Systems & Propulsion

PS Bench Tests BilgeKleen Filter

There are two primary reasons why U.S. boat owners are required by law to display the familiar “Discharge of Oil Prohibited” placards aboard. For one, it serves as a reminder that we all must do our part to help protect the environment. Secondly, it helps enforcement officials because those carrying the placard can’t plead ignorance of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

SpeedsealLife Kit Test Update

In the Practical Sailor August 2010 issue’s Chandlery, we reported on the installation of a SpeedsealLife kit aboard one of our test boats, a Union 36 sloop powered by a 43-horsepower Beta Marine inboard. An improvement on the original Speedseal (PS, July 15, 2005), the SpeedsealLife is designed to extend the life of a water pump impeller, even in a run-dry situation.

Boosting Solar Panel Output

Blue Sky regulator boosts output by 30 percent.

The Perils of Fantastic Plastics

This month’s Gear Graveyard called to mind the famous scene in the movie The Graduate when actor Dustin Hoffman is pulled aside at a dinner party and offered a word of advice: "I just want to say one word to you son . . . just one word . . . plastics." There are a myriad of polymer combinations that make up the vast realm we call plastics, so to speak of them in a general sense can be misleading. Some plastics, like the glass-fiber reinforced acetal copolymers used in a variety of marine hardware are extremely strong.

Long-term Test Gear Updates

Many of Practical Sailors tests move from the lab (workshop/garage/driveway) to our fleet of test boats, where we can evaluate the top products in real-world conditions over the long haul. These long-term tests can last from two to 10 years, and we try to offer occasional updates on their status, when its warranted.

Odyssey: A Lightweight 12-volt With Punch

The first thing we can tell you about the 12-volt Odyssey battery is that it came in the mail—UPS to be exact—which is an...

Preventing Electric Shock at the Dock

The human body runs on electricity and if you overload the nervous system with an external field, everything goes haywire. Every year several people die because they go swimming near a dock, a wiring fault creates an electric field in the water, and their muscles freeze. It is called Electric Shock Drowning (ESD).

Marine Systems: Low-capacity Electric Bilge Pumps Faceoff

On the heels of its performance evaluation of electric bilge pumps rated at 1,600-gallons per hour (GPH) or more, Practical Sailor bench tests 10 smaller pumps rated at 1,500 GPH or less. These smaller centrifugal pumps are a good fit for small boats or as a primary bilge pump when installed in conjunction with a high-capacity bilge pump. When selecting the best overall pump from such a diverse group, a number of factors have to be considered to make the choice meaningful as it relates to the real world. In addition to performance, all of our top picks rated well for price, wiring, quality of construction, and warranty. Testers evaluated automatic bilge pumps and pumps without float switches from Shurflo, Attwood Marine, Johnson Pumps, and Rule Industries.

Electric and Hybrid Propulsion for Sailboats

How soon will electric auxiliary engines be available to all sailboat owners? Opinions differ on what type of drive system could surge to the forefront and whether the concept of electric propulsion itself is viable in recreational sailboats. Opinions also differ as to what system is best: a pure diesel-electric drive train with a hybrid-electric drive with a diesel generator as a back up or a pure electric drive with regeneration capability. Practical Sailor talks with companies developing DC motors, including ASMO Marine, Above the Waterline, Vetus Marine, Electric Marine Propulsion, Glacier Bay, Re-e-power, Polar Power Inc., Fischer Panda, and Solomon Technologies. Glacier Bay is concentrating on diesel-electric drives using Ossa Powerlite technology, and ASMO Marine is developing the Thoosa line of DC motors. Much of the movement toward electric motors is taking place in the catamaran world, with Lagoon Catamarans leading the push. Corsair Marine is working on a diesel-electric catamaran, and Maine Cat has also experimented with electric engines. Duffy Electric Boats has for years been building electric-drive-only auxiliary engines. One major issue in developing these systems is the safety of high-voltage DC. ABYC has yet to set a standard for high-voltage DC safety aboard a vessel, and Jim Nolan of BoatUS said there is no clear-cut guidance regarding insuring boats with electric propulsion.

Battery Selector Switches

We pushed 11 of the most popular battery selector switches on the market to their rated limits. Blue Seas edged BEP by a hair as the top standard-duty switch, while Perko has the best heavy-duty switch.

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.