December 2018

Cam Cleat Wisdom

Subscribers Only — Sailing is all about pulling and securing strings. For infrequent securing, a horn cleat works fine. Others are constantly tweaked and require something more responsive. Cam cleats have become the go-to tool when we need easy adjustment or instant release. But for the cam cleat to work as intended, an often overlooked component comes into the picture—the fairlead. Before you replace or add new cam cleats, consider the following fairlead options   More...

Repairing Plastic Tanks

Subscribers Only — Plastic holding tanks and water tanks have the advantage of not corroding, but they are hardly failure proof. Plastic holding tanks can crack and fail under extreme vacuum pressure if the vent is clogged. An errant drill or saw used to make adjacent repairs can puncture a tank. Or a poorly secured tank can be hurled across a cabin and crack.   More...

What About Polyethylene Fuel Tank Repairs?

Fuel tanks can’t be repaired due to the build up of surface oil. Fire is also a risk.

Subscribers Only — Fixed tanks are generally safe from the sun, buried in the bowels of the ship. But jerry cans are often kept on deck, scorched by UV from the sun. They take a beating, hauled back and forth in the dinghy. Seams split and bottoms wear. Sunbrella covers can last for a decade at least, keeping the cans strong.   More...

Sailing Gifts for 2018

Solavore

No one really wants just practical gifts, so we’ve tried to locate a few items that go beyond pure utility for this holiday season.   More...

Sailing Harness Leg Loops

Front and back views of our re-engineered safety harness includes several features adapted from climbing harnesses.

Subscribers Only — Recent fatalities involving racing sailors raised a long-simmering concern we’ve had regarding the harness and tether design, and the shortcomings of current design when used aboard boats that cruise at double-digit speeds. Although these harness and tethers might keep a sailor from going overboard, the impact loads transmitted via the harness and tether can exceed what the human body can endure (see “Building a Custom Safety Tether,” PS December 2017).   More...

Leg Straps Put the Load on Fanny

Considering the short comings of existing leg loops for harnesses, we designed an add-on set of leg loops that can transform any ISO 12401 chest harness into a harness capable of safely distributing the force of a epic fall, without adding significant weight and without inhibiting wearer moment.   More...

Working with High-Tech Ropes

One of Dyneema’s most useful attributes is its slipperiness, which makes it well suited for multi-purchase setups that incorporate low-friction rings.

Subscribers Only — If you are working with low friction rings, sooner or later you’re going to work with Amsteel and other high molecular polyethylene (HMPE) ropes, and that means learning to splice-in rings.   More...

Splicing a Polyethylene Cover

Extremely low friction allows Amsteel and other high molecular weight polyethylene (HMPE) lines to run like lightening through low friction rings. Unfortunately, they also run right through cleats, jammers, and your hands. If a jammer did hold—and it won’t—the load would probably exceed the capacity of any device that matched the line’s tiny size.   More...

Splice Failure Linked to Fatality

Instead of using two independent strops to handle the load off the preventer, the rigger on Ichor Coal used single long strop with low friction rings eye-spliced at each end. A Brummel lock (see image above) was added to keep the strop in place on the bow fitting where the strop was secured. This type of Brummel can only hold about 40-60 percent of the breaking strength of the line. In addition, the preventer was led at a very acute angle to the boom (see PS June 2017, "The Best Prevention is a Preventer")

On the 4th of September 2015, Andrew Ashman was killed during an accidental jibe, when the boom delivered a fatal injury to the base of his neck. The boat, CV21 Ichor Coal, had been running in strong conditions, and yawing allowed the wind to get on the wrong side of the mainsail, as occasionally happens. A preventer was rigged, but a strop securing a low friction ring turning block near the bow failed, allowing the boom to cross the cockpit unrestrained. On such highly engineered boats, how did this happen?   More...

Mailport: Marelon Seacocks

Moya-Manzi, a Beneteau Oceanis 321 owned by reader Mark Corson enjoys a downwind run on Lake Erie.

Regarding your recent report on Seacocks (“Beneteau Responds to Seacock Query,” PS August 2018) I owned a 1987 Catalina 30, Mark II. It had four gate valves instead of seacocks.   More...

Steering Equipment Inspection

We found this chafed Dyneema steering cable on a brand new $700K boat at the US Boat Show. It appears that play in the cable has allowed it to rub against the bulkhead. As we pointed out in the November 2018 issue, Dyneema’s chafe resistance isn’t great, and is certainly worse than wire, which is traditionally used for this purpose.

They were off the coast of Bequia in the Grenadines, near the end of a breezy passage on a 34-foot cruising sloop. Just as the boat reached past a rocky point, trouble struck. The steering wheel suddenly turned freely in the skipper’s hand.   More...

A Sure Way to Secure the Boom

A brace line opposite the sheet holds the boom steady. In gale conditions, the booms should be secured at deck level, preferably with sails removed.

When the wind really blows, the pleasant chiming of a marina takes on a different character. Above the howling of the wind is the “Devil’s Tattoo,” the racket of one hundred poorly-secured halyards hammering against aluminum. Booms creak from side-to-side, and some pound against stays. Workers are distracted and anyone living aboard wishes his neighbors had taken a few small steps to preserve the peace, not to mention their rig.   More...