August 17, 2011
Most long-time readers are familiar with our ratings categoriesBest Choice, Recommended, and Budget Buybut their significance might not be so obvious to new readers. In fact, weve received a number of letters from people asking us to clarify what these ratings mean. So, here it is.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:51AM Comments (3)
August 10, 2011
In the wake of questions about the tensile strength of steel used in the shafts of Rocna anchors, West Marine has issued product specification notices to customers who have purchased Rocna anchors since 2010. The West Marine notification states that certain Rocna anchors were made with a weaker grade of steel compared to that published on the Rocna website and directs customers to Rocna for information regarding the materials and construction of the Rocna anchor. Under its No Hassles Guarantee, West Marine offers a full refund to owners who are not satisfied with their purchase. The offer comes after several months of heated online debate over the strength of the shafts of Rocna anchors made in China.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:18PM Comments (6)
August 2, 2011
One of the difficult challenges faced by mast slides on full-batten mainsails are the side loads imposed when the sail is not feathered into the wind. In the event that the sail needs to be dropped (or raised) off the wind, the unequal loading on the batten cars can cause a great deal of friction on one side of the cars. If you are the owner of a smaller boat, however, your options for solving this problem are limited.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:31AM Comments (2)
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 hindrancefor 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)
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)
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)
July 13, 2011
While you dont 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)
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 areafrom 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 isnt a major issue.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:37AM Comments (2)
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)
June 17, 2011
Were seeing several errors creep into owners 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 owners manuals can have costlypossibly dangerousramifications.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:00AM Comments (4)
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)
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)
June 1, 2011
Last months report on fast-dissolve toilet paper took on a new significance this past week as we began testing Sealands 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)
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 Americas 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)
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)