March 2018

Penny Pincher Pawl Lube

Our test lineup pitted some familiar automotive products against popular name-brand marine products.

Subscribers Only — Winch pawls require a different lube the rest of the winch. The only time they are moving is under practically no load, clicking along the ratchet wheel until the handle stops turning. A heavy packing of grease can stick and prevent full engagement, resulting in broken pawls, gouged ratchet wheels, and in the worse case, crew injury when the handle spins backwards.   More...

Safety Tethers Under Scrutiny

Our test of snap hooks compared newer aluminum alloy designs to the flat-plate stainless steel clip sailors have used for decades.

Subscribers Only — On November 18, 2017, Simon Speirs, an experienced sailor, went overboard while at the bow assisting with a headsail change on a Clipper Round the World Boat CV30. It was blustery, with sustained winds of 20 knots, gusting to 40 knots. Shortly after he went overboard, his safety tether detached and he was separated from his boat. His body was recovered 34 minutes later. The cause of death has not been determined but drowning is the suspected cause. While such accidents are tragic, they offer a chance to re-evaluate equipment standards within a real-world context.   More...

MAIB Safety Advisory Warns Tether Users

Subscribers Only — The sailing yacht CV30 was taking part in the third leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race having left Cape Town on 31 October 2017 bound for Fremantle, Western Australia.   More...

Climbing Gear Standards Guide Test Protocol

Subscribers Only — Testers used lab and field tests to evaluate each clipís functionality, strength, and durability. After inspecting several sailboats to evaluate potential caribiner-benders and how we might replicate the loads, we returned to the lab and began pull-testing carabiners. The test data in the accompanying table resulted from tests that were modeled after those used to verify CE (European standard) and UIAA (climbing gear standards) specifications. All pull tests were carried out at a steady pull rate of about 2 inches per minute. These included the following tests...   More...

Sticky Luff Track Cure

Depending on how dirty the sail track is, you may have to make several passes.

Racers demand lightning-fast hoists. Cruisers tire of the effort required to grind a heavy main up a sticky track. Roller furler foils that have been left vacant over the winter can always do with a quick clean and lube before hoisting the genoa. But how can we accomplish this with minimal effort, without climbing the mast? Although it seems like the most common of tasks, the local chandlery doesnít carry what we need, and itís slim pickings on the internet. Even calls to sailmakers and lube vendors yielded sparse information. Oddly, patents abound, but no products.   More...

The DIY Track Cleaner Digs Deep into Groove

The simplest cleaning tool is a two-foot section of luff tape or prefabricated bolt rope. Place a grommet in each end, close to the tape but not so close that it can bind in the groove (3/16-inch clearance).   More...

Solar Panel Sense

Supporting rigid panels only at the corners on anything but a very stiff structure can reduce the lifespan of the panel.

Subscribers Only — Movies can be corny, but Jack Sparrow nicely summarized the romance of sailing: ďThatís what a ship is, you know. Itís not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, thatís what a ship needs but what a ship is ... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom.Ē   More...

Securing Your Solar Panels

Subscribers Only — The simplest mounting method for rigid panels is directly to the deck using z-brackets, studs, or glue-on brackets. If mounting to frame above davits or a Bimini top run ľ-inch x 2-inch aluminum bar crosswise under the panel, attach it to the factory-supplied mounting holes, and then attach with rail clamps or brackets (photos 1 & 2).   More...

Mailport: Seawind Treasure Trove

The lovely Thomas Gilmer-designed Seawind is a much beloved and solid cruiser.

Seakindly with sweet lines and good bones, the 30-foot Allied Seawind remains for me the benchmark of a good small bluewater sailboat. Designed by Thomas Gilmer and launched in 1960, 161 of these sturdy vessels were produced by the end of the run in 1973. That was the same year I bought my own Seawind, hull #122, built in 1969. I had no idea at the time that I would still be sailing the same boat 44 years later.   More...

Caring for Seacocks

A neglected seacock is a ticking bomb.

Considering the excitement a failed seacock can generate, the lack of attention they typically receive is almost criminal. Tucked away in the dim recesses of your bilge, seacocks typically donít get a second thought with regards to preventative maintenance or inspections ó until they fail to operate or even break off in your hand during operation (it happens, Iíve seen it, and it isnít pretty).   More...

Time to Review Tether Regs

Climbing carabiners, like the one shown here clipped into an ice anchor, are designed to resist extreme side loads. In our tests, some sailing tether hooks bent under relatively light side loads.

Like a car seatbelt, the snap hook on a sailorís safety tether has only one essential job to do. It must support the dynamic loads of a human body should a sailor fall overboard or get thrown across the deck to the end of his tether (about six feet). But late last year, when British sailor Simon Speirs was swept overboard during the Clipper Ventures Round the World Race, the resulting load bent and opened the stainless-steel snap hook that connected him to the 70-foot racing yacht CV-30.   More...