Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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)

Snippet Image

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 (10)

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)