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I want to thank our subscribers new and old who have joined us on this voyage. I say “voyage” because, if anything, that is the word that best describes the day-to-day operations at Practical Sailor. I sincerely wish the best for you and your loved ones in the coming year, and look forward to another productive 12 months of testing and reporting. For new subscribers who are just joining us, and for old-timers who, like me, have trouble remembering what happened last week, much less last January, here are some of Practical Sailor’s highlights from 2012 and a peek ahead to 2013.
- LED technology continues to revolutionize marine lighting, and this was apparent in our spotlight test, in which the industrial-strength Streamlight Fire Vulcan took top honors. Look for more LED light tests in 2013, including a test of LED spreader lights and the latest interior lights.
- In the realm of marine coatings, we looked at non-skid deck coatings and conducted a three-year checkup on topside paints. We’ll see how well the non-skid coatings are holding up to weathering in an update later this year.
- The growing popularity of tablet computers, particularly the iPad, prompted a flood of new marine apps in 2013. Our three-part series on iPad (and Android) apps kicked off with a look at navigation apps in February. The program iNAVx proved to be the most user-friendly navigation application for iPad users, but testers were also impressed by the much cheaper Transas iSailor.
- If you still have a stinky boat in 2013, you won’t have PS to blame. Last year, we published a series of tests focusing on ways to control head and holding tank odors. Test reports looked at holding tank chemicals, waste vent filters, sanitation hoses, and Y-valves. Judging by the odors emanating from some top-of-the-line yachts we climbed aboard last year, this is a series that will benefit everyone from industry pros to the casual sailor.
- In March of last year, we launched the first article in a series examining three safety studies published by US Sailing, the governing body of sailing in the U.S. The most controversial article filled in holes in the U.S. Sailing report on the fatalities in the 2011 Chicago-Mackinac race.
- In May, we began a series of articles on anchor testing, beginning with a look at the relationship between wind speed and load on anchor rode. In the upcoming February issue, the series continues as we focus on anchor behavior when the wind or current shifts dramatically. Later this year, we’ll take a critical look at the industry standards (or lack thereof) for rating anchor shaft strength.
- Evaluations of marine electronics kicked into high gear in 2012, with tests of mid-priced and high-end VHF radios, touchscreen multi-function displays (MFDs), and Simrad’s broadband radar. In 2013, we will look at the latest man-overboard beacons, networked wind instruments, and more touchscreen MFDs.
- Bottom paint testing expanded last year, including the launch of a long-term test of new eco-friendly paints, beta testing of a DIY blend for aluminum boats, and our first report on a unique ultrasonic antifouling device.
- One of our most popular articles of the year detailed the equipment 27-year-old Matt Rutherford used on his shoestring voyage around the Americas. We plan to include more “Ocean Tested” reviews of equipment from experienced offshore sailors in 2013.
- Several articles last year were aimed at helping sailors in the market for a new boat. Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo offered a critical look at current trends in keel design and cockpit ergonomics. Reports on boat financing, boat insurance, and pre-purchase survey offered valuable tips for potential buyers.
Practical Sailor always has been a collaborative effort between the readers and editorial staff, so I would like to offer a special thanks to all the readers who participated in the magazine in 2012 by sharing their experiences in our “Mailport” and “Where Credit is Due” sections, or submitting questions for our “PS Advisor” column. Thanks also to those readers who contacted us with suggestions on new products to test. If there are any products you’d like to see added to the lineup in the coming year, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.