Being a team of diehard do-it-yourselfers, we decided to try our own hand at devising a workable solution to defeating line chafe. After fiddling with canvas, old fire hose, and even messing around with some Kevlar, we settled on leather—an old rigger’s standby. It proved to be rugged and remained unholed after a ride on the belt sander. The fabrication process was kids craft 101, and there was something quite seafaring about the result. …
Beyond the text and photos contained in a sailboat manufacturing company’s brochures, and the words of a dealer or salesperson, and absent an understanding of yacht design, discerning the actual capabilities of today’s production boats is a major task. Gone are the days of Herreschoff et. al., when the conventional wisdom held that a long, deep keel was the best method of producing good tracking, displacement produced a seakindly ride, and performance (straightforward speed) was a simple matter of adding sail area. Prior to the age of fiberglass, most yachts used similar raw materials (wood and metal), and construction methods, so those variables were not generally a consideration.
Take a cursory glance at a new 35-footer and you might easily conclude that, except for cosmetic changes, the boat is essentially unchanged from those that made their debut in 1995. But that is not the case. In contemporary designs, modifications to deck layouts, the design of creature comforts, and boathandling systems, all reflect the market's desire for easy use, as evinced by below-deck sheeting systems (X Yachts), electrically controlled stern platforms (C&C), and removable traveler systems (Etap), for instance.
Unless the boat was equipped with two headstays, which adds considerable windage, the headsail change drill meant releasing the lowest hanks on the headsail in use, tacking down the new sail, hanking it on below the head-sail already up, taking a deep breath, letting the jib halyard run, then going like mad to get the hanks open on the old jib, all the time listening to the skipper scream to hurry up.
Tuning the rig of a boat is one of the necessary -and pleasant -tasks which must be done to achieve good performance. In an untuned boat, the mast bends in odd ways, and this in turn causes the sails to set badly. By contrast, on a well tuned boat, the rig bends in a controlled fashion, allowing the sails to do their best.
The mainsail is a big part of the motive power of almost every sailboat. The art of mainsail control, however, is a relatively modern one. One tool that greatly facilitates mainsail control is the traveler.
When was the last time you went carefully over every detail of your boat’s rig? The chances are good that it may have been a few years, and it’s possible that you may never have looked at it in the detail it deserves.
Even the most dedicated sun worshipper craves shade after a bright, hot day on the water. For those of us whose goals include keeping our skin intact over time, a way to get out of the sun is imperative if we are to enjoy being in the cockpit at anchororinaslip. The problem is that few sailboats come equipped with usable shade, at least when the sails are down. The solution to the shade problem is a sun awning. A sun awning also solves another problem, particularly in tropical climates. By keeping the deck shaded, and by preventing the sun from streaming through deadlights and open hatches, an awning is a big help in keeping the temperature of the cabin interior at a habitable level.
During the past decade, Practical Sailor has looked at a number of devices designed to hold the tiller while the helmsman can attend to other important business-such as trimming a jib sheet or popping open a frosty cold beverage. Theres the Davis Tiller-Tamer (Oct. 1, 1992), the Tillerstay (April 15, 1997), the Tillermate (April 1, 2005), and the Steer-iT (April 1, 2008). Except for the Steer-iT, all of these systems involve some form of line-clutch device on the tiller. The clutch "grabs" an athwartship line that passes through it. The line then leads back to cam (or clam) cleats on either side of the tiller that can be used to tension or release the line.
Letters to the Practical Sailor editors in December 2010 include: paint colors, sailmaker services, bilge pumps, pest control and the Wirie v. a DIY WiFi antenna.