February 2018

New Trends in Sailing Safety Gear

Participants in the Storm Trysail Club’s Safety at Sea Seminar at SUNY Maritime Institute practice crew overboard recovery using a Lifesling II during on-the-water training. Such exercises have resulted in improved crew safety awareness.

Subscribers Only — Safety at sea has become more than a noteworthy slogan. Many feel it defines the right game plan and gear choice to ensure a favorable outcome in challenging conditions. But at Practical Sailor, we also recognize its role in incident prevention, and we understand why one’s boat handling ability, navigation competency, weather awareness, and sound decision-making are just as important as the gear in the grab bag—perhaps even more so.   More...

Undoing Mainsheet Twist

1. The main sheet tackle runs true with becket swivel locked. 2. A twist-tie locks the swivel. 3. Multi-purchase blocks like these on the dinghy davits love to get twisted.

What kind of line do you use in your davit tackle? My lines keep twisting, chafing, and jamming. The ropes run crooked in the blocks no matter how often I restring them,” asks Sailor One.   More...

Unsung Hero: Aluminum Tape

There are many varieties of aluminum tape, our favorite is Nashua Tape #324A.

Duct tape, parachute cord, and cable ties. We carry a boat full of tools and spare parts, but these three make every sailor’s list of indispensables for temporary repairs. We’ve reviewed conventional duct tape (“If you Can’t Duct it, Tough Duct it,” Practical Sailor, December 2009), self-bonding tapes (“Atomic Tape,” PS, December 2005), and gaffers tape, but somehow skipped over foil duct tape. It does a few things ordinary duct tape just can’t.   More...

Budget Binnacle Pod

Many sailors want to tuck an additional instrument display or autopilot control at the binnacle, but just don’t have the space. Seaview offers a very compact enclosure just right for this purpose. The Seaview SPOD is designed for adding a modern low-profile instrument display, autopilot, or other accessory to your sailboat helm. The SPOD is designed to be mounted either to the side of an existing chartplotter-sized enclosure or directly onto stainless rail.   More...

Testing the B&G Zeus3 Nav System

The Zeus3 and Triton2 displays on the companionway hood let crew know if they are getting maximum performance.

Subscribers Only — Multifunction display manufacturers have pushed their products through a dramatic evolution in the last five years as they try to keep pace with technology that we take for granted in our other electronics. Better interfaces, screen resolution, and the ability to download useful software apps (beyond navigation) are just some of the improvements. Most of the major vendors are on their third generation of touchscreen interfaces, higher resolution displays, downloadable software, remote music control, and other functions far afield of what MFD’s performed five years ago.   More...

Folding vs. Feathering Props

Amanda Neal checks the feathering mechanism on the Max-Prop (left). The Max-Prop had excellent stopping power, but needed rebuilding three times in 18 years. The Flexofold (right) was sized to match the new smaller 75-horsepower engine.

For the past 40 years we’ve sailed an average of 10,000 miles annually between Australia, Alaska, Antarctica and Spitsbergen motoring or motorsailing between 400 and 600 hours, depending on the area – more hours in high latitudes of Antarctica and the Arctic, fewer in the tropical trade winds.   More...

Quick and Safe Sail Cleaning

Subscribers Only — It can be a rust stain caused by a loop of chain that spent the winter lying on a sail. Perhaps a bird crawled under the sail cover and built a nest, pooping on the sail for weeks. Laminate sails present a particularly vexing problems, since mildew likes the adhesive that bond the layers, resulting in stain that is sealed between waterproof layers. Some of these just look bad (rust stains), but others can slowly weaken a sail (mildew in the laminate adhesive). But in all cases, overly aggressive cleaning can make things even worse, weakening the sail more than the mildew ever would.   More...

Mailport: Renting Adventure and Risk

IchorCoal suffered two unfortunate fatalities in the Clipper Ventures 2015-2016 race.

As a long-term subscriber to Practical Sailor, and a former Clipper Round the World crewmember on the 2015/2016 race onboard IchorCoal, I needed to respond to your “Risk Management and Renting Adventure” article recently published (PS, January 2017 online). Your normal review articles on all things sailing have always been done with a very even-handed manner, providing your readers the information we need to make decisions on spending dollars and time on our sailboats. In my opinion, in the subject article, you have strayed away from the pure professional presentations and presented incomplete and damning comments specifically about the Clipper Round the World Race and its owner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.   More...

What About GlowFast Tethers?

In response to your request regarding safety tether knowledge or suggestions (see “Safety Tether Warning,” Inside Practical Sailor) please test and include information about Glowfast’s HLR Safety Line system.   More...

Which Bottom Paint for a Watertender?

I have a West Marine Watertender 9.4 with a polyethylene hull (versus polypropylene for the Walker Bays) and am wondering if there is an anti-fouling paint that is suitable. Looking through the product info for both, the manufacturers both claim that the plastics are slippery enough to not need paint, however, the plastic wrap (unknown material) on the wooden pilings on my own docks in Florida have marine growth on them, so I suspect the same will happen with my Watertender (currently stored on the dock).There are conflicting reports/opinions on various forums as to if there is a paint that would actually stick to the hull, as well as potentially damage the plastic.   More...

Educating the Sailor: Start Small

A slide from one of U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (ret.) Mark “Buzz” Buzby safety talks. Buzby emphasized the importance of incremental seamanship.

Learning to sail is simple. Thousands of youngsters perfect the essential small-boat skills over the course of a summer. Mastering the art of crossing an ocean in small boat is a different story. Sure, we read about clueless individuals setting out in ramshackle boats making 1,000-mile crossings. The ocean, especially in tropical seas, is not nearly as foreboding as it might seem to the average landlubber.   More...