Drug-free Seasickness Solutions

Practical Sailor testers report on five alternative seasickness treatments and prevention. Acupressure bands Davis Queaz-Away and electrical stimulation bands like the ReliefBands use pressure points on the inside of the wrists to ease sickness. Queasy sailors have long turned to ginger-based remedies at sea, and Sailors Secret Ginger Caps offered relief for mild cases of seasickness, with no side effects. Two recent introductions to the market claim to use herbal therapy to prevent symptoms of seasickness. MotionEaze is a liquid solution of essential oils applied to the soft tissue under the ear lobe. Quease Ease, a cylindrical metal tube with perforations at the top like an inhaler, uses essential oil aromatherapy to relieve symtpoms.

PS Advisor: Replacing Lifelines

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and other regulatory bodies frown upon using PVC-coated 7x7 wire for lifelines. As you noted, this is because lifelines should be easily inspected for corrosion or other signs of possible failure. The corrosion that can take place under the coating is not just a saltwater issue. Air quality and other factors also can lead to corrosion. We suggest uncoated, 1x19 stainless-steel wire with swaged terminals—3/16-inch wire for upper lifeline and 1/8 inch for the lower. Uncoated 1x19 is easy to inspect, and even though the top wire is overkill from a tensile-strength perspective, it will be durable and almost as comfortable to lean against as the coated wire. It’s also more convenient to lash netting to than a smaller-diameter option.

Mens Foul-Weather Gear Update

Practical Sailor recently tested the first line of foul-weather gear released by Massachusetts-based Bluestorm. The three mens bibs-and-jacket sets are named appropriately for the general areas they are designed for use in: the lightweight Latitude 33, medium-weight Latitude 48, and heavy-duty Latitude 61. The sailing jackets and bibs were tested for wind- and water-resistance, fit and comfort, design, construction quality, warmth, design and fit of hood, design and construction of zippers, and reflectivity. Small, innovative details that Bluestorm incorporated into its foulies include the triple-closure system for jacket storm flaps and recessed Velcro fasteners. All sets have excellent hood design, and testers found the jackets to be supple, highly breathable, and comfortable, if a bit pricey.

Tender Trimmings

Tenders come in all shapes and sizes-from 6-foot inflatable kayaks to RIBs capable of towing skiers-and they serve a variety of transportation needs. Where the live-aboard couple will need a dinghy suitable for grocery and laundry runs, the small-boat daysailor usually needs only a fuss-free, easy ride to a moored or anchored boat. A few accessories that we checked out recently can add to such tender experiences.

Practical Sailor Tests a Ruggedly Built Safety Harness and Tether for Kids

Never mind what your experience tells you. Children do not go to sea. At least that is the only logical conclusion we can reach as we deal with the lack of adequate offshore safety equipment for kids. In October 2006, we ran down more than a dozen life jackets for infants and toddlers. There were only a few worth writing about, and none met our full expectations. Of the lot, we pegged the MTI Adventurewear Bay Bee 201-1, the Mustang Survival MV-3150 and MV-3155, and the Sospenders 12ACH as standouts, and all of these products are still available today. In the December 2006 and January 2007 issues, we dug into the topic of safety harnesses and tethers, and the outcome was worse. One product in that test, a safety tether designed for children more than 50 pounds, snapped under the load of a 35-pound weight being dropped from six feet. The tether, from Jim Buoy, underwent an upgrade immediately after our report.

Practical Sailor Tests AIS Class B Transceivers from West Marine and Navico

Practical Sailor last looked at Automatic Identification Systems, or AIS, in November 2008, reviewing the Raymarine AIS250, a receive-only device. Since that report, the pool of AIS products has grown to include several affordable transceiver options for recreational sailors. In this head-to-head test, we review two AIS-Class B devices capable of sending and receiving AIS data: the Navico NAIS-300 and the West Marine AIS1000. AIS transceivers are split into Class A (commercial) and Class B (recreational). AIS devices improve safety at sea by receiving and broadcasting a wide variety of information about a ship, including its name, latitude and longitude, course over ground, speed over ground, heading, status, and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.

Practical Sailors Gear of the Year 2009

Practical Sailor editors pored over the dozens of products reviewed in the previous months to find the best of the best sailing gear, products that are worthy of the designation Gear of the Year. This years editors choice list includes a rugged rope clutch (Spinlock), a grippy ratchet block (Ronstan), feature-filled VHF handheld radios (Standard Horizon and Cobra), high-quality nesting cookware (Magma), a proven paste wax (Collinite), an ocean-ready first-aid kit (Adventure Medical Kits), a reliable LED bulb for cabin lighting (Imtra), an economical ice box conversion kit (Frigoboat), an innovative ultrasonic tank sensor (BEP Marine), cold-weather gloves (Gill), and an easy-to-install Wi-Fi booster (5mileWiFi).

Shore-Power Boat Fire Protection

With the increased demand to have all the electrically powered comforts of home onboard, it should come as no surprise to boaters that the majority of AC-related electrical fires involve overheated shore-power plugs and receptacles. Prime Technology, aims to change all that with the introduction of its Shore Power Inlet Protector (ShIP for short), a monitoring and alarm device that automatically disconnects AC shore power when excessive heat is detected at the power inlet connector. We reviewed the ShIP 110 designed for use with a 110-volt, 30-amp system. The company also offers a similar unit (the ShIP 220) for use with 220-volt, 50-amp service. Charred plugs and receptacles are the result of resistance build-up (due to loose or corroded connections), which generates heat and the potential for fire, a problem especially prevalent among vessels that continually run high energy loads such as water heaters and air-conditioning units. In addition to monitoring the temperature of your vessels shore-power inlet plug and its wiring, the ShIP system automatically disconnects AC shore power when an unsafe temperature is detected, providing visual and audible alarms. (The audible alarm shuts down after five minutes to avoid prolonged disturbance to surrounding boats.)

Bluewater Sailors Review Tethers Underway

Practical Sailor had a chance to compare how three common snap hooks and three tether types function in actual use on a passage from Boston to Bermuda. Testers evaluated the pros and cons of elastic tethers and non-elastic tethers, double-legged tethers, single-leg tethers, the new Kong snap hooks, carabineer-style safety clips, and the Gibb-style clip. The Wichard elastic single-leg tether (nearly identical to our 2007 tether test favorite from West Marine, the West Marine 6-foot elastic tether with Wichards double-action hook at the deck end) was unanimously preferred over the non-elastic tether. Testers also preferred the Kong snap hooks over the others.

The Search for Reliable Hands-free Onboard Communication Systems

Being able to communicate with a hands-free communication device along the length of the deck allows crew to coordinate activities like anchoring, docking, and going up the mast. Practical Sailor testers experimented with two systems: Motorola SX800R two-way radios and Nautic Devices Yapalong 3000. Both the Motorola and the Yapalong comprise a cell-phone-sized transmitter/radio unit and a separate handset. We tested them during anchoring, masthead repairs, and docking. The products were used with their mated headsets in various weather and sea conditions, including light rain and spray. The Motorola unit also was tested with a compatible Fire Fox Sportsman Throat Mic.