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Safety & Seamanship

Offshore Log: Gelcoat Maintenance

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

MAIB Safety Advisory Warns Tether Users

The sailing yacht CV30 was taking part in the third leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race having left Cape Town on 31 October 2017 bound for Fremantle, Western Australia.

Giving Back to the Sea

In a moment of exasperation last month, I chipped in a few bucks to a charity group that promised to blow 100 vuvuzelas for a full day outside BPs corporate office. Four-foot-long African trumpets that produce an ear-piercing moan, vuvuzelas were responsible for that annoying buzz you might of heard on ESPN during the World Cup soccer action last month. My donation didn't save the planet, but I slept a little better. The scheme, dubbed the Experimental Vuvuzela Exhalation Procedure in London and organized through www.kickstarter.com, ended up raising more than $7,000 for the Gulf Disaster Fund.

Sydney-Hobart Race: Rogue Waves Do The Damage

The report on the disaster that took six lives points the finger more directly at gear and seamanship than yacht design.

Cold Water Survival

When we read about a sailor lost overboard in the storm, we think about PFDs and personal locator beacons, and accept the sea is unforgiving. When we read of novice boaters drowning in a local lake, were sad, but say that will not happen us because we wear PFDs. But when we read of a PFD-equipped sailor falling overboard and dying within minutes its a real eye-opener.

3-Brand Inflatable PFD Evaluation

In-the-water tests of USCG-approved PFDs from Sospenders, Mustang and Stearns.

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.

Mailport: 10/08

Your recent assessment of the locator service SPOT (Practical Sailor September 2008) was spot on. We recently took it along on a Pacific Coast, offshore delivery of a 50-foot sailboat. We hit bad weather and had several mechanical failures. Our families ashore were able to follow our progress on the SPOT website throughout our trip. The problem came when a panicked crew, unknown to me, hit the "911" button. I was able to cancel the 911 call a few hours later. Our families were simply alerted that we had a serious problem but did not know anything more for a couple days. The SPOT command central repeatedly called my cell phone, which was with me, 250 miles offshore and obviously out of range. They claimed they could not determine our position despite several days of track records.

MAIB Report Falls Short

Late last month, the United Kingdoms Marine Accident Investigation Board released its investigation report on the death of Simon Speirs, the 60-year-old sailor who drowned after falling overboard during the 2017-2018 Clipper Ventures Around the World Race. The biennial race, organized by legendary offshore sailor Sir Robin Knox Johnston, invites sailors to pay about $60,000 to compete in a nearly year-long race around the world on custom 70-foot offshore racing sloops. The race is also an advertising vehicle for corporate sponsors. The next race is set to begin in about two months.

Keep it Simple Sail Repair Kit

If you're going to sail you'll be doing some stitching-no two ways about it. That doesn't mean you have to go overboard with sail repair tools. Don't jump into the $100 do-everything kit. Start with a modest kit, adding tools and materials only as your skills grow and projects require them. Chances are, you already have most of what you need in your other supply lockers or tool boxes.