DIY Trysail Track Retrofit

I am currently working with sailmaker Carol Hasse ( 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.

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.

Taming the Main: Sail-Handling Systems for Bigger Mainsails

More often than not, boat buyers these days are looking for bigger boats with mainsails to match—and the larger the mainsail, the bigger the chore of flaking it. That’s where sail-flaking aids like lazy jacks, cover/lazy jack combos, and the innovative Dutchman systems come into play in the battle to tame the main. Practical Sailor’s close comparison of these options provides valuable insight into what is the best sail-flaking device for you and your boat. Find out what you need to take the gymnastics out of mainsail- handling. Mainsails up to about 250 to 300 square feet are easy enough to handle that flaking aids are optional rather than essential. However, if you have a boat with a 300- to 500-square-foot mainsail, take a look at what PS testers have to say about the Dutchman, lazy jacks (E-Z Jax, Harken jacks, etc.) and StackPack-type of systems (Mack Sails, Schaefer, and Doyle Sails, etc.).

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.

Holt Allen Best Buy in Furling Leads

Options abound, but Holt Allen has the best price, while Garhauer's and Schaefer's seem the most durable.

Sailboat Design Conference Part I

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.

Are Masts Getting Too Skinny, Too Fragile?

Dear Editor: Some time ago you published a letter from a marine surveyor who said he’d seen three boats whose masts failed when sailing...

Online Help for Autumn

Its getting to be that time of year, when many skippers haul out or head south. Fall also heralds the beginning of boat show season. Here are some PS articles from the online archives that are suited for the season.

Furlers: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

What the best riggers in the business have to say about the systems they install, maintain, and repair.

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.

Antifouling Paint Prices Follow Copper Surge

The antifouling coating industry is dominated by copper-based paint, so as copper prices reach their highest levels in recent history, I was curious to...