Safety & Seamanship

The Science of Safety

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.

Kids Life Jackets for Active Sailors

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.

Practical Tips for Survival at Sea

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.

Summer Sailing Gear

Summers warm breezes and lazy weekends have arrived, so PS testers have put together a lineup of cool toys and tools for the dog days. Tower Adventurer Inflatable Standup Paddleboard: Inflatable SUPs are sprouting up everywhere on the Internet; many boards are identical, made by different brands at the same factories in China. Quality varies. Generally, boards 6 inches or thicker offer better stiffness and stability, making them easier to ride.

Mailport: June 2013

How thick is too thick for the buildup of old layers of bottom paint? This question arises because I have just finished painting the bottom of my boat. Even though I diligently sought out potential flaking spots with my knife, while rolling on the paint (Pettit Ultima Eco), I would frequently get a mess caused by the paint flaking off. I have only owned this boat for three years, so I really do not know how many layers there are.

Crew Learns Along the Way

When a storm packing gale-force winds with gusts to 115 knots and torrential rain left contributor Joe Minicks Mason 43, Southern Cross, in shambles off the Greek island of Lefkas, he sought assistance from his insurance company. The boats gear casualty list was long, and the extensive damage to the boat included the hull and electrical systems. For cruisers in the far-flung corners of the world, successfully carrying out such a sizable refit can be challenging, even with the help of a knowledgeable surveyor and a reputable insurance company. But after nearly a year on the hard, the mission was complete, and the Southern Cross crew gained first-hand knowledge about insurance policies and claims, and how to tackle extensive repairs far from home. This is their story.

Buying into the MOB Fear

This months review of man-overboard devices that both alert the crew and help them track a person in the water is a pretty good opportunity for what I call fear factor marketing. Like any active sport that takes place on the water, sailing has risks, but many of the most persistent fears held by non-sailors (pirates are often high on the list) seem to be inspired more by fiction than fact.

In the Wake of a Storm

Sailing west from the Turkish port of Marmaris, we reached across the Aegean Sea with its notorious meltemi wind blowing hard from the north before rounding the southern end of the Greek Peloponnese. We were headed for our winter destination near Rome, when a new forecast warned of an extensive frontal system approaching from the west. With gale-force winds and heavy rain predicted for several days, we needed a new plan. The narrow, sheltered Vliho Bay on the Greek island of Lefkas, seemed to be the ideal anchorage for us to wait for the front to pass.

Mailport: April 2013

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.

Practical Sailor PFD Research Looks at Capsizes

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.

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.