Gear Graveyard: Expired EPIRB Batteries, Obsolete EPIRBS

We received the letter below yesterday from Practical Sailor reader Arnold Rowe. He was kind enough to let us share it (with some minor edits of his well-expressed and understandable ire), with the hopes of raising awareness of the limited service life of 406 EPIRBs. Having had a similar experience years ago with the torpedo-sized RLB23 (which set me back more than a $1,000 in the 90s) I can sympathize. The now obsolete RLB23 is officially consigned to Practical Sailors Gear Graveyard, and I expect a series of other newly obsolete EPIRBs to join it.

Cobra Handheld VHF with Cell Phone Capabilities

Cobra has been coming out with some interesting radio products at fairly affordable prices. Weve tested several of their products in recent years, and although they didn't always come out on top, theyve been very competitively priced. Their $100 submersible HH325, Practical Sailors top pick in our test of budget-priced submersible VHFs and fixed mount radios, has held up well in long-term testing. Another Cobra handheld, priced at about $150, compared closely with the higher-end portable VHFs.

First Look at Interlux’s latest marine coatings

As Practical Sailor reported in the one-year update for our long-term wood finishes test in the December issue, Interlux Yacht Paints recently released three new exterior varnishes: Perfection Plus, a clear two-part polyurethane; Schooner Gold, a high-viscosity, quick-building varnish; and Compass, a fast-drying hybrid of classic tung oil and polyurethane.

PS First Look: Selden’s Code X Furler

In Practical Sailors last review of Code 0 furlers, in the March 2008 issue, testers found many benefits to incorporating light-air sails in a sailplan and to using a continuous furler rather than a sock to control some of those sails.

Power-Assist Winch Grinding from WinchRite

Ive seen several attempts to convert existing battery-operated power tools into power winches, and readers have suggested a few of them in the Mailport section of Practical Sailor. Not surprisingly, it is a popular topic with our long-term subscribers. Many of you have been with us for more than 30 years (amen!), and the years of winch grinding are inevitably taking their toll on wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

West Marine’s Top Picks for 2010

Practical Sailor hasnt tested any of these products yet, but weve evaluated plenty of Harken gear, a variety of gadgets from Blue Sea Systems, and various apparel from West Marine in the past.

Superwind 350 Wind-gen Upgrades

The Superwind 350 was Practical Sailors top pick of the five wind-generators we reviewed in the July 2007 issue and it was named to PSs 2007 Gear of the Year list. Since that test, the Superwinds manufacturer has made some improvements in the units design and function, including the new carbon-fiber Silent Power Blades.

Antifouling paint prices hold steady

I just finished my first run-through on bottom paint prices and noticed that, for the first time in recent memory, I don't see any significant price jumps. Naturally, with the lagging economy, it behooves paint makers to offer the best value to consumers. Nevertheless, I was surprised by some of the prices, particularly since copper prices have regained much of the ground they lost last year. Several of our Good paints in our six-month checkup fell right around $100/gallon mark.

Hot Water Heater Installation Tips

To keep pipe joints from leaking, use Teflon tape or pipe joint compound, and remember that hose barb-to-hose connections are much easier to make drip-proof with a hose clamp than the same connection made on a threaded pipe stub.