May 2018

Carving Out Cores

A modified roofing nail is perhaps the most versatile tool for removing core when sealing fastener holes. It is much easier to control than bent nails or cut-down allen keys, which can jump around as they spin. Core removal is more uniform. Wood chips are finer and easier to remove. It is faster than a Dremel cutter and undercuts twice as far.   More...

Elastic Mooring Systems

Relying on bridle made of new 5/8-inch three-strand nylon and a back-up bridle (center, slack), Carolyn Shearlock’s 34-foot Gemini catamaran survived Hurricane Irma nearly unscathed. Unlike many other boats, the catamaran was not struck by another boat.

Subscribers Only — When Hurricane Irma plowed through the Florida Keys, it left behind both a trail of destruction and a wealth of information for us to learn from. One of the most instructional episodes took place at the municipal mooring field at Boot Key in Islamorada.   More...

Screw types prove their mettle in load testing.

Despite the proven holding power of embedment anchors like the Helix, relatively bulky weight-dependant moorings like the mushroom, concrete block, or Dor-Mor are prevalent in many mooring fields, particularly those established before embedment anchors fully entered the marketplace in the early 1990s.

The mechanics at work at the other end of your mooring line matter as much as the mooring line and pendant. In 2009, Practical Sailor reported on two pull tests held 12 years apart (See Mooring Anchors for Sensitive Seabeds,” Practical Sailor August 2009). We also reported on the results of a third test being carried out by contractors for the City of Sarasota, which at that time was about to become one of Florida’s seven pilot mooring fields. Boot Key Mooring Field, which took a near direct hit from Hurricane Irma in 2017, was another harbor participant in the program (see adjacent article).   More...

Most well-made cleats fit the bill, but beware.

Aluminum backing plates help spread the load. A four-bolt Herreshoff cleat is a traditional ally in a storm.

In the 90s, the Boat US Foundation performed a study of deck cleat strength. Testing was performed using 6-inch cleats of a number of materials and designs, which were pulled from several directions. The standard vendor recommendation is 1/16-inch of line size for each inch of cleat, so these cleats are recommended for use with 3/8-inch line (breaking strength 4,200 pounds, working load limit 525 pounds). All but the nylon cleat had working load limits (assume 4:1 safety factor for metals) greater than nylon rope. Most were nearly as strong as the rope, but only two were stronger than the rope in all directions. We can expect strength to go up roughly as the square of size, roughly matching rope strength as we go. Only a few broken cleats were noted among the boats damaged by Hurricane Irma. More commonly, the cleats pulled out of the deck.   More...

Freshwater Bottom Paint Test

Subscribers Only — We weren’t too surprised to learn that Irgarol 1051, an antifouling paint additive that last year was awaiting U.S. Environmental Protection Administration certification, has received approval to re-enter the market. As we reported last spring (see “Bottom Paint Update 2017,” Practical Sailor April 2017), Irgarol 1051’s manufacturer, BASF, had moved its manufacturing to Asia, and was waiting for its new foreign-sourced formula to be certified by the EPA. By 2016, nearly all of the major antifouling paint manufacturers in the U.S. had exhausted their reserves. Now Irgarol is back, which means there may be some confusion as to what secret sauce is boosting the performance of your top-shelf slime-resistant paint.   More...

A Stronger Screwhole Repair

Our test compared filler material for repairing screw holes (from left): silica, neat epoxy, and epoxy with fiberglass cloth.

Subscribers Only — The fastest way to attach light hardware to a cored deck is a self-tapping screw. It is also the fastest way to have hardware rip out of the deck and end up with a wet core and delaminated deck. But how to replace screws that have gotten loose or prevent a wet deck in your future? One method is to drill and over-sized hole, remove some core, fill the enlarged hole with epoxy, and then replace them with small through bolts (see “Spreading the Load” Practical Sailor, August 2016). But what if the backside is inaccessible? Can we create an improved repair by filling and reinstalling a self-tapping fastener, without major surgery? What sealing and filling material is best?   More...

Adding Yarn Telltales to Your Sail

Both the ribbons and yarn took a beating in the 60-mile-per-hour wind test, with the ribbon remaining more visible in low light.

Fixed wind indicators tell the direction of the wind relative to the boat, but it is the flow within a few inches of the sail that really matters (see “Top-notch Wind Indicators,” January 2018).   More...

How to Stitch a Yarn Telltale to Your Sail

The difference between the holes formed by the smaller #16 needle, left, and a #18 needle (right) are not great.

We tested three methods for threading yarn telltales; direct threading using a #18 sailmaker’s needle (0.080-inch), pulling through with upholstery thread using a #16 needle (0.061-inch), and pulling through using a large household sewing needle (0.034-inch). We used acrylic/wool blend yarn, 65-weight upholstery thread, and medium stiffness 6-ounce polyester sailcloth.   More...

Reading the Telltales on Your Sails

The inevitable disturbance at the leading edge of a partially furled genoa can be misinterpreted as a lapse in your trim adjustment.

Even the most laid-back cruiser has days when he would like to get there an hour sooner. But speed is not the only reason to fine-tune sail trim. Proper sail trim can often eliminate the noise of motoring. Properly trimmed sails last longer.   More...

Re-evaluating Eye-splice Thimbles

Dozens of spliced eyes in 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch rope were attached to 1/4-inch pins. The ropes always broke at or above the splice.

Subscribers Only — A great many sailors believe a splice intended for high loads is not complete until it is fitted with a thimble. Undoubtedly, a thick layer of steel provides the ultimate in abrasion resistance when attaching to a rusty, galvanized mooring shackle. And the thimble also increases the turning radius, which more evenly distributes the load among the fibers that make up the weave. But are thimbles best, and is a thimble best or even required in all circumstances? We are especially interested in strength.   More...

Mailport: Cleat Sense

The Herreshoff-style aluminum cleat on Mark Baldwin’s Sea Sprite 34 Ella broke during a storm, but it held in place. He is replacing both his bow cleats with silicone bronze cleat (top) from Spartan Marine.

Regarding your recent blog post on cleat strength (Inside PS blog “Striving for a Stronger Boat Cleat”), a stout-looking Herreshoff-style aluminum cleat on my 1984 Sea Sprite 34 failed while moored in a storm in Maine last fall. The wind and waves were strong enough to lay the boat on its beam ends, with bare poles. The aluminum failed near a 5/16-inch stainless bolt, but the other three bolts held, as did a similar cleat with a backup line to the mooring. Take the problem seriously: there was no obvious sign of failure before it broke, and had it been a two-bolt cleat I think the whole thing would have gone. I’m replacing both cleats with bronze cleats from Spartan Marine.   More...

Avoiding Fuel Trouble

Easy access is key to removing sludge, which will accumulate in a neglected tank, especially if water is present.

Diesel problems usually begin at the tank. Most fuel tanks more than 5-10 years old have accumulated a mix of water, live, or dead bacteria and algae, rust, etc. in the bottom. If possible, use up most of the fuel in your tank, remove the inspection port and visually inspect the bottom of the tank. You may be surprised. If you are confronted by black sludge or water, you’ll need to remove it to ensure you have a clean fuel supply.   More...

Choosing a Bottom Paint

Editor-at-large Dan Spurr closes in on his spring goal, two fresh coats of antifouling paint on his Pearson 36, August West.

This month's report on freshwater bottom paints is another reminder that the most effective paint in our testing might not always be the best for your circumstances or location.   More...