October 2018

Wrapping Stainless Steel for Better Grip

After eight years of use, the wrapping on this frequently used hand hold is due for replacement.

The very first project tackled on my new-to-me catamaran a decade ago was to wrap the helm wheel with line. Our delivery trip home took place in late December on the Chesapeake Bay, and I didn’t want to spend the next three days with an icy stainless steel wheel sucking all of the heat from my fingers. Instead, I spent a productive hour before dinner wrapping the wheel with line.   More...

The Get-Home Sailboat Tool Kit

The bare minimum required to deal with most daysailer dilemmas fits in a relatively compact electrician’s bag. It can be tailored to fit the specific needs of your boat.

The tools and materials required to maintain and repair everything on a boat will barely fit in a room. Just the kit required to maintain vital systems will raise the waterline of a large boat and is impractical in a smaller boat. Fortunately, when day sailing and even cruising locally, all we really need to do is get back to the dock...any dock.   More...

Rethinking MOB Prevention

Wide side decks, high life lines, and plenty of handholds go a long way to preventing a fall, which is a risk even in smooth waters.

Subscribers Only — Man overboard gear standards are behind the times because the sample size is tiny and the facts surrounding an accident are often clouded and disguised by difficult circumstances. But fixing this is pretty simple; piggyback on standards that have been developed for climbing and industry. The following are just some of the steps that a sailor can take to improve his chances of staying on board.   More...

Welds on Your Boat Require Special Care

Once fully cleaned, this stanchion weld can be checked for crevices with a dye penetrant. Regularly polishing stainless can prevent this pox from taking hold and spreading.

The irregular shape of welds makes them difficult to inspect using ultrasound technology. Visual inspections can also be deceiving—especially with new welds. The prettiest bead can have internal voids and poor fusion. After a while, that pretty bead will begin to bloom with corrosion and cracks.   More...

DIY Materials Testing

This mast is corrosion free, even at the base, showing multiple sharp echoes. We measured this mast with a micrometer at an opening on the same side being tested and recorded a thickness of 0.165-inch. This was consistent with the ultrasound readings.

Subscribers Only — While many potential failures are easy to spot, some flaws are hidden under paint or within the structure, or are so small that a routine visual inspection won’t pick them up. Standing rigging, hulls, decks and hardware fittings are the most common places where hidden structural weaknesses can lead to big repair bills, or even loss of life.   More...

Best Sailing Gear of 2018

A patch glued on with polyurethane adhesive sealant did not last as long as the epoxy repairs in our test. These adhesives can present an unwelcome challenge for anyone trying to repair the repair the same area later using a sewing machine.

Subscribers Only — Each autumn, Practical Sailor’s staff reviews the Best Choice winners from the previous 12 months of gear tests and selects 10 to 15 products that stood out above the rest. This year, the bulk of our testing focused on trouble-shooting failed safety gear, challenging traditional lore, and seeking out inexpensive do-it-yourself solutions to common problems. Our testers looked into everything from unconventional approaches to sail repair to the best option for marine air conditioning.   More...

Coast Guard Seeks LED Input

Practical Sailor reported on various LED navigation lights in February 2010.

Subscribers Only — Back in 2010, Practical Sailor and others raised the alert that a conversion to LED navigation lights can have some unintended consequences, including distorted color shifts. And we’ve long been concerned about LED lights, both interior and exterior, interfering with VHF and AIS radio transmissions.   More...

Mailport: October 2018

Jessica Frye takes the helm of the family’s Corsair F-24, a trailerable mini-cruiser.

An F-24 covers as much territory as a lot of 40 footers. With speed like that, you have a lot more options for each day’s destination. We can really cover a lot of territory. My 1992 F-24 Mk1 actually weighs 2,507 pounds, with outboard, empty gas tanks and all required sails and safety gear. The trailer weighs about 900 pounds. After loading it up with cruising gear, the towing weight for the boat and the trailer is about 3600 pounds.   More...

Do You Have a Safety Checklist?

Even in the age of man overboard locator beacons and auto-inflating PFDs, axioms like “one hand for the ship, one hand for yourself” remain as true as ever.

The widely publicized death of Jon Santarelli, an experienced racing sailor who went overboard during this year’s Chicago Mackinac Race should serve as a wake up call to everyone in the sport of sailing. We need a checklist. But more importantly, we need to follow it.   More...