Mail Buoy – June 2019
Thanks for “The Empirical Battery Test” article (The Dogwatch, May 2019) and for the editor’s notes that followed it. I want to add that there is a solution to desulfating batteries, and to preventing sulfation in the first place. Pulsating-current battery conditioners are a too-well-kept secret. Every battery owner should have one and use it regularly on vehicle and boat batteries. A more expensive one will work on both 6V and 12V batteries. I use a PulseTech Xtreme Charge battery charger, but there are many reputable makers, including Noco and BatteryMinder.
Thanks for the endorsement, Jerry. We’ve had our share of battery-killing sulfation issues, and have learned to equalize regularly, but hadn’t heard of this too-well-kept-secret. We went straight to our source of everything-electronic knowledge, Good Old Boat Electronics Editor David Lynn, and shared your thoughts with him. David wrote, “There’s lots of controversy about battery pulsating devices. Some claim they work, while others say they don’t. I tried one on one battery on Nine of Cups (maybe 15 years ago?) and compared that battery with the other batteries, both in the same battery bank and in a second battery bank. After a year, I did a full 20-hour load test to compare the battery with the pulsating device on it to the batteries without. I found no discernible difference and I ended up tossing the device. I think Nigel Calder tested a pulsating-current battery conditioner for Practical Sailor, but I don’t remember what his conclusion was.” So, we next reached out to Darrell Nicholson, Editor of Practical Sailor. Darrell wrote, “We have not done anything that yielded conclusive results in the past 15 years. We did one brief 30-day test that showed some positive results, but the results were small and in the lab (under no load, I believe), and so would be difficult to correlate to real-life use on a boat.” Then Good Old Boat Contributing Editor Drew Frye pointed us to the Trojan battery website (trojanbattery.com/tech-support/faq/) where they are unequivocal: “We don’t recommend the use of desulfators or any other external device, as they tend to do more harm than good. No external device or chemicals need to be added to our products, only distilled water.” So that’s all the info we’ve been able to gather. We’re not refuting your assertion, but we do think it sounds like the jury (after a very long time) is still out on these things…and maybe they’re a secret for a reason? We welcome the feedback of readers on these devices (Michael_r@goodoldboat.com) –Eds.
Kudos to the writer of the Poem of the Month in the May issue of The Dogwatch, a Haiku it seems. Excellent visuals derived from it and restful. Thanks.
That would be Brian Bills, and here it is again:
Canvas sails billow
Keel cleaves cerulean swells
My soul is renewed
I enjoyed The Dogwatch book review of Ron Holland’s autobiography. It mentioned Golden Dazy, a fast and able vessel that was an early success story for the Gougeon Brothers WEST System wood-epoxy construction technique. They built her in Bay City, Michigan, where my older boat, Baker’s Dozen, lives.
That boat was launched for her 52nd season in my care on May 13. The boat herself is 58 now and has a bit of Gougeon Brothers epoxy here and there. Always support the local folks especially when they are sailors!
–Chris Campbell, Traverse City, Michigan
A BETTER RUM PUNCH
Regarding your nautically rhyming way to remember how to make the perfect rum punch in the May issue of The Dogwatch:
One of sour
Two of sweet
Three of strong
Four of weak
That’s been my mantra for at least 40 years. But there are two more lines:
Five drops bitters and nutmeg spice
Serve well-chilled with lots of ice.
As for the E-15 boondoggle (“A Warning from BoatUS,” May 2019), I recently encountered an E-15 pump at a local Speedway filling station in Exton, PA. I had to read the fine print very carefully to understand what was going on.
Now, if you will excuse me, the sun is over the yardarm and a lime begs to be squeezed.
Last month, having covered the 2018 Golden Globe Race extensively on the Good Old Boat Facebook page, and having heard a lot of opinions there, we put to the readers a simple query: “In a few sentences only, how do you feel about the 2018 Golden Globe Race? Positive, negative, a mixture of both? Please explain. Or did you not follow this solo race of production good old boats around the world non-stop? And if not, why not?” To be clear, and we’ve said this repeatedly, we are fans of the spirit of this race. Unique in this day in age, it’s a race the average sailor, sailing a boat that might be in your marina, with a realistic budget and no “team of professionals,” can enter and win. That’s what we love. And we think this glorious race is marred by unnecessary rules that put lives in danger. And we’ll add one more thing: we aren’t racing sailors or sailors interested in sailboat racing, never have been…until this race of good old boats.
Dennis Foley’s contrarian stance piqued our interest, so we’ll give him the first word, and hopefully put him at ease…–Eds.
I did not enjoy the Golden Globe Race coverage. I mostly skipped over any of those articles, and I think it could be the beginning of the end of Good Old Boat as we knew it. I don’t believe covering races like this, even though they are raced in old boats, is helpful to those of us who read it as being different from other magazines. I don’t think the articles actually apply to us. I didn’t look, but I assume that some of the other magazines covered it in some way. Why should I read yours if that’s where you’re going?
I am overstating the case, of course, there is still plenty of excellent content, but I do worry that you’ll end up like the rest.
End up like the rest? Yikes, what an awful thought. Rest assured it will never come to pass. All of us here are dedicated to keeping this the most relevant sailing magazine published in North America. Of course, that begs the question you also alluded to, What’s relevant? First, the coverage we were referring to in our question was all on Facebook, the play-by-play over the past year. In Good Old Boat magazine, our coverage of the race was very limited, two feature articles. In the July 2018 issue, Fiona McGlynn anchored a story about the race, accompanied by circumnavigators Jeanne Socrates and Laura Dekker. This was a general interest story from the world of sailing that we loved, but we accept the argument that its relevance was limited. But the next feature, in the January 2019 issue, by Fiona McGlynn and Barry Pickthall, was about the modifications made to two old production sailboats that would allow them to withstand the rigors of months of non-stop sailing in the Southern Ocean. We think this analysis should be relevant to every good old boat owner. In a sense, this race was the ultimate test of good old boat failure points.
Regardless, we’re faced with the Herculean task of ensuring relevance to a wide swath of good old boaters in every issue, whether they sail 16-foot trailerable catboats or 40-foot keelboat cruisers. Whether they sail a multihull or a monohull. We hope you’ll appreciate that two features (and a couple editorials) constitutes a very limited amount of coverage of this race.
End up like the rest? We’ll be the first one out the door the day we fill our pages with ads from charter companies and Rolex or put a brand-new million-dollar sailboat on the cover.
I enjoyed your coverage of the race on Facebook. It was a convenient way to keep up and, even though I am a casual sailor, I was interested in the race. It is more applicable to everyday sailors than the America’s Cup and its billion-dollar budgets! Keep it up!
–Tony, a Cal 27 sailor
I concur with the specific criticisms of the racing rules as to the limited access for the contestants. Your thoughts echo mine from when I first read a piece on this race. There is nothing wrong with being safer by using technology to watch the weather and have at-will communications.
I followed with interest, just to see if modern-day sailors (who are aware of advance technology) would tough it out without that technology. It’s one thing to sail solo in the 60’s in a “modern” boat with “current” technology (as they did in their day) vs. going “primitive” for that sake alone, knowing that technology could and would bail you out if necessary. When the going gets tough are they likely to throw in the towel or (as in first race) tough it out because they had to? The race would be more interesting if it was based on good old boats with whatever added modern technology is available. Now we’re competing old boat designs (not foiling hulls!), sailor against nature, in the best designs of their day.
–Bert Vermeer, Natasha, Sidney, British Columbia
I’m pleased you covered the race. I’m also appalled at the (possibly preventable) carnage which marked it. I’m baffled that anybody would wish to undertake that challenge as well. To my mind the Roaring Forties are no place for out-of-date gear. I love those Rustlers, but geez, really? If there is a place which make the motto ” there is safety in speed” real, that’s it! Thanks for the coverage!
–Erik Williams, Antares, 1984 Moody 34, Rock Hall, Maryland
Thanks Erik. We mostly agree with you, but just don’t buy the “slow is dangerous” argument. (But let it be said that we’ve plenty of expert sailing friends who share your sentiment.) Our take is that speed is indeed necessary to out-run storms, but that speed is not required to avoid them, only advance knowledge of storm system location and movement is necessary (and that’s what the 2018 GGR racers were needlessly denied). Hundreds of slow cruising boats have safely sailed oceans for decades, avoiding the deadly stuff because they had the knowledge necessary to do so. –Eds.
My view of the race is that it seems silly to not use some benefits of modern technology. But, in the end, these people are all adults who know the game that they are about to take part in. Some people just need to go out on the limb further than others. I’m not one of them.
Thanks Doug. We also support the right of adult sailors to enter this or any race, however loco the rules, no problem. But our argument is that by taking away the ability of these racers to receive the weather data and be their own weather routers, turns this race into a game of chance in the Southern Ocean, as it was in 1968. All well and good, but we’d prefer a race with an outcome that more directly reflected the skill and decisionmaking of the racers. –Eds.
My $0.02. Keep covering the race. Those who are uninterested or not supportive can skip the article; those of us who enjoy it and are interested appreciate your coverage.
First, regarding Facebook: 1) I won’t use it, 2) I won’t use Facebook’s other data-stealing products, such as Whatsapp, 3) I’m not excited with organizations that knowingly expose me to data intrusion by using it.
My own boat owners association cares so little about my personal data security, they use Facebook. Sort of like using a known child molester to babysit your kid, or a known Kleptomaniac as your accountant, because they are “free.”
Back to the race. On occasion I look at info about the people or the boats (never on Facebook). But I am not a racing sailor. I am with you on safety. And as someone raised in the USA and the child of immigrants, I rebel and am aggravated by intrusive agencies and rules, telling me what I must do. The idea that a race committee would tell me I could not refer to online weather, utterly confounds me. Storms go bad and wipe out races; I am old and the 1979 Fastnet comes to mind.
But a lot of folks want to watch the race unfold, no matter how irrational the rules. I wish them the best.
Thanks Jonathan. Just a quick note about Facebook. It’s easy to derive the spoils of the platform without subjecting yourself to the intrusiveness. You don’t have to have a Facebook profile (we’re certain you don’t) to access the Good Old Boat Facebook page, or others. Without a profile, it’s just like visiting any other website. –Eds.
I am one of the few that has a small digital footprint, no social media accounts or even a smart phone. I followed the race on the internet and would love to have seen the good old boat commentary.
Hi John, our comment to the letter above applies to you as well. –Eds.
I was fascinated by the GGR of 2018. I checked in on progress every morning and every evening. My buddies and I made martini bets on outcomes along the way, providing a side benefit of get-togethers for pay-off.
Two things are crystal clear to me: (1) The original feat by Sir Robin Knox Johnston in 1968 was a monumental achievement, and (2) the evolution of sailing sails, materials, self-steering, and knowledge of the world’s waters and weather over the past 50 years have made it so that the challenge is no longer beating Sir Robin Knox Johnson’s time, not even on his own terms. Rather, it’s all about using the same type of boats and navigational technology to test the skills of individual sailors in racing around the world.
While retaining the boat characteristics and the navigational science of the era, it makes sense to me that the sailors should be able to access modern weather information. The challenge should be defined as having a boat =< 36 feet LOA, a solo sailor, non-stop, without GPS or electronic steering. That’s enough to make an extremely challenging and highly interesting global race, still in the spirit of Sir Robin Knox Johnson.
–Woody Norwood, Beaufort, South Carolina
Keep on following it and recognize the challenges that face these participants. Makes very interesting reading and, although you may not agree with some things the race organizers do, by staying engaged, we have the opportunity to influence future changes.
I have mixed views about the Golden Globe, for reasons you and John at Attainable Adventure Cruising have expressed.
To be blunt, I have not followed any of these blue-water races in quite a while. I have no personal desire to do that sort of sailing (too old and feeble at this point.). The Golden Globe turns me off with its many restrictions as well. Technology is here, so why not use it? Should they restrict participants to a strict diet of only burgoo? Yes, safety first.
–Steve Mitchell (selling my 1988 Pearson 33 because my reliable crew is older and sicker than I am. Alas seems no one wants a 30-year-old boat these days.)
I’ve mixed feelings. I’m happy it exists and Harkens (See what I did there? Sailing pun!) back to “the good old days” of sailing, where things were basic and you relied on your skills, courage, and intuition. But I do see the sensibility of updating the rules to allow for the use of modern resources.
And never apologize for your coverage approach. Smart people will see it as balanced.
I followed the race closely, and loved the idea from the start. Like you, however, I think some of the rules added to the danger. But what do I know? I also think racing old cars is fun, but I’d wear a modern helmet, update the brakes, and ensure the gas tank was safe.
Keep up the good work!