Manual vs. Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket / Safety Harnesses

July 26, 2011

Commonsense would suggest that an auto-inflating harness/life jacket is the best choice for the cruising sailor. However, there are cases in which an inflated harness can be a hindrance—for example when you are trying to climb back aboard under a lifeline, or dive free of debris or rigging. And as our tests have shown, rain and waves can inflate some models, a nuisance that could interfere with handling the boat.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:55PM Comments (12)

PS Repeats Tether Release Warning in Wake of Chicago-Mackinac Race Fatalities

July 19, 2011

While there is no evidence yet that the fatal sailing accident in the Chicago-Mackinac Race this week is linked to a safety tether problem, given our experience with tethers, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the difficulty involved in releasing safety tethers may have been a factor.
Posted by at 02:56PM Comments (5)

How Do You Cleat a Line on a Boat?

July 18, 2011

"How to cleat a line on a boat" turns out to be a more controversial topic than you might imagine. Practical Sailor looks at various views on how to handle the first wrap around the base of a deck cleat.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:18PM Comments (3)

The Fundamentals of Mainsail Trim

July 13, 2011

While you don’t have to be an incurable sail-tweaker to cover ground on a tradewind passage, assuring your mainsail is well-trimmed will put you safely on the hook sooner and ensure a smoother, more comfortable ride. Good mainsail trim, of course, is paramount when going to windward.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:24AM Comments (9)

Navigating by iPad Using eSeaChart and ActiveCaptain

July 6, 2011

In advance of a recent summer coastal cruise, we downloaded eSeaChart navigation app, the first iPad charting program to work with Active Captain, a free service that requires registration. It cost $8 and took only a few minutes to download the charts needed for the cruising area—from Tampa to Ft. Myers, Fla.—including detailed harbor charts. One thing I liked about the charts was that they were raster charts, nearly identical to the government versions that appeal to my analog brain. Redraw rates were a little slow, as a result, but at sailboat speeds, this isn’t a major issue.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:37AM Comments (2)

Custom Catamaran Loaded with PS Picks

June 28, 2011

Practical Sailor was recently invited to check out a custom Fastwater 52 sailing cat. The invite was prefaced with the explanation that the boat is a Practical Sailor posterchild of sorts, outfitted with electronics, hardware, and other gear that has survived PS testing and garnered our recommendation. How could we turn down an invitation like that? Our dockside tour did not disappoint.
Posted by Ann Key at 10:40AM Comments (0)

What’s Happening in the World of Owner’s Manuals?

June 17, 2011

We’re seeing several errors creep into owner’s manuals. Many of the mistakes seem to be the lost-in-translation variety, but others seem to be just poor writing, or sloppy editing. As General Motors' recent recall demonstrates, mistakes in an owner’s manuals can have costly—possibly dangerous—ramifications.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:00AM Comments (4)

Two Good Sailing Books About Shallow-draft Sailboats

June 14, 2011

Whenever I feel like contemporary yacht designs are losing touch with their raison d’ etre, these are two of the books I turn to.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:15PM Comments (2)

Quick and Easy Gelcoat Repair

June 6, 2011

When making gelcoat repairs, the Preval Sprayer combines the best of the Badger 250 and the paint brush. It's quick to set up and clean, and provides adequate coverage in a single application. Best of all, it's available in auto supply and hardware stores for just $7, so when you are done with it, you can just throw it away.
Posted by at 02:25PM Comments (4)

Toilet paper, Vacuflush, and a search for PS testers

June 1, 2011

Last month’s report on fast-dissolve toilet paper took on a new significance this past week as we began testing Sealand’s Vacuflush toilets, toilets that literally suck waste into the holding tank. The chief advantage of the Vacuflush system is the reduced requirement for water for flushing. These units required very little water to flush, but this also makes it harder for toilet paper to dissolve.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:23AM Comments (11)

Summer Dreams, Brad Van Liew, and Moitessier

May 27, 2011

I can feel it. This will be a very big summer. The solstice still lies ahead, and look what the year has brought us already. The America’s Cup slips into San Francisco. Brad Van Liew sashays into La Rochelle with a clean sweep in the Velux 5 Oceans around the world race.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:37PM Comments (0)

Deadly Accident, Swing Keels, and Mandatory PFDs

May 20, 2011

This is a sad story about a sailboat accident that didn't have to happen. Apart from the obvious problems with a night-time adventure (likely involving alcohol) with 10 people on a 22-foot sailboat, a couple of details caught my attention.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:37PM Comments (21)

AC Shorepower Cord Inspections

May 18, 2011

One of the often overlooked maintenance items in the pre-season rush to the water is the AC shorepower system. Accredited surveyor and PS Contributor Capt. Frank Lanier sent a few scary photos from past surveys showing the common examples of neglect he has encountered.
Posted by at 10:32AM Comments (2)

Going Aloft Safely

May 10, 2011

For those of you who plan to go aloft to do some work this spring, please make sure you are well aware of all the safety measures that pertain to this kind of work. One of the most important tips that we failed to mention in recent article on bosun chairs was to never use a self-tailing winch when hauling someone aloft. In light of a recent safety warning from Lewmar, the importance of this advice is clear.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:33PM Comments (7)

Rotten to the Core

May 3, 2011

Cored decks are a soggy subject that many owners of older boats can relate to. I turn to one of our regular contributors, Capt. Frank Lanier, for this week's blog on this topic. Captain Frank Lanier is a 27 year Coast Guard veteran and Accredited Marine Surveyor with over 30 years of experience in the marine and diving industry.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:58AM Comments (5)

Reader Questionnaire

Which of the following best describes your approach to bottom paint?