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Sails, Rigging & Deck Gear

Spinnaker Tips for Multihulls

A Practical Sailor reader recently reached out to me with a question regarding light air sails on catamarans: “I’ve owned two catamarans, and have wondered about flying spinnakers. The common thread is that the main must be flown because the main sail/sheet acts as a backstay  . . . I have always found it difficult […]

Arborist Gear for Solo Mast Ascents

My introduction to rope walking ascent was caving back in the 1970s. Each trip started with 75-200 drop straight into a sink hole, followed by hours of cold crawling and scrambling in the dark. Tired and muddy, you then faced a rope climb without a whole lot of energy left.  Fifty-some years later, new equipment […]

Excel Anchor Offers Case Study in Design

At first glance, the Sarca Excel is a Delta clone with a few added creases in the sheet metal, explaining the public perception that they are the same. However, our Technical Editor Drew Frye has owned and used both, and our testing reveals how this conclusion ignores some very important differences that impact performance. The […]

Advice on Buying a Pre-Owned Anchor

Since defects are usually obvious, anchors is one category of gear in which “what you see is what you get.” Certainly, there are counterfeits and home-welded one-offs that you’ll want to avoid, but the fakes and do-it-yourself anchors are usually easy to distinguish. Before you buy a used anchor, you should have a very clear picture of the size, type, and brand of anchor will best suit your needs. Depending on the specific anchor you seek, you can save 30 to 50-percent on cost by purchasing a pre-owned anchor instead of a new one.

Sailboat Rig Inspection Tips

How frequently do you bother removing spreader boots and taping to check the condition of the spreaders and rigging? No matter how well the spreader ends are protected, and whether you use ready-made vinyl spreader boots or conventional rigging tape, water will get through to the fittings inside. On a boat used in salt water, the atmosphere's corrosive nature can cause rapid disintegration of aluminum fittings (nevermind the fact that the spreaders might be 25 feet or more off the water). The thorough taping job you did on the spreader ends may actually accelerate the problem by holding in water.

A Second Look at Anchor Fluke Shape

The new anchoring myth making rounds on the internet is that a scoop shape is what makes an anchor hold. Though it seems logical, it is wrong. We understand that plow-shaped anchors have a reputation for, well, plowing, but there is more to consider. Today’s quick-setting convex anchors may look like your father’s plow, but […]

Chafe Tape Plan

No one like dings, but we accept them as part of active sailing. Most boats have black marks behind winch handle pockets and dings on the mast. Chafe is an unending battle. Lines saw through gelcoat on cockpit combings and under cleats when they bear and move under tension. Friction makes adjustments more difficult. For […]

Do Twin Sheets Better Control the Mainsail?

The main traveler is one of those love-hate pieces of gear on a boat. We love that it separates control of twist and angle of attack into a quick and instinctive process. We hate it when it clutters up a cockpit and fear it when it slashes across the deck during a breezy weather jibe. […]

Lateral Thinking & Anchoring

When we think of anchoring a yacht we think of the obvious — deploy and set an anchor from the bow with a single...

Mud Anchoring Wisdom

For as long as I can remember, and  probably for generations, it has been Chesapeake Bay lore that the longer an anchor soaks the...

Sizing Up the Autumn List

Some of the best sailing I ever had was September on Narragansett Bay, pretty close to heaven in my mind. But before we let a long September reach carry us away-and hopefully carry us through winter-its a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.