Mildew-resistant Caulks for Boats

We recently tested shear strength of many caulks on many different materials and delivered a few tentative recommendations (See Marine Sealant Adhesion Tests, December 2016). Here is the two-year follow-up focusing on resistance to weathering, dirt, and mildew, as well as the ability to maintain a good bond above the waterline when flexed. This is one of nearly a dozen similar tests that weve done in recent years. Be sure to see the online version of this article for links to previous reports covering other key characteristics (underwater bonding, sealing teak decks, sealing hatch glazing, etc.).

Chemical Varnish Strippers

I want to varnish my companionway hatch boards, but I need to remove the old finish. Is there a varnish remover that works well and doesn’t ruin the wood?

The State of the Union: Clean After 17 Months

In July 2006, Practical Sailor testers began a long-term bottom paint comparison between Interlux Micron Optima and Sea Hawk Monterey, two semi-hard ablative paints that are self-polishing, meaning that water movement during normal sailing cleans growth that may be trying to gain a foothold on the hull. The test platform is a Norfolk, Va.-based Union 36, a full keel, heavy displacement sailboat whose cruising area is primarily the Chesapeake Bay and Intracoastal Waterway in Virginia and North Carolina. The boats hull, below the waterline, was divided into four equal sections, giving both bottom paints equal exposure: Sea Hawk was applied to the starboard bow and port aft section, while Micron Optima was applied to the port bow and starboard aft sections. Each section received three coats of its respective bottom paint, plus an additional coat at the waterline. Since its launch in July 2006, the test boat has seen normal use, ranging from monthly weekend and day trips to several weeklong cruises.

Handrail Masking Tape

Just when you thought there could be nothing new under the sun, along comes Handrail Masking Tape. It’s an adhesive tape that comes in...

Understanding Sealants: We Test Urethanes, Sulfides & Silicones

Choosing the right sealant or flexibile adhesive for the job used to be fairly straightforward. Brands were few and products were fewer, and there...

Mailport: 10/09

The way I was taught towing Lightnings to LIS regattas, you used a towing hitch around the mast for the line ahead and a similar hitch around the mast for the line to the boat astern. A towing hitch (two wraps around the mast, a wrap around the standing part, back the other way around the mast and two half-hitches around the standing part) could be cast off under tension or even eased under way to place the boat astern on the second wave. Bowlines, we were told, presented a danger of catching a finger in the knot if the towline came under tension while you were catching on or casting off the tow.Recently, a sailing director setting up a tow of Ideal 18s, directed us to tie a bowline with a generous bight around the mast and then to take up the towline from the boat astern and tie a bowline through the bight around the mast. He asserted that this would produce no pressure on the mast at all, as the forward pressure of the tow would be offset by the aft pressure of the boats behind. Can you advise on the best method for securing sailboats in a tow? And what is the optimal distance between boats in a tow?

Wax Test Results

After spending a year outside in New England's rigorous weather, our test specimens revealed which waxes endure, and which don't.

Controlling Porta Potty Odor

Another consideration is that many day sailors avoid using the boats head at all, often going for many months at a time without needing it. When it is used, once in a blue moon, is it worth the hassle of hauling it home to clean it out, knowing that most likely it will not be used for another 3 months? When Katrina hit New Orleans, the Red Cross handed out WAG (waste alleviation and gel) bags by the thousands to provide an emergency option. Weve been living with these too, evaluating them as an option for small boats.

Spare Parts

Barient WinchesWe recently heard from a reader that he was able to purchase replacement roller bearings for Barient 28+ winches, for $55, from the...

Simple Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel

When applying a paste cleaner, a toothbrush is useful for buffing tight spots and working into the pores of welds; follow by buffing with a cotton cloth. A green 3M scrubby pad helps for removing more aggressive stains. Continued rusting in welded areas might indicate a developing failure, requiring replacement. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water and mild soap when done buffing.