to Chris Johnson's Lost Pages.
||West Wight Potter
Frequently Asked Questions
Buying and selling
Repairs and service
document was written in 2003, and not substantially revised since then.
It is probably fairly accurate with regards to boats made up to that
date. Much of the information here may apply to newer models, but
readers having questions relating to newer boats should use the
information here with care.
Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information
presented here, but the author cannot guarantee its accuracy, nor
assume any responsible for its application, use, or misuse. All
information is provided without warranty of any kind. Use it at your
All product and company names in this document are the property of their respective owners and are used for information only and to their owner's benefit, without intent to infringe.
|?||What is a West Wight Potter?|
|West Wight Potters are small, single-mast, retractable-keel sailboats designed for easy trailering and casual cruising in protected and semi-protected waters. They are "pocket cruisers," providing adequate short-term sleeping and living accommodations for a couple or perhaps a small family, depending on the model.|
|?||Who makes the Potters?|
|In the United States, Potters are currently manufactured by International Marine (IM) in Inglewood, California. They are also manufactured in England by Pot Wight Marine, which is not affiliated with IM; however, the English boats differ substantially from the American boats. Unless otherwise noted, all information in this FAQ pertains to the American made Potters.|
|?||What models are available?|
|IM currently makes two models: The Potter 15 (P15) and Potter 19 (P19). The P15 is 15 feet LOA, has a swing keel, and sleeps two. The P19 is 18'-9" LOA, has a drop keel, and sleeps four. These LOA measurements include the outboard motor mount, which is included as standard equipment on all new Potters.|
|?||What other boats are similar to the Potters?|
|The Peep Hen and ComPac 16 are somewhat similar to the P15. The P19 is sometimes compared to the Catalina 22, Hunter 20, and ComPac 19. However, in none of these cases are the similarities especially strong.|
|?||What vehicles are suitable for towing Potters?|
|You can tow a P15 with just about anything with four wheels, practically speaking. Most compact cars work fine, especially if you are towing over relatively flat ground. To tow a P19 safely you need something with a bit more wheelbase and horsepower. Mini-vans, light pickups, and old station wagons are all popular P19 tow vehicles. Automatic transmissions are preferred over manual transmissions, and a transmission cooler may be a good idea if you plan to tow over long distances. Consult the owner's manual for your vehicle for towing restrictions and requirements.|
|?||How much does the boat, motor, and trailer weigh?|
|The P15 combo without any added gear weighs around 900 lbs. The P19 combo without added gear weighs about 1800 lbs. These weights are from published specifications and apply to the standard boat/motor/trailer combinations as currently delivered. Based on input from owners, we guess their weight when fully equipped with typical gear to be closer to 1100 and 2200 lbs., respectively. Older boats may be slightly heavier.|
|?||Do I need trailer brakes?|
|Trailer brakes are always recommended, and are required by law in some states. Your vehicle manufacturer may also specify trailer brakes as a basic towing requirement. In practice, it seems that most P15 owners don't have brakes on their trailers, but some P19 owners do.|
|?||What size trailer hitch and ball do I need?|
|A Type II or type III hitch with a standard 2" ball will work with either the P15 or P19 trailers. Electrical connection is via a "flat five" connector.|
|?||Will my vehicle need an offset draw bar when towing a Potter?|
|It depends on
the trailer axle height relative to your tow bar. The Potter trailers
are not set unusually high or low. If you have a Draw-Tite
hitch, your local Draw-Tite dealer can look up the recommended draw bar
for your vehicle in their catalog. Other hitch manufacturers probably
have similar references.
|?||How can I adjust the trailer's tongue weight?|
|Most commercial trailers are adjustable in several different ways. If the trailer has a moveable axle, moving the axle forward or back is probably the best way to adjust tongue weight. You can also adjust the position of the trailer winch post, but take care that you do not move the boat so far back that the trailer lights are obscured or that you exceed the maximum overhang allowed by law in your area.|
|?||What are the differences between a Baja trailer and a standard ("galvanized custom") trailer?|
|The Baja trailer is wider, 250 lbs. heavier, has larger tires, longer bunks, and carries the boat 8" lower for easier launching. All added weight is steel.|
|?||Can I launch a Potter off the beach?|
|Maybe, if the beach is firm enough to avoid getting stuck and has a reasonable slope. P15 owners often launch without a ramp. The added weight of the P19 makes beach launching a bit more problematic. Having a tilt trailer can make beach launching and retrieval easier.|
|?||Should I keep the keel raised while trailering or lower it onto the trailer bunk?|
trailer has a bunk to support the keel you should use it. After loading
the boat on the trailer, remove the keel support bolts and lower the
keel onto the bunk, leaving very slight tension on the support cable to
keep it from fouling. Don't forget to raise and lock the keel up before
If you don't have a support bunk for the keel, keep it raised and with the support bolts in place while trailering. Don't rely on the winch to hold the keel up for any extended period.
|?||What do I have to do to prepare the boat for towing?|
|After the boat is on the trailer you should secure the keel, remove the outboard motor, lower the mast and secure it, secure or remove all loose gear, and attach tie-down straps to secure the boat to the trailer. This covers the major points. A complete trailering checklist is a bit too complex to include here|
|?||Will a P15 or P19 fit in my garage?|
|The P15 will
fit in a typical single car garage. The P19 is a close call in most
garages, but if you have a removable or swing tongue on your trailer
and a good-sized garage the boat will probably fit. Here are the
dimensions of the boat/trailer combination:
Height is measured to the top of the bow rail, which is the highest point on the boat with the mast completely removed. Length is measured from the tip of the tongue to the back of the motor mount; a swing tongue can reduce the length by about 18" when fully retracted.
You can run into problems if your driveway has a steep slope or sharp turns. Don't rely solely on measurements. Back into your garage very carefully the first time with an observer watching.
|?||What do I have to do to maintain the trailer?|
|Keep it clean
and repack the bearings regularly. If it has brakes you will have to
maintain them basically the same as you would automotive brakes.
Trailers used in fresh water need little care aside from bearing
maintenance. Trailers used in salt water should be scrupulously cleaned
and lubricated after each use.
Most owners repack the bearings at the beginning of the season. Detailed instructions are available from most trailer manufacturers, and at various places on the Web.
|?||Where can I find detailed P19 rigging instructions?|
|The Potter Yachters have posted an excellent P19 rigging guide written by Roger St. John on their website. Roger's rigging guide tells you how to rig the boat from scratch, and is recommended reading for all P19 owners, especially new owners who have to set up their boat for the first time.|
|?||How long does it take to launch and rig a P19?|
|Allow an hour or so for the first time. It will take you awhile to figure out how it all works and develop a routine. The setup time decreases significantly with experience; probably to 20 minutes or less for owners who do much trailering.|
|?||Can I rig and launch a Potter by myself?|
|Yes, most owners do. It is easier and faster with an assistant, of course.|
|?||How do I attach the halyards to the main and jib sails?|
|You can just tie the halyards to the sails at the grommets, but ideally you should tie or splice the halyards to small shackles and attach the shackles to the sails. Apparently there has been some confusion on this point, since IM failed to include halyard shackles with some boats. Suncor makes some good small shackles suitable for use with Potters. Look at their model S0164-0005. Suncor products are sold direct and also through major boating suppliers like Boat U.S. and Sailnet.|
|?||OK, so I'll buy two shackles and splice them to the halyards. Where can I get information on splicing double-braided line?|
|If you haven't done any splicing yet you may want to just tie those shackles on for now. Splicing double-braid takes practice, and is also much easier to do when the line is brand new. But if you want to try it, New England Ropes has instructions on their site.|
|?||How well does the P19 factory mast raising system work?|
|It generally works as advertised and will allow one person to raise the mast without much difficulty. If you have an extra person it is easier to raise the mast with the mini-stays installed but without installing the mast support pole. Many Potter owners have developed alternative mast raising systems as well.|
|?||What are the mini-stays for?|
|The mini-stays attach to U-bolts mounted on the cabin top, and keep the mast from tipping sideways while raising it. They should be somewhat loose at all times. They don't do anything while the mast is up, since the mast is supported by the other stays and shrouds.|
|?||Where do the mini-stays attach on the mast?|
|The holes for them are on the sides of the mast about 6 feet above the deck, on currently-manufactured boats.|
|?||Can I leave the mini-stays in place while sailing?|
|Yes, and it may save setup time. But if you use the factory-supplied mast support pole when rigging you might as well remove them, since the mini-stays fasten at the same point as the support pole. Note: According to IM, this may change soon, with future boats having separate mounting points for the mini-stays and the mast support pole.|
|?||The pivot pins in the mast step are very difficult to insert and remove. How can I fix this, or can I get by with just one pin instead of two?|
|You can probably leave out the front pin if you want. The mast is held up by the shrouds and stays, not the mast step. If (for example) the forestay broke, having the second pin installed most likely would not prevent the mast going over. If you do install both pins, it helps if you install the second pin before attaching the forestay.|
|?||Should the tangs on the mast (that is, the stainless fittings the shrouds attach to) be loose enough to rotate or should they be tightened until they cannot move ?|
|It is OK if they can turn, but they should be tight enough to keep them from rattling. Do not over-tighten the bolts holding them. The nuts used are self-locking and do not have to be tightened all the way down to be secure.|
|?||How do I rig jiffy-reefing?|
jiffy reefing using the factory-installed equipment, attach a line to
the loop at the rear of the boom, run it up through the grommet at the
trailing edge of the mainsail, down to the cheek block on the boom, and
forward to the cleat on the boom.
To reef, lower the mainsail until you can hook the grommet at
the sail's leading edge onto the reefing hook on the boom, pull the
reefing line tight, and cleat it off. If you have sail slugs, you will
have to remove the sail stop to let the bottom slug or two out of the
sail track and then reinstall the sail stop, otherwise the grommet
won't reach the reefing hook. Optionally, you can bundle the loose
sailcloth up using lines (called "bunt lines") tied through the middle
grommets. Tie the lines around the sail only, not around the boom.
For more information on reefing in general, see this document provided by Pineapple Sails.
|?||How do I properly tension the shrouds and stays?|
|This is a potentially complex subject. Rather than treat it here, we suggest you refer to Judy B's Rig Tuning Notes in the Files section of Bill Nolan's WW Potter Owners Registry, Photos & Articles site. P15 owners, please note: Judy's procedure is for the P19, and we don't know of any equivalent document for the P14. But you may still find her information useful.|
|?||Must I lock down the keel while sailing, or can I sail with the keel partially raised?|
|Sailing with the keel partially raised is generally not recommended. If you do want to sail with the keel partway up, you should provide some means of relieving the strain on the keel winch, cable, and cabin top (for example, another set of holes in the keel for support bolts). Do not support the keel solely on the winch cable for more than a few minutes.|
|?||How long are the P19 sail battens?|
|There may be some variation from one sail to another. Typical lengths are 22.5" (2 each), 15", and 15.75."|
|?||Why don't the battens go all the way in the batten pockets?|
|The bottom of each batten pocket is double-reinforced and has a slightly tighter opening than the opening at the sail edge. Wiggle and push and the batten will go all the way in.|
|?||How do I use the P19 keel winch?|
keel winch is self-braking. Just turn the handle clockwise to raise the
keel and counterclockwise to lower it. The winch will stop when you
stop turning it. Note: A few boats have been
found to have their winch wound backwards. If your winch turns
counterclockwise to raise the keel you should investigate and correct
this. Winding the winch in the wrong direction can have serious
There is no winch lock as such. The winch will not unwind when released, but you should lock the keel when it is up. To do this, raise the keel until you see two holes exposed, then insert a 3/8" bolt through each hole and turn the winch handle counterclockwise until the keel is resting on the bolts. Keep a little tension on the keel cable at all times, to avoid the cable fouling.
When using the winch, take care that the keel actually moves as you turn the handle. It is possible for the keel to get stuck or the winch cable to get snarled, in which case the keel may drop suddenly and damage something. If you turn the handle and don't see the keel move, stop turning and figure out what is wrong.
Also, do not expect the winch to safely hold the full weight of the keel for any length of time. Put the lock bolts in while the keel is up, or if trailering, lower the keel onto the trailer bunk to release most of the tension on the cable.
Make sure everyone keeps their hands and other extremities well clear of the keel and winch cable unless the keel is secured by its locking bolts.
Fore reference, a copy of the manual for the Fulton K650 winch is here: Page 1 Page 2
|?||Can I leave the boat unattended in the water with the keel up?|
|Generally, yes, but if you keep the boat anchored or on a mooring that is subject to significant wave action you should probably leave the keel down. There has been at least one case of a P19 capsizing on a mooring when the keel was left up.|
|?||Do I need winches to use the Genoa?|
|Not necessarily, but it depends on your own strength. Most boats that have a Genoa also have Genoa tracks and winches. A few owners use the Genoa without winches.|
|?||What size boom vang is recommended for the P19?|
|IM offers a boom vang as an option, but some owners feel that it is too light for serious use. One recommendation is a small boom vang available from West Marine, their part number 283251. Cost is about $170.00 as of this writing.|
|?||How can I rig a jib downhaul?|
is just a simple line attached to the top of the jib to allow you to
pull it down without leaving the cockpit. Install a single sheave block
at the bow, tie a line to the top jib hank, and run that line down
through the block and back to the cockpit. To lower the jib, just
release the halyard and pull in the jib downhaul. You should also tie
the downhaul off somewhere to keep the jib from riding back up when it
catches the wind, and pull in and cleat the sheets to keep the sail out
of the water.
IM offers a jib downhaul as an option. You may want to consider theirs if you are ordering a new boat.
|?||My new Genoa has a leech line. What does it do and how is it set/adjusted?|
|The leech line allows you to tighten the leech to adjust shape as the sale stretches with age. Generally, you can ignore it with a new sail. Later on you should tighten it if the leech is "motoring" (fluttering in the wind). Tighten the leech line just enough to stop the fluttering.|
|?||I'm rigging a boat with CDI roller furling, and found that the CDI has a jib halyard. What do I do with the jib halyard on the mast?|
|Attach the halyard on the CDI (which runs in a slot on the plastic extrusion) to the sail you will use with the roller furling. Tie the old jib halyard off at the base of the mast. You may want it later for another sail or for emergency use.|
|?||How fast are the Potters (maximum speed)?|
|The theoretical displacement hull speed of a P15 is 4.6 knots, and for a P19 is 5.4 knots. However, Potters have hard chines and relatively flat bottoms, so can plane to speeds somewhat in excess of their theoretical hull speed under the right conditions. A detailed explanation of this is on Judy B.'s Web page.|
|?||How well do the Potters tack?|
|According to several owner reports, they can sail about 50 degrees off the wind in either direction. Your results may vary.|
|?||How well do Potters sail in light air?|
|Generally about the same as other boats in their size/weight class. Just about any breeze at all will move them.|
|?||How can I improve my boat's performance?|
|There are some options that may help: IM and IdaSailor both offer high performance rudders for the P19 that improve tiller control, especially in strong winds. There are also various headsail options, including a lapper, Genoa, and spinnaker. Beyond adding options, the best ways to improve performance are the traditional ones: keep the bottom clean, tune the rig as best you can, remove unnecessary gear and stow all other gear as low in the boat as possible (and securely), and improve your sailing technique.|
|Heavy weather sailing|
|?||How much wind can a Potter really take?|
than most owners can. Potters are regularly sailed on San Francisco
Bay, which is not known for light winds. Judy B once reported a Bay
trip with winds at 25-30 MPH and gusts to 35 MPH as "heavy weather
sailing," but that "we were definitely not overpowered with the reefs
in, and we made most of the trip at less than 12 degrees of heel. Even
in the worst gusts, we didn't heel past 20 degrees."
The real issue is the pilot's capability, experience, and comfort level more than the boat's capability.
|?||When should I reef?|
answer: If you think it might be time to reef, it is. Aside from
that, you should consider reefing if the boat is consistently heeling
near 15 degrees or you find yourself releasing the sheets frequently to
dump wind. Gusty conditions may dictate earlier reefing.
Remember that is is always easier to reef early than late. If you think you might experience high winds or gusty conditions later in the day, you might just want to put in the first reef at the dock.
|?||What angle of heel should I expect in heavy wind conditions?|
|Potters sail best "on their feet," heeling much less than round-bottom boats of similar size. You might heel pretty sharply in gusts but if the angle of heel is near 15 degrees it is probably time to reduce sail.|
|?||How "unsinkable" is the Potter?|
delivered, Potters have enough closed-cell floatation foam installed to
keep the boat afloat when allowed to fill with water. It will float
less well when flooded after the addition of a lot of equipment and a
few passengers and their belongings. The floatation is low in the hull,
so the boat will tend to be unstable when flooded and may try to turn
upside-down. It might be wise to add some floatation if you habitually
stretch the capabilities of the boat, or at least keep the cabin
windows and hatches securely closed when sailing. Some owners stuff a
few trash bags full of Styrofoam noodles into the closed storage spaces
to provide added positive floatation. There isn't much test data to
evaluate the effectiveness of this solution, but it improves the
owner's confidence, if nothing else.
Regarding the installed positive floatation: It is in the form of blocks and flowed polyurethane foam and is well-distributed and firmly attached to the hull, but is not comparable to the foam sandwich construction used in (for example) Boston Whaler power boats. If a Potter breaks up sufficiently you might not see much of it above water.
|?||Can my boat capsize? How can I prevent that?|
boat can capsize. Potters are not really any more susceptible than any
comparable boat, but the fact that they tend to heel very little can
instill some false confidence in a new owner. You can flip a Potter if
you do enough things wrong.
Wind alone probably won't do it: Potters tend to heel sharply and turn into the wind when overpowered, then come upright with the sails flapping. In the known cases where a boat was capsized some other factors were involved, usually involving poor sail handling, poor load balance, or similar operator error. One owner confessed to raising the main with the keel up, a near guarantee for a capsize if there is much wind.
The seriousness of a capsize can be greatly reduced if you can prevent the boat from turtling (turning upside down). Keeping the cabin hatches securely closed during heavy weather is very important. If the cabin stays dry the boat may right itself after a knockdown. Keeping the keel locked down is also important, since it can enter the cabin with considerable force if the boat turns over and the keel is not secured.
|?||Can I right a capsized boat without help?|
|You can probably right a P15 without help if the boat has not turned turtle. You will probably need help righting a P19, unless the water is very calm (in which case you wouldn't likely capsize in the first place). If the boat turns completely over you will not likely be able to right it without another boat to act as a rescue platform.|
|?||What modifications should I make to improve the boat's safety in heavy weather?|
delivered, Potters are reasonably safe when cruising in protected or
semi-protected waters. If you are pushing the limits of the boat some
minor modifications may be in order:
|?||What size outboard motor should I use?|
use a 2 horsepower motor; most P19's use a 4 or 5 horsepower motor. You
can get by with less power in most cases.
The required horsepower really depends more on local conditions than anything else. If all you use the motor for is to get in and out of a slip at the local lake, an electric trolling motor may be enough for either boat. If you are regularly running a tidal inlet or cruising offshore, you need a real outboard.
Don't use a larger motor than you need, though: the added weight can make the boat sit too low in the stern for good performance, and won't make it go faster unless you dangerously overpower it.
|?||Do I need a long shaft outboard?|
|That depends on the motor mounting bracket on your boat. The bracket that is installed by IM is designed and positioned such that a standard-length shaft will work fine.|
|?||What kind of motor mount is supplied with the boat?|
|The P19 has a retractable aluminum motor mount. The P15 has a fixed motor mount.|
|?||Can I use a 4-stroke outboard?|
|Yes, provided you stick with the recommended horsepower ratings. 4-stroke motors weigh more than 2-stroke motors of the same horsepower; using too large a motor may make the boat stern-heavy. The motor mount may need added reinforcement (i.e., a backing plate) if the boat was originally delivered with a 2-stroke. IM offers 4-stroke motors as an option in their package deals, and part of the option is the addition of a backing plate.|
|?||Can I use an electric trolling motor?|
|Electric motors are often found on P15's but not so often on P19's. It really depends on how much motoring you plan to do and under what conditions. Lake sailors may be fine with an electric motor. If you sail out of sight of land or have to run an inlet you probably should have a reliable gas outboard.|
|?||Where can I get an operator's manual and/or service manual for my Nissan outboard?|
|Owner's manuals and sales literature for currently-manufactured Nissan outboards are available online, at the Nissan Web site. For the service manual, check with your local Nissan or Tohatsu marine dealer. If you can't find one locally, try the Mastertech Web site. They have operating and service manuals for most outboards.|
|?||How fast will a Potter go under power?|
|The P19 will do about 5 knots with a 4-5 HP motor. The P15 will do about 4 knots with a 2-3 HP motor.|
|?||How do I steer a Potter under power?|
|The preferred technique is to lock the motor pointing straight ahead and steer with the tiller. In extreme conditions (for example, when towing another boat or fighting a strong crosswise current) you may find that you need to steer with both the rudder and the tiller simultaneously to get good directional control.|
|?||How can I rig a tiller extension on my outboard?|
Industries offers tiller extensions for outboards (their PN's
300739 and 300740), and you can probably rig one yourself as well since
it will typically only need to control the motor throttle. You are
supposed to steer with the rudder, not the outboard.
If you just want better access to the throttle, you may be able to rig a remote throttle. The tiller-to-throttle connection on Nissan outboards is via a motorcycle-type cable, which might not be too difficult to extend outside the motor case. There are no owner reports on this modification, however.
|?||Can I convert an internal-tank outboard to use an external tank (and vice-versa)?|
on the motor. The five horsepower Nissan outboards supplied with
recently-manufactured Potters can be converted to use an external tank
fairly easily, and converting these from an external to an internal
tank is also straightforward (but not as inexpensive, since you must
replace the motor cowling and add an internal tank). The 3.5 and
smaller horsepower engines do not have fuel pumps, making the
conversion from an internal to an external tank much more difficult.
Note: Derek Jensen reported making a "refueling" tank for a motor that had an internal tank, by connecting an external tank to a spare gas tank cap. To refuel, he removed the gas tank cap from the motor's internal tank and replaced it with the gas cap connected to the external tank, then squeezed the primer bulb on the external tank until the internal tank was full. This technique may be worth further investigation if you already have a spare external tank and don't want to change the fueling arrangement inside the motor. Further information regarding the modification is available on the Northwest Potters Web site.
|?||Can I motor safely with the keel up?|
|Yes, but be aware that the boat will be somewhat more tender with the keel up. If there is much wind or chop you will feel more secure with it down.|
|?||How do I add a second battery?|
|You will need to add a battery switch. Connect the negative posts of the batteries together. Run the positive lead from each battery to the switch, then connect the output of the switch to the wires that were connected to the original battery's positive post. Also, see below regarding wiring.|
|?||How do I hook up a solar panel for battery charging? Will I need a charge regulator?|
depends on the output of the solar panel and the battery capacity. Some
small panels are designed for direct connection to a typical 12 volt
battery, but they may not put out enough power to maintain a battery
that sees much use. Larger panels usually require a charge regulator.
If you leave the solar panel connected continuously you should install
a charge regulator regardless of the panel size. You should also have
an appropriate size fuse in series with the solar panel, to prevent a
fire in the event that the panel shorts out.
One rule of thumb states that a regulator is required if the output of the solar panel exceeds 1.5% of the battery capacity. For example:
But the time to bring the battery to a full charge in this case is significant. If you assume the battery is 20% discharged:
If you assume 6 hours of full sunlight exposure per day, the battery will take nearly three days to recharge. This may be fine for weekend sailors but a bit marginal for someone staying on the boat for several days in a row, especially if the electrical accessories see much use. Also note that "full exposure" means just that: even a shadow falling across part of the panel will reduce its output below the rated output. The panel will put out some current with very little light, but will only deliver rated power if it is completely exposed on a clear day with the sun almost at high noon. Most panels also deliver slightly less power as they age.
Visit Northern Arizona Wind and Sun for more information on solar battery charging and compatible batteries. Also see the Gaiam/Real Goods Information Center for information on renewable energy sources and systems, including wind powered and photovoltaic systems.
|?||Where can I get a wiring diagram for my boat?|
|There is a wiring diagram for late-model P19s having two batteries in the Photos section of Bill Nolan's WW Potter Owners Registry, Photos & Articles site. Your wiring may differ, of course.|
|?||How is the optional masthead "steaming" light wired?|
|There are two bulbs in the masthead light, one 36 point light for anchoring and one forward-facing 120 point light for motoring. They have one common lead so there are three conductors coming down the mast.|
|?||How much power do the various lights and accessories draw?|
accessories and lighting arrangements vary from boat to boat. The
current drawn from the battery on a 2000 model P19 equipped with
typical lighting was measured to be as follows:
The current was determined by measuring the voltage drop across a 1.5 ohm 1% resistor inserted in the positive lead from the battery. The results are probably within 10% of what you can expect on a similarly-equipped boat.
|?||If I have two batteries, must they both be the same kind and size?|
|If you ever parallel the batteries, they must be the same capacity and age for best results and longest battery life. It is especially ill-advised to try charging dissimilar batteries in parallel: one battery will almost surely become overcharged, which can ruin it. But if you never connect the batteries in parallel it doesn't matter if they aren't the same.|
|?||How large a battery can the battery tray accommodate?|
|The battery tray supplied with the P19 options package is an open tray. The inside dimensions of the tray bottom are approximately 7" x 11". The top bail can probably accommodate a battery a little over 9" high.|
|?||Can I use the outboard to charge the battery?|
|Yes, if the outboard is equipped with a battery charging circuit. This is an option on the small Nissan outboards generally used with Potters, and is not in common use. Before seriously considering this option, keep in mind that unless you do quite a lot of motoring you will not likely be able to maintain a full battery charge using the outboard battery charging circuit (see next question for more information).|
|?||How much current will the charging circuit on the outboard produce?|
|Nissan motors that have the charging circuit installed reportedly deliver about 2 to 3 amps at cruising speed. By the way, this may sound like a fair amount of current, but bear in mind that a typical marine battery may have a capacity of 60 amp-hours or more. When discharged 50%, it will take a 3 amp charger about 10 hours to bring it back to a full charge. That's a lot of motoring. (Still want a charging circuit? See next question.)|
|?||How hard is it to install a charging circuit on the outboard?|
|Nissan offers a kit for this, which consists of a magnetic coil that is mounted under the flywheel and a rectifier. Installation is straightforward, but does require removal of the recoil starter and flywheel. You will need a flywheel puller to do the job right. (One owner reported that he pulled the flywheel by tapping the crankshaft with a mallet while levering up on the flywheel with a screwdriver, but we can't really recommend this technique.)|
|?||The charging circuit on my motor doesn't seem to work. What's the problem?|
|If the circuit was installed properly (that is, you know it worked once and now it isn't) the component most likely to fail is the rectifier. But before replacing it, check all wiring and measure the output of the charging circuit using a series or clamp-on ammeter while connected to a known load to confirm that there is a real problem. It is possible you are just expecting too much of the charger, or that there is a problem with the connection from the motor to the battery.|
|?||Where can I install a VHF radio?|
|Lots of choices there. The most popular locations seem to be on the cabin ceiling or bulkhead just inside the companionway door.|
|?||Where can I install a VHF antenna?|
|Some owners install a VHF whip at the top of the mast, which is really the best place for it on a sailboat. Another popular location is the transom, but the radio's range will be much better with a masthead antenna.|
|?||Does my marine VHF radio need a license, or do I need a license to operate it?|
|Probably not for one installed in a Potter. According to the current Federal Communications Commission rules, you do not need a license for a marine VHF radio that is installed in a pleasure boat operated in U.S. waters. Visit the FCC Web site for details.|
|?||What kind of depth sounder do you recommend, and how should I install it?|
|IM currently supplies Humminbird depth gauges and Standard Horizon depth gauges in their package deals. These provide digital depth readings (they are not fishfinders), but they seem to work well and they mount well on the cabin bulkhead. They use shoot-though-the-hull transducers; these work satisfactorily with the solid-laminate Potter hull, provided you mount the transducer directly to the outer hull. Don't expect the transducer to successfully shoot through the hull liner.|
|?||What kind of autopilot do you recommend?|
|IM does not offer an autopilot as an accessory, but several P19 owners have installed tiller-type autopilots. The only manufacturers of tiller drive autopilots at the present time are Raytheon and Simrad, either of which should work fine with the P19.|
|?||What kind and size anchor do I need?|
supplies Danforth-style anchors in their package deals, which are
satisfactory for general use. The anchor currently supplied for the P15
is 4 pounds; the one supplied for the P19 is 8 pounds. The ideal anchor
depends on the bottom conditions. Plow anchors are also popular among
The general consensus of opinion is that the anchors supplied in the IM package deals prior to 2001 are too light for serious use; most owners keep them for lunch hooks and buy an additional heavier anchor for general use.
|?||How much chain do I need?|
|A often-cited rule of thumb is one foot of chain for each foot of boat length, so a P15 needs about 15 feet and a P19 needs about 20 feet (this is also how much chain you get in the IM anchoring packages). You can get by with less if you don't have to withstand a real blow. You might want more for your storm anchor, if you have one.|
|?||How can I anchor safely when sailing single-handed?|
|Many owners rig a stern anchor for a lunch hook, since they can deploy it without leaving the cockpit. There are also various tricks for deploying an anchor from the stern and pulling its connection point to the bow from the cockpit using a block fastened to the bow somewhere. If you are anchoring for any length of time, though, you will probably have to crawl up to the bow and anchor as usual from there to assure a good set and secure fastening to the boat. Of course, you can always deploy the anchor from the stern and then crawl to the bow and cleat it off there, which is a reasonable compromise when single-handing.|
|?||Should I wax my boat?|
|Most owners who leave their boat uncovered much do wax it to make cleanup easier and to help preserve the gel coat finish. Some owners have found that wax tends to attract (and hold) bugs, so there may be some tradeoffs involved.|
|?||How do I clean/wax nonskid?|
|As noted above, IM does not recommend waxing the boat, and even if you do apply wax it is unsafe to use regular wax on non-skid. There are some specialty waxes available that are billed as safe for use on non-skid. Take a look at Aurora Sure Step. But regardless of what wax you use, be sure to check the footing on the non-skid after waxing. All waxes, regardless of formulation, tend to make things more slippery.|
|?||How do I clean canvas?|
|The canvas used to make Potter accessories is actually Sunbrella, a synthetic fabric. You can wash it with plain water and a mild detergent. Strong cleaning products tend to degrade the waterproof qualities of the material and are not recommended. You can wash Sunbrella in the washing machine if the material will fit, but hand washing is preferred.|
|?||How can I renew canvas waterproofing?|
|Sunbrella is treated with a fluorocarbon finish to enhance water repellency. The manufacturers of Sunbrella recommend 303 High Tech Fabric Guard to improve the water repellency of Sunbrella that has aged. Note: 303 makes several products. Make sure you are getting Fabric Guard, not another protectant.|
|?||How do I clean the sails?|
|Try just rinsing them with fresh water. If that does not do the job, spread them on a smooth, clean surface and brush lightly with a mild detergent solution. Avoid machine washing.|
|?||How can I remove mildew stains from the vinyl rub rail?|
|There haven't been too many cases of this, but apparently bleach-based cleansers (Clorox Soft Scrub, for example) will clean up a mildewed rub rail. Other suggested techniques are Comet cleanser and a Scotch-Brite pad, and acetone. IM recommends acetone for cleaning just about anything except the windows (which will be ruined if you try to clean them with acetone).|
|?||What should I use to clean the windows?|
|Vinegar and water or any common window cleaner will do, applied with a clean, soft cotten rag. Do not use paper towels; they are slightly abrasive and tend to scratch the window surface.|
|?||What should I use to clean/remove stains from the boat?|
depends on the surface and the nature of the stain. The best bet is to
start with plain water and go up in strength from there:
|?||How do I maintain my outboard?|
should change the lower unit lubricant and spark plug(s) at least once
a year, and for 2-stroke engines, run decarbonizer through it once a
year before you change the plugs. If you run it in salt water, wash it
off and flush the cooling system with fresh water after each outing. It
is also a good practice to occasionally open the cowling and wash the
power head with fresh water and apply a corrosion inhibitor (WD-40 or
similar). Note: Avoid spraying electrical
components or connections with WD-40; it does not have good electrical
If you strike bottom, the propeller shear pin will likely break. This is not a maintenance issue in the strictest sense, but it is such a common occurrence that you should be prepared for the event. Carry a spare shear pin, cotter pin, and pliers so you are ready when this happens. Your outboard owner's manual should include instructions on how to replace this sacrificial part.
The water pump impeller may need replacement every few years, or more or less frequently depending on how you treat the motor. If you often run in shallow water or strike bottom frequently you may need to replace it every year. If the motor never sucks in any mud or sand the impeller may last many years. Impeller replacement is not especially difficult or expensive, but does require disassembly of the outboard's lower unit. Do not try to change the impeller yourself without reading the service manual first.
That's all that is required for most small outboards. Check your owner's manual for further details.
|?||How should I maintain the teak?|
|Potters don't have acres of teak as some boats do, so traditional cleaning and oiling is not such an onerous job. If you can't stand oiling there are various products that will keep a decent finish with minimal work. Sikkens Cetol and Signature Finish Honey Teak are often recommended. But you will probably have to remove the teak from the boat to apply them the first time. If these solutions don't appeal to you, you can always just let the teak go gray. It isn't as pretty but the wood won't suffer structurally.|
|?||How can I renew dull gelcoat?|
|As a rule, you can treat gel coat the same as you would treat an automotive finish, and usually with the same products. Automotive polish (not wax) will restore a finish that is slightly dull. Follow the polish with wax to preserve the shine. If the gelcoat is really dull or chalky, rubbing compound may be needed before polishing. If rubbing compound and polish won't shine it to your satisfaction you will have to go with successively finer grades of sandpaper (starting with about 800 grit) followed by rubbing compound and polish, or just paint it.|
|?||How can I remove old vinyl graphics?|
|Heat them up with a heat gun or hair dryer and they will scrape off fairly cleanly. Oderless paint thinner will remove residual glue. Note, though, that the gel coat underneath may be a slightly different color than the surrounding surface, due to weathering.|
|?||Should I put bottom paint on my boat? What kind?|
you keep your boat in salt water for any length of time you must apply
anti-fouling paint to the bottom; otherwise, marine growth will quickly
impair the boat's performance. If you keep your boat in fresh water you
can probably get along without paint if you are willing to scrub it
every couple of weeks or so. Trailer boats don't need bottom paint as a
rule, and in fact many bottom paints don't work well if they are
allowed to dry out.
If you do decide to apply bottom paint, check with other boat owners in your area to see what products they use. Local conditions and environmental rules will best determine your choice of paint. (Note that many bottom paints cannot be sold or used in California). Also, Practical Sailor does a regular comparison test of various bottom paints, and they don't accept advertising so have no financially-derived bias. You might want to check their results.
Boats kept in the water full time should have an epoxy barrier coat to prevent blistering. Historically, Potters do not seem especially prone to this problem, but considering the cost of blister repairs it seems sensible to take preventative measures. Blistering is apparently equally likely in fresh or salt water, so if you have a fresh water boat you may still want to apply barrier coat and bottom paint even if marine growth is not a serious consideration.
One last thing to consider: bottom painting is pretty much a one-way street. It is very difficult to restore the original finish on a boat if it has been painted.
|?||How can I paint the bottom of my boat while it is on the trailer?|
|There are several methods. The only really safe way is to do it like the boatyard does: use a sling lift to raise the boat and put it on jackstands. Various "garage shop" techniques are also possible, such as lifting each side using long timbers and automotive jackstands, but in the interests of safety these techniques cannot be seriously recommended.|
|?||The companionway door on my boat is peeling. What do you recommend to restore it?|
door is made of varnished mahogany ply; nothing special. You can
refinish it using traditional wood refinishing techniques and a good
grade of marine spar varnish. If the plywood is delaminating you should
probably consider replacing the door. It is not difficult to make a
replacement using the original as a pattern.
IM sells a Sunbrella cover for the companionway door that may help prolong its life.
|?||My interior cushions are worn out. What kind of fabric do you recommend?|
good quality synthetic fabric will work fine. Talk to the people at
your local fabric shop and see what they recommend for use in a damp
environment and what they have on sale. You don't need to buy "marine"
By the way, if you are really into the sewing thing you probably should get a Sailrite catalog. They have all kinds of specialty materials, as well as sail kits, commercial grade sewing equipment, and more. Their catalog and Web site are full of good information. The average owner probably doesn't need much of that stuff, but Sailrite is a one-stop-shop for boat owner's sewing supplies.
|?||My boat is several years old and the cushion foam has gone flat. What kind of replacement foam do you recommend?|
|For interior cushions, any foam that feels comfortable to you will be OK. Closed cell foam is a nice idea, but is quite expensive and way too firm for good interior cushions.|
|?||I'd like to carpet the cabin in my P19. What is the procedure like, and what kind of carpeting do you recommend?|
can use any decent grade of synthetic carpeting material; again, you
don't have to look for "marine grade." Indoor-outdoor carpet has some
advantages but as long as there are no natural fibers in the carpet and
backing you will be OK. A local carpet shop may sell remnants for
little or nothing.
You can cut and install your own carpet. Start by cutting out a paper pattern using brown wrapping paper or something similar. Get the pattern to fit perfectly, then follow it to cut the carpet. If the edges need binding you may want to get the local carpet shop to do that for you.
The P19 has a small floor area, and with the keel trunk sticking up the carpet will probably stay in place without fastening it down. If you do want to fasten it down, just a few strips of commercial grade Velcro should adequately hold it in place.
|?||How should I maintain the keel winch?|
|There are no
special maintenance techniques. If you use the boat in salt water it is
a good idea to spray some lubricant on the cable and drum from time to
time to prevent rust. Do not spray the winch mechanism though;
excessive lubrication can cause the self-braking feature to fail.
You should inspect the winch cable regularly, and replace it if you find signs of corrosion or fraying.
|?||What potential long-term maintenance issues do I face with a Potter?|
|Nothing very unique. If the boat is left uncovered for long periods of time you should remove all deck hardware every couple of years, inspect the deck for rot where the hardware is mounted, repair it as required, and re-bed the hardware. (Don't forget to check the cockpit drain on the P19, by the way: the cockpit floor is cored.) If you do this regularly you won't have any rot to repair. The keel may need refinishing after a few years if you keep the boat in salt water. The keel winch and cable deserve regular inspection, just because they are controlling a slab of steel that weighs a few hundred pounds. That's about it.|
|Factory options and accessories|
|?||What options and accessories should I order when buying a new boat?|
|It is usually cheaper to get everything you need delivered with the boat, rather than add things later. Also, some things are difficult or inconvenient to install after-market. Most owners agree that the P19 backstay, compass, opening ports, and depth finder all fall in this category.|
|?||Should I order premium layup (AKA the Blue Water Package)?|
premium layup option includes two extra layers of fiberglass on the
hull, coring on the companionway bulkhead, and a backstay. This is a
relatively new offering from IM, and there haven't been enough owner
reports to indicate how the extra layers of glass affect performance,
nor have there been any accidents to testify to the added strength of
the hull. The backstay is a good option, and unless you plan to do all
your boating in very protected waters you should probably at least
order a backstay with the boat.
One consideration: The premium layup option obviously cannot be retrofitted after delivery. If you think you might want it you should probably order it when you order your new boat.
|?||I ordered the premium layup. How can I tell if IM actually added the extra layers of glass during construction?|
|You will probably just have to trust the factory on this. The added material weight is not enough to reliably show up by comparison weight measurements on a truck scale, and you can't measure the hull thickness without drilling a fair sized hole in the hull. For what it's worth, IM has a reputation as an honest company run by honest people. They won't deliberately cheat you.|
|?||Should I buy accessories from IM or from a third-party supplier?|
|IM's prices on options and accessories are very competitive, especially when buying a new boat using one of their package deals. It does pay to shop around, but unless you really don't like an accessory they offer, you will probably save money by ordering your accessories and options when you order the boat. IM is very flexible and will work with you on packaging and pricing to assure you get the equipment you want. But before ordering, check out the information later in this FAQ regarding installed equipment.|
|?||How about canvas items (Bimini, sail cover, etc.)?|
|Again, it is hard to beat IM's prices. If you are handy with a sewing machine and have the time you might want to consider making your own, but even then the difference between the material cost and factory price isn't tremendous.|
|?||Can I sail with the Bimini up?|
|There should be enough boom clearance, but some owners have reported that this is not the case with the Bimini as delivered from the factory. It is not difficult to shorten the frame legs though, and the mainsheet is rigged from the rear end of the boom to the stern so the Bimini does not interfere with it. The Bimini does obscure the view of the sail, which may be a problem at times.|
|?||How can I rig my P19 for single-handed sailing?|
|Some owners successfully sail single-handed without any rigging modifications. Most owners who do much single-handing run all lines aft to allow raising, lowering, and reefing the sails from the cockpit. The factory now offers this as an option and you can also modify the boat yourself without much trouble. A few owner Web sites show how it is done; check out Judy B's site for a good example. Total cost for the parts will run a couple hundred dollars or so if you buy all new hardware and do it yourself. The IM option is currently priced at $225.|
|?||How do I add a backstay to my P19?|
|IM makes a
backstay kit that is field-installable. Installation is not easy, but
should be within the capabilities of a reasonably handy owner and
should take less than a day. A copy of the backstay kit instructions is provided for your reference here.
|?||Should I add an automatic bilge pump? If so, where should I put it?|
|As a matter
of course you probably don't need one, but they can be handy to have.
Most P19 owners locate the pump either between the quarter berths or
amidships under the vee berth. IM offers an automatic bilge pump as an
option on new boats.
Note: In a typical installation, an automatic pump can't remove all the water from the boat, since the lowest part of the hull is too narrow to allow locating a float switch there. If you really want to get the hull dry you must use a pump that does not need priming and that can be fitted with a small-diameter intake hose, and control the pump manually.
|?||How can I permanently glue wood to fiberglass?|
will permanently bond a wooden part to any fiberglass on a Potter:
Do not try to use polyester resin instead of the more expensive epoxy; polyester resin won't bond nearly as well. If the temperature is much less than 65 degrees you may have to find a way to warm up the area while the resin cures.
For more information, visit the System Three Web site. Their Epoxy Book is available as a free download and has just about everything you need to know about boat repairs using epoxy products.
|?||I'm trying to attach something to the boat interior with Velcro strips, but the glue gives up after awhile and the Velcro peels off. How can I improve the Velcro's staying power?|
don't expect miracles from self-sticking Velcro. The glue has limited
holding power, especially if the load is perpendicular to the surface
rather than shearing. You can improve things somewhat by de-waxing the
surface with acetone before applying the Velcro. Also, use the
industrial/marine grade rather than the household grade; it has better
For ultimate, permanent bonding, use Velcro that has no glue and stick it in place with an adhesive that is known to be compatible with the surfaces. A good grade of epoxy cement, 3M 5200, or a similar product will permanently bond to most materials, but you may need to experiment when trying to glue to some synthetics.
|?||I'd like to seriously rearrange the cabin. Will cutting up the existing interior endanger the boat's structural integrity?|
|As a rule, you can add small hatches, drawers, etc. but should maintain the general layout. The hull liner adds some structural strength to the hull and should not be removed or cut up too seriously.|
|?||Can I replace the mast partner with an arch to open up the cabin?|
|This has been done at least once, but we don't have detailed information on the modification at this time.|
|?||Can I replace the steel winch cable with some kind of high strength synthetic line?|
few owners have successfully replaced the steel cable with high
strength, low stretch line. Synthetic line is easier on the hands than
wire rope and less prone to kinking. If it is not allowed to chafe and
is kept away from high heat it should be as reliable as wire rope, and
many synthetics have more than enough strength for the application.
Materials found acceptable for this purpose include:
When selecting line, look for low stretch as well as high breaking strength in a line diameter small enough to fit the existing hardware. The keel weighs 300 pounds, but will exert far more stress on the line if it is allowed to drop suddenly (as may happen if the line snarls or the winch is accidentally wound backwards).
You will need about 30 feet of line. When installing the replacement line, make sure there are at least 3 full turns (4 or 5 is better) of line around the winch drum when the keel is all the way down. Having these unused turns on the drum will help reduce chafe and minimize the load at the drum attachment point.
|?||Can I disconnect the keel cable to make it easier to move around the cabin?|
this has been done successfully. Logically, you should first replace
the steel winch cable with high strength low stretch line to reduce
kinking problems when tension is off the winch. After that it is a
matter of coming up with a quick-disconnect arrangement for the cable
at the keel.
When designing and installing this modification, keep in mind that any components you use in the keel support system must be strong enough to take the full weight of the keel with plenty of strength to spare. Don't buy line with 7000 pound breaking strength and then skimp on the other hardware.
|?||Can a person really be comfortable staying on a boat as small as a Potter for any length of time?|
|Many owners vacation on their boats for a couple of weeks at a stretch. There are reports of people living on their P15's and P19's. It is a matter of personal preference of course, but the Potters have a surprising amount of room inside; much more than generally found on boats their size.|
|?||I hear all kinds of rattles at anchor. What causes them and how can I fix them?|
|The big noisemakers are the halyards, and on most boats made before 2001, the wires inside the mast. Stuffing Styrofoam noodles in the mast will silence the wires, and will also add some positive floatation. Another solution (found in new production boats, we understand) is putting a cable tie around the wires every few feet and leaving the tail uncut. The tail on the cable tie keeps the wires centered in the mast so they don't rattle. The only way to silence the halyards is to tie them away from the mast.|
|?||What chemical do you recommend for charging the porta-potti?|
|Commercial porta-potti chemicals work fine, but if you are looking for something less toxic and with less odor you might want to try a mixture of white vinegar and water. Mix it fairly strong for the holding tank and rather weak for the fresh water supply tank. (By the way, it will not break down solids like the commercial chemicals do, but depending on your use and personal preferences with regard to waste handling that may not be a disadvantage.)|
|?||How usable is the porta-potti that comes with the P19 package, and what is its capacity?|
porta-potti has about a 3.5 gallon holding tank and the same size flush
water tank. It works as well as any porta-potti, which is satisfactory
for weekend or vacation use. But it is in an awkward spot as the boat
is delivered from the factory and some owners relocate it to make it
easier to use. Between the quarter berths is a popular alternative
location. It may slide under the cockpit floor for storage on some
IM offers an installed marine head as an option, but this adds weight, requires more maintenance, and requires regular access to a pump-out station (and it is still in an awkward spot, and impractical to move). Many owners prefer the porta-potti, even though it isn't as much like a real toilet as a marine head.
|?||How well does the single-burner stove work that comes with the P19 package?|
|It is fine for small cooking chores and casual cabin heating if used properly. It will not work well if the temperature is near freezing, because the butane doesn't vaporize well at low temperatures. The cold butane tank will feel full but either won't keep the burner going or will flare up during use.|
|?||Is it safe to leave the little butane canister in the stove?|
|It is not recommended, since the canister might leak and leave gas in the cabin. Butane is heavier than air and won't easily ventilate out. The best bet is to keep the canister with other things you habitually carry to and from the boat.|
|?||Why won't the butane canister lock in place?|
|It won't lock in unless the stove top is rightside-up (pot supports pointing up) and the burner valve is turned off all the way.|
|?||Where can I get stove fuel?|
|Check at any local store that sells camping gear. If you can't find it locally, you can buy it online at the Athena Web site.|
|?||How useable are the quarter berths on a P19?|
|The length and width are satisfactory for an average-sized or even a fairly tall adult. The vertical clearance is minimal but adequate unless you like to sleep with your knees up. The approximate dimensions are 20" high not including the cushion thickness, 24" wide at the opening and narrowing slightly toward the stern, and 70" long, not including the width of the settee.|
|?||Where does the P19 sink drain, um, drain?|
|It drains into a plastic jug identical to the fresh water supply jug (on the standard boat). Some owners install an overboard drain. Newer boats that have the optional 15 gallon installed water tank and deck fill have an overboard sink drain.|
|?||How usable is the sink?|
owners feel that it it is too small for anything serious, but
satisfactory for washing hands and such. The sink on most boats has a
design flaw: the drain has a raised lip, so a little bit of water won't
drain. Some owners use an external tub for washing dishes, some have
replaced the stock drain with aftermarket parts, and some have cut out
the whole sink and installed a stainless steel replacement.
Some owners have had difficulties with the sink pump, reporting that it will not self prime. The problem is most likely leakage at the pump connection rather than the pump itself. If air can get into the line the pump cannot draw water from the tank, which is several inches below the pump. The solution is to remove the pump and re-seal the hose securely.
|?||Does the Potter cabin stay dry in the rain?|
|Generally, yes. A little water may come in at the top of the companionway door during a heavy rain, especially if there is wind from astern, but never a serious amount. Older boats may leak a bit around fittings, but such misbehavior deserves attention since leaking deck fittings can lead to rot in the deck coring. There have been a few reports of Potters leaking at the hull-to-deck joint, but this should not cause the cabin occupants any discomfort (although it does deserve attention and repair).|
|?||Where can I keep a cooler aboard the P19?|
|The factory offers a cooler as an option, which fits in the port storage area under the vee berth. It just so happens that the hatch there is just about big enough to accept a standard 36 quart Igloo cooler. The opening is 23-1/2" x 14-1/2", with rounded corners.|
|?||How can I heat the cabin?|
butane stove will provide some warmth, especially if you put an
overturned flower pot on the burner to help distribute the heat. Note,
however, that the stove will not work well in very cold weather. It
will also do little or nothing to remove dampness from the cabin.
Caution: Never leave the stove running unattended, even for a short time, and always provide adequate ventilation. The stove consumes oxygen and can create an unhealthy environment in a closed cabin.
A small electric heater may be a viable option when shore power is available. There are also many small cabin and camping heaters available that use various fuels and that may be suitable for use on the Potters. But when selecting a heater, remember that each type of fuel carries its own risks, and that a solution that works well in a camper or tent may not be nearly as safe or as practical on a boat.
The best and safest solution: Dress warmly, and have a good sleeping bag handy.
|?||How can I prevent condensation on the cabin ceiling and walls?|
|Keeping the bilge dry helps a lot. The best permanent cure for condensation is to improve the cabin insulation, adding fabric liner to areas where condensation occurs. Adding a powered vent and possibly a second stern vent will significantly improve air circulation, which may help reduce condensation in some cases.|
|Potential and perceived problem areas|
|?||I find water in the bilge if I leave my boat unattended for a week or so. Where is it coming from?|
may be condensation. Fiberglass is a poor thermal insulator, and in
some conditions you may find water dripping from the uninsulated parts
of the cabin ceiling and walls. Most of the condensation eventually
makes its way to the bilge, and this can add up to a surprising amount
of water over a period of time.
If you keep your P19 in the water, be sure to check the cockpit drain fittings at the stern. There have been reports of leakage there from the hose clamps being too loose. The cockpit drain is slightly above the water line on an empty boat, but may be below the water line when the boat has a few people on board.
|?||Are gelcoat cracks serious?|
in themselves, but they may indicate an underlying structural problem.
If you push down on a cracked area on one side of the crack and the
fiberglass moves relative to the other side (i.e., the crack opens up)
then the underlying glass is probably also cracked and should be
repaired. Potters are not very prone to this sort of problem, but they
will crack if you hit the glass hard enough.
Another consideration is where the cracks occur. They are generally found where there is stress imposed on a fitting that does not have adequate support to distribute the stress properly to the surrounding structure. Such problems are worth investigating, because the cracks will tend to spread unless the structural problem is resolved. Before fixing the cracks themselves look at the surrounding structure and find and fix any underlying problems.
|?||I see cracks around the keel trunk inside my P19. Is this serious?|
not. Inspect the cracks as above, and you will most likely find that
they are superficial and may be ignored or dressed up with minor
Late-model P19s have a full hull liner, which includes a floor that is bonded to the keel trunk. Cracks in this area are fairly common due to uneven stresses between the hull liner and the outer hull. Even a real crack all the way through the liner is not necessarily serious, as long as the outer hull is not cracked.
|?||Is the Potter prone to blistering?|
Potters are trailered, and blistering is not much of a threat to
trailer boats. Of the Potters kept in the water long-term, there have
been a few cases of blistering but not enough to identify this as a
A coat of epoxy barrier paint can greatly reduce the likelihood of blisters developing, and is generally a good idea for boats that are kept in the water full-time. If you put bottom paint on your boat it is probably wise to apply a barrier coat first.
|?||Are there potential problems with the deck or transom coring materials?|
|Some parts of the boat are balsa cored and may develop problems if the fiberglass skin is perforated without taking appropriate measures to protect the core. If the core is allowed to get soaked and stay soaked it will rot. This is not a problem unique to Potters; many luxury watercraft use balsa coring and all are equally at risk in this regard. We don't know of any cases of transom rot on Potters.|
|?||How can I fix a cored area area that has gotten soft?|
of core rot is not difficult, and much cheaper than repair. That said,
minor rot (that is, rot that can be removed without cutting much
fiberglass) can sometimes be fixed without too much trouble. The
general technique is:
If you do this right, you will not only fix the original problem but will greatly lessen the likelihood of future rot in the repaired areas as well. The epoxy will act as a barrier to water intrusion, even if the hardware bedding dries out.
|?||Do the Pop rivets leak?|
|Not as a rule, but they can leak on older boats as the bedding around them dries out. In most cases this is not a serious matter. If the leaks become troublesome it is not hard to drill out the old rivets, re-bed the hardware, and install new rivets.|
|?||Will the floatation foam absorb water?|
|Not in the normal course of events. The foam used in Potters is "closed cell," meaning that each bubble is enclosed on all sides with no air passage between bubbles. However, any foam will eventually absorb water if left soaking long enough, especially if exposed to freezing and thawing cycles, which break down the bubble walls. This is not an issue for very many owners but is a good argument for keeping the interior of your boat dry, especially in winter.|
|?||Is there anything on a P19 that is prone to rust or corrosion?|
aluminum mast and boom are made of high grade aluminum and are not very
prone to corrosion. Areas where stainless fittings are joined to
aluminum should be inspected for corrosion regularly. This would
include the mast shroud fittings, and basically anywhere a screw is
driven into the aluminum mast and boom.
The keel on current boats is made of galvanized steel, which will resist rusting pretty well unless its surface gets seriously scratched or gouged. Some older boats have ungalvanized keels, which are prone to rust and may need to be refinished. The P19 keel winch is also galvanized steel, which may rust if exposed to salt water.
There is an electrical conduit in front of the mast partner that is made of common steel and may rust over time. It is, however, an inexpensive part and easy to replace. Replacement conduit is available from IM and also from most electrical supply stores.
The P19 one-burner stove is made of enameled steel, which will rust given enough time. But if it is kept clean it will last almost forever, and it is not a very expensive part in any event.
|?||How can I prevent corrosion where there is a stainless fastener or hardware attached to the aluminum mast or boom?|
|Brion Toss, in his book The Rigger's Apprentice, recommends coating stainless fasteners with Tefgel, Alumilast, general purpose silicone sealer, or 3M 101 when fastening to aluminum. You should insulate between the hardware and the mast or boom itself, as well as in the fasteners.|
|?||My sail is ripped at the batten pockets. Why did that happen and how can I fix it?|
|The batten pockets are prone to tearing if the sail is allowed to flog (flap in the wind) much. You may want to add reinforcing in that area if you cannot avoid flogging the sails.|
|?||Are there any historical quality issues with Potters?|
|None that are unique to the Potter or to similarly-priced boats. There have been a few owners who were unsatisfied with their boats for various reasons, but their complaints have not revealed any chronic issues.|
|?||How thick is the hull?|
|One owner reported 3/8" thickness (solid fiberglass) where he installed a through-hull depth transducer in his P19. Actual hull thickness probably varies somewhat from boat to boat and at various points on the hull. The premium layup option should add some thickness but no one has reported on that yet.|
|?||How are the hull and deck fastened together?|
|The deck fits over the hull with a "shoebox lid" type joint. They are fastened together with 3M 5200 bedding compound and Pop rivets, which has generally proven to be a satisfactory technique.|
|?||Where is the floatation foam on the P19?|
|There is foam under the anchor locker and under the front end of the vee berth in the bow, and under the cockpit sole and under the quarter berths aft of their storage access hatches in the stern. Take a look in those areas and you will see it.|
|?||What areas of the boat are cored and with what material?|
|P19's have balsa coring in the decks, cockpit seat tops, cockpit floor, and berth tops (basically, everywhere there is a large horizontal surface). The transom is plywood cored.|
|?||Is there any wood in a Potter, aside from the coring, companionway door, and miscellaneous teak fittings?|
|No, not in boats manufactured by IM. The boats made in England are mostly epoxy/wood composite.|
|?||How are the cockpit rails, bow pulpit, and handrails fastened to the boat?|
|They are through-bolted. The cockpit rails and bow pulpit have threaded inserts at the bottom of each rail where they attach to the hull. The teak handrails have threaded inserts in the rails.|
|Buying and selling|
|?||Are Potters good "beginner" boats?|
|Generally yes, but it depends on the beginner. Potters are very responsive so they make good training platforms. They also sail flatter (heel less) than many boats, so beginners tend to feel comfortable on them. They are probably the easiest boats to launch and rig in their size class. They are, however, "real" sailboats, with controls and rigging similar to that found on many larger cruisers, so they may be a bit intimidating for a person with little experience and no teacher ready at hand. A person with no sailing experience whatsoever should consider some sailing lessons or get a cheap sailing dingy to learn on first, before making the financial commitment required to own a Potter or any similar boat.|
|?||How much do new boats cost?|
|As of this writing, the base price of a new P15 is $5,495 and the base price of a new P19 is $9,495. The base price includes enough equipment to sail the boat, but virtually all new boats are sold with some options. Added options and accessories can easily add a few thousand dollars to these prices. Visit the IM Web site for current pricing.|
|?||How do I go about buying a new boat? Is there a Potter dealer in my area?|
|IM does not use a dealer network, preferring to sell direct to the customer. If you live in the Los Angeles area or are willing to travel you can visit the factory to see new boats being made and place your order there. You can also place an order through the IM Web site or over the phone if you can't come to the factory.|
|?||How well does the direct-sales system work? All the non-Potter boaters I know bought their boats through a local dealer.|
|On the whole, this system seems to work well. It allows IM to sell their boats for substantially less than if they used a dealer network. When warranty service is needed, IM works closely with the owner and local service providers to resolve the issue. The service providers get paid their going rates for service, so they have no motivation to cut corners.|
|?||Where can I see a Potter before I place an order for a new boat?|
|Contact IM for this first; they can often find a local owner for you to call in their customer database. There is also an independently-maintained list of Potter owners available in Bill Nolan's WW Potter Owners Registry, Photos & Articles site. Another possibility is to post a message on the Trailer Sailor/WWP forum. One of these avenues will almost surely turn up a local Potter owner who will gladly show off his or her boat.|
|?||What things should I figure on buying that will not come with my new boat?|
you get one of IM's package deals, you have a ready-to-sail boat. You
may want a few things that IM will not supply. Your requirements may
vary, but other owners have added the following small items to their
If you didn't get a marine VHF with the boat, you should seriously consider one. If you go out of sight of land or stay out after dark a GPS is also a good investment. A handheld unit is fine, and IM offers a Standard-Horizon chartplotter as an option if you want to spend real money.
|?||Should I buy a P15 or a P19?|
If you are mostly a day sailor and mostly sail alone the P15 is your
boat. If you plan to overnight much or carry a few passengers the P19
is better. But there is no "right" answer; you will have to look
carefully at both.
This matter is often discussed on the WWP Forum. You might want to read the discussions there for detailed pros and cons of both boats.
|?||Should I buy a new or used boat?|
is a harder decision with Potters than with many boats, because Potters
are fairly inexpensive from the factory and hold their value well. The
price difference between a two year old and a factory new boat is not
that dramatic. New boats do incorporate the latest features introduced
by IM, and depending on what features most interest you that might be a
factor. IM started using new (improved) molds for the P19 in 2002, and
for the P15 in 2003.
New boat: You get the latest product with that "new boat feel," you can equip it exactly as you please, and you get a warranty. You also get a higher price tag and generally have to buy some aftermarket items (spare parts and tools, for example).
Used boat: You save money, usually don't have to buy much additional equipment or supplies, and know the bugs are all worked out. But you will have to deal with some normal wear and tear issues and may also be buying someone else's problems.
|?||I'm considering buying a fairly old Potter. Is there any particular "vintage" boat that was better or worse than any other?|
have been some variations in installed hardware and manufacturing
technique over the years. However, the real criteria is general
condition, which is a much more a matter of how the boat was used and
maintained than how it was built. There are many 1980's vintage Potters
out there still providing good service. Your best bet is to look at as
many Potters as you can and make your own judgement based on your
For a history of the changes to the Potter 19 over the years, visit the Files section of Bill Nolan's WW Potter Owners Registry, Photos & Articles site.
|?||What should I check when buying a used Potter?|
a used Potter is not much different than buying any other used boat. We
won't get into how to do a full survey here, but for starters:
Otherwise, basic diligence is all you need.
|Repairs, parts, and service|
|?||How do I get warranty service if I don't live near the IM factory?|
|IM arranges warranty repairs on a case-by-case basis using repair facilities in or near the owner's area.|
|?||What tools and parts should I carry on board?|
depends on how long you plan to be out and how far you will be from a
hardware store. Most owners carry at least the following items:
A minimal spare parts kit should include:
It is easy to overstock a boat. Remember that in many cases it is more practical to carry most of your spare parts and tools in the tow vehicle, rather than on the boat.
|?||What is that stuff IM lines the hatch edges with, and where can I get some?|
|It is "Flex Trim" by DIY Marine. It costs about $28 for a 25' pack at most of the larger marine supply stores. Some places sell it by the foot. It is available in black or white and in several sizes, measured according to the thickness of the material to be lined.|
|?||Where can I get replacement parts?|
|IM can supply parts for nearly every Potter ever made (at least in the U.S.) Many replacement parts are available from their original manufacturers as well. IM makes the molded fiberglass parts and assembles the boat. They buy almost everything that is installed on it from third-party suppliers.|
|?||Can you recommend a few good sources for parts and accessories?|
are a some that seem to get regular recommendations from Potter owners:
And of course, there is always IM. If they have the item listed as an available accessory you should consider buying from them, just because they know Potters and you can be assured that the things they supply will work with their boats.
|Factory installed equipment|
|?||Who makes the equipment installed in the P15 and P19?|
buys equipment from many third-party suppliers. The following is a
summary of some of the equipment found on most recently-manufactured
boats. Please note that in some cases the manufacturer's identity was
not obvious and we had to make our best guess. Also, IM is continually
updating its product line, so the equipment supplied on a given boat
may vary from that listed.
|?||Who designed the boats?|
|The original West Wight Potter, which eventually became the P15, was designed by Stanley T. Smith of the Isle of Wight. Herb M. Stewart designed the HMS 18 and started making them in 1970 or 71.|
|?||Are all Potters made of fiberglass?|
|All U.S. made Potters are made of fiberglass. Potters are still made in England by PotWight Marine, an independent company, and their boats have epoxy/wood composite hulls.|
|?||What is the difference between a Potter 19 and an HMS 18? Between a Potter 14 and a Potter 15?|
|HMS 18 is the older model designation for the P19. They are essentially the same boat. Same with the P14 and P15. The HMS 18 was re-named the Potter 19 around 1982. The Potter 14 was re-named the Potter 15 around 1978.|
|?||Why are they called "Potters"?|
|The traditional explanation is that they are for "pottering around," as opposed to serious racing.|
|?||Who owns IM?|
|International Marine is a privately held company. Dave Dressler is currently the sole owner.|
|?||How do I get in touch with IM?|
|Visit their Web site at www.wwpotter.com. There is current contact information on the site.|
|?||What do people mean when they talk about a boat's "number"?|
are referring to the hull serial number. This is assigned to each boat
by the factory, and is identified within the boat's hull identification
number (HIN). Some boats have a number stitched onto the sails as well;
this is usually (but not always) the same as the hull number. The HIN
identifies the boat manufacturer, model, year of manufacture, and hull
number. For example, HMSA1280F585 identifies a boat made by HMS Marine
(IM's predecessor) in 1985, hull number 1280. Even though HMS Marine is
now called International Marine, boats made by IM still have the HMS
designation in the HIN.
By the way, the Coast Guard maintains a searchable list of manufacturer identifiers. If you see a boat and can't identify the manufacturer, note it's HIN and look up the manufacturer ID here.
|?||How many people can fit in the P19 cockpit?|
|That depends on the people and the sailing conditions. You can seat 4 to 6 sitting at the dock, depending on the individual's sizes and how friendly they want to be. The maximum is 4 when sailing, and then only if conditions are mild and the passengers can help handle the jib sheets. If the wind is up, you will want everyone on the side facing the sail and have some room to move, so two is about the maximum then.|
|?||What are the P19 cockpit dimensions?|
|The seats are about 57 inches long and 15 inches wide. The cockpit measures about 76 inches diagonally.|
|?||What are the dimensions of the P15 lapper?|
|Luff is 11 feet, Foot is 6 feet, Leech is 9 feet 6 inches; LP is 5 feet 3 inches.|
|?||Can I row a P15 or P19?|
|Many owners row their P15s. It is a bit unusual to find someone rowing a P19, but it can be done. IM offers factory-installed oarlocks as an option.|
|?||What is the recommended oar length?|
doubt, the longer the oars (within reason) the better the power. An
often-cited rule of thumb for oar length is 1/2 beam (distance between
oar locks) times 3, plus 6 inches. This works out to around 8-9 feet
for the P15 and 10-11 feet for the P19. But these lengths should only
be considered guidelines; you may have to experiment to find the right
oar length for your boat and rowing style.
Oars are expensive, but if you are handy with tools and have some time you can make your own for experimental purposes. A set of plans and instructions for some simple oars are available free at bateau.com.
|?||I've heard of a short mast, long boom P19. What's the story on these?|
all P19s have the same basic rig, but there were a few made that had a
short mast and a boom that extended aft of the transom. Ted Duke, owner
of P19 number 626 ("The Duchess") had this to say about his SM-LB boat:
"In 1990 HMS built some P19s with a mast approximately 17 feet tall with an 8 foot boom. The boom extends to just over the aft end of the cockpit. The jib is the same as other P19s, therefore it goes to the top of the mast. The mainsail luff is of necessity shorter but the foot is longer. The mast and boom are heavier than current P19s. It has a forestay and only two side stays. There is no backstay and a boomkin would be required to install one."
|?||Where can I get a Potter owner's manual?|
|The manuals supplied with boats through 2002 are available at CP's Potter Pages. A new manual is being supplied with the 2003 boats, but it is not available online as far as we know.|
|?||Where can I get information on sailing lessons?|
|Try U.S. Sailing
or the American
Sailing Association. If you are new to boating you should also look
into a US Coast Guard Auxiliary boating course. For more information,
visit the USCGA Web
site. There may also be a local organization in your area that offers
lessons; check the yellow pages under "boating instruction."
There are also various online resources, for the "book learning" side. Boat U.S. offers a basic boating course online. Baysail.com offers an online sailing course. Either of these resources are a good place to start if you are new to boating or sailing.
|?||Where can I get more information?|
are lots of Potter resources on the Web. A few that stand out are:
|This page was updated on March 2, 2010.
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