Sailing Shoe Test Update: 2014

About 20 years ago, the conventional sailing moccasin started losing ground to more specialized footwear for sailors, but only recently have major sports apparel companies like Adidas and Puma entered the on-the-water footwear fray. Boat shoe style has come a long way since Paul Sperry-whose namesake company, Sperry, originated the nonskid grooved-sole moccasin-carved a zig-zag pattern into an old gumshoe back in 1935.

Life Raft Stowage: The Overlooked Necessity

Sometimes, it seems that safety is a dirty word in the boat-building industry. A favorite marketing catchword is “blue water cruiser.” We assume this means a boat capable of going to sea, rather than a boat designed to tiptoe along the shore.

Optronics Blue Eye Shines Bright Among Handheld Spotlights

If youve ever powered down the Intracoastal Waterway at night in the rain or came into an inlet from the sea looking for channel...

Practical Sailor Editors Holiday Wishlist

The holiday gift-giving season has arrived! And this year, instead of offering a rundown of nautical gift ideas, we asked our editors and writers to sort through the hundreds of products weve tested and find the sailing goodies theyd most like to unwrap this holiday. Editors gift picks ranged from Nigel Calders best-selling boat owners manual and a must-have toolbag to a Magma grill, a VHF radio, galley essentials, and sailing apparel.

Sunscreen for Sailors

In our opinion, the only sunscreens worthy of addressing in a sunblock review are those that offer broad-spectrum protection from sunburn. Formulas that ignore UVA protection and offer only UVB protection are as outdated as George Hamiltons suntan. Most products we tested combine UVA and UVB blockers to offer broad-spectrum sunscreen coverage. Physical blockers-metal oxides such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide-reflect both UVA and UVB. These offer the best protection and are not chemicals, so theyre less likely to cause irritation to sensitive skin, but they often leave a thick, white residue on the wearers skin. In terms of chemical UV blockers, Parasol 1789 also ranks high in protecting against sun exposure.

PS Tests New Green Rescue Laser

Practical Sailor tested a prototype of Greatland Laser's Green Rescue Laser a few years ago, and we took the opportunity to check out a production model for this report on the visual distress signals. The Green Rescue Laser flare looks like a mini-Maglite with anodized aluminum bodies, measuring less than 5 inches long and 7/8 inches in diameter, and weighing 3.3 ounces. In tests, the green laser's exceptionally brilliant light proved to be visible from greater distances than red laser flares, flashlights, and strobe lights; its signaling capability lasts hours rather than the minutes of pyrotechnic flares; and its green light is easier to spot against a cityscape than a white flashlight. Waterproof to 80 feet, the Rescue Laser is compact and can be reused, doesn’t expire, and can be carried through airport security. While it would be a good addition to a ditch bag or foul-weather gear, it's not a replacement for aerial flares, in our opinion, and its $250 price tag is a hard pill to swallow.

The Best Sailing Gear of 2010

Practical Sailor offers the annual selection of Editors Choice products for the Gear of the Year 2010 lineup. We hope the list will guide you through the dizzying array of gear at the fall boat shows, or at least help you whittle down your wishlist for Santa. The roster covers a broad spectrum of products-from gadgets for measuring speed to a performance multihull built for speed-that have bested their peers in our tests. The lineup includes gear from Spinlock, Brion Toss, Lopolight, Selden Mast, DuBarry, Keen, Standard Horizon, and Mastervolt. It covers LED navigation lights, bosun chairs, footwear for sailors, and marine electronics. Boat maintenance products from Polymarine and Interlux also made the list.

Gifts for Sailing Parents

With Mothers Day and Fathers Day looming, we dug through our Chandlery items to find things that would make good gifts for sailing moms and dads. Landlubbers got it easy: Dad gets a new shirt and tie; Mom gets flowers (no carnations!). But thats not fitting for our nautical moms and dads. Unless their gift has some practical onboard use, it will shortly find its way to the senior-center flea market. Most of these gifts would be well received by either Mom or Dad, but if you end up missing the mark, you can always reclaim the gift and use it for your own offshore adventures.

Finding the Bright Spot: Marine LED Spotlights

A marine spotlight, as opposed to a floodlight or flashlight, must sufficiently illuminate an object at a considerable distance. Clearly seeing navigation aids, floating debris, breaking surf, or a man overboard requires a dependable device with a bright beam of light, one that can be kept at the ready. The best marine spotlights combine improved LED technology with sufficient power, a quality reflector lens, single-hand ergonomics, quick recharging times, and a rugged durability that includes withstanding submersion. We evaluated seven LED spotlights, including the new Streamlight Waypoint Rechargeable and three new West Marine lights.

Flashlight Death-Match

For good old fashioned reliability and brightness, we like Rayovac's Roughneck. Pelican's Super Sabrelite is a good choice for portability, and either of two LED models would make sense for your ditch bag.

Plug that Chain-pipe

I was always amazed at how much water could seep through the chain-pipe and into Toscas anchor locker when a sea was up, or we were punching into a headsea-although punching would hardly describe the ungainly motion of a gaff-rigged ketch to weather. Wallowing? Submarining? Regardless, the chain-pipe was like a water main in those conditions …