March 2008

Rust Converters

Chances are good that anyone who owns or has worked on a vessel equipped with an iron keel has at one point or another come across products that, "turn rust back into sound metal," or make other similar and often impossible-sounding claims. The question is: Do they work, and is this the best approach for an iron keel? Make no mistake about it, iron is cheap, and thatís the primary reason for its use where keels and centerboards are concerned. Lead is nearly always preferred, at least for ballast keels, because itís denser and weighs more for a given volume than iron, and it doesnít corrode. Some vessels use bronze as a centerboard material, and while itís not as dense as iron, all sailors know it does not corrode. Ironís use as a ballast keel or centerboard material comes at a price, a price that is paid over the life of the vessel by its owner or owners. If the iron is not properly isolated from the water in which the vessel floats, it rusts prodigiously. Some studies have shown that an inch of iron will create 16 inches of shale rust. The insidious nature of the way in which iron rusts is often its, or the vessel ownerís, undoing. Unlike steel, which tends to slough off as it rusts, iron often retains its shape, rusting from the inside out. Thus, it may look sound, however, a sharp blow from a hammer may release huge chunks of material. This type of decay is referred to as graphitization because graphite residue is all that remains.   More...

Deep Dirt: What’s the Best Inflatable Boat Cleaners For Stubborn Stains on a Dinghy?

Subscribers Only — The shelves these days are packed with an endless array of boat cleaners. A mild soap and elbow grease is often all that is needed. But when you are dealing with extensive coats of mold, mildew and dirt, deep cleaners are the ticket. Practical Sailor divided a neglected, filthy Avon Rover R250 into even sections and tested 11 inflatable boat cleaners. Three products scored an excellent rating. Products tested include the best products from Star Brite, MaryKate, Nautical Ease, Marine Development and Research Corp, Amazonís, Seapower, Pennel & Flipo, Revival Ecological Paste, and Spray Nine.   More...

Cleaning the Teak: What Works, and What Works Faster?

Subscribers Only — There’s no shortage of teak cleaning products on the market, but what works? Practical Sailor put nine stand-alone teak cleaning products to work on the decks of a weathered test boat. Cleaning duo products that clean and brighten were separated out for a future test. All products we tested cleaned quite well, so we looked beyond performance to eco-friendliness, harshness, ease of use, and price. We recommend the top eco-friendly ones, best priced, and the easiest to use. Products tested include Captain John’s Boat Brite, Dalys Seafin teak cleaner, Interlux Premium, Iosso teak Cleaner, Star Brite Teak Cleaner and West Marine One-Step Teak Cleaner.   More...

The State of the Union: Clean After 17 Months

In July 2006, Practical Sailor testers began a long-term bottom paint comparison between Interlux Micron Optima and Sea Hawk Monterey, two semi-hard ablative paints that are self-polishing, meaning that water movement during normal sailing cleans growth that may be trying to gain a foothold on the hull. The test platform is a Norfolk, Va.-based Union 36, a full keel, heavy displacement sailboat whose cruising area is primarily the Chesapeake Bay and Intracoastal Waterway in Virginia and North Carolina. The boatís hull, below the waterline, was divided into four equal sections, giving both bottom paints equal exposure: Sea Hawk was applied to the starboard bow and port aft section, while Micron Optima was applied to the port bow and starboard aft sections. Each section received three coats of its respective bottom paint, plus an additional coat at the waterline. Since its launch in July 2006, the test boat has seen normal use, ranging from monthly weekend and day trips to several weeklong cruises.   More...

North Face Tops Hands-on Glove Test

Subscribers Only — Staying warm at sea revolves around the right choice in clothing, and gloves are key part of the mix. Unfortunately, hand warmth and dexterity are often at opposite ends of a glove rating scale, and sailors need a good showing in both realms. Add to this, underway conditions that can range from dry cold to practically being submerged in ice water, and itís easy to see why smart shopping can be a tricky proposition. So we decided to send Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo on a series of sea trials with two different glove types. The trip conditions ranged from chilly New England deliveries to an absolutely frigid junket in Antarctica. He returned free of frostbite with a distinct notion that it indeed does take two different technologies to get the job done.   More...

Bottom Paint Test: Practical Sailor Takes a Close Look at The Long-Term Performance of Two Dozen Antifouling Paints.

Subscribers Only — Testing of hard and soft bottom paint in a Florida saltwater canal and a boatyard dock in Long Island Sound show that nearly all existing antifouling paints provide exceptional protection against hard growth for one season. The devil is in the detail of how well the paints hold up against the build-up of soft marine organisms, and for how long they will ward off barnacles. Although almost all of the paints Practical Sailor tested rated fair or good after 6 months, only one paint was rated excellent: Ablative/copolymer Micron 66 from Interlux. Although no paints garnered an excellent rating at18-months, Practical Sailor found several paints that continued to perform fairly well. Manufacturers try to provide protection against hard and soft growth while balancing environmental impact, regulatory concerns and rising prices in raw materials. Practical Sailor also rated the test paints by category: not only hard and soft paints, but also eco-friendly and water-based paints and looked at the performance of paints within each category. Products tested include: Micron 66, Copper Shield, EP 2000, Epaint, Epoxycop, Fiberglass Bottomkote, Ultra-Coat, Super KL, VC Offshore, Regatta Baltoplate Racing, Interlux Ultra, VC 17m Extra, Pettit Unepoxy Plus, Super Premium, Vivid, Trinidad, SR-21, Seahawk Tropikote, Tropikote Biocode Plus, Sharkskin, Bluewater Kolor, Epaint Zo, Flexdel Aquaguard Bottom Paint, Aquaguard Alumi-Koat, Super Ship Bottom, Epoxycop Ablative, Micron CSC, Trilux, Phasecoat, Hydrocoat, Horizons, Alumacoat, Ultima SR, Monterey, Mission Bay CSF, AF 33, Biocop, Cukote, Interlux, Pettit, Blue Water MarPro, Seahawk, and West Marine.   More...

Meek Cleaner vs. Chemical Beast

Subscribers Only — In the November 2007 issue, we reviewed a big batch of waterline stain removers/hull cleaners. Spray Nineís gel got the nod over the 21 other products, but there were a number of Excellent resultsóand thatís because these acid-based cleaners donít mess around. One of the most aggressive cleaners out there is the MaryKate On&Off, which received an Excellent rating and was a Recommended product. Made by CRC Industries, it is a caustic stew of acids, mostly hydrochloric (20 to 25 percent by weight) and phosphoric (5 to 10 percent), with a bit of oxalic (1 to 5 percent). Weíve used it often, with good results, but it only would be considered pleasant if youíre nostalgic for World War I trench warfare. Even outside in a breeze, it stings the eyes, nose, and breathing passages. If you work without a respiratorónot recommended, but sometimes doneóyou need to hold your breath when in range of the fumes, and take new breaths upwind. (Itís best to wear a respirator, rubber gloves, and eye protection.)   More...

Making the Old Dink New Again: Practical Sailor Turns an Old Fiberglass Dinghy into a Stable Rigid Inflatable

Subscribers Only — One manís dream to improve stability on his familyís old Dyer knock-off becomes a quest to see if it is possible, and cost effective, to turn the old dink into a rigid inflatable using a inflatable tube kit from Walker Bay. As it turns out, it wasnít such a crazy idea after all. The family dinghy, an 8-foot Dyer knock-off acquired in the late 1980s, was the perfect tender. But two kids and a dog later, and the family dink no longer fit the familyóparticularly with the added weight of a four-stroke, 3.5-horsepower outboard clamped on the stern. Our tester was accustomed to the benefits of a hard dinghyódurability, the ability to sail it, superior rowingóbut lusted after the increased stability and carrying capacity of an inflatable. A rigid-hull inflatable seemed to offer the best of both worlds, but the prices were out of this world. Besides, the old dinghy was still in great shape, so dropping the cash for an expensive new dinghy was unjustified. (Whatís a tightwad sailor to do?) And thatís how the idea for a DIY hybrid dinghy was born: We would make the old dink new with the addition of the inflatable tube from a Walker Bay RID (Ridged Inflatable Dinghy).   More...

New Twist on Furlers: New Generation of Roller-Furling Systems For Light-Air-Sails Skip the Fixed Stays

Subscribers Only — Roller furling has pushed headsail piston-hanking headsails to the brink of extinction. But it also results in a significant loss in light-air efficiency. Meanwhile, genoas, drifters and reachers have become orphans without a stay on which to hank. A new generation of light-air roller-furling sails aims to resolve these issues. They require no fixed stay and, on a properly equipped boat, they can be set, furled, doused, and dropped with relative ease. Practical Sailor reviews seven roller-furling systems for light-air sails, including models from Bamar, CDI, Colligo, Facnor, Harken, Karver and Schaefer.   More...

Boat Review: Buoyant Etap 28s Delivers Modern Form and Function

Subscribers Only — At first glance, the Etap 28s is an appealing, nicely finished, modern European-styled pocket-cruiseróbut itís what lies beneath the skin that sets it apart. This is one of the few boats with a ship-in-ship, double-hull structure with enough closed-cell polyurethane foam between the skins to provide floatation even if the hull is breached in multiple places. The foam has enough buoyancy to offset the weight of the keel and diesel engine and has been distributed so that a flooded boat would remain stable and be able to make way under sail. This feature can be a significant safety factor to any sailor, but is especially appealing to those sailing in colder waters. In addition to offering positive buoyancy, the Etap 28s sports a spacious cabin and a no-nonsense sail plan that makes it an easy boat to sail. With a compact head, a dedicated nav station, small galley and aft berth, the boat is set up well for family coastal cruising. Details like fiddles and grab rails also showcase its potential as an offshore cruiser.   More...

ISAF Bans White Handheld Flares

Subscribers Only — White hand flares have been used for signaling since the time of Nelson and Trafalgar. They were used in Civil War times, most famously aboard the ironclad Union ship USS Monitor as it was sinking in a gale off Cape Hatteras. Currently, hand flares are used by unruly fans as riot inciters in European football and basketball. Classified as hazardous materials, the active ingredients of white hand flares are black powder and magnesium. White hand flares emit NOx, a toxic byproduct. For obvious reasons, instructions are to hold the hand flare downwind. Burning magnesium on flesh, smoke inhalation, or having molten residue blowing down a companionway hatch can lead to dire consequences. In April 2006, a sailing instructor was severely injured while giving a demonstration of a white hand flare. This resulted in a total recall of white hand flares by their manufacturer, Pains Wessex.   More...

Mailport: 03/08

Hurricane Charlie, the second of three hurricanes to hit Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2004, found my 1982 Lafitte 44 at an anchorage on the Intracoastal Waterway, just south of Daytonaís three bridges. My anchors held. But a series of calamitous events resulted in Twilight breaking free, then washing ashore at the foot of a riverfront apartment complex. She was on a sandy beach, but her bow overhung a low concrete rip-rap seawall that had been reinforced with steel rebar. As the boat swung about in the storm surf, she demolished about 20 feet of the sea wall, knocking down the rip-rap and bending the reinforcing steel. There was some abrasion to the boatís hull but, more than anything else, the damage was cosmetic. Her hull was not penetrated.   More...

The Do-It-Yourself Dilemma

Subscribers Only — Every time we revisit our bottom paint test I have nightmares. One recurring theme is that my boat needs a haulout soon, but the only boatyard around is a plush affair with a swimming pool, sauna, and waterfront restaurant. I need to pay an annual membership fee to be able to use the yard, and even for members, the haulout rates are astronomical. The yardís exorbitant labor rates for various jobs are boldly posted on the office wall, along with a policy that forbids any do-it-yourself repair work. I must buy my paint from the boatyard at 50 percent more than I would pay at the local chandlery.   More...