July 2009

PS Advisor: Synthetics for Marine Diesels?

Mobil 1 extended performance oils for automobiles are advertised as providing engine protection and performance at extended intervals of up to 15,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first. Its 5W-40 Turbo Diesel Truck oil meets American Petroleum Institute (API) standards for diesel truck lubrication, and except for the price ($5-$8 per quart, or three times the price of conventional multi-grade oil), would seem to be an attractive option for ocean voyagers who might otherwise have to carry out an oil change at sea. However, the official party line at Mobil 1, as we expected, is that you should defer to your manufacturer’s recommendation on oil type, weight, and service ratings appropriate for your engine. Typically, if an engine maker does certify the use of a high-mileage oil, it is in combination with routine sampling of the oil to determine its condition.

Synergy Dock Line Stands Up in Tests

Subscribers Only In July 2008, Practical Sailor looked at products for docking, anchoring, or mooring in a storm. Among those mentioned was the Synergy docking line, an abrasion-resistant polyester braid with a short length of industrial-grade rubber in the core. Synergy also makes a stretchy, floating tow-rope for dinghies. We put Synergy dock lines into use for six months on a fixed dock and during a two-week Mississippi River delivery cruise. They held up as well as similar braided lines and proved to be more convenient to use than its nearest comparison, a dock line with a rubber snubber. One drawback noted was that the woven cover was more prone to snagging than more tightly braided lines.

Winch Makeover

Subscribers Only The Winchmate is one answer for sailors who are considering upgrading to self-tailing winches but find the price tag too intimidating and have otherwise perfectly functional non-self-tailing winches that are too good to toss out. Now there’s another option: Older Barient or Barlow winches can be retrofitted with a carefully machined upper drum assembly that adds a rugged and reliable self-tailing feature. To test the concept, we retrofitted a set of near museum-aged Barlow two-speed 28s with the easy-to-install Winchmate system. Combining the upgrade with normal annual cleaning and maintenance makes the changeover quite simple and straightforward. The process can be "e-assisted" with Winchmate’s step-by-step online installation video. With the drum removed and bearings, gears, and pawls cleaned, greased and reassembled, a spindle extender is threaded to the top of the winch spindle. A Delrin spindle extension bushing is added, and attention is then turned to the drum itself.

Boating Books for Female Sailors

Subscribers Only Sailing how-to and have-done books abound. But only in the last decade or so has the world of sailing literature taken an interest in women-specific resources and travel stories. Grateful to have our very own how-tos and have-dones that extend beyond the galley, the women of Practical Sailor picked up some new reads for summer. From tips on relationships aboard to tales of a White House aide turned cruiser, these books have much to offer the reader, be she the captain or the mate.

Paste Waxes Test Six-month Checkup

Subscribers Only In February 2009, Practical Sailor tested a sampling of 10 paste waxes. After six months, two of these waxes clearly stood out for their continued ability to bead water and repel dirt. Collinite No. 885 Fleetwax and 3M Marine Ultra Performance Paste Wax retained the best gloss and water beading abilities. Mother’s Cleaner and the Nu-Finish Paste performed well. Among the automative products that we included in the test, Turtle Wax F21, and Kit waxes stood out.

Practical Sailor Launches Long-term Liquid Boat Wax Test

Subscribers Only With an ever-growing number of boat wax products on the market, Practical Sailor settles on 25 liquid wax products to test for application, initial gloss, and water beading. Marine wax manufacturers included Star brite, Cajun, Collinite, 3M, Mothers, Interlux, Rejex, Imar, Yacht Brite, West Marine, Turtle Wax, and Island Girl. In many ways the waxes all look, feel and smell the same and their differences may be in what the market application the manufacturers are seeking. Most of the two dozen waxes did a good job in the initial testing, and Practical Sailor will watch these for long-term protection. Waxes with a slightly oily wax finish formula showed better results at water beading in our initial tests, including two products by Star brite, and liquid waxes Island Girl, Zaino Brother’s Z-3, Collinite Nos. 845/925, two carnauba wax products by Meguiars and Turtle Wax F-21.

Diesel Biocides Take On Contaminated Boat Fuel

Subscribers Only Biological contamination of a fuel tank is a true challenge to any boater. Once the tank is infected with bacteria, an absolute cleansing of all contaminating organisms is necessary, or else the surviving organisms will repopulate the tank. Practical Sailor took a look at how fuel contamination occurs and tested six biocide fuel additives to combat a tank infected with microbial bacteria. Biobor JF, Racor, Stanadyne, Star brite, and ValvTect biocides were tested against diesel cultures shown to have a variety of bacterial and fungal species present. Similar to the effectiveness of antibiotics, the effectiveness of the biocides can varying depending on the type of infection they are fighting, testers found.

Boat Holding Tank Sensor Long-term Test Update

Subscribers Only Last year, Practical Sailor installed and tested seven internally mounted liquid-level monitoring kits, including the sensors and their mated remote display panels, in a polyethylene holding tank; the results were reported in the May 2008 issue. The sensors spent the following nine months marinating in the tank, with the occasional sloshing by a tester, before being re-tested to see how well they continued to perform. The test field comprised float sensors, neumatic sensors, and an ultrasonic sender. Float sensors included Sealand TankWatch1, Dometic DTM4, Groco TLM Series, and Wema SHS-8. Air-pressure-fueled sensors included Fireboy-Xintex PTS and Hart Systems Tank Tender. BEP Marine’s (Marinco) TSI sender uses ultrasonic pulses to measure liquid levels.

Feature-loaded High-end Marine Handheld VHF Radios

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor tested eight high-end marine handheld VHFs from three manufacturers: Cobra, Standard Horizon, and Uniden. Among those tested were two updated Standard Horizon VHFs, the HX500S-LI and HX600S-LI, and three of the company’s latest floating VHF radios, the HX750S, HX760S, and HX850S. From Uniden, testers evaluated the MHS450 and MHS550. They also tested the Cobra HH425 LI. These feature-rich handheld marine radios, priced from $130 to $350, were tested for transmitter power, frequency accuracy, frequency stability, receiver sensitivity, audio output, and audio quality. They also were submerged in fresh water, dropped from 4 feet onto concrete and batteries were left on for 15 hours to test battery life.

Practical Sailor Tests Polarized Sunglasses

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor ran field tests and lab tests on dozens of polarized sunglasses ranging from cheap to high-end products, including those popular for watersports eyewear. Field tests included wearing the products for eyeball navigation in shoal waters and assessing glare, color brightness, sharpness, fit, peripheral vision, and any interference with reading LCD screens or charts. Sunglasses that did well in field tests, and a few that did poorly, were sent to Pacific University College of Optometry, where they were tested in the lab for lens warpage, prismatic effect, tint, and resolution. The test field included polarized glasses from Bolle, Costa Del Mar, Gill, Harken, Hobie, Kaenon, Maui Jim, Oakley, and Nike.

Mailport: 07/09

We’re trying our best to provide subscribers with the most value for their money, but for now, we must continue our policy of charging everyone to download articles published more than two months prior. Subscribers get a discounted rate on these archive articles, available at www.practical-sailor.com, and all subscribers have full access to this month’s issue and the previous month’s issue, as well as to other subscriber-only online content. Readers who register online get e-mail notifications, along with issue highlights, when each new issue is posted online. We encourage readers to download and save the articles (features are now available in PDF format) as soon as they become available. We recognize the value of having access to archive tests and are working to expand subscriber access.

The Crime of Owning a Small Boat

Subscribers Only From shore, you can see the bright-green violation notice stuck to the hull of the San Juan 21. Several other boats in the soon-to-be "public" mooring field in Practical Sailor’s home port of Sarasota, Fla., bear similar stickers. The letter that the city mailed to the owner of the San Juan spells out the terms: Move the boat by Aug. 1, or it will be impounded and possibly destroyed. It’s a familiar story. Burdened by a variety of "boat problems"—some real, some imagined—city officials move to further regulate the local harbor. Responsible boaters who’ve historically used the anchorage for free plead their case, but they are no match for the landlubber majority. A common solution is the one Sarasota has chosen: Install a fee-based mooring field and force boaters to use it. Many such mooring fields around the country are fairly priced, often administered by a government agency. In Sarasota’s case, the mooring enterprise is supposed to be run as a not-for-profit enterprise. The contractor, Jack Graham Inc., also has a controversial long-term lease to run the adjacent marina, Marina Jack. The proposed mooring rates are above the norm, making it hard to dismiss the accusation that the fees are inflated to "keep the riff-raff out."

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Pocket Cruisers Unite!

by Darrell Nicholson on December 16, 2014

Anytime you talk about pocket cruisers you have to clarify what you mean, for the term is loosely applied to a wide range of small boats, some with very little in common besides displacement. Size is certainly a factor, but size is relative. I’ve seen 26-feet length overall (LOA) being a commonly cited as the upper limit for the “pocket” appellation, and that seems about right, although a few decades ago a 26-foot sailboat was called something else—a yacht.

Read More

Reader Questionnaire

Which of the following best describes your approach to bottom paint?