Keel Failure Redux

January 13, 2016 - This summer, the once lovely Oyster 825 was hauled from the water with its keel missing and a large chunk of skin laminate peeled back. Another casualty in a disturbing trend. I wrote a lengthy post on the subject of keels last year, and technical editor Ralph Naranjo discussed the topic in his report “Rethinking Hull Structure” in the February 2015 issue of Practical Sailor.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Ralph Naranjo at 06:38AM Comments (1)

Rethinking Faux Teak Temperatures

January 5, 2016 - Our recent report on synthetic-teak decking options (see PS December 2015) raised a bit of a ruckus among the contenders in what is an extremely competitive market. The main bone of contention was our reported temperatures of the various materials after they were left in the sun. Several manufacturers contended that the temperatures we listed in the table accompanying the article were not consistent with their own findings.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:31PM Comments (3)

Preventing Winter Damage to Your Deck

December 21, 2015 - The freeze-thaw cycle can also break the bond between the fiberglass and the core, further weakening the deck structure and introducing new problems. In a worst-case scenario, you return to your boat in the spring and find bubbles, bulges, and cracked gelcoat or fiberglass where water has pooled and frozen, pushing your deck's outer skin upward.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:13PM Comments (0)

Portable Electrical Propulsion for Small Sailboats

December 1, 2015 - In part one of our two-part test of five and six-horsepower engines in the upcoming January issue of Practical Sailor, we take a second look at portable electric motors. Our interest in modern portable electric propulsion dates back to 2004, when then editor Doug Logan began to lose faith in the two-stroke outboard on his Boston Whaler. While awaiting the prognosis on his unresponsive 15-horsepower Evinrude, he bought a Minn Kota Riptide 55 trolling motor.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:35PM Comments (4)

Fortune Favors the Cold and Wet

November 10, 2015 - Two stories in the upcoming December issue—installing a fireplace and sealing portlights and hatches—had me pondering the challenges of a winter afloat. But what literally raised goose bumps were images sent to us by Jimmy Cornell, whose popular cruising rallies and books have inspired countless dreams of sailing around the world.
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Rotten to the Core

November 3, 2015 - Cored decks are a soggy subject that many owners of older boats can relate to. I turn to one of our regular contributors, Capt. Frank Lanier, for this week's blog on this topic. Captain Frank Lanier is a 27-year Coast Guard veteran and Accredited Marine Surveyor with over 30 years of experience in the marine and diving industry.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:58AM Comments (7)

Open-source Software and the Sailor

October 28, 2015 - The more controversial—in my mind—element of open-source software is how our navigation data is used. The success of open-source software depends on the willingness of sailors to share data via the cloud. We’re told, of course, that this is anonymous meta-data (the sort of non-identifying data with that the National Security Administration scrapes from phone records), and that the user can control which data he shares. Most of us are already sharing all kinds of information with various smart-phone apps, so this is nothing new. Still, I worry.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:26AM Comments (3)

LPG Fireplace Safety Guidelines

October 20, 2015 - As part of a report on the Dickinson P9000 in the December issue, Practical Sailor tester Drew Frye provides an in-depth guide to a do-it-yourself installation, with special emphasis on safety. The following are important safety tips that generally apply to any propane heating system, whether it is the Dickinson fireplace, a Sig Marine cabin heater, or a similar heater.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 03:32PM Comments (5)

The DIY Solent Stay or Inner Forestay

October 14, 2015 - The most common question we were asked in the wake of our recent two-part series on headsails was, “How do I install an inner forestay or Solent stay?” Because either of these stays might one day be depended upon in the direst of circumstances, and because every boat presents different challenges for this project, it's important to do your research and investigate other boats that have carried out this retrofit. Once you have a general idea of what features you like, consult a rigger for the initial design. Here are several resources that can start you down the right path.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:51AM Comments (2)

O Tayana 37, How do I Loathe Thee?

October 6, 2015 - I loathe thee for your lovely teak decks, prone to leaking, hot to touch in the tropics, and forever accumulating dirt. I loathe thee for thy alluring bowsprit, a precarious perch where no man with two hip replacements should ever be. I loathe thee for thy water tank sloshing in the bow, turning thee into a teeter-totter when the mildest swell rolls into the bay.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:19PM Comments (4)

Fuel Storage Tips for Sailors

September 21, 2015 - 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 (0)

Tiller Versus Wheel

September 1, 2015 - In plainest technical terms the tiller gives us immediate corrective feedback, an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, far quicker than any wheel assembly can do. Both devices help us become better sailors, but the tiller just does it faster. It is, at its core, more honest about the conditions we’re facing—sometimes brutally so.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 05:09PM Comments (7)

Antifouling Paints for Freshwater Sailors

August 18, 2015 - Freshwater fouling organisms are no weaklings. One of the most notorious, the zebra mussel, introduced by the ballast water of voyaging ships, can wreak havoc with power-plant cooling systems. For sweetwater sailors who have but the summer to sail, the most common threat to the hull is algae. In fact, algae (aka slime) actually tends to grow much faster in fresh water than it does in salt water.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:26AM Comments (2)

Making a Case for the Hank-on Staysail

August 11, 2015 - In my view, having a foolproof hank-on sail ahead of the mast is not a bad thing. On your average cruising boat, the staysail is usually small, and stay itself is far enough aft that dousing or setting it doesn’t put the crew in jeopardy. The nice thing about this approach is that it greatly reduces the cost of retrofitting a sloop with an inner forestay and sail to set on it.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:47PM Comments (5)

Improving Roller Furling Efficiency

August 4, 2015 - 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 Ralph Naranjo at 05:14PM Comments (5)