March 2013

Practical Sailor PFD Research Looks at Capsizes

After a series of tragic accidents involving sailors in organized sailing events and training programs in 2011 and 2012, Practical Sailor initiated research into safety equipment in use during the time of these accidents. Our current ongoing tests deal specifically with personal flotation devices (PFDs), safety harnesses, and combination inflatable PFDs and safety harnesses. Ultimately, we hope to come up with recommendations similar to those we made for infant PFDs in June 2007 , when we published a prototype of what our ideal infant PFD would look like.

Where Credit is Due: March 2013

I am in the middle of a complete refit of a 1978 CSY 44. A while back, I purchased four bronze portholes from New Found Metals (www.newfoundmetals.com). Recently, I had ordered three more custom portholes from NFM. Because of a miscommunication, they arrived at the boat in stainless rather than bronze. I called Terry at NFM, who said she would check with the owner and get back to me.

Practical Sailor’s Semi-annual Bottom Paint Test Checkup

Subscribers Only In this article, our semi-annual report on antifouling paints for sailboats, testers rate two sets of paint panels—one that has been in the water 26 months, and the other for 15 months. We also take a peek at our newest panel, which has been in the water for only four months. Testers found a few surprises—especially among eco-friendly bottom paints—and tapped the top antifoulings for specific needs, like the best racing paint and the best aluminum-safe paint.

DeLorme inReach vs. Iridium Extreme

Subscribers Only There are numerous portable marine electronics that can keep you connected while you get away from it all. But which device offers the most features—tracking, two-way communication, location sharing, etc.—at the best price? And which one can be counted on in an emergency? We began our look at these personal electronics with the January 2013 review of BriarTek’s Cerberus Cerberlink and the SPOT Connect. This month, we evaluate the DeLorme inReach, another pocket-sized, satellite communication option for the cruising sailor, as well as the Iridium Extreme 9575 sat phone, which is capable of providing worldwide voice communication.

Seawind 950: Some Assembly Required

Subscribers Only Seawind Catamarans, Australia’s most successful sailboat builder, introduced its new Seawind 950 last year. The 31-foot cruising multihull can be delivered in two 40-foot containers and can be assembled by two people (with a forklift or crane) in less than two days, ready to sail on coastal passages. The $220,000 Seawind 950 was designed as an entry-level catamaran with a minimalist fit-out. The container concept allows the yacht to be delivered economically anywhere in the world with truck access.

GoFree: Simrad Nav Goes Mobile

Being natural-born skeptics, Practical Sailor testers are always pleasantly surprised when we test gear that meets—or almost meets—the hype from its makers and marketers. And that was just the case with Navico’s GoFree WiFi wireless networking device for Simrad products. We recently field tested it, and found that aside from a few niggles, the GoFree lives up to maker’s claims, is easy to install, and works well—straight out of the box!

Portable Marine Toilets for Small Boats

Subscribers Only A few steps above the old cedar bucket, portable marine toilets are essentially glorified waste containers, but a good one offers more comfort than a bucket, won’t leak, and can be emptied and cleaned with limited hassle. We tested three porta potties made by Thetford—the Porta Potti 260, the Porta Potti 550P, and the Porta Potti Curve—and two West Marine-brand port potties made by Dometic/SeaLand, the Runabout 962 and the Cruiser 976. Testers rated performance, features, and construction quality.

Portable Chairs for Sitting Under Sail

Subscribers Only In our search for stowable, seaworthy seating, we rounded up six padded chairs with self-supporting backrests and compared them to the reigning favorite, the Paradise Sport-a-Seat. The chairs have weatherproof covers and multiple reclining settings with self-supporting, padded backrests. The test field was: the Paradise Sport-a-Seat; Picnic Time’s Oniva and Ventura designs; G2 Products’ ComfortSeat; and retail giant West Marine’s Go-Anywhere Seat 2 and High-back Go-Anywhere Seat 2.

Mailport: March 2013

Subscribers Only In your article on bow design trends (PS, January 2013), you feature a picture of a Gozzard to illustrate the downside of a long bowsprit while anchoring or in a dismasting. Anchoring hasn’t been an issue with my Gozzard. I simply run the nylon snubber alongside the chain over the bow roller. If large waves become an issue, I can run the snubber directly to the bow cleats, but that hasn’t been necessary in 10 years and 4,000 miles. Of course, with a 6-foot bowsprit, there’s little chance of marring the topsides while hoisting the anchor.

The Hassles of Hockles

Subscribers Only Taking the advice of a PS review, I installed a Lewmar V2 windlass on my boat in 2008. I went with the installer’s recommendation of 100 feet of galvanized chain and 100 feet of eight-part braid, connected with a rope-to-chain splice, and I have a Delta 35 anchor. I found that a chain hockle (a twist in the chain that jams the windlass) will terribly mangle the vertical windlass. I have just completed my second mangling and ordered replacement parts—but these parts will not save me from the next mangling. The Lewmar distributor told me to install a chain swivel, but PS has warned about this (PS Advisor, May 2010). Is an all-chain rode a dumb idea? Is there some solution?

Plotting Your Escape in the Age of Satcom

I wanted to try a little experiment this week. Something safe, with little risk of getting hurt. Something I could do while drinking coffee and listening to Puccini . . . or the Rolling Stones . . . or Mumford and Sons. Something on the Internet. It got off to a bad start. I dropped in on one of those Internet forums where angry people wait to spring on innocents like me. The deeper I dug, the angrier they got.

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

Calling Mayday on an SSB

by Darrell Nicholson on October 21, 2014

Based on US Coast Guard statistics, surprisingly few boaters enable the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) function on their VHF radio, or have it operating correctly. From what we are hearing from some marine manufacturers like ICOM, the numbers for marine single-sideband (SSB) marine radios—the topic of our ongoing series of tests—are just as discouraging. It doesn't have to be that way. With a few simple tools and maybe a trip to a Radio Shack, getting your radio (VHF or SSB) DSC-ready can be carried in a single weekend.

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