January 2013

The Pros and Cons of a Plumb Bow

Long projections like the bow roller must be adequately reinforced to absorb the shock loads of anchoring.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor editors looked at emerging design trends at the most recent Annapolis Boat Show. What caught our eye was that race-boat designers’ long-running obsession with near vertical, “plumb” bows—a shape that squeezes maximum waterline length into a hull—has trickled down to boats built for cruising. This raised the question: Is this race-boat style stem advantageous to a cruising sailboat? It is important to recognize that a plumb stem and long waterline aren’t the only design factors that make a sailboat go fast.

Fuel-vent Filter Test Resources

Subscribers Only Regulatory Information: EPA Marine Evaporative Emission Regulations (40 CFR Part 1060) EPA diurnal emissions testing protocol EPA baseline evaporative emission estimates EPA memo on phase separation EPA on choosing media for evaporative emission control systems; good discussion of adsorbents. Background Info Good summaries of gasoline fuel systems; both safety and new rules. Gasoline Fuel Systems New Gasoline Fuel Requirements Coast Guard tank vent regulations and guidance Demystifying silica gel: silica gel as a humidity buffer in museum cases…

EPA Mandate Sparks Fuel-vent Filter Test

Subscribers Only Every day, as the temperature rises and falls, gases inside your fuel tank expand and contract. The emissions released during this diurnal breathing have raised concerns at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and in July 2011, the agency mandated passive carbon canister filters on all installed gasoline-tank vent lines to collect fuel evaporation emissions. While older boats are not required to retrofit, we wondered how such a filter would affect fuel quality and engine performance—and whether carbon is the most effective filter media—so we launched tests using E10, gasoline, and diesel to find out.

PS Tests Firstwatch Float Coats

Many skirted float coats tend to ride up in the water, but the Firstwatch coat uses webbing to keep it in its place.

Subscribers Only If the first rule of boating is to stay onboard, then the second must be to stay afloat in the event that rule number one is broken. There are several types of products that can help you keep from drowning in an MOB situation, but float coats also offer defense against hypothermia, a real danger in waters below about 70 degrees. Foam-filled float coats also double as foul-weather gear, so users are more likely to…

Satcom Moves a Little Closer to Affordable

The Cerberus (seized to the binnacle) was able to transmit and receive without problem under the cover of a Bimini.

Subscribers Only A new generation of satellite phones is making it easier to stay connected. The latest Satcom devices not only provide the satellite tracking offered by the original SPOT device, but also offer communication via text and email messaging. The focus of this test series was pocket-sized, satellite-based communication for the cruising sailor—devices that provide one- or two-way communications and tracking via the Internet, and can also serve as a backup to conventional personal locator beacons. This report, the first in a series, focuses on the SPOT Connect and Briartek’s Cerberus CerberLink devices.

Winter Reading Picks for Sailors

Ready to tuck yourself under a warm blanket with a good book this winter? Here are a few recommended reads from the editors at Practical Sailor.

Best Boat Soaps for Regular Washdowns

Marine soap test searches out the best cleaner for regular boat baths—one that is easy to use, affordable, eco-friendly, and won't take the wax of your topsides.

Sticking to a regular boat bath regimen not only keeps a boat looking good, but it also helps protect it from unnecessary, accelerated wear and tear. Practical Sailor tested a cross-section of 13 products—aerosol sprays, gels, powders, and liquids—advertised as either boat soaps or wash-n-waxes to find out which one was the best grime buster and which one left topside wax intact. The test lineup included products from well-known marine maintenance manufacturers—Star brite, Interlux, Woody Wax, Nautical Ease, 3M, Sudbury, and Marykate—as well as some familiar in the automotive and home cleaning industries—Mothers, Ecover, Eagle One, and K2r.

PredictWind Satcom Reviews

PS testers sea-trialed the PredictWind 3G Communicator (at left, in Pelican case), its antenna (above center), and the PredictWind Satellite Communicator (above) during a three-month summer cruise on Lake Huron in the Great Lakes.

Subscribers Only When we reported on Matt Rutherford’s solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the Americas aboard his Albin Vega 27, we noted that one of the few electronics that survived the voyage was an email/weather satellite communicator from New Zealand-based PredictWind. We considered this high praise for an electronic device and decided a Practical Sailor sea-trial was in order. PredictWind, primarily a weather-forecasting company, supplied us with its PredictWind Satellite Communicator and 3G Communicator. The Satellite Communicator will be of interest to long-distance sailors. It allows users to receive PredictWind weather forecasts by satellite email, and to send and receive short emails—similar to other Satcom devices like the Cerberus CerberLink. The 3G Communicator will appeal to near-coastal cruisers; it is basically a modem with a signal booster for 3G cell and data service, plus an onboard router.

Mailport: January 2013

PS reviewed the unique Bubi water bottle in the October 2012 issue. We've now used it for nearly a year, and it has held up well to the rigors of onboard duty.

I recently saw the October 2012 Chandlery review of the Bubi bottle (www.bubibottle.com) and ordered one. Despite problems ordering through Pay Pal (I ultimately went through Amazon.com), I got one of the bottles, and can tell you that it works great. When you’re finished using it, you can roll it up and stick it in your pocket. It made a great crew holiday stocking stuffer!

Where Credit is Due: January 2013

'Credit Is Due' contributor Tim Junod's Hunter 456, Champagne.

I wanted to send PS an update regarding the Dutchman Boom Brake recall that PS announced in the May 2012 issue. First of all, Dutchman Sail Hardware (www.mvbinfo.com) is standing behind its product 100 percent and going beyond normal warranty.

Holding Tank Vent Fittings

This illustration is one example of a proper onboard sewage-handling system. This one is suited for boats cruising areas where pumpouts are readily available. Instead of a Y-valve and anti-siphon loop, multiple check valves prevent back-siphoning. Most contemporary manual-flush systems incorporate a Y-valve that diverts waste to the holding tank or overboard. Note the tank-vent through-hull fitting placement above the waterline and the deck-level pumpout discharge.

As I plumb the archives for holding tank replacement info, I find excellent related articles (PS, February 2012, March 2012, and April 2012); all remind me to build in good ventilation. However, I am unable to find guidance on the merits of ventilation fittings. These stand at the interface of tank gasses and other contents trying to get out, and the marine environment trying to get in. Issues such as shape, location, mounting, and materials concern me. Can you bring some fresh air to vent fitting merits?

EPA Needs to Revisit Fuel Vents

Well, the first year without subsidizing U.S. refiners and farmers for using corn to make ethanol-blended gasoline has passed, and the world didn’t end. Gas prices haven’t soared, growing corn is still profitable, and most of the members of Congress who reversed their political stands are still in office. I’m pretty certain that when historians and economists look back on the 30-year-old, $20-billion tax break for turning corn into fuel, it will be seen for what it is: failed politics masquerading as “clean” energy policy.

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Can Carbon Foam Batteries Meet Hype?

by Darrell Nicholson on April 21, 2015

The real test of any good marine product involves many units on many boats, so the true winners in the new technology game don’t rise until long after they are introduced. This requires staying power. I often wonder how many good ideas for sailors never made it to fruition for lack of capital. In recent years, many of the most promising products we look at trickle down from other, more lucrative arenas—energy and defense being two of the most common sources. Such is the case with the Firefly Oasis battery we tested.

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