Sails, Rigging & Deck Gear

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 […]

Drogues to Dampen Yaw

A leading cause of anchor dragging is yawing so vigorously that either the soil around the anchor is liquefied, or the anchor simply capsizes. We studied this phenomenon in a report last year (see “Yawing and Anchor Holding,” PS February 2020). The anchor may reset, but it may be either clogged with mud or moving […]

Getting the Most Out of Older Sails

Efficient windward work requires sails with a good lift-to-drag ratio. Mylar laminate sails hold their shape throughout their useful life, well enough for all but the most discerning racers, which often ends in spectacular failure. Polyester sails, on the other hand, are often retired long before they are structurally weak, because they have stretched out […]

Testing the DIY Dog Bone Shackle

Soft shackles became the cool thing nearly as soon as they appeared on race boats. Any savvy DIYer could make them using Dyneema single...