Subscribers Only Reverse-osmosis, DC-powered watermakers have been available for use aboard mid-sized cruising sailboats for years, but thanks to new technology, they just keep getting better. Today’s units are more efficient, reasonably compact, and in many cases, modular in design. Practical Sailor recently tested two popular models—new Ventura 200T from Spectra Watermakers Inc. and Racor Village Marine’s Little Wonder (LWM-145)—and rated them for water and construction quality, noise, power consumption, and ease of installation and maintenance. The review also discusses the pros/cons of installing a watermaker on a sailboat, installation and maintenance tips, and whether a watermaker is right for you.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor has carried out dozens of anchor tests over the years. This month, we set out to compare anchor performance when the boat position changes under the forces of wind or tide, a shift that often causes the anchor to move and reset itself. The test compares 12 anchors, including some newer fixed-shank anchors—such as the Rocna and the Manson Supreme—and some concave fluke designs similar to the Spade, one of the strongest performers past tests. The test field included: the CQR, Spade, Ultra, Super SARCA and SARCA Excel, Manson Supreme, Rocna, Kobra, and the Lewmar Claw.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor evaluated stainless-steel hose clamps from 11 manufacturers, including Shields, ABA, Murray, AWAB, Breeze, American Valve, Ideal/Tridon, Trident, Koehler, and Norton. The test clamps, both T-bolt and worm-drive designs, were all size 28 (for hose sizes 1 5/16 to 2 1/4 inches) and 32 (for hoses 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 inches). Bench tests included torque to compression and torque to failure tests, and a magnet test and long-term saltwater bath test to determine corrosion resistance. All clamps were closely examined for quality of construction and workmanship, and price was considered in final ratings.
Subscribers Only Not long ago, one of our marine electronics testers, Bill Bishop, was faced with the task of transferring waypoints from an ancient Garmin 215 chartplotter to a Garmin 7215. There are several ways to do this, but Bishop found that one of the most convenient was to use Andren software on a PC computer. The software is so versatile that it even can be used to transfer waypoints from an old Loran receiver (remember those?) to a new GPS. Other formats it can support include Furuno, Garmin, Maptech, Northstar, Raymarine, Simrad, and GPX.
Subscribers Only Capt. Bernardo Herzer has been converting small engines from conventional fuels to propane since he was a teenager. In 2012, he introduced his first propane outboards, 2.5 horsepower, 5-horsepower, and 9.9-horsepower models. Practical Sailor recently tested the 5-hp Lehr LP 5.0, a water-cooled four-stroke with an electric ignition—no priming or choke required. It operates at 4,000 to 4,500 rpm at wide open throttle, and the 49.6-pound, short-shaft model pushed our 120-pound test boat at 11-12 knots. The engine can be fueled using a 16.4-ounce propane twist-on bottle like those used with camping stoves or a 5-gallon, 20-pound remote propane tank.
If it’s been more than five or six years since your life raft was inspected, there’s a good chance that it won’t deploy properly in an emergency, and survival items stowed inside may also be expired. The hassle and expense of inspecting a life raft—something you’ve likely never used or will use—often deter owners from having it repacked as often as it should be. To find out exactly what the process entails, Practical Sailor observed the inspection and repacking of a five-year-old, eight-person Viking recreational-grade life raft at a service center in Boston and toured a Winslow service facility in Florida.
Thank you very much for the excellent review of the Firstwatch Flotation Bomber and Coat ( PS , January 2013 ). I apologize that I did not provide Practical Sailor the design buoyancy of our coats. I provided the 15.5-pounds minimum buoyancy requirement of the USCG Type III standard, but the Firstwatch coats’ actual production buoyancy ranges from 16 pounds (size small) to 20 pounds (size XXL). Ross Johnston General Manager, Firstwatch Gear www.firstwatchgear.com
In the wake of our report on fuel-tank vent filters in the January 2013 issue, a few readers asked how silica gel could have out performed activated carbon in controlling VOC emissions. To clear up any confusion, we thought an explanation was in order:
This winter, we needed to fix a keel bladder valve on our 25-year-old Avon inflatable dinghy. A Web search revealed it was a Honeywell A8 type and that Honeywell Leafield is now Leafield Marine (www.leafieldmarine.co.uk). A retail source could not be found, but an email to Leafield was answered overnight by Sue Reynolds, letting us know the valve was still available, along with a request for our address since we needed just one.
Subscribers Only For 20-plus years, I have removed my mooring buoy from the water at the end of the sailing season on Lake Champlain. This year, however, I was surprised to find that my mooring chain was totally covered by zebra mussels. The 3/8-inch chain was about 3 inches thick with mussels when I hauled it up! Do the zebra mussels affect the chain strength or its life expectancy?
My cruising life often seems like a string of disasters narrowly averted—storms, reefs, mechanical failures, bad enchiladas—but the most frightening near miss (apropos of this month’s special report on life-raft inspections) was the one I never knew about.