Dealing with Dirty Sails

December 6, 2016 - For washing your sails, most sailmakers recommend using mild soap and water, and avoiding anything abrasive. Use a soft brush, if necessary, to loosen dirt. For dirt or stains that are more deeply embedded, you may need to soak the sail, so you'll have to locate some kind of large container, depending upon the size of the soiled area.
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Don't Let Refit Pitfalls Derail Your Cruising Plans

November 29, 2016 - As a good friend finds himself in the middle of the often daunting process of equipping a full-size cruising boat for an extended cruise with his family, I found myself reflecting on some of the things I discovered over the years through my own experience and the experience of others. There seems to be no shortage of books that tell you what you need to do to go cruising, but very few seem to caution about what NOT to do or what to avoid. Here are a few things that I found get in the way of a long-term sailing escape. I’d love to hear more tips on how to avoid these and other pitfalls that can swallow the cruising dream.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:28PM Comments (11)

Can You Have Too Many Zincs?

November 23, 2016 - Although it is unlikely in a typical installation, you can have too much anodic protection. This is more common with miscalibrated impressed current systems, where a transformer is used to provide the electrical potential, but too many zinc anodes or too reactive anodes can also have unintended consequences you should recognize. This is particularly important for owners of wood or steel boats.
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Corrosion Protection: Ethanol Fuel Additive Test

November 16, 2016 - Those boatowners preparing their gasoline-powered boats for winter storage will want to take a look at our gas additive test which compares the corrosion fight characteristics of such products as Biobor EB, Valv Tect, Sta-bil Marine Formula, Mercury QuickStor, Sea Foam and others. It is important to keep in mind that additives can’t solve real gasoline-quality problems. At best, consider additives to be only a final tweaking opportunity, something to supplement the following fuel-management practices.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:30PM Comments (2)

Gearing Up for Winter Sailing

November 7, 2016 - While many North American sailors have already hauled out their boats for winter, there are plenty of cold-weather diehards who refuse to bow to the season. In the upcoming November issue of Practical Sailor, contributor Drew Frye shares his tips for sailing year round above the frost-line. “It has always seemed a shame to me that the great majority of boats in the country are only used in the summer," says Frye, who sails through the winter on Chesapeake Bay. "[In winter] I have the waters virtually to myself.”
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:43PM Comments (0)

What to Look For in a Sailboat Winter Cover

November 2, 2016 - With December fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to repost a recent PS Advisor response to a letter from Michigan sailor and Practical Sailor subscriber Alan Hyde. Hyde was curious about boat covers, and except for the fortunate few who are bound below the frost zone this winter, or already there (like us!), I imagine a few other Waypoints readers are considering winter options.
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Tips for Caulking Polyethylene

October 26, 2016 - In our upcoming test of marine sealants we looked at ways to develop bonds between common polyurethane sealants and polyethylene plastics—the kind of plastic used in a variety of marine products ranging from fuel tanks to baseplates. Starboard is one of the most common brand-name high-density polyethylene materials, and it is notoriously difficult to seal or bond using conventional caulks or adhesive sealants. But there is a partial solution to using an adhesive sealant with plastic, and our tests show it works.
Posted by Drew Frye at 09:58AM Comments (0)

Stay Safe While Saving a Storm-damaged Boat

October 19, 2016 - Our hearts go out to all those suffering in the wake of super-storm Sandy. When people are hurt and homes and precious possessions are destroyed or lost forever, a wrecked recreational sailboat seems wholly unimportant. But for many people, the boat is their home or is connected to their livelihood. In the coming days and weeks, more people will be returning to their vessels and doing what they can to keep them safe. Boat owners should be aware of steps they can take to prevent further loss to their boats. And more importantly, they should be aware of the precautions they can take to keep themselves safe during the period when most storm-related injuries and deaths occur.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:19PM Comments (1)

The Blow-by-blow Boathook Test

October 11, 2016 - Our first surprises came when we began pull- and push-testing the telescoping boathooks. Only one pole consistently held firm under load. All the others slipped at loads between 100 and 185 pounds. We then tested them in compression. Most of the poles could manage 170-pounds of compression, although a few telescoping poles slipped.
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Preparing a Marina-bound Boat for a Tropical Storm

October 4, 2016 - With Hurricane Matthew poised to rake the East Coast with storm surge and 100-plus knot winds, the storm poses a serious threat to boats all along the East Coast. Practical Sailor has covered storm preparation on several occasions. Here is some of the guidance we can offer.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:55AM Comments (0)

Is Stainless Steel Really the Best Metal for Use in an Anchor?

September 27, 2016 - Each time Practical Sailor conducts an anchor test, we get questions about the materials used in anchors, particularly stainless steel. Stainless steel is much less prone to unsightly and destructive oxidation than mild steel, even when it has been hot-dipped galvanized and protected by a heat-bonded zinc coating.
Posted by Darrell Nicholso at 11:06AM Comments (1)

Tips on Choosing and Sizing Anchor Shackles

September 21, 2016 - In the most recent issue of Practical Sailor, we identified four anchor shackles that fell below expectations and are advising readers not to buy these shackles. Two of the shackles were stainless steel, a material we regard as unsuitable for use as an anchor shackle, and two were galvanized shackles distributed widely in the United States and abroad.
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Tips on Caring for Marine Canvas

September 13, 2016 - Canvas dodgers and biminis are the hallmark of a cruising yacht, keeping the sun at bay and allowing the crew to “dodge” the worst of the weather. On board, canvas also protects sails, windows, and machinery. Collectively, these represent a substantial financial investment, and we wanted to find the best way to protect the investment and get the most life out of the canvas.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frey at 04:58PM Comments (1)

A Simplified Internet Connection for Boats

September 7, 2016 - As high-speed, cellular data service extends throughout the coastal U.S. and abroad, the ability to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot (MiFi) has diminished the need for a Wi-Fi connection to a shore-based network. But cellular data plans can be expensive, service can be spotty, and high-speed data isn’t offered everywhere. In the October 2016 issue of Practical Sailor we look at an integrated antenna/WiFi adapter/router that allows you to quickly connect to the internet using either a shore-based Wi-Fi network or cellular service (2G/3G/4G/LTE).
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:40AM Comments (1)

Preventing Fuel Problems in Marine Diesel Engines

August 19, 2016 - Murphy’s Law has an affinity for old marine diesel engines with aging fuel systems. Contaminated fuel is a common problem, and late last year we looked at various additives that claim to preserve stability in both gasoline and diesel fuel during long-term storage. But fuel system maintenance doesn’t stop during the sailing season. Here are some fuel-system management practices that will help you avoid any fuel-related problems this season.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:26PM Comments (0)