Setting an Anchor in a Small Boat

In our ongoing study of ways to compare, and hopefully improve the way our anchors set, weve learned that it takes time and slow, delayed setting to make best advantage of very soft mud. However, firm sand and weeds can have the opposite character-making it hard for the anchor to penetrate.

Custom-Made Hard Top Biminis

I was wondering if there is any information regarding the protocol for replacing canvas with a rigid Bimini/dodger on a small 36-foot catamaran. I could not find a review of solid Bimini replacements. We have strong stainless steel frames. They are fixed with metal struts with no flexible straps. I do want to be able to see the sails from the helm and bulkhead mount. I want to be able to take advantage of roll up clear plastic front and side curtains. Most summers my current set stays in the rolled up position. They have since shrunk enough that they can no longer be fully snapped.

Fixing Tears in Sunbrella Boat Canvas

Sooner or later, chafe, UV rays, and sharp edges take their toll on our canvas. A misplaced screw or simple friction will eat holes in a dodger. A seam gives up, a boom rubs through the fabric, and a few snaps come loose.

Anchor Shackle Re-Test Modifies Initial Findings

In the August 2015 and October 2016 issues, we reported the preliminary results of our anchor-shackle tests. However, more recent testing has raised questions about the conclusions-most notably our Best Choice designation of the Peer-Lift brand anchor shackles, sold by Peerless.

Sewn Splices Two-Year Followup

The true test of marine gear is not whether it works when installed, but rather how it functions after years in the field. To that end, we have left samples of sewing materials and sewn test samples in the sun, wind, rain, and snow for two years, and have also sailed with sewn samples in service on our test boat.

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.

The Science of Headsails Part II

The right roller-furling headsail is as beneficial to a sailor as a good zoom lens is to a photographer. But just as the zoom lens has limits, even the best furling headsail is challenged at the extreme ends of its range. In the October 2015 issue, we explored the basic sail needs of a daysailor. For this report, the second and final in our series on headsails, we asked five professional sailmakers from around the country to weigh in on the ideal sail inventory for coastal cruising.

Is Your Quiver of Sails Sufficient?

In this two-part look at headsail options, we focus on sails for coastal cruisers and daysailors. The first part delves into what weve observed during our new-boat sea trials and vintage sailboat reviews. In next months report, we will divide the fleet into categories based on how, what, and where boats are sailed and explore what sailmakers have to say regarding headsail material and what sail options they recommend for a 35-footer. Our goal is to define which types of sailors will do just fine with a standard boat show sail inventory (a mainsail and a roller-furling jib or genoa), and to examine whether coastal cruisers need a second smaller headsail. Well also look at whos a candidate for a drifter/reacher or an asymmetric spinnaker, and why thats a measure of both crew mindset and vessel design.

Adding a Solent Stay

Whether you view it from the top down or the bottom up, a Solent rig needs to be carefully thought out, well-engineered, and strategically located. Some sailors add a short bow sprit or U-shaped, tubular extension that includes a bobstay and supports the attachment of a new headstay. The old headstay chainplate becomes the new tack point for the Solent stay. Another approach is to retain the existing headstay and simply attach a new tang just a bit below the headstay sheave box. Then add a deck fitting to attach the Solent stay and tack the sail(s). The deck must be reinforced with a transverse member, or a tie rod must be mechanically fastened to the stem so that the tension loads don't damage the deck.

Going Soft on Shackles

Fiber shackles have been in use for centuries-the simple knotted toggles provided all manner of service on square-riggers and even older craft. When made correctly with the right material, fiber shackles are strong, can be released without tools, and are jam-proof in the most severe weather. Like cotton sails, this 200-year-old technology has been updated through the use of modern materials.

Shaping the Cruising Spinnaker

In designing an asymmetrical cruising spinnaker, most sailmakers begin with the boats fore-triangle rig dimensions (I and J), and combine those with information about the intended use of the sail (tight reaching, reaching, or running) and information regarding where the sail will be used.