Form Won’t Matter if it Doesn’t Fit

Even the best helmet will fail if poorly fitted. Expect this to take some time. Measure your head and get the right size. Loose is no good, and too small will sit high or give you a headache.

Practical Sailor 2016 Index

Practical Sailor 2016 Index

Buyer’s Guide: Handheld Emergency Flares

The SOLAS-grade Pains-Wessex Pinpoint flares are bright and spatter-free at a reasonable price.

Marine Weather Forecasting

Over the last few decades, theres been exponential growth in the availability of accurate weather forecasts and the net result is safer voyaging. Government spending on weather data gathering and forecast development has soared. Satellites and data buoys have filled in some of the oceanic gaps caused by an absence of weather balloon sampling at sea. State of the art, algorithm-driven, model data and ensemble-based forecasting have turned electronic guesswork into a better understanding of atmospheric volatility. The net result is an increase in the validity and reliability of marine forecasts and a trend that has stretched 24-hour forecast accuracy into 48- and 96-hour time frames. So, if anything deserves the label don't leave homeport without it, it is todays, better than ever, marine weather forecast.

The Pros and Cons of Chest-high Jacklines

World sailing offers fairly explicit expectations regarding jackstays. And PS offer its own additional advice, including one that recommends jacklines ideally be installed so that a sailor who is clipped in can't go over the side (see Jackline Installation Advice, November 2015). This is not always possible, especially on monohulls. In most cases, he chest-high lifeline on Mahina Tiare will keep above water the head of the person who is overboard.

PS Advisor: Thermal-Imaging vs. Radar

Practical Sailor tested the FLIR system ( in the June 2008 issue, and we tried out the company’s new First Mate recently (look for that report in an upcoming issue). While the FLIR images are impressive and offer some information not available with radar or even night-vision gear, infrared thermal imaging is no replacement for radar. FLIR bases its readings on thermal contrast, and objects that are the same temperature as their surroundings remain invisible. Take for example, a steel buoy or granite ledge that’s the same temperature as the sea surface at night. Another drawback: FLIR doesn’t offer any range or bearing information.

Rethinking the MOB Recovery

Man overboard recovery failures have become a frequent headline, and details about these tragedies hold lessons worth learning.

NOAA Charts Coming to an End

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking public comment on ending production of traditional paper nautical charts. The transition to Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) set for 2025 is already underway, but this does not mean the end of backup paper charts, and hopefully not the end of the navigational skills associated with traditional pilotage. Even if you do not intend to make a public comment (see link at bottom), here are…

Life on the Edge—State of the Art Boatbuilding

Most of us have boats built of fiberglass and have only a vague idea that the hard outer surface is made of gelcoat. Beyond that, our knowledge of the boatbuilding process approaches zero.

Exploring the Ins and Outs of Bowsprits for Light-air Sails

A salty Kiwi named Ross Norgrove once said that the most important tool for the owner of a wooden yawl adorned with a bowsprit is a sharp ax. To some degree, his witty comment holds true for contemporary sailors contemplating a mini-bowsprit.