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Marine Fuel Vent Filter Maintenance

August 22, 2018 - We wished the silica gel drying filters used in marine fuel tank vents could be as maintenance-free as the carbon canister on your car, but our simple DIY filters (as well as those made by various manufacturers) don’t have programmed regeneration cycles like the automotive carbon canisters. The makers of silica gel fuel filters say the silica gel resin should be replaced annually, but Practical Sailor testers have found that three years is about right for diesel and five years for E-10 gasoline.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 11:05AM Comments (0)

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Don't Kill That New AGM Battery

August 15, 2018 - Battery manufacturers want their batteries recharged to 100-percent state of charge after each discharge. In reality, few cruising boats (or any boats kept on a mooring) return their batteries to 100-percent state of charge after each cycle. If this partial state of charge operation continues, your very expensive AGM battery will soon perform no better, if not worse, than a common deep-cycle flooded battery bank. To keep that from happening, we have a few tips.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Rod Collins at 04:47PM Comments (18)

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Celestial Navigation and Weather Classes on Tap

August 8, 2018 - If you’re headed to the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis October 4-8, we encourage you to stick around a few days to pick up some wisdom from Practical Sailor’s Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo. Ralph will be teaching a couple of his signature courses at the Annapolis School of Seamanship in downtown Annapolis during the days shortly after the show.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:14PM Comments (2)

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The Norwegian Approach to Teak Deck Care

August 1, 2018 - Old teak decks can be a deal breaker for the used boat buyer. Unless the previous owner(s) have taken a white-glove approach to deck maintenance, about 30 years of use is all you can hope for in a modern 12-millimeter-thick teak deck. The wood's biggest foe is the scrub brush, which can chew through the soft grain and shave years off the deck’s life. So if you are looking at an old Taiwanese-built cruiser from the 1970s with a deeply grooved old teak deck, give it a close inspection, especially the subdeck; you might be biting off more than you can chew. Even if the core sub-deck is still good, re-caulking and refastening an existing deck is a time-consuming project.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:30AM Comments (8)

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Inflatable PFD Care and Use

July 25, 2018 - Some sad news this past weekend from the 2018 Chicago-Mackinac race prompted me to update, and repost this advisory from 2015 regarding the care and use of personal flotation devices. It's a relatively long post, but if you depend on inflatable PFD, the text and accompanying links are worth reviewing.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:00AM Comments (8)

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Improvised First Aid Afloat

July 18, 2018 - It's nearly impossible to anticipate and prepare for every possible on-board medical emergency, but with a little bit of creative thinking, these everyday objects commonly found on most boats can be used to stop bleeding, sterilize wounds, or stabilize fractures.
Posted by at 08:10AM Comments (5)

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Decontaminating a Tainted Water Tank

July 12, 2018 - Those of you who missed Practical Sailor's report on how a weak winterizing solution can create a Sandals Beach Resort for waterborne bacteria may be noticing a pungent odor coming from your galley tap. Regardless of the cause of your onboard water woes, our favorite chemist-sailor Drew Frye offers a series of simple steps to decontaminate that tainted water tank.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 03:23PM Comments (26)

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A One-sided Defense of the Cruising Ketch

July 5, 2018 - This week I had the opportunity to poke around a ketch-rigged Pearson 424 that was for sale in the neighborhood and I was reminded of the many advantages of the ketch design. The Pearson 424 is an example of several decades-old designs that were offered in a variety of rigs, giving owners an opportunity to compare the sail plans.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:12AM Comments (23)

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Fuel Additives: Snake Oil or Good Science?

June 27, 2018 - When it comes to comparing the fuel treatment products on the market—whether its for gasoline or diesel— consumers are effectively left in the dark. Our own testing with both gasoline and diesel treatments indicate that limited use of the most popular brand name products will not cause any harm, but how much good the additives actually do is tougher to measure.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 11:56AM Comments (19)

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Rethinking Anchor Shank Strength

June 20, 2018 - One topic often overlooked in any anchor discussion is shaft strength. Yet, as anyone who has spent any time around boats knows, bent anchor shafts are hardly rare. Sure, sometimes the anchor gets wedged into a crevice where bending might be excused, but we’re hearing about more and more anchors bending under what would be considered normal use. In the upcoming April issue of Practical Sailor, contributor Jonathan Neeves explores this topic in great detail. In his view, the reasons behind bent shafts are many.
Posted by at 11:48AM Comments (3)

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More Great Tips for Stopping Boat Stink

June 13, 2018 - As our long-term test of sanitation hose winds its way through another long, hot—and progressively smellier—summer, it is a good time to think about ways to keep your plumbing system from becoming an olfactory horror. Here are some of the tips that hose manufacturers shared with us when we launched our test of sanitation hose.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:05AM Comments (9)

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Do-It-Yourself Fuel Tank Cleaning

June 6, 2018 - Depending on the size of your fuel tanks, having a professional clean your tank and dispose of the dirty fuel can cost more than $1,000. But for the careful, competent do-it-yourselfer there is another option. For those sailors whose tanks have reached the contamination point-of-no-return, here’s a helpful article on DIY tank cleaning that accompanied our July 2009 test of diesel biocides.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:40PM Comments (16)

Sailboat Rig Inspection Tips

May 30, 2018 - How frequently do you bother removing spreader boots and taping to check the condition of the spreaders and rigging? No matter how well the spreader ends are protected, and whether you use ready-made vinyl spreader boots or conventional rigging tape, water will get through to the fittings inside. On a boat used in salt water, the atmosphere's corrosive nature can cause rapid disintegration of aluminum fittings (nevermind the fact that the spreaders might be 25 feet or more off the water). The thorough taping job you did on the spreader ends may actually accelerate the problem by holding in water.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:00AM Comments (6)

The Pitch for Sailing Summer Camp

May 23, 2018 - Perhaps you are on the fence this summer. The drive is too far, the cost too high, or the child says, “It doesn’t sound like much fun.” There are a million reasons to encourage your child (or grandchild) to sail this summer. Here are a few that I like.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:38AM Comments (9)

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Iron Versus Lead in Keels

May 16, 2018 - Iron tends to retain its general shape and size as it rusts, however, it decays from within. A piece of iron that appears sound may crumble if tapped with a hammer. This type of decay is called graphitization because when it occurs, all that remains after the rusting is complete is graphite residue.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Steve D'Antonio at 07:44AM Comments (10)