July 2012

Feature Loaded High-end VHFs

Testers put seven top-of-the-line VHFs through bench testing to determine which ones offer the most value for sailors.

Subscribers Only As a follow-up to our June 2012 report on mid-priced VHF radios, Practical Sailor tested seven fixed DSC-capable VHFs priced above $300. Because most high-end VHF marine radios offer excellent performance, testers looked especially close at extra features, price, and warranties. We evaluated one radio from Standard Horizon, the Matrix AIS+ GX2150; three from Icom, the IC-M424, IC-M504A, and the IC-M604A; two from Garmin, the VHF 200 and VHF 300; and one from Raymarine, the Ray 218. In addition to the bonus features like AIS, position tracking, and hailer/foghorn capability, testers looked at NMEA network compatibility, screen display, audio output and quality, transmit power and power stability, power draw, and frequency stability.

A Rundown on Common VHF Features and Functions

Subscribers Only A Rundown on Common VHF Features and Functions

New Boat Review: Hunter 33

An optional asymmetrical spinnaker helps move the Hunter 33’s apparent wind forward, allowing tighter sheeting angles to keep the mainsail off the backswept spreaders. Although patches protect the sail, spreader chafe is a downside of the B&R rig.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor recently test sailed Hunter Marine’s new Hunter 33, a redesign of the company’s popular compact cruiser. The most noticeable difference between the new Hunter 33 and its predecessor is the new deck plan, which includes a hinged transom cutout that folds down into a swim platform, offering more cockpit space and an expanded main cabin. The hull and steering setup also have seen some revamping, and testers found the boat to be fun to sail, even with in-mast furling and a batten-less main in the test boat. For a new, entry-level cruiser priced at $160,000, the Hunter 33 has a lot going for it.

Hunter Factory Blends Old and New Technology

The Hunter 33 features the 15-degree swept-back spreaders that are the hallmark of the backstayless Bergstrom and Ridder (B&R ) rig that Hunter favors.

Subscribers Only The Hunter 33 is built in Alachua, Fla., using high-quality resins and laminates and conventional open molding hand-laminating processes.

Raymarine e7 vs. Garmin 740s plotter-sounders

PS tester Bill Bishop checks the units’ interfaces before on-the-water testing.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor evaluated the Garmin 740s chartplotter-sounder and other similar sized plotter-sounders in the November 2011 issue. For this follow-up report, we took a close look at the new Raymarine e7D. The Garmin 740s and the Ray e7D are similar in size, and both have a baseline plotter with sounder functionality, but the e7D has many new capabilities that include WiFi and Bluetooth interfaces witth mobile computing devices such as iPads and iPhones. The e7D is also capable of being fully networked with the other members of the new Raymarine chartplotter family and the C- and E-series widescreen units, while the Garmin 740s was designed as a standalone, multi-function display system.

Raymarine’s WiFi Advantage

The Bluetooth-enabled RCU-3 lets users control the e7 display remotely.

Subscribers Only Raymarine has re-defined onboard interface with WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities in its new MFDs. Using an iPad or iPhone (Version 4 or newer), a Kindle Fire Tablet, or any Android Smartphone or Tablet, users can stream the e7D display to these devices using the RayView free app downloadable from iTunes, Amazon, or the Google Play Android store. This allows you to use these devices as a second display.

Nonskid Test Update

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor recently tested a nonskid mat from Soft Deck Inc. as a followup to our January 2012 report on do-it-yourself options for replacing worn nonskid. Soft Deck Inc., owned by brothers and lifelong sailors Ross and George Champion, is a family-run business with manufacturing based in Southern California. The January report reviewed six nonskid paints, three nonskid additives, and two nonskid mats. For this evaluation, we used the same test protocol to compare the Soft Deck to our Best Choice mat, Tiflex’s Treadmaster (www.tiflex.co.uk.com).

Anti-Seasick Bands

A dial on the inside of the PsiBands adjusts the level of pressure applied.

Subscribers Only Always on the lookout for drug-free anti-seasickness options, Practical Sailor recently tested a new one designed to ease seasickness by activating acupressure points on the wrists. PsiBands are similar to other acupressure bands, including Davis Instruments’ Queaz-Away ($10, www.davisnet.com), which PS reviewed in the December 2009 issue. Acupressure bands are designed to stimulate specific nerves located at the inner wrists. Applying pressure at these points can provide relief from nausea.

Extreme Ocean Gear Testing

Matt Rutherford’s battered 36-year-old Albin Vega, St. Brendan, drew curious visitors after his arrival in Annapolis, Md.

Matt Rutherford recently completed a record-breaking, non-stop solo circumnavigation of the Americas, covering 27,000 in 309 days, aboard his 36-year-old, 27-foot Albin Vega to raise funds for the Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) nonprofit group. Rutherford’s success was founded in his ability to make a boat with modest design and modest structural attributes behave well in a wide range of conditions. The journey was a true test of the boat’s seaworthiness, the skipper’s seamanship, and his gear’s durability in harsh conditions. Practical Sailor takes a look at the Albin Vega, the gear Rutherford found to be essential—like his Monitor windvane, Origo stove, and Harken furler— and the products that let him down along the way—like multiple GPSs and a Kindle e-reader.

Small Boats Open Big Vistas

Matt Rutherford relaxes at home aboard St. Brendan.

In 2003, Matt Rutherford made a sight unseen commitment to cruising from his home in Ohio. Over the phone, he bought a Coronado 25 located in Trappe, Md. The boat needed a lot of TLC. He fixed what he could and learned to do without what he couldn’t afford.

Summer Reads for Sailors

Practical Sailor’s summer reading list for sailors reviews 10 marine-related books, including: “The Admirals,” a must-read for nautical history buffs interested in the U.S.’s only five-star fleet admirals, who won the war at sea and changed the U.S. Navy forever; “Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean,” a fascinating read about the earliest sailors and the risks they took; “Why Read Moby Dick?,” Nathaniel Philbrick’s argument for embracing Herman Melville’s daunting classic; “A Sail of Two Idiots,” Renee Petrillo’s quick read about her quest to live the cruising dream; “Pirate’s Passage, a great summer novel for teen and young adult readers; and “The Other Side of the Ice,” filmmaker Sprague Theobald’s journal of his family’s harrowing adventure through the waters of the Northwest Passage. Many of the books are available in audio and e-reader formats.

Mailport: July 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, July 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Dinghy Launcher, iPad Glare, Racor, and more!

Where Credit is Due: July 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, July 2012. This month's letters cover topics such as: BEP Marine, Sparcraft /Tylaska, and more!

Companionway Hatch Fix

I did some research on gluing plastics and came away more confused than when I started. My research revealed that some plastics cannot be glued, while others can be, as long as the right glue is utilized. I don’t even know what the smoke-colored, half-inch-thick hatch cover material is: acrylic, poly-carbonate, Lexan? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Around the Americas in a Vega

Rutherford, who took 309 days to sail the 27,000-mile route in a 36-year-old, 27-foot Albin Vega, braved icebergs in the Northwest Passage, freezing winds in the Bering Straits, and relentless gales near Cape Horn. His was a tale of great adventure, the kind that sailors love to hear and tell.

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Rope Washing Advice From the Pros

by Darrell Nicholson on April 15, 2014

The rope should be tightly coiled or tied in a daisy-chain, and then placed inside a pillowcase. Front-loading washing machines are recommended; an up-and-down motion is preferable to the rotary motion of most common household machines. Without coiling or daisy-chaining, a rope can turn into an impressive tangle. The pillowcase further restricts the motion of the rope and prevents the rope from wrapping around the central agitator, which can destroy ropes and break washing machines.

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