February 2015

Men’s Foulie Faceoff

Good foul-weather gear should not only keep you warm and dry, but it should have safety features like reflective patches and should allow full range of motion.

Choosing a new set of foul-weather gear is not a decision most sailors take lightly. With mid-range gear priced around $500 for a jacket and bibbed trousers, it isn’t a small investment. Knowing what specific brands have to offer—and what to look for—is key to making a sound purchase, and to ensuring you’ll be warm and dry aboard.   More...

Earth, Wind, and Water

The Helly Hansen Offshore Race jacket (above) was dropped from the test field when the zipper failed to work.

Subscribers Only — Each foul-weather garment was subject to a series of rigorous tests designed to measure resistance to the elements, breathability, wearability, reflectivity, functionality, and abrasion resistance.   More...

Foul-weather Gear Must-haves

The Gill OS2 has well-placed reflective patches; we like to see them on shoulders, chest, wrists, and hoods to maximize visibility in an MOB situation.

Subscribers Only — At the very least, foul-weather gear must be warm, dry, and comfortable. It also should be easy to adjust and fasten, which means zippers, Velcro, buckles, and pull cords must function without a hitch—and do so repeatedly, thousands of times. But what makes the ideal foulie set? Here are our criteria for top-notch gear. Foulie jackets and bibs/trousers should be made of durable material resistant to abrasion and marine elements, especially sun, salt water, and the unforgiving hardware and rough surfaces found aboard most sailboats.   More...

Anchoring in Squishy Bottoms

Anchors on the University of Maryland’s Rachel Carson are prepared for deployment into the Chesapeake Bay muck.

Subscribers Only — Practical Sailor carried out its own series of anchor tests in a mud bottom in 2006 (see April 2006 and October 2006 issues), and those tests bore out a commonly known fact: Danforth-style anchors, which feature flukes that are proportionally larger than other types of anchors of the same mass, tend to hold better than older, plough-style anchors in soft mud. When Practical Sailor was invited to witness Fortress’s test, editors were initially skeptical; the playing field seemed heavily tilted in Fortress’s favor. In the end, however, it was a busy test schedule, not outright skepticism, that prevented our attending.   More...

Rethinking Sailboat Structure

In order to deal with the high loads imposed at the junction of the keel and hull on a modern boat, builders today rely on a gridwork of transverse and longitudinal structural members.

Subscribers Only — When it comes to describing a sailboat’s most valuable attribute, it’s surprising how varied opinions can be. Staying afloat should be our first priority, and although you seldom read or hear much about it at boat shows, the structural elements that hold a sailboat together are an all-important consideration.   More...

Standards: Costly Hurdles or Vital Guidelines?

Impact testing of core material gives builders insight into panel strength by simulating the damage caused by point loads.

Subscribers Only — The ISO 12215 standard gives designers and builders a detailed baseline for scantlings and specific guidance regarding material selection, workshop practices and structural details pertaining to hulls, decks, rudders and rigging for mono and multihulls. These scantling guidelines relate to specific skin pressures on the hull and stresses and strains that if not appropriately addressed can affect delamination and lead to structural failures. The codes are a complex amalgamation of data, but the University of Southampton’s Wolfson Unit has recently developed a software program called HullScant that makes ISO compliance for builders and designers easier to work with.   More...

DeLorme Satcom Solution

Old salts and youngsters alike found it easy to send and receive satellite text messages using the inReach Explorer, although the old salts needed a good set of reading glasses to read the small screen.

We recently had a chance to ocean test the new DeLorme inReach Explorer on a passage from Sarasota, Fla., to the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys. Like the original inReach (see Practical Sailor, March 2013 online) and the second-gen inReach SE, the first such standalone device designed to send and receive texts by satellite, the Explorer is primarily a satellite texting device. The Explorer has a small display screen like the inReach SE, but the Explorer features a built-in compass, barometer, and accelerometer to give it some basic standalone navigational functions.   More...

Making Engine Oil Changes Easier

Remove the engine-mounted oil filter, and screw on the new engine mount adapter.

Subscribers Only — Some boat manufacturers have no concern for simplifying things, like changing the auxiliary engine’s oil, once the boat leaves the factory. But the process should not be more than a 15-minute job, and at most, only a few drops of oil should need to be cleaned up.   More...

Out, Out Brief Wiring Terminals!

The common Eurostrip (above) is found in a wide range of marine electronics, particularly those requiring multiple connections. A well-made Eurostrip will have a pressure plate that does not damage wire strands when tightened.

Subscribers Only — Eurostrips, Euroblocks, set-screw terminations—whatever you want to call them—they are here to stay. Many companies supply set-screw terminations as part of electronics installations, solar controllers, inverter/chargers, navigation lights, or even engine gauge panels. These set screws, if not protected by a pressure plate or a wire terminal, can cause damage to the wire stranding and eventually lead to failure. Attention to the details should always be top on the list when dealing with Euroblocks or any set-screw termination that bears directly onto the wire strands.   More...

Chandlery: February 2015

Picatinny Mount Laser Flare Holder

Laser rescue flares like those offered by Greatland Laser (see PS February 2004, March 2011, and September 2013 online) have long been marketed as a way to attract the attention of potential rescuers. One issue associated with their use has been accurate aiming to get the rescuers’ attention. The new Picatinny Mount Laser Flare Holder, made by North American Laser, aims to take the guesswork out of, well, aiming.   More...

MMSIs for VHF Handhelds

Once you are issued an MMSI, you can program it into your VHF handheld yourself. Be careful when doing this as you’ll only have a few attempts before the VHF will need to be reprogrammed.

[IMGCAP(1)] In your Oct. 21, 2014 blog on calling mayday on an SSB, I wish you would have included what should be done to configure a Digital Selective Calling (DSC)-capable handheld VHF radio with a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. If the radio is only used on one boat, that’s pretty straightforward (see PS Mailport, October 2011 online), but what should one do if they own a DSC-capable radio but don’t own a boat (for…   More...

Mailport: February 2015

Reader Ernest Godshalk wrote us about this photo, which was published on the cover of the December 2014 issue. He took issue with the flying of the Jolly Roger flag.

When I see a boat flying the Jolly Roger, I assume that the owner is ignorant of the murders of and terror wreaked on sailors by pirates in recent years, or perhaps just thoughtless. But I was shocked to see such a boat pictured on your front cover of the December 2014 issue. The owner of that boat, which is flying the Bahamas courtesy flag, and therefore appears to be outside the U.S., also is not following flag etiquette regarding the use of the “yacht ensign,” which “must never be flown in international or foreign waters since it has no standing as a national ensign.” (U.S. Power Squadrons website, www.usps.org).   More...

Product Update: February 2015

EvaDry 2200 and EvaDry 2200 cord

With the untimely passing of the Perfect Home EWHE4 dehumidifier after just 18 months (see PS Mailport, December 2014 online), the EvaDry 2200 remains our top pick for an onboard dehumidifier, and the EvaDry maker has recently introduced a 12-volt plug for the unit. Still going strong after 2˝ years (see PS, June 2013), PS’s EvaDry test unit is still removing water at rated capacity, the fan is quiet, the power supply runs only 20 degrees above ambient temperature, and the plugs remain tight. It has been thrown in lockers, knocked off countertops in rough weather, and frozen repeatedly.   More...

Where Credit Is Due: February 2015

Reader Max Shaw’s Stevens 47 rests at anchor off Nuka Hiva, French Polynesia.

This is a quick note to say how impressed we have been with Vesper Marine (www.vespermarine.com) and its WMX850 AIS transceiver. As you highlighted in your review of AIS units (see PS, September 2014 online), the Human-Machine interface for AIS and anchor alarm is very intuitive and flexible, unlike many of the multifunction displays available. With its very low power consumption, it allows us to keep it continuously on at anchor, for the anchor alarm, and at sea, without concerns about the power draw. As we are cruising full time with a family of five onboard in the South Pacific, we are almost exclusively at anchor or on passage, and therefore, the unit is almost always turned on.   More...

40 Years of Breaking Boat Gear

Practical Sailor’s 40th anniversary came and went last year without hoopla. We talked a while about marking the event with a stroll down memory lane, or a photo-essay tracing our evolution from a courier-type bulletin to our current incarnation, or a “best of” collection celebrating our most talked-about tests. They were all nice ideas, but at age 40, your limitations become clearer, and routines that a twenty-something might chafe at offer a measure of peace—why break them? Daily ruts feel more like grooves.   More...