Keeping You Cool: Improving Your Icebox

Galleys on American production sailboats have come a long way in the last 20 years. We particularly remember one 40' cruiser-racer by one of the country’s most famous designers, whose galley consisted of a two burner countertop alcohol stove, a miniature sink, a few lockers, and an icebox: if you put 100 pounds of ice in it, it managed to keep small quantities of food at slightly below outside temperature for a few days at a time. Today, thank God, you’d probably find a better galley on any 30-footer.

Semi-Annual Antifouling Paint-Test Checkup

Practical Sailor continues its search for the best antifouling as we test a large field of bottom paints, including products from Pettit, Blue Water, Epaint, Interlux, and Sea Hawk. In this report, we rate the paints' eight-month and two-year performances. Some budget-friendly and eco-firnedly paints were still doing quite well after a season in the drink. When we last checked in on bottom paints in the March 2011 report, the ban on copper in antifouling paints was on the docket in Washington state and California. As the movement to ban copper moves eastward, the bottom paint industry is in flux, with manufacturers reducing the amount of copper in bottom paint and trying new copper-free paints. Bottom paint will probably not decrease in price, or increase in effectiveness, in the next few years.

How to Restore Teak Wood on Boats

Probably nothing can make or break the appearance of a fiberglass boat more quickly than the appearance of the exterior teak trim. Contrary to popular belief, teak is not a maintenance-free wood that can be safely ignored and neglected for years at a time. Though teak may not rot, it can check, warp, and look depressingly drab if not properly cared for.

Glue-on Fasteners

Although through-bolts may be the gold standard for strength and security, sometimes drilling a hole isn't practical, or exposes foam or balsa core to water intrusion. Mounting a sump-pump to the side of the hull, attaching electrical components when the other side is either inaccessible or exposed, mounting an air conditioner on the bridge deck of a catamaran, or adding solar panels to a hard top are just a few examples of situations where a surface mounting is needed.

Ideal Drogue setup will require experiments

For maximum maneuverability, the control lines-one port, one starboard-should attach at the widest part of the boat. This maximizes leverage and places the effort close to the center pivot point. On a catamaran, closer to the transom works because of the wide beam, but for monohulls, attaching near the pivot point at the keel will be more responsive. For maximum responsiveness, the drogue should be as close to the transom as practical-this results in more responsive steering and minimal drag. We found the best compromise to be around 65-80 percent of the way aft, where there is still enough beam, but less risk of the control lines fouling.

Best Boat Soaps for Regular Washdowns

Sticking to a regular boat bath regimen not only keeps a boat looking good, but it also helps protect it from unnecessary, accelerated wear and tear. Practical Sailor tested a cross-section of 13 products-aerosol sprays, gels, powders, and liquids-advertised as either boat soaps or wash-n-waxes to find out which one was the best grime buster and which one left topside wax intact. The test lineup included products from well-known marine maintenance manufacturers-Star brite, Interlux, Woody Wax, Nautical Ease, 3M, Sudbury, and Marykate-as well as some familiar in the automotive and home cleaning industries-Mothers, Ecover, Eagle One, and K2r.

Battery Care Pays Off

Among the more neglected pieces of gear aboard most boats are the primary storage batteries, which faithfully crank the engine and light the lights. In the case of the typical lead-acid battery, even benign neglect is tantamount to abuse. It’s small wonder that many battery manufacturers refuse to recognize the warranty on batteries used aboard boats. The normal marine battery cycling - relatively high discharge rates with no charging, followed by rapid charging at a high rate by high-output alternators - is murder on conventional automotive batteries, and not exactly a piece of cake even for deep cycle batteries, constructed to absorb this type of abuse.

DIY Fairing and Filling

Epoxy deserves its wonder resin status as a highly adhesive, water-resistant laminating resin. It is the secret sauce behind a shelf full of fillers, glues, and fairing compounds.

Testing Winches with Dale

Part 2 of our winch test this month brought back fond memories of the man who helped steer me into my position as PSs skipper, the late Dale Nouse, our former executive editor who died of cancer less than a year after I took over as editor in 2005. Dale was in charge of a winch test that year. He passed away a few months later, at the age of 82-working nearly to his last day after 13 years with Practical Sailor.

Practical Sailors Semi-annual Bottom Paint Test Checkup

In this article, our semi-annual report on antifouling paints for sailboats, testers rate two sets of paint panels-one that has been in the water 26 months, and the other for 15 months. We also take a peek at our newest panel, which has been in the water for only four months. Testers found a few surprises-especially among eco-friendly bottom paints-and tapped the top antifoulings for specific needs, like the best racing paint and the best aluminum-safe paint.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.