June 2012

Stuck Like Glue

Practical Sailor compared epoxy resins from four different makers, from left: West System, Epiglass, Mas, and Raka.

Subscribers Only Just about every sailboat owner has at some point mixed up a batch of epoxy to fill a hole, glue parts back together, or tackle an extensive project. Practical Sailor testers evaluated four marine epoxy resins based on their mechanical properties (strength, adhesion, hardness, and flexibility) and key handling attributes such as wet-out, sag, curing, and overall handling. We tested West 105 Epoxy Resin, MAS Flag Resin, Raka UV-inhibited epoxy, and Interlux’s Epiglass HT-9000.

Ralph’s Great Adventures in Laminating

Subscribers Only Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo equates spare time with boat projects. His basement shop/test facility has spawned a wide range of boats, boards, and parts for bigger boats. The two latest are test platforms for long-term evaluation of the resins and materials looked at in this round of epoxy evaluation.

DIY Survey Checklist for Used-boat Buying

The gelcoat on this hull has been machine peeled. Blisters are seldom fatal, but they can severely undermine the value of a boat.

Boat buying is an exciting, maddening exercise that can test the tolerance of even the most patient sailor. Most of the maddening part has to do with trying to ferret out a boat’s problems before buying it—and making the problems your own. Hiring a professional marine surveyor can be expensive when you’re looking at multiple boats, so save yourself some money—and potential heartache—by learning how to examine a used sailboat, from stem to stern and mast to bilge. Practical Sailor’s DIY survey how-to details common problem areas (like engines and rigging), what issues are easy to remedy, and what red flags you should walk away from.

A Copper Alternative?

Subscribers Only Prompted by several reader queries and our own curiosity, Practical Sailor recently launched a test of an electronic alternative to metal-based bottom paints: the M20, an ultrasonic antifouling device from the Canada-based SmartAntifouling. Electronic antifouling uses ultrasound waves to prevent algae and other organisms from attaching to a boat’s hull. A transducer, which is mounted on the hull skin inside the boat, emits a high-frequency vibration that creates a micro-thin layer of rapidly moving water blanketing the hull and making it difficult for barnacles and algae to take up residence there. PS installed an M20 on a Florida-based test boat and will be monitoring its performance this season.

SpeedsealLife Kit Test Update

In the Practical Sailor August 2010 issue’s Chandlery, we reported on the installation of a SpeedsealLife kit aboard one of our test boats, a Union 36 sloop powered by a 43-horsepower Beta Marine inboard. An improvement on the original Speedseal (PS, July 15, 2005), the SpeedsealLife is designed to extend the life of a water pump impeller, even in a run-dry situation.

Liggett’s Shampoo Soap

After reading PS’s November 2011 report on eco-friendly liquid soaps for onboard bathing, personal-care product maker J.R. Liggett sent us one of his Old-Fashioned Bar Shampoos to try out. Liggett has been making the 3.5-ounce shampoo bar from New Hampshire springwater for 30-plus years. (We reported on his Natural Traveler Kit in the December 2008 issue.)

Mid-Priced Fixed VHF Radios

Practical Sailor put nine marine VHFs through a series of bench tests to compare performance and user-friendliness.

Subscribers Only The technology behind a marine VHF radio¡¯s basic capabilities has remained relatively stable for the last few years. The primary recent advancements have been in refinements and added features. Purchasing a mid-priced VHF today can get you not only a top-quality transmitter and receiver with Digital Select Calling, but also features ranging from increased radio controls to hailers, auto-fog signals, compass readings, and waypoint navigation. Practical Sailor tested nine mid-price fixed marine VHFs priced between $150 and $270, including radios from Garmin, Icom, Raymarine, Standard Horizon, and West Marine. Testers compared bench-test performance, features, price, and warranty.

Sailing Shorts Update

Practical Sailor tested and compared the Camet men’s Rio sailing shorts to the field of sailing shorts reported on in the March 2012 issue, including the Best Choice Gill men’s performance padded shorts. Testers looked at style, price, UV protection, construction, abrasion resistance, dry time, comfort, odor, and pads.

Mailport: June 2012

Special delivery: A Coast Guard C-130 drops a pump part for the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. The ship was en route to New Orleans for the first of many events commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." More than a dozen tall ships and dozens of war ships will call on U.S. ports this month as part of the celebrations. Stops include New York City; Norfolk, Va.; Baltimore/Annapolis, Md.; and Boston, Mass. Similar events will take place in the Great Lakes ports of Milwaukee, Wis.; Chicago; Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Buffalo, N.Y. For more information on the celebrations, visit www.opsail.org.

Letters to Practical Sailor, June 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Safety Lessons, USCG Registration Fees, Waterproofing Fabric, and more!

US Sailing Investigating California Sailing Deaths

Nine deaths in two separate offshore sailing races originating in California have prompted investigations by US Sailing. The race tragedies follow last summer’s fatal accident in the 2011 Chicago-Mackinac Race, in which two sailors died, and the near-fatal accident in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet race, which Practical Sailor reported on in the May 2012 issue.

Product Updates

Practical Sailor June 2012 Product Updates

Where Credit is Due: June 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, June 2012. This month's letters cover topics such as: Accurate Metalworks Marine and Seldèn

Bilge Oil and Keel Worries

I have been looking at purchasing a Catalina 36 that had an engine oil leak, but first I wanted your opinion. The leaked oil accumulated in the bilge, and, in time, appears to have percolated through the base of the hull on either side of the keel, through the holes in which were mounted the sum/log impeller and the depth transducer. On the underside of the hull, there is a 4-inch dark halo that has impregnated the antifouling around each of these two fittings. I am concerned that the oil will damage the components and bedding seals. Also, the percolating oil has seeped down the keel bolts and darkened the joint where the ballast-keel meets the keel stub.

The Man Who Glued Too Much

When PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo told me he was interested in doing a report on epoxy, I was thrilled. Ralph ran a boatyard for 10 years on Long Island Sound and is mad about glues and fibers and anything that has to do with building boats. I had one small concern: The project could “spiral.”

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)