January 2014

Spinnaker Furlers

Taming the asymmetrical spinnaker just got easier, thanks to revolutionary improvements in top-down furling systems.

Subscribers Only The first in a two-part series, this article takes a look at the latest furling systems for nylon and other lightweight, off-the-wind sails dubbed A-sails, gennakers, asymmetric spinnakers, and other appellations referring to light-air, curved-luff sails. We compare the basic features of five systems: the Colligo CN3s; Selden GX15; Karver KSF2; Profurl Spinex 2.5; and Ronstan 120. In part two of the feature, we will report the test results and final ratings.

Diesel Tank Vent Filters

Testers installed the H2Out AVD3 filter aboard two test boats for long-term evaluation in real-world conditions.

Subscribers Only Through lab tests and years of field testing, we’ve found that silica-gel vent filters reduce tank corrosion and improve gasoline stability. But is the same true for diesel fuel and tanks? That’s what this test sought to find out. Testers put two silica-gel diesel tank vent filters through their paces: Pindell Engineering’s AVD2 (for tanks up to 60 gallons) and AVD3 (for tanks up to 200 gallons). The results were compared to setups with a free vent and those with a sealed tank.

Installation Best Practices for Fuel Systems

Subscribers Only The Coast Guard and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) have worked together to develop general installation guidelines for the carbon canisters required under the EPA's evaporative emission regulations. While the standards (AYBC H-24) don't specifically apply to the H2Out AVD unit when installed in diesel fuel systems, they represent good basic commonsense and should be followed with any fuel tank vent adsorbent product. We have added a few tips and precautions learned during our testing.

Diesel Fuel System Maintenance Best Practices

Subscribers Only Don’t look to tank vent filters and fuel additives to solve real fuel-system problems. They are only ancillaries to regular fuel system-management and maintenance, improving reliability even further. Here are some fuel-system management best practices that we recommend.

Keeping Fuel, Water in their Place

Subscribers Only The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Yacht and Boat Council (AYBC) are requiring devices that prevent foam and splash during fueling and operation from reaching the carbon canister. If sea water did reach the fuel filter, it could destroy filter effectiveness and compromise venting capacity.

Protecting Clear Vinyl Windows

We tested the clear-vinyl protectants on a test boat’s new Strataglass windows and applied the products to mounted swatches of new Strataglass, O’Sea, and Regalite. For extra protection, tester Drew Frye fashioned a cover for the new Strataglass windows.

What’s the best way to keep your dodger or bimini’s clear-vinyl windows looking new? We tested sprays, creams, and pastes to find the best way to clean and protect clear vinyl products like Strataglass, Regalite, and O’Sea. This report is an early look at the long-term test, which will be running for three years and includes cleaners and protectants from Imar, 303 Products, Star brite, AquaTech Marine, 3M, Meguiar’s, and Novus.

How Do Different Vinyl Types Compare?

After several months of testing the panels, we established some preliminary findings regarding different vinyl brands. The untreated Strataglass, O’Sea, and Regalite panels were equally clear; there was a slight difference in their coloring, but this is typical and in use, it would never be noticed.

Best Practices for Maintaining Clear Vinyl

Subscribers Only The Strataglass user’s maintenance guide states the following: “We recommend using only Imar Products. Imar Strataglass Protective Polish, Imar Strataglass Protective Cleaner, and mild soap (preferably Imar Yacht Soap Concentrate) on Strataglass. We no longer recommend the use of any other products, regardless of the manufacturer’s claims. Use of harsh cleaners like Simple Green and/or pine will dull the curtains quickly. Using any other product(s) void the factory warranty.” The guide further warns: “Use of RAINEX, Pledge, or Plexus on Strataglass appears to work for a short time but then dulls the surface and presents an “Orange Peel” effect. Do not use any of these products.”

Brewing Coffee in the Galley

Be sure to consider fit before choosing a brewing method. Drip-cone brewers do not mate with every style cup, and some stovetop percolators may be too narrow for some burners.

We compared four popular, portable coffee-making methods in search of the best java-brewing method for the galley. The test evaluated French presses, percolators, drip-cone coffeemakers, and various instant coffees. Testers tried out a handful of products using each method, including the BonJour, Nissan Thermos, and Bodum French presses, as well as the Aerobie AeroPress, the Melitta Perfect Brew, the Clever Dripper, Bialetti Moka Express, and the Farberware Yosemite and Medelco stovetop percolators.

Bad Elf GPS Pro Boosts iPad Nav Apps

Bad Elf GPS Pro adds GPS functionality to WiFi-only Apple devices.

Subscribers Only Looking to add GPS functions to WiFi Apple devices or increase the GPS accuracy of a Bluetooth device? U.S. company Bad Elf created the GPS Pro, an external Bluetooth wireless GPS receiver and data logger, to simultaneously share GPS data with Bluetooth-capable i-devices, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It also can serve as a standalone data logger that allows you to record up to 100 hours of trip location data.

Reads for Whiling Away Winter

Do your 2014 New Year’s resolutions include quitting your job to sail around the world? Brushing up on maritime history? Learning new knots? Or how about just setting aside more time to enjoy a good book? Then, our winter reading recommendations will certainly fit the bill. The list also includes the memoirs of former cruising kids, an epic survival story, and tales of solo sailing.

Boom Furler Test is Overdue

Preventing a sail from bunching up at the front of a furling boom is a challenge. Achieving the perfect “boat-show” furl (left) isn’t quite so easy at sea.

I was re-reading your review of in-boom furlers ( PS , October 2001 ) in which you compared five different manufacturers’ products. You did not review the unit made by Southern Spars, which is a spinoff of the Leisure Furl system by Forespar, but I wonder whether you have ever reviewed and compared the Southern Spars in-boom roller furling system?

Mailport: January 2014

Reader Ed White—here aboard his Cal 35, Caliente—offers some useful tips on maintaining freshwater systems.

Your mention of dissimilar metals and also chlorinated water rang a bell with me. The pressure-relief valves on many water heaters are made of bronze or another metal. One year, on the advice of a friend, I removed my water heater’s valve for cleaning and found some of the most foul hydrogen-sulfide odor imaginable, along with some black gooey substance. It’s a powerful smell. Since then, I’ve been removing, cleaning, and flushing that valve at the start and in the middle of each season; 95 percent of my water odor problems disappeared.

Where Credit Is Due: January 2014

Reader Howard Peer’s 1986 Ted Brewer semi-custom designed steel cutter rests at the dock. Peer wrote in with kudos for PS reader-favorite Garhauer Marine.

I have a 6-year-old Garhauer traveller ( www.garhauer.com ). The sheaves came loose and lost their bearings. At the recent Annapolis boat show, I asked the Garhauer Marine reps how to get replacement bearings. They had me send the carriers back, and they replaced the sheaves for free.

No Escape From the Grips of this Calm

Nine years ago in these pages, we had high praise for several varieties of spinnaker socks. We were impressed by how they made handling 1,000 square feet of cruising spinnaker seem easy. Sock up, sock down—setting and dousing the sail was that simple. There were a few problems. Control lines tangled or twisted, socks got stuck, sails tore. Mostly, though, the devices worked.

I don’t believe the village of Warapu exists anymore. The ocean carried it away. The school . . . the district government building . . . most of the houses . . . all gone . . . washed out to sea by a tsunami that crashed ashore in Papua New Guinea in 1998. …

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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