October 2012

Practical Sailor Tests Reveal Best Bottom Paints

Choosing the wrong bottom paint or going too long between haulouts can result in days of added prep work.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor is simultaneously field-testing three sets of ablative and hard bottom paints in the high-fouling waters of Sarasota, Fla. One test panel has been in the water 36 months, another for 20, and a batch of new and eco-friendly paints has spent nine months submerged. This article covers the results of all three tests and highlights the best bottom paints in each test field, including Practical Sailor’s picks for aluminum-friendly paints, water-based paints, eco-friendly paints, racing paints, and budget-priced antifouling paints. The test field included dozens of bottom paints from Blue Water Paints, Interlux, Epaint, Pettit, Sea Hawk, Flexdel, and Boero.

First Look at New Eco Paints and ‘Hard’ Ablatives

Subscribers Only In late 2011, Practical Sailor launched a test that focused exclusively on new antifouling paints that had been introduced in the previous year or that we had never tested before. Along with regular test participants Blue Water, Epaint, Flexdel, Pettit, and Sea Hawk, several newcomers signed on, including Specialty Marine Solutions, a Massachusetts company that has developed paints using Sea-Nine 211, a marine antifouling agent from Dow Chemical; Boero, an Italian company with a long history in Europe; and Luritek, a company based in West Chester, Penn.

Staying Dry on the Water

The Ocean Rodeo Soul drysuit earned high marks for its extreme flexibility. Its TIZIP system (above, inset) made donning and doffing easy and fast.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor testers put the Soul through its paces last spring during a cool-weather sail, a SUP paddle, and a windsurfing excursion on the chilly Chesapeake Bay. They compared its performance, construction quality, and features to our reigning favorite drysuit, the Gill Breathable Pro, which was rated the highest for its warmth, comfort, and versatility in our March 2009 test of wetsuits and drysuits. Unlike a wetsuit, drysuits keep all water out, and unlike survival suits, drysuits allow more freedom of movement.

The Mobile Sailor

Subscribers Only Fall is here, and for many sailors, that means it’s time to migrate south, where warm tradewinds blow and palm fronds never change color. We’ve rounded up a few products worth considering for the sailor on the move.

Round 2: Chafe Gear for Mooring and Dock Lines

While Practical Sailor’s bench testing focused strictly on the abrasion resistance of various anti-chafe products, the field testing looked at ease of use and how well each product performed under typical surging conditions at a dock.

Subscribers Only With hurricane season in full swing and volatile fall weather approaching, storms can threaten the safety of sailboats by placing extra loads on dock and mooring lines. In the July 2011 issue, Practical Sailor evaluated rope chafe protection and found Fjord’s Chafe-Pro chafe guard trumped products from Taylor Made, Fiorentino, and Davis Instruments. This followup report—the result of aggressive bench testing and long-term field testing—compares the top pick Chafe-Pro to new mooring and dock line protection from Fjord and Robship, as well as do-it-yourself options like fire hose, leather, and a homemade Kevlar/Acrylic sandwich.

The Galley: Where Form Meets Function

Cooking a great meal in a cavernous kitchen outfitted with every imaginable culinary device can be difficult enough, but doing it in the confined space of a sailboat presents greater challenges, some the result of ill-conceived galley layouts. But what makes up a dream galley for cooking underway? To find out, Practical Sailor interviewed full-time chefs working aboard sailboats, as well as cruising sailors who have experienced first-hand the challenges of putting together a meal in a pounding sea. The report looks at the ideal location and for the galley, counterspace and ventilation needs, sink and stove must-haves, storage tips, and safety concerns.

A Sailor’s Guide to Marine Insurance

This custom sailboat ran hard aground on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, during an Atlantic crossing. The captain's chartplotting software omitted some important details, like the island.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor recently interviewed market insiders on the state of marine insurance, and we found that several factors—a slack economy, sharply reduced boat sales, consecutive mild hurricane seasons, and an overall aging of insured boats—have led to insurers working harder for boatowners’ business. Not only is it becoming easier for boat buyers to find an insurance policy that meets their needs and pocketbook, but existing boat owners are finding ways to reduce insurance premiums. This comprehensive marine insurance buyer’s guide will show you how to find the best insurer for your boat, and the breakdown of coverage options will help you choose the comprehensive policy your boat needs, without overspending.

Recent Changes in Marine Insurance Underwriting

Subscribers Only As with most industries, the marine-insurance market has seen some changes in recent years, the result of both mainstream technology and the sluggish economy. In our research for this report, we noted a few worth sharing.

Tips to Help You Save on Boat and Yacht Insurance

Subscribers Only Use an insurance agent. It is fine to do some initial price-checking online, but you likely will pay more acting as your own insurance agent. We recommend talking to marine insurance specialists who do this every day and get paid for it. They are your advocate and your liaison to the underwriter, whom they often bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in business. Shop around for an agent. Avoid folks who sound like they are operating out of a telephone boiler room with canned scripts. Ask questions and test to see how proactive and knowledgeable they are. Every boat is different, as is every owner’s needs. You want to work with someone who will work to understand your unique needs and will customize a policy for you. For this reason, we recommend working with marine specialists who represent more than one underwriter.

A Look at PLB Battery Life

ACR’s AquaLink View 406 MHz GPS (model PLB-350C) features a small display screen to confirm that GPS positioning is functioning.

Subscribers Only While Practical Sailor editors and readers are excited about messaging features and new “smart” technologies being added to personal locator beacons (PLB) such as the AquaLink View 406-MHz GPS, we were concerned that these extras would come at the expense of the device’s primary purpose. Would the repeated use of a PLB emergency device for non-emergency functions deplete its battery and inhibit its function as an emergency locator? Testers ran the AquaLink through its paces and enlisted the help of an independent lab to determine how non-emergency use affected the PLB’s battery life and other emergency functions.

Mailport: October 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, October 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Remote Mic Feedback, Bottom Paint Empathy, Lightning Protection, and more!

Where Credit is Due: October 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, October 2012. This month's letters cover topics such as: Jabsco,Whale Pumps, Innovative Lighting & Edson, and more!

Laying the Ground Rules

In order to meet ABYC standards, all boats built after the summer of 2013 must have ‘whole-boat’ ground-fault protection devices like this electrical leakage circuit interrupter (ELCI).

In the excellent article on DIY boat surveys on page 19 of your June 2012 issue, PS suggests that AC outlets located in the galley and head (among other places) should be ground-fault protected. BoatUS requires this as well, for those of us insured with them, and the National Marine Manufacturers’ Association (NMMA) also requires it. I wish someone could explain to me why this is the case.

Praise for the Painful Cockpit

The cockpit of Tosca, the 32-foot Atkin ketch that my wife and I cruised on for 11 years, was dominated by a trapezoidal chasm in the flush teak deck, euphemistically referred to as a cockpit “well.”

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Decontaminating a Tainted Water Tank

by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye on May 26, 2015

Those of you who missed Practical Sailor's report on how a weak winterizing solution can create a Sandals Beach Resort for waterborne bacteria may be noticing a pungent odor coming from your galley tap. Regardless of the cause of your onboard water woes, our favorite chemist-sailor Drew Frye offers a series of simple steps to decontaminate that tainted water tank.

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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)


I let a professional apply the paint that he (or boatyard) recommends. (329 votes)


I choose my own paint and I apply it. (1639 votes)


I apply paint that a local professional or boatyard recommends. (254 votes)