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.

Marine Satellite Weather Services Head-to-Head Test 2007

Marine electronics companies have joined forces with the twonationally known satellite radio providers, Sirius and XM, to provide weather information and weather maps to the mariner for moderate monthly fees. In this test, Practical Sailor takes a hard look at who provides the best satellite weather service, including weather radar, geared toward cruising sailors at the best overall price. We reviewed the XM marine weather forecast using a Garmin GDL 30A weather receiver linked to a 10.5-inch Garmin 3210 multifunction display. The Sirius system was tested with a Raymarine SR100 weather receiver providing the signal to Raymarines E120 multi-function, 12-inch display.

Comparing Class B AIS Transceivers

The popularity of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) has grown exponentially in recent years. Lower costs have played a big hand in this; however, the primary driver remains boat owners looking to increase safety. Our latest evaluation compared Class B transceivers from two key players in the AIS market. From Icom, we tested the MA-500TR. New Zealand-based Vesper Marine submitted its WatchMate 850 for testing. We rated the products on AIS functions, control capabilities, user-interface, filtering capability, display quality, and screen visibility.

Time to Review Tether Regs

Like a car seatbelt, the snap hook on a sailors safety tether has only one essential job to do. It must support the dynamic loads of a human body should a sailor fall overboard or get thrown across the deck to the end of his tether (about six feet). But late last year, when British sailor Simon Speirs was swept overboard during the Clipper Ventures Round the World Race, the resulting load bent and opened the stainless-steel snap hook that connected him to the 70-foot racing yacht CV-30.

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.

Do You Have a Safety Checklist?

The widely publicized death of Jon Santarelli, an experienced racing sailor who went overboard during this years Chicago Mackinac Race should serve as a wake up call to everyone in the sport of sailing. We need a checklist. But more importantly, we need to follow it.

Offshore Log:New Gear for the New Year

The early Florida shows—IBEX and Fort Lauderdale—are good places to see the latest efforts of the marine trades. Nick Nicholson went to see what was cresting over the horizon.

Marine Systems: Wire Exposure Test Update

There are a variety of wire types that exceed government and industry standards for onboard wiring. Because these types of wire can be 10- to 15-percent less expensive than high-quality boat cable, Practical Sailor wanted to determine whether any of these other options would be acceptable for the cost-conscious sailor.Using a moisture chamber designed to mimic years of use in a harsh marine environment such as a bilge, PS's test focuses on the durability of tinned wire, non-tinned wire, and various wire connectors. It also examines whether using a corrosion-inhibiting product could help extend the life of these wires and connections. The test led to some definitive conclusions on which wire types are best in specific onboard uses, and also showed that long-term wire protection begins with well-sealed connections. Our July 2010 issue reported the six-month results, and here, we offer the one-year update.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.