Reviving Fuel Filter Beads – Again and Again

We wished they could be as maintenance free as the carbon canister on your car, but they lack the regeneration cycles programmed into your car. The makers say the silica gel resin should be replaced annually, but Practical Sailor testers have found that three years is about right for diesel and five years for E-10 gasoline.

Magic Fix for Hairline Cracks in Gelcoat

Spider cracks can indicate impact damage or serious structural problems that will need to be addressed to prevent spreading, but most often they result from relatively inflexible gelcoat that is too thick. Stress by thermal expansion or when bulkheads and liners were installed can cause minor flexing. Cracks from larger issues-a winch, for example, that was inadequately mounted-will need to be fixed before cosmetic repairs begin.

Mailport: September 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, September 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Bottom Paint Woes, Measuring Epoxy Success, Fleet Tracking Apps, and more!

Mailport: July 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, July 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Dinghy Launcher, iPad Glare, Racor, and more!

Years Later, Mast Mate Still Riding High

Mast steps are a great help when going aloft, but they add weight where it hurts most (aloft), and halyards love to get stuck behind them. One alternative is the Mast Mate webbing ladder, which hoists on your mainsail track.

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.

Workbenches for Cruising Sailors

So you’ve got a locker full of tools and materials and the skills to take on anything. But what do you work on? Spill...

Six-Month Checkup: Long-Term Boat Wood Finish Exposure Test

Practical Sailor closes in on its search for the best teak oil, best marine varnish, and best synthetic wood finish this month. Testers check in on the 53 coated wood panels on our test rack, which have been enduring the elements for six months. Testers rated the panels for single-season gloss and color retention and coating integrity. The test products included dozens of one-part varnishes, two-part varnishes, synthetic wood finishes and stains, spar varnishes, wood sealants and teak oils from makers like Interlux, Pettit, Epifanes, Le Tonkinois, Minwax, Ace Hardware, Star brite, and West Marine. The long-term evaluation aims to find the best exterior wood finish based on overall ratings for ease of application, gloss integrity and appearance, and how the coating fares over time under real-world conditions. At the six-month mark, this report offers our single-season recommendations for finishing teak decks, cockpit trim, toerails, and other exterior wood surfaces.

Steering Equipment Inspection

They were off the coast of Bequia in the Grenadines, near the end of a breezy passage on a 34-foot cruising sloop. Just as the boat reached past a rocky point, trouble struck. The steering wheel suddenly turned freely in the skippers hand.

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.