Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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)

Homemade Mildew Preventers That Really Work

May 10, 2018 - If you’re getting ready for sailing this summer and feel like you are still losing the battle against mildew, then you’ll probably be interested in some of the cheap and easy mildew "cures" we've come upon in our testing. PS tester Drew Frye made a pleasant little discovery when he was researching and testing various anti-mildew protectants. Two inexpensive homemade concoctions did as well as or better than retail formulas that are 20 to 100 times more expensive.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:13PM Comments (13)

Engine Spares for the Cruising Sailor

May 1, 2018 - Cruising sailors rely on their engines a lot more than they like to admit. Although the internet has helped close the gap between parts suppliers and cruising sailors in far corners of the earth, the long-term cruiser still has to carefully consider which spare parts and supplies he needs to carry with him. …
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Nick Nicholson at 01:17PM Comments (8)

Going Aloft Safely

April 25, 2018 - For those of you who plan to go aloft to do some work this spring, please make sure you are well aware of all the safety measures that pertain to this kind of work. One of the most important tips that we failed to mention in recent article on bosun chairs was to never use a self-tailing winch when hauling someone aloft. In light of a recent safety warning from Lewmar, the importance of this advice is clear.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:33PM Comments (14)

Snippet Image

Ten Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Alternator

April 18, 2018 - Before you fire up ye ol’ iron genny for the first smoke-belching run out to the mooring, to the dock, or to the fuel station (I sure hope it’s not to the pumpout station), you might want to think about your alternator belt. It's another one of those inexpensive engine parts that often gets overlooked until it's too late.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:30AM Comments (12)

Snippet Image

Staying Out of Boat Trailer Trouble

April 12, 2018 - A trailer expands the sailor’s horizons, but like any endeavor that involves automobiles, it adds another layer of risk and responsibility. Compared to our boats, a trailer is deceptively simple, and this often leads us to overlook the obvious warning signs of impending problems.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:36PM Comments (5)

Snippet Image

Pain-free Marine Electronics Updates

April 4, 2018 - We all know the guy who updated his trusty chartplotter and lost all the waypoints he'd saved over years. We don't want to be him. We don't want YOU to be him. But we also don't want you wandering the ocean with an antiquated and possibly bug-ridden device. Updating our software doesn’t just fix bugs and ensure our electronics are operating correctly; it expands the equipment’s functionality. Updates to the multifunction displays we are testing at Practical Sailor have enabled a range of new functions, including an ability to integrate with some handy i0S and Android applications. Keeping up with updates also helps avoid the rare glitches that can occur when you leap-frog several updates by replacing a very early software versions with the latest and greatest.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Bill Bishop at 11:34AM Comments (6)

Snippet Image

Estimating Solar Panel Size for Boats

March 21, 2018 - The starting point for a successful solar panel installation is quantifying your power requirements. Here we present a simple analysis based on the test boat used for our recent report on choosing and installing a solar panel. Some values are based on our experience, and others are accepted rules of thumb.
Posted by Drew Frye at 09:22AM Comments (16)

Snippet Image

Fast and Easy Rope Cleaning

March 13, 2018 - If you didn’t remove your running rigging last winter, then there is a good chance that you'll be coming back to sheets and halyards coated in dirt, mold, and mildew. What now? Here are some useful tips or cleaning cordage that we gathered from leading rope manufacturers and riggers.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson and Drew Frye at 11:53PM Comments (6)

Snippet Image

What's Hiding in Your Rig?

March 8, 2018 - When awakening your boat from its winter slumber, a rig check should be high on the list of priorities. Even though the boat has been sitting still, the laws of physics still take their toll. Corrosion is the biggest enemy, and the stainless steel components in your rig can effectively hide the insidious advance of this disease. Over the years we've published a variety of articles on the hidden risks of stainless-steel hardware - chainplates, tangs, toggles, shackles, etc. - important bits that seemingly fail without warning. In many cases, though, the potential trouble spots aren't so hidden after all. The trick is knowing where to look.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:17PM Comments (9)

Snippet Image

Safety Tether Clip-in Caution

February 28, 2018 - If you use a fixed clip-in point in your cockpit, you may want to check its design and review how you use it. With the exception of two types of tether snap hooks, our testers were able to dislodge sailing tether hooks from fixed clip-in points with very little force (less than 30 pounds). In one video we've posted, a popular Gibb-style snap hook releases under circumstances that closely replicate the the test used to certify its ability to resist an accidental release.
Posted by Drew Frye with Darrell Nicholson at 09:52AM Comments (1)

Snippet Image

Extending the Life of Your New Paint Job

February 21, 2018 - When it comes cleaning, buffing, and waxing, painted hulls present a special challenge. The durability of the shiny protection afforded by a polyurethane paint (LPU) depends upon how kindly we treat the painted surface. Two-part polyester urethane coatings such as Awlgrip II are tough, gloss-retaining coatings that will put up with some abrasion, but an aggressive buffing routine can shorten the life of the coating.
Posted by Practical Sailor at 08:43AM Comments (4)