March 2019

A Fast Bottom Paint Finish

When sanding bottom paint,use only NIOSH-rated high efficiency filters (see “The Best Respirators for the Boatyard,” Practical Sailor September 2017). Do not use disposable fabric masks—they do not provide the same level of protection. Goggles and a hood further increases protection, but they can be hard to bear if it is hot.

Subscribers Only — In the quest for speed, sailors endlessly debate sail trim, the best cloth, the hottest cut, and which folding prop will do everything. In reality, nothing slows you down more than a dirty bottom, the primary motivation behind Practical Sailor’s trademark bottom paint trials.   More...

Not All Paint Mixers are Created Equal

When it comes to mixers, bigger is better. The paint-coated 1-gallon mixer on the left is done for a practical purposes. The 5-gallon mixer in the center works well with a slow speed drill. The lab paddle on the right is best of all, if you can find one.

Subscribers Only — If you buy your paint in summer or fall, you can often save some money, but this means you’ll need to mix it well prior to painting. In fact most of the paint in the store has settled long enough to have separated, leaving a thin solvent-rich layer on the top and 2/3 of the paint as a sludge on the bottom. Intended for less stubborn house paint, ordinary mixers clog up with the goo, taking 15 minutes or more to properly rejuvenate a can. After a dozen layers of paint build up, they scarcely mix at all.   More...

Choosing and Using Jackstands

Chains should tie pairs of stands together, preventing sliding. The chain are tensioned as the stands are installed, not later.

Subscribers Only — We’re guessing 90 percent of sailors have their boat hauled by a yard. A travel lift or crane plucks the boat from the water, and yard guys block the boat for the winter. Your sole involvement is reading a warning in the lease agreement that you will not touch the stands and that you will not attach anything to them, including tarps. Those are good rules, and nothing we are about to say is meant to contradict them.   More...

Caulks Versus Mildew

For projects that might require fastening or re-positioning, sailors can turn to caulks with longer cure times like SIka 291 LOT

Subscribers Only — We expect a lot from sealants. They must withstand UV, salt and cleaning chemicals, bond to everything, flex to absorb mechanical and thermal strains, be strong but removable when equipment needs serviced, and stay white. Wow. In PS “Marine Sealant Adhesion Tests “(December 2016) we tested the shear strength of many caulks on many materials and delivered a few tentative recommendations. Three years later, it is time to follow-up with field observations.   More...

Chlorine and Caulk Don’t Mix

Above are Loctite PL S40 samples after cleaning with various cleaners. Only the formulas with bleach removed the mildew, but it yellowed the caulk after several hours. All polyurethane caulks were yellowed by repeated bleaching. Polyether and silicone caulks did not appear to be affected.

Subscribers Only — While interviewing boat maintenance professionals for background information preferences, several quipped that in reality, they replace far more caulk because it’s mildewed than because it has failed or stiffened. They seemed to favor either 3M 4000 UV or Sika 291 for exposed uses, because they leave a smooth finish and resist mildew. When we asked about strength and bonding on-deck, they referred us back to the mildew problem. That’s what causes most of their call-backs. (Below the waterline, where looks don’t matter, they favored 3M 5200 or Sika 291.)   More...

Deck-level Wind Vanes

From left: The orange Mini Hawk II stands out against the water, while the dart-like Davis Telo Cat follows it with every shift

Subscribers Only — There are two primary wind indicators on a sailboat. First, we watch the sails. Sailing to windward we watch the jib for luffing and for flow on telltales.   More...

Cold Water Survival

PS tech editor Drew Frye enjoys some light reading during drysuit testing.

When we read about a sailor lost overboard in the storm, we think about PFDs and personal locator beacons, and accept the sea is unforgiving. When we read of novice boaters drowning in a local lake, we’re sad, but say that will not happen us because we wear PFDs. But when we read of a PFD-equipped sailor falling overboard and dying within minutes it’s a real eye-opener.   More...

Beware of the Gasp Reflex

In this photo, the air is in the high 70s but the water is below 50F. A tee shirt would feel fine, but capsize could be deadly. A paddling jacket with tight closures on the wrists and neck, and Goretex pants with tight ankle bands, will slow the inrush of water. The beanie is neoprene. (PFD omitted for clarity)

Should you find yourself cast in icy water, there are few things you can do that may help.   More...

Selecting a Stern Anchor

This claw anchor is designed to quickly deploy from a pivoting roller on the stern of a boat based in Europe, where bow-to Med-mooring is common.

I have a 30-foot sailboat and I was considering keeping an emergency anchor ready to lower quickly as a temporary way to stop drifting in case the engine failed. I have limited mobility so it should be close at hand.   More...

Mailport: 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 doesn’t gobble up too much storage space and never will a rodent live for more than…   More...

Picking the Best Bottom Paint

We’ve tried almost every concoction readers have suggested, including the popular cayenne pepper additive. In long-term, side-by-side testing, we couldn’t distinguish any difference—except a slightly rougher finish on the pepper side.

This month’s report on bottom preparation is another reminder that the most effective paint as determined by our past testing might not always be the best for your circumstances or location.   More...