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Gearing Up for Winter Sailing

November 19, 2019 - While many North American sailors have already hauled out their boats for winter, there are plenty of cold-weather diehards who refuse to bow to the season. In a recent issue of Practical Sailor, contributor Drew Frye shares his tips for sailing year round above the frost-line. “It has always seemed a shame to me that the great majority of boats in the country are only used in the summer," says Frye, who sails through the winter on Chesapeake Bay. "[In winter] I have the waters virtually to myself.”
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:43PM Comments (6)

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Homemade Mildew Preventers That Really Work

November 13, 2019 - If you’re getting ready to put your boat into storage in a wet or humid location, then you’ll probably be interested in some of the cheap and easy mildew "cures" we've come upon in our testing. PS tester Drew Frye made a pleasant little discovery when he was researching and testing various anti-mildew protectants. Two inexpensive homemade concoctions did as well as or better than retail formulas that are 20 to 100 times more expensive.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:13PM Comments (18)

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In Search of the Magic Spray

November 6, 2019 - Given boaters' wide range of expectations for anti-corrosion sprays, it is simply impossible for one spray to fit all our needs. Some spray petroleum products are good for loosening bolts, some seal electrical connections, some protect against corrosion, some even claim to improve conductivity. Unfortunately, not all of these sprays live up to their lofty claims.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:53PM Comments (11)

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Choosing a Sailmaker

October 30, 2019 - If you are planning to add a new mainsail or genoa during the Northern hemisphere winter, now is the most likely time to be able to negotiate a good price. While the migration to high-volume lofts abroad has smoothed the peaks and valleys of sail prices, there are still seasonal bargains to be had. Generally, the lull occurs October through December. By the time spring rolls around and the sailmakers find themselves swimming…
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:59AM Comments (3)

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Refinishing Your Boat's Non-skid Deck

October 23, 2019 - 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 (6)

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Fuel Storage Tips for Sailors

October 15, 2019 - Sometimes it is not what has been added to your fuel that matters, but what is missing. Anywhere between 5 to 20 percent of the contents of a portable or installed polyethylene tank can vanish during the course of a year, the result of breathing losses and permeation. The remaining fuel is lower in octane, contains fewer of the volatiles that are so essential for easy starting, and has reduced solvency for gum and varnish. It often looks perfectly good, but is perfectly rotten and potentially harmful as fuel.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 05:17PM Comments (5)

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Bracing for Cold and Wet Sailing

October 9, 2019 - As any cold-weather sailor will tell you, the battle against the elements involves more than just bibs and a jacket. Keeping out the wind and wet begins with underlayers, boots, and gloves. Whether you’re dreaming of high latitude adventures, or just want to keep sailing through October, we’ve got you covered. Here is a summary of past reports on cold-weather sailing apparel.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:10PM Comments (13)

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Buyers Beware of Post-Storm Bargains

October 2, 2019 - If you are in the market for a used boat and live where winter storage is the norm, now is probably one of the best times to bargain in North America. The owner is looking at another year of storage bills for a boat he no longer wants, and he knows that trying to sell a boat that’s buttoned down for the winter is like trying to sell a house that’s under a circus tent. However, if you are anywhere near the pathway of last year’s Hurricane Matthew, that bargain boat might well turn out to be your worst nightmare.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:54PM Comments (6)

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Caring for Encapsulated Ballast Keels

September 25, 2019 - If your boat has an encapsulated iron keel, don't get lulled into believing that you are completely free of keel worries. Although you are generally better off than sailors with exposed iron keels, you still have to carry out routine maintenance and inspection, and be aware of the warning signs of water intrusion, which could lead to bigger problems. We've written a lot about keels recently, and over the years, we've offered tips on repairs to common problems like the C&C "smile," when a lead keel pulls away from the keel stub, or how to deal with voids in lead keels. I've also written here about the effectiveness of rust converters such as Ospho when reviving an iron keel. And more recently we've looked at the spate of keel-ectomies among older cruising boats boats with high-aspect-ratio fin keel designs.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 11:00AM Comments (9)

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Improving Roller Furling Efficiency

September 18, 2019 - One of the easiest ways to improve the furling efficiency of all types of furlers is tackle the line-lead challenge. It starts with the angle that line leads on and off the drum, progresses into a sweeping arc as the line makes its way to the cockpit and ends with another change in direction that leads the line to the hands of a crew member or a winch drum.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:14PM Comments (8)

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Pondering Options for Varnishing a Mast

September 11, 2019 - 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 (5)

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Eight Bells for Jeremy 'Mac' McGeary

September 5, 2019 - I’ve waited to write about Jeremy crossing the bar because I was waiting for him to “get out of my head,” as they say. But I’ve given up waiting. Apparently, he has made himself at home in the aft cabin. The witty, talented, and dedicated crew who did some of the best work of anyone who has worked for Practical Sailor will surely be with us for years to come.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:33AM Comments (4)

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Preparing Your Boat for a Tropical Storm

August 29, 2019 - With Hurricane Dorian threatening Florida and possibly the Carolinas, it is time to start activating your hurricane response plan. If you haven’t given storm preparation a thought yet, you might want to start with our July 2008 report, “Lines, Snubbers, and Other Gear for Battening Down Ahead of Storms.” Safety expert Ralph Naranjo’s first-hand account of his storm preparations “Tropical Storm Dos and Don’ts” and “How to Help Your Boat Survive A Major Storm” should also be required reading.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 01:01PM Comments (10)

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Low Friction Rings for Sailing

August 21, 2019 - Our recent PS Advisor article on barber haulers illustrated an arrangement that relied on a low friction ring to control tension on the sheet. Although you can buy pre-rigged control lines that terminate with low friction rings, sailors should be able to do this themselves.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:15PM Comments (2)

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Plug that Chain-pipe

August 15, 2019 - I was always amazed at how much water could seep through the chain-pipe and into Tosca’s anchor locker when a sea was up, or we were punching into a headsea—although punching would hardly describe the ungainly motion of a gaff-rigged ketch to weather. Wallowing? Submarining? Regardless, the chain-pipe was like a water main in those conditions …
Posted by at 04:28PM Comments (10)