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.
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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)
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)
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 (13)
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)
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)
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)
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 (12)
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)
October 18, 2017 - Two different harbors suffered almost the same fate as Hurricane Irma raked South Florida with hurricane force winds. In both places, tens of thousands of dollars in damage might have been prevented had the owners of large vessels better secured their boats. In Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, a fifty-foot houseboat broke lose from its anchor and went careening through the mooring field where dozens of boats where moored. According to the salvage crews I spoke with, the houseboat was one of the key contributors to the pile-up in the harbor that caused several boats to break loose and go ashore. Falling like dominoes, boat after boat stacked up at the dinghy dock, in the mangroves, or into a bridge on the north side of the anchorage.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:49AM Comments (3)
October 10, 2017 - We’ve had a lot of fun with toilets and sanitation systems in the last couple of years, and after last weekend, when I descended into the smelliest brokerage boat I’d ever set foot on, I thought I’d revisit some of our findings here.The good news is that a stinky head is curable. The better news is that it need not cost you an arm and a leg. That’s not to say a cure is cheap—this is a cruising boat we’re talking about—but in many cases, a change in maintenance habits and less than $20 can put you on the path to deep breathing again.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:01PM Comments (13)
September 27, 2017 - John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal of Mahina Expeditions bluewater voyaging school have weathered a few earthquakes and tsunamis in their decades of teaching others aboard their Hallberg-Rassy 46 sailboat, Mahina Tiare III. In the wake of the 2009 tsunami on Samoa, they devised an earthquake/tsunami awareness and response system that they now include in the Mahina Expeditions curriculum. With the goal of helping other sailors, the Neals have allowed Practical Sailor to post this strategy here on Inside Practical Sailor.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:20AM Comments (0)
September 27, 2017 - As we found in our test of do-it-yourself nonskid deck paints and panels, revamping a nonskid deck is a time-consuming project, one that you'd rather not have to repeat every few years. Here are a few tips to help you get more mileage out of your nonskid deck.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:47AM Comments (7)
September 20, 2017 -
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:29PM Comments (4)
September 13, 2017 - If you have made it this far through the cruising season with nothing more than a few dings and chips on the family cruiser you can count yourself very lucky. Achieving the same level of gelcoat gloss, adhesion, and color of the original hull or deck is a kind of black art, and it is a field full of pretenders. You could run a weekend movie marathon with all of the YouTube DIY channels offering bad advice on gelcoat repairs.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:09PM Comments (6)