Many marine installations call for dielectric grease to seal out moisture and prevent oxidation at electrical connections. During the course of our multi-part reporting on greases, several readers asked if a conductive grease would be better for these connections. We have reviewed several conductive greases (see Marine Wiring: Are the Pricey Options Worth the Cost? Practical Sailor, December 2010), testing their ability to protect wires and terminals for extended periods in a salt spray chamber,…
Each fall, Practical Sailor editors sort through the best test products of the past year to pick those deserving of a spot on our PS Editors Choice roster. To be named to the list, products must earn the Best Choice rating among their respective peers and clearly stand out above others in their field.
Multifunction display manufacturers have pushed their products through a dramatic evolution in the last five years as they try to keep pace with technology that we take for granted in our other electronics. Better interfaces, screen resolution, and the ability to download useful software apps (beyond navigation) are just some of the improvements. Most of the major vendors are on their third generation of touchscreen interfaces, higher resolution displays, downloadable software, remote music control, and other functions far afield of what MFDs performed five years ago.
Our test focused primarily on the small-wire connections tensile strength, with and without solder, but we also looked at their durability under tough environmental conditions. We tested the pull-out strength without solder and the pull-out strength of soldered connections at 400 degrees by heating the connections in an oven to simulate overheating conditions. We tested fatigue by spinning a 6-inch length of splice wire at 650 RPM in a simple device that we called the wire-fatigue whirligig. Finally, testers soaked all samples for four months in salt water to accelerate corrosion, and then, we repeated the fatigue test.
Storage is a challenge on small boats, and my new-to-me Corsair Marine F-24 trimaran was particularly Spartan this regard. The skinny hulls provided minimum volume and the race-focused designer intentionally omitted proper lockers. A performance-oriented boat such as this must be kept light if she is to sail to her potential. But even day sailers and racers attract a certain amount of necessary clutter, sure as honey attracts flies. Something had to be done, and yet, as a new owner its tough to know what will best suit your needs and what the boat needs. Its even harder to cut the first hole. This project was 100 percent non-invasive.
Practical Sailor tested the compounds on the badly oxidized hull of a neglected 1974 ODay Javelin daysailer that has been stored uncovered in the Florida sun and salt air for years. Formerly the platform for gelcoat restorer and wax tests, the Javelins once dark-blue hull had degraded into a chalky, light blue mess.
This round of testing included familiar wood protection products like Interluxs Cetol Marine and Marine Light , West Marines WoodPro Plus, WoodPlus Marine, Amazons Teak Lustre, Aces Wood Royal stains, and Deks Olje stains. Products new to our tests were Teak Guard, TeaQua, and Interluxs Cetol Marine Natural Teak. Picking the best marine wood coating for your boat largely depends on your needs, your taste, and your patience. Synthetic coatings and stains are the perfect prescription for the average sailor who wants a product that looks good and protects well, without the fuss of more traditional coatings and without the knee-bruising cleaning teak oils require. They won't have the classic look of a meticulously applied hard varnish-and in our opinion, the jurys still out on whether theyre as durable as two-part varnishes-but for ease of application, no other type of wood coating can compare.
We don't really know what the life expectancy of a fiberglass boat may be. There are lots of them out there that are more than 20 years old, still going strong. We do know, however, that no matter how longlived fiberglass may be as a structural material, over time the gelcoat surface commonly used in finishing fiberglass becomes porous and chalky, and has the unfortunate tendency to crack and craze. Gelcoat, in other words, weathers just as a painted surface will over time. With topsides, a tired gelcoat surface can be restored to better than new condition through the use of polyurethane paints, which can retain color and gloss for years. Decks, however, are another story.