Home Safety & Seamanship

Safety & Seamanship

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 opposite. The nozzles were cumbersome, hard to control, and fragile. Pouring was slow and spills increased dramatically. Many, like us, resorted to hoarding older non-CARB cans with user-friendly spouts, collecting them […]

Revised Lifeline Protection Plan

World Sailing (then ISAF) initially accepted Dyneema lifelines in 2012, but then banned it from all offshore racing in 2015. In 2018, World Sailing decided to allowed Dyneema lifelines for offshore multihulls, realizing that the primary risk factor was stanchion chafe, and this resulted from hanging rail meat over the lifelines, something multihull sailors never […]

Distress ‘Flares’ Go Electric

The first USCG approved electronic beacons entered the market in 2015 (46 CFR 161.013). Classified as electronic visual distress signaling devices (eVDSD), they emit a slow flashing white SOS (three short, three long, three short) distress signal for more than six hours. While not as bright as pyrotechnic flares—75 candela vs. 680 candela—they are still […]

Search & Rescue Tech 2.0

On December 1, 2020 Kevin Escoffier was plucked from a life raft, near the infamous “Cape of Storms.” The name dates back to 1488 when the Portuguese explorer Dias rounded the promontory. Dutch sailors called it Stormkaap, but a more optimistic King of Portugal renamed it the Cape of Good Hope. Weather systems have ignored […]

Rescue at Sea Meets High Tech

Disasters at sea always grab big headlines. But very few of these accounts deliver as much good news and valuable lessons learned as the recent rescue of solo sailor Kevin Escoffier. Escoffier’s survival story is more than a summary of safety gear. There’s no question that an EPIRB beacon, a survival suit and a seaworthy […]

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.