Esoteric Fibers Call for Epoxy

Theres little debate over the adhesive quality and toughness of epoxy resin-just look at where its being used. We hear about its presence in crucial structures such as aircraft wings, race car bodies and high-end custom racing yachts. But it takes a little familiarity with engineering lingo to help us understand why epoxy trumps its ester relatives.

Dirt-cheap Winter Insulation for Liveaboards

Insulation is a greater energy-saving expedient; if our heater or air conditioner is undersized, fixing drafts, shading or insulating windows, and insulating non-cored laminate are all ways to reduce the thermal load. For boaters, however, that is only half of the equation.

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 […]

Epoxy Fairing Compounds, Part One

Breathing life into an older fiberglass boat always entails more work than was expected, but for a person with the time, skill, and do-it-yourself inclination, it is often worth the extra effort. The DIY approach makes even more sense when the boats structural quality and big-ticket components meet the grade, and the skipper and crew are ready to tackle the cosmetic makeover. These fairing compounds are perfect for structural and cosmetic fiberglass repairs.

Sparkling Brightwork: Careful Attention to the Details

It takes practice to produce a perfect, mirror finish on varnished wood, but it is not so much a difficult task as an exacting one, where attention to detail and no short cuts are the secrets to success. Whether you are finishing new wood, refinishing old wood, or maintaining a finish in good condition, the basics are the same.

Boat Clinic: Minor Repair to Cored Decks

A fairly common ailment with cored decks is the presence of soft spots where the outer skin has delaminated from the core material. Typically these areas are found around the mast and on the foredeck where heavy-footed spinnaker handlers have trod, but they are candidates to occur anywhere in a relatively large, flat span of unsupported deck.

It Takes a Tough Sailor to Make a Smooth Boat Bottom

Fairing in through hull fittings, as described in the February issue, will go a long way toward reducing bot­tom drag in light air, but it won't really do the job unless the paint surface of the bottom is smooth. A surprisingly high percentage of boats not used primarily for racing have bottom paint jobs that range from poor to atrocious. If your bottom has peeling patches that haven't been in, brush marks from failure to smooth out thick bottom paints, or stipple marks from ap­plication with a roller, your boat will be slower in light air than it could be. Bottom paints, unlike topside paints, are not formulated for smooth application, in most cases. They have a high solids content and quick-flashing solvents, a combination guaranteed to make smooth application difficult. Even the racing boat with the smoothest bottom didn't start out that way.

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.

Removing 3M 5200

Our recent test of caulk removers, (PS Tests Caulk Removers, Practical Sailor, January 2017), focused primarily on silicone caulk remover because these caulks can leave a residue that makes it impossible for anything to bond. After that test, we got a call from reps at Debond who explained that their product, although effective with silicone, is formulated to break the bond between to break the bond between 3M 5200 and a smooth gel coat surface. This is a common challenge for sailors who must disassemble through-hulls, remove chainplates, or repair structural components. So we went back to the lab to find the best antidote to 5200, and we present the results of our tests here.

Mildew-resistant Caulks for Boats

We recently tested shear strength of many caulks on many different materials and delivered a few tentative recommendations (See Marine Sealant Adhesion Tests, December 2016). Here is the two-year follow-up focusing on resistance to weathering, dirt, and mildew, as well as the ability to maintain a good bond above the waterline when flexed. This is one of nearly a dozen similar tests that weve done in recent years. Be sure to see the online version of this article for links to previous reports covering other key characteristics (underwater bonding, sealing teak decks, sealing hatch glazing, etc.).

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.