May 2017

Refitting After 200,000 Miles

Designed by German Frers, the Hallberg-Rassy 46 Mahina Tiare sails past Tavarua Island in Fiji. The boat is now in its fifteenth year as an offshore sail-training vessel.

Subscribers Only — I never dreamed GPS navigation would be so easy from my days of plastic sextant, Zenith TransOceanic radio and a Timex watch. Gone are the frustrating days of waiting hours for a break in overcast skies to take a sextant shot. While on ocean passages we continually run a small Garmin fixed-mount GPS under the hard dodger, carry paper charts for everywhere we sail, and plot our position every three to six hours on a small-scale paper chart.   More...

Reassessing Clip-in Location Points

The right tether length can vary by location. In narrow areas like the foredeck, a shorter tether can prevent you from going over the rail.

Subscribers Only — Like the automobile safety belt, the various components that keep sailors from separating from their boat (the harness, tether, and jackline) have gone through significant changes over the years. If you search the Practical Sailor website under these topics, you’ll find a number of reports on the recent changes in this equipment. One element, however, that has not addressed in great depth is the proper placement of jacklines (also called jackstays).   More...

DIY Rig Check

Vertical cracks (1) can be caused by the expansion when water enters the swaged terminal and rust begins; horizontal cracks (2) are generally caused by metal fatigue.

Here are two good examples showing the problems associated with the lower or deck level use of swage terminals for your standing rigging. “Swaging” is a process where tubular stainless steel fittings are essentially crimped onto rigging wire under high pressure.   More...

Marine Weather Forecasting

OPC Meteorologist Liz Sommerville demonstrates a surface analysis and 48-hour surface forecast. Each draws on a mix of weather model data, satellite info (visual, infra-red and radar downloads) along with ship reports and the meteorologist’s expertise.

Subscribers Only — Over the last few decades, there’s been exponential growth in the availability of accurate weather forecasts and the net result is safer voyaging. Government spending on weather data gathering and forecast development has soared. Satellites and data buoys have filled in some of the oceanic gaps caused by an absence of weather balloon sampling at sea. State of the art, algorithm-driven, model data and ensemble-based forecasting have turned electronic guesswork into a better understanding of atmospheric volatility. The net result is an increase in the validity and reliability of marine forecasts and a trend that has stretched 24-hour forecast accuracy into 48- and 96-hour time frames. So, if anything deserves the label “don’t leave homeport without it,” it is today’s, better than ever, marine weather forecast.   More...

The One-Bucket Cleaning Kit

You can use expensive bottled spray for fabrics, but laundry detergent will work on most stains. The key is to soak first, remove all soap before drying (or it will attact mildew), and to rinse with one of our inexpensive home-made anti-mildew agents.

Bright, shiny and new looking. That was what we wanted when were shopping for our dream boat, and that is the impression our new-used PDQ catamaran gave. What was behind that spit-shine on a used boat? Besides the obvious hours of labor by the previous owner, it took two baskets of cleaning products, all stuffed in the stern lockers.   More...

A Generic Approach to Specific Stains

Ecofriendly cleaners are preferable for boats in the water. The online version of this article www.practical-sailor.com offers a more detailed guide of “green” cleaners.

For general deck cleaning, unless there is a specific stain, always start with a relatively mild, biodegradeable surfactant. Not strong enough to remove wax or corrode metal, but enough to loosen what the birds left, hard water spots, and atmospheric dirt. One possible remedy is a little spot cleaning with biodegradable laundry detergent. Today, most detergents are biodegradable.   More...

Boat Spring Cleaning

Five products from three manufacturers who seem to think we’re looking for something blue.

Subscribers Only — We frequently receive suggestions for new cleaners from our readers. Here are a few suggested products that came over the transom that we haven’t reported on before.   More...

Mailport: What’s Up with Synthetic Lifelines?

Greg Beron’s 1969 Cal 29 Happy Hour approaches Catalina Island in Southern California. Beron is considering replacing his stainless-steel lifeline with high-tensile fiber.

It’s been almost five years since your original article on synthetic lifelines (“Long-term test Evaluates Synthetic Lifelines,” Practical Sailor, September 2012). Since my coated lifelines are due for replacement, I’m curious about long-term observations. That said, I plan on going up a size or two from the recommended numbers for an extra safety margin: 6 millimeters rather than 5 millimeters. I’m still looking into manufacturers and products because I just learned how easy splicing 12-strand can be, but I’m pretty sure almost any of them will be better than the plastic-covered stainless-steel wire, of unknown vintage, that’s on the boat now.   More...

Fuel Level Sensor/Return Line Durability

Moeller’s newly redesigned combined fuel level sensor and return allows you

Subscribers Only — I have a 2008 Gemini 105MC catamaran that I purchased new, and the fuel tank level indicators on both tanks failed a couple years ago. However, I noticed that the fuel-return line is attached to the top of the fuel level sensor. It seems to me that this may be the problem—fuel spraying down on the level indicator shortens its useful life. All the other Gemini owners that I know also have had the level indicators fail. It is not a huge problem. My tanks are transparent so I can see the fuel level in the tanks. My friends who have black non-transparent tanks use a wooden stick—which can be inserted down the fill hose.   More...

Testing for a Life at Sea

Mahina Tiare, a Hallberg-Rassy 46 built in 1996, rounds Cape Horn. The boat underwent a complete refit earlier this year.

Without the keen eye of experts who know what to look for, product testing can offer only a partial picture. The insight gained through hard won experience becomes more valuable at sea, which is why this month’s issue focusing on offshore sailing turns to four noted experts for advice on topics ranging from gear selection, to weather forecasting, to boat maintenance.   More...