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Sailboat Design Conference Part I

Beyond the text and photos contained in a sailboat manufacturing company’s brochures, and the words of a dealer or salesperson, and absent an understanding of yacht design, discerning the actual capabilities of today’s production boats is a major task. Gone are the days of Herreschoff et. al., when the conventional wisdom held that a long, deep keel was the best method of producing good tracking, displacement produced a seakindly ride, and performance (straightforward speed) was a simple matter of adding sail area. Prior to the age of fiberglass, most yachts used similar raw materials (wood and metal), and construction methods, so those variables were not generally a consideration.

Mailport: December 2010

Letters to the Practical Sailor editors in December 2010 include: paint colors, sailmaker services, bilge pumps, pest control and the Wirie v. a DIY WiFi antenna.

Varnish Exposure Update (and Coatings Recap)

Paint and varnish shouldn't be too difficult to understand: They're coatings you apply with a brush, roller or pad to protect or beautify the...

Sodablasting 101

When deciding on a process for clearing antifouling paint and coatings off the bottom of your boat, first define your goals and try to be as minimally invasive as possible. If your boat bottom needs more than a scrubbing but less than a full peel, sodablasting is a technique that will strip bottom paint but leave gelcoat intact. The unique softness of the calcium carbonate powder in sodablasting is effective, and the tented setup keeps the old coating contained. This report outlines the sodablasting process, calculates the cost in time and money, and compares its performance and cost-effectiveness to other bottom-stripping techniques we've tested.

Beneteau Responds to Seacock Query

Beneteau wrote a detailed response to our recent query from a reader regarding seacocks in his Beneteau (Seacock, Through-hull Caution Mailport, PS July 2017). We are continuing to look at seacocks and seacock materials. Our last big report was in 1994, so this is long overdue. If you have a relevant seacock story to share, send it to the editor at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.

Long-term Clear Vinyl Protection

When the clear vinyl on one of our multihull test boats began to crack and fade after approximately 10 years, the costs estimates for window replacement began at around $1,500. Thus began our investigation into ways to prolong the life of clear plastics. In previous issues weve reported findings at the six-month and two-year marks. Here, we present a last look at products and best practices to preserve clear plastics, and the five-year performance of four popular types of clear plastic in the marine environment.

Quick and Safe Sail Cleaning

It can be a rust stain caused by a loop of chain that spent the winter lying on a sail. Perhaps a bird crawled under the sail cover and built a nest, pooping on the sail for weeks. Laminate sails present a particularly vexing problems, since mildew likes the adhesive that bond the layers, resulting in stain that is sealed between waterproof layers. Some of these just look bad (rust stains), but others can slowly weaken a sail (mildew in the laminate adhesive). But in all cases, overly aggressive cleaning can make things even worse, weakening the sail more than the mildew ever would.

Where Credit is Due: August 2011

Letters to Practical Sailor, August 2011. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Weems and Plath, and Moorhouse Sailmakers.

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.

Reducing Engine Room Noise

If your sailing partner complains about a noise that doesn't really bother you, it might not necessarily something that they can just "get used to." You will have to address it through active sound reduction measures.