November 21, 2017 - In the wake of the recent fatal accident in the Clipper Around the World Race, we look again at the hard won guidance on inflatable PFD/harnesses. It is not enough to simply have sufficient number of PFDs on board. Today's inflatable PFDs require regular maintenance, special care when re-arming or repacking, and regular testing to confirm that they will work as designed. Given our experience with these devices, we also recommend at least one test (manual) inflation before setting out on a long cruise.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:28AM Comments (4)
November 15, 2017 - Although you can allow your varnish and hull paint to fade, crack, or peel with no more penalty than the disdain of those who mistake shine for soul, you don’t want to let your non-skid deck paint lose its grip. Even the most soulful boat evokes a sense of pity if its owner is lying flat on their back asking for help.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:19AM Comments (4)
November 8, 2017 - With Hurricane Irma poised to rake Florida and other states with storm surge and 100-plus knot winds, the storm poses a serious threat to boats throughout the region. Practical Sailor has covered storm preparation on several occasions. Here is some of the guidance we can offer.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:55AM Comments (2)
November 7, 2017 - In the upcoming December issue of Practical Sailor, we look at how a do-it-yourself boat sale can save thousands of dollars that would ordinarily go to a broker. However, for those who are looking to get the best sale price with the least amount of effort, a broker is usually a more sensible choice. If you're thinking about selling your boat soon, here are some inside tips on picking the right broker for you.
Posted by Melanie Neale at 10:09PM Comments (3)
November 1, 2017 - There’s nothing like buying several $3 bottles of antifreeze to protect your $30,000 boat, then coming home to discover the unused bottles frozen solid in your garage.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:00AM Comments (10)
October 24, 2017 - With proper care and protection, clear vinyl dodger windows can remain crystal clear for more than 10 years, yet many of the windows we see are burry, scratched, or cracked after just three years. Often, the damage occurs because the owner didn't carry out a few simple steps before putting the windows away for the winter. The cruising sailor can also shorten the life of clear vinyl by neglecting to carry out some very basic maintenance at sea. Whether you are storing your dodger for the season, or caring for it while cruising, these tips will help extend the life of your clear vinyl windows.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:53PM Comments (7)
October 18, 2017 - Two different harbors suffered almost the same fate as Hurricane Irma raked South Florida with hurricane force winds. In both places, tens of thousands of dollars in damage might have been prevented had the owners of large vessels better secured their boats. In Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, a fifty-foot houseboat broke lose from its anchor and went careening through the mooring field where dozens of boats where moored. According to the salvage crews I spoke with, the houseboat was one of the key contributors to the pile-up in the harbor that caused several boats to break loose and go ashore. Falling like dominoes, boat after boat stacked up at the dinghy dock, in the mangroves, or into a bridge on the north side of the anchorage.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:49AM Comments (3)
October 10, 2017 - We’ve had a lot of fun with toilets and sanitation systems in the last couple of years, and after last weekend, when I descended into the smelliest brokerage boat I’d ever set foot on, I thought I’d revisit some of our findings here.The good news is that a stinky head is curable. The better news is that it need not cost you an arm and a leg. That’s not to say a cure is cheap—this is a cruising boat we’re talking about—but in many cases, a change in maintenance habits and less than $20 can put you on the path to deep breathing again.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:01PM Comments (13)
October 4, 2017 - One of the most common questions we get regarding marine varnish is what kind of finish is best for a mast. Even though aluminum has long since replaced Sitka spruce as the material of choice for a sailboat mast, there is no shortage of boats that still have wooden masts. Many of the Taiwanese-built boats of the ’70s and ’80s had wooden masts, and of course, a wide range of U.S.-built classics still have their original wooden masts.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:39AM Comments (3)
September 27, 2017 - John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal of Mahina Expeditions bluewater voyaging school have weathered a few earthquakes and tsunamis in their decades of teaching others aboard their Hallberg-Rassy 46 sailboat, Mahina Tiare III. In the wake of the 2009 tsunami on Samoa, they devised an earthquake/tsunami awareness and response system that they now include in the Mahina Expeditions curriculum. With the goal of helping other sailors, the Neals have allowed Practical Sailor to post this strategy here on Inside Practical Sailor.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:20AM Comments (0)
September 27, 2017 - As we found in our test of do-it-yourself nonskid deck paints and panels, revamping a nonskid deck is a time-consuming project, one that you'd rather not have to repeat every few years. Here are a few tips to help you get more mileage out of your nonskid deck.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:47AM Comments (4)
September 20, 2017 -
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September 13, 2017 - If you have made it this far through the cruising season with nothing more than a few dings and chips on the family cruiser you can count yourself very lucky. Achieving the same level of gelcoat gloss, adhesion, and color of the original hull or deck is a kind of black art, and it is a field full of pretenders. You could run a weekend movie marathon with all of the YouTube DIY channels offering bad advice on gelcoat repairs.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:09PM Comments (6)
August 30, 2017 - When people are hurt and homes and precious possessions are destroyed or lost forever, a wrecked recreational sailboat seems wholly unimportant. But for many people, the boat is their home or is connected to their livelihood. In the coming days and weeks, more people will be returning to their vessels and doing what they can to keep them safe. Boat owners should be aware of steps they can take to prevent further loss to their boats. And more importantly, they should be aware of the precautions they can take to keep themselves safe during the period when most storm-related injuries and deaths occur.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:00AM Comments (2)
August 23, 2017 - A few years ago, I noticed that 2 of the 10 cruising boats I saw docked in Bergen, Norway, had towed water generators, making me wonder whether the Scandinavians have had better luck with these devices than we have. In the October 2017 issue of Practical Sailor, offshore gurus John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal of Mahina Tiare Expeditions share their experience with these systems.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:56PM Comments (13)