Taming Engine Room Noise

January 25, 2012

Practical Sailor reader Duncan Hood wrote us last week, asking about engine room noise insulation and prompting me to dive into our files to find our last test. It’s been over a decade, so we’re due for another round of testing, but much of the information in our last report is still helpful. Many of the players are the same, and one of the most prominent players in our last test, Soundown, is still regarded as a leader in the field. For those like Hood who are contemplating ways to silence the engine, the following excerpt from that article offers some general guidance.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:07AM Comments (2)

Holding Tank Test Correction

January 18, 2012

In the February 2012 issue, we tested two holding tanks—one from Trionic and one from SeaLand. Both tanks slightly leaked water while under pressure. The leaks were very small and occurred at top-mounted fittings that were supplied separately with the tanks and were installed by our tester according to the manufacturers’ instructions. After the story’s publication, SeaLand informed us that tank that we tested and recommended was not the most current model.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:45AM Comments (2)

Winning the Battle Against Holding Tank Odors

January 10, 2012

Take a look at this photo and imagine it is your backyard. Or your patio, or sun-deck. Yep, those are sealed 5-gallon buckets full of iguana poop and “other” waste, ripening in the Chesapeake Bay area's autumn sun. Do you ever wonder whether those bright blue bottles of chemicals that claim to eliminate your head odors actually work? So did we. Did you ever wonder how the neighbors would react if you set up a head odor testing facility in your backyard? So did PS contributor Drew Frye. So far, it seems, “Operation Potty Odor,” has not alarmed the local zoning tipsters . . . and it is yielding some interesting results.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:51PM Comments (11)

Pondering Solar Panels

January 4, 2012

My post last week on storing batteries for winter prompted a couple comments and letters on solar panels, so I thought I'd point out some of our past articles on the topic that can be found online at www.practical-sailor.com. It is a timely project for me, since our upcoming project testing one of the new sonic-pulse antifouling devices will require a solar panel. According to the device's maker, Smart Antifouling, the unit draws about .08 amps, which means will want to put a small 5-watt solar panel on our Cape Dory 25 test boat, Skimmer, which typically lies on a mooring.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:31PM Comments (8)

Helping Your Boat Battery Survive Winter Storage

December 28, 2011

Few things are more disappointing than coming back to your boat in the spring and discovering that one or more of your boatís batteries is dead. You havenít even started sailing, and already youíre facing a hefty bill. Many times, a dead battery can be resuscitated to near its initial capacity, but it's best to avoid the problem in the first place.
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Jamming GPS Signals, the Lightsquared Way

December 20, 2011

This month’s report on satellite communication devices focuses on existing technology, so it does not dig into one of the more controversial satcomm topics of the moment: a proposal by the upstart wireless company Lightsquared to provide a combined satellite and land-based broadband service that will reach remote areas of the United States where broadband is not yet available. While the idea of giving everyone the ability to stream reruns of "The Simpsons" at lightning speed seems noble, Lightsquared’s $14 billion plan does so at the expense of GPS-based navigation systems—the kind that land you safely at O’Hare.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:49PM Comments (5)

The Bight Before Christmas

December 14, 2011

Will Swagel, the engaging publisher of Sitka, Alaska’s classified ad circular, The Sitka Soup (motto: Hearty Ingredients-Tasty Leftovers-A Dash of Silliness), has given the Christmas poem “The Night Before Christmas,” an Alaskan twist. Illustrated by former fisherman and local Sitka artist and musician Colin Herforth, "The Bight Before Christmas" replaces reindeer with coho, hootchies, and humpies — and a glossary that explains what all of these are. It also introduces the bellyfish, which according to Swagel is “a made-up word because we needed a rhyme for jellyfish.”
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:39AM Comments (1)

Perfect Gifts for the DIY Sailor

December 7, 2011

At the top of Tewes’ preferred list is a Fein Multimaster 250Q, a plug-in variable speed right-angle oscillating tool that accepts a carbide-tipped saw blade, wide array of triangular-shaped sanding pads and host of other cutting, scraping, and filing gizmos. The lock-and-load quick attachment process and the “long throw” of the oscillation cycle makes it a very efficient cutter, sander, or scraper.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:57AM Comments (5)

The Sailor's Book Bin

November 30, 2011

As Moore’s Law insinuates itself into the sea, and the idea of a remote-controlled world cruise seems less sensational than steering by the stars, it is hard for some of us to avoid feeling nostalgic. As the last of the sextant-only sailors move into their retirement years, a new type of cruising tale is emerging—the maritime memoir.
Posted by at 10:42AM Comments (0)

Looking Back on the Sailing Life

November 30, 2011

As Moore’s Law insinuates itself into the sea, and the idea of a remote-controlled world cruise seems less sensational than steering by the stars, it is hard for some of us to avoid feeling nostalgic. As the last of the sextant-only sailors move into their retirement years, a new type of cruising tale is emerging—the maritime memoire. It's debatable whether the movement is a rebellion against the new wave of digitographic sailors or simply the result of too many old salts with too much time on their hands. Whatever their origins may be, these mildly self-indulgent sea stories offer a fun look back at a simpler time when young around-the-world voyagers didn’t want or need a sponsor, and GPS navigation was years in the future.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:46AM Comments (0)

Choosing a Sailmaker

November 22, 2011

If you are planning to add a new mainsail or genoa during the Northeast winter, now is the most likely time to be able to negotiate a good price. While the migration to high-volume lofts abroad has smoothed the peaks and valleys of sail prices, there are still seasonal bargains to be had. Generally, the lull occurs October through December. By the time spring rolls around and the sailmakers find themselves swimming…
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:59AM Comments (1)

Rethinking the Rally Concept

November 16, 2011

Some among our small group of less-hurried cruisers seethed quietly—mostly to themselves—that this rally business was a bad idea. Herding people in wagon-trains made sense long ago on land—but at sea?
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:26AM Comments (5)

Grounded Again (You Did Not Hear this From Me)

November 9, 2011

“The channel can be pretty tight at low tide,” the Admiral said before leaving me the keys. Or something like that. I was half-listening at the time. Ha! Like we were going to run aground with five depthsounders pinging away and Bill and I, with our thousands of miles under the keel, aboard. (We do not mention the many forgettable groundings.)
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:23AM Comments (8)

Steve Jobs' Megayacht, In His Own Words

November 2, 2011

After much persistent and gentle prodding of management, Practical Sailor converted to Macs last year. So, like millions around the world who rely on Apple magic to make it through the workday—not to mention our iPad-fueled weekends on the water—we were deeply saddened by the loss of Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple Inc. who died Oct. 5. One of the items of interest revealed in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs was that he had been been involved in the design of his custom 245-foot megayacht to be built by Feadship in the Netherlands.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 11:24AM Comments (4)

Detecting and Dealing with Stainless-steel Corrosion

October 26, 2011

You don't want your snap shackle to look like the one pictured here. Whether you are laying up for the winter, getting ready to head south, or preparing for the winter sailing season closer to the equator, now is as good of a time as any to give your stainless-steel hardware a close inspection. Practical Sailor has an interesting article on titanium hardware in the upcoming December issue, and this brought to mind several previous articles we’ve done on the problems with stainless steel.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:34AM Comments (2)

Reader Questionnaire

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