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Tips for Caulking Polyethylene

In our upcoming test of marine sealants we looked at ways to develop bonds between common polyurethane sealants and polyethylene plastics-the kind of plastic used in a variety of marine products ranging from fuel tanks to baseplates. Starboard is one of the most common brand-name high-density polyethylene materials, and it is notoriously difficult to seal or bond using conventional caulks or adhesive sealants. But there is a partial solution to using an adhesive sealant with plastic, and our tests show it works.

Celestial Navigation and Weather Classes on Tap

If youre headed to the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis October 4-8, we encourage you to stick around a few days to pick up some wisdom from Practical Sailors Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo. Ralph will be teaching a couple of his signature courses at the Annapolis School of Seamanship in downtown Annapolis during the days shortly after the show.

Beware of ‘Tankless’ LPG Water Heaters

Tankless propane water heaters carry serious risk of causing carbon-monoxide poisoning or oxygen depletion when mounted in a tight or sealed space. Because a boat is more tightly sealed than a shoreside home, the carbon monoxide is more likely to become trapped.

Lifesling Inspection Tips

For many in the northern hemisphere winter is the off-season, which means it's a great time inspect safety gear. Lifejackets and throwable rescue aids like the Lifesling which incorporate materials that degrade over time deserve particularly close attention. Even new safety equipment deserves close inspection. Probably the most startling safety equipment failure we've experienced was that of a newly bought child's safety harness with a polypropylene tether that immediately broke under very little load.

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 didnt 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.

PS Seeks Input on Harness and Tether Design

Weve received some good suggestions from readers in response to my editorial in the March issue of Practical Sailor that described our tether and harness design project. Similar to what we did with toddler life jackets back in 2007, the plan is to solicit input from experts in the field, other sailors, and PS readers to try to come up with an improved design for inflatable PFD/harnesses. Because the tether is such an integral part of the PFD/harness when sailing offshore, we plan to work on improved tether designs as well.

Too Many Layers of Bottom Paint?

So, a couple of years back, you acquired a good old boat at a pretty good price-thanks to the market-but now youre wondering how many coats of bottom paint it has. And what kind? Youve put on a few coats of ablative antifouling since youve owned the boat. It has adhered well and has done its job. But each year, the bottom looks rougher and rougher-with big recesses where paint has flaked off. You sweated out some extra prep-work this season, and thought you had a nice, durable subsurface for painting, but each pass of the roller pulls up more paint. Whats going on here?

Sticking with Teak

If you find a surprisingly cheap, well-equipped, used cruising boat these days, chances are it has a teak deck in dire need of attention. The owner of a boat like this has a few options. Fix the deck in piece-meal fashion, sealing bungs, replacing rotted subdeck, and recaulking. Or, more expensive options include removing the teak and either installing new teak or laminating a fiberglass deck.

Staying Out of Boat Trailer Trouble

A trailer expands the sailors horizons, but like any endeavor that involves automobiles, it adds another layer of risk and responsibility. Compared to our boats, a trailer is deceptively simple, and this often leads us to overlook the obvious warning signs of impending problems.

A Simple Solution for Boat Toilet Stink

We tested each solution by diluting the holding tank treatment about 5:1 with water, placing the mix in a trigger-style spray bottle, and misting the toilet bowl after each use, or at least a few times a day. The results were impressive, but there are some holding tank treatments that can promote holding tank odors if used in this manner.

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.