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Sails, Rigging & Deck Gear

Outboard Steering Tricks

Outboard powered boats can be slow to respond when maneuvering around the docks at low speed. With no prop wash over the rudder, it becomes largely ineffective at speeds below about 2 knots. Prop walk is negligible with outboards, so it can’t be used to push the transom to port or swing the bow to […]

What Color Bimini Top is Best for Summer?

So you want to build the awning described on page 7 of this issue, and were wondering what material to use. We’ve been using a polypropylene tarp that will add plastic to the landfill, so we too are curious. Sail cloth will set best, but it also will eventually be weakened by the sun, is […]

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 inert as gold, but costs only pennies per pound. Sadly, like the search for El Dorado, this metal quest remains more alchemy than chemistry. For now, aluminum, especially the alloy 6061-T6, […]

Drudging To a Safe Landing

The word ‘drudging’ can be traced to the middle-English word for dragging. It is the practice of using a chain, heavy weight, or anchor on very short scope to control the motion of a boat while maneuvering in harbor. There will come a day when your engine has quit and you need to enter a […]

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,...

Fighting Off Marine Electrical System Corrosion

The boat's electrical system is often the most vexing for boat owners-but it doesn't have to be. With the right tools, quality materials, and a modest amount of preventative maintenance, you can ensure a flicker-free (or nearly so) existence on the water. If you've got a rewiring or electronics installation project ahead of you, or if just want to make sure nothing goes on the fritz once you're offshore, this information-packed blog post is for you.