What’s In the Practical Sailor Toolbag?

Formerly the manager of a full-service boat yard, Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo offers a survey of the tools he can’t live without. His toolbag is chocked full, and a peek inside finds saws, trimmers, planers, grinders, belt sanders, multi-tasking power tools, and drivers. His tool inventory—comprising top-of-the-line power tools and tried-and-proven devices, is one that enables him to handle most any boat project. If you’re looking to fill in you’re the gaps in your tool lineup or to stock your workshop, be sure to check out this special report.

Out, Out Brief Wiring Terminals!

Eurostrips, Euroblocks, set-screw terminations-whatever you want to call them-they are here to stay. Many companies supply set-screw terminations as part of electronics installations, solar controllers, inverter/chargers, navigation lights, or even engine gauge panels. These set screws, if not protected by a pressure plate or a wire terminal, can cause damage to the wire stranding and eventually lead to failure. Attention to the details should always be top on the list when dealing with Euroblocks or any set-screw termination that bears directly onto the wire strands.

Mailport: February 2010

The February 2010 issue of Practical Sailor has letters on the following topics: requests for more used boat reviews, foggy electronics, hard varnishes, propane fridges and Iphone apps.

DIY Materials Testing

While many potential failures are easy to spot, some flaws are hidden under paint or within the structure, or are so small that a routine visual inspection won't pick them up. Standing rigging, hulls, decks and hardware fittings are the most common places where hidden structural weaknesses can lead to big repair bills, or even loss of life.

The Best Marine Varnish: Exterior Wood Finish Tests

Testers applied dozens of exterior wood finishes (22 one-part varnishes, six two-part varnishes, 18 synthetics and satins/varnish alternatives, and eight teak oils and sealers) to small panels of bare solid teak and set them out to face the rigors of South Florida's weather. Two years later, our search continues for the ideal wood finish-relatively easy to apply, easy to maintain, lasts multiple seasons, and is affordable. Given that most wood coatings are rarely expected to last longer than two years in the marine environment-particularly in super-sunny locales-its no surprise that weve seen more significant changes in the coatings in the last six months than we had in previous checkups. With the exception of a few two-part products, the test coatings had lost their sparkle at the two-year mark, ratings slipped across the board, and weve come to accept that perhaps theres no Holy Grail of exterior wood finishes.

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).

Snap Extenders for Old Canvas

Sunbrella does not shrink. That is the mantra, and for covers and dodger that are left in place, it seems to be the true. It stretches a little when wet, and so long as it is maintained under tension while it dries, it retains it shape. So says Sunbrella. While this seems true for tensioned cloth (our dodger still fits) and it hardly matters for a sail cover, our real world experience with removable Sunbrella window covers has been different, shrinking as much as 5 percent over a period of years. The problem, no doubt, is that these are worst case scenario, repeatedly removed while still wet with dew and allowed to dry. The end result was that the covers became difficult to install and some of the snaps were being ripped out by the excessive tension.

Antifouling Paint Prices Follow Copper Surge

The antifouling coating industry is dominated by copper-based paint, so as copper prices reach their highest levels in recent history, I was curious to...