November 2012

A Look at Sailboat Design: Fin Keels vs. Full Keels

During a grounding, even a low-aspect-ratio fin keel can impart severe structural loads that can lead to catastrophic failure.

Subscribers Only When a keel tears away from a sailboat’s hull, it makes the loss of a rig or rudder seem like a minor inconvenience. History shows that it’s an uncommon occurrence, but because we now annually hear of such incidents, we’ve decided to take a closer look at keels and see what keeps the ballast where it belongs. Keeping the keel attached is as important as keeping the crew safely on board. And for the offshore monohull sailor, preventing a keel loss, like preventing crew overboard, requires some informed forethought.

High and Dry for Winter Storage

Subscribers Only With the winter haulout season upon us, Practical Sailor testers thought it a good time to look at ways to keep cabins and lockers dry during off-season storage. There are a number of de-humidifying methods and products available; ventilation is the most effective but electric dehumidifiers, absorbent chemicals (desiccants), and electric heaters also work well. This article takes a look at combatting mildew-causing humidity and focuses on calcium chloride and silica gel desiccants like H2Out, Damp Rid, Nordic Dry, and Fresh Step cat litter.

Practical Sailor Editors’ Holiday Wishlist

The holiday gift-giving season has arrived! And this year, instead of offering a rundown of nautical gift ideas, we asked our editors and writers to sort through the hundreds of products we’ve tested and find the sailing goodies they’d most like to unwrap this holiday. Editors’ gift picks ranged from Nigel Calder’s best-selling boat owner’s manual and a must-have toolbag to a Magma grill, a VHF radio, galley essentials, and sailing apparel.

Touchscreen plotter-sounder test: Simrad NSS7 vs. Raymarine e7D

The Simrad NSS7 was mounted on a swing-out bracket on the companionway so that it could be viewed on deck and down below.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor recently had the opportunity to take a long-term look at the Simrad NSS7 multi-function display from Navico, and we compared it to a similar unit from Raymarine, the e7D. The test focused on the same elements as our past reviews of the Garmin 740s and Ray e7D chartplotter-sounders: installation, screen visibility, environmental tests, and plotter and sounder functions.

The Best Waterproof Protection for Phones and Tablets

The Aryca Wave (pink) was the only test product that came with a float; however, the Watershed bag (red, far right) floats without an aid, even when carrying an iPad.

Gone are the days when casting off dock lines meant disconnecting from the digital world, but that hasn’t changed the fact that electronics and water don’t mix. Sailors need to protect their gadgets—iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Droid phones—from the dangers of life at sea, including spray, rain, salt, and accidental freefalls onto the deck. Dozens of products claim such protection, but which ones can you trust? Practical Sailor tested a sampling of waterproof bags and cases marketed for use with cell phones, digital tablets, and e-readers. The test field included products from AquaPac, Aryca, Watershed, LifeProof, and Lifedge.

Biobor EB Still Tops in Additive Rematch

Subscribers Only In the August 2012 issue, Practical Sailor reported on the effectiveness of eight common fuel additives in reducing salt-induced galvanic corrosion in E-10 fuel systems. Some makers suggested our test was too tough and too short, so we have repeated the test, for five products, reducing the amount of seawater from 0.03 percent to 0.015 percent (equivalent to four drops of water in a 1-quart tank) and increasing the exposure time to two months. Included…

Mailport: November 2012

Gordon Thompson created his 'ideal galley' by replacing a two-burner stove with a seaswing cooker. While these stoves are often used with caution belowdecks, they lack safety features found in other stoves. U.S. boat safety standards limit them to outside use.

Letters to Practical Sailor, November 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Ideal Galley, Spilled Cetol, Power Plug Search, and More!

The Custom Winter Cover

We now have a boat—an Allied Seabreeze 35 sloop, hull number 23, from 1965—and overall, it’s a well-kept and sea-kindly boat. Winter is coming, and a winter cover seems in order. The conduit-frame-and-tarp that you published ( is an option, but a fitted canvas (Sunbrella or better) cover is another, which will perhaps pay for itself in about three seasons. What is your view on this?

Two Ships Passing in the Night

As the end of the contentious 2012 election cycle appeared on the horizon, the PRACTICAL SAILOR bumped into the POLITICIAN, who was suffering from the worst case of maritime metaphor-itis that the PRACTICAL SAILOR had ever seen.

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)