Subscribers Only A mainsail halyard shackle needs to be as reliable as an on/off switch on a table saw. It’s a one-act pony that’s counted on to perform perfectly each and every time. These essential shackles fly under the radar and have become so much a part of every sailor’s routine that they are simply taken for granted. They terminate mainsail, mizzen, and foresail halyards aboard sailboats ranging from dinghies to mega yachts. We become so familiar with the hardware, that idiosyncrasies like a slightly bent clevis pins, damaged threads, or a misshapen stamped fork opening are tolerated.
Brass is a pretty poor marine metal. An amalgam of copper and the much less costly and corrosion-prone zinc, brass’ reign afloat, at least in load bearing hardware, was short lived. But when copper is alloyed with less corrosion-prone metals, the result can be quite different. And although brass and bronze sound confusingly similar, their attributes tell very different stories.
During the 12-month period from September 2013 through August 2014, Practical Sailor evaluated dozens of boating products, ranging from autopilots and water heaters to hose clamps and sanitation hose. The following products not only earned Practical Sailor’s Best Choice rating, marking each as the best in its category, but they also earned a spot on our list of 2014 Editors’ Choice products. To be named to the Editors’ Choice roster, a product must excel in Practical Sailor’s tests, and clearly stand out above others in its field.
Subscribers Only Protecting marine water systems from freeze damage is a deceptively simple goal. The terminology and various product claims can be confusing, and what seems like a good common-sense decision can lead to trouble. We tend to think that all water systems are the same; that boats as well as RVs can be protected by the same pink antifreeze without any further thought. However, many of the problems we associate with age, or normal wear and tear—stiff impellers, cracked pipes, ruined joker valves, and foul-tasting tap water—can often be attributed to errors during winterization.
Subscribers Only We tested each product for glycol content using a refractometer and either the ethylene glycol or propylene glycol scale, as appropriate. In the case of Camco’s Arctic Ban and Sudbury’s Winter Stor, some portion of the freeze protection is provided by ethanol, and such mixtures cannot be easily evaluated by any field method (test tape, gravity, refractometer) unless the exact proportion is known, which we find troublesome.
Winterizing agents should never be used in freshwater tanks or hot-water tanks. Doing so will greatly increase the chances of biological growth, which can result in foul-smelling, bad-tasting water. If your boat’s water system does not have bypass fittings that allow you to add glycol to waterlines, install them. The addition of a few simple fittings can reduce the annual process from hours to minutes for the cost of a few jugs of glycol.
What matters most, our testing confirms, is not so much which brand of “pink stuff” you choose, but how you use it. Even the best product, mixed with too much water left in the line, results in a blend with unknown and perhaps unsatisfactory performance. While this may not be critical in North Carolina, sailors in Wisconsin need to get it right.
Subscribers Only After the roller-furling jib, the most valued piece of gear aboard for many sailors is the autopilot. So fond of autopilots are skippers and first mates, many even name their units—“Otto” the autopilot, “Joshua” (after infamous sailor Joshua Slocum), “Amelia” (after historic female pilot Amelia Earhart), and “WTF” are a few that we’ve met during our cruises.
Subscribers Only Com-Pac Yachts is a Florida boat builder with a particularly interesting history. The company was formed in 1957 by W. L. “Hutch” Hutchins Sr., an entrepreneurial tool-and-die maker who operated a metal-stamping and fabrication shop in St. Louis, Missouri. A successful inventor, he created everything from automobile accessories, including the “Ah-ooo-gah” horn often retrofitted on Model A Fords, to a unique folding high-chair.
Subscribers Only The primary components of the Com-Pac 35 are the hull, a pan that provides housing for cabinetry and the motor mount, a headliner, and the deck. The hull construction begins with the application of a coat of Neste gelcoat. The skin coat is a layer of 1.5-ounce mat bonded with Riechold Hydrex vinylester resin to prevent osmotic blistering.
I am looking to place some folding padeyes on my boat for jacklines and tethers. The price range for stainless-steel padeyes is extreme, and the distinction between safe working load (SWL) and working load limit (WLL) is not easily understood—even though I’m an engineer. It would be useful to know the consensus SWL/WLL recommendation for a jackline / tether application.
For many boatowners, it’s time to start thinking about the off-season layup. If you’re planning some pre-haulout maintenance projects so you can avoid the hassle next season, check out these helpful gems from our online archives.
In response to your May 2014 editorial on the passing of “Hobie” Alter, I’d like to share a Hobie memory: At the ripe age of 14, my son, Jared, negotiated the purchase of a used Hobie 16, Airhead. On gusty days, I would be “invited” to take the helm, so he could dance on the wire as the hull flew. Eventually, our small lake became too confining, so we ventured into larger bodies, ultimately taking the Hobie to our favorite cruising ground and home to our 41-foot Sceptre, Penobscot Bay, Maine.
While cruising up in a remote part of Labrador, I had a B&G autopilot failure. I called Jake Marantz at the B&G service center (www.bandg-service.com) on my Sat phone, and over about an hour and a couple calls, he helped me diagnose the problem and fix it. He was tremendously helpful and obviously knowledgeable.
About two miles up the Lumut River in western Malaysia, a local entrepreneur known simply as “Mr. Chan” ran a small mooring field with a tin-roof club house and a railway slipway. It was inexpensive, and Chan’s hospitality was renowned. People went to Chan’s for the camaraderie, for the potlucks, for a haulout . . . When we were cruising, we went for the teak. A modern teak plantation is like an M.C. Escher painting; you stare, mesmerized, down the rows of evenly spaced trees that seem to stretch forever. The ground sponges under your feet, and the branches overhead seem pruned to cast identical shadows on the ground.
Inside Practical Sailor Blog
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 radiosthe topic of our ongoing series of testsare 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.