November 2017

ITR Stands Behind its Hurricane Hydronic Heater

Three and a half years ago I had a Hurricane hydronic heater installed on our 1969 Grand Banks 32, Athena. Compared to our prior Espar hydronic heater, I have been exceedingly pleased with the Hurricane. It has been completely reliable and it is very easy to service. Recently though, after the unit was out of warranty, the fuel pump failed after 300 hours of use. The Hurricane technician who replaced the failed fuel pump indicated that normally the fuel pumps last much longer, generally 3,000 to 5,000 hours.   More...

Trouble-Free Winter Sailing

As if meeting an invisible wall, the ice around a Chesapeake Bay marina is held at bay by a series of underwater bubblers.

For most sailors the off-season begins on Labor Day, which is a shame because fall brings the best sailing of the year in many of parts of the country. Of course, extending the season also brings the risk of snow and ice on deck.   More...

Sail Repair Tapes vs. Glues

We tested five products for the ability to quickly repair holes and torn seams in sails, such as this blown-out spinnaker.

Subscribers Only — Sail repairs are a fact of life for the sailor. A stray cotter pin can shred a spinnaker. Perhaps the mainsail luff could use some chafe protection, or the genoa sun cover is flapping. Often, a trip to the sailmaker isn’t justified for these repairs. The sail is too old to take stitching without further weakening the material, or you simply want to delay that repair until the end of the season. Perhaps you’re on a cruise and would rather wait. A sewn repair is generally the gold standard, but some tears better-fixed with a patch.   More...

The DIY Sail Repair Kit

A herringbone stitch on a small tear requires no glue or patch, but taping over it will surely prolong the life of the repair.

Subscribers Only — If you’re going to sail you’ll be doing some stitching. No two ways about it. Don’t jump into the $100 do-everything kit. Start with a modest kit, adding tools and materials only as your skills grow and projects require them. You already have most of what you need in your other supply lockers or tool boxes. Study a good book on sail and canvas repair, concoct a few small projects for practice.   More...

Short Scope Anchor Test

What goes down, must come up. A reluctance to lay adequate scope is often influenced by the work required to bring it back up.

Subscribers Only — In the process of our ongoing investigation on the effect of time and wind gusts on anchor setting and holding capacity, we performed limited testing at short scope and couldn’t help but notice that holding capacity at short scope varied greatly. When recovering the test anchors, some anchors would lift out of the bottom while we were pulling the dinghy over to them, while others required heroic efforts even when the rode was nearly vertical.   More...

Stopping Anchor Chain Twist

Ensuring your chain is aligned in the locker makes it easier to prevent twist.

When an anchored boat spins, the anchor chain twists, and the anchor can come up backward. One solution is an anchor swivel, but failures with some poor designs are a concern—a lovely stainless swivel on one of our test boats had an interior crack that became visible only when disassembled. And as we found in our most recent test, many swivels aren’t very effective at reducing twist due to the inherent friction in the swivel.(see “How Well Do Swivels Reduce Twist,” Practical Sailor March 2016 online).   More...

Setting an Anchor in a Small Boat

The model we used to calculate loads that can aid deeper setting was based on data collected during small anchor testing, manufacturer data, U.S. Navy testing, and data collected during previous large anchor tests such as this one in February 2013.

Subscribers Only — In our ongoing study of ways to compare, and hopefully improve the way our anchors set, we’ve learned that it takes time and slow, delayed setting to make best advantage of very soft mud. However, firm sand and weeds can have the opposite character—making it hard for the anchor to penetrate.   More...

Mailport: Beauty of a Wood-trimmed Boat

Bruce Bolster’s companionway hatch on his C&C 30 reflects his affection for wood trim.

Regarding your recent blog post on the future of wood on boats (see “Farewell to the Wood-trimmed Boat?” Inside Practical Sailor blog), my last boat was a beautiful, cold-molded (West System) custom 26-footer designed by Gary Mull. It was built by the very talented late Jim McClelland of McClelland Boatworks in Kenora, Ontario.   More...

Sleep Routines for Long Passages

All the preparations for night sailing should be made well before dusk.

The US Navy has finally gotten around to a serious study of watch standing schedules (https://goo.gl/dE4W4R). As an active duty Navy Medical Officer, I certainly saw enough injuries related to sleep deprivation; fortunately, none were as disastrous as the recent collisions. I am glad to see the navy move away from a centuries old approach to scheduling watches.   More...

One Failure Can Ruin a Fleet

A motoryacht broke loose from its slip and careened into Shake-A-Leg Miami’s docks and boats in Coconut Grove, FL.

Two different harbors suffered almost the same fate as Hurricane Irma raked South Florida with hurricane force winds. In both places, tens of thousands of dollars in damage might have been prevented had the owners of large vessels better secured their boats.   More...