November 2008

An Inflatable Bottom Job?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to applying antifouling to Hypalon. We’re of the "don’t do it" camp for a few reasons. First, once bottom paint is applied to Hypalon, it can be very difficult to remove without risking damage to the material. Second, if you ever store the dinghy on deck or deflate it for longer storage, you can be sure that paint is going to rub off on things you’d rather it not foul—for instance, tacking headsails or the deck, if the dinghy is stored there. Even if you leave the dinghy in the water for long periods of time without use, cleaning the bottom regularly should be sufficient. The folks at Mercury agree with us on this point. Mercury Marine Sales Manager Larry Piechocki told Practical Sailor, "Once this paint is on the tubes, it will never come off. I’m not a big fan of painting inflatables, but that is up to the customer."   More...

Product Test: Heavyweight Cruising Anchors for Challenging Anchorages

Subscribers Only — One of a cruising anchor’s most important traits is its ability to set easily (and reset after a wind shift) in the widest possible variety of bottoms. For those who can carry extra large anchors, holding power, the normal parameter measured by anchor tests, is not as important as setting performance. Once set, an oversized anchor should easily have sufficient holding power. With that in mind, this comparison focuses not on ultimate holding power but the ability of the anchors to set quickly—even in difficult bottoms and with short scope—and to stay set when conditions change. Practical Sailor tested the rollbar-style Manson Supreme and the Rocna as well as the Bruce-inspired Manson Ray claw anchor. Testers looked at each anchor’s design and measurements, as well as its setting and veering performance on a frozen-sand beach covered with large rocks and on a sand/ mud beach. Practical Sailor encourages readers to weigh these results along with those of previous tests on more typical bottoms before selecting a primary anchor.   More...

Cold-weather Gloves Face Freezing Rain, Hail, and Snow during Practical Sailor Test

Subscribers Only — Cold-weather sailing apparel needs to be more waterproof, more windproof, and much warmer than gear for most other cold-weather activities. To find the best glove for cold-weather sailing, two Practical Sailor testers took 14 pairs with them on a three-season cruise of the Chilean channels. The cold-weather sailing gloves fell into four distinct categories: mid-weight, water-resistant gloves; heavyweight, neoprene gloves; insulated gloves; and layered gloves comprising an outer waterproof shell and an inner glove liner. The test gloves included the Gill Extreme, Gill Dura-shark Winter, Gill Three Seasons, Gill Helmsman, the Henri Lloyd Offshore Racer, Henri Lloyd Stealth Winter, Musto Frostbite, SealSkinz gloves, Stearns Arctic Water, Gul Anatomic Cut Helmsman, Zero Featherlite by Fairfield Line, L.L.Bean Vortex, Lined Nitrile (heavy-duty rubber gloves), and Montanna Hyvent by The North Face.   More...

The Hunt is on for a Quality, Well-placed Emergency Tiller

A decade ago, Practical Sailor editors began scouring boat shows for the perfect emergency tiller and an ideal stowage system for it. Little more than a simple lever arm that attaches to the head of the rudder stock, the emergency tiller is the device a sailor relies on in the event a steering cable parts or there’s some other steering system failure. Our seemingly simple search turned out to be a nearly fruitless enterprise. Boat after boat fell far short of delivering even an average emergency tiller. Here’s a look at our favorites and favorite offenders as well as our criteria for a good emergency tiller and where to keep it.   More...

Best 2009 Sailing Calendars

Subscribers Only — For countless centuries, the sea has been inspiration and teacher for those who feel its pull—sailors and fishermen, poets and artists. The following collection offers something that will appeal to every sea lover—especially those who have run out of holiday gift ideas. "Sailors’ Wisdom, Day by Day." The photographs in this glossy, hardbound book are selected from Philip Plisson’s 25 years of marine photography, and capture the ocean in its many moods and roles. Inspirational quotes and snippets of hard-learned mariner’s wisdom are culled from sources as diverse as Virgil, Hemingway, and Scottish sea chanteys. A picture and daily wisdom are offered for each of the 365 days in a year. The pages list only the date, not the day of the week or the year, allowing this classic to be used year after year for coffee table decor or bedside inspiration. (Published by Abrams Books Inc., available at www.amazon.com, $21.)   More...

Best Boating Knives

David Boye, the Arizona knifemaker whose unique folding boat knife of cast dendritic cobalt won our June 2000 sailors’ knives bench test and was a reference standard for our March 2004 revisit, recently introduced a new model Basic 3 Cobalt knife. These knives doggedly retain a cutting edge when going through tough, blade-resistant materials like rope, cardboard, or even old rugs. Others give up long before the job is done. In our experience, Boye’s cobalt knives last much longer—and when they finally do slow down, they can be resharpened with just a few strokes on a medium stone. The difference, we reason, is in the metallurgy. Boye’s cobalt blades are "cast to shape and retain the pristine crystal network of highly dendritic (branching) bonded carbide throughout the blade, which aids in cutting and maintaining the structure of the cutting edge," according to the maker. Most knives are from steel that originally contained a similar crystal microstructure, but then underwent rolling, stamping, or forging to shape. This process breaks down the original carbide microstructure of the metal. The carbides at the edge are then no longer rooted into the overall microstructure. Complex heat treatment is then applied to develop properties such as hardness and toughness.   More...

Water-Proofing Gear from Underwater Kinetics

Subscribers Only — There are those among us who tend to go through cell-phones and other small electronics like candy. Most anything not tied to the boat is at risk of being dropped overboard—keys, tools, handheld VHFs and GPSs—and more likely to die by drowning than old age. For us, keeping a drybox onboard or in the dinghy is well worth the investment. It’s useful for storing important paperwork, other valuables, and electronics. There are several different brands of dryboxes on the market. We checked out the UK UltraBox 408, a submersible (to 30 feet), crushproof box that comes in a range of sizes and is made by Underwater Kinetics (the maker of one of our Recommended LED flashlights, PS December 2007). The box is made of bright yellow, high-impact plastic, so it’s easy to spot. It comes with a Lexan top that is rated to keep out water, dust, and "corrosive gases." The UK UltraBox 408 we reviewed passed ease-of-use, float, and submersion tests without a hitch. It is comparable to other high-quality boxes and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. We found it for $22 at www.leisurepro.com. A similar product is the Pelican 1120, which we found for $30 at www.diversdirect.com.   More...

Practical Sailor Testers Take a Look at the Raymarine AIS250 Receiver

Subscribers Only — Automatic Information System (AIS) devices have been required on large commercial ships since 2002. Their popularity is growing in the U.S. recreational sailboat market, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent approval of AIS Class B transponders. Some devices allow users to send and receive information about a ship—location, size, speed, call sign, and MMMI number. Others, like the Raymarine AIS 250, only receive AIS broadcasts from other AIS-equipped ships. The Raymarine AIS250 receives AIS Class A and AIS Class B broadcasts. Practical Sailor found that the device performed well, and was user-friendly and easy to install. But, for a receive-only unit, it’s pricey: $980, or about three times as much as similar devices on the market. If you already have a Raymarine network and prefer to see but not be seen, then the AIS250 is worth considering.   More...

Best Ethanol Fuel Treatment for Boat Engines

Since the introduction of ethanol fuels at dockside pumps, we’ve had a slew of reader inquires about the effects of E-10 on fuel lines, fuel tanks, two-stroke engines, and four-stroke engines. We recently tested some products designed to address these issues, specifically those that claim to combat the problems associated with phase separation in E-10. Practical Sailor tested: E-Zorb from Marine Development Research Corp. (MDR), Sta-bil Marine Formula Ethanol Treatment from Gold Eagle, PRI-G from Power Research Inc., Star Tron from Star brite, and Techron from Chevron. The claims of each product varied, but the test products fell into one of these general categories: conventional fuel storage additives, ethanol fuel storage additives, and restorative gas additives. Our tests looked at whether the additive itself would leave ash deposits, gum deposits, or residue that might cause contaminated lubrication oil; whether an additive had a tendency to emulsify, suspend, or absorb free water; and whether the additives could delay the onset of cooling-induced phase separation.   More...

Etchells-inspired e33 - A Practical Sailor New Sailboat Review

Subscribers Only — The “trophy daysailer” market is rife with branding, image, and various forms of snob appeal. The e33, however, makes its pitch on practical grounds. Reports from the field highlight the performance/comfort/control combination that makes the e33 a fun raceboat. You don’t need a big crew, you can exercise your tactical talents to the max, and you give away nothing in boatspeed. Our time sailing the e33 convinced us that it is not only a legitimate “performance sailboat,” but that attaining that performance is sinfully easy. The e33 daysailer’s bonus points include a cockpit that takes up more than half the deck space and can hold five or six adults comfortably; cockpit-led control lines; carbon-fiber spars; and a hydraulic headstay control. Below, Spartan accommodations include berths for four, an enclosed head, and a built-in cooler. With the look of a classic and the innovative design of a modern daysailer, the e33 is e Sailing Yachts’ intelligent, inspired, comprehensive attempt to capture the fun of performance sailing.   More...

Mailport: 11/08

Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for suggested DIY boatyards for an upcoming article. There is still time to participate: Send your picks to the editor’s e-mail at practicalsailor@belvoirpubs.com. If you didn’t hear from us on this topic, it’s probably because you’re not getting the editor’s e-newsletter, which represents his very best efforts at 3 a.m. the night before deadline. To sign up, go to: www.practical-sailor.com/customer_service/ and select "Change My E-mail Address."   More...

The Merits of Madness

Subscribers Only — It always seems that a storm rolls into Annapolis, Md., just in time for the United States Sailboat Show. Held in October, the annual exhibition is the nation’s biggest sailboat-only show. Until this year, my favorite show was in 2006, when a 40-knot gale whipped into town, and the floating docks rolled like a Nantucket whaler with her decks awash. With the wind and spray lashing the show tents, boat buyers defiantly carried on, one hand groping for a lifeline, the other grasping the checkbook. This year’s storm was of a different sort. There’s something eerily soothing about a large crowd of people ogling new boats while the world markets go into a death spiral. During the show’s opening day, five televisions in the waterfront bar Pusser’s Landing tracked the Dow’s precipitous plunge. In one fell swoop, my boys’ college fund and any hope of retiring before I’m deaf as a post were carried off in an avalanche of debt. To my surprise, the people around me seemed preoccupied with only boats.   More...