Onboard Amenities: Endurance test of 12-volt Fans Wraps Up

Practical Sailors review of 11 cabin fans in 2008 launched an ongoing test of their durability over the longhaul. We evaluated 12-volt fans from Hella Marine, Fantastic Vent, Caframo, and HotWire. A test update in the August 2009 issue introduced some new players and cut those that had been discontinued. The ones that remained faced six months of continuous run time. This report wraps up the long-term test with a look at the last fans standing.

New Clear, No-rust Propane Tanks

Unlike aluminum or steel propane tanks, clear composite tanks allow users to see how much fuel remains, a nice feature in an LPG tank.Following our year-long evaluation of Ragasco’s 9-kilogram one-piece blow-molded tank, Practical Sailor tested the American-made Lite Cylinder, a two-piece composite tank. The two tanks have nearly identical dimensions, and may be a challenge to fit in a standard propane locker designed for metal tanks. In fire tests, composite tanks melt rather than “explode” like metal tanks, giving them a slight edge in safety, and the non-metal tanks resist rusting, a common problem of aluminum LPG tanks.

Cabin Fan Test Returns

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.

Troubleshooting AC Units

I have an air-conditioning unit with more than 14,000 BTUs. Here in Florida, with a 38-foot boat, that just doesn’t hack it. The unit’s been checked for efficiency by a technician. My prior boat (also 38 feet) had two units totaling over 20,000 BTUs. Those were effective, but that output is enough to cool a small store ashore. How are boat A/C BTUs determined? I suspect the temperature of coolant water is a major factor. Also, what is the effect when coolant water is suppressed by a clogged filter? Are they built to automatically shut down the compressor?

Mailport: 12/06

MARINE INSURANCE REDUXI have been reading with much interest your articles about marine insurance this year (April and May 2006).

Rhumb Lines — Getting a Fix on Reality

It was mid-July 1990 on the Caicos Banks, a stretch of shallow, gin-clear water extending for about 70 miles east to west in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Along with a dozen other cruisers whod chosen to thumb our noses at hurricane season (ah, those were simpler times), we were pausing in Providenciales before heading south. …

Cabin Heater Update

After a test report was published in the Jan. 1, 2005 issue on eight small portable electric heaters, a number of readers contacted Practical...

Portable Cabin Heaters

Among the 12V models, the Back Seat is tops; among the 110 V models, we like the Caframo; and the alcohol-powered Origo is always a reliable standby.

Boat-Heating Options

There are plenty of ways to extend the season and keep a cosy cabin, ranging from simple to complex. Here's a view of the solution range.

Keeping Your Cool With A/C

Part 2—What’s new with refrigerants and controls.

Build Your Own Boot Dryer

The advantage of a home-built boot dryer is that you can make it fit any number of boots and gloves, and add extensions for drying foul weather gear, options that are not available on the retail market