Musto MPX Race Lite Jacket, Smock & Salopettes, The New Buoy Racing Favorite. Musto’s MPX Gore-Tex Race gear has been a staff favorite at APS for as long as it’s been available. This stuff was the original & the ultimate in “buoy racing” gear and pretty much everyone who works here has bought a set at some point. Musto has been cranking out this classic, bombproof design with minimal changes for a long time now and for 2016 they decided […]
Musto MPX Race Lite Jacket, Smock & Salopettes, The New Buoy Racing Favorite.
Musto’s MPX Gore-Tex Race gear has been a staff favorite at APS for as long as it’s been available. This stuff was the original & the ultimate in “buoy racing” gear and pretty much everyone who works here has bought a set at some point. Musto has been cranking out this classic, bombproof design with minimal changes for a long time now and for 2016 they decided it was time for something new. This year they have delivered the MPX Race Lite – this set of jacket, smock & salopettes offers the same ultra-durable, waterproof & breathable Gore-Tex protection that everyone loves, but in a significantly lighter weight package.
If you aren’t familiar with Musto’s MPX Race gear – it’s designed with minimal frills compared to a more traditional coastal or offshore sailing jacket. Designed to be worn for day races, or perhaps short overnights in a pinch, the jacket has a low collar, only a few pockets (no fleece linings here), and a short at the waist length. Combined with the salopettes you have total waterproof coverage, without the bulk that makes it hard to jump around the boat during intense racing.
The biggest change with new Race Lite version is that both the jacket & smock are made from a significantly lighter weight Gore-Tex Pro Shell than before. Given it’s been over 10 years since the original first came out – surprise, surprise technology has changed somewhat (what did your cell phone look like 10 years ago?). This means that the MPX Race Lite jacket is lighter and offers stretch panels to make it easier to move around it, and it is still super durable gear that will last for years of active sailing.
Race Lite Jacket
Let’s take a closer look at the pieces of the MPX Race Lite set, starting with the jacket. It has a low bulk, waterproof zipper at the front, and 3 pockets with the same zip. Note that these pockets aren’t truly waterproof because they have small drain holes in the bottoms – in case you get hit by a sudden wave with your pocket open you wouldn’t want to try standing on your head to get the water back out. The jacket also has double cuffs to make sure your arms stay dry even if they’re above your head – an upgrade from the previous version which only had a single cuff.
The hood on the Musto Race Lite jacket has adjustments both around the front & around the back of your head to ensure it says on, plus a new fleece lining to keep you warm on colder days & nights. The great thing about the hood is that it’s removable – if you take your jacket on a cold overnight or a short distance race you will love having all the features of the hood, but if you’re just day racing wearing a hat you can just unzip and leave it at home. I personally like to leave my hood in one of the jacket pockets – that way it’s always there in case I need it.
You can really feel the stretch fabric in the jacket working when moving your arms around. This is especially helpful when you have the cuffs cinched down tight – the stretch helps make sure the cuffs don’t pull when you have your arms all the way out jumping a halyard.
Race Lite Smock
Now on to the smock. The Musto Rate Lite smock has the same great lightweight & stretchy fabric as the jacket. As you’d expect from a smock, it has a waist seal, cinched with two Velcro straps that pull forward. The waist band is quite tall – which I’ve found helps both to keep water out, and keep the smock from riding up during the day.
The smock has a chest pocket, and then one big kangaroo pocket (just like your favorite hoody sweatshirt). The pocket has a ton of room for storage if you need it, but can be pretty hard to get into if you are wearing a life jacket on top.
The neck closure on the smock is quite comfortable. It has a very long zipper, which allows the neck to open up wider and makes the smock easier to take on & off. The zipper is angled off to the side, which keeps it away from the front of your neck making it more comfortable when the neck seal is tight.
Race Lite Salopettes
Finally the official APS staff favorite piece of gear, the Musto Race Lite salopettes. This product remains the most similar to the prior version, and for good reason. This product has been APS’ most popular single piece of foul weather for many years – both with our customers and with our staff. It would be hard to overstate how much everyone I have ever talked to who owns these loves them, myself included. In case you are questioning just how much we love this gear at APS – we have not one (Musto MPX Salopettes Video Blog) but two (Foul Weather Gear Review: Musto MPX Race Salopettes) previous reviews for the MPX salopettes already in the APS Advisor.
So what’s new? Unlike the Race Lite jacket & smock, the salopettes are made of a bit heavier Gore-Tex Pro Shell. It feels very similar to the original fabric, which means that these bottoms are going to stand up whatever you can throw at them on the race course. Because your pants are what makes contact with the deck all the time, it made sense to make them out of a slightly heavier fabric. This is especially true with some of today’s race boats which can often have very aggressive non-skid.
Salopettes are unique in that they have full waterproof coverage all the way up to your shoulders. The over the shoulder material on the Musto salopettes is fully stretchy material to help them move with you when you raise your arms. This helps avoid any unpleasantness in the crotch area from a too snug fit. Salopettes are not for everyone though – some people will find that traditional trousers offer the additional height adjustment that they need to be comfortable.
One of the improvements in these new trousers from Musto is at the ankle cuff. There is about a 4 ½” neoprene cuff that you can cinch down over your boots or ankles to keep the water out and ensure you aren’t stepping on your pants. The inside of the cuff is a super grippy material so it should do a much better job than the previous version of sealing against your boots and staying put all day.
The bottom line is that Musto Race Lite jacket, smock & salopettes will be a real workhorse that will serve you well for years on many different kinds of sailboats. This gear will keep you dry but allow you the freedom to move quickly on fast sport boats. It is durable enough to stand up to days and days of rain, spray and waves. The MPX Gore-Tex fabric is going to remain waterproof for years, keeping you dry the whole time. The Race Lite collection is versatile – you can wear this around the buoys for beer cans, but you could also take it on short overnight races and it will serve you well for both.
Sailing is one of those things where the modern sailor totally gets to be off the grid. You can be completely by yourself, one with nature and full of peace and quiet – often a spiritual experience. But occasionally, the sailor needs to actually know how to use a VHF Radio to effectively communicate with the outside world, whether it’s for an emergency or just to talk to other power boat or sail boats nearby. When you are out on […]
Be Clear, Be Clear, Be Clear.
DO This, NOT That..
“Over and/or Out”
If you keep these guidelines in mind, you’ll be comfortable using your radio and speaking to other boaters pretty quickly. Just remember to be confident and clear and you won’t have any issues using your radio for recreational purposes or in time of need.
Stern Scoop back to Channel 16, Out.
VHF Radio options and the What’s, the Why’s and the How’s that make them awesome. People get out on the water for all types of reasons. They set sail on a peaceful cruise to have just that, peace and quiet. Until they don’t and they need to talk to the outside world. We have several ways we can do this. For the most part, we use VHF radios to talk to other people, boats and businesses that are either on or near the water. […]
VHF Radio options and the What’s, the Why’s and the How’s that make them awesome.
People get out on the water for all types of reasons. They set sail on a peaceful cruise to have just that, peace and quiet. Until they don’t and they need to talk to the outside world. We have several ways we can do this.
For the most part, we use VHF radios to talk to other people, boats and businesses that are either on or near the water. You use your VHF to call other boats in the vicinity of you when other forms of communication don’t or may not work – like a cell phone or two-way radio. If you are sailing in a highly charged regatta, you definitely want to monitor the VHF channel that race committee is using. They will be posting and commenting on anything
relevant to the regatta such as course changes and delays and everything that is important. They can’t do this over cell phones or two-ways. If you need to contact the dock master at the marina, he is probably walking the docks with his portable VHF clipped to his belt.
Two-way radios and cell phones also serve their purpose when we need to talk to others. Their major drawback is that we need to already know who we are calling (or at least know their phone number for cell phones or the exact frequency for two-ways), two-way users have to be on the same frequency as you and cell phone users must have a signal. You can’t call the bridge operator on the phone if you don’t know the phone number, but you know they are monitoring Channel 13.
The Standard VHF Radio
All boats longer than 20 feet are required to have a VHF radio onboard. These are the standard, go-to radio since they can really transmit over long distances (up to 10 miles or more). They have big whip antennas and serious wattage output so they can be heard for miles. Since they are hardwired to your boat, the battery lasts as long as the battery on the
The Handheld VHF Radio
This is the “little brother” version of the standard, hard mounted VHF radio. It can do just about everything the standard VHF can do, just on a smaller scale with one huge advantage over big brother – it can be carried around with you since it is small and is battery powered with a built-in antenna. The range on a handheld VHF radios are around 1 to 4 miles on flat ground (or water) versus 10 for the big guy above.
Personal Two-Way Radios
Popular with hikers and moms and dads, personal two-way radios are the ultimate in portability without worrying about cell phone service. As long as you don’t get too far away from the other handset, communicating with these little units, works only for one-to-one talking – not for broadcasting to large groups.
The Cell Phone
The ultimate in talkability. Talk to anyone and everyone on this little device. Want to have dinner at that cool little restaurant near the docks once you get back to shore tonight. Better call and make reservations. Look up the restaurant’s phone number on your built-in browser and give them a call. What??? No service, what to do next? Cell phones offer the ultimate in communication as long as you are located near a cell tower. If you are not near a tower, you could literally be up the creek without a paddle and no way to call for help.
So, now that you know the ways we, as boaters, can talk to one another; you decide you want to get a Portable VHF Radio. That’s awesome. Portable VHF’s have some uses that make the standard, built-in VHF look like Gordon Gekko’s cell phone from “Wall Street”.
So, why is a portable VHF so great?
First and foremost, it’s portable. They have rechargeable batteries that can last up to a full day or more on standby. Many built-in VHF radios aren’t that convenient to the cockpit of a boat if the boat even has a built-in VHF. They may be located in the cabin without a remote microphone near the helm. This is where a portable comes in. Because of their size, they are able to move around with the captain of the boat and always be within reach.
Need to talk to your crew while you are docking your ’51 Sou’wester? Hand the mate on lines the portable and grab the main VHF, or even another portable, and you can prevent any mishaps to your classic’s gelcoat when coming in to the docks perhaps a little hot on a windy day. The same goes for grabbing a mooring ball. It’s much easier to communicate with a portable VHF rather than yelling over engine noise. Now you can make it to happy hour at “The Boatyard” with no problems.
It’s a good idea to have a portable unit as a backup. Cell phones aren’t always reliable on the water. If there isn’t a cell tower, you’ve got no service. In another country that operates on a different cell frequency than you do; the VHF will work. As long as you are within range of another VHF, you can be heard. Remember, just because you can’t hear someone else, they may be able to hear you.
And finally, VHF’s are versatile. Say you are on a weeklong cruise and you have been given the joyful task of going ashore from your mooring to do a little provisioning for dinner but your boat mate wants to keep the dinghy “just in case.” Have him take you to the docks and take the portable VHF with you so you can call him when you are ready to be picked up. Or, to call a water taxi since he decided to take a nap.
No don’t let all the buttons and knobs on a VHF radio intimidate you. All VHF radios essentially have the same functions. You’ll want to read your manual for the specifics as they are all a little different, but they tend to work in the same way and are user-friendly once you know how it works.
Here is a list of the main functions of a handheld VHF radio:
- Power – this powers the device on and off.
- Push-to-Talk (PTT)– on all VHF radios, you have to push this button while talking and is usually located on the side. Just remember that you have to let go of the button after
you say “Over” so you can hear what others are saying.
- Volume Control – you can raise and lower the receiver volume.
- Squelch – use this to reduce static.
- Lock Feature – you can lock the radio to prevent accidentally hitting buttons can changing settings.
- Often, there will also be easy access to the weather channel and channel 16.
A portable VHF radio has its place just like your regular VHF and cell phone. But knowing what it’s good for and how to use it are the key to turning your sailing and boating experiences into memories. Once you know when and how to operate your radio, you’re ready to power it on and transmit!
Plain bearing blocks are the original blocks that started it all. They paved the way for more advanced and higher performance blocks like the ball bearing and roller bearing blocks. Plain and simple is the name of the game for these guys. They have a simple construction with the least amount of moving parts you can find in a block. Generally they made of a plastic or metal sheave (the wheel thing) rolling on a metal pin or bushing. In some instances, they were made of Bakelite […]
Plain and simple is the name of the game for these guys. They have a simple construction with the least amount of moving parts you can find in a block. Generally they made of a plastic or metal sheave (the wheel thing) rolling on a metal pin or bushing. In some instances, they were made of Bakelite (1940’s or so) or even wood (think Mayflower).
Like most things, manufacturers have made improvements over the years. Some have added low friction metal sleeve bearings and side-races of ball bearings. This design reduces friction between the cheek and wheel when the block has an uneven load, but does not take any of the actual load.
New designs of blocks were developed such as the modern ball bearing block (Harken 1967) or later, roller bearing blocks. These advances in design reduce friction and are much easier to adjust under high load.
Despite this, plain bearing blocks still have their place in the world of sailing. For one, they have the highest strength-to-price ratio of any block we sell making them extremely cost effective.
They are a good, all-purpose blocks – a jack of all trades if you will. They don’t run as smooth as a ball bearing block but they are stronger. They may not adjust as easily under high load as a roller bearing block, but they are still less expensive.
Are they always the best block for the job? No, but they can be used in most any application. For these reasons, plain bearing blocks are often used as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) on many boats.
Plain bearing blocks are perfect for high, static loads. Because of this, they can be are especially well suited for halyard turning blocks, runner or backstay blocks, and vangs.
So you may be asking yourself, Why would I need a fancy shmancy Roller Bearing Block? What makes them so special anyway? Well..we are here to show you. One of the greatest advantages of a Roller Bearing Block over a Plain or Ball Bearing Block is the low friction safe working loads. Highly loaded lines in a Roller Bearing Block will run faster, and adjustments are much easier. Roller Bearings may not necessarily run as free as ball bearings, but they do offer a significantly higher working load. Ball […]
So you may be asking yourself, Why would I need a fancy shmancy Roller Bearing Block? What makes them so special anyway? Well..we are here to show you.
One of the greatest advantages of a Roller Bearing Block over a Plain or Ball Bearing Block is the low friction safe working loads. Highly loaded lines in a Roller Bearing Block will run faster, and adjustments are much easier.
Roller Bearings may not necessarily run as free as ball bearings, but they do offer a significantly higher working load. Ball bearing block are only able to offer about a third of safe working load versus a similar sized roller bearing block. So, what’s the catch? Why not use roller bearing blocks all over the place? My thoughts exactly but the answer comes down to, Cost! They are just a wee bit more expensive than both Ball Bearing and Plain Bearing blocks.
The high-load Torlon bearings are self-lubricating and come in either a cassette or as loose individual rollers. The Torlon rollers provide a greater surface area (spread the load out) than ball bearings and provide the block its high working loads.
Why’s that so great? Under the same high loads, ball bearings would flatten out then not roll as freely, and plain bearings would handle the load but with even more friction.
Roller blocks come with small, Delrin ball bearings around the sides of the sheave that take up side loads when the block is unevenly loaded. These added ball bearings prevent the sheave from rubbing directly on the check plates of the block.
Where to use Roller Bearing Blocks
These blocks are designed for high load applications that are adjusted somewhat frequently and need to operate with a minimum amount of friction.
They are usually found on boats that are 35′ and above. Roller Blocks are perfect for backstays, mainsheets, afterguys, guy leads, tack lines, etc.
Maintenance for Roller Bearing Blocks
Roller bearing blocks can be easily taken apart with a hex wrench to clean or replace parts.
Hose blocks with fresh water to remove dirt and salt. Do not use Sailkote on roller bearings (nor ball bearing) blocks. Rollers (and ball bearings) require just a bit of friction to entice the desired rolling. This stuff is too slippery and may impede rolling. Stick to McLube OneDrop if lubrication is required.
While these blocks are a bit more expensive, they are still unbeatable for high load, high performance situations.
Today we are highlighting ball bearing blocks as part one of our three part discussion on blocks, their characteristics, and uses. So, what is a Ball Bearing Block? In its simplest form, a ball bearing block it is a housing containing a rolling sheave with balls lining the race on the either side of the sheave. The balls reduce friction by minimizing bearing surface and roll between the moving surface and the non-moving part of the block. Because of this, lines are able to slide […]
Today we are highlighting ball bearing blocks as part one of our three part discussion on blocks, their characteristics, and uses.
So, what is a Ball Bearing Block? In its simplest form, a ball bearing block it is a housing containing a rolling sheave with balls lining the race on the either side of the sheave. The balls reduce friction by minimizing bearing surface and roll between the moving surface and the non-moving part of the block. Because of this, lines are able to slide through the block with ease. For example, when you want to turn downwind and quickly ease the mainsheet, the less friction there is on the line, the faster the boom will swing outward.
What types of ball bearings are there?
The main differences you will see in performance come from the types of material the ball bearings are made of.
Delrin is the most common material found in blocks. It has very smooth running characteristics and is appropriate for low to moderate load applications. It is not as hard of a material as the other options and in applications where the block is loaded up for long periods of time, the balls can flatten, decreasing the performance of the block.
Torlon is the most common choice of material for high load applications, and is a self-lubricating material which reduces maintenance. These characteristics also mean it comes with a higher price tag. Stainless steel balls are capable of withstanding the highest loads and are also found in ball bearing blocks, but since they are heavier and require more maintenance than the other two, they are less common.
What types of applications are ball bearing blocks appropriate?
Anything where you need low friction with low to moderate loads, meaning just about everywhere. These are definitely the most common blocks you will see on a boat. For dinghies, you will almost exclusively see ball bearing blocks. As you get into larger boats (30’-35’), ball bearing blocks are still the most prevalent, especially in applications where low friction is desired, but you will also start seeing plain bearing and/or roller bearing blocks in high static load applications, where the line is set under load and not frequently adjusted. The diagram below gives a good “rule of thumb” look at the selection process for the different types of bearings and materials.
Maintenance for Ball Bearing Blocks
If your ball bearing block is not running well, you can try a drop of McLube OneDrop. If that doesn’t work, you probably need to replace the block. Above anything, absolutely never use Sailkote on your roller bearing blocks, or tracks. This will over lubricate your bearings thus preventing them from rolling properly and causing flat spots, which then impair the functioning of the block. Of course we still love McLube SailKote, but just not on ball bearings.
Nylon line is a commonly used thermoplastic found in many everyday items. It has long been used in the modern marine industry for dock lines and anchor rodes (a fancy anchoring term for ‘line’). When used alone (not blended with another line material), Nylon line serves as a well functioning dock line material. Nylon is naturally semi-elastic, abrasion resistant, and fairly flexible. These traits make it easy to hold onto and tie off your boat. For dock lines, Nylon will give you peace-of-mind […]
Nylon line is a commonly used thermoplastic found in many everyday items. It has long been used in the modern marine industry for dock lines and anchor rodes (a fancy anchoring term for ‘line’).
When used alone (not blended with another line material), Nylon line serves as a well functioning dock line material. Nylon is naturally semi-elastic, abrasion resistant, and fairly flexible. These traits make it easy to hold onto and tie off your boat.
For dock lines, Nylon will give you peace-of-mind knowing that the boat movement caused by waves and winds will be absorbed by its elasticity. In other words, Nylon dock lines wont pull the horn cleats off the deck of your boat.
Recently you can find Nylon line blended with a stronger line material, such as dyneema. This combination can often be found as a mainsheet that’s low-stretch (dyneema), but is also easy to grip (nylon).
Characteristics of Nylon:
- Very elastic/stretchy
- Helps cushion the boat to docks/moorings/anchors
- Reduces strain on cleats and deck hardware
- Incredibly strong
- Has great UV resistance
- Only slightly less UV resistant than Polyester
- Less expensive than most comparable materials
- Abrasion resistant
- Flexible and easy to handle
Polypropylene Line is a thermoplastic polymer material that has a wide variety of uses. It is commonly found in many household, textile, and industrial applications. For the marine industry, polypropylene line is tough, flexible, and strong yet lightweight enough to float which makes this ideal for dinghies and small keel boats. Polypropylene Rope Characteristics: Light weight: when compared to similarly-sized diameter lines. Does not absorb water Floats Excellent shock absorption Easy to splice Economical Low tolerance to UV Low Melting Point Low Abrasion Resistant Some common applications […]
Polypropylene Line is a thermoplastic polymer material that has a wide variety of uses. It is commonly found in many household, textile, and industrial applications. For the marine industry, polypropylene line is tough, flexible, and strong yet lightweight enough to float which makes this ideal for dinghies and small keel boats.
Polypropylene Rope Characteristics:
- Light weight: when compared to similarly-sized diameter lines.
- Does not absorb water
- Excellent shock absorption
- Easy to splice
- Low tolerance to UV
- Low Melting Point
- Low Abrasion Resistant
Some common applications of a 100% polypropylene line include dinghy tow rope, an
economy dinghy mainsheet and you may even find it as a spinnaker take down line on larger keel boats.
Other options are a polypropylene blended line. What do we mean when we say blend? This typically means that the polypropylene COVER or CORE is woven with either polyester, Dyneema, or Vectran to provide greater strength, durability and stability.
Common applications for the polypropylene blends include small diameter control lines, as well as spinnaker sheets and mainsheets for smaller keelboats where you are not using a winch. Due to the low melting point of polypropylene, abrasion and friction will melt this cover so using a winch is not recommended.
Since polypropylene has a low tolerance to UV light, when exposure is prolonged, oxidation occurs and polypropylene becomes chalky and splintery with a prickly feel. So try and keep it out of the sun when not in use to extend its life. This will be a good indicator that it is time to replace your polypropylene.
Now, lets take a look: