Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zhik Boat Shorts and Boardies

Zhik has been at it again, expanding their line to meet the needs of racing sailors. With their ever-expanding line of clothing, they’ve added and redesigned shorts to further make their mark in the sailing world.

Their boat shorts underwent a redesign this year, making them even more rugged to stand up against tough decks. They’ve also added a new boardie short, a classic board short with a little Zhik styling. Both are comfortable and fashionable to keep up with the active racer. Available in women’s sizes, too. Ladies don’t be fooled, these are Australian sizes so they run differently than US Sizes.

Boat Shorts

For all of those board short lovers out there that find board shorts can’t quite hold up, this is the answer. With all the feel of a traditional board short, the Zhik Boat Shorts have a webbing belt waist with two eyelets on either side. It works well for a nice tight waist. The best part is they have the durability of a sailing short with the durability needed to stand up against tough decks.

The Good

For anyone looking for a nice board short to sail in, this is the one. With the feel and cut of a regular board short with added reinforcement on the seat, these would be your go-to shorts. With two side pockets and two front cargo pockets, there are placed to store and easily access your knife or other accessories. The back doesn’t have a pocket, so you won’t be sitting on anything awkwardly.

The rear panel is made of ZhikTex material, a durable but soft fabric. The feel is almost like corduroy, with vertical lines in the fabric. It flexes for a more comfortable, less Spongebob Squarepants feel (that you often get with rear reinforced shorts).

The Bad

Although there are reinforcements in the seat, it’s still up for debate how effective these shorts will be when put to the test. They have a soft feel, leading me to believe that they wouldn’t be as hard-wearing as other sailing shorts.

The hand pockets are small, with barely enough room for your hands, but I’d suspect that you wouldn’t use them to store anything as you’d likely default to the conveniently placed cargo pockets.

The ladies’ Boat Shorts were not quite as flattering as the Boardie shorts, that had more stretch to them. With a true board short look, they were long and sort of baggy. Although not a problem for the guys, they won’t be winning any girly sailing short contests.


They are comfortable, light, and reinforced, which is about all you can ask for in a sailing short. With a board short style, they are longer in length with a drawstring waist for that perfect fit.

Boardie Shorts

Stylish, innovative, and comfortable… the Boardie shorts are just about all you could want in a sailing short. Comes in two great colors, Ash and Cyan (a radiant blue color) and has contrast/accent stitching throughout. They are very stretchy and move with you.

The Good

The overall feel is really nice. The inside has a silky feeling that doesn’t stick to your skin and gently glides over it.

The outside has a more rugged feel while still remaining soft and comfortable. The styling is nothing like the typical sailing short.

The Ash has light blue accent stitching and the Cyan has black accent stitching to make them a little more interesting. Complete with a contrast line of stitches on the front and back (see picture to the left). The back pocket is black for some more funky styling.

There is also a revolutionary breakthrough in comfortable closures on the waist. Behind the Velcro is a stretchy gusset for a little extra protection against the Velcro. It’s a light fabric, so it doesn’t feel bulky.

With five pockets (two hand pockets, two side cargo, and one rear cargo), you won’t have trouble storing all of your extras.

The Bad

Although the gusseted Velcro closure is great, there is only one eyelet to tie to and no belt like the Boat Short. So it would be harder to get a tight fit, but with the increased stretch, a smaller size might work, too.

Without reinforcement and being a light fabric, I’m concerned about the longevity of these Zhik Boardies. Long days sliding across non-skid would probably do a number on them so I would leave these for more sedate days.

I was hoping the Ladies’ Boardie Shorts would have a little bit more feminine length, but they fall right above my knees. They still have nice stretch without being too tight, making them a nice short none the less.

With an extra comfortable, silky feeling inside, good stretch on the outside, and gusseted crotch, these shorts certainly are comfortable. With stylish accents and multiple pockets, I think these would be some of your favorite sailing shorts.

Both great shorts from Zhik, the Boat Shorts and the Boardie shorts are designed for the active sailor in mind. With a definite Zhik style, these shorts give a new look to a classic design. Comfortable, stretchy and lightweight, these two will work well whether you’re sailing, surfing, or beaching.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So Long Frostbite...

It’s pretty obvious that any sailor moving to Annapolis, MD is going to be stoked to get in on the sailing scene as quickly as possible. That was exactly the case for me – except, I landed here December 1. Annapolis was right in the middle of one of its few annual sailing lulls. Patience, Patience – I told myself.

Thankfully, I was on the search for sailing/sailing-related gigs, and got a job working at APS in January. I had a good feeling that getting a job at APS would give me an immediate (and invaluable) connection to the sailing community in town. I didn’t know that thought would prove so true so soon as the second series of Frostbites was starting up in February.

Turns out, an easy friendship sprang up between me and fellow marketer Bryn. (Those of you who have met her know she is super friendly! I think she was sympathizing with me because she's a relatively recent transplant.) Luckily, her good cheer landed her with the right folks, and she invited me to sail with her. The boat: Chris Johnson’s J/80 Dragonfly. Woot! I was pumped!

After working at APS for about a month and getting schooled with performance dinghy sailing names, maneuvers, gear, etc. (I had only spent time on big boats so you can imagine the boot camp over here) – I figured we were in for some serious racing. I put on my warm base layers and prepared mentally.

Rolling up to the EYC that first Sunday, I was actually surprised to see people drinking beer. What a relief! How can you be intimidatingly serious with a beer in your hand? There’s a good answer to that – you can’t. When someone handed me a beer, Frostbite: Round 2 was a sealed deal. Chris, Bryn, Amy, and Paul were the weekly crew – and they welcomed me. We’d watch for wind and wake, making sure to keep an eye out on race tactics of our fellow sailors, while tacking and sharing weekend 'glory' tales.

At first, I was rail meat pure and simple throwing my weight as ballast. Then, I moved up in the food chain and got to start the timer. (Woah! Big promotion, I know!) When Amy or Paul missed a race, I got the chance to do jib.

I missed only one Frostbite in the second series – and let me tell you, my week started out pretty badly as a result. It was a tough Monday to work through.

Being on a good boat with good people isn’t the end of my gushy story about how much I love Annapolis and how I think this was one of the best moves I could have made. The APS crew is full of great people, too. And I’ve been getting to see almost everyone out of the office and on the water every Sunday. We wave from our boats when we’re sequenced for the start and catch up mid-race at the yacht club over beer.

Yeah – Frostbiters are cool. How could you skip sailing all winter? That’s too long! I’m happy I got the chance to join the cold-weather crowd here and warm-up for what people around here are calling ‘real racing’ for Spring!
Last Sunday marked the last Frostbite of the Season, and there’s an awards ceremony next week. So long Frostbite, until next year....

PS. Thanks Dragonfly for the winter good times! Bryn put this video together as a momento. Tyson the dog makes a pretty good mascot, wouldn't you say?

Spring Patagonia from APS

Spring has sprung around here, and with it - New Patagonia! From color changes and style changes to new products, our favorite base layer (and more!) company has been hard at work. The most significant change award this season goes to the Capilene 1 base layer.

For those not familiar with the Patagonia Capilene line, it ranges from a Capilene 1 to 4. The Capilene 1 is the lightest of the line, designed for high activity in hot conditions. With exertion and/or temperatures dropping, the line progresses in numbered increments to what will make you warmest: the Cap4. Made with Polartec fleece, its main focus is to give you the highest warmth with the least amount of weight. Designed for any condition you face, Patagnia’s Capilene line has a piece for you.


Patagonia’s famous line of base layers underwent a major change over the past six months. In the fall, the 2, 3, and 4 changed - adding increased warmth, moisture management, stretch, softness, and durability. This Spring, they finished with both the Men's Capilene 1 and Women's Capilene 1, making it lighter, softer, more breathable, faster drying, and stretchier. Plus, they added a new silkweight stretch shirt that has 50+ UPF (much improved from the traditional Cap1 with UPF 15) and also comes in a men's and women's version. The Capilene 1 shirt and pants are made of 3.4oz polyester with Gladiodor control and 15 UPF sun protection. The Gladiodor odor control is a natural odor control that doesn’t rely on metals or antimicrobials like other odor control treatments. With a new fabric make-up and a new stretchy shirt being added, the Cap1 feels silkier and lighter than ever before.

Capilene (and all of Patagonia’s Products) - Eco Friendly Construction

All of the Capilene are now made with more than 50% recycled polyester. Capilene 1 is completely made of recycled material, and it is recyclable. Since spring 2007, Capilene has been made of recycled materials. All new shirts and pants are recyclable through their Common Threads Recycling Program, an initiative to make old clothes into new and to keep them out of a landfill. With help from their loyal customers, they set the goal of having all clothes be recyclable. After taking 6 years to work it out - beginning in fall of 2011, every piece of Patagonia (not just Capilene) clothing will be recyclable.

In addition to making their clothing recyclable, Patagonia tracks and measures the impact of each type of clothing through their Footprint Chronicles. You can now see the footprint of any article of clothing. For instance, the Capilene 1 traveled 7,320 miles to get to their Reno distribution center, required 3.7lbs of CO2 emissions, generated 1.9oz of waste, and consumed 4.6kWh of energy.

We’re really into the fact Patagonia has always promoted an environmentally aware production process, and that’s one of the many reasons we like their products.

Other New Additions to the APS Patagonia Products

New board shorts for men and women. First, for the men, a new version of the popular Wavefarer Board Shorts. The new Stretch Wavefarers are well, stretchier. With a lighter fabric, these board shorts are hardwearing to stand up against your boat ride, beach trip, or any kind of water fun. A no-frills, all-business board short, the Wavefarer is a great alternative to bulky sailing shorts.

For the ladies, we have the Girona Board Short that has a little retro look. With a longer cut and low rise design, these shorts will be your go-to short for the summer. Made of a polyester/spandex blend, they stretch while you move while being comfortable and practical for any kind of summer activity.

We’ve added a few new middle layers this spring, too. For the women, we’ve picked up a new full-zip Nano Puff to compliment the pullover we’ve had before – Yay! We love Nano Puffs! A popular stand alone layer or middle layer when it gets cold, the Nano Puff is a staff favorite. It comes in a variety of nice colors, from natural to ultramarine to help get past your winter blues.

Need a place to store all of your new Patagonia? The Black Hole Duffel is water-resistant with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish to protect your gear. Depending on how well you pack, there are two options, 60L or 90L, and for all of the organizers out there, two mesh pockets on the inside to make sure you know where everything is. With two convenient ways to carry, either by handle or padded, adjustable shoulder straps, this duffel will be your favorite gear bag.

Note: We also added many new colors to our existing offerings. From Ultramarine to Bali Blue, the springtime colors are vibrant and fun. So as we welcome the new warmer temperatures, we’re happy Patagonia has our back. Happy Spring, Everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zhik Isotak - Gear Review

Breaking out of their dinghy-exclusive past, Zhik welcomes the future with Isotak, a new range of high tech buoy racing gear that can be converted to have what it takes while sailing offshore.

While we’re really into the idea of versatile gear, this gear still has to make some compromises in features for round-the-buoys versus offshore. It comes in a jacket, smock, dry smock, and salopettes. The jacket comes with a like-colored hood, but both the jacket and smock have the option of adding a florescent hood with a faceshield for offshore use.

This gear is made of Zhik Isotak fabric, which has a very high specification waterproofness and breathability. 1000+ Denier Cordura in high-wearing zones, it’s designed to stand up against anything you throw at it. The Isotak fabric is a multilayer fabric, with a protective laminate inner, monolithic membrane, and a high- density microfiber nylon outer with a Super Durable Water Repellent (SDWR) finish. This creates a strong, durable material that is still breathable and completely waterproof. Seams are interlocking double seams with high quality taping to ensure they are all truly waterproof.

Overall, the Isotak is a nice line of gear for those who do a wide variety of racing and would rather have one set of gear than deal with multiple sets. With a durable feel and cordura reinforcements, it would stand up to those who are hard on their gear, or who (fortunately for them) spend lots of time in their gear on the water.


Overall, the Zhik Isotak jacket is nice. It’s certainly more durable feeling than other jackets in the high Tech buoy racing category. That being said, it’s also less substantial than offshore pieces. It makes a great jacket for those who do some offshore races in any given year but spend most of their time day sailing. There are some features you want for offshore racing and some that are left out. We found that the jacket tends to run on the small side for people who typically wear a large jacket due to the waist size and want of room for layering.

The Good

It’s longer than most buoy racing jackets, making it a little nicer to go offshore. The Cordura reinforcement on the seat provides a little extra protection and durability. Durability is a definite plus. Zhik’s Isotak fabric feels much more substantial than the fabric used for other jackets in the high tech buoy racing category. With a fleece lined collar, it adds a little bit more than the traditional coastal jacket that typically has just a softer collar. It would be a welcomed addition in colder climates.

The jacket does have a nice, racing cut. With long arms and double layer adjustments, you can easily perform all of the necessary tasks on a sport boat without being restricted. The drawcord hem allows you to make the waist as tight as you would like, and the front zipper storm flap has some serious Velcro.

I’d put the optional hood and face guard in the good category, but I would have to say that the additional price isn’t exactly “good.” However, it adds a whole other dimension to the jacket. With a hi-visibility hood, it would make any sailor much more prepared to go offshore. With the same adjustments as the like-color hood that comes with the jacket, it has a nice fit with adequate adjustments to ensure the right fit. There are many different reflective patches placed on the brim, top, and back for added peace of mind. The face guard attaches to either side of the hood and makes the coastal-like height of the collar transition to a more offshore-height collar. Rising from the mouth to just below the nose level, the face guard is fleece lined for added comfort. The one drawback being you now have two layers, where water can get in between the two.

The Bad

You will make a few sacrifices to get the “all-in-one” jacket. It doesn’t have all of the nice features of an offshore jacket and leaves out some of the good features on a buoy racing jacket. But, it does a pretty good job. Although it is breathable, it does have a heavy feel. I don’t think it would be my first choice for a rainy summer night here in Annapolis.

The wrist has two separate closures, one neoprene and one Isotak fabric. While I like the idea of getting a good seal with the neoprene inner layer, the two straps line up perfectly. So, in addition to it feeling a little bulky, it is also hard to get a reasonable closure with the outer layer.

While Zhik’s Isotak jacket has some nice stretch through the shoulders, I wouldn’t say it has nearly as much as the Musto MPX range, which is well-known for having stretch panels.

Overall, Zhik presents us with a nice jacket that would be great for someone who wants a little more versatility in their gear. Adding elements of an offshore piece with an athletically cut buoy jacket, the Isotak works well in both sailing environments. While it’s impossible to make a jacket that’s the best for buoy racing and offshore racing, it does a good job combining the important elements of both.


With the same durable fabric as the rest of the line, Zhik’s Isotak smock would be the perfect top for those who wear their gear out quickly or spend most of their days on the water. As far as sizing, all felt they wanted the next size up from what they typically wear in Musto. Also, for those with long arms, we have to let you know, the arms aren’t quite as long as Musto in the larger sizes. But for the smaller sizes (and smaller frames,) the arm length was nice.

The Good

For sport boat sailors or those athletic types, Zhik’s smock certainly has a racing cut. The neoprene waist is longer in the back than in the front, making a nice tight fit that doesn’t seem to ride up like some of the other smocks out there. As seen to the right, it has an inverse drop hem shape. The neck Velcro closure is also conveniently placed with the softer part on the neck. For all the ladies out there that know how painful it is to have the tough Velcro on the neck, this is a welcomed improvement. (Although most companies have picked up on this problem, not all have adopted a solution. Thanks, Zhik!) Also, the wrist seals are nice. They form a nice seal and are quite comfortable. With a pretty sizable tab, it would stay in place even in high-activity sailing.

Like the jacket, the optional hi-visibility hood can be attached to make it more versatile. With a florescent hood and face shield, you can turn your buoy racing smock into a little more of an offshore piece. It would be a nice addition for the nights that get colder, with long hours on the rail. It does have some drawbacks - without clear sides, your peripheral vision is limited.

The Bad

While having a tight neck seal on a smock is great, this is just a little too tight. There is a lot of fabric to fold into a small space. The tab that comes across creates a tight-to-your neck feel, with many of the guy’s trying it on complaining about the tightness. It also has some room to let water in if you lean forward.

The zipper in the front doesn’t stay up very well - it slips down as you move around. The front pocket is also a bit bulky with a higher than the tab closure (see picture below) that creates three layers of fabric across your chest. The pocket would also be quite difficult to access when wearing a life jacket.
Overall, as long as a durable feel doesn’t throw you off, it’s a nice top. It does feel a little heavy, especially in comparison to say the Henri Lloyd Shockwave. If you’re in a hot climate where summer showers are your only problem, this might not be your top choice. However, if you’re sailing where there’s colder water and nastier conditions, this would make a great addition to your gear. It seems to be hard-wearing with good seals. It seems the Zhik Isotak smock would work well on dinghies, sport boats, and wet bigger boats alike.


With neoprene stretch shoulders, a serious storm flap and large cuffs at the ankles, the Isotak salopettes are ready to handle what you can throw at them. They have waist adjusters to bring in that extra room if you don’t need layers and have a large side pocket for the extras. With hard wearing Cordura on the seat and knees, these are made to stand up to harsh decks and long hours on the water.

The Good

Durability is the name of the game with large Cordura reinforcements on the seat and from the knees to the ankles. These salopettes aren’t going to wear out quickly. The front zip has full Velcro running down the storm flap that stays in place. I think my favorite part would be the ankle closures. With a large cuff and a long tab, finding the perfect spot for every situation wouldn’t be hard.

This will allow you to create a tight seal regardless of your footwear choice. Side adjustments make it easier to get rid of extra bulk through the sides. The side pocket is easy to access even in a sitting position and is big enough to serve you well.

The Bad

I wasn’t overly impressed with the fit on the bottom half, and like other pieces in this line, many needed to go up a size. It seems that the top and bottom don’t match up proportionally. After having a few people try them on without going to a larger size – we determined the top wasn’t long enough.

Although the Cordura reinforcements make the gear last longer, it does create some bulk and would take some getting used to. The seat and knees are both much larger than other pants. This could be seen as a good or bad thing, depending on how hard you’re wearing them and how you like your pants to fit. The pocket, although easy to access seemed to be not thought through. The possibility that you would open your large pocket and things would drop out seems prevalent. Without a separate section in the pocket, I’m not sure I would want anything in there.

Overall, they would work well for those who are athletic and sailing in an athletic scene (think sport boats or bowmen running around the deck). With hard wearing Cordura patches, they would stand up to harsh punishment sliding around on non-skid. The fit seems to run small, but with good ankle closures, ordering a larger size wouldn’t be a problem.

Isotak by Zhik is a nice line of gear, and with the versatility of being able to wear it around the buoys or offshore, this gear is great for someone looking to do both. Although there are some sacrifices made when making versatile gear – if you’re actually doing a lot of both kinds of sailing, this is great gear for you. Keep in mind that the fit runs small, and just about everyone went a size up from their normal foul weather gear size.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Product Review: CorrosionX and RejeX

It’s about time to break out the boat from winter storage and start getting it ready for spring. We’ve got boat maintenance on the mind and found some interesting new products from Corrosion Technology. Originally designed for the military, these are hard-wearing, proven products.

RejeX is a high gloss finish that also protects. Designed to work on any hard, non-porous surface, it’s a long-lasting substitute for wax. Also, you can say good bye to rust and corrosion with CorrosionX. With just a light spray, even the salt water stays away. Both products were recently named Do It Yourself Boat Owner magazine’s “Top 10 Boat Care products Ever” list.

Read on to hear more about these great products.


Tired of dirty, stained boats that won’t stay clean? RejeX is the solution. RejeX is designed to give your boat (or car, RV, or Airplane) a high gloss, slick polymer finish. It works to protect and seal in your gel coat, paint, metal, acrylic, Eisenglass, or varnished wood. It’s not a wax and doesn’t care to be labeled as such.

Text on the bottle explicitly quotes, “Wax is weak. RejeX is strong.” Long-lasting and easier to put on than traditional waxes, RejeX makes boat work a little less of a pain. The best part is, after applying it to your hull, it will help prevent stains and grime from sticking to your gel coat making future cleaning much easier.

The product history is interesting, too. Originally, RejeX was designed for the US Air Force to help prevent the damage from jet exhaust because the extreme heat actually strips the paint, which leaves the aluminum skins exposed to rust. Recently, it changed military hands and found use on US Navy Cruisers and Destroyers to keep exhaust from sticking to antennas and satellite domes. It moved on from there to the general public and became a popular product used in offshore powerboat racing, where it was documented as having a 1.5% to 3% increase in speed after hull application. Now, RejeX makes its way to sailing, and we think it has great potential.

So I decided to try it out. Is this stuff really as great as it sounds? Luckily for me (?), Warren allowed me to clean and polish part of his 22. Although the pictures don’t really do it justice, RejeX made a big difference. Easy to use, it comes out easily and isn’t too messy. With not too much work, you could feel the difference from the untreated sections to the treated. If that’s any indication of speed, I think the power boaters might be on to something…or maybe we should give the military the credit for this one instead.

Overall, I think it’s a great product for those who don’t love cleaning and those who like going fast. I suppose that’s just about every racer? RejeX comes in a 12oz bottle that should fully polish a ~25ft boat.

Corrosion X

Great for anything from throttle cables, steering mechanisms, seat swivels, shackles, turnbuckles or anything else with metal, the uses for Corrosion X seem to be endless. Its unique formula makes it great for marine applications. Eliminate corrosion and protect metal surfaces on your boat and trailer. Have a corroded fastener or rusty turnbuckle? CorrosionX losens existing rust to revive your tired boat parts. Best of all, due to its make up, it won’t wear away quickly or wash off in salt water environments.

Practical Sailor recently named Corrosion X number 1 in every category for corrosion inhibitors. It’s the only product available to the general public that meets the U.S. Navy’s new performance requirement for water displacement and corrosion prevention. Joint Council on Aircraft Aging testing showed Corrosion X to be more than twice as effective as any other product of its kind. That’s a pretty impressive statistic.

But the question still stands… how does it work so well? It works because of a unique technology that they call Polar Bonding. Similar to an electrostatic attraction, when it gets near reactive metals, it is attracted to the metal like magnets. This means it bonds to the metal, displacing moisture and providing a protective barrier to keep moisture, salt and rust away. By not being displaced by moisture, it also lasts much longer in marine environments than other products on the market.

The wide range of applications is also impressive. It is recommended for shore power cables, battery terminals, wiring/breaking panels, nav light sockets, electronics…apparently, Corrosion X can even bring that GPS, VHF or phone that falls overboard or stopped working because of corrosion back to life.

Corrosion X is also more environmentally friendly with 1/10th of the solvents of other spray lubricants. So, you can’t get much better - proven technology and environmentally friendly? I’d say Corrosion X is a sailors rust-free dream.

Both products have been proven by the military to meet their standards. The company manufacturing this stuff is led by a sailor – and he saw the need to bring these into the sailing world. Achieve faster hull speeds and rust-free boats with RejeX and Corrosion X. So go on, get those boats out of winter storage and back on the water in tiptop condition!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Magnetic North?

Two weeks ago, a little birdie sent this article our way. It circulated around the upstairs office at APS, and we thought something about it just didn’t jive with our understanding of magnetic north and how it affects sailors. Luckily, my fiancé might be considered an expert when it comes to such things – and I clicked it over to him for an explanation.

Here’s what Ocean Engineer, Sailor, and Guest Writer Karl McLetchie has to say in response to all the hype about pilots and boaters adjusting to shifts in magnetic north. Pardon while we get a little science-heavy, and read on for clarification…

Magnetic north is not the point at the top of the earth that determines compass headings. It’s the local component of the earth's magnetic field, combined with local anomalies (think - the island in Lost), to which a magnetic compass aligns.

True north is the direction to the north geographical pole. Basically, it’s the standard "up" reference used on most paper charts and the electronic charts in your GPS navigation system. The difference between local magnetic north and true north is known as declination or variation. Variation fluctuates in a complex pattern around the world, but it is generally low, 0-10 degrees near the equator and increasing to over 90 degrees at the north and south magnetic poles.

The magnetic poles are slowly moving. As they move, the local variation all over the earth changes. Mariners and aviators must keep track of this changing variation both in time and in location so they can match true bearings and courses from their charts with magnetic bearings and courses from their compasses.

You can calculate your local magnetic declination/variation, according to NOAA, here. If you enter coordinates or zip code (21401) for Annapolis, you can see our fine sailing town has a variation of 11° 9' W, changing by 0° 0' W per year.

Luckily, for sailors reading this blog, you don't have to refer to that website every time you leave the dock. You can look at the center of the compass rose on any nautical chart and read the local variation and how it changes per year. If you zoom in on a compass rose here, you can see again the variation near Annapolis is 11 deg W and has no annual change. So with updated charts and simple addition and subtraction, the shifting magnetic poles shouldn't cause any problems (or any great expense) for sailors.

Thanks for clearing that up for us, Karl. Upon doing a little more research, we found the best compass companies out there already have you covered. For example, if you have a Tacktick compass, you don’t have to worry. The compass can automatically get magnetic variation from your onboard electronics system, or if that's not available, you can manually input the variation.

We’ll just point out you should steer clear of the Bermuda Triangle. Though, we know how difficult that can be with the race circuit off the East Coast ;) …

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Henri Lloyd Cipher: Gear Review

The Henri Lloyd design team has been working hard this winter developing the next generation replacement for the popular Breeze Line. The result is Cipher - which features impressive numbers. It’s 25% lighter and 33% more breathable than the Breeze.

Henri Lloyd’s Cipher line includes a jacket, vest, and matching waist pants. The jacket is available in a multitude of colors; red, bronze, black or silver. The vest and pants are available in black.

This is a no-frills, extremely comfortable range that has been constructed of TP1 Alpha fabric, a fully waterproof and windproof fabric that’s designed to transport perspiration and condensation away from your body. An abrasion-resistant mesh finish feels good against your skin and ensures comfort. A durable water-repellent (DWR) finish sheds water. Overall, it’s a great line with minimal extras, a great fit, and a price tag under $100.00. This line is going to be hard to beat.

Cipher Jacket & Vest

The Good

Overall, it has a nice feel, and it’s truly lightweight. During those summer months when you need protection against a passing shower or a (usually welcomed) cool night, this will be your go-to piece. It packs well and will yield no complaints for added weight in your gear bag. The cut is nice, the arms are long enough to provide full protection, and (unlike other jackets) the wrist adjustment tabs are flexible and thin. You barely notice they’re there until you need them.

With a differential hem, it sits a little lower in the back - hopefully preventing it from riding up too much while hiking. It has a shockcord adjustment to ensure the right fit. The neck has a brushed mesh collar for increased comfort. It feels good against your neck, but will remain comfortable even on those really hot nights.

The inside is comprised of a single layer of fabric. With no mesh lining, there’s no bunching up of layers or difficulty putting it on if you’re layering or already a little wet when you’re told to keep hiking when the rain starts.

The best feature in my mind is price. It’s hard to beat a fully waterproof, breathable, lightweight, and packable jacket for less than $100.00. With this price, it makes decorated crew gear a little more affordable while still having the right amount of protection.

The Bad

During Summer months or those times when you only need one layer, this is a great jacket. However, in other conditions, it just wouldn’t be enough. I tried layering it with a fleece, and although it would work, it wouldn’t be my first choice while layering. With that said - if you’re a jacket-collecting junkie like me, this won’t be a problem. It will have its time and place.

There’s no hood. It’s a personal opinion and quite the debate; but to offer my two cents, if you’re going for a rain jacket type feel, a hood is necessary. That summer thunderstorm is going to go straight down your jacket without one, and that’s not a comfortable way to sail.

First impressions are the most important, right? Well, I feel this jacket doesn’t make the best first impression. I worried it was a little too light weight. After further examination and a few laps around APS, I found it grew on me. The initial fear that it’s too light melted away, and I found it to be quite nice. With that said and to be clear, I would not want to be caught in the rain for an extended period of time. If there’s a passing shower or cool summer night, bring it on…


If you want a lightweight, packable jacket, the Cipher won’t disappoint. It has some good technical features - the cut, longer arms, and no-mesh lining - but it will never be your nasty weather choice. The price makes it a great option for team gear, with a jacket that will work on and off the boat while still being fully taped at the seams to make the Henri Lloyd Cipher completely waterproof.

Cipher Waist Trousers

Waist pants have their appropriate place. They’re easy to throw on when needed, not going to prevent water from seeping in the rear, but waterproof enough to protect against waves and showers….The Cipher is just that. As with the jacket, they seem to be too light to be true. With the same fabric, they are fully waterproof and breathable.

The Good

The lightweight and simple design make the Cipher Waist Trousers a great alternative to bibs or salopettes. Easy to slip on when needed, they will provide that extra water-resistance you need. The elastic waist has the same soft-to-the-touch material as the collar on the jacket making it comfortable and not sticky. The zipped ankle opening makes it easier to get on over shoes. Overall, they were well thought out and well designed.

The Bad

They wouldn’t be my go-to for all conditions, but for what they’re designed to do, they’re great. The rear pocket is not waterproof so after some time on a wet deck, it’s going to start seeping. The knees aren’t reinforced, which means they aren’t going to work very well for bow monkeys out there.

One good slide across non-skid, and your once waterproof pants are going to make better waterproof shorts with a little tailoring. There is a buckle closure on the waist that seems that could get caught on lifelines and generally be in the way. The sizing is a bit weird, but they are men’s sizes…and well, I’m a girl.

Overall, they would work well for those not sliding around on the deck. Great for the quick run down below before the summer shower, they would keep you dry and comfortable. However, with no reinforcements in the seat and knees, I would worry about their longevity.

Henri Lloyd’s Cipher is a great line of gear for the price. With fully taped seams, a completely waterproof set of gear isn’t easy to find for less than $100.00. Lightweight and breathable, you’ll be in good shape for that passing shower or cool night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Degrees of Separation and Three PSA

Tough guy Steve Mazur from APS Customer Service shares the story of his bout with Cancer. Read on to learn how his connections in the Sailing Community took him on a ride to the hospital and back. We're happy to have him at the office once again. Welcome back, Steve!

PSA - Public Service Announcement? Yes, on many counts.

I’m back! After two weeks out of the office, I’m ready to catch up on correspondence ASAP. Look out for my emails…

Now that you know that - you can choose to stop reading, and I’ll thank you for your time.

Or break out the popcorn, grab a beer – ladies, a glass of chardonnay? And let’s get personal for a bit. That’s your warning... PSA is also an early indicator of Prostate Cancer. We’re getting serious here.

Many know I started out in the Marine Industry working with an APS competitor before tacking and making my way up the Bay 2004. Without the people I’ve met in the Marine Industry and those who enjoy our sport of Sailing, this story might not have the happy ending it does.

Bam Miller of Oyster Bay Boat Shop introduced me to Steve Benjamin of North Sails. That (in turn) guided me to Dr. David Samadi, the Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Only Three Degrees of Separation. That’s right, it was these three people who worked together to cure me of Prostate Cancer. That’s the happy ending – I’m cured. I will always be indebted for y’alls help – and for the help of a cast of Family – my Sister Cam Blass and brothers Paul & Gary - and friends all too many to list. Though, I can’t get away without a shout out of thanks to Susan Pettix McNeely and son Marty McNeely.

Get Checked! Have Digital Rectal Exam and Monitor your PSA Level. So a doctor has his way with you, just do it already! Do you think he’s enjoying it? Doubtful.

Flash-back to where this all started. In October 2009, at age 51, I felt it wise to have a colonoscopy. I needed a referral. It was my Internist Dr. William Dabbs who felt something questionable and referred me to my first of three urologists. A biopsy was performed, and lab results confirmed a low volume of a slow growth cancer.

A second urologist was consulted at the top-rated facility in the country with a world-renowned Dept. of Urology. Treatment options were presented, and I selected surgery to remove my prostate utilizing the Da Vinci Robot. Surgery was attempted in October 2010 in Baltimore, and difficulties arose, which forced the surgeon to cancel the procedure and limited my options going forward.

It was at this time Bam of Oyster Bay e-mailed me asking how things went post-op. I gave him the Cliff Notes of what happened, and he asked if he could forward the e-mail onto Steve Benjamin (aka Benj) of North Sails, who had done a PhD’s worth of research finding himself the right doctor.

At this point, Benj took it one step further and forwarded the e-mail onto Dr. Samadi - another person who, like Benj at this point, didn’t know me from Adam.

ENTER: Dr David Samadi.

David cured Benj of Prostate Cancer in November 2009, and in turn, introduced the good doctor to our sport of Sailing. Dr. Samadi is dedicated to his patients like no other doctor I’ve ever encountered. (Sorry Bill, you’re great, but David takes it to another level.) Even as the son of an Anesthesiologist and Nurse, I’ve never experienced such care. Sure, a heard of Residents passed through, and I couldn’t pick them out from a line-up - but David was always there and available. I cannot praise this man enough.

We set a date for Valentine’s Day surgery. A procedure that I was originally told would take three to five hours to complete was accomplished in 59 minutes. I was walking after surgery.

Dr. Samadi has now worked on a half dozen of us Sailors and will help all Sailors in this particular distress.

Research your Surgeon!!!!!!!!!!!

The da Vinci robot has a very steep learning curve, and you need to find an experienced, skilled, and dedicated surgeon. My first round didn’t go well, and I was lucky to be introduced to David and to have had access to his skills. I only hope the same for you if you find yourself in this situation. David is trained and skilled in all three disciplines of prostate Surgery – Open, Laparoscopic, and Robotic. He has a track record with a few thousand procedures under his keel.

In closing, you should know when Valentine’s Day is to begin with, Dude. But if you don’t, February 14th. Take today’s date, do the math, and know my cancer is gone. I have zero margins, and I’m doing great. I'm Back.

Let’s get this Winter behind us and heat it up on the water already.