If it ain't broke

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Tom Neale

(Editor's note: This article is an excerpt from Tom Neale's newsletter 'Cruising Coast and Islands,' issue 5. We reprint it with Tom's permission. Both his newsletter and book are available in our store. DRY DAMP BODS BETTER by Tom Neale So you want your body to be dry on a boat? Come On. But Dr. Dennis Brittain from Oregon, aboard SV The FIx, has an idea. He first told us about, and then sent us an Absorber. Sounds like a tough guy movie, but its a chamois type of towel. The one we got is made by Emgee. The point is that it takes almost no space and doesn’t need or want to get dry between showers, so you can use it instead of your regular Martha Stewart towel. You know, the big fluffy thing that you have grown to love but which grows all sorts of little fluffy things in its garden while hanging profusely in your small head compartment unless you hang it on the lifeline and get it really soaked in the salt spray and evening rain or worse still, get ticketed by the Neato Cops who think it looks bad to have a towels on the line. So we tried it. The only negative is that it feels a bit slimy on the old bod, just like you’d expect from a chamois, but after that cool slimy swipe you really are dry. You can then wring it out, roll it up and put it back in its tube until the next time you want to get dry. Which brings us to the next negative. After a few days, (depending on variables such as how much soap you used) the thing gets a little smelly. Just wash it, wring it, and do it again. You can also use it like a chamois elsewhere about the boat. The maker says they absorb 50% more water 3 times faster than -- towels, I guess. Dennis said they cost around 8 bucks and can be had at WalMart and similar places. Thanks, Dennis, but what made you think I take showers? CLEAN CATASTROPHES Most cleaners that work well on grease, hull stains, rust, and all those other nasties that we, as proper yachtsmen, are supposed to abhor, work because they contain some strong acid or chemical. I heard once of a new house in construction, almost complete, when a workman left an open jug of muriatic acid inside and went home for the weekend. When the house was opened a few days later, the fumes had destroyed much of the interior surfaces, including many metals ones. We recently heard a similar horror story about a boat. A container of hull and bottom cleaner had been left below in a closed cabinet and somehow its tough plastic container became broken. The boat was put in storage, and closed up for weeks. When the owners returned the fumes had substantially damaged or destroyed much of the interior including metal sink fawcets, brass barometers and clocks, stainless fittings, screws in wood, etc. The fumes had spread throughout the boat, with no respect for bulkheads. These folks wanted me to warn everyone: Don’t ever store cleaners (or anything else) below decks that has a strong chemical or acid base. Read warnings on labels. Find some way to keep the containers on deck so that if a breach occurs, the fumes will NOT GET BELOW. Storing it in a lazarette isn’t the answer, as fumes will readily work their way around the bulkheads. FENDER FOLLIES Fenders pop out, roll out, slide out, and wiggle out just about every time you really need them. Sure you can adjust your spring lines till Kingdom Come but your fender is still going to leave its station when the wind or current is really digging that piling into your topsides. You can get the flat ones, but they aren’t very thick. We still use the round ones such as those made by Taylor. We like their thickness. We have found that if you angle the fender so that it hangs about 45 degrees rather than parallel to the water, it will be less likely to roll up above the gunnel. For bad situations we keep two 2 X 8 planks aboard and hang them outboard over two fenders. These can also be used for mounting a bench vise in the cockpit and a gangplank. -tn

Paul Akers

Saw him in Newport - Show comments

I had a chance to have a conversation with Tom on Saturday (9/18) at the Newport show. He was in the Cruising World booth as well as his own booth (with family) where he was selling both his book ("All in the Same Boat") and his Coastal Cuising newsletter. I've had the opportunity to speak to him at the last two shows also. He usually has his boat in Newport for the summer and then works his way down the coast to the other major shows on his way back to the Bahamas. He is an interesting person to speak to and his wit also flows in his conversation as well as his writing. I also has a chance to look at the Hunter line (only the 450 was missing, and must say that the 290 and 460 are great additions to the line. There were many people looking at these boats. The show was exceptionally busy because they lost the first two days to Floyd and with the combination of a late start and two gorgeous days (Sat & Sun), the crowds on the docks and the tents were just overwhelming.

Steve Becker (chemist)

What Muriatic Acid Actually Is

Muriatic acid, which is also used in pools, is another name for somewhat diluted Hydrochloric Acid, or "HCl". Hydrochloric Acid is one of the most powerful of the acids, and attacks most metals, including most stainless steels. HCl is actually a gas that is "put" in water, so the fumes are the gaseous acid itself, which will happily permeate any water or moisture around and make it acidic.
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