March 2012

Holding Tanks: Getting the Stink Out

Testers measured gas levels inside the test “holding tanks.” This test tank has the Big Orange vent filter installed in the line.

Subscribers Only The quality of onboard living suffers when each flush of the head becomes public knowledge within minutes, and a boat that smells bad won’t be a part of your family for long. Practical Sailor tested three vent filters for holding tanks, from makers Big Orange, Vetus, and Dometic, and tested one homemade vent filter. When sanitary wastes are allowed to biodegrade in a closed tank, particularly with poor mixing and inadequate oxygen, anaerobic bacteria dominate. These bacteria particles can make a boat unpleasant or unlivable unless they are eliminated or contained. Carbon filters are one solution to the odor problem; they are simple, dependable and absorb a wide variety of odors.

Test Setup Simulates Onboard Sewage System

Subscribers Only To create a real-world test, we assembled a series of miniature holding tanks containing sanitary waste generously supplied by a 20-pound, 5-foot pet iguana named Ziggy. This was supplemented with other sanitary waste as needed. Seawater flush was used because saltwater is known to contribute to odor.

Avoid Plugging with Proper Vent Installation

The effectiveness of activated carbon comes both from surface activity (a result of activation by partial combustion of coal or woody products) and the vast pore structure formed during this partial combustion. Anything that clogs the pores will dramatically reduce carbon life, potentially ruining it within minutes.

On a Side Note: Holding Tanks

Subscribers Only Although none of the test tanks or the test boat’s holding tank accumulated solids sufficient to restrict pump-out, we observed significant differences. While vent filters did not increase tank solids beyond what is normal in a poorly ventilated and un-treated tank, some of the subject tanks did better than others.

Bottom Paint Test Checkup

Most manufacturers recommend applying at least three coats of bottom paint along the waterline and other high friction areas. Any scrubbing should use the least aggressive means necessary to remove slime or algae.

Subscribers Only When we last reported on bottom paint, several manufacturers were introducing new copper-free paints in response to increased pressure from environmental groups and regulatory agencies. Another key trend is a move toward water-based paints with a low VOC. At this point in our tests, results are mixed with many of our newest paints. A full Value Guide detailing the performance of almost 30 new paints at four months; over 50 hard and ablative paints at 14 months; and close to 20 hard and ablative paints at 30 months is included in this month’s report. Paints from Blue Water, Epaints, Pettit, Interlux, and Sea Hawk continue to do well. Find out which ones are top rated for racing sailboats, aluminum hulls, cruising boats, and environmental friendliness.

Safety Lessons Learned Part 1

Youth sailors in Sarasota, Fla. practice their skills in Club 420s and the Optimist class (seen sailing in the background) on Sarasota Bay. A fatal accident last summer in a Chesapeake Bay youth sailing program prompted a study by US Sailing.

This is the first in a two-part series that examines extensive reports on three sailing accidents. Each capsule summary of the reports is followed by a brief analysis of the US Sailing reports, and our recommendations for sailors. Fourteen-year-old Olivia Constants died last summer when her harness was accidentally hooked in the trapeze and she could not surface after the boat turned turtle. US Sailing made recommendations regarding capsize and recovery training; life jackets; trapeze gear and training; entrapment; electronic communication; language; and crisis, incident, and disaster plans.

US Sailing Recommendations

The US Sailing report makes seven specific recommendations, several calling for important research into ways to prevent future accidents such as the one that took the life of Olivia Constants.

What’s Cooking Now?

The NuWave Pro cooked the test recipes, including this chicken, to perfection

The galley may be the last place you’d expect to see new technologies, but our tour last year aboard the custom Fastwater 52 cat Ice Wars (Inside Practical Sailor, June 2011) introduced us to a new way of onboard cooking. Rather than a standard oven, Ice Wars was outfitted with only an infrared oven that was small enough to stow in a galley cupboard. Intrigued—and a little skeptical—we decided to have a go at using one of these new-age cookers to see whether it was a functional and practical galley tool.

PS Reviews Cheap and Free iPad Nav Apps

Full-featured nav apps enable the iPad to function similar to a chartplotter, but neither are replacements for good navigating skills.

This article is the second part of three-part series on marine-related iPad applications. Our first part covered the high-end nav apps, while this one looks at relatively inexpensive or free apps. Over the course of three years in the Great Lakes and Florida, sailors put to the test a dozen applications that convert iPads into portable—although less robust—chartplotters. Testers used each one to carry out a series of navigation tasks, evaluating performance and available features. The third part of the series, which will be in next month’s issue, will look at weather, tide, and other sailing-relative apps.

PS Tests Padded Sailing Shorts

Subscribers Only No matter whether aboard a racing dinghy or an ocean-romping supermaxi, repeatedly scooching across a nonskid deck or sitting for long periods on the rail will take its toll on your backside and thighs. Padded, quick-dry sailing shorts can significantly reduce the discomfort. Practical Sailor tested eight pairs of sailing shorts from top sailing-apparel makers, including Camet, Gill, Harken, Helly Hansen, Henri Lloyd, Sailing Angles, and Zhik. We looked at fit, price, construction, abrasion resistance, drying time, features, comfort, and padding.

Mailport: March 2012

Reader Bob Edgley freshened up the deck of his Alberg 35 with Durabak nonskid coating. He gave it thumbs up for performance but said it’s hard to keep clean.

Letters to Practical Sailor, March 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Durabak Feedback, Inflatable Bottom Paint, US Sailing Reports, and More!

Where Credit is Due: March 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, March 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Smart Plug and Forespar.

Help Us Design a Better PFD/harness

Do try this at home: Don your favorite inflatable-PFD/ harness and inflate it. Donít waste a gas cartridge; use the oral inflation tube. Wade into the water. A pool is fineómake sure it is still shallow enough to stand. Now, imagine you are underneath an overturned hull and are trying to escape. Try to swim beneath the surface as you might do to get out from under the turtled boat. You donít have to dive deep, the imaginary overturned boat could be as small as a dinghy.

A Look at Anchor Rodes

We generally recommend high-grade, three-strand nylon for anchor rodes because of its cost effectiveness and elasticity—essential under surging loads. Certainly there are more chafe-resistant lines, but using chafe gear is a more sensible way to prevent rode chafe

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

The Mystery Chain from China

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. We’ve identified a promising, economically-priced chain, but it is virtually impossible for the average boater to distinguish it from junk.

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Reader Questionnaire

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