One of the most used and easily made items of safety gear on boats is the handrail. Rare is the boat which shouldn't have handrails along the major portion of either side of the cabin top, and also down the centerline of the deck. Belowdecks, handrails are also important for safety. They are usually mounted on the cabin overhead, parallel to and on either side of the boat's centerline. To simplify mounting, the most desirable position is under the rails on deck. That way a single set of bolts can serve to fasten both rails.
Insulation is a greater energy-saving expedient; if our heater or air conditioner is undersized, fixing drafts, shading or insulating windows, and insulating non-cored laminate are all ways to reduce the thermal load. For boaters, however, that is only half of the equation.
The very first project tackled on my new-to-me catamaran a decade ago was to wrap the helm wheel with line. Our delivery trip home took place in late December on the Chesapeake Bay, and I didn't want to spend the next three days with an icy stainless steel wheel sucking all of the heat from my fingers. Instead, I spent a productive hour before dinner wrapping the wheel with line.
If youve ever cursed your way through a sleepless night in a leaky tent in the rain, you know how important water repellency can...
I have taken courses (most recently with Jeff Isaac, organized by Ocean Navigator) on offshore emergency medical issues, and there are many who believe that suturing on board is generally not wise. Its much better to butterfly bandage or some other less zip-locked method of repair. The thinking appears to be that it is impossible to have a sterile environment on a vessel, so the bad stuff is likely to get locked into the wound, where it will cause infection. So, its much better to have a more open repair.
For those who enjoy fishing or charcoal cooking, here's a design for a stern rail mount work surface useful for fish cleaning and meat cutting, and big enough to hold a hibachi when moored. I got the idea from yacht designer C.W. "Chuck" Paine, and Chuck got the idea from some Caribbean charter boats. You could also clamp a vise to the work surface and thus have a handy little work bench for onboard repairs and modifications. Mounted as it is on the stern rail, it is at a useful height, and offal and mess are easily cleared overboard. A hibachi used on the surface demands careful use, of course — as with any open flame on a boat — but it's about as far outboard a position as can be found. It's also a lot cheaper than those charcoal grills designed to be clamped to the stern rail.
Looking for the best marine antifoulant to keep your hull clean? Check out Practical Sailors semi-annual bottom paint test report, which offers performance ratings on nearly 80 marine antifouling paints. Multiple sets of submerged fiberglass test panels-two in the Florida Keys and two in Long Island Sound-were pulled and examined for their resistance to hard growth and soft growth. Detailed charts show the results of the one-year and two-year tests for ablative paints, hard paints, and specialty paints (white paints, eco-friendly paints, bright paints, water-based paints, and racing boat paints). After the ratings were logged, testers retired the two-year panels to make room for the 2008 bottom paints. This lineup-72 paints in all-includes several low-copper paints and no-copper paints, which are becoming increasingly popular as sailors look for viable alternatives to metal-based paints. Paint manufacturers and distributors participating in the test include Blue Water Marine Paint; Donovan Marine; Epaint Co.; Flexdel Aquagard; Interlux Yacht Finishes; Kop-Coat; Pettit; New Nautical Coatings; Seahawk Paints; West Marine; and Boaters World (Seabowld). Among the top-rated paints are Interlux Micron 66, Interlux Super Ablative, Pettit Ultima SR, Pettit Trinidad SR, Pettit Unepoxy Plus, Pettit Vivid, and Sea Hawk Biocop TF.