Safety & Seamanship

Mailport: Cold Weather Suits

Regarding your recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post Drysuits vs. Survival Suits, I raft the Colorado river in Grand Canyon where water temps are around 50 F, even in the summer. The whitewater down there is furious and sometimes dangerous. I wear a 3 millimeter neoprene wetsuit under a full drysuit. If the drysuit rips, the wetsuit should slow down thermal loss. The problem is heat buildup in the sun. The solution is to jump in the cold water now and then to keep from over heating. On a sailboat that would be harder to do. There have been a few times sailing solo when I wore both garments, but it was pretty clammy inside. There is no perfect solution, just reasonable compromises by which to stay alive. Something to remember is that once a drysuit rips, it will take on hundreds of pounds of water. A high flotation PFD is mandatory, at least 26 pounds I would think.

The Bluewater Sailors School

Many years ago, when I was shopping for a boat to sail around the world, I sought out wiser sailors for advice. A recent college graduate, I had a ridiculously low budget but lucked into finding a boat that appeared fit for the task. It was a 32-foot gaff-rigged William Atkin ketch, a double ended Thistle design based on the Colin Archer lifeboats.

Sailing Harness Leg Loops

Recent fatalities involving racing sailors raised a long-simmering concern weve had regarding the harness and tether design, and the shortcomings of current design when used aboard boats that cruise at double-digit speeds. Although these harness and tethers might keep a sailor from going overboard, the impact loads transmitted via the harness and tether can exceed what the human body can endure (see Building a Custom Safety Tether, PS December 2017).

Leg Straps Put the Load on Fanny

Considering the short comings of existing leg loops for harnesses, we designed an add-on set of leg loops that can transform any ISO 12401 chest harness into a harness capable of safely distributing the force of a epic fall, without adding significant weight and without inhibiting wearer moment.

Wrapping Stainless Steel for Better Grip

The very first project tackled on my new-to-me catamaran a decade ago was to wrap the helm wheel with line. Our delivery trip home took place in late December on the Chesapeake Bay, and I didnt want to spend the next three days with an icy stainless steel wheel sucking all of the heat from my fingers. Instead, I spent a productive hour before dinner wrapping the wheel with line.

Rethinking MOB Prevention

Man overboard gear standards are behind the times because the sample size is tiny and the facts surrounding an accident are often clouded and disguised by difficult circumstances. But fixing this is pretty simple; piggyback on standards that have been developed for climbing and industry. The following are just some of the steps that a sailor can take to improve his chances of staying on board.

Coast Guard Seeks LED Input

Back in 2010, Practical Sailor and others raised the alert that a conversion to LED navigation lights can have some unintended consequences, including distorted color shifts. And weve long been concerned about LED lights, both interior and exterior, interfering with VHF and AIS radio transmissions.

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.

Download the Full October 2018 Issue PDF

  • Gear of the Year
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Testing Welds
  • Fall Prevention
  • Get Me Home Tool Kit
  • Wrap That Handhold

Weather & Navigation Seminars Set for October 2018

On October 9-10, hell be conducting a 2-day introduction to celestial navigation. The course covers introduction to the basic skills required for celestial navigation. Topics include introduction to taking a sun sights with a sextant, reading time and arc, using sight reduction tables (Publication 229), reducing sights by calculator, and identifying celestial bodies.

The Pros and Cons of Leaving Your Mast Up for Winter

If you are like us, you may feel strangely guilty about leaving a mast up during winter storage. In our case, it is probably those old wooden spar days calling. Ideally, wooden spars need to come down and be sheltered and coddled at regular intervals. Aluminum masts really don't, and the sky is actually a decent place to store them.