Two years ago, I purchased a Water Witch bilge pump switch. When it developed a glitch, I called Kathleen at Water Witch Inc.s San Diego office (www.waterwitchinc.com). She asked me a couple of questions, then assured me the replacement part would be shipped the following day. It was, followed by an email saying it had shipped. It arrived 10 days later (international), complete with a personal note. Does it better than this? I think not.
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.
A few issues ago, you had a short article on deck hardware (blocks, traveler, cars, etc.) that included Garhauer, and you mentioned that the manufacturer offered individual parts and complete systems that allow conversion from on deck to cockpit adjustment of the car position. We recently installed the EZ adjustable genoa car system from Garhauer and are very pleased with the results. This equipment fits on existing traveler tracks, is easy to install, and performs as advertised.
For this test, we rounded up six high-performance, U.S. Coast Guard certified Type III personal flotation devices (PFDs) designed for children (50 to 90 pounds) participating in active sailing and other watersports. The test lineup comprised life jackets from five manufacturers: Astral Designs, Extrasport, Gill, MTI Adventurewear, and Stohlquist. Testers rated the PFDs on fit (in and out of the water), buoyancy, comfort, ease of donning and doffing, and safety features like crotch straps and whistles.
In the course of writing five books about accidents and survival at sea, Michael Tougias interviewed many survivors who shared with him the things they would have done differently, as well as what helped them survive. They did this to help prevent accidents and to help those who find themselves in trouble. Their tips and insights include decisions taken before the trip, actions taken when disaster strikes, and choices made during search and rescue. Add their insights to your survival-at-sea arsenal.
We got some heartbreaking news just before this issue was on its way to the printer: On May 9, British Olympic sailing medalist Andrew Simpson died when Swedens Americas Cup boat, Artemis, pitchpoled and broke apart during a windy sail on San Francisco Bay. Simpson, who joined the team as a strategist in February, was apparently pinned under the wreckage of the 72-foot catamaran. The tragedy casts a pall over the Americas Cup series set for this summer.
I recently purchased the cord, and as packaged on the plastic spool, the shore end of the new 25-foot EEL cord has a very tight bend at the plug, in order to force it into the package. The bend is much tighter than Id normally allow on a power cord, and upon inspection, I noticed what appears to be a separation of the seal between the cord and the plug. I checked other packages on the shelf at my local West Marine (one of many retailers of the cord), and found all of the 25-foot cords have the same tight bend at the shore end, and most have the same apparent seal issue.
After a series of tragic accidents involving sailors in organized sailing events and training programs in 2011 and 2012, Practical Sailor initiated research into safety equipment in use during the time of these accidents. Our current ongoing tests deal specifically with personal flotation devices (PFDs), safety harnesses, and combination inflatable PFDs and safety harnesses. Ultimately, we hope to come up with recommendations similar to those we made for infant PFDs in June 2007, when we published a prototype of what our ideal infant PFD would look like.
In our final review of three 2011 sailboat tragedies investigated by US Sailing, we offer a clear look at how even the best-equipped, most highly trained sailors can run into trouble at sea. Rambler 100-touted as the fastest monohull super-maxi on the planet and representing millions of dollars in research and design-lost its canting keel and capsized while competing in the August 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race. Sixteen crew struggled to stay on the overturned hull, while another five floated adrift in the Celtic Sea, trying to fight off hypothermia. Practical Sailor looks closely at US Sailings report, directed by retired U.S. Navy Captain Ron Trossbach, the Rambler 100 crews post-accident recommendations, and the safety lessons we can all learn from the accident.
Ron Trossbach, the lead investigator for US Sailing in the Rambler 100 incident, recommended the following changes to US Sailing’s Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) and US Sailing Prescriptions. He also recommended that these be forwarded to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to be included the ISAF Special Regulations Governing Offshore Racing for Monohulls. The items in parentheses reflect the OSR section that would be amended.