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Buyers Beware of Post-Storm Bargains

If you are in the market for a used boat and live where winter storage is the norm, now is probably one of the best times to bargain in North America. The owner is looking at another year of storage bills for a boat he no longer wants, and he knows that trying to sell a boat thats buttoned down for the winter is like trying to sell a house thats under a circus tent. However, if you are anywhere near the pathway of last years Hurricane Matthew, that bargain boat might well turn out to be your worst nightmare.

The Great Dinghy Debate

Dinghies are the Rodney Dangerfields of cruising. They get no respect, or at least not as much as they deserve. The little boat that will see nearly as many sea miles as the mother ship is often an afterthought.

Choosing a Sailmaker

If you are planning to add a new mainsail or genoa during the Northern hemisphere winter, now is the most likely time to be able to negotiate a good price. While the migration to high-volume lofts abroad has smoothed the peaks and valleys of sail prices, there are still seasonal bargains to be had. Generally, the lull occurs October through December. By the time spring rolls around and the sailmakers find themselves swimming…

Plug that Chain-pipe

I was always amazed at how much water could seep through the chain-pipe and into Toscas anchor locker when a sea was up, or we were punching into a headsea-although punching would hardly describe the ungainly motion of a gaff-rigged ketch to weather. Wallowing? Submarining? Regardless, the chain-pipe was like a water main in those conditions …

Overheating in Docklines and Rodes

With hurricane season hitting full stride, 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.

Shaping the Cruising Spinnaker

In designing an asymmetrical cruising spinnaker, most sailmakers begin with the boats fore-triangle rig dimensions (I and J), and combine those with information about the intended use of the sail (tight reaching, reaching, or running) and information regarding where the sail will be used.

Check Chafe Before Switching to Fiber Lifelines

Fiber lifelines exhibit two kinds of chafe. There is visible chafe that occurs when lifelines are used as handholds (a bad habit), or where sails and sheets bear on them. More troublesome is the chafe that occurs in the stanchion holes. Clearly, if youre considering switching to a fiber lifeline, youll want to closely inspect any possible chafe points, and deburr and polish (with 600 grit sandpaper) any places where the line makes contact with stanchions.

Preparing Your Boat for a Tropical Storm

Hurricane season is off to an early start this year. Tropical storm Elsa, the first tropical storm of the season to make U.S. landfall this season reminds us it's never too early to have a plan in place. If you haven't given storm preparation a thought yet, a good start would be our report, Lines, Snubbers, and Other Gear for Battening Down Ahead of Storms (PS July 2008). Safety expert Ralph Naranjo's first-hand account of his storm preparations Tropical Storm Dos and Donts and How to Help Your Boat Survive A Major Storm should also be required reading.

The Pesky Problems of Boat Pests

Ever since I fell under the spell of E.B. White’s classic tale “Charlotte’s Web,” I’ve been more than reluctant to stomp on every bug we see on deck—especially spiders. I know my arachnid empathy might come back to bite me, literally. Nevertheless, when someone on board shouts, "Spider!" I still reach for a clear plastic container (to trap the uninvited guest) and sheet of notebook paper (to slip under the plastic dome, for extraction). Each time I do, I imagine prominent American philosopher and famous bug lover E.O. Wilson nodding with approval.

Don’t Kill That New AGM Battery

By now, many sailors have enjoyed their first long weekend and the boat this year, and noticed that their new absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery isn't holding a charge like it did during the last cruise. There are many things that can lead to reduced battery capacity in an AGM battery, but most often the cause is due to poor maintenance and charging regimen. Here are some tips on making sure you get maximum life out of your AGM battery.

The Pros and Cons of Leaving Your Mast Up for Winter

If you are like us, you may feel strangely guilty about leaving a mast up during winter storage. In our case, it is probably those old wooden spar days calling. Ideally, wooden spars need to come down and be sheltered and coddled at regular intervals. Aluminum masts really don't, and the sky is actually a decent place to store them.