August 2019

Sailing into the Golden Age of Hook-and-Loop Fasteners

Hook and loop fasteners are familiar from jacket cuffs and companionway bug screens, but during our many years of fiddling around boats, we’ve come up with a few applications that even a Velcro-lover haven’t yet tried. Let’s look at some new tricks.   More...

A Custom-fitted Clew Strap

Tubular webbing slides over the buckle in this DIY clew strap, protecting the boom from scratches and dings.

After settling on the material, one of the most basic mainsail design questions is whether to have an attached foot or loose-foot. A sail with an attached foot, secured to the boom with a bolt rope or sail slugs, has a small advantage in area, while a loose footed sail is easier to adjust (flat for windward work and smooth seas, fuller for reaching and rough seas), slightly cheaper to fabricate, and much easier to take off the boom for storage. Both are used on both high performance and cruising boats. Most new mainsails are loose footed.   More...

MAIB Report Falls Short

During jackline testing in April 2007, we saw how difficult it was to recover a tethered sailor.

Late last month, the United Kingdom’s Marine Accident Investigation Board released its investigation report on the death of Simon Speirs, the 60-year-old sailor who drowned after falling overboard during the 2017-2018 Clipper Ventures Around the World Race. The biennial race, organized by legendary offshore sailor Sir Robin Knox Johnston, invites sailors to pay about $60,000 to compete in a nearly year-long race around the world on custom 70-foot offshore racing sloops. The race is also an advertising vehicle for corporate sponsors. The next race is set to begin in about two months.   More...

Years Later, Mast Mate Still Riding High

When using the Mast Mate, rubber gloves offer excellent grip (see Inside PS blog post “Going Aloft Safely”)

Mast steps are a great help when going aloft, but they add weight where it hurts most (aloft), and halyards love to get stuck behind them. One alternative is the Mast Mate webbing ladder, which hoists on your mainsail track.   More...

Ultraflex Debuts Variable Speed AC

The Velair i-Line VSD series from Ultraflex has a synchronous DC inverter driven compressor.

In the June 2018 article “Air Conditioning for Sailboats,” we compared several options for 12-volt air conditioning on boats, and more recently we looked at the power requirements for running our air conditioner without being tethered to shorepower, “see Air Conditioning at Anchor,” PS June 2019). Since that article was published, we were told about the new i-Line VSD Series of compact air conditioners from Velair—an Italian company that is part of the Ultraflex Group.   More...

Controlling Motion: Two Case Studies

Dock shockles, combined with some carefully sized dockline, help minimize motion at the dock, even during periods of great waves.

Securing a small boat between pilings in a wrong-sized slip is a common challenge. The dock line angles from the dolphins (outlying pilings) are too narrow for a beam wind, allowing the boat to dance around, increasing forces, chafe, and even making it difficult to stand in the cockpit. During a recent winter near-gale we measured dockline forces on several smaller boats that reached four times higher than the static wind load. If the recommended size dockline was used, the rope would be operating beyond its working load limit in real storms and could fail. Increasing the line diameter would result in more jerking and chafe.   More...

Giving Bugs the Big Goodbye

Pesticide foam is injected into termite galleries aboard an infested Harden ketch.

Subscribers Only — We’re not naturally bug phobic, but when they eat our food, clothes, or boat, something needs to be done. Since we don’t like heavy doses of pesticides in a space as small as a boat, let’s first look at low impact approaches that focus on specific pests. After that, we’ll look at the more potent approaches   More...

Preventing Electric Shock at the Dock

Non marine-grade connectors on a wet dock create a recipe for disaster.

The human body runs on electricity and if you overload the nervous system with an external field, everything goes haywire. Every year several people die because they go swimming near a dock, a wiring fault creates an electric field in the water, and their muscles freeze. It is called Electric Shock Drowning (ESD).   More...

Reducing the Nylon Rode Sling-shot Effect

Again we speak heresy! Practical Sailor has published at least four articles explaining why stretchy nylon bridles and snubbers are vital. But if the rode is nylon instead of chain, this no longer applies. The rode provides all the impact absorption we need, perhaps more than we need. By analogy, a bridle should function like an anti-sway bar on an automobile, keeping the boat centered.   More...

Make Your Own Over-the-Boom Riding Sail

Each of the tested riding sail designs had approximately the same sail area. From left: 1. A traditional triangular riding sail; 2. the Y-shaped Fin-Delta from Banner Bay Marine; 3. and an over-the–boom sail based on design by Paratech.

Delighted with the performance of the over-the-boom riding sail, we decided to make our own.   More...

Rest Easy with a Riding Sail

Without careful attention to bridles and snubbers, light multihulls like the Corsair 24 used in our testing can be particularly susceptible to yawing at anchor. The tri-panel riding sail from Banner Bay Marine effectively aligns the boat with the wind.

Even when your anchor is well designed and ideally matched to your boat, there are four common factors that can cause an anchor to drag: poor bottom, short scope, insufficient shock absorption, and yawing. Each of these reduces the holding capacity of the anchor, and they are additive. That is to say that any one of them can ruin your day, solving only one or two of them does not ensure good holding, and the more problems you solve, the better you’ll sleep.   More...

Sails and Summer Projects

While most of us are—hopefully—out sailing this summer, we know that many sailors are busy with system upgrades, do-it-yourself projects, and the usual marine maintenance adventures. Here are some archive articles we think will help you tick off the tasks on your to-do list.   More...

Mailport: anchoring etiquette, stern-tied boats, and wind generators

Eric Uppiano’s Beneteau Oceanis 38 Schatzili searches for the breeze near her home port of Olympia, Washington.

I really appreciated the article “Anchoring in Crowded Harbors” (see Practical Sailor, June 2019). The difficult and critical part is always estimating distances, and the guides you gave (two-to-three mast heights, using fractions of a nautical mile, etc.) can be difficult to do accurately in a crowded harbor with the sun setting, with some of that information available only at the helm, and multiple boats moving to anchor. As a bow hunter, I am…   More...