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)

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)

Broken Anchor Swivels and the Tales They Tell

July 28, 2015 - An important question that comes up in our upcoming report on stainless-steel swivels for anchors is where the shackle should be introduced to the rode. A common approach is to attach the swivel at the end of the chain rode directly to the anchor, in lieu of a common anchor shackle.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:42PM Comments (0)

The Art of Seamanship

July 14, 2015 - Although anyone headed offshore will benefit from 'The Art of Seamanship,' it is aimed squarely at the sailor. It’s not a book for the novice tying his first bowline, or the yachtsman interested in flag etiquette. The topics, particularly those dealing with weather, anchoring, sail-handling, and navigation, are examined with a depth and insight that only come through years of experience.
Posted by at 01:35PM Comments (2)

More Bottom Paint Blues (with video)

July 5, 2015 - As part of an upcoming article that revisits this topic in more detail, Practical Sailor publisher Tim Cole has put together a two-part video illustrating the steps of removing paint and raising the waterline on his Bristol 35.5, First Light.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson and Tim Cole at 10:13PM Comments (1)

Check Chafe Before Switching to Fiber Lifelines

June 22, 2015 - Fiber lifelines exhibit two kinds of chafe. There is visible chafe that occurs when lifelines are used as handholds (a bad habit), or where sails and sheets bear on them. More troublesome is the chafe that occurs in the stanchion holes. Clearly, if you’re considering switching to a fiber lifeline, you’ll want to closely inspect any possible chafe points, and deburr and polish (with 600 grit sandpaper) any places where the line makes contact with stanchions.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 08:13AM Comments (1)

Flexing the ‘Girl Power’ Muscle

June 16, 2015 - Whether you’re a cruiser or a racer, a man or a woman, an armchair captain or a PHRF vet—I’m betting you felt at least an inkling of pride and swelling happiness for Team SCA when the all-women crew won the penultimate Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race last week.
Posted by Ann Key at 02:10PM Comments (6)

Rigged for Living in Small Spaces

June 8, 2015 - If you tear up root, branch, and all to go sailing, the return to the dirt-dwelling life is troublesome business. You’re accustomed to peace and solitude. Endless waterfront views. A procession of sunrises and sunsets. You can pick your neighbors and move on quickly if you choose. But for me, the most interesting transformation that the cruising sailor undergoes is our relationship with stuff. The most successful long-term sailors I know always seem to be paring down what they have, eliminating all but a few choice needs. For them, it’s all about quality not quantity.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:36PM Comments (0)

Mechanical Rigging Terminals: To Seal or Not

May 19, 2015 - Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s recent market survey of mechanical rigging terminals in the June 2015 issue of Practical Sailor demonstrated just how long these terminals can last if they are installed correctly. That report came close on the heels of rigger Brion Toss's photo essay on what can go wrong if they are not assembled correctly, or assembled without any sealant. Yet manufacturers are still not entirely clear where they stand on the use of sealants in these fittings.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:35PM Comments (4)