Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mustang Inflatable Belt Pack: How does it Work?

Are you tired of wearing bulky life jackets while trying to enjoy the outdoors? Well, check out the Mustang Inflatable Belt Pack.

It's worn around the waist and has a manual inflation pull tab. It's perfect for SUPing, kayaking, and of course...sailing! It's a Coast Guard approved, Type III PFD--this means that as long as you have it on-board your vessel of choice, it counts. 

One of the main concerns would be how it works, since it's around your waist.  Lets see it in action:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Choosing the Right Winch Handle Part 2: Length

Choosing the right winch handles can be a daunting task. With many options to choose from, we're breaking it out into 3 main categories: locking vs non-locking, handle length and grip type.


The most common lengths are 8” or 10”.  There can be many factors determining which is best for you but usually it comes down to which is more important in your application speed or power. 

The 8” version is designed for speed.  With a smaller arc to go around, you can get more rotations at the expense of the greater leverage.  This makes it the right winch handle for smaller boats, especially racers who are looking for a quick way to grind in or a jib or genoa or even on a larger boat in lighter breeze.  Since it is shorter in length, the 8” model also is better for cramped quarters seen in the cockpits of some older race boats or for running backstays. Very few crew members or skippers I know appreciates a shot to the kidney with a winch handle, in situations where this could occur an 8” winch handle might be the answer.

The 10” is designed for power.  With a larger arc, it generates more power per rotation however you will be turning the winch more slowly.  For larger boats with larger headsails especially in big breeze the extra leverage of the 10” handle will be very welcome on most boats. Many cruisers and racers will find this the right handle for the job and especially well suited where space is not an issue so that you will be more effective with each grind. 

Now, check them out in action:


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Choosing the Right Winch Handle: Locking vs Non-Locking

Choosing the right winch handle can be a daunting task.  With many options to choose from, we're breaking it out into 3 main categories: locking vs non-locking, handle length and grip type.

Locking vs Non-Locking

First up is a non-locking handle, the Harken Non Locking Winch Handle.  With no locking mechanism, it allows you to easily take it from side to side during tacks, and remove from the winch without any buttons.  The one drawback?  Because it doesn't lock into place there is the possibility of not putting it in properly and having it go for a swim.

Next, we show three different types of locking winch handles.  Each has a different type of mechanism to lock the handle into the winch.  A lock allows a secure, worry free fit.  The only negative is that it may take a bit more time to get the handle out of the winch and ready for the next tack.

The Lewmar Titan Floating Winch Handle  uses a traditional method, where the lever on the top of the handle releases the lock.  It remains in the locked mode until released.  An easier to use locking mechanism is featured in the other two winch handles shown; the Lewmar One Touch Winch Handle and the Ronstan Quick-Lock Winch Handle. The Ronstan version you don't even need to push the button in order to put the handle into the winch.

Now, check them all out in action:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

APS Sail Repair Kit: What is everything used for?

The APS Sail Repair Kit is the culmination of years of experience with on the water sail repair needs.  Whether you are cruising, windward/leeward racing or offshore headed to Bermuda, this kit has the tools you need for all your minor tears or repairs to keep you on the water.
It has: 
Sail repair tapes for all your needs [Mylar, Dacron, Nylon(spinnakers)]
Polyester Tubular webbing for extra lashing and sail ties
Hand sewing kit to fix batten pockets, leechline pockets and cleats, sail corner reinforcement, webbing replacement(palm, needles, waxed thread seam ripper, awls)
Mini spools for lashing, replacement leech and foot chord, bow life line netting.

Exactly What's Included?
  • Sailmaker's Palm
  • Sailmaker's Needles
  • Stainless Steel Shears
  • Sailmaker's Awl
  • Seam Ripper
  • Dacron Repair Tape Roll
  • Spinnaker Repair Tape Roll
  • PSP Mylar Repair Tape Roll
  • Wax Thread Spool
  • Polyester Webbing
  • Fast Tale Tell Tales
  • Marlow Mini Spool
  • Floating Utility Locker Case 
Watch the video to see what each is used for: 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When, Where and How to use a Spool Shackle

While it may look like a spool for your mother’s sewing machine it certainly is not.

The spool shackle is another light weight option for boats looking to decrease weight. Used as a shackle replacement for a halyard, sheet, or outhaul.

The Tylaska Spool Shackle come in seven different sizes to match the size of line intended for use.  Simply figure out what size line you require and match the shackle to it.  Small in size, but strong for in strength makes it the perfect fit.

Lets see how it works and how to install:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Use and Choose a Spinnaker Halyard Keeper


Every bowman has struggled with spinnaker halyards flapping around all over the place and getting stuck behind (or in front) of the spreaders. Fortunately over the years people smarter than myself have devised several great ways to secure that pesky spin halyard from getting out of control and keeping it ready for that next windward mark spinnaker set.

All three options work better (and are less polluting) than the standard white rigging tape many bow guys use. My personal favorite is the APS Velcro Halyard Keeper for most boats but the Soak Halyard Clip also work really well.

The upside of the APS Velcro Halyard Keeper is that you can put it in a locked position so you can really snug up the halyard. This is great for boats that launch from a forward hatch, where you don’t want the spinnaker halyard to swing around behind the spreaders while sailing and potentially get stuck between the back of the spreaders and the mainsail when you bear off to round the mark.

The downside is that you’ll need to remember to “un-lock” the halyard close to (or at) the windward mark.

The Soak Halyard Clip works for lines all the way up to 3/8” in diameter. I find it works particularly well with smaller diameters and especially well with stripped halyards. Inexpensive and light weight, it makes a great option for many boats from Lightnings all the way to J/105s

Lastly is the Ronstan Fixed Bail Snap Shackle. You can rig it in one of two ways. I prefer to use the fixed bail version shackle to prevent the shackle from swiveling inadvertently. Many people tie the bail to the boat but I prefer to tie the pull ring to the boat. 

If you tie the pull ring to the boat, the idea is that when you’re going to hoist and pull on the halyard the shackle will open.  But if you’re looking for a permanent hold, you can lash it to the bail to the boat.  You’ll need to remember to undo it before the windward mark and unlike the Velcro (where you might be able to break the “locked” Velcro) you’re unlikely to ever pull hard enough to open a shackle.

There are pros and cons to each approach so depends on you to decide which fits your needs best. 

Let's take a look: