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Old 24-12-2016, 09:04   #1
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Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

Does anyone have an opinion on Practical Sailor magazine?

They promise to provide unbiased reviews of various sailboat models. Is anyone familiar with their reviews? Do they provide what they promise?

www.practical-sailor.com
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Old 24-12-2016, 09:24   #2
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

I got tired of them constantly offering more information for additional money. Yes they don't have advertising, accept for their own booklets and reports they want you to purchase. I was expecting that the price of my subscription was going to cover the cost of the information they were going to provide.
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Old 24-12-2016, 09:31   #3
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

Yes and no.

1. Those will be the answers you'll be getting.

2. I read them "religiously" for many years back in the 80s and 90s. They became repetitive.

3. Some of their "analysis" is questionable for gear. Except when it is written by someone we have learned to know and trust, like Maine Sail and his electrical knowledge.

4. Their boat reviews tend to repeat the obvious: yeah, all chainplates leak BECAUSE the stupid boat owner who doesn't know that they should be part of preventive maintenance, let them leak and created wet spots on the deck. This is NOT the fault of the boat designer. OTOH, IIRC, they didn't say squat about the horrible chainplate design on Island Packets. Just ask a64 on this forum, who has posted a brilliant analysis of what he has had to do on his boat. Very expensive. I am active in the C34 Association, and have been for the past 18 years. For example: Their review of the boat over 10 years ago (which was pretty good albeit wrong in many cases). They were kind enough to "reach out" to our Association when they updated their review 2 years ago. I spent a lot of time with the editor of the article, sent him links to our voluminous website and recommended corrections (not just changes) to two drafts. They still published incorrect information. Nice try, but coming up short when given the opportunity to get things right didn't make my day.

5. After a while, with experiences, you can find other sources of information that supersedes and is superior to their POV.

6. Their website is not so great and having to pay for all the old material isn't a great business model, IMHO.

7. Their boat reviews may be a good starting point, but only that.

Good luck.
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Old 24-12-2016, 09:41   #4
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

I subscribed long ago. Tired of it a bit, and the subscription was surprisingly expensive. It's just another tool/opinion for you to base your own decisions on.... not the tell all , end all.
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Old 24-12-2016, 09:49   #5
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddedger View Post
I got tired of them constantly offering more information for additional money. Yes they don't have advertising, accept for their own booklets and reports they want you to purchase. I was expecting that the price of my subscription was going to cover the cost of the information they were going to provide.
Actually that's not correct. If you subscribe to Practical sailor you get access to all those issues and reports (back issues going back to the year 2000 at no additional cost) its alot of information for $34 a year.
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Old 24-12-2016, 09:54   #6
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

My experience is like Stu’s. I subscribed for a number of years earlier on in my cruising development. I found it useful for a while, and I really appreciate the subscription-supported idea, so they’re not beholden to advertisers. However, after a while the info does become repetitive, and I simply found I became more skilled and less needing of a third-party to tell me what I needed to know. Some of the specific product reviews remain useful, but I found I just needed it less and and less.

I must say though, the real straw that ended my long-time subscription was the massive expansion of their constant up-selling. The email and postal mail pleas to renew my subscription early, to buy this package or that service … all of it became constant and incessant. I think this happened shortly after they were bought out by another company, and went glossy. I finally got sick of their unresponsiveness (I tried and tried and tied to get them to stop sending me all their crap), so I let me subscription go.

… sorry for the rant. I guess I think there is value in PS, most especially for people new to the world of sailing and cruising. But like most of these kinds of resources, I think people grow out of them.
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Old 24-12-2016, 11:06   #7
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

To me the value is in the search function. A few months ago I sat down and cataloged articles in the process of researching several topics. I came up with nearly 3000, not counting fractional page blurps on something new or corrections/comments. I spend a LOT more time in the archives than I do with the latest issue.

As for repetition, that is because it is what the new readers seem to want. On a forum, post about why you sail, anchors, drogues, tethers, or what electronics you need and you'll get buried. Same thing. Their readers ask about:
  • Electronics.
  • Cleaners and waxes.
  • Anchoring.
  • Safety gear.
Another thing to consider. Unlike mags dependent on advertising, they will write about whatever you ask. There doesn't have to be an advertiser. So write-in asking about a topic you want to hear about! They're hungry for topics.



For example, I remember a few years ago Sail did a big spread on in-line tandem anchors. Small wonder, they had picked up an advertiser that month selling a system. By now the vendor is gone, because it didn't work at all, but the article said it was the greatest. The other weakness is focus on blue lagoons, because that is the image that sells; the anchoring advise will be from a coconut belt cruiser talking about coral and coarse sand, not the mud we actually anchor in.
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Old 24-12-2016, 11:18   #8
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

Commercial media as a business model is fast becoming obsolete.

Blogs, youtube, social media and cruisers forum are far more insightful than old fashoined magazines imho.
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Old 24-12-2016, 11:20   #9
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdege View Post
Does anyone have an opinion on Practical Sailor magazine?

They promise to provide unbiased reviews of various sailboat models. Is anyone familiar with their reviews? Do they provide what they promise?

www.practical-sailor.com
IF you have not already read one of their full reviews, I would start by reading one. See if it helps you get enough information about a boat. See if it answers questions (saves you time) and provides analysis you may not find elsewhere. Compare it to other reviews of the same boat you may find in other publications.

Here is a FREE Full Review:
C&C 40. (Free Full Review)
C&C 40 Still Turning Heads - Practical Sailor Print Edition Article

_______

Also, the subscription fee may seem "worth it" if that subscription gives you quick and easy access to information that you would not find otherwise or without spending much more time to find it.

And, one can look at many reviews.

Comparing the Practical Sailor review (which may be critical in some respects) to a more bland and favorable review in a typical advertising supported magazine or site should show you a difference too. I have read reviews in the other magazines that seem to lack anything negative (or critical) at all. No boat is perfect. No magazine (or source) is perfect.

I am not a subscriber to Practical Sailor, but don't let that stop you. IF you are just starting out, or just learning about different boats, it may be worth it to you to subscribe for a year and read many back articles and reviews to see what they said.

IF you have narrowed your choice of boats (or already have one) then it may not be as valuable. Or you may find info on other things besides boats, like anchors and bottom paint etc. That said, I think the videos of anchors setting that were created by CF member PANOPE are more interesting and helpful to me than an article.

Conversely, you could spend the same time reading and researching via user groups and sailing forums such as CF. Different type of content, and may provide more or less depth. Another good source for some basic background on many boats is found at bluewaterboats.org

Good luck.
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Old 24-12-2016, 11:26   #10
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

I subscribed for several years back in the 90's and really enjoyed it. They are certainly less biased than any ad supported magazine, but they're not perfect either. Like some others, it gets repetitive after a while, and it's kind of expensive, so I dropped it.

Also like others have said, you can find a lot online nowadays that you couldn't years ago - most "free." If you look hard enough, you can find almost anything you'd want, so I can't imagine subscribing anymore.
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Old 24-12-2016, 11:42   #11
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

I was a faithful subscriber for a number of years. The problem with PS is that their model was fine for pre-internet days. Now one can find practically the same or better info just from googling what one is looking for. I also found their subscription fee a bit on a high side compared to the alternatives. Again, in pre-internet days it was well worth it. Today - not so much. I'd rather that they allow some marine related (but not necessarily boat systems related) advertising to offset the publishing costs. I'm thinking along the lines of ads from marinas, waterfront restaurants, chandleries, admiralty attorneys, etc. IMO, there should be enough of these not-systems advertisers to bring down the subscription costs to more attractive levels.
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Old 24-12-2016, 11:59   #12
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

I've subscribed for a couple of years and from what I can tell, they've stopped hawking and pushing the booklets. I can't remember the last time I received one of those ads.

I would highly recommend everyone pay for a year at the least. You can download all the past issues in PDF which gives you an instant searchable library.

After a year of issues, you can decide if it's worth renewing at that time.
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Old 24-12-2016, 13:24   #13
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdege View Post
Does anyone have an opinion on Practical Sailor magazine?

They promise to provide unbiased reviews of various sailboat models. Is anyone familiar with their reviews? Do they provide what they promise?

www.practical-sailor.com
Not possible for any one to really review a book at beyound it's layout and it "sails" without spending a year or so on it!

Also no such thing as any writer not having a basis
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Old 24-12-2016, 13:35   #14
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

I always felt their anti fouling paint reviews weren't worth the paper they were printed on.
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Old 24-12-2016, 14:46   #15
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Re: Opinion of Practical Sailor magazine?

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I always felt their anti fouling paint reviews weren't worth the paper they were printed on.
Actually, what that points to the importance of regional selection. In this area (Chesapeake Bay), I find they are dead-on, but I'm on the same coast. West Coast growth patterns, on the other hand, are very different.

Additionally, stationary tests are always different from that on boats that are heavily sailed and/or diver cleaned. I suspect their model does NOT apply to a West Coast boat that is cleaned by a diver. Not at all.

The important thing about any review is to VERY carefully read the definition of the investigation and then think how it applies to your situation.
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