Tuesday, August 29, 2017

You've Got to Watch out for those Guide Book Authors...

... always copying from others, and not always going there themselves. Me, on the other hand, when I decided to write a guide book about the Delmarva for shoal draft boats, I dragged my my young daughter along, several years in a row. And we had some times. The kind you never forget.

There are only 265 markers on the inside passage between Cape Charles and Chincoteage. We took turns.

 Ponies on Assateague beach.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Best 100--Chapter 8

It's been a while. I assume you all understand that while my boat was for sale, the greatest value of this blog was as a marketing tool. However, Shoal Survivor is now under contract and we can get on with business as usual.

Yes, I am momentarily boatless. However, that does not mean this blog will change.
  • PDQ content will become somewhat less. But that does not mean I am reluctant to answer questions or work on PDQ problems. After all, most boat problems are, to a significant extent, universal. I also know the PDQ inside out and enjoy sharing what I know.
  • This blog will not come down or become inactive.
    • PDQ materials, such as the PDQ 32 owners manual, will remain available.
    • My writing, both magazine and e-book will continue unabated. It is my life, and this blog supports both, developing ideas and sharing comments.
  • I am actively searching for a replacement boat. Something different. Writing and research demand a broad experience, and I intend that a new boat will add a new dimension. It will be something much different.
So on with my list of "100 Best." I've got most of the list in my notes, as a backlog of things I've already tested or used anyway.


In celebration of the successful sale of Shoal Survivor to  her new owners, this is a listing of some of the most useful boat prep products. I have been an active sailor and I have never been a clean freak. Good solid maintenance, and fix things stronger than new, but not a clean freak. Shoal Survivor has been well lived in, and we cleaned them up.

41. Oxiclean. over half of the lookers ask whether I had sewn my own cushions or whether I had had them made. They were so clean and in such good shape that none believed they were 20 years old. In fact, I actually used a wholesale-only product for most of the cleaning called CS-530 and marketed for cleaning sails by Challenge Sail Cloth. This is what many of the lofts use for professional sail cleaning. But at the end of the day, it is Oxiclean with a touch of Spic-N-Span added. Hot water, soak for 4 hours, rinse. Leave in the sun, because the sun helps it keep working. If you cannot remove the cover, scrub in place and then extract the water with a carpet cleaner.

 Percarbonate is the key. Unlike bleach, it does not fade colors or weaken the cloth. This later is why Challenge Sail Cloth can recommend it. Long soak times (2-4 hours) are required and some time in the sun helps finish the job. A carpet vacuum extractor is very helpful for overs that cannot be removed.

42. 303 Aerospace Protectant. No, they don't really protect much. Yes, there are many good vinyl and fiberglass cleaners and protectants..

43. Imar and Plexus for windows and vinyl. Both are highly regarded by sailmakers and plastics manufacturers. Both have been put through rigorous testing. Imar polish lasts longer and protects better, but Plexus is more convenient for cleaning and polishing. I use both.

 The best protection is to keep vinyl covered, protected from UV. Can you guess where the cover stopped? I have covers for all of my soft vinyl.

44. Xylene. Always be cautious around plastics with solvents. The compatibility rules are complex and it is always possible to mis-identify a material. That said, xylene is the go-to product for removing most organic goo from fiberglass:
  • Black heel marks.
  • Tape residue.
  • Fender goo rubbed that transfers onto the topsides.

45. 3M rubbing Compound. Although I did not compound the whole boat, she had accumulated plenty of black heel marks from winch handles and bad shoes. Remove what you can with solvent, and then a very light buffing gets the rest. Also good for buffing old acrylic or Lexan windows prior to waxing. (NEVER buff soft vinyl until you study the Practical Sailor guide to restoring vinyl. Without proper procedure and materials, this is  good way to ruin soft vinyl.)  Get a cheap 6-inch buffer from Harbor Freight and save it just for the windows. It is worth it just for that.

46. Boat Zope, Sudbury Products. Both more effective and much more economical in use, since very little is used. In general, it was sufficient to power off both old bird bombs and lichens without further assistance. Allowing a few minutes soaking period helps with any soap.

47. CLR diluted to 5%. You can buy black streak removers and tannin removers (for the ICW smile), but a spray bottle of 5% CLR does the trick for a small fraction of the price. Just lactic acid and a little surfactant. Available at Home Depot.

48. Diluted Bleach. Same thing. Just pre-dilute to about 5% of bottle concentration and save a bundle. Great for mildew and loosening lichens. But do be mindful of fabrics. NEVER use this in sails or canvas. Read # 41, Oxiclean.

49. Easy Off. Our wives know this, but most (non-kitchen savy) men haven't got a clue. An old grimy galley stove or stern rail grill can be relieved of 10 years worth of baked on grease in a few minutes. Be warned that this will burn the skin and that it can remove some paints (latex and bottom paint).

50. Formula B (Practical Sailor). A DIY mixture of Borax, washing soda, and TSP, this pennies/gallon blend is perfect for cleaning bilge spaces and KEEPING mildew from returning. The best available for removing mildew from carpet liners and flooded basements (what drove me to invent and perfect the formulation). Concrobium is also good, if you like paying 20 times more. GoldShield products are more durable if rain is a factor.


Halfway home and I'm not even breaking a sweat.