Look for UV protection, fit, impact resistance

The ideal pair of sunglasses will vary among individuals. Fair-eyed people, for example, often prefer darker lenses. Our list of must-haves include UV protection, polarization, impact-resistant lenses, and good fit.

The Liquid Image 310 Video Mask

For those of us who spend nearly as much time under the water as on it, the Liquid Image 310 video mask sounded like a great addition to our diving kit-and a good fix for our gadget addiction-so we had to give it a try when we came across it at a spring boat show.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Sailors

Sailors are a practical lot. Sure, wed all enjoy a Fruit of the Month membership, but if you really want to make a sailors holiday bright, then gift them with something more useful. Weve rounded up some practical (and fun) gift ideas that any sailor would appreciate, whether theyll be decking the halls or the main saloon this season.

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?

Earth, Wind, and Water

Each foul-weather garment was subject to a series of rigorous tests designed to measure resistance to the elements, breathability, wearability, reflectivity, functionality, and abrasion resistance.

Practical Sailor Tests Polarized Sunglasses

Practical Sailor ran field tests and lab tests on dozens of polarized sunglasses ranging from cheap to high-end products, including those popular for watersports eyewear. Field tests included wearing the products for eyeball navigation in shoal waters and assessing glare, color brightness, sharpness, fit, peripheral vision, and any interference with reading LCD screens or charts. Sunglasses that did well in field tests, and a few that did poorly, were sent to Pacific University College of Optometry, where they were tested in the lab for lens warpage, prismatic effect, tint, and resolution. The test field included polarized glasses from Bolle, Costa Del Mar, Gill, Harken, Hobie, Kaenon, Maui Jim, Oakley, and Nike.

Foul-weather Gear Must-haves

At the very least, foul-weather gear must be warm, dry, and comfortable. It also should be easy to adjust and fasten, which means zippers, Velcro, buckles, and pull cords must function without a hitch-and do so repeatedly, thousands of times. But what makes the ideal foulie set? Here are our criteria for top-notch gear. Foulie jackets and bibs/trousers should be made of durable material resistant to abrasion and marine elements, especially sun, salt water, and the unforgiving hardware and rough surfaces found aboard most sailboats.

Mailport: 04/09

I read with interest your evaluation of first aid kits, which wrapped up with the final installment in the December 2008 issue. Id like to add a couple of points: Weekend, cruising, and bluewater sailors should invest in a good up-to-date first aid and CPR course. It is as important as a functional bilge pump. The responsible sailor can outfit a substantial and superior first-aid kit for much less money than a commercially available kit. The kit should be appropriate for the expected duration a victim will need treatment prior to evacuation. Most commercial kits contain a lot of fluff and are unnecessarily redundant-a lot of Band-Aids. I stress to distance sailors stocking a few prescription items and aggressive treatment for seasickness, beyond Bonine. I favor a solid medical text such as "A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine," by Dr. Erick Weiss and Dr. Michael Jacobs, or "Medicine for Mountaineering and other Wilderness Activities," by James Wilkerson. The latter is available from Mountaineer Books. Both texts give guidance on stocking kits appropriate for your boat. Remember, the victim may be the captain or medical officer, and a novice may be the one rendering treatment. A medical guide is an invaluable resource.

Holiday Gifts Ideas for Sailors

Looking for a holiday gift for the sailors on your list? Here are some new and gift-worthy products to consider.

The Merits of Madness

It always seems that a storm rolls into Annapolis, Md., just in time for the United States Sailboat Show. Held in October, the annual exhibition is the nations biggest sailboat-only show. Until this year, my favorite show was in 2006, when a 40-knot gale whipped into town, and the floating docks rolled like a Nantucket whaler with her decks awash. With the wind and spray lashing the show tents, boat buyers defiantly carried on, one hand groping for a lifeline, the other grasping the checkbook. This years storm was of a different sort. Theres something eerily soothing about a large crowd of people ogling new boats while the world markets go into a death spiral. During the shows opening day, five televisions in the waterfront bar Pussers Landing tracked the Dows precipitous plunge. In one fell swoop, my boys college fund and any hope of retiring before Im deaf as a post were carried off in an avalanche of debt. To my surprise, the people around me seemed preoccupied with only boats.

The Ins and Outs of Aftermarket 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.