Home Safety & Seamanship

Safety & Seamanship

Sailboat Safety on Deck

We often think of safety on deck in terms of PFDs, lifelines, and jacklines, but the falls they protect against only happen after something else has gone wrong. Some of the most serious injuries and even fatalities happen without ever leaving the deck. We’re here to help prevent that. Some of our suggestions may be […]

RAM Lights for Sailboats

We have the minimum required lights, including running lights for sailing and motoring, and an anchor light. We might even have an electronic distress...

Powering Portable Devices Safely

Most mariners, especially those on the West Coast, have heard about the horrific fire aboard the dive boat Concepcion near Santa Cruz Island, California, in September 2019. The combined cell phones and personal devices of the crew and 34 guests were plugged in to charge overnight. Fire experts suspect these caught fire and the fire […]

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.

Cordless LED Spotlight Update

Our first LED flashlight test appeared in March 2000. Even two decades ago, we were becoming concerned with beam patterns. In fact it was the LED’s displacement of incandescent bulbs that allowed testers the luxury of considering the light beam as a controllable variable. From then to today, we’ve continued to zero in on the […]

Practical Boarding Ladders

Every year I read of near-drowning episodes that were compounded by the deficiency or complete absence of a boarding ladder. A fall from a dinghy, a slip while anchoring, or an MOB recovery underway made more difficult by the absence of a ladder. If there was a ladder, it had to be deployed by someone […]

Going Aloft with the Multi-use Prusik

At least once each season, someone should make the trip up top to inspect the rigging. There can also be more immediate needs. An eagle could eat your wind instruments— as happened to me—or the masthead light burns out, and there is always the aggravating lost halyard. You can be winched up in a bosun’s […]

Showing Good Ladder Sense

A few years ago, while sitting on the gravel applying fairing compound to my keels (see “Fairing the Keels,” July 2016), I heard a scratching sound, a yelp of profanity, a clatter and a thud. A boater in the next row had been caulking the toe rail from a ladder, he overreached, and the ladder […]

Sailing Gear of the Year 2021

What a difference a year makes! Last year, Practical Sailor testers were holed up in their home workshops, garages, basements, and home offices, meeting remotely on Zoom, and trying to do their part to stamp out a global pandemic. This year, they’re holed up in their home workshops, garages, basements and home offices, meeting remotely […]

Portable Fuel Tank Update

Everyone hated the first generation of CARB gas cans. Intended to reduce volatile emissions by recovering vapors and reducing spills, they did exactly the...