Gear Graveyard February 2009 Issue

Brokedown Palace

Rough living claims some of our favorite gear.

Always curious about the physical limits of sailing gear, Practical Sailor asks readers to send us their broken stuff to be studied. Interestingly, several products we received this year were made by some of our favorite manufacturers, companies with good reputations whose products Practical Sailor has recommended in the past. Digging through the "Gear Graveyard," this year reminded us why engineering a product for marine use continues to be a challenge—between the environment and the users, the odds are stacked against survival. Our electronics testing program is demanding, and the West Marine Garmin GPS 76CS Plus we recommended after our 2006 test (November 2006) had already been dunked, dropped, and sprayed multiple times before it went into service. After two more years of hard use, it failed to turn on. Corrosion at the battery compartment appears to be the cause. Although some marine electronics are rated to "water resistant" or "waterproof" standards, the standards don’t cover salt water. In some respects, the designation is a bet that the user will take care of his gear.

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