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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.

Quest for the Sailboat Cupholder

Although molded-in cupholders are common on fishing boats and even fishing coolers have molded in cupholders, very few monohull sailboats include cupholders molded into the deck, for the obvious reasons that they heel. In effect, most sailboat owners are only a little better off than Model T owners in the 1920s who had to order their cup holders through the Sears Catalog.

The Big Chill: Preparing to Sail Through Winter

For the first year since escaping New England to take the helm of Practical Sailor in 2005, I’ll be experiencing a true autumn, this time...

Adventures in Onboard Coffee-making

As far as I can tell, no one yet has designed the ideal way to make a cup of coffee underway aboard a sailboat. With the hopes of sparing other coffee lovers years of frustration, or possible injury, I'm sharing my experience with the several methods we've tried.

Refinishing Your Boat’s Non-skid Deck

Although you can allow your varnish and hull paint to fade, crack, or peel with no more penalty than the disdain of those who mistake shine for soul, you don't want to let your non-skid deck paint lose its grip. Even the most soulful boat evokes a sense of pity if its owner is lying flat on their back asking for help.