No one really wants just practical gifts, so weve tried to locate a few items that go beyond pure utility for this holiday season.
Most rice and grain sold in western countries is fumigated, generally with phosphine. However, this often kills only the live insects, leaving the eggs able to germinate. Surely there are other ways available to the cruisers to extend the life of rice and grains.
After several rounds of chemical testing for holding tanks, we have got this stink detection down to a science. Because the masking chemicals are more effective in in port-a-potty applications, there is only one true measure of effectiveness: whether the toilet still stinks after it is flushed.
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.
Does block or bottled ice last longer than cube ice? What about dry ice? Will wrapping a blanket around the ice chest really help? What about moving the ice into a smaller cooler?
Slips and falls will probably always be the greatest hazard on a sailboat, whether the result is a trip over the side, a knee slammed into the deckhouse, or a tumble down the companionway.
One of the great joys of sailing is the state of near nakedness (literal and figurative) to the wind, air, and sea-and the wisdom that comes with it. From that perspective, climate control seems antithetical to the sailors art. But being Practical Sailor (not Philosophical Sailor) we recognize that even the hardiest round-the-world racers seek temporary refuge dampness, cold, and heat. And for one looking to make the transition from the landlubbers life in temperate climates to full-time cruiser in the tropics, the idea of air-conditioning-despite its huge power demands-is alluring.
Insulation is a greater energy-saving expedient; if our heater or air conditioner is undersized, fixing drafts, shading or insulating windows, and insulating non-cored laminate are all ways to reduce the thermal load. For boaters, however, that is only half of the equation.
First, we set up an R-value test rig, exposing sample materials to a temperature difference and measuring the difference in heat flow (see adjacent photo). The main thing to take away from this is that small areas of very poor insulation-windows or non-cored laminate-will benefit best from insulation.