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Installing and Maintaining A Watermaker

May 22, 2019 - Installing a watermaker can be a serious project, and it’s not to be taken lightly. First, you need to find a suitable location for the system. For those with limited mounting space, consider a modular watermaker.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:14PM Comments (5)

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Boat Bottom Blues

May 16, 2019 - While spring usually heralds the start of boating season for most of us, for others it means facing up to long-postponed projects. If you own an older boat, that project probably might be removing the years of antifouling paint that have built up on the bottom. In this blog post you'll find links to a number of useful articles to help guide you through this process.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:00AM Comments (2)

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Do-It-Yourself Bird Deterrents

May 1, 2019 - As we found in our last major test of bird deterrents, there is no perfect solution for every bird problem, but we’ve come across one that seems to work well in the marina in Florida where we keep one of our test boats, an Endeavour 42 Lost Boyz owned by boat builder Robert Helmick. The main perpetrators in this particular marina are starlings that feed on the berries near the marina then apparently find a comfortable roost to digest (and deposit the remains of) their meal. Sailboat masts seem to be the preferred perch, as the dockmaster reports that he rarely sees them atop powerboats.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:31PM Comments (17)

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Choosing a Bottom Paint

April 24, 2019 - Before plunking down $100 or more a gallon for bottom paint, consider where your priorities lie.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:35PM Comments (7)

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LPG Fireplace Safety Guidelines

April 18, 2019 - 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 (8)

A Diaper Cream Cure for Barnacles?

April 11, 2019 - Some of my favorite PS tests are those that pit ordinary dime-store products against gold-plated “marine-grade” stuff. This month’s propellor antifouling test called to mind an investigation into the antifouling properties of diaper cream that took place many moons ago. Diaper cream contains zinc oxide, a known biocide, but it does not regulate the release of biocides the way bottom paint does. Nevertheless, you’ll find many bulletin-board posts that recommend diaper cream for depth-sounder transducers, props, and dinghies. My take-away from our 1995 report is that the product worked (sort of) for a limited period, but it is an impractical solution for hulls . . . better to let you read and decide for yourself.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:20AM Comments (8)

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Coast Guard Nav Light Safety Alert

April 4, 2019 - The U.S. Coast Guard has determined that an increasing number navigation lights being used on sailboats do not meet the basic requirements for these lights, making them less visible to nearby ships. According to the Coast Guard's Inspections and Compliance Directorate, part of the problem is that some boat owners are retrofitting existing incandescent nav lights with LED lights, or LED components that were designed for powerboats.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:24AM Comments (9)

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Check Chafe Before Switching to Fiber Lifelines

March 28, 2019 - 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)

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Bilge Pump Installation and Maintenance Tips

March 20, 2019 - The best bilge pump in the world won’t keep your boat dry if it’s not properly installed and maintained. While bilge pump installations are fairly straightforward—and definitely within the scope of DIY projects—there are several factors to consider (capacity, wire size, hose diameter, fuse size) before you begin, and there are some good rules of thumb to follow.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:25AM Comments (16)

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When Splicing Isn't an Option

March 13, 2019 - My previous blog post on rig inspection prompted a question about how to splice old ropes that are too stiff to splice. It wasn’t long before the ice-climber in our group of contributors, Drew Frye, decided to grab this rope by its braided cover, so to speak, and see where it leads. Here is a brief description of the method that Frye found worked best, perimeter round-stitching. Perimeter round-stitching will take place over a length of rope that is the equivalent of six to eight times the diameter of the rope. For example, stitching 3/8-inch line requires about 2.5 inches of available line, not counting the tail of the line (about 3.8 inches in length) that will not be stitched.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 05:46PM Comments (5)

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Respirator and Dust Mask Safety

March 6, 2019 - A respirator can’t protect you if it doesn’t fit your face. It’s that simple. Anything that prevents a good seal—whether facial hair or a hollow under the side of your jaw—is unacceptable. In a workplace this fit test will be performed in a very rigid manner by a trained technician. However, for the sailor/occasional boat yard worker, we offer this shortcut procedure that is far better than nothing.
Posted by Drew Frye at 05:24PM Comments (1)

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Striving for a Stronger Boat Cleat

February 27, 2019 - Zinc, though often found chrome-plated on low-end powerboats, is too weak a metal to be used for cleats on a sailboat. Aluminum alloys are light and relatively strong as long as the casting process has kept void (air bubble) content to the barest minimum possible.
Posted by Ralph Naranjo at 03:20PM Comments (3)

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Varnish Touch-ups and Take-downs

February 20, 2019 - To keep brightwork healthy, approach it as you do your own health. Whether its a touch-up or a complete take-down that's on your horizon, here are a few tips on wood care that can save you hours of sweat down the line.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:21PM Comments (5)

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What Old Gear Do You Swear By (or at)?

February 13, 2019 - Instead of fixing or replacing tired mechanical equipment with new gear, we can often find a less-expensive substitute on the used-gear market. In many cases, this is equipment that is just as good as new gear, if not better than new. The trick is separating the gems from the junk. A poster child for this sort of refit quandary is the old Simpson Lawrence manual windlass, a British-engineered oddity that has long been a source of cruising sailor ire. Commonly found on cruising boats made in the 1980s, these windlasses use a troublesome chain drive rather than a gear drive. This, along with the dissimilar metals used in its various components (cast-steel gypsy, aluminum case, etc.), make these windlasses a poor candidate for rebuilding.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:19AM Comments (7)

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Going Overboard in Icy Water

February 6, 2019 - When you get to the surface, focus on floating and stabilizing your breathing. You are not going to be able to swim or do anything productive for several minutes, and as a cold water overboard victim, there is nothing you need to do for a minute or two. Focus on not drowning. If you have a PFD, that will be a huge help. If not, try to tread water with as little effort as possible. Calm down and realize you have some time.
Posted by Drew Frye at 04:20PM Comments (3)