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.
Posted by at 09:08AM Comments (11)
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)
June 19, 2012
If you recently bought a SPOT Connect for its distress calling capability, or are looking at similar satellite messaging devices such as the SPOT Messenger, DeLorme InReach, or Briartek Cerberus, you'll want to read our upcoming story about the tragic April 28 accident involving the Hunter 376 Aegean during the Newport to Ensenada Race.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:54PM Comments (20)
June 12, 2012
Each time I put together the lineup for an issue of Practical Sailor, I try to envision a sailing club with our subscribers boats, a sort of maritime menagerie. A few Lasers sit on dollies by the beach. The back lot is packed with older trailer-sailers like the Catalina 22 and San Juan 24. A stroll down the dock passes by wooden beauties like the Friendship sloop, classic pocket-cruisers like the Pearson Triton, and even a few luxury cruisers like the Oyster 61. A pier is dedicated to racing sailors fitting out C&Cs and J/Boats for the summer season. And, of course, several slips and a wide swath of the adjacent mooring field are occupied by 30- to 50-foot cruising boatsranging from 30-year-old Tayana 37s to custom-built Chris White catamaransgearing up for adventures great and small.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:39PM Comments (1)
June 5, 2012
There is something mildly annoying about receiving a semi-automated e-mail from a Practical Sailor tester hard at work in the Bahamas while I'm stuck in the office. Im not sure why I found these recent communiques so irksome. They were seemingly harmless notes from a friend, with the subject line Check-in/Ok message for Franks Spot."
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:36PM Comments (1)
May 29, 2012
Being raised on the shores of Biscayne Bay, I should have known better than to expect crowds of sailing fanatics to converge on Miami when the Volvo Ocean Race sailed into town last month. Still, I held faint hope. Now, as the race fleet closes in on the coast of Lisbon and the flurry of press releases begins anew, I'm reminded of my many disappointments in the Miami stopover.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:55AM Comments (10)
May 22, 2012
Following up on our May 2012 report on boat financing, the June 2012 issue of Practical Sailor examines how to pre-inspect your potential dreamboat before committing to the next step, bringing in a surveyor. Although the article is geared to the prospective buyer, it is just as relevant to the owner of an older boat. If the boat in question has more than 20 years behind her, one item that will likely come up on a survey is keel boltsthe heavy duty fasteners that keep your keel from going on a bottom tour while you reach for handholds on your suddenly tippy craft.
Posted by at 03:11PM Comments (1)
May 15, 2012
The Coast Guards request late last month that sailors stand-down and suspend any offshore racing outside San Francisco Bay in the wake of last months tragedy in the San Francisco Yacht Clubs Farallones Race rankled more than a few Bay area sailors. The response was not surprising. Critics decried the move as draconian, driven by overzealous safety mavens, an example virulent government intrusion, trampling of personal freedoms, etc. etc. etc. It is a
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:51PM Comments (13)
May 8, 2012
I recently read an essay that compared sailing to tennis, two sports that I enjoy, but are as different as they come. The writer implied that both sports are infected with a clubby sense of elitism, and while Im not so blind as to dismiss this as absolute nonsense, the comment irked me to no end. Some sailors might argue that theres a difference between racers and cruisers, but that would only perpetuate unfair stereotypes and misses the point. The distinction is much simpler: The sea is not a tennis court.
Posted by at 01:32PM Comments (6)
May 1, 2012
I had a near picture-perfect test sail last Thursday aboard the new Hunter 33 on the Manatee River, just north of our offices in Sarasota, Fla. All in all, the boat was very well behaved in the 12 to 14 knots of breeze, almost ideal conditions for this family coastal cruiser. Little did I know that days later, the parent company of Hunter, one of the cornerstones of production sailboat building in America, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:41PM Comments (9)
April 24, 2012
According to a press release issued yesterday from Kannad Marine, the FCC has approved for sale in the U.S. Kannads SafeLink R10 SRS, the worlds first personal Automatic Identification System (AIS) device designed to be worn by individuals and activated to assist in man overboard recovery. Worn on a life jacket and activated by simply sliding off the safety tab and lifting an arming cap to deploy the antenna, this unique product sends structured alert messages, GPS position, and a special identity code directly to AIS receivers within (approximately) a four-mile radius.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:06PM Comments (3)
April 17, 2012
It's just a few weeks until summer begins, and our hopes and prayers for a safe 2012 sailing season in North America have already been shattered. Five sailors were washed overboard and died in Saturdays Farallones Race, sponsored by the San Francisco Yacht Club. This was an experienced crew, which included several sailors with close ties to the San Francisco Yacht Clubthe home club to many longtime Practical Sailor readers.
According to news accounts, the Sydney 38 Low Speed Chase was struck by a breaking wave while rounding South Farallon Island, one of a group of islands outside San Francisco Bay that serves as a rounding mark in the 48-mile race.
Posted by at 01:20PM Comments (3)