September 2017

Compact Scuba Kits for Sailors

Applying grease to the folding prop is made easier with a portable compressed air kit.

In general, many cruisers prefer the freedom of snorkeling to scuba diving, yet there are situations when extending the time you can spend underwater becomes a safety issue.   More...

2017 Top Sailing Gear

The Pontos Grinder winch, above far right, and the Selden reversing winch, below, brought innovative features into the winch mix.

Subscribers Only — Each year, just prior to the fall boat show season, Practical Sailor editors consult with our testers to come up with a select list of Gear of the Year from the previous 12 months of testing. For most of the 2016-2017 testing season we focused on essential “everyday” products that owners of boats of all sizes—with a few exceptions—rely on. While our testers appreciate new technology, they recognize that a safe passage often depends on the reliability of the weakest link, and that weakest link is often a seemingly minor component that gets little attention. In short, our Editors’ Choice list is not the sexiest product roundup, but if you’re serious about keeping your electrical connections corrosion free, making professional repairs on a blue-collar budget, maintaining a safe speed in a steep following sea, or looking for a way to manage a big genoa without upgrading to an electric winch, you’ll appreciate it.   More...

Riding the Wireless Technology Wave

1. The WiriePro allows sailors to connect to the internet via cellular or WiFi. 2. Testers sea-trialed the “black box” Vesper XB-8000 (below) against the all-in one WatchMate. 3. The Calypso Cups 4.0 wind sensor delivers wind data via a user-friendly app.

Subscribers Only — A number of the electronic devices that we tested this year are wireless products that interface with smart phones and tablet computers. Many of these products will also connect with the ship’s existing marine networks (NMEA) and hardware, and we encourage using these more robust connections for long-term cruising.   More...

Top Sailing Products to Keep You Safe on the Water

1. The Galerider delivered the most consistent control in our drogue tests (top). 2. Mustang’s dry suit rose to the top.

Subscribers Only — We looked at a wide range of safety equipment over the past 12 months, and three products stood out as exceptional among their peers.   More...

Enticing Gifts and Gadgets for Sailors

Subscribers Only — While the keep-it-simple-sailor philosophy underlies our selection process, we do stumble upon products that, although far from necessary, fulfill their primary mission: incite an urge to splurge. If you have a sailor on your gift list who seems attracted to gadgets, bags, and cool apparel, here are three of our testers’ favorites.   More...

The Best Respirators for the Boatyard

It is important to match the respirator cartridge with the chemical and concentration. Vapors from some household cleaners and solvents can approach hazardous levels below decks. Active ventilation with fans and blowers can help reduce the risk.

Subscribers Only — Athough falling off a ladder or cutting yourself with a sharp tool are the most common boatyard injuries, damage from the foul air we breathe is more insidious. Marine paints contain solvents that can make you dizzy at best or increase cancer risk at worst. Dust from sanding wood is usually only a nuisance, but sanding bottom paint or grinding fiberglass presents serious health risks. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of industrial experience with contaminated air…   More...

Regalvanizing G70 Chain

The above image challenges the theory that high tensile G70 chain is brittle after regalvanizing. The regalvanized samples (top and bottom) have been tested to break. They stretched 20 percent before failing, more than some G30 chain does before failing.

As high tensile G70 chain becomes more prevalent in the marine market, Practical Sailor has been busy testing the limits of this material, which has been used for many years in other industries. One question we have raised in the past is whether G70 chain can be safely regalvanized (see PS June 2014, “Making Sense of Marine Chain Standards”). Chain is expensive and regalvanizing helps to extend its life. If G70 chain can’t be regalvanized, as we have suggested in the past, this needs to be factored into the initial cost.   More...

Fixing Tears in Sunbrella Boat Canvas

We tested five products for the ability to quickly repair holes and torn seams in canvas, such as those in an awning or dodger.

Subscribers Only — Sooner or later, chafe, UV rays, and sharp edges take their toll on our canvas. A misplaced screw or simple friction will eat holes in a dodger. A seam gives up, a boom rubs through the fabric, and a few snaps come loose.   More...

Mailport: The Ideal Dog?

In the January 2007 issue (available online), Practical Sailor tested PFDs for dogs.

In response to your recent blog post on Inside Practical Sailor regarding dogs on boats, we’ve had two schipperkes aboard more than a half dozen boats for the past 25 years, and they’ve been everything we could ask for in boat dogs. Smart, attentive, loving, mischief-loving, and, did I say smart? Katy, who lived to 13, and Dory, who is 121/2 and still going strong, have been ideal boat dogs for my wife and I.   More...

Rebuilding a Water-Damaged Torqeedo Motor

The original Travel 801L we tested in 2008 (since replaced by the Travel 1003) is still operating.

We’re been following the Torqeedo portable electric outboard since our first test of the Travel 801 in 2008. Since then, we’ve put two of these motors into long-term service on test boats. Both are still operating with no major problems, but we have received a few reports from disappointed owners. PS reader John Poindexter, a retired naval officer who sails on the Chesapeake Bay, sent us an account of his experience with the Torqeedo.   More...

Getting Rid of Impossible Bird Poop Stains

Applying grease to the folding prop is made easier with a portable compressed air kit.

I honestly hope you can help. Several weeks ago local seagulls had a sushi feast on my boat. The leftovers were large and small and mostly on non-skid. When I got to the boat I cleaned up whatever I could pick up, but the sun-baked stains remained. I’ve tried whatever I possibly could including Barkeeper’s Friend and Total Boat White Knight. They both have oxalic acid as main ingredient. It stayed there for 30-40 minutes, I didn’t touch it. Next I got oxalic acid as powder and made my own very strong mix. Again, no major effect. Next, In desperation, I broke out 3000 PSI power washer, which again didn’t remove the stains. My marine biologist friend said to try Draino.   More...

Making a Safe Landfall

During passages in the Pacific aboard Tosca, we aimed for morning landfalls, allowing plenty of daylight hours to navigate the reef passes.

I feel for the crew of Tanda Malaika, a family of six whose 46-foot Leopard catamaran was lost on a reef on the southwest corner of Huahine in French Polynesia in July this year. The loss is especially acute because, as the captain himself points out, it could have been avoided. The account of the wreck, provided by the skipper/owner Dan Govatos, and recorded in the podcast “Slow Boat Sailing” offers important lessons for cruising sailors.   More...