No. 90 - December 1990

SUN WORSHIP BY GRAHAM McMILLAN:    (Originally published in the

Vancouver Lifeguard Society Newsletter)


As sailors, we get our fair share of exposure to the sun and its potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. With the incidence of skin cancer increasing at 1.2% per year, the need for more current knowledge about the risks of skin cancer is paramount. Circumstantial evidence may point to the depletion of stratospheric ozone as the major factor in this enormous increase in skin cancer, but it also coincides with the "tanning mania" of the '70s and '80s. In the US, the incidence of skin cancer, North America's most prevalent cancer, is expected to exceed epidemic levels by 1990; one in every 150 people is expected to be inflicted by some form of skin cancer between the ages of 15 and 50.


Sailors are susceptible to two types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and the more pernicious and potentially lethal type, malignant melanoma. Both these cancers are the result of cumulative skin damage (that is, repeated sunburns or prolonged exposure to the sun). Adequate avoidance of UV rays coupled with early detection is vital.


The symptoms of these skin cancers are often minor. Commonly, a mole or patch of skin will become inflamed, thickened, mottled in color, ulcerative or will begin to bleed suddenly. These symptoms, though painless and easily dismissible, are early warning signs of cancer and should not be treated lightly. If one or all of these symptoms is noticed, see a physician promptly. The prognosis for basal cell carcinoma is good, at 99% after five years following excision of the affected area. Malignant melanoma is more serious; 10 year survival rate in only 88%, provided it is detected early on. It is therefore most important to examine your skin once a week in order to discover any sudden, inexplicable changes.


Sailors are subjected daily to two types of harmful solar radiation: Ultra violet (a) and Ultraviolet (b). UV (b) was once thought to be the most damaging and so most sun screens were designed to shield only from it. Recent research shows UV (a) is equally damaging to the skin. But some sun screens with SPF's (Sun Protective Factor) of 39 and above only protect from UV (a) to a maximum of 3. Most dermatologists are advising high risk groups, such as lifeguards and sailors, to find sun screens that provide well-balanced protection from both UV (a) and UV (b). They also stress that any sun screen should be re-applied liberally as directed to maximize its effects. (Showering, perspiration, swimming or getting splashed by water will greatly reduce the effects of the screen.) For areas more vulnerable to sunburn and cancer, such as the lower lip and nose, a lip balm with sun screen zinc oxide ointment is prescribed.


So, to belabor the point, avoid the oxymoron of having a “dark healthy tan". Take these advised precautions, use the protection", limit your sun exposure and be aware of skin cancer symptoms. Vigilance requires a minimum of time. Be alert.


(Ed. Note: Consumer Reports magazine tells that the maximum possible effectiveness of any sunblock is SPF 15. That is, lotions with SPFs above 15 do not do any better job than 15; they just cost more and expose the skin to a higher concentration of sunblock chemicals.)




I was in the paint department of our local hardware store this Spring, when a familiar name caught my eye: Sikkens. A name long associated with marine products. Looking a little closer I saw the product was "Cetol-M", for teak decks and trim. No mention of marine use. Except at the end of the instructions the label advised that surplus Cetol-M should be removed from gelcoat with acetone. Nothing ventured, nothing gained - I bought a litre can of the stuff.


I cleaned Red Baron's teak with Starbright two part teak cleaner.


Starbright does not seem to clean quite as well as some other teak cleaners I have used, but then perhaps it is a little easier on the teak. Hard to say.


Then I applied two coats of Cetol-M as instructed, waiting 24 hours between coats. That was earlier this summer. It is now mid­-September and my teak looks almost as good as when first done. Most teak oils and sealers that I have used in the past have barely lasted a season. A couple of months at the most.


Cetol-M is slightly pigmented and leaves teak with a rich golden color. If you favor the darker, golden teak, then you might like to try Cetol-M.


A word of warning. Because of the pigmentation, it will stain gelcoat if you are careless and slop it all over. Use a small brush, Cetol-M has about the same consistency as a transparent stain and is very easy to apply. But don't forget the acetone, just in case you do get some on your gelcoat.


Cetol-M leaves a semi-gloss finish on teak, not matte like most oils and sealers.


BOTTOM SANDING TIPS BY KEN NIELSEN: (Originally published in the Seattle Thunderbird News.)


Oh happy day! Oh joy! It's time to renew the antifouling paint on the bottom of your boat again. If you haven't already done it for this year, here is a method that will substantially reduce several things; time spent, dirty water dripping off your elbows, tired arms and maybe a few four-letter words.


Instead of holding wet or dry sandpaper in your hand, attach it to the business end of a sponge mop or a wax applicator. I know that the drywall sanding paddle is in common use, but this device is made primarily for sanding FLAT surfaces. The advantage of using a sponge behind the sandpaper is that it will follow the CURVED bottom of your boat a lot better.


You will need a device where the sponge is readily detachable from the handle. Several are available, but if I were to get one today, it would be a "Quickie Waxer" from QFC for $5.85. The sponge is thinner than the mop (this is good) and also larger, so you get more grit on the boat with each stroke.


To use this method, remove the sponge, wrap a piece of sandpaper all the way around it and re-attach it to the handle. Dip the whole thing in a bucket of water to thoroughly wet the sponge and go to it. (If you use a sponge-mop, it's best to slice about half the thickness off the sponge. Do this before using, while it's still dry.)


This method allows you to stand clear of that icky, dirty cold water. Also, you'll use both arms and stand in a more natural position. If you can recruit a helper to handle the hose and keep everything wet (except you, of course!) it will make this yearly chore so easy, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven! As in all sand­ing and refinishing, a good rule to remember is: "take off as much as you're going to put on". So use 100 or 200 grit for the first time around, then switch to finer grit.




After completing the side pocket storage which has already been reported in the Newsletter, we added a rack for cups, dishes and silverware to the bulkhead forward of the sink. In the process, I moved the cabin light which had been mounted there to the overhead above the galley, a much better location from every point of view. While I was at it, I added a duplicate on the opposite side over the dining table, together with a red cruising light for night use underway.


Our binocular rack is mounted port side between the main cabin windows just above our "chart rack", a simple contrivance (the chart rack) easily fashioned from one inch wide 1/32" stainless stock bent into a "U" and screwed to the cabin liner. Because I also have a small platform I mount on the companionway step for the stove when we cook in the cabin, I needed to move the extinguisher. The location I chose was the after bulkhead of the cabin, port side, more obviously accessible while not impeding headroom when seated in the cabin.





Bob Johnson (#2046) described his Ten Second Single-handed Reefing system in the February 1989 (#81) issue. Bob has since refined his system and now has it down eight seconds. Here's how.


The system consists of a single reef line brought forward through a turning block on the boom at the goose neck, then up through another block attached to the luff reef cringle and then down through turning blocks to the cockpit where it is cleated. Because there is very little friction from this luff block, enough line tension is trans­mitted back to the leach cringle to secure the clew tightly to the boom without having to use a winch.


The luff cringle block is attached to the cringle by a simple shackle small enough for the loop end to pass through the cringle, but with the pin end too large to pass through. See sketch. A small copper tube over the pin kept the ends from squeezing through the hole.


The jack line (Newsletter #77, April 1988) is still needed so no slugs have to be removed. Also, the main halyard must be brought back to the cockpit.

Bob used this system all last summer with no problems. The main can be reefed very quickly with very little effort by pulling back from the cockpit with a single line after the main sheet and halyard are slacked. The boom vang should also be eased.


Next summer Bob plans to try a block at the leach cringle to see if it is worth doing. If it is, he will report back.