September 2018

What Chain Connector Will Fit My Gypsy?

A galvanized G-100 Omega link is used to connect high-strength G-70 chain to a properly matched Grade-B screw pin shackle. The chain and Omega link have been Galvanized using Armorgalv.

Regarding your recent article on joining chain segments, I’ve been coastal cruising from Canada to Panama since 1983, and continuously since 2005. I have wondered about using a single 5/16-inch shackle, which will connect two lengths of 3/8-inch, G-43 chain. The Crosby top of the line 5/16-inch will go around the gypsy pretty well. I tried it, but I am reluctant to use it. Any thoughts?   More...

Inspecting Rivets and Screws for Trouble

One of the interesting conclusions from our testing was the surprising strength among all of the test fasteners when loaded in the shear. Even old fasteners, as old as 20 years or more, can continue to offer good service in small spars if maintained reasonably well and engineered with an adequate safety margin.   More...

How to Tap and Rivet Into A Sailboat Spar

The riveter and rivet need to be properly aligned in order to ensure maximum clench strength.

Single taps cost about $15, though you will need a handle. A small set (#8 through ¼-inch) sells for about $60. Carbon steel taps are fine for aluminum. High speed steel is required for stainless steel. Chose “starting” taps for typical through-threading work. Taper and bottoming taps are used sequentially for blind holes and are harder to start.   More...

A Riveting Report: Spar Fasteners

Each rivet’s tolerance for fit is small. Accurate measurement with a micrometer before buying will help ensure you purchase the correct size.

Subscribers Only — Every sailor eventually feels the pull to add hardware to their spars. Maybe a piece of hardware has broken off, or the fasteners look suspect. Or you perhaps you want to add mast steps, or a cheek block for external reefing.   More...

Ground Tackle Inspection Tips

Boats that spend a lot of time at anchor or on a mooring are particularly vulnerable, as the key inspection points are underwater. Anchor, rode, or mooring failures resulted in several boats being driven ashore in Florida during Tropical Storm Debbie in 2012.

Your anchoring system is only as strong as its weakest component, which includes not only the rode, but also shackles, splices, mooring bitts, cleats – in short, any gear used to secure your boat while at anchor. Proper maintenance includes inspection of these as well as laying the rode out for thorough examination at least annually.   More...

The Penny-Pinching PhD Sailor

A smaller, working marina may not be immaculate, but it’s affordable. Slips at working marinas and private slips often lease at a fraction of the rates for “yacht” yards.

Subscribers Only — A key principle, at least from my perspective as an engineer, is knowing your boat. In 30 years of boat ownership, I’ve only used contractor services for major sail work, new canvas (only because I’ve never taken the time to learn), and hauling out. As a result, I know my boat inside out; that’s a good feeling, an important part of seamanship, a blessing when something goes bust on a cruise, and a big help when time is available but funds are thin.   More...

Anti-Corrosion Bags Live Up to Claims, But So Does Ziploc

Our testers estimated that the exposure test was the equivalent of five years of exposure aboard a boat. Although the test demonstrated that a DIY solution using sandwich bags can nearly match performance, it also demonstrated that the makers claims of five years of protection could, in practice, be accurate.   More...

Reviving Fuel Filter Beads — Again and Again

Pink silica beads gradually turn to blue as they are warmed over a gas grill.

We wished they could be as maintenance free as the carbon canister on your car, but they lack the regeneration cycles programmed into your car. The makers say the silica gel resin should be replaced annually, but Practical Sailor testers have found that three years is about right for diesel and five years for E-10 gasoline.   More...

No-Rust Bags? A Bit of a Bust.

Coupons after. The center row (Dry Top) was virtually unchanged, while the others (anti-rust bags) showed signs of corrosion.

Subscribers Only — Cleaner than coil and grease coatings, these bags protect areas that are hard to reach. Additionally, the protective coating does not need to be removed, since it is very thin and will slowly evaporate once the part is removed from the bag.   More...

Clearing the Air Around Odor Testing

After several rounds of chemical testing for holding tanks, we have got this stink detection down to a science. Because the masking chemicals are more effective in in port-a-potty applications, there is only one true measure of effectiveness: whether the toilet still stinks after it is “flushed.“   More...

Controlling Porta Potty Odor

Marine port-a-potties have a sealed chamber below the bowl where waste can be stored. A few models allow for a semi-permanent installation including a vent, which would permit the enzyme-based chemicals to work better.

Subscribers Only — Another consideration is that many day sailors avoid using the boat’s head at all, often going for many months at a time without needing it. When it is used, once in a blue moon, is it worth the hassle of hauling it home to clean it out, knowing that most likely it will not be used for another 3 months? When Katrina hit New Orleans, the Red Cross handed out WAG (waste alleviation and gel) bags by the thousands to provide an emergency option. We’ve been living with these too, evaluating them as an option for small boats.   More...

Weather & Navigation Seminars Set for October 2018

PS Editor Ralph Naranjo will be teaching two courses in Annapolis, MD this fall.

On October 9-10, he’ll be conducting a 2-day introduction to celestial navigation. The course covers introduction to the basic skills required for celestial navigation. Topics include introduction to taking a sun sights with a sextant, reading time and arc, using sight reduction tables (Publication 229), reducing sights by calculator, and identifying celestial bodies.   More...

Mailport: Tourniquets at Sea

Anthony Foglio’s classic Tartan 37 is well equipped for medical emergencies.

Add a tourniquet to your first aid kit and know how to use correctly — it is less likely to accidentally loosen or inflict additional tissue damage. For further training, I would refer you to the American Red Cross, they have a Basic and Advanced First Aid certification, and along with the American Heart Association offer classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).   More...

What You Have Now is Probably Enough

A U.S. government wartime poster extolling the virtures of frugal living applies well to the sailing life. The creater was Robert Gwathmey, an American artist who died 1988.

While product testing is a central part of the Practical Sailor’s aim, it is hardly the whole mission. Those who have been with us long enough understand that many of the topics that we have covered over the past 44 years aren’t directly related to a specific product or category of products. Our online archives, now reaching back almost 20 years, are packed with a variety of do-it-yourself articles, tips on maintenance, and advice on how sailors can become more self-sufficient.   More...