Inflatable PFD Care and Use

Some sad news this past weekend from the 2018 Chicago-Mackinac race prompted me to update, and repost this advisory from 2015 regarding the care and use of personal flotation devices. It's a relatively long post, but if you depend on inflatable PFD, the text and accompanying links are worth reviewing.

Quick and Dirty Anchor Shank Strength Test

So you've read our many reports on anchor shanks, and you're thinking, "I wonder what kind of steel my anchor shank is made of?" You could go to the maker, but you might find, as we did, that some manufacturers consider this proprietary information - as if the strength of the steel is not worth sharing with the consumer. So you decide to find out for yourself.

Swaged Rigging Terminal Failures Raise Concern

Among the many chores to add to the spring to-do list, a rig inspection should rank high. And any rig inspection should include a close look at any swaged terminals on the shrouds and stays. Although corroded or cracked swages have been know to be a common point of failure on older rigs, the environment and working loads are almost always the main contributing factors. But our recent tests suggest that the weaknesses on some terminals may exist since the day they were assembled.

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?

A Simplified Internet Connection for Boats

As high-speed, cellular data service extends throughout the coastal U.S. and abroad, the ability to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot (MiFi) has diminished the need for a Wi-Fi connection to a shore-based network. But cellular data plans can be expensive, service can be spotty, and high-speed data isnt offered everywhere. In the October 2016 issue of Practical Sailor we look at an integrated antenna/WiFi adapter/router that allows you to quickly connect to the internet using either a shore-based Wi-Fi network or cellular service (2G/3G/4G/LTE).

A One-sided Defense of the Cruising Ketch

This week I had the opportunity to poke around a ketch-rigged Pearson 424 that was for sale in the neighborhood and I was reminded of the many advantages of the ketch design. The Pearson 424 is an example of several decades-old designs that were offered in a variety of rigs, giving owners an opportunity to compare the sail plans.

Making the Switch to an LED Mastlight

If you have your mast down this season or are contemplating an annual inspection aloft, it is a good time to consider a switch to an LED tri-color mastlight, which can cut the light's energy consumption by 90 percent. Back in 2010, we looked at six bulbs and lanterns and compared light output and energy consumption. We also checked for interference with VHF radio reception-a common complaint among early versions of several LED lights.

Protect Your Boat’s Deck From Ice Damage This Winter

If you had niggling leaks at your mast, your forward hatch, or deck hardware this summer, those niggles can become nightmares when freezing temperatures begin to do their sledgehammer work upon our boats-as well as our psyches-this winter. Once water enters the core of your deck through a small leak, it can often spread unnoticed. Bring on winter, and its freezing and thawing cycles, and the core begins to break down.

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.

Caring for Encapsulated Ballast Keels

If your boat has an encapsulated iron keel, don't get lulled into believing that you are completely free of keel worries. Although you are generally better off than sailors with exposed iron keels, you still have to carry out routine maintenance and inspection, and be aware of the warning signs of water intrusion, which could lead to bigger problems.We've written a lot about keels recently, and over the years, we've offered tips on repairs to common problems like the C&C "smile," when a lead keel pulls away from the keel stub, or how to deal with voids in lead keels. I've also written here about the effectiveness of rust converters such as Ospho when reviving an iron keel. And more recently we've looked at the spate of keel-ectomies among older cruising boats boats with high-aspect-ratio fin keel designs.

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