Sunday, July 16, 2017

PDQ 32/34 Shoal Survivor for Sale

 Ready for a tropical vacation? Off Warrior's Rest, MD.

PDQ yachts are known for superior quality, durability, and ability in heavy going. Quality resins, synthetic cores, vacuum-bagged construction, and strategic use of carbon fiber insure both light weight and freedom from delamination and blistering. Systems are well thought out, designed for easy maintenance, and carefully installed. Unlike the "price point” the boats they often compete with, these were built with years of bulletproof, reliable service in mind; if quality is important to you, this PDQ will make you happy.

 Anchored off Fairhaven, Maryland. The broad deck provides comfortable lounging, both  at anchor and underway. A custom bridle and 35-pound Manson Supreme anchor deliver comfortable, secure nights. A Fortress FX-16 provides back-up.

The subject of nearly 100 articles in Practical Sailor and Good Old Boat Magazine, Shoal Survivor has been lovingly maintained and thoughtfully upgraded in many subtle ways to increase comfort,  reduce maintenance, increase reliability, and add to the "cruisability" of this great boat design.

This is was the first extended PDQ 32/34 Altair. Two extra feet of hull clean up the wake, improve performance, and smooth out the ride. A bottom step is now 32 inches wide, providing easy boarding. Working with the tender and kayaks is more comfortable, swimming is more fun, and a comfortable transom shower makes for a pleasant end to a summer's day.

Shoal Survivor is simply the fastest, most thoughtfully tweaked PDQ32/34 out there. And she's ready to go anywhere, any time. No question about it.

Listing Price    $109,000

For more information, please contact me using the Contact Bar on the sidebar. I will forward additional information and we can arrange for a viewing and inspection in Deale, MD.

(Note: items denoted with highlight and underline are links to more information. There are also over 360 posts in this blog, most of which detail up-grades and maintenance.) 

  • Builder: PDQ Yachts, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

  • LOA: 34 feet
  • LWL: 33 feet 4 inches
  • Beam: 16 feet
  • Weight, about 8,500 pounds
  • Draft: 3 feet, 3 inches. Keels have been faired and extended for improved windward pointing and speed.
  • Bridge Clearance: 49 feet
  • Bridge Deck Clearance: 40 inches (fwd) / 23 inches (aft)
  • Engines: Two 9.9 hp Yamaha retractable outboard motors (new August 2012). 4-cycle, high thrust, long shaft.
  • Morse MT-3 Controls (New March 2013)
  • Hours: approx. 175
  • Cruising Speed: 6.5 knots
  • Maximum speed 7.4 knots
  • Fuel: 27 gallons
  • Fresh Water: 47 gallons
  • Holding: 30 gallons
  • Two  10-pound propane tanks in factory-vented locker. Sensors in both hulls.

A simple touch screen gives access to all air conditioner functions.
Heating and Air conditioning:
  • Air Conditioning: Dometic Turbo 10,000 BTU air conditioner. Runs on 120V AC, pulls only 8 amps running. Can run on batteries for several hours.
  • Heat: Dickenson P9000 4,500 BTU propane fireplace with sealed flue.
  • Hot Water: Takagi T-K Jr. propane tankless hot water heater. Exterior vented, located in bulk-headed, isolated starboard bow compartment. 

Sail Area:
  • 507 sq. ft. with self-tacking jib
  • 645 sq. ft. with genoa
  • 847 sq. ft. with spinnaker
The squeezer (at top) makes setting by a single person easy. An adjustable tack bridle makes for perfect trim, from beam reach to running. The large trampoline makes for easy drops. 


Shoal Survivor’s interior is bright, airy and easy on the eyes. Fitted with the "classic" layout, she has two private cabins with queen-sized beds (standard linens), a roomy salon with 270˚ views, full galley, navigation station, and a head with shower. She sleeps up to 6 people with the use of twin flip-up convertible berths in the salon. The interior finish is fiberglass with all cabinetry in cherry veneers and solid cherry trim. Seating and berth surfaces are upholstered. Flooring is teak and holly throughout.
The trade-mark PDQ 32  slider opens the salon up like few other boats. The helmsman can speak to the loungers--no one is isolated, unless they chose to retreat to one of two private, queen-size cabins.

Vessel Walk-Through:
Entry from the cockpit is through a well-designed full-width sliding hatchway leading to the salon. The salon features a dinette with a solid cherry table with storage in the center. The table provides comfortable dining for six people and folds down if desired (rope tackle). The U-shaped settee surrounding the table is upholstered in dark blue striped Sunbrella removable cushions. Storage space is provided under each of the salon seats, with hinged tops with custom lift-out trays for smaller items. A swing-down television and DVD player provide evening entertainment.

Broad windows and a skylight provide an unobstructed view from the helm. All zip-out, if desired in fair weather.
Enclosure new in 2011

The aft sections of both hulls contain mirror image private cabins with queen-size athwartship berths. The berths use standard queen-size double bedding with 3-inch high density foam mattresses and toppers. Each sleeping cabin has a hanging locker, cupboards, storage bins and six opening hatches to provide excellent ventilation. A huge storage area is available under each bunk to stow sails and cruising paraphernalia. The lids are hinged, with props, to allow easy access without un-making the bed.

Twin aft cabins (port and starboard) feature a queen-size bed (standard size linens), numerous small cabinets, and a small hanging closet. A fan and six opening hatches keep the air moving. There is a cavernous locker under the bed.

The remainder of the port hull is devoted to the galley, including a propane refrigerator, microwave, 2-burner propane stove, and numerous cabinets.

The amidships section of the starboard hull contains the navigation station. A large inset shelf provides ample chart and small part storage. The main electrical panel hinges down for easy access. Air conditioning, heating, inverter, and stereo controls are also located in this area. The opposing wall contains cabinets, a bench seat, and a hanging locker.

The forward section of the starboard hull contains the private head. Equipment includes a Jabsco manual head, shower with hot and cold pressurized water, sump pump and sink, and exhaust vent fan. There is also a mirror, towel racks and two cherry storage cabinets.

There's nothing like fresh crabs and cockpit dining. Parks Marina, Tangier Island.

The hard top makes for good times even with afternoon rain. No need to button up the companionway door or slider.

 Galley Equipment:                                                                                    Dedicated propane locker.
  • LPG propane system. 2 x 10-pound tanks in a vented deck locker. Solenoid interlock system and Fireboy Xintec s-2A gas detectors in both hulls.
  • Seaward two-burner propane stove.
  • Polished stainless steel double sink.
  • Built-in NSF 53 water filtration system removes cysts and greater than 99% of bacteria. Water is also pre-filtered before filling, and the vent is screened. (This post describes prudent and established water filtration practice)
  • Dometic 3.0 cu. ft. propane refrigerator.
  • Plentiful storage in cherry cabinets.
  • A flip-down cutting board and drop-in extension extend usable area. Custom fiberglass countertop guards.
  • Custom cherry slide-out spice rack.
  • Microwave oven.
  • 12 volt outlet.
  • 12 volt fan.
  • Bilges in both hulls are dry and provide excellent storage for bottles and cans.

Design and Construction:
  • Vacuum-bagged composite construction
  • Vinylester resin skin over hand-laid tri-axial knit fiberglass fabric with high-tensile marine resin and Klegecell foam core.
  • Hulls are solid below the waterline.
  • Low aspect fin keels have sacrificial sections to deflect much of an impact away from the main structure of the boat.
  • PCA Gold two-year anti-fouling paint (will re-paint during inspection haul-out).
  • Seldon 39’ aluminum mast (masthead rig.
  • One forestay, two cap shrouds, one set of diamond shrouds; all stays are 1×19 stainless steel wire with swaged terminals and turnbuckles.
  • Lazy jacks.
  • Raymarine ST60 masthead instruments plus Windex indicator.
  • Twin Lewmar 40 2-speed winches at mast.
  • Flag halyard on starboard spreader.
  • Spinnaker halyard and rigging
  • Topping lift.
  • Extra halyard sheave and outlet available.
  • Hood Seafurl 800 furling gear (re-build with upgraded bearings 2009).
  • Main: Mack Sails full-batten main (new 2014).
  •  Blue Sunbrella main sail cover.
  • 150% Genoa: Quantum, 2006, with UV leach protection replace 2013.
  • Self-tacking jib: 1997 with UV leach protection. Seldom used and stored in air conditioned room.
  • Spinnaker, 2006. Red, White and Blue Asymmetrical Spinnaker with adjustable bow bridle.
  • Four self-tailing 2-speed cockpit winches (two Harken 32s, and two Lewmar 40s).

Transom extensions clean up the wake and smooth the ride.

The chute makes for a relaxed ride in light winds. Sure beats listening to the engine. Also new Mack mainsail.

Hull and Deck Equipment:                                                                          Big under-bunk lockers!

  • Vinyl-dipped Dacron trampoline, very secure and comfortable.
  • Deck cleats (6): one on each bow, one on each transom and one each side of amidships.
  • Bow fairleads: one on each bow on inboard side for chafe-free mooring.
  • Transom fairleads:  custom line deflectors guide mooring lines under dinghy.
  • Large deck lockers in each bow for storage of anchoring paraphernalia and misc items.
  • Large stern lockers for boat gear and cleaning supplies.
  • Lewmar and Beckson opening hatches: (21).
  • Swim shower on starboard stern steps
  • Manson Supreme primary anchor (35 lb.) with 100 feet of  1/4-inch G43 chain and 150 feet of  1/2-inch nylon rode, stainless anchor roller with hawse pipe (starboard).
  • Lewmar V700 electric windlass (2013) on Port for primary anchor. Controls at helm for single-handed anchoring. Foot controls at bow.
  • Fortress FX-12 secondary anchor with chain and nylon rode. Stored in transom locker for easy deployment in dual-anchor situations.
  • Two custom anchor bridles with locking chain hooks.
  • Harken 8-foot mainsail traveler with 3:1 Harken controls.
  • 6-spoke Whitlock steering wheel.
  • Padded helm seat.
  • Fan at helm.
  • New cockpit canvas, 2012.
  • Hardtop Bimini including two LED light and 2 x 85 watt solar panel array.
  • Canvas sheet and storage bags (2).
  • Removable cedar cockpit sole.
  • Winch handle pockets (2).
  • Winch handles (3).
  • Numerous dock lines (various lengths).
  • Numerous fenders (various sizes) and fender board
  • Swim ladder on starboard stern.
  • Transoms stretched 2 feet in 2014 to provide improved boarding and speed.

With hull extensions, 7.5 knots. a nice smooth wake.

Looking from port cabin, forward into galley. The hanging locker is on the left, near the door.

Cabins: Two identical aft cabins are equipped as follows:
  • Queen-size bed (uses standard queen-sized linens).
  • Small hanging closet.
  • Numerous small cabinets.
  • Reading lights.
  • Fan.

  • Two Caframo Bora fans.
  • DVD player and fold-down TV screen with Bose speakers.
  • Table seats six. Storage in center of table.
  • Flip-up leaves create two twin berths.
  • Storage under seats, including removable storage trays.
  • Screens and storm windows for all opening ports. Covers (canvas or fiberglass) for all windows.


Electrical system:

  • Three 12-volt 145 AH batteries (435 AH total), new August 2011.
  • 160W Solar Panel array (2 x 80 watts) on cockpit hardtop.
  • Morningstar Solar controller with current and voltage display.
  • Heart 2000W Inverter/Charger battery management system.
  • Full 120 volt AC/12 volt DC Paneltronics electrical panel.
  • Shore power cord, 50 ft.
  • 120V outlets: galley, head, 2 in salon, navigation station, cabins.
  • Low-power fluorescent lighting in salon and hulls. LED lighting in cockpit.

Twin 85-watt rigid panels provide power at anchor.
  • Garmin FX 324 Color Map GPS Chart plotter at helm with charts for Caribbean and North America.
  • Raytheon Autopilot (compass course or wind direction).
  • Raytheon Tridata (speed, wind, depth, water temperature).
  • Standard Horizon VHF.
  • 4-inch Ritchie magnetic compass.
  • Sony Radio/CD player with 2 speakers.
  • Flat screen TV (swing-away mounting) with DVD player and Bose speakers.
Engines and Fuel System:
  • Supplemental Raycor filtration, each engine.
  • Silica gel vent filter reduces fuel evaporation and water absorption, increasing engine reliability.
  • Lifeguard vent trap prevents vent over flows.

  • Mercury 3.5 HP 2-stroke engine will built-in fuel tank. Portable 1.5 gallon tank.
  • 8.5-foot Boat US Hypalon hard floor, includes composite seat, paddles, anchor, and air pump. New floor 2012, refurbished 2017.
  • Dinghy davits with upgraded 6:1 rigging, plus tricing lines and aluminum spreader bar. Two kayaks are easily carried on top of davits. 
  • Anchor (stainless steel Mantus Dinghy) and rode.
A dinghy and two kayaks are no problem at all. Even with full tanks, the transoms are still out of the water. The boarding platforms and ladder (starboard) make for easy access to all of your water toys. Swim platform shower (door on starboard transom) is great for washing off the salt. (there is also a hot water shower in the head compartment).

Extended transoms make for comfortable boarding of the tenders and kayaks. Great for passengers with mobility limitations and fun for the kids.

Safety Equipment:
  • Whale bilge pumps (2); shower gulper pump.
  • Life Sling with rail-mounted soft case.
  • Full jacklines and dedicated hard points for safety tethers.
  • Signal horn, flares, etc.
  • Six life jackets.
  • Two fire extinguishers.
  • Lifelines with six gates and stanchions surround the deck.
  • Magma barbecue grill with on rail attachment and Sunbrella cover.
  • Mesh slider mosquito screen.
  • Cleaning supplies: bucket, mops, deck brushes.
  • Numerous miscellaneous spare parts.
  • Gasoline jerry cans.
  • Bike rack for transom rail. Carry standard bikes.
  • Trolling equipment (fishing), including several Cuban yo-yos and removable mini-outriggers. 

Why is she for sale? I wish she wasn't. But I've been sailing for over 30 years and it's time for something different.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 7

This will be a weekly feature for the next five months. I figure a goal will keep the pressure on.

I think of this as an adjunct to my book "Keeping a Cruising Book for Peanuts," although certainly there is some overlap. I've tested a lot of stuff. Many of these items were mentioned in some prior post--use the search function to find more information.

While you're at it, subscribe to Practical Sailor Magazine. The product descriptions are better, there are comparisons and options, and the test methods are explained. They research stuff I avoid, like electronics. One good find--or bad purchase avoided--and it'll be the smartest $39.94 you'll ever spend.


Properly selected, these magic fluids prevent corrosion, wear, and keep things moving. small wonder, and a shame, that whales were hunted nearly to extinction, in part in the quest for lubricants for the dawn of the industrial revolution. Today the local chandlery is bursting with magic lubes with all manner of claims. Fortunately, there are only a few you actually need.

Here I am lubing a DIY invention--a mast track cleaner that can be inserted and hauled up and  down the track without accessing the mast gate. Pretty tricky. A future post, perhaps. McLube Sailkote is the lube of choice. Lasts all season, with a few touch-ups on the slugs from time to time.

36. McLube Sailkote. Struggling to hoist sails is a disincentive sailing. There are many things that can make it more difficult than it needs to be. A bent foil or track, sticky sheaves, worn sliders, a dirty track (in the picture above, I cleaned the track before lubing it it), or added friction from leading the halyards back to the cockpit can all contribute. The first step is to clean the track and make certain it is free of gummy lubes and mud dauber nest remnants. Even a good coating of dust hurts. I just finished an article on track cleaners. Then apply something slick. The ideal lubricant will last a long time, never build-up or attract dirt, and can be spread vertically without climbing the mast. McLube Sailkote is a dry lubricant that will stay in place for a year in most applications. Though I don't use it on everything, I do use it on the sail tracks, genoa luff tapes, mainsail slugs, the traveler car, and the companionway slider (used traveler cars). Other common uses include:
  • All blocks.
  • Furler lines (reduces over-rides). I use Nikwax Polar Proof, to similar effect.
  • Telltales (keeps them flying, particularly when wet).
  • Zippers (but not dry-suits--they have special requirements.
37. PB Blaster. A weeks ago I realized the mount on one of my outboards had worked a little loose, but unsurprisingly, the bolts were seized tight. A few years of constant splashing in seawater will do that. So without getting frustrated, I blasted both sides of the bolt with PB Blaster and went to work on something else for an hour. When I returned, I was able to rock the bolt, using less force than I had applied unsuccessfully before. After about 30 seconds of rocking I was able to fully unwind the bolt, grease up with Green Grease (which I forgot to do when installing it--stupid) and re-tighten properly. This stuff has saved my bacon many times, most spectacularly when aluminum is involved. Given time to work, it nearly always does the trick.

38. Green Grease. Not just any grease that is green, but a specific synthetic grease from Omni Lubricants that I have subjected to rigorous laboratory and field testing. Simply the best wash-off and corrosion protection you can buy. Also excellent extreme pressure performance, making it good for winches. Advance Auto Parts carries it. I use it for:
  • Winches. Beat manufacture products in side-by-side testing.
  • Battery cables.
  • Shift cables.
  • Anti-seize on bolts. I think Tef Gel is better, just barely.
  • Trailer wheel bearings and couplers.
  • Seacocks. Unless I need something thicker to prevent leaks.

39. Lanicote, Forespar. If I need something a little thicker than Green Grease, perhaps for a turnbuckle or worn seacock (it will make them very stiff in the winter--sorry), this is the go-to product. Also excellent for:
  • Battery cables
  • Anti-seize
But I would not use it for technical lubrication, such as winches or  bearings. It also has poor high temperature and extreme pressure properties. An odd down side (and a good sign, actually) is that it is tough to wash off your hands.

40. Motor Oil.  Not a specific brand. There is way too much unsubstantiated opinion flying around. Additionally, unlike many products, there are strict standards, developed at a cost of millions of dollars by ASTM and API members. Products that meet these standards work. What is important is using a product that meets the correct standard.

     Two-Stroke Outboards. TC-W3 is the standard of choice. Do NOT use your favorite motorcycle oil. Enthusiast will speak of the terrific high temperature properties of their favorite, but motor cycles are air cooled and run hotter. There have been many cases of fouling and rings sticking attributed to motor cycle 2-stroke oils. On the other hand, corrosion is the bogey man of outboards. Marine oils are formulated for the cooler temperatures and moisture (even salt) exposure of water-cooled out-boards.

     Four-Stroke Engines (In-board or Out-board). FC-W is the standard of choice here. Again, it has been formulated for increased corrosion resistance. Is a good quality automotive oil as good? The folks that run the tests tell me that most probably will pass, but that the manufacturers don't submit all oils for testing. The most important thing is to change at the rated hours, or every fall at a minimum. Look at the oil and make sure it is not milky or brown, sure evidence that there is water or coolant in the oil. There are also one-drop-on-blotter paper tests that give some good hints. I did and article on these (as well as a DIY version based on cover weight paper) for Practical Sailor a few years ago.


I also keep a few specialty products around, just because I have them. Tefgel is good for anti-seize where very high temperatures (not for cylinder heads) are not involved. Overpriced, but it goes a long, long way. Teflon pipe dope is  a good alternative anti-seize when Tef Gel is not at hand. K-Y is just the thing for lubing hoses for lubing head hoses and water pumps seals for installation (grease will damage water and sanitary hoses).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Slow Leak in Your Tender?

One possibility is a bad valve. Often, they look horribly sunburned on the outside. However, because the critical parts are inside, completely protected from  UV, most often a good cleaning is all they really need. Fortunately, they are dead simple to service or replace.

  1.  Deflate the tender.
  2. Grab the inside portion of the valve by squeezing the deflated tube around it. Turn the top counterclockwise using either a valve-specific tool, or a large pair of channel locks or a pipe wrench. They are entirely plastic, so I have never come across one that was stuck. They do not break easily.
  3. Remove the top half and give it a good scrubbing with a tooth brush. The sealing surface should be your focus. Lube the sealing surfaces and the outside o-ring very lightly with synthetic or silicon grease.
  4. Give the top surface of the inflatable fabric a good scrubbing.
  5. Re-install by reversing the process.
  6. Give the plug a good scrubbing. Remove the gasket and get both sides. Even if the gasket appears crusty, it's probably just an accumulation of salt and algae. Scrub it up.  If the keeper string is shot, replace it with whipping twine.

You can lubricate the valve in-place with a few drops of glycerin.

Replacement valves are about $15. You will still need to remove the old valve and clean up the fabric.. You can send a picture to Defender Marine if you are not sure, but if the hole in the fabric is about the same size, many are interchangeable. There is probably no need to remove the inside half--it just a threaded holder, never sees sun, and would probably last 50 years. They can be a little tricky to force through old fabric (might tear).


A parting thought. As I rehab my inflatable for the second time (the first time included paint and a new floor), I find myself amazed by the durability of Hypalon. As the PVC accessories (rub rail and oar locks) crack, the Hypalon remains like new. One one major wear prevention step was the installation of large chafe pads on the inside, where the lifting bridle rubs on the tubes. It has two layers of reinforced rubber, so that when one wears through I can replace it without any risk to the tubes. I wonder if all new dinghies should be fitted with patches everywhere they rub on the davits or transom, much like genoas are fitted with spreader patches by the sailmaker. Of course, this will be a DIY job, since it's hard to say where they should be. Polyurethane caulk works well, as does contact cement--Hypalon cement (a durable, 2-part contact cement) is overkill for holding a wear patch in place.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 6


Every contingency repair kit includes duct tape, along with parachute cord, a knife and a pair of pliers. Some types are by there nature, temporary; masking tape is graded for its ability to peal off. But some types are permanent or very nearly so.

Here is  list of my favorites, some times by brand name, and sometimes more generically. Because there are so many useful types, I'm going for 10 "best" items this time:

26. Blue Masking Tape. It boils down to how long the tape will be in place. If you will pull it today, the cheapest stuff will do. If there is any chance you will be a few weeks getting back, only good quality blue of green extended life tape will do. Generally I go with 3M, but other recognizable brands seem just as good. Still, there are  limits; if it is going to be several weeks in the sun and rain, expect trouble.

27. Butyl Tape. I bought mine in an RV store in North Carolina a decade ago, so darn if I know the brand. It should stick to itself, extend almost without limit when pulled slowly (if you hold a strip, within a minute or so it should start stretching to the floor under the force of gravity alone), and be free of fibers. Great stuff. I like that I can keep it on the boat for bedding small things, and it NEVER goes bad. If in doubt, contact Mainesail for a proven product. I think West Marine also carries it now.

In my experience, it is good for  30 years in most bedding applications. It has no bonding ability, so it is best for items that are secured by bolts and have such a larg bonding area that removal will be difficult other wise. I like it for winches and hatches.

Also good for holding stainless screws in the driver.

28. Teflon Tape. I like the yellow gas-rated tape better. It is softer and thicker, allowing it to seal better at moderate temperatures. You only need the white tape above 300F. Alternatively, Teflon pipe dope is very good, and is also useful as anti-seize on bolts.

29. Sail Repair Tape, Bainbridge Sailcloth. Forget the cheap brands and forget any products that claim to be great for repair of vinyl etc. I've had some real disappointments, and in testing, only the Bainbridge brand resists aging and creep under load.

The cloth must be clean, flat, and you must rub it down well. If it is part of a permanent repair, stitch it down as though it were cloth (polyester tape only). The rip-stop version is incredible for spinnakers and reachers. I've kept old dogs flying with yards and yards of this stuff. Apply to both sides for best results.

It does NOT work on Sunbrella. Either sew the repair or consider gluing using polyester caulk (See "Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts" for a comprehensive review of sail and canvas repair using adhesives).

30. Electricians Tape. I like white and use it for rigging tape and for wrapping lines before I cut them (cut right through tape and there will be zero fraying of the line). No, you won't use much on wiring, though it can be helpful for chafe protection.

31. Duct tape. We all hate duct tape for the mess it leaves when used for a bad "permanent" repair. But it has its place:
  • You've remove some hardware and the hole must be covered to keep the rain out.
  • Need a spare set of hands. Yesterday I was installing a long awning track, and duct tape held the other end.

32. Gaffers Tape. Used in the theater business to secure all sorts of gear, this stuff lasts for years in the elements without noticeable deterioration. I like the Polyken brand, usually in white, though other colors are available. I use it to close the end of the boom to keep the birds out, and under clamps on stainless railings to reduce slipping. I also use it in conjunction with cord when wrapping helm wheels and rails--it is the only tape that lasts as long as the cord. Does not stretch like duct tape, so it does not conform to odd shapes as well. But being non-stretch also keeps it tight.

 X 33. Self Sealing Tape. In my experience, this is a "not favorite." I've used it but never been impressed. IMHO, use something else. Not a "best."

34. Aluminum Duct Tape (Nashua). Good for sealing rigid ducts. But it is also the BEST thing for sealing paint cans, since vapors cannot go through metal (FE, mylar coated balloons). Wrap the lid with aluminum tape and the paint will last. With regular tape it will not. Also good for keeping the stink inside sanitation hoses--the stink can't go through metal either.

35. Athletic Tape. I probably use more of this than any other type, typically Mueller. It doesn't last to long in the weather, but it adds grip to slippery tillers, wraps line while splicing, and makes a useful short term rigging tape. Even more important is its place in the first aid kit. It is just the thing for bracing ....

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cutts and Case

The mid-Atlantic pinnacle of classic wood boat repair must be Cutts and Case of Oxford, MD, at least judging by what I see in the show room, yard and slips. Some of the boats come here for restorations, some come every year for touch-ups and TLC.

Perfect varnish so deep you can measure it with a ruler.

This 80-year old folk boat is a perfect example of preservation and continuous care. Wonderful to behold, but I'm sure glad I don't have to keep after it. A labor of love.

No plastic classics or race boats here, though I have seen a classic riveted aluminum runabout that was gorgeous in its own way.

A must-see if you are in Oxford, MD. Visit the shed by land, and then the docks by dinghy... after getting ice cream at the Scottish Highland Creamery, of course. The creamery is a just a hole in the wall, by outward impressions, but I've seen them bring tourists by the bus load.

Major work.

The best place to park your dinghy is at a small public park near the end of the strand, on the town creek side. There is a tiny beach and a tiny pier.

Friday, June 16, 2017

100 Best Buys--Chapter 5

This will be a weekly feature for the next five months. I figure a goal will keep the pressure on.

I think of this as an adjunct to my book "Keeping a Cruising Book for Peanuts," although certainly there is some overlap. I've tested a lot of stuff. Many of these items were mentioned in some prior post--use the search function to find more information.

While you're at it, subscribe to Practical Sailor Magazine. The product descriptions are better, there are comparisons and options, and the test methods are explained. They research stuff I avoid, like electronics. One good find--or bad purchase avoided--and it'll be the smartest $39.94 you'll ever spend.

Holding Tanks

Oh that smell. The hoses permeate, stink coming through the walls. The stuff in the tank is indescribably, and whenever someone flushes we know. And when you go to pump it out it's slow going. Or rather that is the way it used to be, until I made a long (ugly) study of this for a series of articles and for my own sake. Now all is peaceful and sweet-smell. Well, darn close.

21. Hoses. A holding tank hose should be be odor-proof, easy to bend, easy to clean, and inexpensive. Unfortunately, you can only have two of these, and odor-proof is obligatory, a least in my recommendations. That rules out all "white" hoses and all standard water or exhaust hoses.

My recommendations? I actually have had all of these (and some others) installed on my boat for at least five years, or I would not recommend them. I'm sure they will last 10 years +.
  • Trident 101 (black) or 102 (white). Stiff, but rugged as hell. Probably the best value, if you can make it fit. It is NOT as stiff as the dreaded white hose. Get black, because the white is hard to clean.
  • Raititan Saniflex. The most flexible hose available, this will go places no other hose will. A good reputation for resisting permeation, and perfect for the DIY.
  • Shields Poly X. With a lifetime warranty and the easiest cleaning, this is a best... but there is a steep price. Still, it is a nasty job, so I think it is worth it.
  • For vent lines (3/4-inch to 1-inch) you will have to use Shields 140 "white" hose. These upgraded hoses are not available in smaller sizes. Do not use any other hose for vents--clear vinyl permeates within weeks.

Tips: A few simple trick can make fitting hoses simpler:
  • Always flush will lots of water before you start. A vinegar flush with some soak time also helps.
  • Work in warm conditions. All hoses become stiff in cool weather. If you must work in the winter, warm the hoses and heat the work area to sauna-temperatures.
  • Lube with K-Y (no wise cracks). It was invented as a surgical lube, with the requirements that it wash away easily and not damage any rubber type. Lubing with grease can damage the hose and reduce sealing security. Glycerine is also good.
  • Never use a sealant on the hose barb. It will leak and you won't be able to fix it. If you need a sealant there is something wrong with the fit or the barb.
  • A radiator hose pick is handy when it is time to remove the hoses.
  • Add a 90 bend if the hose can't make the turn--it is better than forcing it and making a kink. In fact, there is no reason you can't use PVC pipe for large parts of the run, so long as there is flexibility at both ends.
  • Standard American hose barbs don't fit sanitation hose--head vendors sell smooth (not barbed) fittings for sanitation hose. Double clamp (screws on opposing sides) and never use them for a pressure application. 
  • Soak the hose ends in boiling water if they don't fit. It really helps and it works better than a hair drier. But do be careful not to spill it on your lap.

 Left to Right: Jabsco, Groco, and Rairitan. The Groco valve is cheap, but it is stiff and is not recommended. Funny, that they are all the same basic size.

22.  Raititan PHII Joker Valve. I bet you have a Jabsco manual head. Most people do. after a year, water starts to seep back into the bowl, even if you flushed enough water and pumped enough dry strokes. Well, the Rairitan PHII joker valve is interchangable with the Jabsco valve and lasts 2-3 times longer. The cost is greater, but measured in $/year it is cheaper, and the labor savings is material.

23. Chemicals. Practical Sailor did a bunch of testing of chemicals, and those based on either Nitrate or enzymes generally worked very well. They work by supplying oxygen in an alternate form (nitrate) so that the bugs do not have to use sulfate and make bad smells. Forespar Refresh was a favorite, along with Odorlos and No-flex. My favorite is Camco TST Ultra Concentrate Singles. What does not work is the nasty traditional blue stuff. At least  one brand still contains formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. It also does not work nearly as well.

Camco TST Ultra as a spray keep the bowl fresh and clean.

My favorite trick is to use it as a bowl spray, rather than to dump it in all at once. I dilute it about 4:1 in a small spray bottle, and then spray the bowl liberally with a few pumps after use. In addition to clearing the air, it treats the waste in the hose, something a one-time dose in the tank will never do.

24. Vent Filters. Actually, I would rather see you solve odor problems in more basic ways. Stink (hydrogen sulfide and other mercaptans) result from waste being digested under anaerobic conditions. Just add a little air and the bugs will make carbon dioxide instead. The air does not need to penetrate to the bottom, because the bugs near the top will eat some of the stink burbling up if they have enough oxygen to work with. But then why did they make sulfide (S -) and from what? They made it from sulfate (SO4 2+) because lacking air, they needed a source of oxygen. The sulfate came both from the waste, but more so, from the seawater we often flush with. So if we shorten the vent, increase the size to at least 3/4-inch, and flush with fresh water, that will all help. The above mentioned nitrate (NO3 +) will also provide oxygen. Finally, we try to locate the vent away from air intakes. My problem was that the vent was right under a salon air intake. It would have been easier to move it, I suppose.

 The Big Orange OEM is refillable and has a built-in vacuum break. The original Big Orange is a monster, suitable for live aboards and multi-head tanks.

If you can't fix the problem and move the line, there is always a vent filter, which I have explained in depth. I recommend one (Big Orange makes some nice ones), but I would rather you made your own.

25. Pumpout Procedures. The biggest goofs are not flushing enough water in a misguided attempt to stretch holding tank capacity (makes the waste too thick and shortens hose life) and flushing anything other than waste and single-ply tissue. Even Kleenex can be fatal (if it can survive the laundry in your pocket it certainly is not going to dissolve in the holding tank). However, the third most common goof is not removing the entire length of the pump out hose from the hook and laying it flat on the dock. Every time the liquid must rise up a loop, that increases the suction lift, and if there are four loops left on the pump stand, that's an extra 12 feet of lift. Adding viscous drag and the lift from the bilge, that's more than the pump can do, and pumping will be slow or unsuccessful. Lay the entire hose on the dock.


Finally, do NOT use vegetable oil to lube the head. It seems like it works, but it causes the waste to clump-up, causing pump-out problems in the future. I did a lot of testing for magazine articles, and adding oil was the only thing that correlated with sludge build-up. Makes sense. This is the reason it is illegal to discharge cooking oil into the sewer, except instead of a legal penalty, you will simply have a tank full of sludge. That's pretty real.

    Saturday, June 10, 2017

    Holding Tank Vent Filters--Why Carbon Lasts Much Longer Than Laboratory Testing Suggests

    Warning: Reading this article may cause a mild ice cream headache in non-chemists.

    The primary interaction of carbon with organic vapors is surface absorption, and the published Dometic tests explore this. The test method they used uses only hydrogen sulfide plus nitrogen at steady flow and is designed to measure only adsorption capacity. However, carbon presents a very complex surface and presents very complex behaviors. In the presence of fresh air we have catalytic removal of sulfur by this simplified mechanism:

    1/2O2 + H2S ---> S +2H2O
    While this reaction eventually fouls the carbon--I have observed sulfur crystals fouling the inlet side of my vent filter after several years--it does extend its life by many times. The carbon bed must be sufficient in size, as this is a slow reaction in most activated carbons, and oxygen is only available in small amounts, provided by thermal in-breathing of the tank, inflow during pump outs, and slow bidirectional flow in the vent hose. The oxygen requirement is easily met, however, as it is many times less than that required to support aerobic tank conditions. Again, the standard ASTM method used by Dometic is not appropriate for estimating carbon life when catalytic reactions are present, because the method substitutes nitrogen for air, eliminating oxygen from the process.

    Additionally, the carbon does not need to remove sulfide—or any other odor, for that matter—on a continuous flow basis to attain odor control; it need only temporarily absorb and delay the peak load for a few minutes while the toilet is being flushed. If the filter absorbs the sulfide load only temporarily and bleeds it off over a period of hours, noticeable odors are eliminated. Continuous flow laboratory testing does not measure this “time-delay” influence on surges. In industrial practice, it is not unusual to see carbon beds that have become saturated on a continuous flow basis within weeks continue to serve very well as peak absorbers for many years.

    There are limits. Eventually the carbon becomes fouled by non-volatile reaction product--as I said, I have seen sulfur deposits in my filter when it was spent--and damaged by acid build up. Additionally, the bed must be large enough for these slower processes to function.

    I hope your headache isn't too bad. But I like to explain why the difference between one person's "theory" and  reality is so difference. Generally, it is not because science is wrong, but rather because their theory was incomplete. 

    (In 35 years as a chemical engineer and wastewater guy, I got to work with carbon a good bit. More than marine holding tank guys, I'm betting. I learned where most of the bodies are buried.)

    (What got me thinking about this? I've got a couple of articles in Good Old Boat this coming month, one of them on holding tanks. Another guy wrote a good article on safety bypasses, but he got the carbon adsorption bit wrong. Not a big deal, it just reminded me of this chemist detail.)

    Friday, June 2, 2017

    Epoxy Clean-Up

    Strong durable stuff. Combined with either reinforcing fibers or thickeners, it is the most versatile material in the boat builder's arsenal. It is also messy to work with and horrendous to clean up when it gets where it should not. Solvents don't touch it even when uncured, and once cured, it is there to stay. However, until cured, it has one kryptonite: vinegar.

    The weak organic acid in vinegar (acetic acid) disrupts the polymerization cycle, stopping the cure. I also breaks the surface bond of uncured epoxy by capping off the reactive ends. It does not dissolve epoxy, but it does take the stickiness out of it, allowing it to be more removed easily with soap and water.

    Epoxy in the eye is the worst case scenario, but it does happen occasionally, often the result of working overhead. Goggles are the correct preventative, but let's assume you either forgot or didn't feel you could see well enough with them on. Perhaps you removed them after they got epoxy smeared on the lens. While I have not may this particular mistake, others have, and the cure involves a combination of modern first aid and old-school home remedy. It turns our that a vinegar-water eye wash was a traditional treatment for conjunctivitis (pink eye), and while I would go to the doctor for that, vinegar can be just the thing for epoxy in the eye. The vinegar will not dissolve or remove the epoxy, but it will stop the reactivity of the hardener, which is the substance that causes chemical burns in the eye, and render the epoxy inert. It will then be more easily removed by the copious freshwater flush that follows.

    Anti-Epoxy Eye Wash
    1. Rinse several times with a weak vinegar solution (one teaspoon per cup of warm water).
    2. Rinse for 15 minutes with clean water.
    3. See a doctor unless it really feels fine after another 10 minutes or so.  

    I keep one of these at home. I wash it and clean it out at least twice a year, and it goes with me to the boat when I have any painting or significant epoxy project. I have used this many times for dirt or a splash of something in the eye, even if i is not bad. I don't hesitate. The few times when it has been a bi worse, having a real eye wash bottle at my side may have saved my sight. I will never know. I don't want to know.

    Get an eye wash bottle, keep it clean, and keep it close. NOTHING is more valuable than you eyesight. Well, family, and perhaps wearing a bike helmet certainly fall in the same catagory as irreplaceable. Protect them all.

    A minor word of warning: vinegar does increase the solubility of the hardener in water and thus increases the transport of the chemical through the skin. If vinegar is used regularly to remove epoxy from the skin, it can increase the risk of allergic sensitization.


    "Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts" and "Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Cruiser" are now available for Kindle through Amazon. I still recommenced the PDF version, since the Kindle conversion process disrupts the page design and because I up-date the PDF version more frequently.