Stay Warm, Stay Safe

About this time of year, sailors creeping southward are either accelerating their migration or looking for inexpensive ways to warm the cabin. You don't have to install an expensive, built-in heating system just to get you south of the Mason-Dixon line, but when opting for one of the less-expensive options, you do have to use commonsense.

Bargain-priced Sailing Clothes for Cold Weather

The first breath of autumn rolled across the North American continent this month, reminding us all that summer’s end is fast upon us. And since this summer was such a bust for many sailors who had the season cut short by the COVID-19 restrictions, you are probably not the only one who looked across the harbor last week and thought, “I better put on another layer.”

Stay Safe While Saving a Storm-damaged Boat

When people are hurt and homes and precious possessions are destroyed or lost forever, a wrecked recreational sailboat seems wholly unimportant. But for many people, the boat is their home or is connected to their livelihood. In the coming days and weeks, more people will be returning to their vessels after Hurricane Laura and doing what they can to keep them safe. Boat owners should be aware of steps they can take to prevent further loss to their boats. And more importantly, they should be aware of the precautions they can take to keep themselves safe during the period when most storm-related injuries and deaths occur.

The Penny Pincher’s Guide to Discount Sailmakers

There are a number of details to consider when ordering a sail. Cloth types and weights should correspond to the kind of sailing you do as well as your expectations for the sail's longevity. For the mainsail, there are questions regarding the number of reefs you want, and where to put them. Genoas will need to have the appropriately-sized luff tape to fit an existing roller furling unit (or the right size hanks). Another option specific to furling units is whether to have a foam luff sewn into the sail.

Old Books About Shallow-draft Boats

A good sea story can hardly replace the experience of being at on the water, but for many of us it is an effective balm for the sea-starved soul. While putting together our recent report exploring the pros and cons of shoal-draft boats, I was reminded of two books I'd written about in connection with our review of the Presto 30, Rodger Martin's revival of of a 19th century design.

Know Your Life Raft Inspection Requirements

The experience of the owners of the 14-year-old, six-man, valise-stored Avon liferaft pictured here reminds us of the importance of following the manufacturers inspection schedule. With air leaking from the seams and through the fabric itself, the raft is a graphic example of how even a professionally serviced liferaft that remains dry in its hard canister can deteriorate to the point of becoming worthless.

Simple Tips to Improve Boat Ventilation

As ventilation experts explore ways to make indoor spaces safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, we became curious about ventilation in our boats. As it turns out, where we install our exhaust or intake vents (portlight, hatch, or cowl) is just as important as what type of vent we use. Just as we can use the suction on the leeward side of a sail to pull the boat forward, we can use pressure differentials in the air surrounding the cabin to maximize the ventilation. Understanding the pressure differentials created by the flow of air over our boat’s deck is vital to the success of any passive ventilation scheme.

Overheating in Docklines and Rodes

With hurricane season ramping up, many of us are going over our rope inventory, making sure we have more than enough lines to secure the boat. Chafe gear fights external friction on our lines, but how do we combat internal heat build-up? Dock lines are particularly susceptible to overheating. If the boat is exposed to short-period chop from the side, the frequency can be high and the force can exceed the 10:1 safe working limit, and even with rain or spray to cool the rope there may be significant weakening due to internal friction.

Painting Your Boat Like a Pro

In a few months, we'll be publishing what will likely be our final update on our ongoing test of marine topside finishes - a project now in its fifth year. It will be interesting to see which hull paints have stood the test of time. If you can't wait until this spring to get your paint project rolling (and tipping), here is a rundown of free articles that will offer expert guidance on getting a good do-it-yourself finish for your sailboat.

International Sailing During COVID-19

The Valiant 40 on the cover of the September issue is named Brick House and belongs to longtime contributor the late Patrick Childress and...

In Search of the Perfect Portable Boarding Ladder

Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadnt seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed-at least in the photo-pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker-the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.