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.

Snap Extenders for Old Canvas

Sunbrella does not shrink. That is the mantra, and for covers and dodger that are left in place, it seems to be the true. It stretches a little when wet, and so long as it is maintained under tension while it dries, it retains it shape. So says Sunbrella. While this seems true for tensioned cloth (our dodger still fits) and it hardly matters for a sail cover, our real world experience with removable Sunbrella window covers has been different, shrinking as much as 5 percent over a period of years. The problem, no doubt, is that these are worst case scenario, repeatedly removed while still wet with dew and allowed to dry. The end result was that the covers became difficult to install and some of the snaps were being ripped out by the excessive tension.

Midsize Mainsheet Traveler Test

Considerable evolution has taken place since our last traveler test. Now, Antal stands out for ergonomic design, functionality, and attention to detail, but Lewmar is our choice due to its pricing.û

Riding the ‘A’-train

Prices, advice vary greatly when it comes to asymmetrical sails.

A Custom-fitted Clew Strap

After settling on the material, one of the most basic mainsail design questions is whether to have an attached foot or loose-foot. A sail with an attached foot, secured to the boom with a bolt rope or sail slugs, has a small advantage in area, while a loose footed sail is easier to adjust (flat for windward work and smooth seas, fuller for reaching and rough seas), slightly cheaper to fabricate, and much easier to take off the boom for storage. Both are used on both high performance and cruising boats. Most new mainsails are loose footed.

A Look at the Latest Generation of Genoa Furlers

To get an idea of whats on the market and see how the newer products fare against the simpler, tried and true furling systems, Practical Sailor rounded up 11 new headsail furlers suited for 30- to 35-foot sailboats. This, the first of a two-part report on the evaluation, focuses on the seven products that use a head-swivel design and range in cost from $950 to $3,200. (The report of integral systems will follow in an upcoming issue.) The following furlers were reviewed: Facnor LX 130, Harken MkIV and Cruising 1, Profurl LCI32, Schaefer 2100, Furlex 200S (Selden Mast), and US Spars (Z-Spar) Z-780.

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.

Discount Options for Sails

We web-surfed our way to some real bargains on working sails. It takes time, persistence, and a little self-education, but there are good deals out there.

Make Your Own Over-the-Boom Riding Sail

Delighted with the performance of the over-the-boom riding sail, we decided to make our own.

Practical Sailor Tests and Reviews the Latest in Boat Ratchet Blocks

The racket block is one of the most recent innovations in the world of line-handling blocks. The most common use of a ratchet block is on smaller racing boats, where you are adjusting a spinnaker sheet or mainsheet by hand, without using a cleat. Uses on larger boats include running a line through a ratchet block when releasing the control line on a headsail furler, and for traveler control lines and genoa lead adjusters. In a search for the best ratchet block, Practical Sailor tested four ratchet blocks with on/off switches; three ratchet blocks with auto-sensing that will automatically flip the ratcheting on or off; and one ratchet block that has both an on/off switch and an automatic sensor. The head-to-head ratchet block comparison included products from top marine hardware makers Selden, Wichard, Ronstan, Holt Allen and Harken.

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.