Skip to main content

The Best of Ask SAIL: Summer 2015

NEW JIB TRACKS

Q: I have been rehabbing a Pearson 35 for the past eight years. I am just about done and plan on sailing it in southwest Florida. The rig has a normal mainsail and a 145 percent genoa. The boat now has a new toerail, which came out great. However, originally the T-track for the genoa and jib cars was mounted on the toerail, and I’d like to put it elsewhere. On a number of newer sailboats the track is inboard close to the cabintrunk, and it would be easier for me and more desirable to install it inboard on my boat as well. There is plenty of room on deck. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each location? Also, the original tracks were 72in in length with cars that can only be adjusted manually while not under load. Do you advise adjustable cars with ball bearings to facilitate sail trimming while under load? What are the guidelines for track length and location fore and aft for a given headsail?

Leo Lotowycz, Venice, FL

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

This could be a great opportunity for you to install some new tracks and create a system that really works for you, but first you need to figure out if there is enough reinforcement under the deck to lay the tracks inboard. It’s a much better location, because it gives you a better sheeting angle going upwind (which is why there are inboard tracks on newer boats). However, the deck has to be strong enough to carry the load, and you will need to replace the core material with thickened epoxy where the new tracks are through-bolted. I would definitely install a system that can be easily adjusted under sail. As soon as you ease the sheet or reef the sail, the sheet lead needs to be changed to keep the sail trimmed properly. With an adjustable system you can easily do this. Remember, a sail that is properly trimmed will also last longer. There is no hard rule for track length, but a good estimate is 0.6 times a headsail’s J dimension (the distance from mast to headstay chainplate). For a boat like yours, which has a J of 14ft, that means a little over 8ft of track should be sufficient.

ADDING A BATTERY

Q: My boat is a Catalina 22 with a 9.9hp outboard. I have two batteries: a starter and a house, which is a multi (start/deep cell), and I want to add another house battery. Can I parallel the multi with a pure deep cell? I use an autopilot, GPSmap441s with sonar and an older VHF. The three currently drain my house battery in a couple of hours. Also can I charge them all at the same time? If not, what other options do I have? I dock at a slip with power. The boat is also located in Port Isabel, Texas: lots of sun, but not all the time.

Arther Nemes, Port Isabel, TX

NIGEL CALDER REPLIES
It is not a good idea to parallel batteries of different ages and chemistries, and in any case, an undersized battery may not be the problem. I don’t know what size your house battery is, but whatever it is, the relatively modest loads you are putting on it should not drain it in a couple of hours. It sounds like the battery is suffering from a lack of capacity from one or more aging mechanisms (loss of active material, sulfation, etc.). If you take it to your local autoparts store they can test it. If it needs replacing, then you can get two batteries of the same type and parallel these or, better yet, if you have the space, you can go with a single larger battery. Be aware, though, that you may have another problem. The alternator in a 9.9hp outboard will be pretty small. If you are only motoring for short periods of time it will put very little into your batteries. Your batteries will get quite heavily cycled over the course of a day’s sailing, and if you are not able to plug in every night (do you sometimes go out for the weekend or longer?) they will get even more deeply cycled (which, I suspect, is the genesis of your current problems). Any solar panels that you can add to your system will be highly beneficial in maintaining a higher average battery state of charge. If you do stay out overnight and use your cabin lights, if these are not already LEDs I would think about switching them out. You can get LED bulbs for just about any existing light fixture—good sources are DrLED.com and Imtra Corporation at imtra.com.

LOOSE WIRE ABOARD?

Q: For two years, my Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder, which is tied in to my chartplotter, has been working fine. Recently, though, my chartplotter has begun intermittently missing incoming data from the boats around me. Any ideas for a solution?

R. Watson, Lake Washington, WA

GORDON WEST REPLIES

If the problem comes and goes at random, it is likely not an errant setting you made on the chartplotter or AIS. If you only see close-in vessels, check the AIS antenna system with a temporary VHF antenna. If the problem continues to be intermittent, check the NMEA 0183 white and brown “talker” wire connections from the AIS, as well as the yellow and green “listener” wire connections to the chartplotter. These could cause erratic AIS data on the chartplotter. If your system is NMEA 2000, bring in your local NMEA-certified tech with his data reader, and he will help isolate the problem to the AIS or chartplotter. However, if the problem is intermittent, as you say, it sounds like it might also just be a loose wire you can fix yourself.

PROP ZINC DETERIORATION

Q: My 2014 Dehler 38 has a Volvo saildrive 130S-F and a two-blade Flexofold prop. After six months in the Annapolis area, the two “small” zincs on the prop showed dramatic deterioration. In contrast, all other zincs (including the ring zinc on the saildrive) had minimal deterioration. Prior to launching the boat for the new season I did replace the two small zincs. This year I plan to keep the boat in the water for about eight months. Given the longer amount of time in the water (but also considering the fact that the saildrive zinc is virtually intact) do you think I need to replace the small zincs mid-season? If they were to completely deteriorate by season’s end, what is the worst that could happen?

Akis Goutzoulis, Annapolis, MD

NIGEL CALDER REPLIES

Volvo-Penta requires all metal propellers to be electrically isolated from their saildrive propeller shafts, which is almost certainly the case with your installation. If this isolation is maintained (you can check with an ohmmeter from the propeller to the saildrive leg; you should get a very high resistance) then the anodes on the propeller are only protecting the propeller, and the anode on the saildrive is protecting the saildrive. The propeller is a bronze alloy, which will inevitably eat up its anodes rapidly and probably does not need protecting in the first place. (Although Flexofold still supplies its propellers standard with anodes, it also supplies them without.) So I do not believe you need to replace the propeller anodes in mid-season, and in fact I don’t think you need them at all! That having been said, according to Flexofold you can actually replace them with the boat still in the water, as the mounting screws supplied with the zincs are pre-applied with a special Loctite compound. The critical anode from your perspective is the saildrive anode, which should always be replaced once it is half consumed. (Its effectiveness is directly related to the remaining surface area.)

REMOVING A BOAT NAME

Q: What do I use to remove a painted name off the transom?

Lou Okma, Suttons Bay, MI

DON CASEY REPLIES

The quickest way is with a chemical stripper and a razor blade, but because polyester resin and paint resin are similar, the chemical strippers you are likely to find in paint and hardware stores will damage the gelcoat. Instead, you need a “fiberglass safe” stripper. If the container does not say safe to use on fiberglass, do not use it. One exception to this might be the citrus-based stripper Citristrip. Although it is not recommended for fiberglass by the manufacturer, lots of boaters report satisfactory results at a better price and no gelcoat damage. Marine supply stores will have strippers intended for use on fiberglass, but even these must be used judiciously. (This applies equally to Citristrip.) Apply them only to the painted surface, leave them on only long enough to soften the paint, then scrape and flush thoroughly to remove all residual traces. More than one application is typically needed to completely remove painted lettering. Because the paint will have protected the fiberglass underneath from the effects of UV exposure, even after the paint is gone, the shadow of the lettering is likely to be visible. In some cases, using a polishing compound on the entire transom will reduce or eliminate this vestige entirely. Otherwise, it will fade away with time.

Do you have a question for our experts? Submit it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

Related

00-LEAD-JB13-RT1169

What's it Like to Sail a Legend?

In 1851, the New York pilot schooner America sailed to England, beat the Brits at their own prestigious yacht race (which came to be known as the America’s Cup), and launched an evolution of the East Coast’s pilot craft into vessels that were the envy of the world. Their ...read more

Alexforbes Archangel1-1 (14)

Cape2Rio Draws to a Close

With just four boats still on their way, it has been a long road to Rio for the fleet competing in this year’s Cape2Rio. Larry Folsom’s American-flagged Balance 526 Nohri took line honors and a win in the MORCA fleet, finishing with a corrected time of 18 days, 20 hours, and 42 ...read more

_01-Steve-and-Irene-1

Close Encounters: A Star to Steer By

I first met Steve and Irene Macek in the proper way—in an anchorage full of bluewater cruising boats. This was in St. Georges, Bermuda, in the spring of 2019. Theirs, without doubt, was the most distinctive boat there—an immaculate, three-masted, double-ended Marco Polo schooner ...read more

14_01_230123_TOR_JOF_0414-2048x

The Ocean Race Leg 2 Kicks Off

After a trial by fire start to the race and only a brief stop for limited fixes, the five IMOCA 60 crews in The Ocean Race set off for Cape Town, South Africa, early on January 25. Despite arriving somewhat battered in Cabo Verde, an African island nation west of Senegal, the ...read more

Lead

Cruising: Smitten with a Wooden Boat

I was sailing down the inner channel of Marina del Rey under a beautiful red sunset when Nills, one of the crew members on my boat, pointed out an unusual and unique-looking 40-foot gaff-rigged wooden cutter tied to the end of a dock. Its classic appearance was a stark contrast ...read more

Screen-Shot-2023-01-23-at-12.03.19-PM

Racing Recap: Leg One of The Ocean Race

New to spectating The Ocean Race? Managing Editor Lydia Mullan breaks down everything you need to know to get started. ...read more

image00001

From the Editor: Keeping the Hands in Hands-On

SAIL Editor-in-Chief Wendy Mitman Clarke enjoys a sunny autumn cruise in her Peterson 34 on the Chesapeake Bay. It was late afternoon just after the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis when I climbed aboard the last boat on the schedule. I and others who review and sail boats for ...read more

P1580711

B&G Announces New Zeus S Chartplotter

B&G has long been putting out top-of-the-line electronics, but the new Zeus S Chartplotter is a new take on the best way to give sailors the exact information they need, when they need it. “So many more people sail shorthanded these days, whether as a couple or when they’re ...read more