Help Us Design a Better PFD/harness

Do try this at home: Don your favorite inflatable-PFD/harness and inflate it. Dont waste a gas cartridge; use the oral inflation tube. Wade into the water. A pool is fine-make sure it is still shallow enough to stand. Now, imagine you are underneath an overturned hull and are trying to escape. Try to swim beneath the surface as you might do to get out from under the turtled boat. You don't have to dive deep, the imaginary overturned boat could be as small as a dinghy.

Orion Replacing Potentially Faulty Flares

In the wake of “repeated product failures,” Orion Safety Products has instituted a replacement program for older XLT flares and 12-gauge signal systems that some boaters may still have in their emergency kits. According to the company, some XLT and 12-gauge signals made before October 2008—when the designs were revamped—have failed to launch or to ignite.

Seascoopa Revisited

In May 2010, Practical Sailor reviewed a prototype man-overboard (MOB) recovery device called the Seascoopa. The parbuckle-type device functions much like a human trawler net, enabling the recovery of injured or unconscious MOBs while the boat is slowly making way. While the device performed as advertised, it needed some design fine-tuning. After an extensive re-design, the production version of the new Seascoopa addresses most of the concerns testers had with the prototype and cranked the construction quality and design up a notch. Testers felt there are certain benefits to the improved Seascoopa that other recovery aids do not offer, but it's not our preferred device for use as a primary MOB aid.

Is Titanium an Everyman Metal?

Titanium is of particular interest to sailors due to its resistance to galvanic corrosion. It has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal and is non-magnetic. It is up to 20 times more scratch resistant than stainless steels. Practical Sailor contributor Patrick Childress takes an in-depth look at the metal and its use in the marine industry as his boat, a Valiant 40, is refitted with titanium chainplates and other rigging.

Disposing of Expired Flares

It’s a good idea to keep expired flares on hand to use as backups (on board or in a vehicle), but be sure to store them in a clearly labeled container separate from your current flares. If you find yourself with an overstock of old—or unwanted—hand flares, however, you must dispose of them properly. Unfortunately there’s no set agency that deals with expired flare disposal or recycling. Because state and federal laws pertaining to flare disposal and transportation vary, there’s no single disposal policy.

Lessons from the Mackinac

On Oct. 31, U.S. Sailing released independent reports on three highly publicized sailing accidents that happened this year. Practical Sailor has been closely following the WingNuts capsize, in which the captain, Mark Morley, and Suzanne Bickel died of head injuries and drowning, while still tethered to the boat, and six crew were saved by fellow racers. Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo served on the U.S. Sailing panel; his focus was on the weather and the boat design features that led to the accident.

Hope for Best, Plan for Worst

When tropical weather threatens, being prepared for the wind, waves, surge, and flooding pays off. How you prepare for a storm depends on where your boat is in relation to the storm and whether you choose to keep it at a dock, on a mooring, or anchored in sheltered waters or a hurricane hole. Irene may have lacked super-storm status, but her sizable diameter and the angle with which she approached the Northeast coastline caused considerable impact from Beaufort, N.C., to Bangor, Maine. Sailors hiding from the storm faced a range of impacts. The most common was tropical-force winds with gusts to about 60 knots.

Tropical Storm Do’s and Don’ts

As Hurricane Irene headed for the Eastern seaboard in August 2011, Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo set his storm-preparedness plan into action. He secured his Ericson 41 in an estuary just off Chesapeake Bay and hunkered down to ride out the approaching hurricane aboard his sloop. This first-hand account offers a close look at what worked for him—ground tackle, chafe gear, the locale selected, tactics during the storm—and what didn't.

Tropical Storm Do’s and Don’ts

As Hurricane Irene headed for the Eastern seaboard in August 2011, Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo set his storm-preparedness plan into action. He secured his Ericson 41 in an estuary just off Chesapeake Bay and hunkered down to ride out the approaching hurricane aboard his sloop. This first-hand account offers a close look at what worked for him—ground tackle, chafe gear, the locale selected, tactics during the storm—and what didn't.

The Cruise of Mascot

Ninety-nine years ago last month, Henry M. Plummer, his adult son, Henry Jr., and a cat named Scotty set out from Massachusetts, bound for South Florida in a 24-foot catboat. Mascots waterline was 23 feet; the beam was 10 feet; and draft was 3 feet, 6 inches. The Marshall 22 reviewed in this months issue offers a pretty good example of Mascots traits. Mascot was engineless. In calms, father and son pushed it with a 15-foot dory equipped with a 3-horsepower engine. Accommodations were rough. They shot or caught most of their meat.

Overheating in Docklines and Rodes

With hurricane season hitting full stride, many of us are going over our rope inventory, making sure we have more than enough lines to secure the boat. Chafe gear fights external friction on our lines, but how do we combat internal heat build-up? Dock lines are particularly susceptible to overheating. If the boat is exposed to short-period chop from the side, the frequency can be high and the force can exceed the 10:1 safe working limit, and even with rain or spray to cool the rope there may be significant weakening due to internal friction.