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.

Practical Sailor Tests Lightweight 10-foot Rigid Inflatable Boats

Eight fixed-transom Hypalon and PVC rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) from seven manufacturers were put through their paces as testers inspected each for on-the-water performance, inflation ease, lifting, seating, storage space, transom design, and hull design. RIB brands tested were AB, Avon, Achilles, Brig, Mercury, Caribe, and Zodiac. With a 9.9-horsepower Mercury outboard four-stroke engine pushing it, each dinghy was tested for speed, ability to plane, handling, tracking, stability, comfort level, and how well it deflected spray when powering through 1- to 2-foot wakes. The test RIBs from Achilles, Caribe, and Zodiac rated the highest in the field of fixed-transom rigid inflatable boats. Testers liked the ring-type oarlocks on the Caribe L10 and the Brigs bow handle. Practical Sailor pet peeves included bad oar stowage on most of the boats and thin rub strakes. Although classified as lightweight, the average weight of these test boats was 136 pounds.

Learning to Share

For avid sailors with flexible schedules, timeshare sailing can offer a cheaper ûalternative to sailing clubs or chartering.

Fenders and Lines for Seawalls

To the lubber, tying-up to a bulkhead seems like the simplest of all docking situations. Perhaps with floating docks this is true. You just throw in a few fenders and tie a few lines. Simple. But in the world of tidal bulkheads with pilings or rough concrete facings, it is often a hammer and anvil situation, with the wind and waves hammer incessantly as the anvil moves up and down with the tide, causing fenders to slip out of position.

Mailport: 04/09

I read with interest your evaluation of first aid kits, which wrapped up with the final installment in the December 2008 issue. Id like to add a couple of points: Weekend, cruising, and bluewater sailors should invest in a good up-to-date first aid and CPR course. It is as important as a functional bilge pump. The responsible sailor can outfit a substantial and superior first-aid kit for much less money than a commercially available kit. The kit should be appropriate for the expected duration a victim will need treatment prior to evacuation. Most commercial kits contain a lot of fluff and are unnecessarily redundant-a lot of Band-Aids. I stress to distance sailors stocking a few prescription items and aggressive treatment for seasickness, beyond Bonine. I favor a solid medical text such as "A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine," by Dr. Erick Weiss and Dr. Michael Jacobs, or "Medicine for Mountaineering and other Wilderness Activities," by James Wilkerson. The latter is available from Mountaineer Books. Both texts give guidance on stocking kits appropriate for your boat. Remember, the victim may be the captain or medical officer, and a novice may be the one rendering treatment. A medical guide is an invaluable resource.

Superlight Helmet Suits Sailors

Primarily known for mountaineering and industrial climbing gear, sailors know Kong for the robust Tango tether clip used on most safety tethers (See Safety Tethers Under Scrutiny, PS March, 2018). In addition to climbing gear, Kong also makes anchor swivels, mooring hooks, and snap shackles. Here, in an update to our July 2019 report, we look at their new helmet.

Double Check Your AIS

Nearly one year ago, the Volvo Ocean Race boat Sun Hung Kai-Scallywag was deep in the Southern Ocean bound from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil when 47-year-old John Fisher was thrown overboard during an accidental jibe. (Fishers tether was unclipped at the time of the accident as he moved between stations.)

Mid-size Inflatables: Mercury Wins

Mercury's 240 outperformed six other roll-up inflatables with a dry ride, excellent control, and the lowest price. Bombard's AX2 is good, but short on space. And West Marine's RU-260 is big, but expensive.

Skip Allan Says Farewell to His Beloved Wildflower on Transpacific Crossing

Practical Sailors June and July 2008 issues documented veteran West Coast racer Skip Allans preparations for the 2008 Singlehanded TransPac, a race he eventually won. In this tragic epilogue, Skip describes his final days aboard his custom Tom Wylie-designed sloop, Wildflower. After 62 hours gale-force winds, Skip made the decision to leave Wildflower and transfer to a commercial vessel, the MSC Toronoto. Just before boarding the passing container ship, Skip scuttled the boat he called home-one that he built himself 34 years before. Skip describes in this article the weather conditions, what gear and techniques worked well during the storm, what led to his decision to leave Wildflower, and how he boarded a 1,000-foot-long, 125-foot-high container ship in gale conditions.

Offshore Log: Gelcoat Maintenance

Practical Sailor's guide to bringing back a gelcoat and keeping it glossy.

Simple Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel

When applying a paste cleaner, a toothbrush is useful for buffing tight spots and working into the pores of welds; follow by buffing with a cotton cloth. A green 3M scrubby pad helps for removing more aggressive stains. Continued rusting in welded areas might indicate a developing failure, requiring replacement. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water and mild soap when done buffing.