Subscribers Only Of the dozens and dozens of sailing products Practical Sailor tested between September 2011 and August 2012, only 18 earned the designation as 2012 Editors Choice gear. These are marine products that clearly stood out among their peers during our independent tests as the best in their categorymarine maintenance, marine electronics, sailing apparel, personal gear, etc.and whose performance earned the confidence of Practical Sailors editors. A hybrid touchscreen multi-function display that can link with your iPhone; an iPad app that can serve as a backup for your chartplotter; a powerful, rechargeable LED spotlight that floats; an affordable vent filter that eats up holding tank odor; and a single-part varnish that retains a mirror-like gloss for more than a yearthese are just some of the picks for the years best sailing gear.
Subscribers Only Florida-based Island Packet targets a relatively narrow niche, so the toughest competitors to its new boats are often older Island Packets. Introduced in 2010, the 36-foot, shoal-draft Estero is the companys latest attempt to introduce a distinctive model that doesnt stray too far from the companys proven formula for success: moderate displacement, full-keel cruisers designed to be lived on, sailed far and in comfort, and endure the bumps, scrapes, and storms that cruising boats inevitably encounter. After sailing the Estero on Floridas Sarasota Bay and inspecting its interior, construction, and systems, Practical Sailor testers noted that the shoal-water cruiser will appeal strongest to Island Packet fans whove been waiting for a shoal-draft, easy-to-sail boat that compares to the IP37 in terms of interior space. These strengths will be most apparent on intracoastal or riverine adventures like the Great Loop.
Subscribers Only Island Packet Yachts has been building cruising boats for over 32 years. It builds five different hull designsabout 80 boats per yearto American Boat and Yacht Council and European Category A (offshore) standards.
Subscribers Only Specializing in lighting for nautical and other outdoor activities, Norway-based Navisafes products include the U.S. Coast Guard-certified Navi light 360, Practical Sailors Recommended small-boat rail light (PS, May 2011), and now, the Navi light Mini.
Subscribers Only Ever wish you had X-ray vision and could see under the waterwithout going for a swimto check the anchor or prop, or to inspect your hull? Well, Aquabotix Technology Corp. developed a product with the goal of giving you that powerat least a limited version of it.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor contributor Jonathan Neevesa bluewater cruiser living aboard his Lightwave 38 catamaran in Australiahas used thermal cookers for 30 years and says that he would never sail without one. In this article, Neeves reviews the Thermos-brand thermal cookers that he uses on board for cooking stews, casseroles, soups, desserts, and other dishes. The thermal cooker is a large, stainless vacuum flask containing one or two fitted saucepans. The insulation traps the heat in the food and uses it as the heat source for cooking the dishes. Using thermal cooker saves cooking-fuel (or power) and allows sailors to safely cook a meal while underwaywithout constant stovetending or worry over spilled potseven in foul weather, when slaving over a galley stove can prove challenging and dangerous.
Sailboat lifelines have jumped back into the spotlight thanks to a growing acceptance of—and some controversy over—high-modulus rope like Dyneema and Spectra being used as an alternative to stainless steel. These high molecular weight polyethylene (HMPE) ropes are as strong as stainless-steel wire of equal diameter, yet they weigh far less. To determine whether the synthetic lifelines are practical for cruising applications, Practical Sailor launched a longterm, in-depth set of seatrials (linked with lab testing at the U.S. Naval Academy) aboard an Ericson 41. The evaluation compares several options and their installation, durability, and cost.
Subscribers Only During the time PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo worked as the Vanderstar Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy, he organized a research project that was carried out by first-class midshipmen (seniors) in the Mechanical Engineering Department. The goal was to design a steel box beam jig replicating the perimeter of a Navy 44.
Subscribers Only Remote microphones for fixed VHF radios are great tools for both coastal and bluewater sailors, but they can be essential for shorthanded crews. Practical Sailor rounded up and tested six units, each designed to work with two or more compatible, fixed-mount marine VHF radios. The test field included the latest wired and wireless remote mics from Icom, Standard Horizon, Raymarine, and Garmin. To select the best VHF remote mic, testers considered performance, audio systems quality, user-friendliness, features, durability, and ruggedness.
Subscribers Only In this Ocean Tested report, PS contributor Drew Frye, an avid sailor and rock climber, makes the case for using recreational climbing gear in marine applications. Hes had over 20 years of experience with the climbing productsaluminum carabiners, bolt hangers, climbing slings, etc.in all sorts of marine applications and has found that the crossover gear can save money while doing double duty. His report offers an overview of the gear and its potential uses onboard, as well as tips on where to find it.
Letters to Practical Sailor, September 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Bottom Paint Woes, Measuring Epoxy Success, Fleet Tracking Apps, and more!
Subscribers Only If you purchased a Standard Horizon GX1700 VHF with GPS (PS Best Choice, June 2012) before mid-July 2012, it likely is in need of a firmware update. A bug in the original programming made it nearly impossible to save a waypoint using the Mark Position function.
Letters to Practical Sailor, September 2012. This month's letters cover topics such as: Marina in westBrook, Polyform, Questus Marine, and more!
The AC pump passed inspection, but it never turned on again. Then there was the leaking diesel fuel. The previous owner had added see-through, 30-micron filters where the fuel exited the tank because the metal ones at the engine are hard to reach and inspect. I have since learned that this type of filter is sure to leak, as diesel will soften the plastic housing. I am told that the Coast Guard will hammer you if they find them installed.
With the Intracoastal Waterway shoaling getting worse each year, its no wonder that we’re seeing a flurry of shallow-water cruisers. Recent debuts include Rod Johnstone’s J/95 (PS, August 2010) and Rodger Martin’s Presto (PS June 2011), both centerboarders. This month, we look at another shoal-draft cruiser, the Island Packet Estero, a 36-footer with a full 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.