June 2017

Selling your Sailboat

The popularity of multihulls is prompting even some die-hard monohull sailors to put their boats on the market for an upgrade.

You want to sell your boat. And you’d like to sell it quickly. What can you do to make that happen? We recently interviewed several brokers and surveyors for advice on what helps, what hurts, and what flaws are sure to come to light when you are trying to sell your boat. Remember that the savvy buyer will always overemphasize the unknown, believing that for every fault they uncover there are three more lurking, and that these will cost more to set right than you say or they think. Fortunately, a well-maintained boat can often be prepped for sale with a relatively small investment in time and money. And if the boat hasn’t been maintained, you’ll want to prioritize the tasks required to draw a willing buyer.   More...

Sailing Without a Rudder

When deploying the drogue it is easy to get tangled in it. A little weight helped.

Subscribers Only — Loss of steering may well be the most common cause of rescue for boats sailing offshore, but the problem is even more common inshore where there is more debris to hit. An emergency rudder is always possible, but for most of us, extra gear to rig, cost, and strength concerns most often render the option impractical. Wrestling an emergency rudder into position will be physical and possibly dangerous in rough conditions. In the case of a catamaran it is simple to disconnect a rudder that is jammed straight, but what if it is jammed hard over, as in the loss of the Alpha 42 Catamaran Be Good Too in 2014? Tests have been published using drogues for steering with the rudder either removed or locked in position, showing that in moderate weather even sailing to windward is practical as long as sails were adjusted in concert and the drogue position was adjustable. Our questions go further. What if the rudder has jammed an angle? Are all drogues appropriate for this purpose? How do you choose the best size?   More...

Ideal Drogue setup will require experiments

Testers found deploying the drogue near the widest part of the boat improved steering efficiency. Rode length can be adjusted as conditions warrant.

Subscribers Only — For maximum maneuverability, the control lines—one port, one starboard—should attach at the widest part of the boat. This maximizes leverage and places the effort close to the center pivot point. On a catamaran, closer to the transom works because of the wide beam, but for monohulls, attaching near the pivot point at the keel will be more responsive. For maximum responsiveness, the drogue should be as close to the transom as practical—this results in more responsive steering and minimal drag. We found the best compromise to be around 65-80 percent of the way aft, where there is still enough beam, but less risk of the control lines fouling.   More...

Top Fire Blankets for the Offshore Sailor

Many training videos and literature show people throwing fire blankets directly on the flames in a grease fire. It is better to try to put a lid on the pan first. Fire blankets work better when wet, but throwing a wet blanket on a grease fire can cause dangerous splattering.

Subscribers Only — Fire extinguishers are a U.S. Coast Guard requirement, and every boating instruction manual starts by telling you how many you need, where to mount them, and how to use them. Unfortunately, the manuals never go beyond that simplistic guidance, even though most fire-prevention authorities agree they are often not the best first response.   More...

Onboard Fire Fighting

Spray at the base of the fire while moving around it, if possible.

Subscribers Only — When a fire strikes at sea, you need to respond quickly, aggressively, and with a cool head, and you will not give up easily. At some point it is going to be prudent to leave the boat; serious burns will make survival in a raft difficult and gasoline and propane can explode. If the fire is well developed or started with an explosion, there may be time only for a quick Mayday call and to abandon ship.   More...

Boating Eyewear Guarantee

Fishing guide Tom Stephens Jr. field tests lenses for Practical Sailor in 2009. The coating of the Oakleys HiJinx in his hand failed after three years.

Subscribers Only — One of the reason we pay premium for brand-name products is the expectation that if something goes wrong, we’d get outstanding support. Some U.S. companies (think Buck knives) have built their reputations on their lifetime warranties. But in the global economy, when brands are sold and resold, it is getting harder and harder to obtain good warranty support.   More...

Look for UV protection, fit, impact resistance

The ideal lens tint (right) can vary depending on the conditions. Copper (brown) lenses proved the most versatile in our test. They allowed more red light pass and (above), which helped to heighten bottom contrast.

Subscribers Only — The ideal pair of sunglasses will vary among individuals. Fair-eyed people, for example, often prefer darker lenses. Our list of must-haves include UV protection, polarization, impact-resistant lenses, and good fit.   More...

Plastic Through-hull Warning

When the flange on a through-hull breaks, the resulting hole can be large enough to flood the boat.

Cracked nylon thru-hulls are a common problem, as a walk in almost any boatyard will bear out. Unlike fittings constructed of industry approved materials (bronze, Marelon, etc.) nylon thru-hulls are not recommended for use at or below the waterline. Age often plays a factor in the failure of nylon thru-hulls, but ultraviolet light is the main culprit. While different brands vary widely in their susceptibility to UV damage, some are so poorly made they can fail within the first year of use. The stress placed on the thru-hull by an unsupported hose can also cause failure, with the weight of the hose acting like a lever as the boat bounces around while underway.   More...

Summer Sailor Reading List

The question we’re often asked as we set out on our summer cruise is, “What do you do with all that free time you have?” There is a general misconception that cruising sailors do little more than sit around all summer watching ripples on the water and enjoying the spoils of slackerdom. Truth is, there is almost always some work to be done, but there’s still time for a good book. If you’re still searching for summer reading material, here’s Practical Sailor’s semiannual list for 2017.   More...

Mailport: Pine Tar Advocate, Snubber Sense, and More!

A blend of traditional styling and new materials, Otey Smith’s H-31, designed by L. Francis Herreshoff, sails out of Quahog Bay near Harpswell, ME.

I was happy to see in the last issue on grease and electronics your willingness to test natural products. For years, I have used pine tar as anti-seize. I first read about it in a series of side bars in the “Mariner’s Catalog” published by International Marine Publishing in the 1970s. They were by Pete Culler and called “Old Ways Work”. He suggested that pine tar was great for keeping bolts, etcetera from rusting together. At the time, I was living in Northern Vermont notorious for bad winter roads with lots of salt. I got some pine tar at the local feed store (used on horses hooves) and tried it on the lug nuts on my truck. Sure enough, they always came right apart.   More...

Product Update: Facnor FX+ Furler, Caframo Scirocco II, and More!

Facnor’s FX+ series features a rust-proof carbon fiber drum.

With lighter summer breezes soon upon us, a retrofit to a furling light-air asymmetrical sail grows tempting. Facnor, maker of one of our top-rated gennaker furlers in 2009 and 2011 (“Foil-less Furler Test,” PS April 2011 online) has introduced its new FX+ range of high performance continuous line furlers for free-flying sails. The new furlers incorporate a lightweight carbon fiber drum housing, exclusive quick release attachment system for easy use, and a new ratchet type lock, which prevents the drum from unwinding while the sail is furled. Designed to be highly adaptable, the FX+ range works well with almost any free flying sailing sail—ranging from a Code Zero, staysail or storm jib. They can all be quickly converted to a top-down style furler using Facnor’s optional Fast Swivel system. Facnor’s push-spring release system allows for simple snap-on attachment, as well as one-handed removal activation. The FX+ range includes sizes and models to fit boats from 21 to 70 feet.   More...

Snap shackles not advisable for snubbers.

An AINSI chain hook rated to 2,000 pounds, modified with a steel plate latch to prevent detachment (top). Tylaska’s popular spinnaker shackle (top), and the company’s new commercial lifting hook (below).

In regard to your ongoing investigations of snubber hooks (“Snubber Chain Hooks Revisited,” February 2017), I want to add another idea to the mix. Our boat uses a fixed eye snap shackle spliced onto the end of a three-strand nylon snubber. Our shackle is similar to this Wichard’s 2 ¾-inch fixed eye snap shackle (part #2472).   More...

Dealing with Bad Diesel

A twin-filter fuel polishing system like the Filter Boss (left) supplements other fuel management practices to prevent contamination.

About this time of year, many of our readers will experience a gradual loss of engine power, maybe even a complete shut down. They’ll pull the filters and find them so clogged you’d think the last fill-up was a spinach smoothie.   More...