April 2015

Bottom Paint Checkup 2015

Subscribers Only — You know that you’ve been testing bottom paint too long when you start rooting for the slime and barnacles . . . or tunicates and seaweed, or sponges, or algae, or oysters . . . the whole lot of ’em. Go sea critters, go! If you ever felt an ounce of sympathy for the invertebrates that sailors spend so much money trying to defeat, then here is some news that will warm your barnacle-hugging heart. We just returned from pulling our 18-month antifouling-paint test panels, and the past year and a half has been very good to barnacles.   More...

Sea Hawk Faces Stricter Scrutiny from EPA

Family-owned and -operated New Nautical Paints, the makers of Sea Hawk marine paints, is operating under an environmental compliance program that requires strict monitoring and reporting requirements for the next three years. The program is one of several punishments that a U.S. District Court judge in Miami handed down in December after New Nautical Coatings, its owners, and two employees pleaded guilty to violating U.S. laws regulating the manufacturing and distribution of pesticides.   More...

Feature-loaded VHFs with GPS

VHF handhelds from Icom, Standard Horizon, and West Marine faced a series of bench tests using a Ramsey service monitor.

Subscribers Only — The big advantage of handheld VHF radios as compared to their fixed-mount brethren has always been portability. It’s portability that allows them to serve as the primary radio on smaller boats (a dinghy for example), as an emergency backup (or secondary working unit) to a fixed unit, or even as a way to summon help during an unexpected swim. While reduced range (due to their shorter antenna height and lower transmit power) have been acceptable tradeoffs for portability, modern handheld VHF radios continue to keep pace with the many other features provided by fixed-mount VHFs.   More...

Functions and Features

All of the test units passed the floating and waterproof tests (submerged to 1 meter for 30 minutes).

After charging the test units for 24 hours, testers ran each radio through a series of bench tests—including transmitter power output, frequency accuracy and stability, and receiver sensitivity—using our Ramsey COM3010 service monitor. All radios in our test group met industry standards with regards to the above tests, although some did it slightly better than others. Testers took transmitter power measurements (high and low power) directly off the radio antenna port.   More...

Manson vs. CQR Sea Trials

We tested the 45-pound Manson Supreme anchor aboard Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s Ericson 41 (17,800 pounds displacement) at various locations around the Chesapeake Bay over the course of a year.

Subscribers Only — When the forecast turns bad, and it’s time to find shelter in a new cove or harbor, questions arise about the holding ground, swinging room, and the influence of tide, current, and surge. But there should be little question about the ground tackle and whether or not it’s up to the challenge at hand. It’s true that no anchor comes with a written guarantee to always set and hold, and there are conditions in which each may fail, but the more time one spends anchored out, the more overkill or ground tackle safety margin is warranted. During our acquisition of sea sense, we inevitably discover the range of conditions that our primary (working) anchor can handle, usually discovering its limitations the hard way.   More...

Managing the Manson as a Working Anchor

The broad throat of the CQR (above left) has more contact with the roller, but the Manson Supreme’s rigid fluke (right) won’t wobble.

During the initial swap, I couldn’t help but notice how much more fluke area the Manson provided compared to the CQR. And the claw-like geometry seemed to more efficiently grab the bottom when compared with the CQR’s plow shape. These assumptions were supported during initial anchoring efforts. The Manson grabbed hold of the bottom with very little scope deployed; breakout took a more concerted effort; and the amount of sand, and mud and other detritus retrieved from familiar anchorages was much greater than what the CQR hauled to the surface. The value of a pressure wash-down pump rose considerably.   More...

Is Hand-stitched, Nylon Webbing Strong Enough?

Subscribers Only — Rope is the mainstay of sailboat rigging, and knot-craft and splicing are the marks of a seaman. Sewn joins are also practical—and we’ve explored those in depth (see PS October 2014 online)—but there are times when flat webbing serves better; for example, reefing strops, jacklines and tethers, and straps for attaching sails and tackle to spars. But how do you form the loops required to attach them to hardware and other fittings?   More...

Going Soft on Shackles

This staysail has a high-tech fiber halyard and soft-shackle hank on a fiber stay. Although such arrangements are becoming popular for storm staysails, Practical Sailor is still advocating wire stays and metal hanks in this application.

Subscribers Only — Fiber shackles have been in use for centuries—the simple knotted toggles provided all manner of service on square-riggers and even older craft. When made correctly with the right material, fiber shackles are strong, can be released without tools, and are jam-proof in the most severe weather. Like cotton sails, this 200-year-old technology has been updated through the use of modern materials.   More...

A DIY Water Filter

We use the filter as a pre-filter for hose water (above) and for rainwater (below).

For those of you unfamiliar with Baja fuel filters, they are multi-layer strainers, purchased or handmade, used to filter diesel fuel of dubious pedigree before loading. Water, whether from a dockside hose or rainwater, presents a similar challenge. We’ve been exploring freshwater filtration possibilities for a series of articles to come, and while there are great pre-filtration products out there, none offer the versatility of our own home-grown solution, which we call the Baja water filter.   More...

Heart Replacement

Subscribers Only — Sixteen years ago, contributing writers Joe and Lee Minick equipped their Mason 43, Southern Cross, with a Heart Interface Freedom 20 charger/inverter and a Link 2000R from Cruising Equipment, both made by companies based in Valley Forge, Penn. When both of these units were ruined during a knockdown (see PS, April 2013 online), they were forced to look for a replacement.   More...

Garmin VIRB Review

You can use the Garmin 76CSX GPS to control the Virb Elite remotely.

There are a handful of popular action cameras on the market, which is dominated by the now ubiquitous GoPro line. We’ve purposely steered clear of this fast-moving field, one that is widely covered in consumer electronics magazines and websites. However, since Garmin’s new entry in this market, the VIRB Elite, incorporates features aimed specifically at boaters, we thought we’d check it out. Techies can drop in on any online review or the Garmin website to get a complete rundown of the camera’s features and specs (see accompanying table). Our field tests focused on the following.   More...

The Mystery of the Bulging Fin Keel

I was reading a Mailport letter in the December 2014 issue of Practical Sailor, and it led me to your May 27, 2014 blog regarding keel failure. We have a 1977 Islander 28 with a bolted-on fin keel that is creating a safety issue. I am confident I know what the proper repair is (remove the keel and re-secure it), but I am more wondering if you’ve ever seen anything like this. On the starboard side of the keel, below the keel joint, a square chunk of lead is bulging out of the keel side. I’ve had a few surveyors take a look at it, and they’ve never seen anything like it either. The keel bolts do not leak—at least water doesn’t come in. Thoughts?   More...

Mailport: April 2015

Women sailors now have a variety of foul-weather gear choices to select from, so finding a kit that fits your body, sailing style, and budget is easier than ever before. Several readers have sung the praises of West Marine’s Third Reef jacket and bibs (above).

In regard to the March 2015 boat review of the Catalina 34: I can confirm what was stated about the weather helm on the boat and the need to take an early reef in the main. That is improved with the elliptical rudder, but an even bigger improvement is a 135 headsail compared to a 150. The overlapping part of the headsail is behind the center of lateral resistance and contributes to weather helm. A flatter headsail also helps prevent the boat from rounding up. But she is a fine cruising boat with strong, simple systems that last and last. And the support from both the owner’s association and Catalina Yachts is second to none.   More...

Product Update

Scandvik Marine (www.scandvik.com) recently released a new compact LED spreader light. The successor to the Scandvik spreader lights we tested in the August 2013 issue, the new light is available in flush mount or bracket mount. It is waterproof, features two 5-watt Cree LEDs, and draws less than 1 amp. It is rated for 500 lumens and has a 120-degree beam angle.   More...

Check that Antifouling Label

Shortly before this issue went to print, Practical Sailor learned that Irgarol, a pesticide commonly used as a boosting agent in antifouling paints, is in short supply in the United States. Although we have not fully investigated the ramifications of this news for boat owners, it seems likely that the supply of paints containing this pesticide will be exhausted sometime this year.   More...