Letters to Practical Sailor, April 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: ACR, Raymarine, and LCBS.
The monohull versus multihull debate has been going on for decades, and for many PS readers, their minds are already well-settled on the subject. But with the rising popularity of cruising catamarans, and the development of some high-end performance cats (and some increasingly compelling marketing) its worth reviewing again the pros and cons of each approach.
At Practical Sailor, were always looking for boat maintenance shortcuts. Typically, restoring and protecting an oxidized hull is a two-step process, compounding with a mild abrasive, followed by waxing. This time, we looked for the lazy-mans approach-so-called one-step cleaner/waxes. Among the contenders: Collinite 870, Meguiars 50, Restructure Marine Polish, Meguiars 67, 3M Fiberglass Cleaner Wax, 3M Clean & Shine, Interlux Premium, West Marine One Step, Star brite Cleaner Wax, and Simoniz Cleaner/Wax. After three months in the Florida sun, the shirkers route is looking pretty good.
We race a Tartan Ten out of Montrose Harbor, Chicago. Since were sailing on fresh water and the Chicago Area Sail Racing Association doesn't require us to have a built-in tank for offshore racing, the water tank was removed long ago to eliminate excess weight. For port-to-port racing, we usually buy jugs of bottled water and refill individual water bottles. For round-the-buoy racing, we bring water bottles. Some of the T10s just use a camping-type water filter. W
Approaching Singapore, we spotted a debris-coated slick about a mile long and 50 yards wide. Concerned about sucking debris into the engine raw water intake, we gingerly picked our way through a narrow gap in the spill.
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.
Clear vinyl windows are a miracle when they are new, allowing sailors to have an outdoor experience while keeping rain and spray at a distance. As they age, however, yellowing, stiffening, and cracking set in as the plasticizer that keeps them supple begins to deplete. The right fix is new vinyl, but in the meantime we need a quick fix, something fast, easy, and good enough to get us to the end of the cruise or season.
In addition to all of that lovely salt, seawater is very hard, nearly saturated with calcium. All it needs is something to react with (uric acid in the head) or localized overheating (engine) to create concrete-like incrustations. Sometimes mechanical removal is possible; a favorite cruiser ritual involves hauling out the sanitation hoses and beating them on concrete to remove internal scale build-up. Heat exchangers can be reamed out with a rod, but most engine and plumbing systems are inaccessible without considerable disassembly.
Theres little debate over the adhesive quality and toughness of epoxy resin-just look at where its being used. We hear about its presence in crucial structures such as aircraft wings, race car bodies and high-end custom racing yachts. But it takes a little familiarity with engineering lingo to help us understand why epoxy trumps its ester relatives.
Over the years, Practical Sailor has tracked the evolution in marine antifouling paints. Shaped by government regulations, environmental concerns, and industry innovations, the shift started with tin-based paints in the 1980s. After tin-based paints came under fire for the harm they cause marine life, copper-based paints grew in popularity. Now, concerns about the impact of copper on the environment have led to the development of copper-alternative paints, such as zinc-biocide and water-based antifoulings. We continue to sort through the data to help you find the best bottom paint for your boat. This report offers an update to our panel tests after six months and 18 months in the water as well as the head-to-head tests under way on our test boat fleet. Some of the best performers (out of 72 paints tested) at six months were hard paints and specialty antifoulings such as Copper Shield 45 Hard made by Blue Water, VC Offshore by Interlux, Copper Guard by Pettit, and Sharkskin by Sea Hawk. The best ablative paints at six months included Copper Shield SCX 45 by Blue Water, EP-21 by Epaint, and Hydrocoat and Vivid Free by Pettit. The top long-term bottom paints-those appropriate for multi-season antifouling protection-included Interlux Micron 66, Pettit Trinidad SR, and Interlux Epoxycop. These extensive tests also included marine bottom paints from Awlgrip, Flexdel, and Microphase Coatings. The lineup also covered re-branded products from West Marine.