New Harken Blocks

Harken’s quest for the lightest, easiest-running yacht blocks never ends. Harken makes a huge line of blocks, from tiny “Micro Blocks” with 22 mm...

The No-sew Webbing Strap with Link Buckle

Weve sewn our fair share of eyes in nylon webbing, but heres an easy no-sew alternative for creating a webbing strap with a buckle (shackle) that can be used for easily lashing down the dinghy, a battery, or even holding up your pants in a pinch. It is based on stuff a sailor has on hand-webbing, a chain link, and a shackle-and is as strong as professionally sewn ends, plus it can be untied after loading. It has tested at greater than 85-percent breaking strength and 100 percent of minimum rate strength, and it works on both nylon and ultra-high strength materials like Vectran webbing.

Whence Thou Comest, Highfield?

Because increasing numbers of serious sailors have become interested in retrofitting inner forestays for heavy weather headsails, a look at quick-detach hardware is in...

Untangling Furling-line Fairlead Logistics

Headsail furling on sailboats 40 feet and shorter should be able to be accomplished with a hand-over-hand pull on the furling line. If a large genoa is set and the breeze fills in abruptly, it may take a little coaxing with a winch to get things going, but when its a fairly light-wind day and you need to start cranking away on a primary winch to instigate the furl, something is wrong with the system.

PS Advisor: Replacing Wire Rigging

Over the years, I’ve heard various timeframes for when to replace standing rigging, but I’ve never seen any empirical data to back up those recommendations. It would be very informative to know from a metallurgical/metal failure point of view estimated lifespans of the average wire used for standing rigging.

Stitching Instead of Splicing

Splicing is king in any discussion of line termination. By carefully tucking cover and core back into the line, or weaving strands in laid line, and using patterns that have been perfected over time, we can create virtually full-strength terminations that will last the life of the line without maintenance.

Rope Test Yields Rope Hernias

Researching an upcoming article on the effects of various cleaning chemicals on ropes, our testers scrubbed and machine-washed mountains of nylon and polyester rope of every description. Samples ranged from three-strand dock line encrusted in marine life to brand-new polyester double-braid line. Our testing for that article continues, but we want to report one immediate finding relevant to any sailor who is wondering how to deal with old or dirty lines. Fully 70 percent of our test samples, including new and used line from New England Ropes (NER) and Samson Ropes, experienced failure of pre-spliced eyes; the buried portion of the core worked its way out of the main line and into the eye, where it carried zero load. In some cases, these failures were scarcely visible, while in others, the tail was exposed.

Gripping Hitches for Loaded Lines

Testers evaluated five different knots to determine which would be the ideal for holding a tensioned line. Testers considered ease of tying and untying, ease of learning and recall, and holding power with various types of line. The old standard rolling hitch was pitted against the modified rolling hitch, icicle hitch, gripper hitch, and sailors hitch.

Practical Sailor’s 2011 Gear of the Year Picks

Each year, as the fall boat shows—and the deals that come with them—appear on the horizon, we pore over the numerous products we’ve reviewed in the previous 12 months to select the cream of the crop for our Editor’s Choice awards. We hope the list will help readers better navigate any boat-show or end-of-season shopping. This year, we picked from the Best Choice products evaluated in the September 2010 through August 2011 issues. The 2011 GOTY roster includes an electric outboard, some stout bullet blocks, electric marine toilets, bilge pumps, chafe gear, and marine maintenance products like bottom paint.

Build Your Own Boot Dryer

The advantage of a home-built boot dryer is that you can make it fit any number of boots and gloves, and add extensions for drying foul weather gear, options that are not available on the retail market