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Safety & Seamanship

Climbing Gear Standards Guide Test Protocol

Testers used lab and field tests to evaluate each clips functionality, strength, and durability. After inspecting several sailboats to evaluate potential caribiner-benders and how we might replicate the loads, we returned to the lab and began pull-testing carabiners. The test data in the accompanying table resulted from tests that were modeled after those used to verify CE (European standard) and UIAA (climbing gear standards) specifications. All pull tests were carried out at a steady pull rate of about 2 inches per minute. These included the following tests...

The Tragedy of the Driverless Dinghy

In the wake of a terrible tragedy that struck a few days before Thanksgiving in Sarasota, Florida, home of the Sarasota Youth Sailing Program...

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.

Beaming Down Satcom Surgeons

Telemedicine, the ability to remotely treat patients in far-flung corners of the world, was still in its infancy in 1998 when it was put to a highly publicized test aboard a storm-tossed sailboat in the Southern Ocean. Russian competitive sailor Viktor Yazykov was participating in the solo Around Alone Race. His boat was about 900 miles below the tip of South Africa when his rig began falling apart. While Yazykov was repairing a broken shroud, an elbow he had injured earlier in the race grew inflamed with infection.

Marine Electronics: AIS Gets Ocean Tested Near Dardanelles Strait

Joe and Lee Minick added an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver to the nav station of their Mason 43, Southern Cross, and have used it for several years in some of the most heavily traveled waters of the world. Required on large commercial vessels, AIS devices add a whole new dimension of collision avoidance, transmitting dynamic information about a vessels speed, course and position plus static information including a vessels name, call sign and Mobile Marine Service Identity (MMSI). With a Class A AIS and a more recent Class B AIS system for small craft, AIS changes the landscape in marine navigation. The Minicks report in Practical Sailor proves how useful AIS can be for cruisers and other small boaters.

Mailport: April 2013

I recently purchased the cord, and as packaged on the plastic spool, the shore end of the new 25-foot EEL cord has a very tight bend at the plug, in order to force it into the package. The bend is much tighter than Id normally allow on a power cord, and upon inspection, I noticed what appears to be a separation of the seal between the cord and the plug. I checked other packages on the shelf at my local West Marine (one of many retailers of the cord), and found all of the 25-foot cords have the same tight bend at the shore end, and most have the same apparent seal issue.

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.

The Ins and Outs of Aftermarket 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.