Elastic Mooring Systems

When Hurricane Irma plowed through the Florida Keys, it left behind both a trail of destruction and a wealth of information for us to learn from. One of the most instructional episodes took place at the municipal mooring field at Boot Key in Islamorada.

Screw types prove their mettle in load testing.

The mechanics at work at the other end of your mooring line matter as much as the mooring line and pendant. In 2009, Practical Sailor reported on two pull tests held 12 years apart (See Mooring Anchors for Sensitive Seabeds, Practical Sailor August 2009). We also reported on the results of a third test being carried out by contractors for the City of Sarasota, which at that time was about to become one of Floridas seven pilot mooring fields. Boot Key Mooring Field, which took a near direct hit from Hurricane Irma in 2017, was another harbor participant in the program (see adjacent article).

Most well-made cleats fit the bill, but beware.

In the 90s, the Boat US Foundation performed a study of deck cleat strength. Testing was performed using 6-inch cleats of a number of materials and designs, which were pulled from several directions. The standard vendor recommendation is 1/16-inch of line size for each inch of cleat, so these cleats are recommended for use with 3/8-inch line (breaking strength 4,200 pounds, working load limit 525 pounds). All but the nylon cleat had working load limits (assume 4:1 safety factor for metals) greater than nylon rope. Most were nearly as strong as the rope, but only two were stronger than the rope in all directions. We can expect strength to go up roughly as the square of size, roughly matching rope strength as we go. Only a few broken cleats were noted among the boats damaged by Hurricane Irma. More commonly, the cleats pulled out of the deck.

Regalvanizing G70 Chain

As high tensile G70 chain becomes more prevalent in the marine market, Practical Sailor has been busy testing the limits of this material, which has been used for many years in other industries. One question we have raised in the past is whether G70 chain can be safely regalvanized (see PS June 2014, Making Sense of Marine Chain Standards). Chain is expensive and regalvanizing helps to extend its life. If G70 chain can't be regalvanized, as we have suggested in the past, this needs to be factored into the initial cost.

An Inquiry into Anchor Angles

Designers of boat anchors deal in a handful of variables. The holding capacity of an anchor derives from its fluke, particularly the flukes size, shape, and the angle it makes with the shank. Other parts of the anchor-shank, roll bar, and stock-allow the fluke to set and hold as the designer intended. Based on the shapes and relationships between these components, an anchor fits into one of several broad categories: fluke (Danforth, Fortress, Manson Racer), plow (CQR, Delta, Kobra, SARCA Excel), claw (Bruce, Lewmar Claw, Manson Ray, Super Max), or fisherman (Luke).

Installation Tips for Deicers

When it comes to deicers, proper installation is key. Here are some tips to ensure your setup will optimize ice removal.

In Search of the Ultimate Boat Hook

The basic design of the humble boat hook hasn't changed much over the years, but it has seen upgrades in construction and materials, along with some minor design tweaks. For this report, we set out to determine what constitutes the ideal boat hook. We evaluated boat hooks currently on the market and took a look at some old models still in service.

Keeping Ice at Bay

Southern sailors often put their boats away for a few months when the water gets a little cool. Northern sailors have a more definitive reason; they put their boats away when the water gets hard. Often, freezing is limited to harbor areas, where shallow water, freshwater input, and limited tidal flushing encourage ice formation. Far north, you can walk on it for weeks, while in the mid-Atlantic, the layer is often thin and transitory. And while a few inches of ice are generally harmless to a sound boat, thick moving ice can damage paint, exposed steering gear, and planking. Although we can't make the weather any warmer, there are measures boat owners can take to keep ice at bay.

Anchor Shackles Round II

In this report, we continue our investigation into shackles, re-testing one shackle that fell below the makers specifications, Canada Metal Pacifics black-pin Titan shackle, and testing for the first time a widely used shackle from West Marine. We also offer our initial findings on two stainless-steel shackles: the Tecni-lift 316 bow shackle and a no-name stainless-steel shackle marked Hong Kong, which is representative of the many generic stainless shackles youll find in hardware stores and some chandleries.

How Much Drag is in a Drogue?

Weve long been interested in drogues, devices specifically designed to be towed behind a boat to reduce speed and to produce directional stability in heavy weather. Our last major drogue test was in 2009, when noted marine writers and circumnavigators Evans Starzinger and Beth Leonard shared their storm tactics (see Heavy Weather Sailing Tactics". Another relevant article, Sea Anchors and Drogues, compared a variety of drag devices. If you are interested in purchasing a drogue, we recommend reading the archive articles along with this report.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.