July 2019

Batteries, Cleaners & More

As a subscriber, you have free access to our back-issue archive—more than 2,000 articles. Here are a few topics you might find relevant this season.   More...

Form Won’t Matter if it Doesn’t Fit

Even the best helmet will fail if poorly fitted. Expect this to take some time. Measure your head and get the right size. Loose is no good, and too small will sit high or give you a headache.   More...

Protecting the Sailor’s Pumpkin

A boom isn’t the only skull-knocker aboard a cruising sailboat. More than a few sailors have whacked their head while passing through the companionway.

Subscribers Only — Head protection has become a hot topic among sailors. Volvo Ocean Race helmsman wear surf helmets with retractable visors. America’s Cup crew wears them, along with body armor and breathing equipment. Amateurs in high performance beach catamaran and dinghy classes are adopting them in big numbers, and some youth, college, and Olympic sailing programs have made them mandatory, like PFDs. Even cruisers are beginning to wonder about trips up the mast, heavy weather sailing, and even routine bumps. Is it the new thing, or just transition period until we work out where they make sense?   More...

The Sailing Skiff that Fits in a Locker

Although best suited for one person, the Tiwal 3 can be fun for two in a good breeze.

Subscribers Only — Sailing a cruising boat is many things—rewarding, sometimes adventurous, and often relaxing—but seldom viscerally fun, not in the way that a beach cat or performance dinghy saturates the senses and puts you in touch with the wind and waves. It doesn’t communicate every ripple and puff, it doesn’t thrill, and it doesn’t allow you to push the edge. It’s the difference between driving a Winnebago and riding a bicycle. For many of us, our love of sailing began with something fast and volatile, and by-and-by, we miss it dearly. And yet as much as we’d like to strap a Laser or Hobie to the foredeck, that’s not happening.   More...

Collapsible Anchor Prototype Tested

Requiring no tools to assemble or take apart, Mantus’ prototype can be quickly broken into three components that will fit into most small lockers.

Subscribers Only — A big rollbar-style anchor on a bow roller is now synonymous with cruising. They are efficient in many types of bottoms and reliably rotate or reset when the wind and tide change. Unfortunately, they are shaped awkward and are difficult to stow anywhere other than a bow roller. Lacking this, many smaller boats, both sail and power, are forced to store the anchor in either a shallow bow locker, a snag-prone railing bracket, or in a lazarette.   More...

Marine Oil Filter Comparison Test

Practical Sailor technical editor Drew Frye sifts through the remains of several weeks of testing filters. In addition to the oil filters featured in this month’s issue, Frye also looked at fuel filters for a future report.

Subscribers Only — We’ve followed countless debates about the best engine oil and the right time of year to change it, as well as quite a few debates about oil analysis. Just as controversial is the advice on oil filters, which ranges from a blasé recommendation to use whatever fits, to an adamant insistence to use only original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM). Because the oil filter is sealed in a cartridge, unless your filter leaks oil into the bilge we never actually know if it did its job or not. Given the filter’s important role, this is unsettling.   More...

Inflatable PFDs Won’t Save You Without Proper Care and Use

Mark Bologna, a safety expert at Landfall Navigation in Stamford, Connecticut surveys the retailer’s large assortment of personal flotation devices.

I recently interviewed Mark Bologna of Landfall Navigation. He’s a safety expert, major supporter of safety training and has decades worth of experience selecting and servicing inflatable PFD’s. The first thing I asked Mark was whether or not I was overly concerned about the inflatable lifejacket issues mentioned above. His unequivocal “No”, and follow up advocacy for training and regular gear inspections paralleled most of the opinions above.   More...

Rethinking the Use of Inflatable PFDs

Part of the inflatable PFDs advantage is the comfort and convenience found in wearing the device. Try on several different models and see how they feel in both the uninflated and inflated modes

Subscribers Only — In the early 1800s Norwegian sailors started wearing cork filled vests dubbed the “Seaman’s Friend.” And over the next two centuries, life jacket design and the materials used have continued to evolve. One of the most promising offshoots has been the inflatable personal flotation device (PFD)—invented and patented by Peter Markus and one that’s drawn our interest for over three decades.   More...

Mailport: fuel tanks, chain hooks, bilge pumps, and hypothermia

Rob Wilson’s Beneteau 411 Sapphire finds a fine reach on Chesapeake Bay.

Simple tank fill advice from an old fuel oil delivery guy — when filling your boat diesel tank listen to the sound coming from the tank vent, it is attached directly to your tank. The fueling sound will change when the tank fills and fuel enters the vent line. Stop then. Don’t leave fuel sitting in your fill hose in the off-season.   More...

Luck and the Urge to Duck

Technical Editor Drew Frye checks side protection on a Protec helmet.

At night, when only the counted seconds between the lightning flash and thunder-crack offer any clue of what is to come, the intertropical convergence zone seems otherworldly.   More...