February 2010

PS Advisor: Do Alcohol and Antifouling Mix?

Today I went to paint the bottom of my boat with Interlux’s VC-17m, which I have used since it first came on the market. I had always cut/thinned the paint a bit with acetone. Today, the West Marine store manager (who is an experienced boater) told me that Interlux changed the VC-17m formula and that you should thin it with simple rubbing alcohol. When I used the paint with the alcohol, I noticed that it did not dry as quickly as it had with acetone and seemed thicker than usual after mixing the copper powder. Is it correct that you can now use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to "thin" VC-17m antifouling?

Portable Sailing Tools for Tracking and Tuning Boat Speed

Mounted on the mast of a 1974 O’Day Javelin, the Velocitek SpeedPuck (above) shows a maximum speed over ground of 45.7 knots (reached on the highway while trailering).

Practical Sailor recently spent a week experimenting with three handheld products geared toward performance sailors. These portable tools are for tracking and improving sailboat speed. Unlike conventional portable GPS units, which have relatively small displays and deliver a wide range of navigational data, these products display large digits that can be read from a distance, and the view options are limited to those that relate exclusively to speed and racing performance. Practical Sailor tested the Speedwatch and two GPS units, Velocitek SC-1 and SpeedPuck. These instruments make good training tools for young sailors and will give all around-the-buoy sailors the ability to quickly quantify performances.

The Search is on for the Best Degreaser for Marine Grit and Grime

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor searched for the top liquid degreasers to tackle heavy grease on marine stoves and marine engines. Eleven products were tested, including Chomp oil eater, Holy Cow degreaser, Kafko degreaser, Krud Kutter degreaser, Mary Kate Grease Away, Star brite All Purpose Citrus Cleaner Degreaser, and Star brite Sea Safe Cleaner Degreaser. Practical Sailor tested the liquid marine cleaners on grimy fiberglass panels and on aged, greasy farm equipment engines.

Camet Wahine Shorts for Her

Subscribers Only After a frustrating and fruitless day of shopping locally for gear appropriate for a 30-something woman to wear on the race course, Practical Sailor editors set out on a mission to find a pair of padded sailing shorts that: fit properly (unlike most women’s board shorts, which seem styled for a 13-year-old); did not look like they’d been borrowed from a man’s locker; and were fast-drying, comfortable, and functional (even when hopping around a racer-cruiser or hiking on a dinghy). We found few options, and most of those were made by Camet International, a California-based sailing apparel manufacturer.

Columbia Mocs for Him . . .

Subscribers Only As we noted in our last look at men’s athletic-style boating shoes (June 2007), the marine footwear market is changing quickly. This hasn’t necessarily been good for the consumer, as a lot of poorly executed "copycat" shoes are turning up at boat shows. Last year was the first time Practical Sailor had the opportunity to take a hard look at any boat shoe from Columbia Sportswear, an Oregon-based apparel company that over the last 10 years has expanded into the boating market. Testers put a pair of the company’s PFG Sea Ray Boating Shoes through our battery of shoe tests (nonskid grip, water absorption, odor resistance, etc.) and then wore them around for six months. The ability to multi-task is one of the appeals of the moccasin style of boat shoe.

Bio-Solv Green Acetone

Subscribers Only A bottom-paint job is unpleasant from start to finish, and wiping down the hull with acetone plays a role in that unpleasantness. So when a Cinnaminson, N.J., company sent us an acetone alternative called Bio-Solv, we were more than keen to test it. Bio-Solv is a non-toxic, non-flammable cleaner that works better and is safer than acetone, lacquer thinner, or Xylene, according to Anthony Severino of MAS Epoxies, which began selling Bio-Solv last year. The company buys it from a proprietary manufacturer.

Which is the Best Marine Inverter-charger for Your Boat?

Subscribers Only To decide which marine inverter-charger best meets your onboard power demands, first consider how it will used, how and where it will be mounted and what is required to fit with your electrical system. After testing multiple marine inverter-chargers, Practical Sailor offers this report on the units’ inverter capabilities and a follow-up review will report on the units’ charger functions. There are two classes of marine DC inverters: true sine wave (TSW) and modified sine wave (MSW). Each uses a different method to produce AC voltage. Practical Sailor evaluated modified sine wave units from Charles Industries, Magnum Energy, ProMariner, and Tripp Lite, and true sine wave units from Magnum, Mastervolt, ProMariner, and Xantrex.

Practical Sailor Tracks Down the Best LED Tri-color Light

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor found that the full brightness that LEDs offer, coupled with a huge energy savings, a wide tolerance to voltage changes, and a very long expected lifespan, make LED a great alternative to incandescent lights for masthead tri-color. The tradeoff is the considerable heft of the price tag. Practical Sailor tested LED tri-color lanterns from Orca Green Marine (OGM), Signal Mate, and Lopolight. We also evaluated LED tricolor bulbs designed to replace those in the popular Aqua Signal Series 40 tri-color light. Those were bulbs from Lunasea, Dr. LED, and LED Shop.

Union 36 Boat Review

While not the best boat for light-air sailing, the Union 36 is a good sailboat for the bluewater cruiser. It won’t get you there fast, but it will get you there comfortably and in one piece. The boat’s teak decks and lavish use of interior wood is attractive but requires much upkeep and maintenance. A product of the Taiwan-U.S. boatbuilding industry, the Union 36 is a heavy-displacement, full-keel, cutter-rigged double-ender designed for ocean sailing. The Union 36 is nearly identical to several other boats built during the same period: the Hans Christian 36, Mariner Polaris 36, and the EO36. According to well-known naval architect Bob Perry, the Union 36 and its cousins are all based on the design of a 34-footer that Perry was commissioned to create back in the early 70s.

Mailport: February 2010

Ivan Leith, owner of this Islander Freeport 36, was among subscribers requesting more used-boat reviews. Got a product-test idea? Shoot us an email.

The February 2010 issue of Practical Sailor has letters on the following topics: requests for more used boat reviews, foggy electronics, hard varnishes, propane fridges and Iphone apps.

Legacy of Colin Archer is Still Alive and Kicking

Subscribers Only If you think your boat is a bear to maintain, you might take some consolation in this month’s used-boat review of the Union 36. It is a fiberglass boat, but considering the amount of teak on deck and belowdecks, it might as well be made of wood. Not that there is anything very wrong with that. The 32-footer my wife Theresa and I cruised on for 11 years was very similar—a big, heavy double-ender—and ours was made of wood. While our 1937 William Atkin Thistle design differed significantly from the Union 36 and the modern double-enders that Bob Perry would later unveil (the Tayana 37 and Valiant 40, among the better known), these boats can be broadly traced to a common ancestor: the North Sea rescue boats designed by the renowned Norwegian naval architect Colin Archer.

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Mechanical Rigging Terminals: To Seal or Not

by Darrell Nicholson on May 19, 2015

Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s recent market survey of mechanical rigging terminals in the June 2015 issue of Practical Sailor demonstrated just how long these terminals can last if they are installed correctly. That report came close on the heels of rigger Brion Toss photo essay on what can go wrong if they are not assembled correctly, or assembled without any sealant. Yet manufacturer's are still not entirely clear where they stand on the use of sealants in these fittings.

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Reader Questionnaire

Which of the following best describes your approach to bottom paint?
I choose my own paint, but I let a professional apply (521 votes)


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I apply paint that a local professional or boatyard recommends. (254 votes)