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Sails, Rigging & Deck Gear

Stitching Awl vs. Leather Palm for Sail Repair

Got a small sail or canvas repair? “Get a Speedy Stitcher!” is common advice, though rarely from someone experienced in sail repair. Sure, it seems like a great solution. Every chandlery sells them. They can push through heavy cloth, doing work a common hand sewing needle and thread can’t touch. But sail making or sail […]

PS Advisor: Belaying Safety for Mast Climbing

Mast climbing accidents have occurred because the crew member either misunderstood or did not perform their duties attentively and properly. Belaying should be considered a precision job with zero tolerance for error. • Actively tail the winch. The tail can jump out of a self-tailing winch. Self-tailing with an electric winch is even riskier. • […]

Damage Control at Sea

For many boaters, damage control means a cell phone call to Sea Tow, Tow Boat US or another marine assistance provider. These are reliable support services akin to AAA afloat. But for those sailing offshore, or along less populated parts of the coastline, such options may not be available. This is one of the reasons […]

Checking Rope Strength

We like nylon for docklines, anchor rode, and chain snubbers because it stretches, absorbing jolts that would otherwise be transferred to the boat and ground tackle. But all of that stretching and contracting takes a toll. Fiber wears on fiber. The polymer itself fatigues. Unlike a steel part, which can last basically forever if never […]

Stopping Mainsheet Twist

The dinghy requires a gorilla to hoist onto the davits. The mainsheet won’t release in a gust. The internal reefing line inside the boom...

Revive Your Mast Like a Pro

Unobtainium is the metal at the top of every Naval Architect’s wish list. It’s a perfect marine material; light, strong, stiff yet flexible—it’s as...

Anchor Trip-line Tricks

An anchor trip line is a stout line connected from the after end of the anchor fluke to a marker buoy so that the anchor can later be retrieved. The length of the line is adjusted to be straight up and down at high tide level so that the float marks the approximate position of […]

Shock Cord Test Looks at Long Life

We’re sailors and we know our knots. We don’t use bungees to avoid lashings or because we don’t have enough old rope lying about to tie things down. We’ve had too many snap or stretch over time to trust them for anything important. But we do like them to stop sail covers from flapping, secure […]

Designing a Dump Line for the Multihull Mainsheet

Many of Practical Sailor's previous reports have explored the risks of multihull capsize, and what sailors and designers are doing to reduce this risk, which, though generally low, increases as designers push for more speed. One detail that we have not explored in great depth is the engineering of a “dump line,” which allows the helmsman (or automatic system) to quickly release the mainsheet in case a capsize is imminent. Simon Angus, a Canadian sailboat designer and builder who recently launched a new 40-foot catamaran that fits into a shipping container, has a manual system that involves the clever use of Ronstan’s constrictor textile rope clutches, which allows a person at the helm to quickly release the mainsheet with the swift tug on a parachute cord.

Other Methods to Control Yaw

Yawing is the result of imbalance between windage (you want it aft) and underwater resistance (you want it forward). If the center of windage is forward of the center of lateral resistance, the bow falls off and the boat sails off in an arc around the anchor, until forced to tack and return, the cycle […]