Sails Canvas

Verifying Material of Mystery Ropes

Using the wrong rope for the job is a recipe for failure. Fortunately, with a trained eye and a little knowledge of physical properties, making a rough identification is simple enough.

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.

Testers Examine Running Rigging Options

Today's sailboat owner faces myriad options when shopping for running rigging. When faced with so many choices-from lines made with the old standby materials like polyester to the newer high-tech ropes made from materials like Vectran and Spectra-it's hard to know which one would make the best mainsail halyard, best afterguy, or best genoa sheets. To find out, Practical Sailor tested 26 different varieties of braided rope from four manufacturers: Yale Cordage, Samson Rope, Novatech Braids, and New England Ropes. With so many lines to consider, we grouped the products by material and construction, sorting them into three fairly distinct performance groups (low, mid, and high tech) based upon their fiber content. The ropes were evaluated on their elongation, abrasion resistance, and handling characteristics. Ultimately, when all the stretching, abrading, and coiling was done, testers were able to find some clear choices based on price range and offer some general guidance for those who are shopping for new cordage.

Anti-Seize Coatings for Spars

If youve ever been humbled by a single impossibly stuck fastener, or plan on adding hardware to your spar, running gear, or deck, this report on anti-seize protectants is right up your alley.

The Canvas Air-Conditioner

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.

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.

Farewell to Skip Allan’s S/V Wildflower

Anyone who has ever run before a gale knows how exhilarating it can be. On the right boat, in the right conditions, the adrenaline rush is as intense as any we’ll feel in this world. Bull riders, surfers, and skydivers get a few seconds of excitement. An ocean gale can last for days ... and that’s where the problem lies. With your senses completely in tune with the boat, wind, and sea, the experience of hurtling down an ocean wave stirs the soul. But as the hours pass and day turns to night, the thrill gives way to exhaustion. Mostly, you’re too busy to be afraid, but each mountain of green water that fills the cockpit brings doubt. How high will these waves get? How long can I last? Even with a drogue streaming off the stern to slow down the boat, running before storm-driven waves entails a great deal of risk. There’s danger enough aboard a fully crewed boat, as the rig, sails, and steering gear get pushed to the brink.

Practical Sailor Takes a Close Look at the State of Boat Cleats

Boat cleats are an elegantly simple yet essential piece of marine hardware. Yet, after scrutinizing cleats at the Annapolis and Miami boat shows, it appears that while there a few innovative designs and tried-and-true classic models, many builders are using sub-par installations. The shape of a cleat needs to take in the significance of how a cleat locks a line in place and yet still allows a crew member to control the easing or snubbing process. Proper topping and backing cleat plates can greatly improve cleats durability and long-term performance. Some hide-away cleats or pop-up cleats have water drainage issues and less-than-robust support structures. Other designs use the less-secure rings and eyes instead of proper cleats.

Extending the Bow: Are Add-on Sprit Kits Worth It?

Easy-to-handle, lightweight sails continue to gain in popularity with performance-oriented cruisers. Setting a large, light-air sail a couple of feet ahead of the boats stem improves performance and sail-handling characteristics but presents challenges and risks. Practical Sailor reviews four aftermarket bowsprit kits and examines whether adding a spar to the front of your boat is safe, effective, and worth the added cost and effort. Aftermarket sprit kits by Forespar (Banana Sprit), Forte, Selden and Sparcraft are reviewed.

Seldén’s In-Mast Furling System

There's not much new about in-mast furling, except for those spars that now accommodate sails with full-length vertical battens.

Sizing Up the Autumn List

Some of the best sailing I ever had was September on Narragansett Bay, pretty close to heaven in my mind. But before we let a long September reach carry us away-and hopefully carry us through winter-its a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.