March 23, 2016 - Now that U.S. sailors can so easily can go to Cuba, the question remains should they go? I think most cruisers would not want to miss the chance. To explore the reefs of the fabled Jardínes de la Reina, to reach close along the green mountains between Punta Maisi and Boracoa, to wander the streets of La Habana— what more could the cruising life offer than to explore far (and not so far) corners of the world under sail? If you are Havana daydreaming here are some helpful resources to set you on your way.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:32AM Comments (1)
March 15, 2016 - While the Florida Senate approved House Bill 1051 prohibiting anchoring in parts of Miami-Dade County, over on Florida’s west coast, a live-aboard sailor was still working to have his 36-foot Hunter hauled off the beach. Although the two events would at first seem unrelated, any sailor would likely see a clear connection.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:49AM Comments (3)
March 9, 2016 - I often worry that the topic of chart accuracy, which we revisit in the upcoming April issue of Practical Sailor, downplays the importance of other skills, published sources, and equipment we should use to solve a navigational puzzle. A recent bottom-scraping cruise I took along the ever-changing coast of Southwest Florida reiterated some key points regarding coastal navigation.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:19AM Comments (3)
March 2, 2016 - Among the many chores to add to the spring to-do list, a rig inspection should rank high. And any rig inspection should include a close look at any swaged terminals on the shrouds and stays. Although corroded or cracked swages have been know to be a common point of failure on older rigs, the environment and working loads are almost always the main contributing factors. But our recent tests suggest that the weaknesses on some terminals may exist since the day they were assembled.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:47AM Comments (6)
February 24, 2016 - Last year, multi-national chemical company BASF decided it would not renew its U.S. license for the pesticide Irgarol. A common additive to copper-based paints, Irgarol helps prevent the growth of algae and other soft growth. Bottom paints containing Irgarol are priced around $30 higher than similar formulas without the additive. If you are interested in a “slime-resistant” ablative paint, be sure to confirm that Irgarol is still an ingredient before plunking down the extra cash.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:59AM Comments (3)
February 17, 2016 - Sure, spring is still a ways off for some of us, but it's never to early to start planning, especially if you've got a big bottom project. If you own an older boat, that project probably includes doing something about the years of antifouling paint that have built up on the bottom. In this blog post you'll find links to a number of useful articles to help guide you through this process.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:00AM Comments (2)
February 10, 2016 - The oceanic equivalent of implacable in-laws, the barnacles addled me to no end. Do they ever stop eating? Do they ever sleep? Why won’t they leave my boat alone? Their unrelenting click, click, clicks on the hull kept me up at night. An obsession bordering on madness set in. My only comfort was that barnacles on the brain can have interesting side effects, like an idea that changes our view of the world.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:48AM Comments (5)
February 2, 2016 - We know the theory behind using an anchor swivel: The swivel releases any twists in the chain when an anchored boat swings through 360 degrees or more. Still, we question the logic of using one. Our skepticism is supported by our own experience, previous testing, and input from long-term cruisers, but we wanted to devise a test to investigate chain twisting. The results were surprising.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Jonathan Neeves at 05:43PM Comments (8)
January 27, 2016 - Anyone who has spent a night pitching in an exposed anchorage would not be shocked to learn that in many dragging incidents the snubber parted, or was stretched to its limit, allowing the chain and boat to absorb some teeth-rattling shock loads before something finally gave. Recently, PS testers have devised a series of tests to determine what the ideal snubber looks like. Some of our findings run contrary to popular assumptions. Some will surely surprise you, and may even—one day—save your boat. What does your snubber look like?
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Jonathan Neeves at 07:36AM Comments (10)
January 19, 2016 - In my own experience, I’ve found that I rarely can match the manufacturer’s coverage estimates using a 3/8-inch nap roller cover, so for this project we decided to do a comparison. One section of the boat would be painted with a foam, solvent-resistant hot-dog or sausage roller cover, a technique that has worked for me in the past. The roller, more commonly used for topside finishes, soaks up far less paint than a conventional, 3/8-inch cover. An adjacent section would be painted using a conventional roller.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:09PM Comments (12)
January 13, 2016 - This summer, the once lovely Oyster 825 was hauled from the water with its keel missing and a large chunk of skin laminate peeled back. Another casualty in a disturbing trend. I wrote a lengthy post on the subject of keels last year, and technical editor Ralph Naranjo discussed the topic in his report “Rethinking Hull Structure” in the February 2015 issue of Practical Sailor.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Ralph Naranjo at 06:38AM Comments (1)
January 5, 2016 - Our recent report on synthetic-teak decking options (see PS December 2015) raised a bit of a ruckus among the contenders in what is an extremely competitive market. The main bone of contention was our reported temperatures of the various materials after they were left in the sun. Several manufacturers contended that the temperatures we listed in the table accompanying the article were not consistent with their own findings.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:31PM Comments (3)
December 28, 2015 - One look at the average navigation station or helm seat on a cruising boat and you can see how the most basic ergonomic principles on lines of sight, sitting posture, and standing posture are, so it seems, utterly ignored. Stairs, handholds, settee seats, and bunks are built to conform to the builder’s budget, not the sailor’s lumbar. And once you start moving around some of these boats, the obstacle course is like something dreamed up by a chiropractor drumming for new business.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:20PM Comments (3)
December 21, 2015 - The freeze-thaw cycle can also break the bond between the fiberglass and the core, further weakening the deck structure and introducing new problems. In a worst-case scenario, you return to your boat in the spring and find bubbles, bulges, and cracked gelcoat or fiberglass where water has pooled and frozen, pushing your deck's outer skin upward.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:13PM Comments (0)
December 15, 2015 - 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.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:44PM Comments (3)