October 2013

Which Bottom Paints Last the Longest?

Paints are rated after 11 months of being immersed in Sarasota Bay, Fla. All samples are still repelling barnacles, but a few had thick slime. Our “Top 20” list (right) is based on three 24-month or longer paint tests from 2008-2013.

Subscribers Only Over the past five years, in our search for the best bottom paints, we’ve reported on three sets of bottom paint test panels that have been in salt water for two years or more. Most panel sets contained the same roster of 60 to 70 antifouling paints from Blue Water Paints, Epaint, Interlux, Pettit, Sea Hawk, and other makers. In the end, only seven antifouling paints proved capable of combatting barnacles after 24 months. We consider these to be the most reliable bottom paints available for the cruising sailor.

3M Masking Tape Matchup

The 3M 233 Plus green tape offers clean, easy removal as long as it is not left on for extended periods. For on-deck projects, it’s a good idea to mask off only the area being worked on, because it’s best not to leave the 233 Plus on an exterior surface for more than a day.

Subscribers Only Most sailors have discovered that when it comes to applying marine coatings, the type of masking tape used is as important as the type of paintbrush if you want clean edges. But what is the best tape to use for boat varnish projects, or bottom paint application? Testers compared eight of industry leader 3M’s general masking and specialty tapes to find out.

PS Editors' Choice 2013

Standard Horizon’s RAM3 remote mic was among the 17 products named to this year’s Editors’ Choice roster.

Subscribers Only Practical Sailor editors waded through the dozens and dozens of test products of the previous year to pick the best of the best. Only 17 earned the 2013 Editors’ Choice designation, a special recognition for products that clearly stood out among their peers during our independent tests as the best in their category and whose performance earned PS editors’ confidence. This year’s top gear included a slew of marine electronics, onboard systems, and deck hardware products.

Fine-tuning Fridge Efficiency

Subscribers Only Do aftermarket “smart” controls really improve your fridge compressor’s efficiency? In this update to our marine refrigeration tests (PS, April and June 2009), we review Isotherm’s new automatic Smart Energy Controller (SEC) and take a look at trends in marine refrigeration.

Spare One Emergency Phone

Testers recently checked out the Spare One standby cell phone, which is just what its name implies: a spare phone for use in an emergency or when the battery dies on your primary cell. Powered by one, replaceable AA lithium battery, the Spare One will deliver 10 hours of talk time, 15 years of battery life (if unused), and 24 hours of illumination in its SOS torchlight mode. When a GSM SIM card from a regular cell phone is plugged into the Spare One, the unit acts as a basic cell phone, sans the display and texting ability. Without a SIM card, the unit still allows users to call 911 and access emergency services.

Effective, Affordable Water Filter

1. We tested General Ecology’s Nature Pure QC2 faucet model, which includes a cartridge filter and a dedicated faucet (foreground) for the filtered water. 2. The kit includes a pattern that makes it easier to install the faucet. 3. Testers used the supplied hoses and T fitting to install the QC2 cartridge filter beneath the test boat’s galley sink.

Gross-tasting water is too often a sad fact of life aboard many sailboats. Even after correcting issues such as algae-filled, blackened hoses, daysailors and weekend cruisers simply don’t have the water tank “turnover” that full-time cruisers do, and the result is often stale, gnarly tasting water. One simple way to help transform the Hell’s broth of foul H2O spewing from your faucet into the maritime equivalent of a pure mountain stream is by adding a water filter or purifier to your freshwater system.

Reversible Awning: Made in the Shade

Testers installed the standard UltraShade reversible awning aboard a Union 36 for field tests.

While everyone likes fun in the sun, there’s nothing better than having it made in the shade—which is a precious commodity aboard a sailboat. At anchor, over-the-boom awnings provide both direct protection from the sun and cabin cooling by shading the deck and cabintop, significantly reducing temperatures down below. Most canvas shops can design and create custom awnings for a boat, but this route can be pricey in some markets. For those wanting to keep their cool without hiring a custom designer, other options include devising a homemade setup for next to nothing, or searching out a quality, pre-fabricated sailboat awning like the UltraShade reversible sun shade.

Where Credit is Due: October 2013

I couldn’t ask for better service from Doyle Sailmakers (www.doylesails.com). The leach-line cleat broke on my 13-plus-year-old Doyle genoa, so I contacted Doyle for help in identifying it for replacement. After a couple of email exchanges, they sent me not one, but two replacement cleats—at no charge! These plastic cleats are not expensive, but would have been a pain to find otherwise. What great customer service!

Mailport: October 2013

In regard to your request for recommended sailing dogs: We sail with a Sheltie who puts up with a lot! He’s spent three winters cruising in the Bahamas with us and has the distinction of being the only one aboard who hasn’t gotten seasick. Bailey is the perfect size (about 18 pounds) to tuck under your arm when getting on and off the boat. We purposely try and keep him from…

Curing the Tainted Tank

Common, household cleaners and fresh water are all you need to get tainted tanks clean.

We filled our water tanks (40 and 72 gallons) in May, and now the water is brackish, brown. Have you done a study on purifying water or tanks? Bleach is one remedy, but I wondered whether PS has ever done an article on this subject?

The Great Ice Hunt

The Isotherm SEC is the latest in a series of “smart” controllers designed to maximize the efficiency of a 12-volt marine refrigeration system.

I remember where and when we gave up. Eleuthera. Summer. A day of vision-blurring, morale-melting heat. Tosca’s crew hid under a slice of shade in the cockpit. Puddles of sweat at our feet. No one wanted to move, but the last cube in the ice box had turned to water. Something needed to be done. I set out in the dinghy for the nearest store, one mile up a dusty road.

Inside Practical Sailor Blog

The Mystery Chain from China

by Darrell Nicholson with Jonathan Neeves on November 17, 2014

Surprisingly, one of the best chains in our most recent test was one of the generic Chinese chains. This chain showed good strength, and had a thick galvanized coating that showed a high resistance flaking and abrasion. However, the other generic Chinese chain in our test showed appalling performance, so bad, that we believe it is unconscionable for any marine chandler to sell it. And here is the quandary. We’ve identified a promising, economically-priced chain, but it is virtually impossible for the average boater to distinguish it from junk.

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Reader Questionnaire

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