Reefing Preferences from the Pros

We surveyed a cadre of experienced delivery skippers from around North America to find out what systems and gear they favor for reefing mainsails, and to find out what they don't like, and why.

Buyers Guide: Choosing a New Cruising Main

As with any big ticket item, choosing a new mainsail involves a number of choices, each of which are driven by an equally diverse list of factors to consider, from the type of boat (cruising, racing sailboat), and area sailed (inshore waters, coastal waters, or bluewater), to the type of sailor you are (performance-oriented hard charger or weekend warrior). Practical Sailor offers a step-by-step rundown of the available options and the selection process our testers experienced when we shopped for a new mainsail for our Chesapeake Bay test boat. While the decisions will vary, the exercise can serve as a template for any sailor looking to upgrade a mainsail.

Snatch Block Test Update

Practical Sailor evaluated six snatch blocks in August 2007, with the Harken 1609 receiving the nod as the best all-around snatch block. As a follow-up, Practical Sailor compared two Ronstan snatch blocks, the Ronstan 6831 and the Ronstan 6751, to the Harken block. The Ronstan RF-6751 sports an investment-cast stainless-steel sheave, a heavy-duty latch, and side plates covered with thick, thermoplastic rubber cheeks. The block’s ruggedness and user-friendly latching function make it ideal for heavy duty applications on a cruising boat. Ronstan’s RF-6831 has a stainless-steel frame and tough PVC cheeks. It is representative of Ronstan’s alloy-sheave blocks with its high-quality construction, mid-range cost and working load. Although Practical Sailor prefers the Harken for everyday use, both Ronstan blocks are well-suited for cruising sailors.

Eight Sailboat Cam Cleats Tested on Doomsday Device

Practical Sailor frequently tests sailboat cam cleats and their applications and even developed a machine for testing cleats: Doomsday. For this test we requested production cam cleats designed to handle 3/8-inch line and received products from Harken, Seldn, Ronstan, Garhauer, Schaefer, and Spinlock. The Doomsday machine runs the cleat through a series of tests to evaluate fuzz, neck, and abrasion, with results showing what we can expect from a cleat after a season of use. The models tested are just a sampling of the range of cam cleats offered in various sizes and materials. A racing sailor, who probably uses cam cleats more frequently than a cruiser and who is keen to keep weight down should consider a composite model. At the other end of the spectrum, a cruiser who is more concerned about durability should consider one of the heavy-duty cam cleats in the test.

Caring for Marine Fabrics

To keep your Biminis, dodgers, and sail covers clean and in service for the long haul, regular maintenance is a must. Here are some best practices and care tips weve picked up over the years.

The Rig: Keep it Standing

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.

Consider The Self-Tending Jib

During the 1960s, the CCA (Cruising Club of America) rating rule promoted boats with large mainsails and smaller foretriangles. Despite the fact that many...

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.

Mast Steps: No Perfect Design

High on the list of chores for which its difficult to find volunteers are trips to the masthead. But aboard most boats, it sooner...

Riding the ‘A’-train

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

The Pros and Cons of Leaving Your Mast Up for Winter

If you are like us, you may feel strangely guilty about leaving a mast up during winter storage. In our case, it is probably those old wooden spar days calling. Ideally, wooden spars need to come down and be sheltered and coddled at regular intervals. Aluminum masts really don't, and the sky is actually a decent place to store them.