Get the Most Out of Practical Sailor’s Subscriber Services

Your aspirations are our inspiration. You keep dreaming, we'll keep testing.


Another runner has made it! It’s always nice to get an email or letter from an appreciative reader letting us know they’ve escaped the land of the dirt dwellers. The shot above is from John Stone’s single-handed passage from Beaufort, North Carolina to St. John, USVI this fall aboard his refit Cape Dory 36 Far Reach. The solo passage saw quite a bit of wind.


Some details:

-Total distance: 1,466 miles sailed

-Time: 12 days 6 hours

-Reefs : At least of 16 times

-Sail changes: 19

-Tacks: 4

-Fuel used: 6 gallons

-Water used: 20 gallons

-Ships sighted: 8

Here is a blog post covering Far Reach’s passage from Beaufort, to St. John.

The special thing about John’s refit is how well he documented the six-year process of gutting and completely rebuilding the 36-foot Cape Dory in a temporary shed adjacent to his North Carolina home. His older website offers an impressive look at what a truly complete refit entails.

Another noteworthy bit about Far Reach’s refit is that John adhered to the principles that we’ve emphasized over the years—focus on the essentials, keep things simple.

John is a longtime subscriber to Practical Sailor, and what I’d call a “power user,” someone who has managed to master our less-than-perfect, but truly vast and incomparable archive of product tests.

“Anytime I’m going to do something on the boat, I check the archive and see what you all have done,” he told me over the phone a few months before his departure. “I don’t always follow your recommendation, but it always informs my own decisions, and I really appreciate this resource.”

Here are a few tips to getting the most out of our services.

1. Search our vast archives. Here are three ways to do it:
a) Use the Practical Sailor search function (click on the rather magnifying glass icon). The search function works on any device, but I find easiest to use on a desktop or laptop. Try to be as specific as possible. If general searches deliver too many results, a brand search will often produce a good match (i.e. “Spectra watermaker”). You can bookmark the link to our search page, which is here
b) Google search within the domain (for example, “Spectra watermaker”). Entering the words “Practical Sailor” before your search terms also works (Note: Any searches made outside of the Practical Sailor website will not pick up the subscriber-only articles, or other premium content — only the limited number of reports available to non-subscribers).
c) Still can’t find the report you need? Paid subscribers can email me at and I can usually dig up whatever you need.

2. To get the full value of any archive article, paid subscribers should download the corresponding issue PDF,  which often features material unavailable in the online version — especially the older reports. The corresponding issue for any online report is the month following the month that the online report was posted. For example, if an article was posted online on June 22, 2019, it was published in the July 2019 print issue, so that is the PDF to download. All the PDFs of issues published in the last two decades can be found here:   To go directly to the issue that you seek enter “Full Issue xxx” in the search bar (with “xxx” being the month and year of the issue that you need). For example, let’s say your search for reports on steering systems turns up Ralph Naranjo’s excellent report “Steady at the Helm,” published February 24, 2020 (meaning it is in the March 2020 issue). If you enter “Full Issue March 2020” in the Practical Sailor website search box, you’ll get a result with a link to the page where you can download the complete March 2020 issue, including that article.

3. Read our popular Frequently Asked Questions page at to make the most best use of other services offered to subscribers and to resolve some common problems like resetting your password, logging in, and subscription delivery changes. For subscription problems, online access, technical problems, or other questions unrelated to Practical Sailor content, email We have customer service staff dedicated to answering your questions 24/7. Note: Many users have registered under two emails, only one of which is linked to their paid account with premium access, so if you are having trouble logging in, double check which email you are using.

4. Participate in Practical Sailor. Because we are entirely subscriber supported, you play a huge role in deciding our coverage. We rely greatly on the comments and questions we get from our readers in deciding where future issues will take you. Several ways readers can participate are:
a) Write letters to our Mailport section. This is where readers can share their experiences, novel solutions, suggestions for future tests, or product complaints. Send your letters to Be sure to include your boat model, name, and your homeport. We also encourage you to include high resolution photo of your boat to share.
b) Submit proposals for our Readers Workbench series, which features helpful DIY Projects that readers have carried out.
c) Where Credit is Due letters. This is where readers can voice their appreciation for a particular product or service. Send your Where Credit is Due suggestions to Be sure to include your boat model, name, and your homeport. We also encourage you to include high resolution photo of your boat to share.
d) Send technical questions to PS Advisor. This is where readers can ask our team of experts technical questions regarding anything related to sailing.
e) Send us your junk products to our Gear Graveyard. Got a piece of equipment that really let you down? Contact me at about sending it to an expert who can best evaluate what went wrong and, if necessary, to caution other users.
f) Participate in our reader surveys. Links to these surveys are published in the magazine, on the website, and our online newsletters.

5. Invest in Practical Sailor ebooks, available in our online bookstore. The volume of reports in our archives can be overwhelming, especially those topics like gelcoat repair and  maintenance, which we have covered multiple times over the course of our nearly five decades of testing. If you want to save time sifting through the archives on a particular topic, our editorial team has done the hard work for you by creating continually updated anthologies of our work. These are PDF ebooks that you can download directly to your computer, phone or tablet device. We now have more than three dozen different ebooks available on almost everything under the sun, including: choosing and maintaining sails, offshore safety and man overboard prevention and recovery, controlling onboard odors, fighting mildew, ensuring clean water onboard, and more. Our online library also includes a select number of outstanding print books from other book publishers. These books have been personally selected by our staff. Several, like Ralph Naranjo’s outstanding “Art of Seamanship” and Dan Spurr’s “Spurr’s Guide to Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat,” are written by contributors. Every sale of these books and ebooks helps support our testing program.

6. Control the number of e-mail notifications you get. Our e-mail notifications include my weekly blog posts, timely reports, and book promotions. Paid subscribers can control these eblasts here:

7. Spread the word. As we come up on our 50th anniversary in a couple of years, one thing remains unchanged, word of mouth is still the best promotion for our 100-percent subscriber supported research. Our independent ad-free publication and testing program relies heavily on the dedication of extremely knowledgeable experts committed to keeping sailing safe and fun. Most of all, it relies on you. If you know someone who might benefit from our many publications and our vast archive, please suggest Practical Sailor. Many of our reports are available to the public, so they can see for themselves what we can offer.

8. Finally, if you, like John, finally fulfill your sailing dreams, drop us a line at and rub it in. Your sailing aspirations are our inspiration.


Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


  1. I am a subscriber. I have searched hard but I cannot find the recent article about a spinnaker furler mentioned in your email above. Can you point us to it please?


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