Online Help for Autumn

Its getting to be that time of year, when many skippers haul out or head south. Fall also heralds the beginning of boat show season. Here are some PS articles from the online archives that are suited for the season.

Fall Maintenance: Don’t Wait Until Spring!

As the frost line marches southward over the next few months, it will signal the end of the season for sailors stranded to its north. The end of the sailing season, however, does not mean the end of boat responsibilities. A pleasure for some, a chore for others, off-season layup and winter's armchair sailing is all part of the game. Like it or not, a boat requires care when it is laid up, just as it does when it is in use. In a way, the fact that you may not get to use your boat for more than half a year is a plus. If you have ever looked at a boat that has been in the Caribbean charter trade for four years, you realize that the concept of the no-maintenance fiberglass boat with eternal life is little more than a myth. A boat is a big investment, and like most investments it requires some attention from the investor (you) to do its best.

Bent Rudder Remedy

A few years ago while sailing my PDQ catamaran, we struck something hard and bent the rudder so badly that the top of the...

Eco-friendly Boat Maintenance

Practical Sailors May 2008 issue looked at green practices in marine maintenance outside the hull. This spring, we look at eco-friendly products and techniques for the boat interior. We focus on areas belowdecks where we can reduce our impact on the environment. Proper disposal of petrol fluids used in most inboard engines-fuel, lubricant oil, and transmission fluid-is paramount. Preventing engine fluid spills by using careful filling techniques is key, as are careful preparation for a possible spill and proper cleanup should a spill occur. The best products we found for preventing oil spills and cleaning up oil spills include 3M Sorbent Pads and MDR Oilzorb Engine Pads; Jabsco Oil-Changing System; and the Vetus Bilge Water/Oil Separator. We recommend RydLyme Marine and Barnacle Buster for a green descaling of a boats heat exchanger.Eco-friendly bilge cleaners that we recommend include CRC Industries Big Bully Natural Orange Bilge Cleaner, Clean Water Solutions Microbial Powder, Star brites Sea Safe Biodegradable Bilge Cleaner, and Star brites Super Orange Bilge Cleaner. Eco-friendly soaps and detergents recommended for green cleaning include Dr. Bronners Sal Suds and some cleaners in the Simple Green, Spray Nine, and Thetford Marine lines. And, don't forget plain old blue Windex.

Mailport: November 2010

Letters to Practical Sailor from our readers. November 2010's topics include cleaning products, sail hardware, galley stoves and anti-fouling paints.

Where Credit is Due: November 2012

My wife and I bought a Vesper Watchmate 850, and after delaying the installation a few months, we finally got it in and powered it up. After it ran fine for several hours, it gave us a Voltage Standing Wave Ratio error. (VSWR is basically an efficiency measurement of the antenna system.) After some troubleshooting, I sent a note to Vesper Marine in New Zealand ( There was a prompt and very thorough reply to all my questions. I had a very informative conversation with Jeff from Vesper, and I tried his troubleshooting suggestions. The problem certainly did appear to be the antenna, but after using another antenna and cable, Jeff said to send him back the unit and they would analyze it to be certain.

Anti-Corrosion Bags Live Up to Claims, But So Does Ziploc

Our testers estimated that the exposure test was the equivalent of five years of exposure aboard a boat. Although the test demonstrated that a DIY solution using sandwich bags can nearly match performance, it also demonstrated that the makers claims of five years of protection could, in practice, be accurate.

Stopping Centerboard Pin Corrosion

Im trying to determine the cause of erosion of the centerboard pivot pin from Arcturus, our 36-foot Soverel keel/centerboard cutter. It is a -inch diameter silicon bronze pin installed new in 2004. I removed the centerboard a few weeks ago and was surprised to see that the pin was heavily corroded. Ive attached a few pictures of the pin. The boat has a fiberglass encapsulated lead keel, with the lead bedded in a resin/sand mixture. The pivot pin fits in a hole drilled through the keel and centerboard trunk (which has encapsulated lead on both sides).

Mailport: May 2014

In response to your recent blog on removing bottom paint: We totally stripped our 1984 Camper Nicholson 58 in two days. Without a doubt, the best tool in our kit for stripping many layers of bottom paint was a massive linoleum floor scraper. It has one straight blade and one slightly curved. I used the belt sander with 800-grit sandpaper to keep it razor sharp. Sharpening was needed every 5 square feet.

Mailport: July 2013

A few issues ago, you had a short article on deck hardware (blocks, traveler, cars, etc.) that included Garhauer, and you mentioned that the manufacturer offered individual parts and complete systems that allow conversion from on deck to cockpit adjustment of the car position. We recently installed the EZ adjustable genoa car system from Garhauer and are very pleased with the results. This equipment fits on existing traveler tracks, is easy to install, and performs as advertised.

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...