Chlorine and Caulk Don’t Mix

While interviewing boat maintenance professionals for background information preferences, several quipped that in reality, they replace far more caulk because its mildewed than because it has failed or stiffened. They seemed to favor either 3M 4000 UV or Sika 291 for exposed uses, because they leave a smooth finish and resist mildew. When we asked about strength and bonding on-deck, they referred us back to the mildew problem. Thats what causes most of their call-backs. (Below the waterline, where looks don't matter, they favored 3M 5200 or Sika 291.)

Mailport: 12/06

MARINE INSURANCE REDUXI have been reading with much interest your articles about marine insurance this year (April and May 2006).

Where Credit Is Due: February 2014

PS readers already know MacENC (PS, July 2013) is a good charting program. I recently experienced terrific customer service from the company. I used MacEnc ( as my backup chartplotting software on a trip to Bermuda in 2007. A month ago, preparing for another offshore trip, I emailed their customer service, asking whether I could update the program and transfer it to a newer laptop.

Choosing and Using Jackstands

Were guessing 90 percent of sailors have their boat hauled by a yard. A travel lift or crane plucks the boat from the water, and yard guys block the boat for the winter. Your sole involvement is reading a warning in the lease agreement that you will not touch the stands and that you will not attach anything to them, including tarps. Those are good rules, and nothing we are about to say is meant to contradict them.

Solving the Power Puzzle

I want to be able to tell how discharged my batteries are in order to maintain them properly (not let them discharge below 50 percent of their capacity). Im dealing with deep-discharge batteries ("house" and for trolling motors). Relying on sources such as Nigel Calders books, Im told that the approximate voltages corresponding to 100 percent, 75 percent, 50 percent, 25 percent, and 0 percent of a batterys capacity are 12.65 volts, 12.45 volts, 12.25 volts, 12.1 volts, and 11.9 volts, respectively. However, contradicting those figures, the standard for measuring ampere-hours (Ah) is based on how long it takes a battery, providing a standard flow of current, to drop to 10.5 volts. This would mean that the battery is 1.4 volts lower than when its considered discharged to 0 percent (according to Calder). Whats the difference in meaning between the 11.9 and 10.5 volts?

Dehumidifier Field Tests

When boats are buttoned up in humid climates, the battle against mildew begins. With the goal of keeping onboard humidity below 65 percent, we compared compressor dehumidifiers and thermo-electric dehumidifiers, two active systems for removing moisture, with passive-drying desiccants to determine which is best for keeping mildew at bay. The test products included the Eva-Dry 2000, a small, quiet thermo-electric dehumidifier; two compressor dehumidifiers, the Mermaid Dry-Pal and a Sears 30-pint; and two desiccants weve tested before, Damp Rid and Absorbag. The test platforms were an outside garden shed and a 32-foot catamaran moored on the Chesapeake.

Topside-Paint Endurance Test 3-Year Checkup

Our topside-paint test panels have endured three full years of 24/7 exposure to the elements. Testers have regularly scrutinized the paint samples and rated the topside coatings on gloss retention, flow out, scratch resistance, and anti-oxidation ability. In this final round of evaluating, we also compared the panel results with the products real-world performances aboard our test boats over the last three-plus years. Top performers in the Practical Sailor tests included one-part urethane paints from Interlux, Epifanes, and Pettit, which all delivered handling convenience and a surprisingly long-lasting finish. The best two-part hull paints offered the most durability; picks in this group included coatings from Awlgrip, Interlux, and Sherwin-Williams, a good choice for the budget conscious boat owner.

Practical Holiday Gift Ideas for Sailors

Looking for gift ideas for the sailors on your holiday gift list (or to add to your wishlist)? Here are some that will please a variety of budgets and sailors.

Steer Clear of Flex-Able-brand Expandable Hose

We were paging through our emails filtered spam folder last summer to make sure we didn't miss anything and came across an ad for a compact, flexible hose that looked ideal for small boats. The incredible expanding Flex-Able hose is made of a tough double-wall construction that is designed to bend and never kink, and included a seven-way spray nozzle with the hose. The hoses ability to shrink down to an extremely compact size when not in use was particularly enticing.

The Glosser

At Practical Sailor, we'll try anything that offers even a glint of hope that caring for a boat might be made easier. So, when...

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.