Smart Thinker

by Tim Bartlett, Posted November 15, 2009
James Brener of Lorton, Virginia, asks:

"I’d like to get a laptop computer for the boat so I can get Wifi at the dock, run electronic charts, and access web–based weather and radar when I’m underway. What specifications do you think are important when buying a laptop for use on a boat?"

Tim Bartlett replies:

In terms of headline specs you really


Sailboat Centerboard Upgrade

by Mike Raleigh, Posted October 27, 2009
Using a popular airfoil analysis code (XFOIL, by M. Drela & H. Youngren, see we analyzed the performance of the stock centerboard of a San Juan 23. As this board was a thin flat plate, this performance was rather poor, consistent with the

Sparkling Spars

by Nigel Calder, Posted October 20, 2009
Janet Hartman of Beaufort, North Carolina, asks:

"Recently I contacted the National Ocean Survey (NOS) to ask whether the authorized clearances for overhead cables shown on their charts include the extra distance needed to avoid arcing. I received an email from stating 'The ‘authorized clearance’ for an overhead power cable does not include the


Hot Stick

by Tim Bartlett, Posted October 14, 2009
Jim Liggett of Cornish, New Hampshire, asks:

"I am installing a lightning- ground system and plan to use a 5/8in rod extending at least 6in above my VHF antenna. Does it matter whether the pointed rod is solid copper or can it be copper-coated steel, as is often used for grounding rods on shore? If the steel rod will work equally well, is there a good way to keep the tip


Clear Eyes

by Gordon West, Posted October 14, 2009
Robert Miller of Port Isabelle, Texas, asks:

"If I don’t bother to clean my radome when it gets covered with dried salt spray, dirt and dust, will that have any effect on the efficiency of my marine radar antenna?"

Gordon West replies:

It could be significant, which is why you should always keep your radome as clean as possible. Soot, dust,

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