Subscribers Only In the December issue PS evaluates four water heaters that are new or have been significantly updated since our last test in 1999. Water heaters are one of those silent heroes that rank high on the list of comforts on a boat. The test field included the Kuuma 11842, an 11-gallon tank; the stainless-steel Quick Nautique BX2012; Raritan’s 1706; and the 30-liter Compact from Sigmar Marine. Testers considered each heater’s efficiency (using AC and engine-driven power), power consumption, construction quality, and ability to keep hot water hot.
Subscribers Only It is surprising to see equipment with no moving parts carry such an array of safety warnings. But any time water and higher-voltage AC electricity are mixed, there are details worth thinking about. The risk of shock can be lessened through a firm commitment to three-conductor wiring that follows the American Boat and Yacht Council’s guidelines. This includes maintaining the continuity of the green grounding that links the boiler and metal housing to the boat’s ground. Strict adherence to high-quality crimp connectors, appropriate wire gauge, and care in keeping the neutral and hot wires consistent with the vessel’s and dock’s power supply are paramount.
Subscribers Only The physical installation of a water heater may seem pretty straightforward, but the devil is indeed in the details. It starts prior to purchase with a search for adequate space that’s relatively near the engine and vertically as low as possible. Next is bonding in a well-reinforced surface to mount the water heater onto. The empty tanks are relatively light, but if you add 45 to 88 pounds of water, you can see why a sound support base is important in a rough seaway.
Subscribers Only Our testers began the evaluation with a close inspection of how each unit was assembled and what materials were used in their manufacture. The test field included stainless-steel, aluminum, and mild-steel boilers. When it comes to water tanks in sailboats, stainless-steel is favored over the other two metals, so we naturally asked ourselves why the water tanks in water heaters would be any different? To answer the question, we embarked on a series of bench tests and a long-term corrosion test to see how stainless steel, aluminum, and mild steel water heater tanks handle use in a salt-laden bilge-like environment.
Subscribers Only The lure of sailing is a magnet that draws us toward boat ownership, but annual maintenance, and costly refits are a less-welcome fait accompli. Self-sufficiency will always be our emphasis, but we have also noticed that fewer recreational sailors have the time, training, or the inclination to tackle the big jobs. A common thread among this growing group of do-it-for-me sailors is the desire to become a smarter consumer of the services offered by a very diverse marine industry. Here, we offer an insiders guide on choosing the right boatyard and quality contractors.
Subscribers Only A few years back, we profiled a number of excellent local boatyards ( PS , June 2009 ) that help do-it-yourselfers thrive. Here, we profile yards at the opposite side of the spectrum—facilities that specialize in keel-to-masthead care for their customers.
Subscribers Only A few years ago, we launched a series of holding tank odor tests, including evaluations of holding-tank vent filters and sanitation hoses. After 30 months of testing, we’ve reached some solid conclusions on the hoses and vent filters. The sanitation hoses we tested were Trident Marine’s 101/102 EPDM hose; SeaLand’s OdorSafe Plus, a PVC and acrylonitrile butadiene rubber hose; Raritan Engineering’s butyl rubber Sani/Flex Odor Shield; and Shields Marine’s Poly-X polyurethane sanitation hose. The four holding-tank vent filters we tested were our homemade system, Dometic SeaLand SaniGard, Big Orange’s 5/8-inch filter, and the Vetus No-Smell NSF16.
Subscribers Only When we wrapped up the testing of the miniature holding tanks after 30 months, we were tempted to just pitch the whole lot in the dumpster after draining their contents, but we thought taking the faux holding tanks apart and examining the components up close might yield some interesting findings. (The things we do in the name of product testing—yuck!) Here’s a breakdown of testers’ observations.
When we last tested clear-vinyl window protectants, we raised the concern that some products might actually damage the vinyl. PS tester Drew Frye’s recent work with mildew cleaners brought up another concern: Can overspray from canvas cleaners and treatments, or other common chemicals, damage the clear-vinyl windows? We tested canvas water-repellents, cleaning chemicals, and common cockpit chemicals to see whether any overspray would harm Strataglass. A few totally ruined the window sample.
Nobeltec, a marine-navigation software developer based in the U.S., recently released a new chartplotting app for the iPad: Nobeltec TZ. We took it for a weeklong test cruise and found it to be a good basic nav program with some significant strengths, and some notable shortcomings.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor recently looked at various ways to take the load off the windlass and roller by means of a short rope snubber or bridle, but we did not talk about how to attach a snubber to the chain. The Mantus Chain Hook takes an innovative approach, and seemed particularly useful for catamaran owners with long bridles. Testers put the 1/4-inch stainless Mantus hook through more than 50 anchoring cycles and dozens of tide cycles aboard a PDQ 32. Find out how the Mantus fared.
We’ve had good experiences with Walker Bay products, so we expected a lot from the company’s inflatable stand-up paddleboard (iSUP), the 12-foot Airis Hardtop Tour. Rated for 275 pounds, the board features a standard bungee tie-down strap for gear and a carrying bag.
I have often referred to (former PS Editor) Dan Spurr’s book, “ Spurr’s Guide to Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat ,” and I was going to follow Spurr’s advice and build a plywood/glass tank to add auxiliary diesel tankage to my Morgan 382. But the Gougeon Brothers / West System website ( www.westsystem.com ) makes it sound contrary to standards and potentially damaging to insurance coverage. Terry Thatcher, Morgan 382 Portland, Ore.
Coast Survey also has launched a new product, free PDF nautical charts, on a trial basis and is seeking mariner input. From now through Jan. 22, 2014, sailors can download about a thousand high-resolution printable charts—nearly the entire NOAA suite—as PDF files. The PDF charts, which are almost exact images of the traditional print charts, will be updated weekly.
While repairing a 50-gallon water tank on my 1995 Mason, I broke the Hart Systems Tank Tender penetration tube. Since this is such a small-priced item but does so much to help with monitoring tank contents, I sent an email to Hart Systems ( www.hartsystems.com ) asking for help in obtaining the very small part.
Your tape test (PS, October 2013) did not include 3M 256, but I thought I’d pass on a “lesson learned” to your readers. Having recently completed painting my deck, for the first time in 37 years, I encountered an unforeseen problem.
The place PS call home is an office building and workshop in Sarasota, Fla., where we’ve been based since 2005. However, most of our tests take place where our testers live—from Marblehead, Mass., to Sydney, Australia. For this month’s water heater test, Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s basement in Annapolis, Md., resembled the boiler-strewn lot in Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.” For our sanitation tests, tester Drew Frye’s Virginia backyard became the battlefield in a war against boat odors.
Inside Practical Sailor Blog
by Darrell Nicholson on April 28, 2015
Being blessed with product testers who are passionate about their areas of expertise can be a double-edged sword. Their intense interest means they'll be particularly thorough in their research and testing; but their testing can spiral out of control as fascinating minutiae piques their curiosity. As it turns out, the best cure for a PS tester trapped in this downward "more-research-is-needed" spiral is the imminent approach of sailing season. Spring, therefore, is harvest time for the editors at Practical Sailorand this spring has been particularly fruitful. Here's a glimpse of what's ahead:
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)