Mailport: Jack Russell is on watch

Jack Russell is on watch

Regarding your recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post on ideal dogs for boats, I believe Jack Russell terrier, Parson Russell Terrier or many of the smaller terriers are ideally suited. Nimble, determined and easily adapt as long as their people are there. Easy to board the dinghy or back on the boat. Their food storage doesnt gobble up too much storage space and never will a rodent live for more than moments on your boat. They will easily adjust to the cruising life schedule. They are really large dogs trapped in small bodies that are easily managed on board with training.

Wendy and Jeff Henderson

Wonder, Caliber 40 LRC

Westport, MA

King Charles Spaniels Rule

Our acceptable boat dog is Lady, a 14.5 pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This picture was taken on Old School, a 1967 Cal 30. We recently purchased a 2002 Hunter 326 and Lady has made the adjustment without issue. For those of you who know Cavaliers you will know how low maintenance, loyal and loving they are. We are freshwater sailors and our lake has 1,200 miles of shoreline so plenty of room for gunkholing. When Lady came into our family some years ago we did upgrade our dinghy from a tandem sit-on-top to an eleven foot fiberglass dink with a 3.5 Mercury. No complaints from any of the crew when we dinghy over to shore a couple two three times a day for potty purposes.

Bobby Centers


Hunter 326,

Appling, GA

The King Charles Spaniel Lady finds a perch above Robby Centers’ classic Cal 30.

Anchors and Line Coatings

Your online archive report Sewn Splices, Two-year Follow-up, (PS June 2016) and the blog Anchor Designs for Soft Mud (Inside Practical Sailor blog) are very informative. Two questions: Are any of these products recommended for use on mooring pennants? I upgraded my main halyard and it no longer is reliably held by the Lewmar rope clutch, resulting in loss of tension before I can get it to the cleat. Would you know of any products that might help?

As for the recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post discussing anchors for mud. It seems like claw-type anchors these would set well in soft bottoms, though perhaps not as well as the fluke-type.

Peter Newton

1982 Bristol 35.5

Mattapoisett, MA

In our previous tests, Bruce-style claw anchors performed well in a variety of bottoms in our testing – even mud.

As reported in a sidebar to that June 2016 article on sewn splices, Maxijacket is very good for protecting dock lines, exposed core in core-dependent splices, and splices in general. However, it stiffens the line and is not recommended for use on portions of lines that will be handled, go around winches, or pass through clutches or jammers. On the other hand, Spinlock RP25 does not significan'tly stiffen the line, though we would still not use it on sections of lines to be handled or go around winches. Thus, Spinlock RP 25 is a good choice for reducing minor wear and reducing slipping in clutches. Weve not thoroughly yet tested either for holding in rope clutches, which we last evaluated in November 2014. Another option is to try a new cover-or even your old cover-on the new halyard, assuming it is a double braid (see Splicing a Polyethylene Cover, PS December 2018). Test a short section first before dissembling your new halyard.

As for the claw anchors in mud, we tested the Lewmar claw (based on the original Scottish Bruce design) and several others in 2006. Testers found that, indeed, the claw held well, presumably because of its large fluke area and concave shaped fluke (see PS February 2006). We also tested a 118-pound Manson Ray, a larger version of the Bruce design, in a variety of challenging bottom, and it held and set exceptionally well. It is important to remember that results are not always scalable between anchors of different sizes. Based on our experience, and anecdotal evidence, the Bruce design, in particular, seems to be more effective in the larger sizes (greater than 33 pounds).

Dr. Paul Jacob’s Catalina 34 Pleaides sails near Warwick, RI.
Cleat Confusion

One of the things I really like about Practical Sailor, and a reason I am a long-term subscriber, is the diversity of subjects covered by your magazine. Even after sailing for six decades if I can learn just one useful bit of information per issue I feel my subscription is more than justified. Besides, one never knows when that information may help avoid trouble.

I would also note, that to safely skipper a sailboat (or a powerboat) it is important that all actions should be performed to the very best of your ability. One cannot learn item A, and then forget to perform item B. Or learn to do item C, and then utterly botch item E. This brings me to the photograph on page 14 in the February 2019 issue of Practical Sailor. In the middle of an otherwise excellent article on the threat of internal heat developing in anchor rodes, dock lines, jacklines, etc, a line is shown passing through a chock and then led at a sharp (viz. roughly 90 degree) angle to a cleat. The intent of the photograph was, I presume, to illustrate the increase in heat build-up when a line is led at a sharp angle. I understand, and this is very good point. Unfortunately the photograph also shows the line belayed to a cleat using a hitch that resembles a dogs breakfast!

One of the very first things I show newcomers after they board our beloved Catalina 34 Pleiades is how to properly belay a line to a cleat. The photograph on page 14 is NOT how to do it! I am sure PS has had prior articles on important knots for a range of marine applications. I also expect that PS showed the proper way to belay a line to a cleat.

This “dog’s breakfast” cleat job was soundly rebukes in previous PS reports, but slipped into the February issue without comment.

My point in sending this note: don't undo one lesson while providing another.

Finally, Catalina, while a popular manufacturer of sailboats for the average day-sailing or cruising sailor, is surely not a high end sailboat manufacturer. Nonetheless, I absolutely love the fact that for many years Catalina has utilized cleats located immediately on reinforced gunwales; thereby totally eliminating chocks, chock abrasion, and excessive heat build up in dock lines or mooring pendants, and all the related issues of sharp angles similar to that shown in your photograph. I have never seen an article, or discussion properly praising this simple design strategy!

Dr. Paul F. Jacobs

Catalina 34 Pleaides

Warwick, RI

Excellent point. Your ire for this dogs breakfast is shared by Clifford W. Ashley, author of the classic Ashley Book of Knots, who called this beauty an anti-Galligan (Ashley #1615). Ashley traces the phrase anti-gallican, to the Napoleons rule, when the autocratic leader resurrected the French Catholic Gallican Church to serve his own purpose of consolidating power. According to Ashley, this is the most polite name he could think of for this type of belay. In fact, that photo-found on a new boat at the Miami boat show-was provided as an example of how not to cleat a line in our Inside PS blog post How to Cleat a Line.

Can Coatings Effectively Fight Abrasion?

How much difference can a coating really make in fighting against line abrasion? This was one question we wanted to answer in our test of Yale Maxijacket in June 2016.

Here’s what unprotected rope looks like after four years versus what protected line looks like after four years. The area non the left side of the frame where the rope is frayed is the unprotected area, the area on the right side of the frame is was protected with Maxijacket.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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