I have always been a big fan of brass berth lights, but have never really liked the halogen bulbs commonly used in them. The little halogen bulbs run hot, use a lot of power, and are prone to vibrating loose. When Sailor's Solutions (www.sailorsolutions.com) introduced the Sensibulb, I quickly ordered a couple to test in our custom built boat Suzy. They worked so well that I converted all six of our berth lights. The original Sensibulbs were nice units, but the mounting system was iffy. I elected to bypass the mounting system by removing the ceramic bulb holder and directly gluing the bulb support post to the back of the Sensibulb.
The proportions of the human body are the basis of all design. Cockpit seating, as with any seat or chair design, is one of the most complicated problems facing the designer. Niels Diffrient, an industrial designer and one of the world’s leading authorities on aircraft seating, says that, “Chair design is the acid test for designers”.
Of course, everything on a boat is a compromise, and so it is with propane. It has two nasty traits that must be dealt with: Propane is heavier than air, which allows the gas to collect in the bilge in the event of a leak; and propane is explosive when it collects in such places.
Even the most dedicated sun worshipper craves shade after a bright, hot day on the water. For those of us whose goals include keeping our skin intact over time, a way to get out of the sun is imperative if we are to enjoy being in the cockpit at anchororinaslip. The problem is that few sailboats come equipped with usable shade, at least when the sails are down. The solution to the shade problem is a sun awning. A sun awning also solves another problem, particularly in tropical climates. By keeping the deck shaded, and by preventing the sun from streaming through deadlights and open hatches, an awning is a big help in keeping the temperature of the cabin interior at a habitable level.
Even the best laid-out boat interior has areas of wasted space begging to be utilized. Right Track Designs storage system puts that dead space to use. Right Tracks system, distributed by Sailing Angles Inc., comprises removable storage bags and tracks to hang them on. The zippered bags come in standard and custom styles and fabrics, ranging from laminated sail cloth or clear PVC plastic (so you can see the bags contents) to mesh fabrics for wet gear.
Weve spilled our share of drinks on board, and while its a shame to see a fresh drink go to waste, some beverages can stain cushions and decks. Drink holders can help minimize onboard spills, but there are a million types marketed to boat owners-from basic lifeline-mounted wire baskets to expensive Starboard or teak binnacle boxes. To find out which is most effective, Practical Sailor field-tested a sampling from several manufacturers. Three of the 10 test products were of the old-style, gimbaled wire-basket variety that hang from a lifeline: the Sail-Buoy, the Sail-a-long, and one from Snap-It. From Edson and Snap-It, we evaluated rail- or pulpit-mountable holders made of stainless and Starboard (high-density polyethylene) and three binnacle-mounted products that can accommodate multiple drinks. The two products we tested designed to mount on vertical surfaces like a bulkhead were the Sea-Fit and the Bar-buoy.
When temperatures decrease, the search for viable heating options by shivering sailors invariably increases. A recent cold winters night provided the perfect opportunity for one blue-nosed liveaboard Practical Sailor tester to check out the HeatMate 5200 heater-stove from Contoure International Inc. The HeatMate 5200 is a portable, non-pressurized alcohol heater that easily converts into a stove. Weighing in at about 5 pounds, the fairly compact, aluminum unit measures approximately 11.75 inches tall by 11.5 inches in diameter, and it comes assembled and ready to go.
Navigator Stoves, based on Orcas Island in Washington state, produces three classic wood-burning stoves for use onboard boats and in cabins, RVs, and other small structures. The Little Cod and Sardine stove models are produced using the patterns originally made at the Lunenberg Foundry in Nova Scotia. The Halibut stove model is based on an old favorite, the Shipmate stove. The cast-iron custom-made stoves and can be ordered in the original stove polish or one of six porcelain enamels. They can burn wood and charcoal. The Halibut stove model can also burn coal. For use in warmer months, Navigator has designed denatured-alcohol drop-in burners for cooking.