Next Best Thing
While world leaders and presumed financial wizards set to work trying to right the global economy with some very expensive bailers and sponges, Practical Sailor has taken the time this month to dig through our recent collection of Chandlery submissions to see if we can find anything more useful. Given sailors capacities for innovation (aka "jury rigging"), were holding out hope that the next great invention-the ultimate stimulus package-lies somewhere in our growing stockpile of Chandlery items.
Bottom Paint Tests 2009 Spring Update
Over the years, Practical Sailor has tracked the evolution in marine antifouling paints. Shaped by government regulations, environmental concerns, and industry innovations, the shift started with tin-based paints in the 1980s. After tin-based paints came under fire for the harm they cause marine life, copper-based paints grew in popularity. Now, concerns about the impact of copper on the environment have led to the development of copper-alternative paints, such as zinc-biocide and water-based antifoulings. We continue to sort through the data to help you find the best bottom paint for your boat. This report offers an update to our panel tests after six months and 18 months in the water as well as the head-to-head tests under way on our test boat fleet. Some of the best performers (out of 72 paints tested) at six months were hard paints and specialty antifoulings such as Copper Shield 45 Hard made by Blue Water, VC Offshore by Interlux, Copper Guard by Pettit, and Sharkskin by Sea Hawk. The best ablative paints at six months included Copper Shield SCX 45 by Blue Water, EP-21 by Epaint, and Hydrocoat and Vivid Free by Pettit. The top long-term bottom paints-those appropriate for multi-season antifouling protection-included Interlux Micron 66, Pettit Trinidad SR, and Interlux Epoxycop. These extensive tests also included marine bottom paints from Awlgrip, Flexdel, and Microphase Coatings. The lineup also covered re-branded products from West Marine.
A Smorgasbord of Tools and Patience Are Required For the DIY Epoxy Barrier Coat...
Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo sets out to remove a few layers of bottom paint and the underlying Interlux InterProtect epoxy barrier coat, which was applied to his boat hull in 1982. While non-toxic, eco-friendly paint removers work well on removing antifouling paints, one-part enamels, and varnish, all bets are off with epoxy coatings. With a good selection of chisels, a penchant for keeping them sharp and no aversion to hard work, Naranjo battles the pock-marked, blistered barrier coat. His arsenal included three chemical strippers-Peel Away Marine Safety Strip, Peel Away Smart Strip, and Franmar Soy Strip, an array of sanding disks, and random orbital sanders. His report offers how-tos, tool tips, and a rundown of the costs associated with the DIY barrier coat removal to answer the question: Is it really worth doing it yourself?
Whats the Best Way to Restore Clear Plastic Windows?
Preserving a clear view through clear plastic on dodgers or enclosures is one of the most challenging tasks in boat maintenance. Restoring a vinyl window is almost impossible, but that doesn't stop the tide of products that claim to make this job easy. Practical Sailors eisenglass cleaners test looks at 27 products touted primarily as cleaners or treatments for vinyl windows. The test products were divided into type: cleaners, scratch repairers, polish protectants, and UV protectants. After a week of testing, we found Imar Strataglass Protective Cleaner and Imar Strataglass Protective Polish, distributed by Defender Industries, to be the Best Choice. Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax and Mer-Maids Plexiglass Plastic Cleaner and Polish were the Budget Buys. The test also included products from the following manufacturers: 303, 3M, Aquatech, Armada, Davies, Marykate, Meguiars. Mothers, Novus, Plexus, Sailors Solutions, Star brite, Turtle Wax, West Marine, and Yacht Brite.
The Great Metal Polish Showdown
Practical Sailor last tested metal polishes in March 2007, and the best choice for most jobs was the Miracle Cloth. The treated cloths best feature is its ease of use. Since that test, Practical Sailor has come across a couple other products: another impregnated cloth product called the NautiKlean, two cloths that are meant to be used together; and Mothers Power Metal, a polish that can be used with the drill-mounted Powerball, a foam ball that allows power polishing around curves and in tight spaces. Theres also a smaller mini-Powerball. Testers pitted the NautiKlean cloths and the Mothers mini-Powerball and Power Metal Polish against the Miracle Cloth on a variety of metals, including anodized aluminum, stainless steel, and bronze. Testers also included a one-year-old tub of Prism Polish, a conventional polish that did well in the last test.
Wear and Tear Pad Review
Over time, chafing from lines can actually wear away gelcoat. Likewise, chips will appear where hatches or ports bang. While eliminating chafe is the best course of action, in some cases, a protective patch can be a viable solution. Faced with a chafe problem on his own boat, sailor Andrew Grogono developed the Wear and Tear Pad, an ultra-thin (.002 inches) piece of 301 stainless steel backed by an all-weather double-sided tape. To use, just peel off the backing paper and stick the patch on the hull at the point of friction or impact (making sure the hull is clean and dry, first).
Practical Sailor Tests the Alado Jib Furler
Practical Sailor finds the Alado Nautica headsail furler to be easy to install and a worthwhile sail-handling tool. One feature that sets the Alado apart from other jib or genoa furlers is its staggered slotting of five-foot foil sections that slide together and interlock over a conventional wire or rod headstay. This design allows the do-it-yourselfer to fit each foil section over an attached headstay, and simply push the formed furler up the wire or rod. Mainstream headsail furlers tend to be assembled on the ground and installed with the mast horizontal. The Alado furlers design uses integral halyards to place a compression load on the foil, eliminating the need for Loctite, set screws, and a top swivel. We tested the Alado over five months of coastal cruising and daysailing.
Practical Sailor Resumes its Search for the Best Boat Wax
Practical Sailor tested a field of 10 tubs of paste waxes for ease of application, gloss, texture, finish, and price. Most of the products did a fairly good job of producing initial shine. The two waxes with the most glossy fiberglass test patch were not the easiest to apply nor were they the least expensive. The boat wax test included marine paste waxes and car waxes-some with carnauba-from Meguiars, Turtle Wax, 3M, Collinite, Kit, Mothers, Nu-Finish, and Star brite. You need only dip a toe into this topic to realize that there are almost as many recipes for a glossy hull as there are sailors whod rather do anything than wax their hull. As long as marketeers keep alive our hopes for a glossy finish that will last forever, there will be people who will plunk down hard-earned money for the latest and greatest gelcoat elixir. We generally define gloss as being the surface ability to reflect light. Gloss, along with ease of application and the ability to repel dirt and water, are the features that Practical Sailor focused on for this report (see "How We Tested," page 32).
Getting Rid of Mold and Mildew Onboard
Among the marine maintenance products Practical Sailor evaluated recently were 14 pump-spray mildew cleaners to find out which one was the most effective at removing severe mildew stains. We tested chlorine bleach cleaners, chlorine-free cleaners, hydrogen peroxide cleaners, and ammonium chloride cleaners on a variety of materials, ranging from mildewed shower curtains to moldy vinyl seat cushions and moldy life jackets. We also used them to clean a mildewed sail and mildewed Sunbrella. All products were effective at removing the mold mildew from the shower curtain, but the cushions, life jacket, Dacron sail, and Sunbrella were more of a challenge. One product stood out as a more effective mildew cleaner: Klean-Strip Mildew Stain Remover. Klean-Strip is a highly concentrated product with 19 times more sodium hypochlorite than common bleach, and we do not recommend it for cleaning sails or fabrics. Other products tested include 3M mildew stain remover, Boat Armor mildew stain remover, Boatlife mildew remover, MaryKate mildew stain remover, MDR Amazons Amazing Mildew Stain Away, MDR Moldaway, Naturally Clean Mildew, Nautical Ease Mildew Stain Remover, household Spray Nine, Star brite Mildew Stain Remover, Sudbury Mildew Cleaner and Stain Remover, Thetford Mildew Stain Remover, and West Marine Mold and Mildew Cleaner.
Practical Sailor LED Lightbulb Test
In this LED cabin light test, Practical Sailor looks at 17 light bulbs from seven manufacturers. The LEDs were tested to see which was the most worthy replacement for a 20-watt xenon bulb in a bulkhead-mounted reading light. Testers measure LED beam angles and intensity, LED power consumption, LED color temperature, LED radio frequency interference, and LED reading and cabin illumination. The LED lights tested include: Alpenglow TR LED complete brass fixture; three lights from Cruising Solutions; three lights from Doctor LED; four from Imtra; two from Opto Technology, two from Daniel R. Smith & Associates (DRSA) manufactured by Mast Products; two of Scad Technologies (Sailors Solutions) Sensibulbs; and one LED light from West Marine.