Sixteen years ago, contributing writers Joe and Lee Minick equipped their Mason 43, Southern Cross, with a Heart Interface Freedom 20 charger/inverter and a Link 2000R from Cruising Equipment, both made by companies based in Valley Forge, Penn. When both of these units were ruined during a knockdown (see PS, April 2013 online), they were forced to look for a replacement.
With bug season upon us, a new product we unearthed during our medical kit test (see page 32) seemed worthy of a closer look. Natrapel 8 Hour, from Tender Corp. (parent company of Adventure Medical Kits), promises DEET-free protection from mosquitoes, ticks, no-see-ums, biting flies, and other nasties. While DEET, an EPA-registered pesticide, is the most common active ingredient in bug sprays, Natrapel uses Picaridin, a chemical that has been used in Europe for 20 years and made its way into the U.S. this decade. The Centers for Disease Control recommends both DEET and Natrapel as effective insect repellents. Both also are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which includes oil of lemon eucalyptus and oil of citronella on its list of active ingredients for repelling insects.
When boats are buttoned up in humid climates, the battle against mildew begins. With the goal of keeping onboard humidity below 65 percent, we compared compressor dehumidifiers and thermo-electric dehumidifiers, two active systems for removing moisture, with passive-drying desiccan'ts to determine which is best for keeping mildew at bay. The test products included the Eva-Dry 2000, a small, quiet thermo-electric dehumidifier; two compressor dehumidifiers, the Mermaid Dry-Pal and a Sears 30-pint; and two desiccan'ts weve tested before, Damp Rid and Absorbag. The test platforms were an outside garden shed and a 32-foot catamaran moored on the Chesapeake.
Another consideration is that many day sailors avoid using the boats head at all, often going for many months at a time without needing it. When it is used, once in a blue moon, is it worth the hassle of hauling it home to clean it out, knowing that most likely it will not be used for another 3 months? When Katrina hit New Orleans, the Red Cross handed out WAG (waste alleviation and gel) bags by the thousands to provide an emergency option. Weve been living with these too, evaluating them as an option for small boats.
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”.
In April 2008, Practical Sailor evaluated 11 cabin fans from seven manufacturers. Since that test, Caframo has gone back to the drawing board and redesigned its 748 Bora. The company also introduced a new weatherproof version of its Kona. Testers were pleased to see that the new fans clearly addressed complaints raised in our last test: The Bora radically changed its blade design to pump more air, and the Konas corrosion-prone metal grill was replaced with a plastic grill that will hold up better in salt air. Based on the new data, the Bora has climbed up into the recommended rankings. Stay tuned for this years Fan Death Match.
Letters to Practical Sailor's April 2010 issue include: MOB drills, tethers, nav lights, cleats, no-buff shines and tankless water heaters.
With the increased demand to have all the electrically powered comforts of home onboard, it should come as no surprise to boaters that the majority of AC-related electrical fires involve overheated shore-power plugs and receptacles. Prime Technology, aims to change all that with the introduction of its Shore Power Inlet Protector (ShIP for short), a monitoring and alarm device that automatically disconnects AC shore power when excessive heat is detected at the power inlet connector. We reviewed the ShIP 110 designed for use with a 110-volt, 30-amp system. The company also offers a similar unit (the ShIP 220) for use with 220-volt, 50-amp service. Charred plugs and receptacles are the result of resistance build-up (due to loose or corroded connections), which generates heat and the potential for fire, a problem especially prevalent among vessels that continually run high energy loads such as water heaters and air-conditioning units. In addition to monitoring the temperature of your vessels shore-power inlet plug and its wiring, the ShIP system automatically disconnects AC shore power when an unsafe temperature is detected, providing visual and audible alarms. (The audible alarm shuts down after five minutes to avoid prolonged disturbance to surrounding boats.)
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.
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.