Keel Failure Redux

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)

Rethinking Faux Teak Temperatures

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)

Getting a Grip on New Boat Designs

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)

Preventing Winter Damage to Your Deck

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)

Dealing with Dirty Sails

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)

A One-sided Defense of the Cruising Ketch

December 9, 2015 - My affinity for cruising ketches like the Allied Seawind II we feature in the January 2016 issue of Practical Sailor runs contrary to the view of their many detractors. Their criticism goes something like this: Ketches were popular in early days of cruising when undersized winches and friction-bound hardware conspired to make handling large sails a chore. With efficient winches and modern hardware, split rigs are obsolete on boats under 50 feet, they say.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:12AM Comments (9)

Portable Electrical Propulsion for Small Sailboats

December 1, 2015 - In part one of our two-part test of five and six-horsepower engines in the upcoming January issue of Practical Sailor, we take a second look at portable electric motors. Our interest in modern portable electric propulsion dates back to 2004, when then editor Doug Logan began to lose faith in the two-stroke outboard on his Boston Whaler. While awaiting the prognosis on his unresponsive 15-horsepower Evinrude, he bought a Minn Kota Riptide 55 trolling motor.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:35PM Comments (4)

Staying Out of Boat Trailer Trouble

November 24, 2015 - While many Practical Sailor readers are migrating southward on the water this time of year, there are dozens more who are taking to the roads, hauling their trailerable daysailer or weekender behind them toward sunnier climes. A trailer expands the sailor’s horizons, but like any endeavor that involves automobiles, it adds another layer of risk and responsibility. Compared to our boats, a trailer is deceptively simple, and this often leads us to overlook the obvious warning signs of impending problems.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:36PM Comments (1)

The (Cold) Case of the Frozen Antifreeze

November 17, 2015 - There’s nothing like buying several $3 bottles of antifreeze to protect your $30,000 boat, then coming home to discover the unused bottles frozen solid in your garage.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:00PM Comments (5)

Fortune Favors the Cold and Wet

November 10, 2015 - Two stories in the upcoming December issue—installing a fireplace and sealing portlights and hatches—had me pondering the challenges of a winter afloat. But what literally raised goose bumps were images sent to us by Jimmy Cornell, whose popular cruising rallies and books have inspired countless dreams of sailing around the world.
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Rotten to the Core

November 3, 2015 - 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 (7)

Open-source Software and the Sailor

October 28, 2015 - The more controversial—in my mind—element of open-source software is how our navigation data is used. The success of open-source software depends on the willingness of sailors to share data via the cloud. We’re told, of course, that this is anonymous meta-data (the sort of non-identifying data with that the National Security Administration scrapes from phone records), and that the user can control which data he shares. Most of us are already sharing all kinds of information with various smart-phone apps, so this is nothing new. Still, I worry.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:26AM Comments (3)

LPG Fireplace Safety Guidelines

October 20, 2015 - As part of a report on the Dickinson P9000 in the December issue, Practical Sailor tester Drew Frye provides an in-depth guide to a do-it-yourself installation, with special emphasis on safety. The following are important safety tips that generally apply to any propane heating system, whether it is the Dickinson fireplace, a Sig Marine cabin heater, or a similar heater.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 03:32PM Comments (5)

The DIY Solent Stay or Inner Forestay

October 14, 2015 - The most common question we were asked in the wake of our recent two-part series on headsails was, “How do I install an inner forestay or Solent stay?” Because either of these stays might one day be depended upon in the direst of circumstances, and because every boat presents different challenges for this project, it's important to do your research and investigate other boats that have carried out this retrofit. Once you have a general idea of what features you like, consult a rigger for the initial design. Here are several resources that can start you down the right path.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:51AM Comments (2)

O Tayana 37, How do I Loathe Thee?

October 6, 2015 - I loathe thee for your lovely teak decks, prone to leaking, hot to touch in the tropics, and forever accumulating dirt. I loathe thee for thy alluring bowsprit, a precarious perch where no man with two hip replacements should ever be. I loathe thee for thy water tank sloshing in the bow, turning thee into a teeter-totter when the mildest swell rolls into the bay.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:19PM Comments (4)