Home Systems & Propulsion

Systems & Propulsion

Portable Marine Refrigeration Test

One of the advantages of a compressor-driven portable refrigerator is that it can also serve as a freezer. And compared to thermo-electric coolers, they require fewer amps to do the job. Cruising boats need to be energy efficient, so amp consumption with a 12-volt power supply was one of the key factors Practical Sailor looked at in this test. As in any marine refrigeration test, insulation is a key factor in efficiency, so our comparison also tried to single out the best insulated units. Ultimately, the linear compressor system used in the Engel and Norcold refrigerator/freezers proved to be more efficient.

Spare Parts

British Seagull, S&S, Micrologic

After 17,000 Miles

Building an efficient, easy-to-maintain cruising yacht is very much an exercise in compromise and experimentation. There are literally thousands of decisions that must be...

How To Connect Small Wires

The popularity of micro-electronics and LEDs has greatly increased the number of small wires on board, and whether the added eyestrain is a fair trade-off for a lighter, more energy efficient boat depends upon your perspective. Fortunately, some welcome accessories are relieving the headaches associated with joining two wires of tiny diameters-at times as small as button thread.

A Speedseal and a Jabsco Puller

Here's a combination that will give you a decided advantage the next time you need to change a waterpump impeller. In difficult circumstances, the time saved could mean a lot.

The Worry-free Bilge Pump

Due the lack of maintenance they receive from the average sailor, I often refer to bilge pumps as the Rodney Dangerfield of boat equipment, meaning they just don't get no respect. Its a funny, but also troubling statement, particularly as bilge pumps are often the first and only line of defense against sinking.

Monitoring Your Marine Battery Bank

Two recent tests graphically demonstrated the importance of monitoring state of charge in a boats batteries. hese tests demonstrated that a sealed batterys capacity will be reduced over time, if its never brought back up to a full state of charge. But just how accurate are the monitors we use to gauge our batteries states of charge?

Portable Cabin Heaters

Among the 12V models, the Back Seat is tops; among the 110 V models, we like the Caframo; and the alcohol-powered Origo is always a reliable standby.

Battery Boxes and Trays

In fully covered battery boxes, we like the pricy Blue Seas. If tray-type hold-downs are your preference, go for West or Gil.

Water Testing Tools

Leave water from any source in a storage tank for a while, and interesting things will start to grow. Only the purest water in an airtight bottle will have a long shelf life. But not all bottled water is what the label says it is. For a cruiser, there are two water-testing tools that are important, and a third tool that is helpful in determining what is going into a tank and managing the quality of fresh water on a long-range cruising boat.