MMSIs for VHF Handhelds

[IMGCAP(1)] In your Oct. 21, 2014 blog on calling mayday on an SSB, I wish you would have included what should be done to configure a Digital Selective Calling (DSC)-capable handheld VHF radio with a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. If the radio is only used on one boat, thats pretty straightforward (see PS Mailport, October 2011 online), but what should one do if they own a DSC-capable radio but don't own a boat (for…

Financing Good Ole Boats

Here is a question that has puzzled me for a long time. Many financial institutions offer financing on mature vessels but have a boat age limit of 15 to 20 years. But, if a 1978 classic-plastic boat underwent a major refit in, say 1999, does that make the boat a 1999 in the eyes of the financiers? Id like to hear tales on how others may have gotten around this rule.

Mailport: May 2016

In your February 2016 issue, you had an article about boarding steps. As the freeboard is getting higher and higher on modern boats, there is a need for a practical solution to easily getting on and off the boat. I thought the Edson One-Step ( that you reviewed was a good solution, so I bought one. Overall, I found it worked pretty well; however, it has a narrow profile that makes the step fairly small. So I came up with my own custom adaptation to that problem (see accompanying photos). Basically, I added a teak step to the Edson frame. It works great. The only real downside is storage.

PS Advisor

Dutchman vs. Lazy JacksIm in the market for some kind of sail flaking system and need advice. Have you compared the lazy jack method...

Mailport: Cleat Sense

Regarding your recent blog post on cleat strength (Inside PS blog Striving for a Stronger Boat Cleat), a stout-looking Herreshoff-style aluminum cleat on my 1984 Sea Sprite 34 failed while moored in a storm in Maine last fall. The wind and waves were strong enough to lay the boat on its beam ends, with bare poles. The aluminum failed near a 5/16-inch stainless bolt, but the other three bolts held, as did a similar cleat with a backup line to the mooring. Take the problem seriously: there was no obvious sign of failure before it broke, and had it been a two-bolt cleat I think the whole thing would have gone. Im replacing both cleats with bronze cleats from Spartan Marine.

Mailport: January 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, January 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Flare disposal, Chainplate failures, MOB Pole storage and more!

Mailport: August 2012

Letters to Practical Sailor, August 2012. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Anchor Rhodes, Ultrasonic Antifouling, Inflatable PFDs, and more

PS Advisor: GPS Accuracy and Signal Strength

I recently installed an 80-watt solar panel on my bimini. I am concerned that this may have reduced the positional accuracy of my GPS, a Standard Horizon 180i, which has an internal antenna mounted directly below the solar panel. Do solar panels cause interference with GPS signals?

Exploring the Ins and Outs of Bowsprits for Light-air Sails

A salty Kiwi named Ross Norgrove once said that the most important tool for the owner of a wooden yawl adorned with a bowsprit is a sharp ax. To some degree, his witty comment holds true for contemporary sailors contemplating a mini-bowsprit.