Some Propane Dos and Don’ts

Theres nothing more satisfying than capping a pleasant day on the water with a good meal, be it burgers and dogs on the grill or some fancy, culinary extravaganza whipped up by the galley wizard. Most marine stoves and grills use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Its efficient, relatively cheap, and widely available. Its also highly explosive-particularly with regards to boat installations-which makes proper installation and regular inspection so critical in onboard systems.

Portable Marine Toilets for Small Boats

A few steps above the old cedar bucket, portable marine toilets are essentially glorified waste containers, but a good one offers more comfort than a bucket, wont leak, and can be emptied and cleaned with limited hassle. We tested three porta potties made by Thetford-the Porta Potti 260, the Porta Potti 550P, and the Porta Potti Curve-and two West Marine-brand port potties made by Dometic/SeaLand, the Runabout 962 and the Cruiser 976. Testers rated performance, features, and construction quality.

Ventilation Can be Improved in Almost Any Boat

Fresh air and a dry berth are two “rare," commodities in the belowdecks caverns of most boats. On deck you may be surrounded by endless quantities of fresh air. Below, fresh air frequently comes mingled with similar quantities of fresh or salt water, sometimes in the form of an emulsion that is difficult to breathe at best. Most boats are well ventilated at the dock or at anchor, or even under way in fair weather. But let the wind blow, the spray fly, and the rain fall, and the interior can quickly become a dank swamp if you leave an opening for ventila­tion, or an airless dungeon if you don't. Fortunately, ventilation can be improved in almost any boat, new or old. In the grand scheme of things, improv­ing ventilation is relatively cheap; far less expensive, for example, than installing refrigeration or a sophisticated propane system.

Conversion Kits that Turn Your Boat’s Ice Box Into a Galley Refrigerator

Practical Sailor tested three kits that convert onboard ice boxes into full-fledged refrigeration systems. The three reefer conversion kits in the review-the Waeco-Adler Barbour Cold Machine (CU 100) from Dometic Corp., the Frigoboat Capri 35F by Veco SPA, and the Sea Frost BD-represent a cross-section of whats available on todays refrigeration conversion kit market. Testers looked closely at energy efficiency and the 12-volt units abilities to cool a small ice box with the least amount of amp hours possible. Testers looked at quality, details, reliability, and cooling capacity.

Mailport: August 2013

On strolling through Port Townsend (Wash.) Boat Haven, while I was having some work done on my boat, I saw this boat (photo at right) and the owners attitude written on a sign in front of the boat. It reminded me of your June 18, 2013 blog, Dont Let Refit Pitfalls Derail Your Cruising Plans.

Next Best Thing

While world leaders and presumed financial wizards set to work trying to right the global economy with some very expensive bailers and sponges, Practical Sailor has taken the time this month to dig through our recent collection of Chandlery submissions to see if we can find anything more useful. Given sailors capacities for innovation (aka "jury rigging"), were holding out hope that the next great invention-the ultimate stimulus package-lies somewhere in our growing stockpile of Chandlery items.

A Permanent Mount for the Sensibulb LED Reading Light

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 ( 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.