Safety & Seamanship

Marine Handheld VHFs Test

Testers evaluated handheld VHF radios from three leading marine electronics makers. From Icom, we tested the M92D and M24. Standard Horizon submitted the HX290, HX300, and HX400, and from Midland Radio, we reviewed the Nautico 2. The VHFs in our test group ranged in price and features from a $50 basic, budget-friendly model to a $299, feature-rich handheld with DSC and GPS capabilities. All offered channel scanning, channel 16 quick select, NOAA weather radio, and weather alert. Unique features among the group included scrambler capabilities and remote microphone options.

Mailport: July 2013

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.

An Elusive Perfect Fit

Ive found that the deeper one plunges into sailing, the closer you move toward nature, and the fringe culture of like-minded nut cases who embrace its wildness and unpredictability. This is a good thing. Everyone needs a break from the multimedia barrage that can blind our senses to the natural world. We all need a few nut cases in our life. The downside of drifting away from high-def screens and toward the edge of the sea is that fewer companies seem inclined to make the things that truly fit our needs.

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.