Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comparing Dinghy Boots: Waterproof or Neoprene

Not sure what type of dinghy boot is right for you?  Don't worry APS can help! The two most popular types are Neoprene or waterproof.

Neoprene boots have a zippered closure, velcro zipper keeper, and tend to be more flexible which allows a thicker than normal sock to be worn without cramping the foot.

The waterproof boots typically have a lace-up closure, are more rigid, and hold moisture just as well as it keeps the water out.

TypeMaterialsConstructionClosurePrimary Use
Waterproof BootsRubberRigidTie upSpring/Summer
Neoprene BootsNeopreneFlexibleZipperYear Round, Good for Winter

Now lets take a look: 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to use the Ronstan Constrictor Rope Clutch

The Ronstan Constrictor Rope Clutch is a whole new way to clutch and hold halyards or tacklines.  The Constrictor uses a sleeve of essentially line cover to hold the halyard fast.

Using what can most simply be described as ‘Chinese finger trap technology’ the constrictor boasts several advantages over traditional mechanical clutches. The first is a weight savings, Ronstan claims that the Constrictor is 3x lighter than conventional clutches.

The second differentiator is because there is no point loading on the line there is far less wear and tear on the line. Lastly since the Constrictor does not point load the line it is not necessary to load the line up on a winch in order to safely release the loaded line. One consideration is the length of deck space available as the Constrictor requires more space than a traditional clutch, for reference the 6mm clutch shown requires 24” of deck space.

This Constrictor is certainly innovative and it is clear why this piece of hardware has won some of the most prestigious awards with regards to sailing hardware.

Now, let’s see how it works (and don't forget your Sweedish Fid):

Friday, August 8, 2014

How to Install and Use the Tactick Micro Kit

Designed with the small keelboat and racing dinghy sailor in mind, the Tactick Micro Compass is minimalist in design and simple to use.  The true definition of less is more.

Key features include:
Digital magnetic compass bearing/heading
- Tactical compass
- Countdown race timer
- Wireless
- Solar powered
- Waterproof (up to 10m)

The Kit comes with Velcro mast mount, carrying case, a snap-in cradle that allows you to snap the Compass on and off, leaving the mount on the mast. While in use, the Micro Compass can show the Heading (magnetic bearing), Tactical heading or Start Timer.   

The twin LCD display provides an accurate, responsive heading with graphic head / lift indication with wide viewing angles providing precise and reliable data when and where you need it
You can use this precision heading reference to site marks, to check the line bias, or detect wind shifts.

Start Timer

The Micro Compass’s start timer is intuitive and easy to operate, as well as customizable to any start sequence. In order to change the start time (from 5 minutes to 3 minutes), press both mode and set keys simultaneously.  Once engaged, you will noticed the start time flash.  Now, you adjust the time up or down with the set or mode key.  Press the button mode to decrease, and set to increase the minutes.  When you have the right time, press the Mode and Set buttons simultaneously to save.

Once set up to the correct starting sequence time, press the set key to start the countdown. Audible beeps will count you down to the start, with beeps every 10 seconds under one minute, and beeps every second under 10 seconds.

If you were a little late on the gun, press the set key to re-sync the timer to the nearest full minute.
When the countdown reaches zero, Micro Compass returns to the mode it was in, before the countdown timer was set.  If interested in elapsed time, press the mode key until you see the Timer mode indicator at the top of the display.


The first of the compass modes is a traditional magnetic compass.  It features large numbers that are easy to read even from sharp angles. 

Tactical Mode

The Tactical mode is for the upwind beat and is customizable to your boats tacking angle.  The adjustment range is 1˚, 2˚, 5˚or 10˚. The Micro adds half the tack angle to the starboard display, and subtracts half the tack angle from the port display, so that you are always looking at the same number, whichever tack you are on.  While on port tack look at the port display, and on starboard tack look at the starboard display.  If the wind shifts, then you will see the displayed number change accordingly.

When on starboard, if the number gets smaller then you should tack (tack on -). When on port, if the number gets bigger then you should tack (tack on +). Header or Lift?  You decide when to tack.

From club racing to your local OD fleet, the Tactick Micro Compass is an excellent choice to keep you going in the right direction.

Now, lets see it in action:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How to Choose and Use a Soft Shackle

There are dozens of shackles you can use on a boat. Screw pin, key pin, trigger, J-Lock and more. A newer style of shackles collectively referred to as soft shackles have grown in popularity, especially as the technology for low stretch rope, specifically Dyneema and Spectra, has advanced.  The primary benefit of these soft shackles is weight reduction without loss in strength. The downside is diminished durability but for most people this is an acceptable trade-off.

Our two most popular soft shackles are the APSDyneema-Shackle Loops, which are all-Dyneema shackles, and Equiplites which have an aluminum bobbin used to secure the Dyneema loop in place.

The benefit of the aluminum bobbin is that no matter how highly loaded the shackle is, it is just as easy to open whereas the Dyneema Shackle loops can snug onto themselves, sometimes making quick sail changes difficult to perform. But the all-Dyneema loops are much less expensive whereas the Equiplites can often cost many times more. It really depends on the application which you should use and each has their pros and cons.

For a closer look at how to operate them, let's take a look: