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 (6)

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)

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)

Waxing and Polishing Your Boat

May 12, 2015 - With Memorial Day looming, I am plunging once again into polishing and waxing fiberglass boat hulls. This post (which is an update of an extremely popular post from a few years ago) covers almost everything you need to know about cleaning, polishing, and waxing your boat. It includes links to our online "how-to" resources and links to our tests of various classes of products mentioned. The main purpose of the article is to provide an overview of the many archive articles we have in our library on this topic, so that you can choose which reports best apply to your situation and then dig in as deep as you like.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:06PM Comments (5)

PS Tests and the Death Spiral of Curiosity

April 28, 2015 - Being blessed with product testers who are passionate about their areas of expertise can be a double-edged sword. Their intense interest means they'll be particularly thorough in their research and testing; but their testing can spiral out of control as fascinating minutiae piques their curiosity. As it turns out, the best cure for a PS tester trapped in this downward "more-research-is-needed" spiral is the imminent approach of sailing season. Spring, therefore, is harvest time for the editors at Practical Sailor—and this spring has been particularly fruitful. Here's a glimpse of what's ahead:
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:51PM Comments (4)

Can Carbon Foam Batteries Meet Hype?

April 21, 2015 - The real test of any good marine product involves many units on many boats, so the true winners in the new technology game don’t rise until long after they are introduced. This requires staying power. I often wonder how many good ideas for sailors never made it to fruition for lack of capital. In recent years, many of the most promising products we look at trickle down from other, more lucrative arenas—energy and defense being two of the most common sources. Such is the case with the Firefly Oasis battery we tested.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:32PM Comments (8)

The Right Caulk for Your Boat

April 14, 2015 - Choosing the right sealant or flexible adhesive used to be fairly straightforward. There were fewer products and usually there was somebody to tell you which compound was best for bedding cleats or sealing joints. That's no longer the case. These days trying to find the right sealant for the right job is as complicated as choosing breakfast cereal, except that if you make the wrong choice you are—literally—stuck with it. Fortunately, we've carried out a number of tests on caulks and adhesives to help you make the right choice.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:29PM Comments (4)

Bottom Paint Makers face Irgarol Shortage

March 10, 2015 - Antifouling paint manufacturers are reporting that Irgarol, a pesticide commonly used as a boosting agent in antifouling paints, is in short supply in the United States. Based on what we have learned, it seems likely that the supply of paints containing this pesticide will be exhausted sometime this year. For some makers, their supply will run out as early as this spring.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:58PM Comments (1)

Plug that Chain-pipe

March 3, 2015 - 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 (4)

Barnacles Consume Test Panels at 18 Months

February 24, 2015 - Our semi-annual inspection of bottom paint panels always yields surprises, but during the nearly ten years I’ve been barnacle-counter-in-chief, I haven’t been more surprised than I was last month. My inspection in January marked the eighteenth months of continuous immersion for approximately 60 paints that were undergoing testing. During a normal year, I would expect roughly 12-15 of those panels to still be fighting barnacles, but that’s not what I found.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:16AM Comments (8)