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Getting a Grip on Sailboat Ergonomics

January 31, 2018 - One look at the average navigation station or helm seat on a cruising boat and you can see how the most basic ergonomic principles on lines of sight, sitting posture, and standing posture are, so it seems, utterly ignored. Stairs, handholds, settee seats, and bunks are built to conform to the builder’s budget, not the sailor’s lumbar. And once you start moving around some of these boats, the obstacle course is like something dreamed up by a chiropractor drumming for new business.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:20PM Comments (8)

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What's the Probability? Weather Rock Stars Convene.

January 24, 2018 - A changing climate brings changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather in the Atlantic and Pacific basins, and that's another good reason to raise your awareness of all the meteorological tools available to mariners. A recent addition to the marine forecaster's toolbox is probablistic wind speed forecasts disseminated by the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC). The forecasts take the available weather data and graphically present them in an easy-to-understand weather map.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Ralph Naranjo at 12:25PM Comments (9)

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Helping Your Boat Battery Survive Winter Storage

January 16, 2018 - If you haven’t put much thought into storing your battery for the winter yet, don't delay. If the batteries are removed from the boat, they should be stored in a cool place that does not drop too far below freezing. A basement or garage is fine. You can keep house batteries on the boat, but if you do, you should take the usual winterizing steps—cleaning the battery top and battery posts, filling the electrolyte, eliminating any loads that may discharge the battery—and checking voltage and recharging on a monthly basis.
Posted by at 11:10AM Comments (20)

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End boom vs. mid-boom sheeting

January 10, 2018 - The right mainsheet solution depends upon your own sailing preference, but a few general principles reign true. The farther forward on the boom the mainsheet is attached, the more of a downward effect (vang-like) sheeting elicits. The resulting elimination of twist may or may not be desirable, but it's part and parcel of the trimming process. It's no surprise that almost every performance-oriented sailboat is designed with end-boom sheeting.
Posted by Ralph Naranjo at 06:39PM Comments (13)

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Gearing Up for Winter Sailing

January 3, 2018 - While many North American sailors have already hauled out their boats for winter, there are plenty of cold-weather diehards who refuse to bow to the season. In a recent issue of Practical Sailor, contributor Drew Frye shares his tips for sailing year round above the frost-line. “It has always seemed a shame to me that the great majority of boats in the country are only used in the summer," says Frye, who sails through the winter on Chesapeake Bay. "[In winter] I have the waters virtually to myself.”
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:43PM Comments (6)

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Tether Clip Update

December 27, 2017 - In response to the recent failure of a safety tether that resulted in a fatality during the Clipper Round the World Race, we’ve completed a fairly comprehensive round of testing on various tether (boat-end) snap-hooks. Some of our findings are disturbing and do not fully agree with public statements being made by race officials, but this is not unexpected since the official investigation is still ongoing. Here we will focus on the most important findings, and offer specific tips on safely using your safety tether.
Posted by Drew Frye with Darrell Nicholson at 11:14AM Comments (10)

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Jackline Installation Tips

December 20, 2017 - One of the most startling conclusions from our upcoming jackline test was that despite the International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) generalized approach to jackline standards, the ideal material for a jackline changes as boat length increases. But material selection is just one of many details regarding jacklines that deserves careful thought. If you are re-installing your jacklines or installing for them for the first time, be sure to read our complete test report online. In the meantime, here are some other details to consider.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frye at 07:45AM Comments (10)

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Check Your Safety Tethers

December 13, 2017 - Just as we were wrapping up the report in our December issue describing how to make your own safety tether, 60-year-old British sailor Simon Speirs went overboard and died during the Clipper Round the World Race in an accident linked to a tether safety clip failure. The race, which charges non-professional sailors to race with pro skippers, was already under scrutiny after two deaths in the previous running …
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:53AM Comments (5)

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Bilge Pump Installation and Maintenance Tips

November 29, 2017 - 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 Frank Lanier at 12:25AM Comments (9)

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PFD-Harness Good Sense

November 21, 2017 - In the wake of the recent fatal accident in the Clipper Around the World Race, we look again at the hard won guidance on inflatable PFD/harnesses. It is not enough to simply have sufficient number of PFDs on board. Today's inflatable PFDs require regular maintenance, special care when re-arming or repacking, and regular testing to confirm that they will work as designed. Given our experience with these devices, we also recommend at least one test (manual) inflation before setting out on a long cruise.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:28AM Comments (6)

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Refinishing Your Boat's Non-skid Deck

November 15, 2017 - Although you can allow your varnish and hull paint to fade, crack, or peel with no more penalty than the disdain of those who mistake shine for soul, you don’t want to let your non-skid deck paint lose its grip. Even the most soulful boat evokes a sense of pity if its owner is lying flat on their back asking for help.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:19AM Comments (4)

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Preparing a Marina-Bound Boat for a Tropical Storm

November 8, 2017 - With Hurricane Irma poised to rake Florida and other states with storm surge and 100-plus knot winds, the storm poses a serious threat to boats throughout the region. Practical Sailor has covered storm preparation on several occasions. Here is some of the guidance we can offer.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:55AM Comments (4)

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Choosing a Boat Broker

November 7, 2017 - In the upcoming December issue of Practical Sailor, we look at how a do-it-yourself boat sale can save thousands of dollars that would ordinarily go to a broker. However, for those who are looking to get the best sale price with the least amount of effort, a broker is usually a more sensible choice. If you're thinking about selling your boat soon, here are some inside tips on picking the right broker for you.
Posted by Melanie Neale at 10:09PM Comments (3)

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Marine Antifreeze Problems: When Pink Antifreeze Freezes

November 1, 2017 - Our research into the various marine antifreeze additives on the market has produced many interesting findings, among them the correlation between improper boat winterizing and a stinky water tank.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:00AM Comments (10)

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The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Clear Plastic

October 24, 2017 - With proper care and protection, clear vinyl dodger windows can remain crystal clear for more than 10 years, yet many of the windows we see are burry, scratched, or cracked after just three years. Often, the damage occurs because the owner didn't carry out a few simple steps before putting the windows away for the winter. The cruising sailor can also shorten the life of clear vinyl by neglecting to carry out some very basic maintenance at sea. Whether you are storing your dodger for the season, or caring for it while cruising, these tips will help extend the life of your clear vinyl windows.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:53PM Comments (9)