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Asymmetric Ambitions

by Win Fowler, Posted August 24, 2011
Richard Roach of Youngstown, Ohio, asks:   "I have a 1988 Freedom 30 with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast. What risk do I run of harming my mast if I fly a small full-hoist drifter or asymmetric spinnaker? I occasionally attach the tack of my lightweight genoa to the bow pulpit (where the spinnaker pole is normally mounted in a canister designed to hold it) and hoist it

Compost Complexities

by Don Casey, Posted July 22, 2011
Wayne Steinhauser of Hartford, South Dakota, asks:"We sail on an impounded Missouri river lake with only one pump-out station within 100 miles. We find returning to the pump-out station is troublesome when we spend a week or more exploring and sailing. We’re thinking of installing a composting toilet. What is your opinion of these?"Don Casey

Vang Connections

by Win Fowler, Posted July 22, 2011
Jan Warren of Brighton, Michigan, asks:   "I have a 1982 Catalina 30 and have just purchased a 4:1 boom vang. What is the best way to attach the vang to the boom and mast? I have been told to do it different ways and am a little confused. The vang is set up with a snap shackle for the mast attachment. I was thinking of installing a Forespar curved base mast eye and drilling

New Directions

by Gordon West, Posted July 22, 2011
Dave Stillerz of San Francisco, California, asks:"I recently installed some new tanks aboard my older wooden sailboat, and now my automatic pilot won’t keep me on a steady course. Any ideas?"Gordon West replies:Sounds like your new tanks are metal and your pilot’s fluxgate heading sensor is mounted nearby. Reposition the fluxgate compass away

Groundless Fears

by Nigel Calder, Posted July 22, 2011
Bill Schultz of Bay City, Michigan, asks:"I am installing a 24-volt battery bank in the bow of my 40-foot sailboat to power a bow thruster. Do I need to run a grounding wire to my engine block? Or can I use an alternative grounding site? What size wire do I need?"Nigel Calder replies:Technically, if the bow thruster has a case ground

Freeze Frame

by Gordon West, Posted June 22, 2011
Dean Hall of Anacortes, Washington, asks:"I enjoy watching TV broadcasts from our local PBS station while aboard my boat. When they switched from analog to digital signals, I added a small digital converter to my set. I do get reception, but with some freeze frames. Any suggestions?"Gordon West replies:If the freeze frames are occurring

Rigging Inspection

by Win Fowler, Posted June 22, 2011
Mike Allen of Beaufort, South Carolina, asks:   "My standing rigging is 22 years old. It seems to be in good shape, but there is some oxidation and discoloration. Is there an ultraviolet penetrating dye that can be used to inspect standing rigging, chainplates, turnbuckles and other hardware? If so, do you know of any vendors?" Win Fowler
Bill Reilly of San Francisco, California, asks:"To increase energy efficiency onboard I am wondering if I could plumb my water heater into my generator’s cooling system so that it shares the circuit from the main engine coolant loop that heats the hot water. It seems that a couple of sturdy Y-valves and brass one-way valves would adequately isolate these two systems, which

Shoal Keel Aground

by Don Casey, Posted June 22, 2011
Peter Burke of Fredericksburg, Virginia, asks:"We recently went aground in a creek off the Potomac River in my Hunter 28, which has a shoal keel that draws 3 feet 6 inches. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to break free, but fortunately a marine police boat and a rescue boat came along within minutes to assist. Surprisingly, the rescue boat had to pull hard with its

Fuel Cell Dreams

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 22, 2011
Pete Econ of Columbia, Maryland, asks:"How long before we see fuel cells replacing generators on sailboats? They make a lot of sense in that they are smaller, lighter and quieter than generators. I see one yacht manufacturer is already installing SFC methanol fuel cells, and I know the military is using fuel cells to replace and supplement batteries."Nigel
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