December 6, 2016 - For washing your sails, most sailmakers recommend using mild soap and water, and avoiding anything abrasive. Use a soft brush, if necessary, to loosen dirt. For dirt or stains that are more deeply embedded, you may need to soak the sail, so you'll have to locate some kind of large container, depending upon the size of the soiled area.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:44PM Comments (6)
November 29, 2016 - As a good friend finds himself in the middle of the often daunting process of equipping a full-size cruising boat for an extended cruise with his family, I found myself reflecting on some of the things I discovered over the years through my own experience and the experience of others. There seems to be no shortage of books that tell you what you need to do to go cruising, but very few seem to caution about what NOT to do or what to avoid. Here are a few things that I found get in the way of a long-term sailing escape. I’d love to hear more tips on how to avoid these and other pitfalls that can swallow the cruising dream.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:28PM Comments (11)
November 23, 2016 - Although it is unlikely in a typical installation, you can have too much anodic protection. This is more common with miscalibrated impressed current systems, where a transformer is used to provide the electrical potential, but too many zinc anodes or too reactive anodes can also have unintended consequences you should recognize. This is particularly important for owners of wood or steel boats.
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November 16, 2016 - Those boatowners preparing their gasoline-powered boats for winter storage will want to take a look at our gas additive test which compares the corrosion fight characteristics of such products as Biobor EB, Valv Tect, Sta-bil Marine Formula, Mercury QuickStor, Sea Foam and others. It is important to keep in mind that additives can’t solve real gasoline-quality problems. At best, consider additives to be only a final tweaking opportunity, something to supplement the following fuel-management practices.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:30PM Comments (2)
October 26, 2016 - In our upcoming test of marine sealants we looked at ways to develop bonds between common polyurethane sealants and polyethylene plastics—the kind of plastic used in a variety of marine products ranging from fuel tanks to baseplates. Starboard is one of the most common brand-name high-density polyethylene materials, and it is notoriously difficult to seal or bond using conventional caulks or adhesive sealants. But there is a partial solution to using an adhesive sealant with plastic, and our tests show it works.
Posted by Drew Frye at 09:58AM Comments (0)
October 11, 2016 - Our first surprises came when we began pull- and push-testing the telescoping boathooks. Only one pole consistently held firm under load. All the others slipped at loads between 100 and 185 pounds. We then tested them in compression. Most of the poles could manage 170-pounds of compression, although a few telescoping poles slipped.
Posted by Drew Frye at 06:53PM Comments (0)
September 27, 2016 - Each time Practical Sailor conducts an anchor test, we get questions about the materials used in anchors, particularly stainless steel. Stainless steel is much less prone to unsightly and destructive oxidation than mild steel, even when it has been hot-dipped galvanized and protected by a heat-bonded zinc coating.
Posted by Darrell Nicholso at 11:06AM Comments (1)
September 21, 2016 - In the most recent issue of Practical Sailor, we identified four anchor shackles that fell below expectations and are advising readers not to buy these shackles. Two of the shackles were stainless steel, a material we regard as unsuitable for use as an anchor shackle, and two were galvanized shackles distributed widely in the United States and abroad.
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September 13, 2016 - Canvas dodgers and biminis are the hallmark of a cruising yacht, keeping the sun at bay and allowing the crew to “dodge” the worst of the weather. On board, canvas also protects sails, windows, and machinery. Collectively, these represent a substantial financial investment, and we wanted to find the best way to protect the investment and get the most life out of the canvas.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson with Drew Frey at 04:58PM Comments (1)
September 7, 2016 - As high-speed, cellular data service extends throughout the coastal U.S. and abroad, the ability to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot (MiFi) has diminished the need for a Wi-Fi connection to a shore-based network. But cellular data plans can be expensive, service can be spotty, and high-speed data isn’t offered everywhere. In the October 2016 issue of Practical Sailor we look at an integrated antenna/WiFi adapter/router that allows you to quickly connect to the internet using either a shore-based Wi-Fi network or cellular service (2G/3G/4G/LTE).
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:40AM Comments (1)
August 19, 2016 - Murphy’s Law has an affinity for old marine diesel engines with aging fuel systems. Contaminated fuel is a common problem, and late last year we looked at various additives that claim to preserve stability in both gasoline and diesel fuel during long-term storage. But fuel system maintenance doesn’t stop during the sailing season. Here are some fuel-system management practices that will help you avoid any fuel-related problems this season.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 03:26PM Comments (0)
August 16, 2016 - The boat's electrical system is often the most vexing for boat owners—but it doesn't have to be. With the right tools, quality materials, and a modest amount of preventative maintenance, you can ensure a flicker-free (or nearly so) existence on the water. If you've got a rewiring or electronics installation project ahead of you, or if just want to make sure nothing goes on the fritz once you're offshore, this information-packed blog post is for you.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 02:53PM Comments (11)
August 3, 2016 - “Do they check your boat when you go back to America?” “They do,” I said, though I had no idea if anyone did. “And I think the Cuban customs officials bring dogs on board, before we leave, to make sure no one is hiding on the boat.”
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:50AM Comments (5)
July 26, 2016 - My main problem with boat fenders is that they appear to violate the cardinal rule of cruising: any object you bring aboard should serve at least two purposes (the way your crewmate's favorite yellow shirt makes a great “Q” flag). A fender, however, does only one job—cushion the blow between the hull and something hard—and then it swallows up valuable lazarette or anchor locker space when that one job is not required.
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July 19, 2016 - Most long-time readers are familiar with our ratings categories—Best Choice, Recommended, and Budget Buy—but their significance might not be so obvious to new readers. In fact, we’ve received a number of letters from people asking us to clarify what these ratings mean. So, here it is.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:51AM Comments (3)