often market their own brand of fluid.
However, I knew a guy who used cheap
gin in his old compass, and another who
used mineral oil. The gin seemed to work
better than the mineral oil, which made
the card a bit sluggish. The gin seemed
to make it happy. I’m not suggesting that
you use these, just pointing out that it’s
not rocket science. You can usually buy
compass fluid from places like Jamestown
Distributors and West Marine.
I’m looking for an authoritative reference
that describes something approaching
an “industry standard” for sealing and/or
bedding the toerails to the deck prior to
varnishing the exteriors of the rails.
DON CASEY: There’s no industry standard for sealing and finishing toerails;
you’ll be wise to accept the truth that
exposure is relentless in its attack on
all exterior surfaces of boats, toerails
included. That said, as for bedding, you
have three primary options. You can use
polyurethane, but this bonds the rails to
the deck, making the inevitable repair at
some later date infinitely more difficult.
You can use a polysulfide sealant – the
closest thing to an industry standard –
but oily teak really should be primed first
for the seal to have a long life.
Believe it or not, for bedding wood,
particularly oily wood, it’s hard to fault an
oil-based bedding compound, specifically
Dolfinite Bedding Compound. This seals
tenaciously, lasts for decades, and allows
for future disassembly. Other options are
polyether, a silicone-like sealant that has
not distinguished itself for this application; and butyl tape, which is great
for metal hardware but less appropriate
You can improve the seal and hedge
your bet on the varnish topcoat by sealing
the bottom of the rails with a couple of
coats of clear epoxy. If you do this, bring
it up a quarter inch or so on the sides of
the rails to provide an overlap seal with
the varnish. Water stands here and it will
find any break in the seal. Where water
reaches the raw wood, it is just a matter of
time before the wood sheds any coating
sides of the wood with thin epoxy before
varnishing. This ploy can indeed extend
the life of the varnish, but you must
be vigilant in keeping the UV-sensitive
epoxy protected with adequate varnish.
I find life too random to count on living
up to this obligation, and when it does get
away from you, the epoxy coating makes
wooding and starting all over a royal
pain. Canvas covers are a better option
for extending varnish life, in my opinion.
If you seal the raw bottom with epoxy,
or varnish and bed the rails on Dolfinite,
both the seal and the life of the finish will
be as good or better than you are likely to
achieve with a more complicated protocol.
When East Meets West
I recently purchased a sailboat built in
South Africa for the European market and wonder how to best adapt the
220-volt, 50-hertz electrical system to
the 110-volt, 60-hertz American system.
In setting up the boat to connect to
American shorepower, would it be best
to use a step-down converter that would
provide the correct volts but wrong fre-
92 | BoatU.S. Magazine AUGUST | SEPTEMBER 2016
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