Top Whipping Twines

The term whipping twine is somewhat misleading, suggesting a single purpose for a product with seemingly endless uses. These are the thin-woven strands that all hand-sewing projects depend upon, and in the process of exploring various stitching projects, weve gone through spools and spools of it.

Tylaska Tops in Snap Shackles

Snap shackles have become as familiar to sailors as pots and pans are to a harried chef. From dinghies to mega yachts, the function of these ubiquitous bits of hardware remains consistent. Each affords a quick and reliable means of making that all-important halyard-to-sail junction. The absolute minimalist might say that a bowline can do the same, afterall, isn't it the favored means of attaching sheets to the clew of a sail? The knots-for-snap shackles debate loses out, however, when it comes to hasty halyard swaps, not to mention the release of a loaded spinnaker guy. And even if youre not quite ready to label these shackles as essential hardware, they certainly do make life on the foredeck a whole lot easier.

Testers Compare Swivels, Look for Pin Creep

For this evaluation, each shackle was visually inspected, component parts were measured, and stainless-steel alloys were noted. During this initial inspection, we tested how easy each snap shackle could be closed with one hand; we also repeatedly measured how easily the un-clipping process could be executed using a simple tension spring-test on the piston-pin versions and by using a height scale on the Tylaska push-to-release latching model. We recognize the importance of pin security under load and felt that the reluctance of a shackle pin to be easily pulled under load was, in many cases, an attribute.

Stainless Steel: Advantages and Ailments

When it comes to stainless steel, nothing seems more baffling than the latest array of alloys that have migrated into the marine market. Not so long ago, stainless steel was referred to as 302, 304, and 316. These differing grades of stainless varied according to chrome and nickel content and the corrosion resistance they afforded.

Testing Top-Down Furlers

Top-down furlers have proven to be a legitimate means of taking the drama out of spinnaker setting and dousing, and they represent a new breed of hardware thats carefully designed and manufactured to be durable for the long haul. In Part I (PS, January 2014) of this two-part report, we introduced five top-down furlers, detailed how they work, and made a good case for their use. In this article, Part 2 of the series, well take a closer at the furlers and the results of on-the-water and bench tests. Spinnaker furling systems we tested were made by Colligo, Karver, Profurl, Ronstan, and Selden.

Reader Experiences with Top-down Furlers

Following the publication of Part 1 of this report, we heard from several readers about their experiences with top-down furlers. Here are a few of their comments.

Keeping Canvas in Tip-top Shape

Canvas dodgers and biminis are the hallmark of a cruising yacht, but they arent cheap to come by. We wanted to find the best way to protect the investment and get the most life out of the canvas. Sunbrella makers recommend that routine maintenance include frequent freshwater rinsing, plus spot cleaning, and applying a treatment to restore the fabrics repellency. In this article, we take a look at treatments designed to keep on-board canvas water repellent and looking its best. We tested seven: Aquatech, Marykate, 3M, 303 Products, NikWax, Star brite, and Iosso.

Spinnaker Furlers

The first in a two-part series, this article takes a look at the latest furling systems for nylon and other lightweight, off-the-wind sails dubbed A-sails, gennakers, asymmetric spinnakers, and other appellations referring to light-air, curved-luff sails. We compare the basic features of five systems: the Colligo CN3s; Selden GX15; Karver KSF2; Profurl Spinex 2.5; and Ronstan 120. In part two of the feature, we will report the test results and final ratings.

Summer Sailing Gear

Summers warm breezes and lazy weekends have arrived, so PS testers have put together a lineup of cool toys and tools for the dog days. Tower Adventurer Inflatable Standup Paddleboard: Inflatable SUPs are sprouting up everywhere on the Internet; many boards are identical, made by different brands at the same factories in China. Quality varies. Generally, boards 6 inches or thicker offer better stiffness and stability, making them easier to ride.

DIY Trysail Track Retrofit

I am currently working with sailmaker Carol Hasse (www.porttownsendsails.com) on a new set of primary sails. She is the best at making cruising sails, and it is a luxury I am surrendering to. However, that is why I’m considering a DIY project for the trysail track. Any input on details such as proper track size, length, placement, and preferred mast fasteners and track backing (to combat corrosion) would be helpful.

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.