Broken Anchor Swivels and the Tales They Tell

July 28, 2015 - An important question that comes up in our upcoming report on stainless-steel swivels for anchors is where the shackle should be introduced to the rode. A common approach is to attach the swivel at the end of the chain rode directly to the anchor, in lieu of a common anchor shackle.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:42PM Comments (0)

More Great Tips for Stopping Boat Stink

July 21, 2015 - As our long-term test of sanitation hose winds its way through another long, hot—and progressively smellier—summer, it is a good time to think about ways to keep your plumbing system from becoming an olfactory horror. Here are some of the tips that hose manufacturers shared with us as we launched our test of sanitation hose last summer.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:05AM Comments (7)

The Art of Seamanship

July 14, 2015 - Although anyone headed offshore will benefit from 'The Art of Seamanship,' it is aimed squarely at the sailor. It’s not a book for the novice tying his first bowline, or the yachtsman interested in flag etiquette. The topics, particularly those dealing with weather, anchoring, sail-handling, and navigation, are examined with a depth and insight that only come through years of experience.
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More Bottom Paint Blues (with video)

July 5, 2015 - As part of an upcoming article that revisits this topic in more detail, Practical Sailor publisher Tim Cole has put together a two-part video illustrating the steps of removing paint and raising the waterline on his Bristol 35.5, First Light.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson and Tim Cole at 10:13PM Comments (1)

AC Shorepower Cord Inspections

June 29, 2015 - Start your inspection with the shore power cord itself, ensuring it’s constructed of proper marine grade components, uses appropriately sized wiring, and is the shortest cord that will get the job done. Always replace cords that show signs of chafe, cracks, split insulation, or those having electrical tape repairs.
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Check Chafe Before Switching to Fiber Lifelines

June 22, 2015 - Fiber lifelines exhibit two kinds of chafe. There is visible chafe that occurs when lifelines are used as handholds (a bad habit), or where sails and sheets bear on them. More troublesome is the chafe that occurs in the stanchion holes. Clearly, if you’re considering switching to a fiber lifeline, you’ll want to closely inspect any possible chafe points, and deburr and polish (with 600 grit sandpaper) any places where the line makes contact with stanchions.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 08:13AM Comments (1)

Flexing the ‘Girl Power’ Muscle

June 16, 2015 - Whether you’re a cruiser or a racer, a man or a woman, an armchair captain or a PHRF vet—I’m betting you felt at least an inkling of pride and swelling happiness for Team SCA when the all-women crew won the penultimate Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race last week.
Posted by Ann Key at 02:10PM Comments (6)

Rigged for Living in Small Spaces

June 8, 2015 - If you tear up root, branch, and all to go sailing, the return to the dirt-dwelling life is troublesome business. You’re accustomed to peace and solitude. Endless waterfront views. A procession of sunrises and sunsets. You can pick your neighbors and move on quickly if you choose. But for me, the most interesting transformation that the cruising sailor undergoes is our relationship with stuff. The most successful long-term sailors I know always seem to be paring down what they have, eliminating all but a few choice needs. For them, it’s all about quality not quantity.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:36PM Comments (0)

Boat Bottom Blues

June 2, 2015 - Not everyone is going sailing this summer. Some of us are mired in multiyear restorations, or finally knuckling down to that project we’ve postponed for too many seasons. If you own an older boat, that project probably includes doing something about the years of anti-fouling paint that have built up on the bottom. Whether you want to hire a professional or do the work yourself, here are some articles that can help set you down the right path.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:57PM Comments (2)

Decontaminating a Tainted Water Tank

May 26, 2015 - Those of you who missed Practical Sailor's report on how a weak winterizing solution can create a Sandals Beach Resort for waterborne bacteria may be noticing a pungent odor coming from your galley tap. Regardless of the cause of your onboard water woes, our favorite chemist-sailor Drew Frye offers a series of simple steps to decontaminate that tainted water tank.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 03:23PM Comments (9)

Mechanical Rigging Terminals: To Seal or Not

May 19, 2015 - Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s recent market survey of mechanical rigging terminals in the June 2015 issue of Practical Sailor demonstrated just how long these terminals can last if they are installed correctly. That report came close on the heels of rigger Brion Toss's photo essay on what can go wrong if they are not assembled correctly, or assembled without any sealant. Yet manufacturers are still not entirely clear where they stand on the use of sealants in these fittings.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:35PM Comments (4)

A Practical Look at Waxing and Polishing Your Boat

May 12, 2015 - With Memorial Day looming, I am plunging once again into polishing and waxing fiberglass boat hulls. This post (which is an update of an extremely popular post from a few years ago) covers almost everything you need to know about cleaning, polishing, and waxing your boat. It includes links to our online "how-to" resources and links to our tests of various classes of products mentioned. The main purpose of the article is to provide an overview of the many archive articles we have in our library on this topic, so that you can choose which reports best apply to your situation and then dig in as deep as you like.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:06PM Comments (5)

Varnish Touch-ups and Take-downs

May 5, 2015 - The upcoming June 2015 issue of Practical Sailor features the first article in a new series of tests involving wood finishes—two-part varnishes, one-part varnishes, and synthetic finishes. The new crop of coatings promise longer lasting finishes that are easier to apply, but none of these are as easy as preserving the finish you have. To keep brightwork healthy, approach it as you do your own health. Whether its a touch-up or a complete take-down that's on your horizon, here are a few tips on wood care that can save you hours of sweat down the line.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:21PM Comments (0)

PS Tests and the Death Spiral of Curiosity

April 28, 2015 - Being blessed with product testers who are passionate about their areas of expertise can be a double-edged sword. Their intense interest means they'll be particularly thorough in their research and testing; but their testing can spiral out of control as fascinating minutiae piques their curiosity. As it turns out, the best cure for a PS tester trapped in this downward "more-research-is-needed" spiral is the imminent approach of sailing season. Spring, therefore, is harvest time for the editors at Practical Sailor—and this spring has been particularly fruitful. Here's a glimpse of what's ahead:
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:51PM Comments (4)

Can Carbon Foam Batteries Meet Hype?

April 21, 2015 - The real test of any good marine product involves many units on many boats, so the true winners in the new technology game don’t rise until long after they are introduced. This requires staying power. I often wonder how many good ideas for sailors never made it to fruition for lack of capital. In recent years, many of the most promising products we look at trickle down from other, more lucrative arenas—energy and defense being two of the most common sources. Such is the case with the Firefly Oasis battery we tested.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:32PM Comments (4)