December 2015

Taking the Spill Out of Fill-ups

The FloTool from Hopkins Tools was easy to use, and although hardly speedy, the flow rate was acceptable for most circumstances.

Fueling a boat has never been as easy as fueling a car. Spills—exacerbated by poorly designed fill pipes and vents—are common. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated the fill and vent requirements on boats to prevent these spills, but they only apply to new gasoline-powered boats. New jerry cans designed to prevent spills and comply with new emission standards aren’t making things easier. Most are hard to control and slow during filling, spill prone, and break after limited use.   More...

Making a Do-it-Yourself Jerry Can Drip Catcher

While it’s not a good choice for fill-ups at the pump, our DIY drip-catcher simplifies topping off with a fuel jug.

The previous owner of our test boat swore by using a funnel. Of course, the funnel was too small to catch nozzle leaks, reduced the flow, required holding a heavy can on a rocking deck for three minutes while the CARB can dribbled along, hoping the wind or rocking didn’t move the funnel. (Sure, the flow is faster with non-CARB cans, but you had to reduce the flow for the funnel anyway.)   More...

Binoculars Update Part 2

Subscribers Only — Plastic or rubber coating that protects the binocular from dents and dings, provides a sure grip, and makes them easy to clean. A must for binoculars used in the marine environment.   More...

Synthetic Teaks Go Toe to Toe

White deck seams are seldom seen in traditional teak decks, but it is a popular trend on today’s new boats with synthetic teak decks.

Subscribers Only — Teak offers many advantages that make it a great decking choice. Compared to other woods, metal, and fiberglass, teak is a good non-slip surface and is very durable thanks to its resistance to rust, rot, mildew, and UV damage. It’s also fairly low maintenance; if left to turn silver, a regular rinse with clean seawater is all it needs as the salt and minerals help hold in moisture.   More...

Synthetic Decks vs. PS Testers

PlasDeck and Permateek proved to be the most resistant to staining in our tests.

Subscribers Only — For this comparison of synthetic teak options, our first concern was ease of installation. The manufacturer typically carries out the hardest part—welding the panels together to achieve the correct dimensions. The ease of gluing our test panels to a simulated fiberglass deck was similar for all five test products. The difficulty of your own project will depend on how much work the manufacturer does in terms of measuring, assembling, and fitting the panels.   More...

Dinghy Anchors: Big Anchor Tech Scaled Down

Without any reference point to indicate scale, our assembled field of dinghy anchors could almost pass for the full-sized versions.

Subscribers Only — Sailors spend considerable time pondering their anchoring arsenal for the mothership, but what about the dinghy? With the new Mantus Dinghy Anchor, it seems that all of the design schools are now represented in small sizes. We were interested to determine which of these might offer the best performance.   More...

Testing the Limits of Tiny Anchors

Each pull was performed three times and then averaged. Results were recorded using a calibrated load cell.

Subscribers Only — Each anchor was pulled in both a straight line and at 90 degrees in both soft mud and firm sand at a 10:1 scope. All findings regarding load were recorded with a calibrated load cell. Testers performed the 90-degree test by lightly setting the anchor (with a 15-pound load in mud, 40 pounds in sand) and then slowly pulling at a 90-degree angle, as though the wind or tide changed. Additionally, each anchor was used day-in, day-out aboard an inflatable dinghy to evaluate ease of use and real-world effectiveness.   More...

Signal K and the Sailboat

A catamaran with a Signal K server (SK Server) is the hub for an information network that shares and uses data that the catamaran and other boats in its network are collecting. The cat’s network benefits from data streamed back to it via the Cloud.

For nearly 50 years, our boats’ electronics systems have operated according to standards developed through the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA). Today, our onboard electronics communicate using either the older NMEA 0183 or the current NMEA 2000 data—the digital “language” that our marine devices speak. Sadly, this is not the same language that our personal electronics or the wireless Internet speaks—leaving the door effectively closed to app developers who might want to create new apps based on that data.   More...

Binocular Update

Testers put the new Steiner 7x50 Marine binoculars (above) through their paces and compared the performance to our top picks from past binocular reviews.

Subscribers Only — Binoculars can be an expensive piece of kit, but they are essential safety gear for the mariner. Being able to clearly identify any object that comes within range of your boat—be it a ship, raft, flotsam, navigational marker, or a nearby shoreline—makes for a safer passage. Steiner Optics’ recent release of its Model 575, an affordably priced 7x50 marine binocular (without compass), prompted us to revisit our past binocular tests to see how the newcomer compares to our reigning top picks.   More...

Playing it Safe with LPG Heat

With a compact size and design that complies with the American Boat and Yacht Council’s standards for safety, the Dickinson P9000 helps extend the sailing season.

Subscribers Only — Unlike many sailors, Practical Sailor contributor Drew Frye’s version of sailing occurs in any weather where the water isn’t frozen. So when his family purchased a used PDQ 32 catamaran six years ago, one of the first items on the To-Buy list was a cabin heater.   More...

A Customized Way to Calculate Heating Needs

Subscribers Only — Although rules of thumb for heating requirements exist, every boat is different. A simple way to measure the heating requirements of a boat is to use a space heater and a few simple calculations. A typical electric space heater is 1,500 watts, or 5,150 British Thermal Units per hour output when set on high. Pick a cool day (does not need to be the coldest expected day) and observe how many watts it takes to warm the boat and how many watts are required to hold that temperature. Several hours should be allowed for this test (it takes time for the furnishings and hull liner to warm up), and it is best done at night when temperatures are cooler.   More...

Stocking Stuffers for Sailors

The holidays are upon us, and for those who are still working on a holiday gift list, here are a few ideas for fun, practical, and nautical stocking stuffers.   More...

Marine Maintenance Q&As

I cannot eliminate the smell of diesel fuel from my boat. The previous owner had a fuel leak that soaked the wood under the fuel tank. The tank has since been fixed, but the odor remains. Any advice?   More...

Free Online Nav Course

Vanderbilt University is offering a free online course in celestial navigation fundamentals. The course—developed in collaboration with PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo, made possible by the Blended & Online Learning Design (BOLD) Fellows Program, and hosted by Vanderbilt—covers the basics for completing a sight reduction form to obtain a line of position (LOP). Using videos and an online worksheet, the course includes an overview of celestial navigation (astronav) concepts, the mechanics of plotting an LOP, and examples of using a sight reduction forms to obtain values to plot the LOP of a celestial body. According to Vanderbilt, this course serves to address the lack of widely available instruction in celestial navigation.   More...

Mailport: December 2015

Readers Clay Young and Kim Sharpe’s Hans Christian 33t, Sundown, rests at anchor in Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, in Washington.

We recently purchased a Webasto Airtop 3900 do-it-yourself (DIY) kit from Defender Industries. The instructions were very comprehensive, and the installation and product work exactly as they should, which typically would lead me to recommend this as a great DIY product. The issue, however, came when we tried to register the product for warranty.   More...

Where Credit is Due: Trident Marine, Tidewater Sodablasting, and More!

Jim Puckett’s Hunter 410, Tartan Soul, rests at the dock in Charleston, S.C.

Just wanted to give a big two thumbs-up to Taylor Made Products (www.taylormadeproducts.com). I had purchased a large-diameter buoy online, and the vendor twice sent me one with a small hole. After the second attempt, I was told I could only get a refund. After a quick call to Taylor Made and a pleasant conversation with Amanda in their customer service department, a replacement was at my house quicker than the original order had been delivered. What had become a frustrating ordeal (large buoys not that easy to repack and return) became one of those increasingly rare moments of satisfaction from a company that really wants to build and sell a great product. Quality is worth the price.   More...

Fortune Favors the Cold and Wet

Two stories this month—installing an LPG fireplace and sealing portlights and hatches—had me pondering the challenges of a winter afloat. But what literally raised goosebumps were photos sent to us by Jimmy Cornell, whose popular cruising rallies and books have inspired countless dreams of sailing around the world.   More...