigeration engineer for about 29 years, and I
had some strong ideas about what kind of refrigeration system should
be installed in our C&C 30. I’d been designing the system in my head
and on paper for about five years. I wanted something with less than
half the run time of currently available systems, because I knew that
once there was a refrigeration system on board, it would dramatically
increase the energy budget. I’d heard horror stories of boats that
have to run their engines one, and in some cases, two hours a day to
keep that little tiny box cold. I didn’t want the noise, wear, and
fuel consumption. The design that I came up with was complicated and
unproven, and it would add 70 to 100 pounds to the weight of the
boat. Even doing all the work myself, the parts would not be cheap.
Although I targeted much higher efficiency, the boat’s upgraded
electrical system would be taxed to about the reasonable limits of
its capacity. I had put off building this monster for five years. Ice
is really simple, and 70 pounds of it holds our icebox for six to
seven days. We’d have to live on the boat forever to pay off the
refrigeration system with the savings in ice.

The problem was that we really wanted more range on our
vacations. We wanted to go out and stay out for more like a month
without having to resupply anything. We’d solved most of the problems
in doing that by the time Karen suggested going iceless the second
time. She was more insistent this time. She wanted to do the research
for an article, she said. That did it; I caved in. Well, almost caved
in. I rushed out and bought a pressure canner and quickly canned some
pork and turkey before we left. These meats proved tasty, and I will
can more for next season, but frankly we didn’t need them.

We ate very well for more than three weeks without any ice or
refrigeration. The food was good. I enjoyed all the meals except one,
which is probably better on average than I do ashore. From a systems
standpoint, Karen solved the problem with the lowest-cost,
lightest-weight option. The design five years abrewing in my head
didn’t compare with zero weight, zero cost, and good meals anyway.
Karen truly had set us free.

I was so impressed with what she had accomplished that I
suggested that we get rid of the refrigerator at home. It is a noisy,
poorly designed thing that just might last forever out of sheer
nastiness. She thought that might be going too far.

Moderation in all things, I guess.

Cooking Fuels

A clean look at the “dirty” half dozen

By Theresa Fort

Article taken from Good Old Boat magazine: Volume 3, Number 2, March/April 2000.
This and other cooking aboard articles are also available in the Good Old Boat Galley Book.

Pros and cons of the six main fuels for galley stoves

When it comes to choosing a marine stove fuel there is rarely anyone completely
happy with the choice. All fuels have a “dirty” side to them, and some
sides are deadly as well. Alcohol is heating-impaired. Kerosene is maintenance-dependent,
and a mess if spills occur. Diesel is hot and has sooting problems. Electricity
is power-hungry and generator-dependent. Compressed natural gas (CNG)
is explosive and expensive, as well as hard to find. And what about liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG)? The potential for a massive explosion aboard your
good old boat gives LPG both a deadly and a “dirty” side.

After talking to more than 30 marine stove owners about their fuel and
stove choices, I learned that, like me, almost every one of them had learned
to cook and live with whatever stove and fuel came with the boat when
they bought it. But, even though it was chance that decided it, most owners
were happy with their stoves and fuels.

As the years go by, however, good old boats need refitting. We may need
to replace our stoves. Then when it comes to fuels, choosing one of the
dirty half dozen is unavoidable, and this time it won’t be chance that
decides. We are wrestling with this decision aboard Lindsay Christine,
our Mercator Offshore 30. Our propane stove is more than 20 years old.
And it looks it, at least what you can see of it, because most of it has
rusted away. In the hopes of making the “right” decision, I did extensive
research and asked many boaters about the marine stoves and fuels they

What follows are some pros and cons of marine stove fuels from my own
research and some advice from the experts – other stove owners – to help
you decide which is the best choice for you.

Heat vs. cost

Heat Content of Marine Stove Fuels
significant unit
5,000 Btu

The heat output of fuels is determined by test. The table on the next
page shows approximate heating values – approximate because, with the
exception of electricity, all of these fuels are mixtures, and their exact
content varies from source to source.

One Btu, or British thermal unit, is the amount of heat energy needed
to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1°F, starting at 60°F. One
Btu is also equivalent to 252 calories, and 1 calorie is the amount of
energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1°C.

The Btu/lb. column in the table offers a way to compare all fuels (except
electricity) with each other. Btu/lb. would only be a significant figure
of merit, however, in cases where the major consideration was the weight
of the fuel load. If you are doing a serious weight comparison, you will
want to include the weight of all parts of the cooking system, including
the tanks, plumbing, and stove.

Most sailors will care more about the cost and availability than about
the weight difference. The column showing Btu per significant unit is
provided to show the heat content of the unit of measure in which the
fuel is normally purchased.

The cost per 500,000 Btu shows how significant the difference is between
various fuel costs. For purposes of comparison, 500,000 Btu may be taken
to be (very roughly) the heat required to cook for four people for 90
days. If you live aboard your boat, multiply that figure by four for an
estimate of annual cost. If you sail in a northern climate on weekends
and get in a two-week vacation, your annual fuel requirement will likely
be only about half of the 500,000 Btu shown.

Generally speaking, the cost difference between these fuels for weekend
sailors is not significant enough to be the reason for changing fuel types,
because the cost of new equipment is high relative to the cost differences
between fuels. Liveaboards and long-ra nge cruisers may find the cost
differences more interesting.

Fuel availability

of Fuels
the U.S.
the U.S.

Here is a table showing the availability of fuels – excluding electricity,
since electricity is generated by using another fuel. I used the word
random to describe the availability of CNG in the U.S. because, even with
a long list of available stations, I had great difficulty finding a place
that really did refill CNG cylinders in Florida, where I live. But I’ve
been told it’s much easier to find in other parts of the country where
EPA standards have forced the use of CNG as a motor fuel and where natural
gas is a common fuel for heating.

Auto-ignition temperature

The table on the next page shows the characteristics of fuels, also excluding
electricity. It gives the auto-ignition temperature of each fuel. This
is the temperature at which a fuel will automatically ignite without a
spark or flame. The flash point, on the other hand, is the temperature
at which the fuel will ignite when there is oxygen and a spark for ignition.

Stove fuels one by one


Denatured alcohol can

Alcohol fuels for stoves are generally composed of ethanol, methanol (added
as a denaturing agent), methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, and water. The exact
percentage of these components varies rather widely from one supplier
to another. Nigel Calder, in his book, Boat Owner’s Mechanical and Electrical
Manual, states that the best fuel for stoves is ethanol. For practical
purposes, this would be a fuel like Tru Heat, which is 92 percent ethanol,
5 percent water, and 3 percent methanol. It has only trace amounts of
other compounds, such as methyl isobutyl ketone, ethyl acetate, and rubber
cement. In contrast to this fuel, Soot-Free, the fuel endorsed by Origo
for use in their stoves, is not a high-ethanol-content fuel. Soot-Free
contains roughly 71 percent ethanol and 20 percent methanol, as well as
methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, and water.

You can also buy suitable fuel in paint and hardware stores labeled as
“denatured alcohol.” Kleen Strip is one brand that notes on the container
that it is suitable as a shellac thinner and as marine stove fuel.

One test Nigel suggests is to pour a sample of the fuel into a clean (oven-proof)
dish and burn it. If there is any residue after the fuel is completely
burned, it’s unsuited for use as a stove fuel. In addition, stove-fuel
vendors will send you a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for their products
listing the chemicals in the fuel by percentage.

Alcohol has been advertised to be the perfect environmentally correct
fuel because it is mostly produced from renewable resources (plant matter).
It is a relatively safe fuel because of its low volatility. This makes
it safer than other fuels in the closed environment of a boat. Alcohol-stove
owners like the fact that there is no hauling of heavy and cumbersome
storage tanks, that fires can be extinguished just by adding water to
the fire or fuel, and that it is a clean-burning fuel.

But it’s not the perfect fuel. Some people say the sweet smell of burning
alcohol makes them nauseous. It’s more expensive per Btu than all the
other alternatives except CNG, averaging $9 a gallon across the U.S.,
and its availability is irregular outside of the U.S. and Canada. The
price of alcohol outside the U.S. is also quite high.

There are two basic types of marine stoves that use alcohol as a fuel,
pressurized stoves and non-pressurized stoves. Each has advantages and

Pressurized alcohol

I chuckled as I read LaDonna Bubak’s description of lighting her
pressurized alcohol stove. She sails her boat out of Portland, Ore., and

“(First you) have to fill a small tank, pump it up to pressurize it .
. . preheat the burner by allowing a puddle of fuel to develop, light
it, jump back so flames don’t singe eyebrows, extinguish (any) flaming
curtains, etc., then, when the puddle-flame almost dies, you turn on the
burner and hope it catches.” A lost memory flashed into my mind. It was
my first and only attempt to light the pressurized alcohol stove aboard
our Catalina 22. As flames shot up above my head and within reach of the
cabintop, I heard the kids approaching. They were arguing about whose
idea it was to have lunch aboard Gypsy Rose. Trembling, I made sure the
burner was off, then nervously searched for something with which I could
extinguish the flame. There was no water. Gypsy Rose was in our driveway.
I found a pot lid that had fallen on the cabin sole in the confusion of
the flare-up. The fire went out as I covered it. I took a deep breath.
Amie arrived first with Alex close behind, full of spit and vinegar.

“Mommy, tell Amie that I thought of it first! Here’s the soup . . . ”
Then there was silence as they both watched me pack up everything and
start to close up the boat. “Mommy, are you OK?” I vowed never to light
that stove again as I replaced the tarp and walked back to the house.
I had no idea that this experience was almost normal for lighting a pressurized
alcohol stove until I talked to other boaters about their stoves.

A few of the boatowners I questioned were happy with their pressurized
alcohol stoves, but the majority were looking to replace them. Many were
not comfortable using the oven because of concerns with priming and flare-ups.
A few owners commented on being bothered by the sickeningly sweet smell
of the alcohol and the paleness of the flame, which makes it almost impossible
to see in bright light.

The real danger of flare-ups seems to come from failing to light the burner
on the first try. After the first try, the burner may not be hot enough
to sufficiently vaporize the fuel by the time all the fuel in the priming
cup has been burned. So the chef opens the control knob to allow more
fuel into the priming cup, and the fuel ignites sending flames sky high.
While the burner was not hot enough to vaporize the fuel the first time,
it was hot enough to ignite the liquid alcohol added again. If the stove
is gimbaled at the time of lighting, flames can splash onto other parts
of the boat and the cook. According to Optimus International, the best
advice is to let the burner cool off before filling the priming cup with
fuel again.

Pressurized alcohol stoves are not maintenance-free. The customer service
department of Kenyon Stoves explains that severe pulsing of a burner or
a glowing red cap during operation are caused by dirt and scale buildup
in the filter and burner body. The burner should be stripped of all removable
parts, cleaned, and rebuilt.

With Kenyon alcohol stoves, a wick in the center of the burner is lit.
Pressure builds up in the burner as the available fuel heats up, causing
alcohol vapors to be released into the burner to be used. Regardless,
most alcohol burners work in the same way and require the same maintenance.

One stove owner, known as “Captain Key West,” from Key West, Florida,
commented that he thought the bad press about pressurized alcohol stoves
comes from the fact that they need to be maintained to work well, especially
after many years of use. He writes, “I think many people disenchanted
with alcohol stoves may have based their opinions on only having used
poorly maintained stoves. I used to be surprised how alcohol stoves got
a bad “rap” since mine worked great for many years before it started getting
“fussy.” Now, I realize many users are not aware that these stove are
not maintenance-free. They buy a used boat, never can get the stove to
work right, then complain about how poor alcohol stoves are. They’re not
listening to their stoves which are begging for maintenance!”

I know I never gave my pressurized alcohol stove a chance after that first

Non-pressurized alcohol.

of the five liquid or gaseous marine stove fuels
Toxic to skin
Toxic to lungs
Specific gravity
lighter than air
Flash Point
Luminous flame
gas &
other hydrocarbons
gas, petroleum
coal, shale

Non-pressurized alcohol stoves are quite popular. The Origo brand stoves
have helped to keep alcohol in fuel-option lists for boaters. All non-pressurized
alcohol stove owners I questioned are happy with their stoves. Some even
commented that they cook faster than pressurized alcohol stoves and claimed
speed close to propane. But the fuel is expensive.

These non-pressurized stoves use a wicking action to deliver fuel to the
flame, instead of pressure, making them very safe, with no flare-ups.
The fuel is stored in canisters under the cooktop. The canisters contain
nonflammable wadding with a shield-type cover that closes over the canister
to extinguish the flame, somewhat like cooking with Sterno.

These stove users/experts seem to agree that non-pressurized alcohol stoves
are the way to go if you are interested in using alcohol as a marine stove
fuel. In fact, two of the pressurized kerosene stove owners are switching
to non-pressurized alcohol with their next refit.

Safety considerations (alcohol)

While it is true that alcohol fires can be put out with water, sometimes
the water displaces the alcohol, and the fire continues to burn.

  • Fill the fuel tank no more than three-quarters full to allow space for
    increased air pressure.
  • Before lighting and throughout the burner’s use, pressure in the storage
    tank needs to be around 7 pounds per square inch (psi).
  • Once you have successfully lit the burner, run it on a low setting until
    the burner gets really hot; then it can be adjusted for your cooking.
    Turning the valve all the way open will put out the flame, because there
    is a cleaning needle that comes out when you turn the knob all the way
  • Never refill the priming cup or stove while the burner is on or even
    hot. The alcohol in the container may ignite.
  • Clear the area above and around your stove of any flammable objects,
    including your eyebrows, before priming your stove.

Special hints (alcohol)

Tru Heat stove alcohol bottle

  • Experienced users of alcohol stoves recommend that you use heavy cookware
    to reduce the scorching that can occur if the burner has a hot spot.
  • On pressurized stoves, cook and bake using a strong flame to reduce
    chances of the flame’s dwindling and being blown out.
  • Most owners agree that it helps to use the stove manufacturer’s fuel
    because it burns more cleanly.
  • One owner uses a contact-solution bottle to hold alcohol for the priming
    process. It give you better aim and more control over the amount released.
  • Pressurized alcohol stoves can be converted to kerosene by replacing
    the burners. As a caution though, one stove owner commented that he was
    witness to one such conversion exploding aboard a friend’s boat. Make
    sure the conversion is done correctly.
  • Several owners use small bicycle pumps with pressure gauges to pressurize
    the fuel tank to the proper pressure. Ferenc Maté’s book, Shipshape: The
    Art of Sailboat Maintenance, explains the use of a bicycle pump for pressurized
    alcohol and pressurized kerosene stoves. He suggests getting rid of the
    pump that came with the stove and finding a valve from a bicycle tube.
    Solder this valve into a washer and use the nut that came with the tank
    to thread it into place with a small rubber gasket between.
  • Dan Spurr, in his book, Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat, recommends
    putting a pot on the burner when priming. It will partially contain the
    flames and provide a darkened area which enables you to see the flames

Compressed Natural Gas

There’s a lot of technical merit to compressed natural gas, but its popularity
has never developed. Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbons – mainly
methane (CH4) – and is produced from gas wells or in conjunction with
crude-oil production. It’s a very clean-burning fuel and burns hotter
than alcohol. It also has an advantage over LPG in that it is lighter
than air. So it is a much safer gas. Any leaks tend to rise to the cabintop
and escape through any point that has an opening to the outside. But vapors
could still build up in areas of the cabin that have poor ventilation,
so care should be taken to have good airflow aboard. I know of one boatowner
who has had trouble-free use of his CNG stove for the last 16 years.

CNG’s disadvantages are much the same as LPG’s. It’s a highly volatile
gas stored under pressure, much higher than LPG. CNG is stored at 2,250
psi, compared to LPG’s 150 to 180 psi. The cylinders are heavier and more
cumbersome because CNG requires a thicker-walled tank. The tanks also
require recertification periodically. CNG also costs more per Btu than
LPG. I found the price of a refill in Florida to be between $10 and $16
for 84 cubic feet.

But the biggest drawback seems to be the lack of availability outside
the U.S., as well as in some areas within the U.S. A special quick-release
fitting can be bought through Corp Brothers, Inc., to allow you to fill
your tanks from a utility-company or automobile-station pump, when found.

Safety considerations (CNG)

A good-quality, spark-proofed alarm and sniffer should be installed aboard any boat with a compressed natural gas stove.

  • CNG cylinders should be stored away from the cabin in self-contained
    storage lockers that are vented overboard above the waterline, with venting
    at the compartment’s highest level. Or they may be stored outside on deck.
  • Cylinders should never be painted a dark color. In direct sunlight a
    cylinder could absorb enough heat to cause it to rupture.
  • CNG and LPG cannot be interchanged without modification to the stove.
  • CNG burned in LPG stoves will produce only about half of the designed


Stove fuel container

Diesel is a high-energy fuel that is not volatile. It does not give off
flammable fumes, and it is inexpensive and available worldwide, especially
in areas of commercial fishing. There are pressurized and non-pressurized
diesel stoves. Pressurized diesel stoves are operated much like kerosene
and alcohol stoves. Non-pressurized “drip pot” diesel stoves use a metering
valve to deliver fuel to a drip-pot-style combustion chamber. The burner
can be fed by gravity or by a pump. The drip-pot-type stoves are quite
popular on commercial fishing boats and aboard yachts in northern regions.

They are known for producing a dry heat because they draw in moist air
from the cabin for combustion and expel it through the chimney as flue
gas. For boaters living in cool climates most of the year, this means
a warmer and drier boat. Drip-pot diesel stoves can also be used to produce
hot water when a water coil is added to the stove. Another advantage is
the fact that you will only be using one type of fuel if your auxiliary
engine is diesel.

A downside for drip-pot diesel stoves is that they tend to heat the cabin
as well as the food. They are slow to warm up and cool down because they
are made of heavy cast iron. With a constant oven temperature of 350°F,
a cabin can get quite warm in the tropics. Sooting and down drafting can
also be problems when a drip-pot diesel stove is not properly adjusted
or if poor-quality fuel is burned. Installation of the drip-pot variety
can be quite difficult just because of the weight of the stove itself.
And, because of their weight and the chimney required, drip-pot diesel
stoves cannot be gimbaled. It would be best to install one athwartship.
Since the flue removes combustion products from the cabin, the build-up
of carbon monoxide gases is not a concern as long as the stove is working
properly and outside make-up air is brought into the cabin.

Special tips (diesel)

The key to being happy with your diesel stove is to learn how to operate
and adjust it. Understanding how your stove works, and adjusting it properly,
will save your sails (as well as the rest of your boat) from soot. Jeannie
and Jack, aboard their Columbia 50, Terri Knot, had terrible sooting problems
with their diesel stove on their trip to Alaska. After several phone calls
to the manufacturer, they were finally able to adjust it properly. They
are pleased with the heat it generated while cruising in the cool north.
But Jeannie commented that it would have made the trip more enjoyable
if they could have worked out the stove’s idiosyncrasies before their

  • Filtering your diesel fuel with a “Baja” filter will increase the efficiency
    of your stove and reduce sooting. If you don’t have a very fine filter
    of this type, you can also filter fuel to some extent using panty hose.
  • If you are planning on cruising in tropical climates with a diesel stove,
    consider bringing along a small cook-top that uses an alternate fuel –
    such as propane, butane, or alcohol – to reduce heat in the cabin.
  • Diesel stoves will burn cleanly with sufficient draft. Make sure your
    flue is the proper length and diameter. It is important that the flue
    be installed without any bends to restrict the air flow. Make-up air must
    be allowed into the cabin for the stove to have proper draft.


For those boaters who have an alternating current (A/C) generator, or
who find themselves close to shorepower quite often, electricity may be
the answer. It is highly efficient, there are no problems about storage
and fumes, and the fact that you may already have shorepower aboard your
boat makes it easy to install. If your electrical cooking appliances include
a microwave, it will speed up cooking times, helping you to use less energy.
It will also conserve vitamins during cooking, and it will not heat up
the cabin. Because electricity is a dry heat, it will also mean a drier
cabin, something that helps with all boats.

But, if you will be relying on a generator to power your stove, there
will be an increased need for diesel or gas, depending on your energy
source. Increased use of your generator also means increased wear and
maintenance, increasing the total expense of this type of fuel. The noise
of having to run the generator or engine each time you use your electric
appliance can also be a disadvantage.

Special tips (electricity)

  • Make sure all wiring is accessible so you can check for corrosion periodically.
    If some of the wires are hidden or difficult to get to, it will be a tedious
    job to find the cause of a malfunction.
  • Proper maintenance of your generator is a necessity when relying on
    electricity for your cooking. Consider having a small back-up stove aboard.
  • If you will be running your generator in quiet anchorages, consider
    anchoring farther away from other boaters. It will go a long way toward
    improving relationships with those who are living without generators.
  • Try to combine stove needs with battery charging to enable you to run
    the generator less frequently.


Kerosene can

Kerosene, also called paraffin outside the United States, is a colorless,
thin oil. It’s less dense than water, and it’s made of a mixture of hydrocarbons
commonly obtained from the fractional distillation of petroleum. As with
alcohol, there are pressurized kerosene stoves and non-pressurized kerosene
stoves. Pressurized ones function much like pressurized alcohol stoves.
Kerosene burns hot – much hotter than alcohol. It is inexpensive and widely
available in the U.S. as well as overseas.

Eric Freeman, who sails Blackguard, an old Seawolf ketch, in northern
Washington state, commented that kerosene is easy to find, being available
anywhere jets fly. Kerosene is not as volatile as alcohol and can be easily
stored. Because kerosene – like alcohol and diesel – doesn’t have to be
under pressure, it is easy to be aware of how much fuel you have left.
A well-maintained and properly running stove is odorless and soot-free
without any flammable fumes to worry about.

But kerosene stoves can be hard to light. These stoves require priming
with alcohol, a tricky business. They can also have a sooting problem
if the burners are not adjusted properly. They can smoke liberally when
firing up and smell terrible. Spills take a long time to evaporate and
can be a problem because they will soak into cushions and be a fire hazard
for a long time.

Non-pressurized kerosene stoves are often discussed with diesel drip-pot
stoves since they are so similar. Kerosene can be burned in a diesel stove
and is the cleaner of the two in that application. The advantages and
disadvantages of non-pressurized kerosene stoves are the same as those
for diesel stoves. Like diesel stoves, kerosene drip-pot stoves cannot
be gimbaled and are usually made of heavy cast iron with a flue.

Special tips (kerosene)

  • It’s important to buy the best-quality kerosene possible to reduce the
    chances of clogged burners. Good-quality kerosene is colorless and as
    clear as good drinking water.
  • You can check the quality by burning a small puddle in an ovenproof
    dish. Any gooey remainders mean a poor-quality fuel for your stove.
  • Filter your kerosene through a “Baja” filter to eliminate particulates.
  • Keep a small spray or squirt bottle of alcohol (like a contact solution
    bottle) close by to use when priming the burner.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas

LPG is a gaseous paraffin hydrocarbon, extracted from crude petroleum
or natural gas, containing propane and butane. Most LPG produced and sold
in the U.S. is primarily propane. It seems to be the fuel choice for a
large number of marine-stove owners, especially international cruisers.
They seem drawn to it because it is cheap, burns hot and clean, and has
world-wide availability. I found the average price to fill a 20-pound
cylinder was $10, which lasts our family of four an average of three months
while traveling. But, it has some major drawbacks that can make it a very
dangerous fuel to have aboard.

LPG is highly explosive and heavier than air. Any leaks in the system
can go undetected, sinking into bilges and creating a very dangerous situation.
And, on stoves without thermocouples, it is too easy to leave a burner
on accidentally after the flame goes out, leaving an explosion waiting
to happen when the cook goes to re-light a burner.

Thermocouple-controlled solenoid valves control the flow of gas on some
stoves. When heated, the dissimilar metals in the thermocouple generate
electrical current that causes the solenoid valve to open. When the thermocouple
cools, it does not generate the electrical current and thus the valve
closes, cutting the supply to the burner. This is why, upon lighting your
burner, you need to hold the valve open for at least 30 seconds to allow
the metals to become warm enough to generate the electrical current which
will hold the solenoid valve open.

LPG (as well as CNG) requires constant vigilance in its use and storage
on board. All crewmembers should check and re-check to make sure all switches
and shut-off valves are in the proper position. LPG’s high volatility
also creates a transportation problem. Transporting cylinders to be re-filled
can be difficult. The thick-walled cylinders are heavy and cumbersome.
These cylinders, like CNG cylinders, have to be re-certified after several
years. The date of the next re-certification should be stamped on the
cylinder. Due to safety concerns, many buses and taxis will not allow
usually outside of town in order to reduce loss of life and property should
there be an explosion. This makes them difficult for cruisers to reach
without transport.

Though propane and butane are usually lumped together and called LPG for
simplicity, they have a few differences.


This gas liquefies at higher temperatures than propane
does. At extremely low temperatures, butane’s evaporation rate will be
so low that the stove will not operate. But butane can be stored in a
propane container.


In extremely cold conditions, propane can be used
when butane would fail to evaporate. Propane can be used interchangeably
with butane. But propane cannot be stored in butane cylinders because
it has a higher cylinder pressure.

Safety considerations (LPG)

Stove Fuel Survey Results
Fuel Happy Safe Feel limited
in use
High fuel
No: 3
No: 3
No: 2
No: 1
No: 0
No: 0
No: 5
No: 3
No: 0
No: 0
No: 1
No: 0
No: 0
No: 0
No: 1
No: 0
No: 0
No: 0
No: 2
No: 0
No: 0
No: 14
No: 15
No: 0
(pressurized only)
No: 1
No: 0
No: 3
No: 0

For excellent instructions on the proper installation of an LPG system,
read Chapter 14 of Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical

  • It is a good idea to install a good quality sniffer that will sound
    an alarm when vapors are detected. But be sure it is spark-proofed so
    that turning it on will not ignite any vapors already present.
  • LPG cylinders should be stored away from the cabin in self-contained
    storage lockers that are vented overboard above the waterline, with venting
    at the compartment’s lowest level. Or, they may be stored outside on deck.
  • Cylinders should never be painted a dark color. In direct sunlight,
    a cylinder could absorb enough heat to cause it to rupture.
  • Install a lighted manual switch at the stove with a solenoid valve to
    shut off the gas at the tank when the stove isn’t in use.
  • LPG cannot be interchanged with CNG (compressed natural gas) without
    modifications to the stove. Propaneburned in a CNG stove will produce
    extremely high flames and dangerous overheating of the appliance.
  • When re-filling cylinders outside the U.S., make sure the LPG has a
    smell to it. It is not safe to have LPG (or CNG) aboard if it is odorless.
  • Be careful not to have your cylinders filled beyond 80 percent capacity.
    There should be two weights stamped into your cylinder, the empty weight,
    called tare weight, and its net fill weight, the safe weight of LPG that
    can be added. Upon weighing your filled tank, it should not weigh more
    than your tare weight plus your net fill weight. If it has been overfilled,
    some of the gas will need to be vented carefully away from flames and
    sparks. An overfilled cylinder is a terrible danger aboard your boat.
    Increases in the ambient temperature could cause a rupture of the cylinder
    or could cause liquid LPG to be pushed into the low-pressure lines, a
    very dangerous situation that would ruin, at the least, an oven’s thermostat.

Special tips (LPG)

Debbie Lyons shuts off propane

Debbie Lyons, reaches through the portlight to shut the propane off at the tank aboard Rhiannon.

Having an easy shutoff valve close to the storage cylinder helps reduce
dangers. Aboard Rhiannon, Debbie Lyons, of Seattle, stores her propane
cylinder on deck near an opening portlight over her sink. She only has
to open the portlight to shut off the propane right at the tank. She shuts
off the propane at the cylinder as her cooking is completed and when the
flame dies, signaling that all the propane has been used in the lines,
she turns off the burner. Before lighting, as a double check, she makes
sure that all burners are turned off first. (Make sure the portlight will
not allow LPG to drain into the cabin if there is a leak at the cylinder.)

Hunting for leaks is required maintenance for propane stove owners. It
is a good idea to periodically apply soapy water to all tubing connections
in your installation. Bubbling signals a leak that should be immediately
fixed. Also use your nose for finding leaks. As with CNG, an odor has
been added to LPG. Never use a flame to test for leaks.

To check the level of your propane tank, boil a cup or so of water and
pour it on the outside of your propane tank. Right afterward, feel for
the level of much cooler propane in the cylinder.

Propane and CNG are serious materials to have aboard a boat. The ABYC
(a voluntary boat construction standards organization) recommends that
the following label be placed near LPG fuel tanks:


  1. This system is designed for use with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
    only. Do not connect compressed natural gas (CNG) to this system.
  2. Keep cylinder valves and solenoid valves closed when boat is unattended.
    Close them immediately in any emergency. When on board, cylinder valves
    or solenoid valves shall be closed when appliances are not in use. Keep
    empty cylinder valves tightly closed.
  3. Close appliance valves before opening cylinder valves.
  4. Test for system leakage each time the cylinder supply valve is opened
    for appliance use. Close all appliance valves. Open, then close, cylinder
    supply valve. Observe pressure gauge at the regulating valve and see that
    it remains constant for not less than three minutes before any appliance
    is used. If any leakage is evidenced by a pressure drop, check system
    with a leak detection fluid or detergent solution which does not contain
    ammonia and repair before operating the system.
  5. Never use flame to check for leaks.

At the end of the ABYC standard on LPG systems is the following note:

  1. Never use flame to check for leaks!
  2. Never use solutions containing ammonia. Ammonia, which is present
    in soaps and detergent, attacks brass fittings. Undetectable at first, in a matter months these fittings may develop cracks and leaks.

Ammonia which is present in some soaps also attacks copper tubing in the
same way. In fact, it is the copper in the brass that is attacked by the

Watch out for CO

With electricity as the exception, it’s important to make sure that the
galley has sufficient oxygen to keep the stove working properly. A deficiency
of oxygen causes any fuel to burn improperly, resulting in an output of
carbon monoxide, rather than carbon dioxide.

For this reason, a carbon-monoxide detector is a worthwhile investment.
We have one aboard our boat that saved our lives in Alaska. One night
after having hot cocoa before bed, we accidentally left the pilot light
in our oven on. Even with a cracked hatch, there was not enough oxygen
inside the cabin. We were slowly awakened when our CO detector went off,
releasing a mind-boggling blare of noise that just barely woke my husband,
Chuck, and me. The kids were sound asleep with the detector right above
their heads. We were able to get the kids and ourselves out of our cabin
in time, with only headaches to complain about. The fresh air never felt
better. Now we make sure the CO detector always has a good battery.

Decisions, decisions

In Jimmy Cornell’s book, World Cruising Survey, the most popular cooking
fuel was LPG. In fact, 138 boaters chose LPG with the other fuels barely
showing up: 17 others chose kerosene; two chose diesel; one chose alcohol;
and two chose electricity. LPG was the most popular choice among the people
I talked to, as well. But I found many more owners who chose alcohol than
Jimmy did. This is probably because I talked to coastal cruisers and weekend
boaters. I also talked to only 32 stove owners. For what it’s worth, refer
to the chart of my findings on Page 53.

Which to choose?

After weighing all of the pros and cons of the dirty half-dozen, I still
haven’t made up my mind about which to choose. But our plans for cruising
outside the U.S. have ruled out CNG and alcohol. And electricity won’t
work aboard our boat without a generator. LPG is at the top of our list,
but I hesitate because of memories of singed arms, flames in my face lighting
our oven, and waking up to our carbon monoxide detector blaring. All these
are memories from forgotten pilot lights and burners not turned off completely.
It makes me gun-shy. I know the safety mechanisms on the new LPG stoves,
as well as a proper installation, will take care of those problems. But
should I choose to have our family depend on that?

Then there’s kerosene and diesel to consider. Decisions, decisions. Maybe
we could buy a new good old boat with a stove already installed so I could
leave this decision to chance. Maybe I’ll make Chuck decide.

Theresa Fort

Theresa Fort
and her family of four have lived and cruised aboard
Lindsay Christine, a Mercator Offshore 30, since 1995. In another life long, long ago and far away, Theresa was a home economist with a specialization in consumer education. After receiving her BA in home economics at the University of Montana, she went on to become a master food preserver with the co-operative extension office in Montana.

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