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Connecting Very Small Wires on Boats

If new LED lights or marine electronics are your horizon, you'll soon find yourself tangling with tiny wire connections that seem so fragile it's hard to imagine any crimp or connector providing the reliability we need in marine systems. Although it's fairly easy to create a reliable crimp or connection between size AWG 12 wires used to power many 12-volt accessories, once the wire sizes start creeping down into AWG 22 size commonly used in data cables and LED lights, creating robust connections requires some specialized tools and techniques.

Building a Better Boat Fender

My main problem with boat fenders is that they appear to violate the cardinal rule of cruising: any object you bring aboard should serve at least two purposes (the way your crewmate's favorite yellow shirt makes a great Q flag). A fender, however, does only one job-cushion the blow between the hull and something hard-and then it swallows up valuable lazarette or anchor locker space when that one job is not required.

Engine Spares for the Cruising Sailor

Cruising sailors rely on their engines a lot more than they like to admit. Although the internet has helped close the gap between parts suppliers and cruising sailors in far corners of the earth, the long-term cruiser still has to carefully consider which spare parts and supplies he needs to carry with him. …

Improving Roller Furling Efficiency

One of the easiest ways to improve the furling efficiency of all types of furlers is tackle the line-lead challenge. It starts with the angle that line leads on and off the drum, progresses into a sweeping arc as the line makes its way to the cockpit and ends with another change in direction that leads the line to the hands of a crew member or a winch drum.

Defeating Bacteria in Your Diesel Fuel

The crud that is clogging my filters are microrganisms, primitive creatures that live in water and feed on oil, informally called “HUM-bugs.” The HUM stands for Hydrocarbon Utilizing Microorganisms. There are many kinds of HUM-bugs—bacteria and fungus (mold, yeast, algae, etc.). Some need oxygen, some don't. Many are airborne. Some thrive best in freshwater, some in salt. They all create thick slime, which helps them stick to surfaces and protect themselves from attack. It's unlikely that you can buy diesel fuel without getting some.

Diesel Fuel Polishing Systems

If you plan on doing some long-term cruising on a boat with on an auxiliary diesel, and expect to be picking up fuel in out of the way places, or if the boat has a history of clogged filters, then it might worth the time and expense to install a fuel polishing system.

Upgrading the Cruising Mainsail

The old main was constructed of Dacron, and polyester continued to offer the best balance of cost, longevity, and performance for our particular situation. We decided to go with a premium-grade polyester (Dimension 360AP-MTO 8.4 ounce). Premium polyester is tightly woven and has a high yarn count that provides good shape retention and good performance over a wide range of wind speeds.

Keep it Simple Sail Repair Kit

If you're going to sail you'll be doing some stitching-no two ways about it. That doesn't mean you have to go overboard with sail repair tools. Don't jump into the $100 do-everything kit. Start with a modest kit, adding tools and materials only as your skills grow and projects require them. Chances are, you already have most of what you need in your other supply lockers or tool boxes.

The Old Salt’s Solution to Chafe Prevention

Our approach to chafe protection for the upcoming storm season was straight out of the old-salt playbook. Using a sharp knife and metal straight edge, we lopped off the size of leather we needed. Holes were punched opposite each other at 1/2-inch intervals, and for temporary use, we zigzagged small cord the length of the leather. For a more permanent installation, we hand-stitched the leather in place, tucking locking stitches into the rope at each end. Holes were made with a pliers-like hole punch, and we fashioned our chafe strips to be long enough to cover the hard points, adding an additional 25 percent to the length to handle stretch and any minor slippage.

Bottom Paint Removal Decision Time

However you choose to use your scarce time, we’ll wager that you’d rather not spend it removing bottom paint. If you are an owner of an older boat with a decade of accumulated hard bottom paint that is flaking and cracking, now is a good time to start weighing your options for removing the old paint. Should you do it yourself, or hire the professionals—or a bit of both? Our experts break down the different approaches to removing old antifouling and the compare the estimated costs of each.