Editorial October 1, 2005 Issue

Over the Transom

Practical Sailor maintains offices in Middletown, RI, and in Charleston, SC, and both locations regularly receive a goodly number of unsolicited packages. These parcels invariably contain gadgets, most of which readers aren't likely to have encountered before. Certainly the bulk of them arrive as mysteries to us.

From one vantage point, the many devices that come across our desks underscore the notion that most people will do almost anything for a buck—or a little exposure. But from another, more forgiving perspective, this activity reinforces the fact that the demands of managing sailing vessels, and those of marine environments, foster a unique blend of innovation and moxie among practitioners of this pastime all over the globe.

Just a few weeks ago we received a missive from a sailor in the Fiji Islands, promoting a new LED lamp that he has developed for on board use. Along with his letter, he included three samples of his marvelously simple product—just a mass of LED units nicely embedded in resin, all encapsulated in a PVC pipe cap with the wires protruding.

A few days after that we unwrapped a small package from Sweden and encountered a "twixit," which declares itself to be "the Clever Hook." This gadget automatically pinches whatever you hang on the aluminum arm that protrudes from between two plastic sides, thereby keeping that item captive until you lift the weight off the arm. Possibly something you'd want in your galley or wet locker.

Just last week we got word that a new crew-overboard marking device was en route to our offices. This number comes from Matt Carmel in Maplewood, N.J., who perceived the need for an inshore or near-shore COB device. He wrote that his "MOB Target" can be "thrown like a lawn dart" and seen at night due to its LED flasher.

We welcome all such sailing paraphernalia. You never know when something worthwhile will pop up. So keep the gadgets coming. In the meantime, we'd like to hear from readers about your sail inventory preferences, so please answer the survey questions below. You can e-mail us your answers at practicalsailor@belvoirpubs.com.

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Reader Survey—Sails

1. How often do you purchase new sails?

A — every year
B — every 2-3 years
C — every 5 years
D — less often

2. What is the most important element to you in the purchase?

A — price
B — quality
C — service
D — product longevity,BR3. What size sailboat do you own?

A — <20'
B — 20'-28'
C — 29'-35'
D — 36'-42'
E — 43'-48'
F — >49'

4. How old is your current sail inventory, on average?

A — 1-2 years
B — 3-5 years
C — 6-8 years
D — 9+ years

5. How would you describe the majority of your sailing activities?

A — daysailing
B — short-term cruising
C — long-term cruising
D — racing

6. How many hours per year would you estimate you put on your working sails?

A — <50
B — 50-99
C — 100-250
D — 251-399
E — 400-600
F — >601

7. Which sailmaker do you favor?

8. And why did you choose that sailmaker?

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