October 2, 2012
Some of my favorite PS tests are those that pit ordinary dime-store products against gold-plated marine-grade stuff. This months bottom paint test called to mind an investigation into the antifouling properties of diaper cream that took place in 1995 (before my time at PS, when my wife and I were still cruising in the South Pacific). Diaper cream contains zinc oxide, a known biocide, but it does not regulate the release of biocides the way bottom paint does. Nevertheless, youll find many bulletin-board posts that recommend diaper cream for depth-sounder transducers, props, and dinghies. My take-away from our 1995 report is that the product worked (sort of) for a limited period, but it is an impractical solution for hulls . . . better to let you read and decide for yourself.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:20AM Comments (4)
September 25, 2012
As we point out in the October 2012 issue of Practical Sailor, cuprous oxide still rules the roost when it comes to long-term antifouling protection, with hard paints and ablative paints fairly evenly matched for durability. For those who care about reducing their impact on the ocean, this raises a question. If we want to stick with copper (as opposed to an eco-friendly, copper-free antifouling), which type of painthard or ablativeis easier on the environment?
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:37PM Comments (0)
September 18, 2012
Practical Sailor owes a debt of gratitude to Sarasota, Fla., sailor Mike Collins, who offered his Cape Dory 25 Skimmer as a test platform for a new environmentally friendly bottom paint earlier this year. The paint had done well early in our panel testing, and Collins, who oversees the health of the aquariums at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, was as curious as we were to see how it might perform on a hull. So how did it do? This photo of Skimmers bottom, taken just six months after the bottom was painted, says it all.
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September 12, 2012
Practical Sailor recently examined how the introduction of devices like the SPOT was blurring the line between multifunction satellite communication devices and those designed exclusively for distress signaling. In the October issue of Practical Sailor we will take a look at the design implications when a 406-MHz Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) enables expanded services for paid subscribers, including a very SPOT-like ability to send canned text messages and location maps to multiple cell phone or email addresses.
Posted by at 12:27PM Comments (0)
September 5, 2012
So you carried out an exhaustive spring maintenance this year and are now left with several cans of very expensive marine varnishes, bottom paints, and other marine maintenance productssome opened, some untouchedthat you dont want to go bad. What to do?
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August 28, 2012
Last weekend, I heard from a reader who was lamenting that hed probably have to replace his DC electrical panel because of the electrical problems he was having. As he ran through the list of symptomsflickering running lights, frequently blown fuses, a weak bilge pump, great green blooms at butt connectorsI told him it sounded like something he could easily fix, and then dove into our digital library to find the guidance he needed.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:53PM Comments (4)
August 21, 2012
Should boaters who travel more than three miles offshore in the U.S. or Great Lakes be required to carry a to carry an EPIRB, a personal locator beacon, some other form of emergency locator beacon? That is the question a National Boating Safety Advisory Council task force is asking as it formulates new safety recommendations for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:06PM Comments (10)
August 14, 2012
Depending on the size of your fuel tanks, having a professional clean your tank and dispose of the dirty fuel can cost more than $1,000. But for the careful, competent do-it-yourselfer there is another option. For those sailors whose tanks have reached the contamination point-of-no-return, heres a helpful article on DIY tank cleaning that accompanied our July 2009 test of diesel biocides.
Posted by at 01:40PM Comments (3)
August 7, 2012
It seems somehow appropriate that today, as I hopscotch among the islands of Irelands western coast, U.S. Sailing has released its final report on the fate of the crew of Low Speed Chase. The comprehensive report, available for download at the U.S. Sailing website, covers in great detail the factors that led to the deaths of five sailors on April 14 during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco, Calif.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 07:19AM Comments (3)
July 31, 2012
Still trying to find a place to stow everything for that big summer cruise or that voyage south this autumn? You dont have to wind up like this sloop we came across in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, with everything but the kitchen sink hanging from the stern arch. With so much sail area aft, the boat has effectively become a yawl a la Sanford and Son, a precarious rig for a passage to the Aran
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:23AM Comments (3)
July 23, 2012
Its not often that the sail-training program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., incites envy among the midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Historically, the Coast Guard Academys sail training program has centered on the tall-ship Eagle, and its yacht sailing program has gotten the short shrift. For decades, the USCG academy has had a fleet of offshore yachtsfive Luder yawls, built in 1963. These are the same lovely but
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:39PM Comments (7)
July 17, 2012
As our long-term test of sanitation hose winds its way through a long, hotand progressively smelliersummer, it is a good time to think about ways to keep your plumbing system from becoming an olfactory horror. Here are some of the tips that hose manufacturers shared with us as we launched our test of sanitation hose last summer.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:05AM Comments (4)
July 10, 2012
Round 1 in our test of gas additives' corrosion fighting ability is in our wake, and even we were surprised by the results. While the full account of how such products as Biobor Ethanol Buster, ValvTect, Sta-bil Marine Formula, Mercury QuickStor, Sea Foam, and others did in our test will be released later this month in the August issue of Practical Sailor, we have put together the following guidance for using ethanol fuels
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:30PM Comments (2)
July 3, 2012
Do we still want exterior wood on our boats today? Is synthetic a fair substitute? When I stepped aboard the 36-foot Island Packet Estero last week for a test sail, I guess I shouldnt have been surprised to see that the familiar teak caprail was gone. For more than 30 years, the varnished caprail (usually finished in Cetol these days) has been one of Island Packets signature features.
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June 26, 2012
Sweet little Tropical Storm Debby has left a trail of boats on beaches from Punta Gorda to Pensacola, Fla., and a dozen boats from the mooring field at our homeport of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron are among her victims. If you havent given hurricane season a thought yet, you might want to start with our July 2008 report, Lines, Snubbers, and Other Gear for Battening Down Ahead of Storms. Technical Editor Ralph Naranjos first-hand account of his storm preparations Tropical Storm Dos and Donts and How to Help Your Boat Survive A Major Storm should also be required reading.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 01:01PM Comments (2)