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Boat Maintenance

Sailing Gear of the Year 2021

What a difference a year makes! Last year, Practical Sailor testers were holed up in their home workshops, garages, basements, and home offices, meeting remotely on Zoom, and trying to do their part to stamp out a global pandemic. This year, they’re holed up in their home workshops, garages, basements and home offices, meeting remotely […]

Non-Skid Ten Years After

Boat decks take a beating from sun and salt that eventually take their toll on factory-molded nonskid. Once nonskid loses its grip, resurrecting it becomes a safety issue. Sailors looking to put some stick back into a slippery deck have a few options: apply a deck paint with a nonskid additive or glue sections of […]

A Beach Plastic Disposal Dilemma

Ninety percent of micro plastics generation comes from laundry fibers. Fortunately, standard primary, plus secondary wastewater treatment removes 88-94 percent of this, lowering laundry’s total contribution to 25 percent. This can be further reduced by advanced wastewater treatment. Of all the things humans can do to keep plastics out of our environment, the upgrading of […]

Caulking Gun Shootout

Caulking guns might seem like simple implements— lever, a spring, a notched shaft, and a few extra flourishes and what was once a slab of sheetmetal is now ready for sealing service. Not so fast. Like most other common tools, caulking guns can vary in durability and quality, and a variety of types are designed […]

Wood Ash Absorbs Odors Best

The media serves several purposes in a desiccating toilet. It provides visual cover, draws moisture away from the solids (good wicking and coating are more important than absorption, since sustained drying is the goal), and to provide some amount of air filtration (fuzzy fibers and organic nature help). If you compost the remains, bulking and […]

Exterior Wood Finish Update at 2 Years

Boxed and stored as PS went through three office moves in a short time frame, the wood samples we varnished in late 2015 finally went into service three years after they were varnished. The coatings makers tell us that our results should be little different than those of a sailor who immediately exposes their woodwork […]

Additives Fight Urine Odor

Some will claim urine is sterile and doesn’t smell. Horse hockey. No matter how careful you are, urine is loaded with nitrogen (urea) and potassium. Bacteria will find their way in, and the potent brew will ferment into a nasty solids-laden syrup within a few days. Unlike a holding tank, where the purpose of treatments […]

DIY Desiccating Head Options

No standard dry toilet, even the CHead Shorty, would fit the available space on our Corsair F-24, so we decided to build our own. We considered building the base from plywood and fiberglass, but we found a pair of surplus fiberglass battery boxes we could cut and join for a perfect fit. Since the exterior […]

Get a Survey, Set Priorities

Here we go again. Apparently enough time (32 years) has passed since I last bought a 50-plus-year-old boat and began restoring it that I’ve forgotten the blood, sweat, and tears involved in such a project. The main point of this first installment in a new series that will follow the restoration of the 1971 S&S […]

Packing Extraction Tool Tested

The packing material encircling your shaft and tucked out of sight inside the packing nut is truly your boat’s Achilles heel. Installed improperly it can damage the prop shaft or even sink the boat. Getting it replaced at least biennially should be on your list. On a mid-size cruiser it’s a job that ranks just […]

Fighting Off Marine Electrical System Corrosion

The boat's electrical system is often the most vexing for boat owners-but it doesn't have to be. With the right tools, quality materials, and a modest amount of preventative maintenance, you can ensure a flicker-free (or nearly so) existence on the water. If you've got a rewiring or electronics installation project ahead of you, or if just want to make sure nothing goes on the fritz once you're offshore, this information-packed blog post is for you.