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CAFRAMO: Top-Quality Marine Fans; RARE Customer Service
by Steve Reeves
In “Kokomo”, my Rosborough RF-246, I have two 6” fans mounted to the ceiling, in the forward corners of the wheelhouse. They come in handy in the summer for cooling, and in the winter for defrosting the driver and passenger windows, and they fold up out of the way when not in use. They feature soft touch control in the center of each fan (controls on/off and allows you to choose one of three speeds) and they run very quietly and efficiently. I haven’t paid very much attention to them until recently when the mount that holds the starboard fan up broke in the middle of the night.
The fact that the fans have run perfectly for four years (and continue to do so), and I haven’t paid much attention to them except to turn them on or off, speaks highly of the quality of the fans themselves. They are well-built, light-weight (available in black or white) and built to give flawless service over long hours and in all sorts of seas. I learned more about the way a quality firm works when I contacted Caframo about finding a new mount for the starboard fan.
The company is located in Wiarton, Ontario, Canada (north of the border) as are many of the equipment manufacturers for my Halifax, Nova Scotia-built boat. I emailed Caframo online, and they got back with me the next (next!) day by telephone. The gentleman I spoke to asked a couple questions (what color were my fans, etc.) and immediately promised to send two replacement ceiling mounts (in case the other one gave way in the future) to me.
It’s notable that there wasn’t any question about why or how the mount broke, any discussion about who would pay the international freight (Caframo paid the s/h) … just no-nonsense, real customer service. I couldn’t help but feel that this was a company which not only put out a quality product, but knew what it meant to stand behind it long after the warranty had expired (the fans come with a 2-year warranty, which already gives them an advantage over the competition).
I am now a happily-’experienced’ customer of Caframo, though I was already a “fan” of their products. My fans are the Bora model (as in Bora Bora, a favorite French Polynesian island of mine), but the company offers a selection of six models of superior fan products in their 12-volt marine fan product line. There are also 24-volt fans, A/C cooling fans (think inverter-generated heat), battery fans (for your house battery compartment), a popular line of heating fans, mold/mildew solutions, a portable defogger and portable power-supply for operating GPS devices, fans or other 12-volt products on a tender or kayak.
Take a look at their website at www.caframo.com and I’m guessing you’ll find a product you wish you had. If not, file that URL away for later, when you may want a quality air product, and when you want to experience being cared for as if you were the owner of the company calling in to have a part shipped to you. Note: The Bora model fan ($69 on sale, $79 regular price each) and other of Caframo’s products are available at West Marine stores in the U.S.
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A Horrid Engine Noise, A Gorgeous Chris Craft, & A Lesson Learned …
There was still fog sitting just on top of the water off the Centimudi ramp at Lake Shasta. The morning was crisp and full of the sounds of lake birds and the gentle lapping of the water against the Rosborough’s hull. I was in my element, and looked forward to a few days exploring up the McLeod River on my own.
I had just launched and moved ‘Kokomo’ to the end of the pier to make room for other boats before taking my tow rig to the parking area. I was on my way back to the boat from parking the truck and trailer, and arrived at the pier in time to see a beautiful old (restored) Ford pick-up drop a stunning (also meticulously restored) Chris Craft cabin cruiser into the water. I watched the owner, a gentleman 25 years my senior (I’m 51), expertly tie off the gleaming cabin cruiser and take his truck and trailer (one of the heavy-duty I-beam style trailers that tilts to launch if needed) to the parking lot. Upon his return, I complimented his boat (and truck and trailer), and he told me he’d had them all since new (which they looked now, but were 50+ years old) and had just finished “going through” the boat the previous winter, a project that had consumed 2.5 years. I noted the varnish work, the lovingly restored fittings throughout the boat, and that everything was in it’s place. It was a treat to see a boat that most only got to see in photos, and I lingered awhile, thinking about the young man he must have been when he’d purchased it and what a great time he’d had with it all these years. Then, after answering a few questions about my boat (Rosboroughs are quite rare on the west coast, especially at a mountain lake), I thought it was time to leave, and I pulled myself away from the perfect boat and the interesting gentleman and walked back down the dock to my boat.
I was just about to push off from the dock, going through my pre-voyage check-list (4 days in the wilderness; one has to be prepared!), when a loud howling/squealing noise erupted from behind me. At first I thought it might have come from a runabout that had most recently launched from the ramp, but it soon became clear that the source of the noise was none other than the gorgeous Chris Craft.
I double checked that all indications from both of my engines, which were now running and in warm-up mode, were A-OK, and then hustled back down the pier to offer my assistance. The noise grew louder as I got closer and, but for the perceived insult I’d have given, I would have covered my ears. I asked permission to board, but the owner couldn’t hear me over the squeal, which seemed to be coming from the engine compartment and was echoing off the canyon walls. There was a slight smell of burnt rubber or something alongside the boat, and I made a mental note of where the nearest fire extinguisher was on the Rosborough, just a boat length away down the pier. Just about then the skipper turned off the engine, and we were all given a reprieve from the racket.
The release of a few gleaming latches later, and we were looking at an old (or should I say ‘new’) Chevy crusader engine, with chromed valve covers and in show condition. The burning smell was more pronounced now that the engine compartment was open, and I briefly wondered if the valves had been ‘toasted’ for lack of oil, or a bearing was shot in the engine.
I asked again if I could board and the skipper said, “be my guest”. I stepped onto the perfect mahogany-planked deck and stood next to him forward of the engine as he checked the oil for the second time, staring down at it and wondering aloud what the problem could be, when I noticed something in the pulleys on the crankshaft, camshaft and alternator.
Kneeling down beside the engine, I confirmed what I’d seen and pointed out several veins of rust that were inside the belt tracks in each of the pulleys. “Could that be the problem?”, I asked doubtfully. The noise that we’d heard sounded more like the engine had thrown a bearing. The gentleman, who’d introduced himself as “Jim”, knelt down beside me and, inserting a finger into the belt track of crankshaft pulley, and withdrawing it covered in the red-brown rust, said, “I’ve never heard a noise like that from a marine engine … and I’d guess it’s more serious than a belt could cause, but I know this engine inside and out, and this surface rust is the only thing in it or on it that isn’t perfect.”
I believed him, and offered my help in removing the rust. Between us we didn’t have a wire brush, but I found some sandpaper in Kokomo’s tool kit (turned the boat off while retrieving it), and we set about removing the rust. It took nearly two hours, including the removal of three belts, but the sun had just made its way above the mountain top behind us as we re-tensioned the last belt onto the gleaming set of freshly-sanded pulleys.
The moment of truth had arrived, and with the engine still “out” where we could see what was happening (engine compartment open), he stepped up to the helm, turned the ignition key on, and depressed the old starter button. The engine sprang to life and ran perfectly, and the noise was gone and could not be reproduced. We let it run for a good ten minutes, admiring his work and sharing stories regarding aspects of the boat, and then Jim set about buttoning down the engine compartment and preparing to leave.
I repeated my goodbyes and pushed off a short time later for the McLeod River. As I rounded the eastern point out of Centimudi, I saw over my transom the graceful lines of the old (new!), wood Chris Craft leaving the ramp area and setting course for his destination.
I learned from this experience that, no matter how perfect the vessel (and Jim’s was gorgeous) a little rust on the belt pulleys can ruin your day, especially if you can’t find the reason for the belt noise and opt to pull the boat out of the water and forfeit your boating day(s). The simple act of storing the boat may be enough to cause rust to form, especially on belt-worn, unpainted surfaces, due to condensation. Yachts kept in slips are particularly prone to this problem.
I now make it part of the pre-season maintenance of my lake boat (which features a Chevy 302EFI) to take sand paper to the four pulleys and keep the belt ways clear. I also coat the pulleys with a fresh coat of marine-grade paint to retard the formation of additional rust (make sure to apply the paint evenly in the pulley belts grooves). Belts last longer, I breathe easier, and no one is left wondering about my boat at a launch ramp where the only echoes off the canyon walls should be birdsong, water, and the laughter of boaters heading out for their next adventure.
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Easy Interior Teak Care
Contributed by Tammi Goddard, “Cloud Nine”; Middlebury, VT
For those of you whose teak cabinets are unfinished (no hard finish) I’d like to suggest the product that I use to maintain the teak on Cloud Nine.
When we bought the boat it was 4 years old and nothing had ever been done to the teak. It was very bleached and looked very dry. Just by accident I happened on a product that easily restored the finish to a lovely glow. The product is called Cabin Wood Care and is made by Williamsville Products. One bottle has lasted me for 5 years.
The product looks and feels like lotion you’d put on your hands. I apply it liberally to the teak with an old sock. If it gets on the fiberglass, just wipe it off. It has no color and does no harm. The teak drinks it up and the color deepens to a cherry tone. I apply the cream to all the teak in the boat at the end of the season. Takes about 1/2 hour. (The 1st time took longer cause the wood soaked up so much more cream). It smells nice, makes my skin soft and the teak just loves it. It makes the teak quite water resistant, but if I notice a few water spots during the summer, I just dab a little product on it and they vanish.
I’ve just re-ordered myself a bottle and here is the link. Williamsville Products now belongs to another company – H.F. Staples – but Cabin Wood Care is still available (thank goodness). I’ve just started using it on some antiques in our home too.
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Thirty years later … We’ve found just the right boat for us!
by Steve Reeves
I was 17 or 18 when I first promised myself that someday I’d own a yacht. I was in love with ships and the sea and attracted to all things nautical … the people, procedures and everything about boating. I got my first boat (a 1959 Dorsett ski boat) when I was in college, and have enjoyed owning a lake/ski boat ever since. At a young age, I crossed oceans in passenger ships, but never had exposure to the yachting life as a boy. I don’t know where my love for the sea came from, but it’s been there ‘calling me’ all my adult life and I went into the cruise business at 21 years of age (and remain with Cruise Club today) to stay connected to it.
Some years ago my wife Lee Ann and I were cruising the San Juans in a friend’s 91’ tug (a world war II battle tug that was an inspiration to experience). We stopped in Friday Harbor and visited a Selene Yachts dealership I’d corresponded with several times. After touring a Selene 53, my wife was unusually thoughtful on our walk back down the docks to the tug. When I asked what she was thinking, she asked if we could afford ‘that boat’ if we sold the house and everything else. Amazed (and excited) at the implications of her question (I’d long dreamt of living aboard and the life that came with that choice), I thought about it for awhile and answered “yes, if we planned carefully”. We decided to educate ourselves on what was out there. After first considering and rejecting an Ed Monk designed custom trawler in Anacortes, we set about looking at what the market had to offer. In the years that followed, we visited dealerships and privately owned boats up and down the west coast, becoming intimately familiar with hulls from Nordhavn, Krogen, Selene, Defever and others. We thought we’d identified the ideal trawler for us in the Nordhavn 55 when the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy, our investments, and our dream of owning and traveling on a big trawler.
In the meantime, we’d become grandparents to three spectacular children, and realized that our original vision of selling everything and taking to the seas for months at a time was not going to fit in ‘Grammy and Grandpah’s’ lives. This, combined with the sobering realities of economic issues in our lives, gas prices that were more than $1.50/gallon more than when we’d started thinking about this, and the cost of keeping a boat in a marina in California, got me to thinking about the idea of a trailerable trawler.
Now most boats that are trailerable aren’t trawlers. And most boats that are trawlers aren’t trailerable. We looked at other hull types including the Sea Sport, C-Dory and Osprey and, though we found things about each that we liked, concluded that these were more about fishing than they were about ‘exploring’, which is what we love. For a while there, I had pretty much given up on my dream of finding a boat …. a yacht on a trailer that was a true trawler.
Then, in 2005, I saw an add in the back of Passagemaker magazine for the Rosborough RF-246 Sedan Cruiser. In the ad, the boat looked similar to others we’d looked at, and so I dismissed it (fearing further disappointment) thinking it was another C-Dory or Osprey. I saw it again in subsequent issues, however, and decided to look into what a Rosborough really was. It was called the largest 25′ foot boat out there. I dared not hope it was a trailerable trawler.
Without mentioning it to Lee Ann – who’d been an enthusiastic participant in the yacht-finding process, but was at the point where she didn’t want to hear about boats that weren’t a ‘real possibility’ for us – I did my research. I joined the Rosborough owner’s group online, and requested literature from the factory. I located all the boats listed for sale on the Internet and poured over the photos of each. I learned that there were two hulls – a high-sided version (HSV) and a low-sided version (LSV) – of this unqiue expedition trawler, and quickly decided I needed the high-sided version because of my height (6’4”) and both the ceiling height and the length of the V-berth. I learned about the different power configurations (diesel or gas i/o, single or twin outboards, power hull extension, motor bracket, or not) and decided I wanted either single or twin outboards (quite a departure from my long time goal of owning an inboard diesel) and the power hull extension (leaves more room in the cockpit by effectively extending the hull 2’ and providing a mounting point for outboard engines). I familiarized myself with the boat’s features list and options, and identified which ones I had to have, which ones I wanted, and which ones I could live without. By the time we were ready to shop for an RF-246, I pretty much knew the boat and exactly which features mine would need to have.
In doing my research, I had ruled out buying a new boat because of the price. The boat I wanted, rigged and equipped the way we needed/wanted, with a trailer, would be somewhere north of $240,000.00 with tax if ordered from the factory and shipped to California (yes, it’s the most expensive 25-footer out there too, and well worth it). So I focused on used boats. I learned quickly that Rosboroughs have an excellent resale value and that they retain it for longer than any boat in their (original) price range. I started watching the Rosborough owners website (the list of boats for sale there), the yachtingworld.com
website, and regularly performed Google searches for RF-246’s for sale.
I first got my hopes up when I found a boat in North Carolina. It was a single outboard in excellent condition owned by a respected owner and it had a trailer. I spoke with the surveyor who’d recently inspected it, and had a conversation with my wife about getting it. This is when I first learned what a valuable commodity used “Rossi’s” are. By the time I’d discussed it with Lee Ann and emailed the broker back, it was already in contract to another buyer.
You’d think I’d have learned an important lesson there. When, some months later, a 2007 came available in Texas, I contacted the owner immediately. Certain that this boat was a candidate for purchase, I asked the owner if he’d accept a price, and he said that yes, he would. He was going to the Caribbean for a week and I could let him know for sure if we wanted the boat when he returned. I/we decided we wanted it and I began getting the money in one place for transfer to him upon his return, excited that we’d found a Rosborough that we could make ours. Turns out, for some reason, that he took another offer ($2500 less than mine) from a Canadian buyer who had the foresight to wire a deposit while he was still in the Caribbean. By the time he got back, all he could say to my revelation that we wanted to buy the boat was, “Sorry”. It finally registered for me that one needed to move fast and in a decisive fashion when it came to Rosborough’s.
A bit demoralized after the Texas experience, I retreated from the process for a few weeks. Then I came across a 2005 RF-246 in southern California. I’d seen it before – it had been for sale for months – and found it attractive, but overpriced. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to let the broker know what I had to spend and see where it went. The owner came down to my price, and Lee Ann and I decided to travel the 10 hours to see the boat in Ventura, CA. First, however, we made the 12-hour trip to OIympia, WA to take Steve & Eunice Robb up on their kind offer to experience “Iana”, their 2008 Rossi with a single Honda 225, on Puget Sound. On a glorious afternoon of cruising, with people that would become our first “Rossi Friends”, we enjoyed confirming that we ‘fit’ in the (very large for a 25-footer) Rosborough. The next weekend, we drove to Ventura and, though I had some concerns about the boat, put a deposit down and ordered a survey.
About the time I decided, following a survey and some agonizing over sun damage on that boat, not to buy it (a hard choice; we were ‘in’ the boat more than $2000 with our expenses to date), another Rosborough went on the market in Washington state. In my research, I had learned that the Northwest dealer for Rosborough, E.Q. Marine, was a force to be respected in the Rossi world … and did things the right way when it came to planning, rigging and finishing an RF-246. I’d read through the many articles on Les Lampman’s website several times, and often wished I could just order a new boat from him, outfitted a la E.Q. Marine. The boat that was for sale was a 2007 that had been rigged by none other than Les (and Carl) at E.Q. Marine. The owner said it had just 30 hours (turned out to be 72 due to its use as a demo at E.Q.) on twin Honda BF150’s and he’d posted an asking price that was beyond what I could pay. I contacted Les and learned about the boat, then contacted the owners in Jackson, WY and offered them what I’d offered on the boat in Ventura. The polite answer was that they’d wait and see what other offers came to them. I had the opportunity to speak with the owner the next day and again made my offer, to which he countered another figure that was very fair but still out of my range. That evening Lee Ann and I talked at length about this, our fourth Rosborough purchase attempt; about this boat and how perfect it seemed for us; about how it felt that all of our experiences to date had led to this boat. We decided we’d cash in a retirement fund account and take the penalty, if the seller’s could afford to come down to a figure that was half-way between their most recent counter and our offer. I couldn’t sleep that night until I sent the owners an email detailing our revised offer and telling them how very much we’d like to be the new owners of their boat and what that would mean to us. The next morning, I rushed to the computer to see if there was a response, to find an email stating that we could consider the boat ours.
I wonder if Pete & Leslie (the owners) had any idea what those words meant to someone who’d spent 30+ years dreaming of owning a yacht, five years of planning to own this particular yacht, and who’d experienced three failed attempts to purchase RF-246’s in the recent year. I was elated and immediately (that morning) sent deposit funds to the broker in Deception Pass, WA. In subsequent days, I enjoyed several phone conversations with Les Lampman at E.Q. Marine (the boat had been there since new; the owners had traveled via small plane from Wyoming to use it). I planned a trip north (15-16 hours’ drive) to complete our purchase and to spend our first few wonderful days on Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands of Washington (it was, we felt, serendipitous that we found the boat in WA, as this area was always one we’d planned to get to know once we had a boat and this boat was outfitted specifically for WA cruising). Since then, (in three short months) we’ve cruised the San Juan’s twice, completed a crossing of the Rosario Strait and Haro Straights to Victoria, BC, then trailered the boat south (2-day trip) and enjoyed cruising in the Sacramento Delta, the McLeod River, the Pitt River, Lake Shasta, and on San Francisco Bay.
We’ve found that we’ve fallen in love with this seaworthy and very liveable boat, and that she is even more seakindly and stout than we knew when we purchased her. I’ve learned while performing routine maintenance that her systems and rigging choices were all installed with forethought and care, and I’ve already benefitted from the wisdom that both Rosborough and Les at E.Q. Marine excercised when planning, building, rigging and equipping my boat. I couldn’t be more pleased with the RF-246 and we really have found a trailerable yacht that is a true trawler!
To read the article on the main page about the RF-246 click here.