Subscribers Only Boat owners looking to put some stick back into a slip-and-slide deck have a few options: apply a deck paint with a nonskid additive or glue sections of specialized nonskid mat to the deck. Choosing which type of nonskid is the right one for your boat makeover is a balancing act between aesthetic taste, traction needs, and budget. Practical Sailor tested 11 commercially available nonskid options that the average boat owner can easily apply: one paint with no filler media, five paints ready mixed with nonskid compounds, three nonskid additives that testers mixed with two-part topside paints, and two nonskid mats (one is self-adhesive, and one is glued on with an epoxy). All of the products can be applied to fiberglass, wood, or metal. Manufacturers included Pettit (Kop- Coat), Epifanes, AkzoNobel (Interlux and Awlgrip), West Marine, Pachena (KiwiGrip), Durabak, Tiflex (Treadmaster), and SeaDek. Using some creative bench tests, we evaluated how much traction, grip, and drag resistance each offered; we also rated how easy the products were to apply, how uniform the grit was, and how easy they were to clean.
Subscribers Only A good DIY nonskid offers effective traction (obviously) and is easy to apply, easy to clean, durable, and gentle enough on knees and elbows that a foredeck monkey wont leave blood stains behind. Testers focused on these criteria during bench testing, and when considering final ratings, we weighed the results according to their importance. For example, a product that had great grip but was hard to clean rated better overall than one that was easy to clean but offered no traction. This was a fairly close race, so we used a plus-minus system in the ratings (see accompanying Value Guide)something we dont often doas every point mattered.
Subscribers Only With numerous types of spotlights flooding the market, Practical Sailor testers narrowed the test field to seven LED spotlights from manufacturers that have done well in our past tests: West Marine, Sirius, Coleman, Brinkmann, and Streamlight. Prices ranged from $50 to $150, and all but one test light had a rechargeable battery. The evaluation focused on several key criteria in choosing the best spotlight: ergonomics, beam pattern, beam luminance, beam effectiveness at a distance, and service time (how long to half strength and how long to recharge).
Testers evaluated a number of spotlight features. Although some points such as ergonomics involved a small degree of subjectivity, features such as brightness carried much heavier weighting in the final ratings. Here is what we looked at: Ergonomics. Some models merely have an onoff switch; others add one or two controls to change power, or activate a strobe feature, or turn on a red beam. There were, however, as many configurations of use and meaning of the switches as there were spotlights. Testers concentrated on how these are used: Is onehand operation possible? Are the controls logically placed? Do they snap into position, providing satisfying feedback? Can the light be turned on by accident, possibly leading to a depleted battery?
Subscribers Only If you are considering buying a satellite phone, much depends on how long you will need it, how you will use it, where you are going and what your cost limitations are. As with cell phones and other communication services, total costs can get complicated with setup charges, access fees, service plans, features packages, and air time bundles. Todays satphones offer cruising sailors the peace of mind to keep in touch with the office, family, and friends with a private conversation while anywhere on the high seas and open ocean. Practical Sailor looked into the availability, features, functions, limitations, and pricing of the handheld portable satellite phones on the market today. We reviewed the Iridium 9555, Iridium 9575, and Inmarsat Isatphone Pro.
Formerly the manager of a full-service boat yard, Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo offers a survey of the tools he cant live without. His toolbag is chocked full, and a peek inside finds saws, trimmers, planers, grinders, belt sanders, multi-tasking power tools, and drivers. His tool inventorycomprising top-of-the-line power tools and tried-and-proven devices, is one that enables him to handle most any boat project. If youre looking to fill in youre the gaps in your tool lineup or to stock your workshop, be sure to check out this special report.
As we ease into 2012the Year of the Dragonweve rounded up some winter reads from dragons in the sailing and writing communities. Offshore voyager and Practical Sailor contributor Ed Mapes, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael DAntonio, and bluewater sailor Charles Doane have recently published new titles, and sailing journalist Herb McCormick has two new books out. Professional meteorologist Alan Watts recently added to his stockpile of weather books, and Laura Hillenbrands latest bestselling non-fiction book, Unbroken, has already been optioned for a movie. Weve also included Yan Martels Life of Pi for this years picks for off-season reads because a movie based on the book is due out later this yearif you havent already, we suggest reading it before the movie launches. And the childrens adventure tale, The Lions Paw by Rob White is a must-have for those with young sailors on their crew. Enjoy!
Subscribers Only For those in colder climes, the only drag bigger than the end of the sailing season is the need to winterize engines, generators, and air-conditioning units in preparation for their long winters nap. Wandering the docks at the 2011 Annapolis Boat Show, we came across the Sea Flush, a new product designed to make the process relatively painless, eliminating the struggle to pull a cooling-system hose end or installing a Y valve in order to flush and winterize raw water cooling systems or the open side of a closed cooling system.
Letters to Practical Sailor, January 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Flare disposal, Chainplate failures, MOB Pole storage and more!
In the wake of repeated product failures, Orion Safety Products has instituted a replacement program for older XLT flares and 12-gauge signal systems that some boaters may still have in their emergency kits. According to the company, some XLT and 12-gauge signals made before October 2008when the designs were revampedhave failed to launch or to ignite.
Letters to Practical Sailor, January 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Shurflo, Ronstan, and Keen Footwear
Although weve tackled our share of varnish with a heat gun and scraper, weve never used them to strip bottom paint. The obvious concerns would be marring the gelcoat and the noxious fumes created by heating paint solvents and active ingredients. Our first choice for removing antifouling would be sodablasting (PS, October 2011), but as thats not an option for you, wed consider chemical stripping (PS, April 2008 and March 2009), wet-sanding, or vacuum sanding.
Highlights from 2011 here at Practical Sailor included the long-awaited debut of the new website, with 13 years of archives now open to subscribers. And then there were the downers: Scrap metal scavengers ran (limped?) off with the 600-pound keel for Jelly, the Catalina 22 that is the focus of our excruciatingly slow-moving boat restoration project. Then, the over-enthusiastic workers hired to clean up our workshop property mistook our elegant wood-coatings test rack for scrap. Straight into the dumpster. So itís back to square one on wood coatings, and dear Jelly is now a boat in search of a keel.
Inside Practical Sailor Blog
by Darrell Nicholson with Jonathan Neeves on November 17, 2014
Surprisingly, one of the best chains in our most recent test was one of the generic Chinese chains. This chain showed good strength, and had a thick galvanized coating that showed a high resistance flaking and abrasion. However, the other generic Chinese chain in our test showed appalling performance, so bad, that we believe it is unconscionable for any marine chandler to sell it. And here is the quandary. Weve identified a promising, economically-priced chain, but it is virtually impossible for the average boater to distinguish it from junk.