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Acrylic Gelcoat Restorers

Acrylic Gelcoat Restorers

Part of our interest in acrylic hull restorers is due to the wide range of opinions on these products. Marketing materials often position these products as “miracle cures ” for aging gelcoat, and the examples of restored boats appearing on the Internet or in brochures often seem too good to be true. While user reports […]

Should you move your boat when a hurricane is approaching?

Despite the fact that modern forecasting methods are far from perfect, a large storm almost always is tracked with enough precision to let you...

Post-hurricane cleanup: Proceed with caution

When people are hurt and homes and precious possessions are destroyed or lost forever, a wrecked recreational sailboat seems wholly unimportant. But for many...

Shore ties and accessories for extreme anchorange

Several sailboat equipment makers have introduced gear to cope with unusual mooring needs, but there is still a lot of improvising. In any ‘extreme’...
Paint Brushes

Boat Painting: Choose the right brush for the job

Brush choice depends on what the brush’s job will be (transferring paint, smoothing paint, etc.), the user’s preferences, and the project budget. The best...

Sodablasting 101

Sandblasting has been around for decades and is part of the infernal thrum of every commercial shipyard. At the heart of the process is...
Boat galley pot and food

Pressure Cookers: the most valuable pot on a boat

Pressure Cookers

No kitchen pot fights a bad reputation the way a pressure cooker does-one pot of lentils exploding in someones face can quickly wipe out 20 years of good memories. While todays triple safety valves and stainless-steel construction have taken the trial-and-error out of pressure cooking and nearly eliminated accidents, theres still something about boiling water under pressure that sets the butterflies free in a cooks belly.

Despite the belly-flies, most galley cooks argue that the pressure cooker is the most versatile, most valuable pot on a boat. Pressure cooking is faster than regular cooking; it better preserves flavors and nutrients and can tenderize lean meats. If the user follows the instructions, it can be a sailors best friend, saving cooking fuel, water, and time-and having a lid that is locked on is a bonus.


There are four basic types of pressure cookers: jiggle-top/weighted valve, fixed weight, spring valve, and electric. The jiggle-top is a decades-old pressure cooker design. A weight on the steam vent pipe begins gently rocking, spinning, or swinging when pressure is reached, indicating that it is time to turn down the heat under the pot. If the jiggler is bouncing rapidly, theres too much pressure in the cooker and the heat should be further reduced to keep from losing too much cooking liquid.

Fixed weight cookers use a weight valve that is either fixed on the vent pipe or locked into place by the user. When pressure is reached in the pot, the valve raises up slightly, emitting wisps of steam and a slight hissing to indicate it is time to the lower the heat.

Spring valve cookers are the most-advanced of the non-electric cookers. When pressure is achieved, a spring-loaded valve raises an indicator. These designs tend to vent the least amount of steam.

Electric pressure cookers reach and maintain pressure automatically.

To learn more about cooking aboard and see the pressure cookers Practical Sailor likes best, purchase the ebook Galley Accessories and Cookbooks from Practical Sailor.

The lightweight anchor


All anchors are a compromise. Since some anchor types work best in certain bottoms, it is a good idea to carry anchors of different designs. At minimum, a cruising sailboat should carry at least two anchors adequately sized to anchor the boat under most conditions. Four anchors is often the norm on offshore cruising boats-two working anchors (a primary and secondary), one stern anchor or kedge, and one over-sized storm anchor-but cruising boats that sail with six or more full-sized anchors are not uncommon.

So where does a lightweight alloy anchor fit in the hierarchy of cruising anchors? It depends. Aluminum alloy anchors, particularly multi-part anchors, have a number of strikes against them. Lighter anchors take longer to set and are more likely to drag; their shanks are more vulnerable in side-load situations (aluminum alloys can shear when steel will bend); and multi-part anchors like the Fortress and Spade introduce other handicaps.

Despite these drawbacks, if Wednesday evening buoy racing is your passion, theres nothing wrong with an alloy race-day anchor. Owners of heavy-displacement boats with formidable bow rollers should look at high-tensile steel anchors for their primary anchor.

While high-tensile steel is the king of primary anchors, lightweight alloy anchors have two chief advantages-even for cruising sailors. They are portable, and they are easier to deploy by hand from a small boat. This is useful for kedging a boat into deeper water or away from a pier or obstruction.

Because alloy anchors are so easily moved around the boat, they don't need to be stowed on a dedicated bow roller, making them an appealing choice for a third, backup anchor- especially on boats with only one bow roller. Sizing an alloy anchor varies according to its purpose. Generally, the alloy anchor you choose should have similar holding capacity as the boats primary anchor.

For more advice and information on anchoring, purchase the ebook Specialty Anchors/Real World Anchoring from Practical Sailor.

Choosing an anchor with the appropriate holding power

Physical measurements of anchors cannot produce definitive conclusions about anchor performance, but they offer clues to likely performance in different conditions.

Our analysis found that the measurements (tip weight, total weight, blade area, etc.) of the tested anchors suggest that the Rocna and Manson Supreme should provide similar holding power when fully buried in a good bottom.

The Ray could have an edge in setting performance and in holding power in a common type of poor bottom (thin sand over rock/coral). One note of caution is that these measurements apply only to these particular size anchors, and scale effects may change the rank order in smaller anchors.

An anchors tip weight is the percent of the anchors total weight that the tip of the anchor puts on the sea bottom when the anchor is lying on its side. (The position the anchor normally assumes when it lands on the bottom.) This is viewed as an important factor in determining an anchors setting ability. The Ray has the heaviest tip weight of the three anchors tested.

Blade area is the surface area of the anchor blade when the anchor is completely dug in. This is considered an important factor in determining an anchors holding power. The Rocna has the largest total blade area of those anchors tested.

Tip blade area is the surface area of the first 9 inches of the blade tip. A common poor-holding bottom type has a couple inches of sand or mud over a harder rock or coral surface. According to Starzinger and Leonard, its been their experience that only the first 9 inches or so of the tip will bury in these bottoms-and often only two of the three flukes in a Bruce design-so this measurement is an indication of holding power in this sort of poor anchoring bottom. Of those tested, the Ray has the largest blade area.

For more advice and information on anchoring plus our evaluations of the anchors mentioned above, purchase the ebook Specialty Anchors/Real World Anchoring from Practical Sailor.

Hurricane Season: A season for planning

Tis the Season for Planning

The arrival of hurricane season is always a good reminder for boat owners to put together a storm plan detailing where and how the boat will be secured should a storm roll through.

Chafe protection for docking and mooring lines is essential for securing a boat ahead of a storm, but boat owners should also be sure to inspect the cleats themselves. The cleats should be beefy enough to handle the task at hand, and they should be properly supported with sturdy, easy-to-inspect backing plates. In addition to ensuring your cleats are structurally sound, its also important to pay attention to line leads. If a line must make a sharp bend at a chock or cleat, the risk of chafe increases significantly, and attaching anti-chafe gear at the bend is imperative.

Also, if your boat will be riding the storm out on a mooring, be sure to inspect the chain, swivels, and pendant on that mooring for wear. At the heart of any storm prep plan that involves anchoring is the ground tackle and how its set. PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo has used the following anchor combination and anchoring system with success in various locations to moor his 41-foot Ericson sloop:

A 45-pound CQR, with 10-millimeter (3/8-inch) all-chain rode, 5/8-inch nylon snubber, and leather anti-chafe gear.

A Paul Luke 75-pound, three- piece fisherman storm anchor, 50-feet of 1⁄2-inch chain, 200-feet of 3⁄4-inch nylon, leather anti-chafe gear (no swivel).

Set the two anchors at about a 60- degree angle, placing the storm anchor toward the worst of the expected wind and sea. Leave enough swinging room to cope with the likely wind shift, which could be as much as 180 degrees.

For more advice on protecting your boat and anchoring gear, purchase the ebook Anchor Rode Accessories from Practical Sailor.