Sailing Gifts for 2018

No one really wants just practical gifts, so weve tried to locate a few items that go beyond pure utility for this holiday season.

12-Volt Booster Packs

Wal-Mart's EverStart booster delivers a lot of cold cranking amps for the money, but lacks a light. The versatile Xantrex Powerpack 300 Plus, is a do-it-all booster and a good choice for smaller boats.

Keeping the Shorepower System Safe

One of the often overlooked maintenance items in the pre-season rush to the water is the AC shorepower system. Over the years of surveying, Ive amassed a small collection of scary photos from past surveys showing the common examples of neglect to this critical system.

Breaker Panels

Blue Sea gives the old vets, PanelTronics and Marinetics, a run for their money, and wins on the website front. Tech support for do-it-yourselfers is key.

Solar Panel Sense

Movies can be corny, but Jack Sparrow nicely summarized the romance of sailing: Thats what a ship is, you know. Its not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, thats what a ship needs but what a ship is ... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom.

Keeping Your Cool With A/C

Part 2—What’s new with refrigerants and controls.

Updating Onboard Electronics with N2K

A sailboat is no place for unnecessary complexity, which was the direction PS contributor Dan Corcoran was headed on his Beneteau 393, when it came to how data was passed between various marine electronics. The worst offender was a spaghetti network of point-to-point wiring that utilized the familiar National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) 0183 standard. A few years ago, he embarked on a gradual replacement of NMEA 0183 wiring and components with the new standard, NMEA 2000. Here he offers his account of the upgrade and answers the oft-asked refit question: Was it worth it?

Cabin Fan Test: Hella, Caframo Blow Best Breeze for the Buck

Oscillating models fail early in long-term testing.

Mailport: September 2013

In response to Whats in the Practical Sailor Toolbag? (PS, January 2012): How about a list of tools that a live-aboard cruiser should carry? Given storage, power, and workspace limitations, many of the suggested tools are not feasible and may require alternatives. For instance, I carry a major Dremel toolkit, and it cuts the very occasional holes I need for switch installation, etc., plus helps me with sanding and minor refinishing work. I use my Dewalt 18-volt right-angle drill probably twice a month for repairs and upgrades. I also use my cordless screwdriver several times per year, especially when removing and reinstalling my headliner while chasing wires. Most others are tools that don't require electricity, but there are many.

Exploring the Ins and Outs of Bowsprits for Light-air Sails

A salty Kiwi named Ross Norgrove once said that the most important tool for the owner of a wooden yawl adorned with a bowsprit is a sharp ax. To some degree, his witty comment holds true for contemporary sailors contemplating a mini-bowsprit.