PS Advisor: Harness Crotch Straps

During our testing a of a harness without a crotch strap, the harness did ride up on the victim, but there was no tendency for the wearer to slip out. If the waist strap is tighter than the wearers shoulder width, its not possible for him to slip out. This answer begs the question: What about people whose tummy is wider than their shoulders? Harness waist belts should be worn as taut as is comfortable. If that practice is followed, then crotch straps should not be needed.

Stocking Stuffers For Sailors

Its hard to believe, but the 2009 holiday season is upon us. As is custom, Practical Sailor editors have put together a varied roundup of gifts to stuff those stockings more likely to hang from a bulkhead than the mantle. For the racing or small-boat sailor whos making the leap from wire rope to high-tech fiber, Colligo Marines Softies offer a lightweight alternative to traditional steel shackles and headsail hanks. Made of extra strong and chafe-resistant Dyneema, the "soft" hardware is the perfect solution for use with synthetic forestays, and unlike metal hanks, theyll never leave rust stains on sails. Using the Softies is as easy as pulling the shake-resistant knot through the expandable spliced loop, then sliding the slip ring (rubber O-rings) up to the knot. A lanyard ensures easy opening, but the self-tightening O-rings offer added security against accidental opening or shaking loose.

Seaboots Under $100

You should be able to keep your feet warm, dry, and on deck for a reasonable price—and you can.

Boat Shoe Update

Following Tevas top-ranked performance in the womens athletic-style sailing shoes test (July 2007), Practical Sailor editors decided to try out the latest mens Tevas and Tevas new Sunkosi for women. Teva, the California-based firm known for its strap-on sport sandals, manufactures seven different lines of water shoes, including four sneaker-style varieties. At 11.5 ounces, the mens Teva Helm 2 shoes are lighter than any other mens shoe tested (June 2007), and they offer good drainage. There are mesh openings built into the shoe under the heel, behind the heel, beneath the ball of the foot, and on either side of the toe. Like most of the shoes we tested, the Helm 2s foam insole is removable. It also is perforated with 1/8-inch holes to speed drainage. The shoes upper uses unibody construction, with a laminate of foam and three different kinds of mesh reinforced with synthetic leather in the toe, upper tongue, and heel. The tongue is attached only at its base.

Ego Case Boasts iPod Protection, Clear Sound

Late last year, Practical Sailor published an article about devices that keep iPods free of moisture, sand, and dust (see Practical Sailor November 2006). Only one of those products came with speakers instead of earphones-the iFloat from Brookstone-but it didn't have a water-resistant speaker, and the sound quality diminished significantly once the speaker got wet. Now weve discovered a worthy replacement: the Ego Waterproof Sound Case.

Sea-Boot Camp Tests Footwear for Traction, Comfort, and Quality

As with most types of sailing gear, picking the right sea boot is dependant on the user and intended use. Caribbean cruisers have different needs than offshore voyagers sailing in the high latitudes. Practical Sailors tested the performance and comfort of 15 pairs of mid-calf, knee-high, and three-quarter sea boots from Aigle, Dubarry, Gill, Helly Hansen, Puma, Sperry, Ronstan, West Marine, and Musto. Although you don't necessarily need to spend several hundred dollars for decent boots, we did find that boots priced at $150 and higher fared much better in our tests.

Mens Foul-Weather Gear Update

Practical Sailor recently tested the first line of foul-weather gear released by Massachusetts-based Bluestorm. The three mens bibs-and-jacket sets are named appropriately for the general areas they are designed for use in: the lightweight Latitude 33, medium-weight Latitude 48, and heavy-duty Latitude 61. The sailing jackets and bibs were tested for wind- and water-resistance, fit and comfort, design, construction quality, warmth, design and fit of hood, design and construction of zippers, and reflectivity. Small, innovative details that Bluestorm incorporated into its foulies include the triple-closure system for jacket storm flaps and recessed Velcro fasteners. All sets have excellent hood design, and testers found the jackets to be supple, highly breathable, and comfortable, if a bit pricey.

Five Fingers Fit Like Gloves

Vibram, the Italian company known for putting the rubber sole into The North Face, Merrell, Timberland, Columbia, and Nike, has developed a funky-looking shoe called the Vibram Five Fingers. The shoes look like gloves for your feet. The individual toe slots are designed to gently spread your toes, enhancing balance and stability, and promoting a more natural motion to reduce the impact on your joints and back. The upper sole is made with a thin, abrasion- and tear-resistant stretch polyamide fabric. The foot bed is antimicrobial microfiber, and the sole is a non-marking rubber that is razor-siped for better grip. The weight varies by size and model. One mens size 42 (8 in the U.S.), weighs 5.6 ounces. while a womens 37 (U.S. size 6) weighs 4.4.

Mailport: 08/09

As a new boat owner, I have no end of questions, but here’s a quickie: I have recently had my boat hauled and sanded to the gelcoat, and repainted with all the right stuff. (The bottom was coated with Interlux CA Bottomkote.) Now, how often should I have a diver clean the underside, bearing in mind I live in San Diego? The service providers have a vested interest in selling frequent cleans—one company running a special at the moment wants me to sign a contract for a bottom clean every three weeks, but that sounds way too often to me. I realize it may well vary with geography and ambient temperature, but there should be some kind of general rule of thumb, perhaps?

Foul Weather Jackets

The Henri Lloyd Rapid Coastal takes top honors among the coastal jackets, followed by the Best Buy, Ronstan's Inshore. Of the offshore jackets tested, we liked the Gill Atlantic best.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.