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Don’t Be Fooled by Warmer Air Temps

As air temperatures in the northern hemisphere warm enough for sailors to start spending time on the water, boating safety experts are reminding sailors...

Life Jackets for Active, Racing Sailors

For this test, we rounded up seven flotation aids from four manufacturers: Float Tech, Gill, Spinlock, and Stohlquist. The test field included an inflatable rash guard, foam racing-style life vests, inflatable PFD-harness combinations, and PFDs designed specifically for women. Only the Stohlquist PFDs meet U.S. Coast Guard standards, but all have innovative features and offer increased comfort and mobility over many Type I and Type II PFDs.

DIY Stability Check?

When the waves kick up, you can’t help thinking about ultimate stability. Am I feeling form stability, the stability that relies on the boat’s beam and buoyancy to resist healing? Or is it the counteracting righting moment of ballast that is keeping the boat upright? Except for unballasted racing dinghies, it’s a bit of both. […]

Sailboat Stability Uncensored

It’s clear that the tools we use to measure stability, and to prevent future incidents are still imperfect instruments, as we saw in the fatal WingNuts capsize in 2011. And in the cruising community, where fully equipped ocean going boats hardly resemble the lightly loaded models used to calculate stability ratings, we worry that the picture of stability is again becoming blurred by design trends.

When Water Makes Sense Against Fire

We’ve never been entirely satisfied with dry chemical fire extinguishers for marine use. We’ve used them on petroleum and electrical fires in refinery settings, and while they put fires out fast, the smoke cloud is choking, even in open spaces, complicating efforts to determine if the fire is truly out. If there is hot metal […]

In Search of the $50 Rescue Float

Recovering a person in the water is a daunting problem. If the seas are rough enough to fall overboard, it’s not easy to hold the boat alongside in a controlled manner. Cold water often saps the strength of the swimmer so much that they can’t hold on to a rope or lifesaving device. Once you […]

Rhumb Lines: Kill Switches Save Lives

In the wake of a terrible tragedy that struck a few days before Thanksgiving in Sarasota, Florida, home of the Sarasota Youth Sailing Program (as well as Practical Sailor’s editorial office), we’re asking all organized sailing programs to review their chase boat safety equipment and rescue protocols. Cruising sailors with planing dinghies should also take […]

Lifesling Inspection Tips

For many in the northern hemisphere winter is the off-season, which means it's a great time inspect safety gear. Lifejackets and throwable rescue aids like the Lifesling which incorporate materials that degrade over time deserve particularly close attention. Even new safety equipment deserves close inspection. Probably the most startling safety equipment failure we've experienced was that of a newly bought child's safety harness with a polypropylene tether that immediately broke under very little load.

The Tragedy of the Driverless Dinghy

In the wake of a terrible tragedy that struck a few days before Thanksgiving in Sarasota, Florida, home of the Sarasota Youth Sailing Program...

Underwater Epoxy Test

Although laminating epoxies can tolerate some moisture, we know that excessive moisture can prevent a good cure. So how can we manage an emergency repair, when water is seeping into the bilge through a hairline crack—or worse? Well, there are products intended for underwater use, we’ve used them, and they work. Although a collision with […]

Sizing Up the Autumn List

Some of the best sailing I ever had was September on Narragansett Bay, pretty close to heaven in my mind. But before we let a long September reach carry us away-and hopefully carry us through winter-its a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.