August 2015

Anchor Shackles: The $15 Insurance Policy

Pairing a small-diameter chain with a big anchor often requires using two shackles. This setup shows (from left) a 56-pound (25-kilogram) Manson Ray anchor, a 1/2-inch Titan D shackle, a 3/8-inch Titan bow shackle, and 10-millimeter G30 chain.

Subscribers Only — We’re always amazed how a sailor can spend months agonizing and wringing his hands over which anchor to purchase, and then, when he finally shells out $700 or much more for the anchor, he’ll attach it to a shackle that has no business being on a boat. We’ve plowed through the topic of shackles in several recent issues, but we haven’t looked specifically at anchor shackles for more than a decade. Choosing a properly sized, high-quality shackle is important, but it’s also essential to be familiar with proper use.   More...

Pull it Until it Breaks

As the hydraulic ram increased tension on each shackle, testers recorded loads and noted any deformation.

Subscribers Only — All testing was carried out at an approved test facility in Newcastle, Australia: J.L. Robertsons, which is adjacent to one of Australia’s large coal-mining areas. The test rig is used to certify lifting components for the local mining industry on a daily basis. The facility can test up to 95 tons, far more than we require. This is the same facility where we tested all of our anchor chains. (See PS June 2014, November 2014, January 2015, and March 2015 online.)   More...

Tap Water that’s Better than Bottled

Using a separate tap for potable water simplifies the installation and prolongs the life of the filter.

Subscribers Only — If you’ve followed the first two installments in this three-part series on ensuring safe, fresh-tasting drinking water onboard, you’ve cleaned your freshwater tank, pre-filtered all water going into the tank, screened the vent, and disinfected the contents. Now that the water has sat in the tank, it’s time for one more filtration process; this time, focusing on improving taste and eliminating micro-organisms.   More...

Making Sense of Water Filter Certification

Subscribers Only — Only a few states require National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification for water filters, and the requirement applies only to a small number of original equipment manufactured (OEM) products.   More...

Breaking Down ‘Performance’

Some offshore racing details for light-air sailing, like two headsails and a powerful main, can be applied to cruising boats, too.

When it comes to sailboats, “performance” is a relative term, especially when it comes to a crew’s concept of how the boat will be used. Racing sailors, cruisers, and daysailors each have very different perspectives on performance. For example, those facing a light-air, around-the-buoys race measure performance in terms of how well their speed through the water holds up against the decrease in true-wind speed. Cruisers, on the other hand, especially those crossing oceans, often define it as a measure of versatility under sail, not just how a boat copes with near calms or gales, but how it performs in everything in between.   More...

A Closer Look at the Rationale Behind the Ratios

Sailboat performance varies based on the eye of the beholder. Racers want light-air alacrity and a willingness to plane while cruisers want directional stability and reasonable speed with moderate sail area. A boat’s design dimensions and a few simple ratios give some hints about these attributes.   More...

AGM Batteries Test Update

The tall, blue Northstar/Energy1 battery (on right) might require some modification to battery boxes or compartments to fit.

Subscribers Only — In our recent test of absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, we cycled five different batteries through 30 deep cycles to 11.7 volts but only partially recharged them for one hour after each discharge cycle at a charge rate of 46 percent of battery amp-hour capacity. (See PS May 2015 online.) The object of the exercise was to demonstrate just how quickly sulfation, which is caused by keeping a battery in a partial state charge (PSOC), can reduce the capacity and eventually permanently ruin a good battery.   More...

Watering Batteries

Subscribers Only — Our May 2015 report on absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries got us thinking about wet cell-batteries. While it is easy to find distilled water suitable for topping off the battery electrolyte in the U.S., what happens when we are not near a reliable supply? Are there any substitutes? What should we avoid?   More...

Do-It-Yourself: Onboard Security

1. Cruiser Patrick Childress designed a DIY boat alarm system using a bugle horn and round truck horn. 2. The horns are wired to booby-trapped mousetraps (propped open with pencil for photo purposes). 3. Night-sensing LED lights hung in the cockpit and on the foredeck also can help deter would-be thieves.

Some ports and anchorages are safer than others, but it never hurts to be cautious when it comes to boat security. When you’re away from the boat, blasting a loud stereo down below can give the appearance that someone is onboard and may slow a prospective thief. (Doesn’t everyone turn radios and TVs off when they leave?) Trailing a spare dinghy or kayak off the stern is also a good deterrent, as is on-deck illumination.   More...

Necessity Breeds Innovation

Acetone and dish soap were the most effective.

Those who use citronella or Skin So Soft for an insect repellent will not appreciate these high-octane anti-itch remedies. But it is safe to assume that such a conservative attitude is reserved for those who are not in the thick of battle with a foe as formidable (and miniscule) as battalions of Lilliputians.   More...

Low-priced PLS40 Caulk Onboard

Some boat projects where we’ve used Loctite PLS40 successfully have included many re-bedding jobs, upgrading the helm step (right), and installing the genoa track (above). Both photos were taken four years after the projects.

We usually use 3M polyurethane caulks for boat projects: 5200 for permanent fixes, or 4200 if it’s something that might need servicing later. The 3M products are impressive but are too expensive for use around the house. About 15 years ago, while looking for something better than silicone and latex caulks for general use, I noticed Loctite’s PL line of caulks and decided to give them a try, thinking they might be useful for some onboard applications.   More...

A Second Look at Safety Gear

We recently checked out some equipment that illustrates the challenges of designing and marketing new safety gear, one of the more tightly regulated sailing-equipment categories.   More...

Anchor Chain and Shackles

If I use 3/8-inch Acco G43 proof-coil chain, why is the same-size galvanized shackle so much weaker? West Marine shows the Acco G43 chain rated at 5,400 pounds maximum working load (MWL), but the similarly sized shackle is rated at only 2,000 pounds MWL. It seems as though whatever size chain I select, the shackle is the weak link. How can I use a larger shackle on smaller chain?   More...

Mailport: August 2015

Readers Loren and Sandy Acker use liquid water treatments to keep their freshwater supply clean aboard their Pacfic Northwest-based Fisher Northeaster 30, Seaweed.

As requested in your July 2015 article, “Keeping Water Clean and Fresh,” we are suggesting an evaluation of the two-part liquid Pristine (www.pristine.ca) and the Puri Sol water treatments; both use a process utilizing chlorine dioxide for killing bacteria and viruses in contaminated water. This means of sanitizing is purportedly used in hospitals in Europe, and in our experience, it is easy and effective. We have used it in the flexible bladder tanks that were original equipment on our motor-sailer for many years. It is used, apparently, by the military, as well.   More...

Rigged for Small Spaces

Florida architect Joe King contemplates the rigging that Paul Rudolph employed in his compact “spider house.”

After a decade-long sailing sabbatical in the 1990s, my wife Theresa and I swallowed the anchor and settled into our first apartment. It was a two-room studio across from the hospital in Newport, R.I. I gasped when the owner first showed us the place.   More...