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Sailboat Winter Covers: What to Look For

The approach of winter in the northern hemisphere brings with it that age-old question: How best to protect the boat from snow and ice? Already boats on Lake Superior are being pulled from the water, and sailors as far south as the Chesapeake are beginning to think about buttoning up for winter. While many power boats choose shrink-wrapping over a more permanent solution, sailboats-with their masts stepped or unstepped-are perfectly suited for reusable, custom, or semi-custom covers.

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.
j/24 and Olympic Circle Sailing Club

Keep Calm and Carry On Cursing

I know plenty of sailors who wouldnt hesitate to curse a J24. I should mention that these are mostly racing sailors, and they do a lot of cursing.

Treatments to Preserve Ropes and Lines through the Seasons

If you want your ropes to stay a bit lighter in the rain and spray, waterproofing treatments can definitely help. In our testing, Nikwax Rope Proof made a 39-percent difference in water-weight gain after a dunking—compared to untreated line—after eight months of use. It also gave a subtle, but unmistakable, improvement in handling and reduction in snarling. It seems like good stuff to use on all sheets and halyards.

Tool Buying Guide for the Cruising Sailor

When it takes longer to find the right tool for the job than to actually complete the job, consider creating your own doctors bag of boat tools. In this weeks Inside Practical Sailor blog, youll find great advice on taming your toolbox from veteran circumnavigator Evans Starzinger, as well as links to some of our most popular tests of hand tools and power tools-just in time for Father's Day.

Dealing with Dirty Sails

For washing your sails, most sailmakers recommend using mild soap and water, and avoiding anything abrasive. Use a soft brush, if necessary, to loosen dirt. For dirt or stains that are more deeply embedded, you may need to soak the sail, so you'll have to locate some kind of large container, depending upon the size of the soiled area.

Ian Exposes Risks to Boats in Hurricane Zone

Southwest Florida is a risky place to keep a boat during hurricane season. Even very early in the Ian's development near the island of Grenada, the risk to Florida’s Gulf Coast was clear. Storms moving eastward at that latitude frequently enter the Gulf of Mexico and intensify, posing a threat to the southwest corner of the Florida peninsula, an area that is also vulnerable to storms approaching from the Atlantic. The area around Marco Island, just to the south of where Ian made landfall, has been criss-crossed by powerful storms so frequently from so many different direction that the NOAA historical map resembles that for airline flight paths into Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport.

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 Ian 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.

Choosing the Perfect Hurricane Hole

Even though we get plenty of warning for named storms, there never seems to be enough time to make all the necessary preparations. And once the weather starts to deteriorate, setting storm gear becomes difficult and exhausting – if you can reach the hurricane hole at all. If you are cruising in a hurricane-prone area this year, dedicate some time in June (or sooner) to take a dry-run to your chosen spot. Strip the boat and deploy the gear as you would use it. This will give you a clear picture of how much time you need to prepare.

How Sailors Can Be Citizen Scientists

Fortunately, there are dozens of organizations where sailors can take on the role of citizen scientists. They offer opportunities to expand our understanding of the natural world and gather information that can help guide meaningful action on a broader scale. Advances in mobile sensors and satellite communication, in particular, have created a range of new opportunities for sailors to collect data at sea or in their ports of call.