Regarding your recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post Drysuits vs. Survival Suits, I raft the Colorado river in Grand Canyon where water temps are around 50 F, even in the summer. The whitewater down there is furious and sometimes dangerous. I wear a 3 millimeter neoprene wetsuit under a full drysuit. If the drysuit rips, the wetsuit should slow down thermal loss. The problem is heat buildup in the sun. The solution is to jump in the cold water now and then to keep from over heating. On a sailboat that would be harder to do. There have been a few times sailing solo when I wore both garments, but it was pretty clammy inside. There is no perfect solution, just reasonable compromises by which to stay alive. Something to remember is that once a drysuit rips, it will take on hundreds of pounds of water. A high flotation PFD is mandatory, at least 26 pounds I would think.
The tools and materials required to maintain and repair everything on a boat will barely fit in a room. Just the kit required to maintain vital systems will raise the waterline of a large boat and is impractical in a smaller boat. Fortunately, when day sailing and even cruising locally, all we really need to do is get back to the dock...any dock.
The irregular shape of welds makes them difficult to inspect using ultrasound technology. Visual inspections can also be deceiving-especially with new welds. The prettiest bead can have internal voids and poor fusion. After a while, that pretty bead will begin to bloom with corrosion and cracks.
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.
With more time than money on our hands, the sailors innate resourcefulness kicks in. Here are a just some of the penny-pinching projects tech editor Drew Frye has undertaken to improve his sailing life.
A key principle, at least from my perspective as an engineer, is knowing your boat. In 30 years of boat ownership, Ive only used contractor services for major sail work, new canvas (only because Ive never taken the time to learn), and hauling out. As a result, I know my boat inside out; thats a good feeling, an important part of seamanship, a blessing when something goes bust on a cruise, and a big help when time is available but funds are thin.
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.
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.
Cleaner than coil and grease coatings, these bags protect areas that are hard to reach. Additionally, the protective coating does not need to be removed, since it is very thin and will slowly evaporate once the part is removed from the bag.
The fastest way to attach light hardware to a cored deck is a self-tapping screw. It is also the fastest way to have hardware rip out of the deck and end up with a wet core and delaminated deck. But how to replace screws that have gotten loose or prevent a wet deck in your future? One method is to drill and over-sized hole, remove some core, fill the enlarged hole with epoxy, and then replace them with small through bolts (see Spreading the Load Practical Sailor, August 2016). But what if the backside is inaccessible? Can we create an improved repair by filling and reinstalling a self-tapping fastener, without major surgery? What sealing and filling material is best?