July 2018

Anti-Seize Coatings for Spars

Tapping into our test spar exposed unprotected metal, inviting corrosion.

Subscribers Only — If you’ve ever been humbled by a single impossibly stuck fastener, or plan on adding hardware to your spar, running gear, or deck, this report on anti-seize protectants is right up your alley.   More...

Knee Pads and Braces for Sailors

Range of motion is essential for a good brace, which should not inhibit your ability to move around the deck. This is a custom-fitted brace from Don Joy.

Subscribers Only — Battered sailors make good test subjects, especially when we are talking about gear to preserve our joints and appendages. That is why we sent technical editor Drew Frye and his surgically repaired knee out into the world of orthopedic accessories for sailors.   More...

Fenders and Lines for Seawalls

A Davis fender undergoes compression testing. Inflation should be around 5 psi.

Subscribers Only — To the lubber, tying-up to a bulkhead seems like the simplest of all docking situations. Perhaps with floating docks this is true. You just throw in a few fenders and tie a few lines. Simple. But in the world of tidal bulkheads with pilings or rough concrete facings, it is often a hammer and anvil situation, with the wind and waves hammer incessantly as the anvil moves up and down with the tide, causing fenders to slip out of position.   More...

Dodging a Bullet When Caught on Bulkhead

Subscribers Only — The following is aimed primarily at boats that are unable to leave an alongside dock or bulkhead before wind and seas become dangerous. Any fetch beyond 200 yards is dangerous, and there may be nothing you can do to protect the boat. However, if you are in a protected marina, well up a creek, and the storm is moderate, these actions can help. Just remember that low breakwaters will be overtopped, wooden breakwaters fall apart, other boats will come loose, and there will be lumber in the water from broken docks.   More...

Make Your Own Rugged Fender Boards

This 2 by 6-inch board is 5-feet long and has worked well on a 34-foot cat. If the boat moves more, a longer board is needed.

Subscribers Only — We described a simple home–built version several years ago (Practical Sailor, December 2011); here we present a few simple upgrades on the same basic design, allowing for simpler deployment, better fender retention, and more stable positioning. Pressure treated lumber provides inexpensive durability.   More...

Make A Tie-down Strop

Made from recycled rope you already have, the adjustable strop can be used to secure gear or equipment on deck or below.

After hundreds of years of seafaring, there shouldn’t be any new rope tricks. Then new high-strength materials like Amsteel came along, suggesting new applications for old-school knot craft. The age-of-sail strop morphed into the versatile the soft shackle (see “Going Soft on Shackles,” April 2015). Racing sailors employ it to eliminate weight aloft, and cruisers like the economy and versatility. We’ve found good uses for soft shackles on jib sheets and ground tackle, but the strop is also alive and well, securing tarps and gear. The best part is you can make them from old rope, costing nothing.   More...

DIY Fishing Gear for Sailors

Fishing accessories, from left: Twin holders clamped to an old outboard bracket, holder screwed into dinghy transom, the handy outrigger clip.

We reviewed clamp-on rod holders a few years in the past, but found them expensive (see PS October 2006). Fortunately, there are alternatives that can save hundreds of dollars and be installed in an afternoon. Less shiny, but functional.   More...

Sailboat Sea Trial

Raise all sails and check the material and stitching for wear.

A test sail is a great way to weed out the painted vixens before spending your hard earned cash on a marine survey. Sure, you could ride around with a Mimosa in one hand while the broker regales you with tales of far away, exotic lands, but a smarter move would be to approach your test sail with planning and a critical eye. Here’s how to glean as much info as possible about your potential purchase during a test sail.   More...

Cetol Versus Teak Sealer

After just six months, the six coats of Daly’s Seafin Teak sealer (second and fourth panel from left) had broken down. The Cetol—just three coats and without gloss—also was ready for recoating.

I own a 42-foot Pearson 424 with lots of bright work. I’ve absolutely had it with Cetol! There must be something that is easier to use than this. It forms a dark coating after a few years and begins to peel in splotches. Then you have to remove it, clean the teak, and start over. Oh, the stuff goes on clear so if you spill a drop on your gelcoat, you can’t see it until it ambers. Once that happens, you can never get it off. I’m trying Semco Natural. I tried a small area a couple of years ago and so far have had good luck. While it isn’t as durable as Cetol, it doesn’t build-up.   More...

Mailport: Iron vs. Lead Ballast Keel

On the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, in a small foundry run by an American expat, steel railroad ties are melted into ballast for the Cabo Rico 38. The photo was taken during the 1970s by Key West songwriter, artist and author Ben Harrison, whose book “Sailing Down the Mountain” recounts the early days of the Costa Rican boatbuilding industry and other adventures on land and sea.

Subscribers Only — In response to your recent blog post discussing ballast keel material (Inside Practical Sailor, “Lead vs. Iron Ballast,”) Cabo Rico switched from steel to lead ballast castings with the first 38 Pilot model to make more space for the engine which moved forward on that model. This change also included the first Cabo Rico 34 and all Cabo Rico 38 models, as of 1989. However, the key factor with the older…   More...

Seacock Thru-Hull Caution

Silicone bronze (left) and Marelon (right) are fit for use as marine seacocks according to the American Boat and Yacht Council. Beware of alloys containing zinc. Note the mounting flanges, and backing plates for each. The Starboard backing plate (left) is much weaker in compression than the hand-laminated fiberglass plate (right), which features a bevelled edge to dissipate point loads. We compared backing materials and designs in the August 2016 report, “How Big Does a Backing Plate Need to Be?”

Regarding your DIY Inspection and Maintenance (May 2018) letter from the Beneteau Oceanis 38 owner. We, too, own an Oceanis 38, built in 2014 in Marion, South Carolina. We purchased our yacht from a Beneteau dealer in Texas in December, 2016. We were the first owners, our yacht having resided in the water two years unsold. Just before our first haul out, I noticed corrosion on the raw-water intake through-hull for our AC unit. It turns out that all six seacocks on our yacht were in imminent danger of failure.   More...

Internet of Things Goes to Sea

A catamaran with a Signal K server (SK Server) is the hub for an information network that shares and uses data that the catamaran and other boats in its network are collecting. The cat’s network benefits from data streamed back to it via the Cloud.

Version 1.0.0 of Signal K, the Open Marine Data Standard has now been released, giving developers a stable platform to test and develop new “open-source” hardware and software for sailors.   More...

Sailing Camps for Kids

The Optimist fleet sets sail for another adventure on Sarasota Bay in Sarasota, FL.

This summer tens of thousands of children will take their first sail, with a friend or alone in their own little boat. They will sail away from the WiFi connection, the YouTube videos, and the remote control. It’s an experience that can change a life.   More...