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Cruising Guides

Since our last review of cruising guides for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Bahamas, weve come across a few more resources worth adding to the list, and one of our top-pick cruising and anchoring guides has ceased publication. Heres the latest on cruising guides and resources.

Best Marine Toilet Papers

When testers dismantled Practical Sailors test holding tanks-the site of years of experiments with holding-tank chemicals, sanitation hoses, and vent filters-we hoped that it was the last hands-on contact wed have with marine sanitation systems for a long time. And then a friend came to us seeking advice on curing his regularly clogged head. He had checked the obvious culprits-scale buildup in the hoses, blocked vent, etc.-and found everything in proper order.

Hand Laid in the USA

Workers at Pacific Seacraft laminate these hulls by hand, using vinylester resin and layers of biaxial fiberglass laid at 45- and 90-degree axes for enhanced multidirectional strength. The decks are cored with balsa wood except for those areas where fasteners pierce through or fixtures are mounted; those spots are cored with either marine plywood, high-density foam, or solid fiberglass. The two-tone deck is accomplished by masking off the nonskid areas in the mold prior to gelcoat application. This yields a very durable surface.

Mailport: March 2014

PS Reader Mark Baldwin wrote: "I used Uni-Gard pink antifreeze (rated for -50 degrees) to winterize my boat. The leftover jugs all froze solid at -14-or perhaps they froze before the night got that cold. The consequence for my boats systems? No telling until the spring, I guess."

Life Raft Inspection, an Inside Look

If its been more than five or six years since your life raft was inspected, theres a good chance that it wont deploy properly in an emergency, and survival items stowed inside may also be expired. The hassle and expense of inspecting a life raft-something youve likely never used or will use-often deter owners from having it repacked as often as it should be. To find out exactly what the process entails, Practical Sailor observed the inspection and repacking of a five-year-old, eight-person Viking recreational-grade life raft at a service center in Boston and toured a Winslow service facility in Florida.

Mailport: September 2011

Letters to Practical Sailor, September 2011. This month's letters cover subjects such as: Shoes for Crews, Washing Dock Lines, and More!

Custom Catamaran Loaded with PS Picks

Practical Sailor was recently invited to check out a custom Fastwater 52 sailing cat. The invite was prefaced with the explanation that the boat is a Practical Sailor posterchild of sorts, outfitted with electronics, hardware, and other gear that has survived PS testing and garnered our recommendation. How could we turn down an invitation like that? Our dockside tour did not disappoint.

What Old Gear Do You Swear By (or at)?

Instead of fixing or replacing tired mechanical equipment with new gear, we can often find a less-expensive substitute on the used-gear market. In many cases, this is equipment that is just as good as new gear, if not better than new. The trick is separating the gems from the junk. A poster child for this sort of refit quandary is the old Simpson Lawrence manual windlass, a British-engineered oddity that has long been a source of cruising sailor ire. Commonly found on cruising boats made in the 1980s, these windlasses use a troublesome chain drive rather than a gear drive. This, along with the dissimilar metals used in its various components (cast-steel gypsy, aluminum case, etc.), make these windlasses a poor candidate for rebuilding.

Special Section – VentillationLet the Merry Breezes Blow!

Our comprehensive evaluation of ventilation accessories breaks them into four distinct categories: fans, fabric scoops, cowls and mushroom vents.

Beneteau First 36.7

Beneteau First 36.7 - She's quite nimble. She goes faster and points higher in light air than standard production cruising boats her size. As a racer she'll be competitive in a onedesign or handicap environment.