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Old 12-03-2008, 09:33   #1
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What do you think of "Practical Sailor" publication???

What's your opinion of the "Practical Sailor" publication???

Is it worth the money??

Are they reliable??


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Old 12-03-2008, 10:01   #2
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cancelled my subscription

I cancelled my subscription after four years because I thought it was much too expensive for the information they provided. They do some nice studies, but I found that none of it pertained to my needs and I could get similar info elsewhere for no cost.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:32   #3
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Feel the same as Bill, way too expensive. If a product gets a positive rating from them you will find out for free when the manufacturer touts the review.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:46   #4
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Ditto, too much money and most of the time it is rating products that I really wasnt interested in. With that said I do think they are very serious and professional in their rating of various products. But like Chuck said if they have rated something that I am interested in, you can generally find out how it was rated by the vendor.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:08   #5
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Same for me. Cost is way too high. I canceled after many years because of the cost and when they started rating shoes and sunglasses.
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Old 12-03-2008, 12:02   #6
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I don't trust their results, but

I am not sure I trust their results, and I don't think a trained scientist would either. I have heard that the last time they tested anchors in mud they did only one pull on each anchor at each scope and never did a series of pulls on a particular anchor to determine the repeatability of the results. If this is true, that anchor test is basically worthless to me.

That said, I find them a useful, although expensive, way to get information about a range of products, even though I feel one must carefully read between the lines to determine what and how they tested. They used to do more actual testing and printed the raw test results, now they often just describe the stuff and print their opinion, which IMHO is not worth as much as the actual test results if they also describe how they tested.

I also don't understand how they sometimes leave out the most popular product, for example Makita when testing cordless tools, or Smith's five year clear, top rated in a previous test, when reporting on varnish. And finally, unlike Consumer Reports, they call up the manufacturers and ask for samples. Is the manufacturers sample going to be what you buy in the store, or has it gone through a few extra quality checks and other enhancements?

Just my opinion. I do subscribe, partly because I am buying a fair amount of stuff these days and they have done some really good stuff in the past, like Stan Honey's article on how best to ground, bond and protect your boat from lightening. That was about ten years ago.
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Old 12-03-2008, 12:06   #7
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Funny, whenever I think I've had enough and I'm ready to cancell they have something I need info on. Yes, scientist may say there tests are flawed; however they don't do it for the advertising and they do usually provide good eplainations about the products. For me, they're still worth it. However, later this year when we leave the dock I'll have to read other people because we're cancelling.

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Old 12-03-2008, 12:26   #8
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Poor application of scientific method

In many instances it is easy to discern the flaws in Practical Sailor application of the scientific method. It is obvious that their staff is unfamiliar with the art and science in the understanding of the scientific method and, therefore, their results are dubious.

To be sure, their results are not ALWAYS wrong because many of us can intuitively (without discipline) come up with simple tests of simple products that are relatively easy to test with some satisfactory degree of success should one properly analyze their method. Pseudoscience sometimes works yet, in general, it does not pass "the test".

Are the Practical Sailor articles "worthy" of purchase? Is Consumer Reports "worthy"? Most of the time they are better than no information at all, especially if one reads them with a jaundiced eye towards the ultimate credibility overall.
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Old 12-03-2008, 13:41   #9
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I subscribe and I like the magazine. The cost is worthwhile. However, I do not read the magazine to learn which product did best. As noted above, by reading their reviews I learn what brands of products there are to choose from within that product group (i.e., different foul weather manufacturers). The other reason I like the magazine is that I learn what different engineering approaches are taken to address a particular need. For example, there was a review a while back that compared different bladder type water tanks. One of their test methods was to drag the bladder across asphalt. To me, the testing methodology was irrelevant -- as a scientist, I know one can always find methodological flaws. What was relevant was learning the different approaches manufactures used to make their product sturdy.

Anyways, that is the use PS is to me. As others have noted above, I would rather get my "what is the best ..." questions answered here.

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Old 20-03-2008, 00:19   #10
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I read it to learn what products are out there, many of which I wouldn't have known about otherwise. I'm not saying I rush out and buy some... it's just nice to be able to say, "I've heard about..."
Frankly, they wast a lot of space explaining their tests, as if they are trying to justify the results. Do we really care that the temperature was precisely set by NASA?
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Old 20-03-2008, 03:12   #11
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I canceled , because when they did the anchor test the XYZ a few years ago was suppose to be one of the top anchors so I went out and bought one for $300 bucks (its about worthless) and the next year it was rated very poorly how can they change there minds ? I would never have bought that anchor and wasted $300 if they had not rated it so high, the BEST place to find real life useage is the Seven Seas Cruisinf Ass. where thousands of users have put together a list of what works and what does not work
try looking Welcome to the Seven Seas Cruising Association
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Old 20-03-2008, 05:37   #12
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I used to subscribe and found the articles informative. I am not fitting out any more and mostly doing repairs so the info in not as important. Their articles on yachts were interesting by had no value to me as I was never in the market for a boat.

I do like that they had no advertising and that lent the veneer, or maybe more, that they were not biased in their reviews.

If money was no object I might do an online subscription or take the paper version to read on board, but alas it's too expensive and out side my present needs.

The net has filled in with reports about gear on this site and others mentioned above... and of course google.

Another approach to their financing would be for ALL or most marine manufacturers to toss in a few bucks to support their mission without advertising and have no editorial control on content. Dreaming ha?
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Old 20-03-2008, 07:17   #13
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I like the magazine. IT comes in handy while fitting out a boat. The other thing I like is that they do explain the methodology of their tests. Even if it isn't pure science at least you can make your own judgement on how good the test was. The other thign that I like is they detail problems that they had with the different products -- for instance on the recent life raft issue they described how part of one of the life rafts didn't work particuilarly well . The life raft company made changes to their design which improved the liferaft. There is no one else out there doing monthly tests on different brands of sailing equipment. You might get the, "Don't buy this brand b/c . . ." rant. But I think it is a pretty good magazine. Not perfect but I look forward to reading it every month. Especially being landlocked.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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