Know-How

Let It Flow

by David W. Shaw, Posted April 15, 2011
As I knelt beside the open cockpit locker of my 36-foot Pearson cutter Sonata, I could hear the gentle whir of my freshwater pump. It didn’t sound normal. I reached down and felt the pump housing. The pump was in constant-cycle mode and running hot. It could pump until it burned out and still fail to pressurize the freshwater system I thought I had just finished

To Varnish or Not?

by Don Casey, Posted April 13, 2011
Dorothy Parker once famously remarked: “I hate writing; I love having written.” I feel the same way about varnishing. Nothing flatters a boat more than the glow of well-varnished wood, but to bask in that glow, someone must suffer through the process of preparing the wood and applying the varnish.Almost all woods other than teak will weather and eventually rot if not

Electric Horses

by Nigel Calder, Posted March 10, 2011
This past summer I tested the latest generation of electric outboard motors from Torqeedo. These are much more efficient than traditional electric outboards, but with this advance comes a quantum leap in sophistication and electronic complexity.I find it intriguing that these outboards have been designed by landlubbers. One of the owners of Torqeedo, Dr. Christoph Balin, bought a house on

Signal Fade

by Tim Bartlett, Posted March 19, 2010
Jose Viegas of Lagos, Portugal, asks:"I have a Navman DSC VHF radio, and last summer I began noticing that when I transmit in bad weather, only boats close by can hear me. But I can always clearly receive transmissions from others, near and far. How can I test to see whether the problem is with the antenna, the connection or possibly the radio itself?" Tim

Winter Battery Maintenance

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
A few years ago, I left my boat’s two lead-acid batteries on board over winter. It wasn’t intentional—an early snowfall led me to cover the boat up sooner than anticipated, and I just never got around to taking the batteries off.After three months of freezing New England winter, I suddenly remembered they were still on board. I snuck down to the yard one mild Saturday and hooked 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

Compass Truism

by Tim Bartlett, Posted September 14, 2009
Karl Westman of Ocean City, New Jersey, asks:"Is it all right to use magnetic headings on my chartplotter to adjust a new compass?"Tim Bartlett replies:In theory, definitely not. But in practice I'd have to give you a very guarded "maybe." The problem, of course, is that your heading is the direction your boat is pointing in. Your

First aid kit

by Sail Staff, Posted August 24, 2009
Few sensible sailors would consider setting out without some form of first-aid kit on board. Scraped knees, cuts, bruises, and bumped toes are all part of the sailing experience—everyone suffers them at some time or other. Being able to deal with these appropriately makes them minor annoyances rather than life-threatening emergencies. Of course, don’t be slow to call for help

Rig check

by Charles Mason, Posted August 4, 2009
Your mast is back in the boat—or it may have been there all winter—the shrouds are tuned, the engine is checked, and all the battens are in the sails. You are ready for your first sail of the season. Without doubt, many boatowners follow this path, but if you’re one of them, be ready to act quickly if a piece of gear holding the mast suddenly fails and the rig begins to

Looking after sails

by Peter Nielsen, Posted April 30, 2009
Dacron is a tough, long-lasting cloth that has only two real enemies—sunlight and chafe. There is not a lot you can do to ward off the effects of ultraviolet light except to make sure the mainsail cover is always in place when you’re not using the boat and to check that the sacrificial strip on the leech and foot of a roller genoa is in good condition.Chafe is another matter. It likes to
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