Q. Why is your site called The Teak Rail?

Countless types of wood can be installed aboard a yacht. But only one is elegant, durable, weatherproof and, if properly varnished and maintained, capable of giving its owner a wide smile and pride in its ownership. For these reasons, teak is the best wood to use topside. It’s not everyone’s favorite — you won’t find teak on a jet ski or a pontoon boat, for example — but The Teak Rail wasn’t created for boaters who want quick satisfaction or spend more on speakers than safety equipment. Nor for mega-yacht owners with full-time crews and several blends of expensive scotch — which is not to say we don’t enjoy cheap beer and expensive scotch on occasion. It’s more that we’re addicted to the simple, wonderful pleasures of boating and realize that to enjoy a sail down the Chesapeake or a jaunt to the Channel Islands you don’t want to worry about equipment that might fail to live up to its hype or, worse, just plain fail.


Q. Who is The Teak Rail for?

The Teak Rail is for everyone who enjoys boating, who experiences the pride of ownership, who loves spending time on the water, and who understands the need for good safety equipment. Some Teak Rail reviews will matter most to sailors on long cruises, others to day sailors racing around buoys, and many will focus on gear for motor yachts and commercial ships. The Teak Rail is for all these mariners and more. We have worked hard to clearly, easily and quickly guide readers to the gear most relevant to their particular vessels. In addition, much of the gear The Teak Rail reviews — such as foul weather bibs, VHF radios and SOLAS flares — is used by all types of vessels. We hope the owner of a hand-built kayak will find nearly as many helpful articles as a captain commanding the world’s largest ship.

Q. Why should we trust your opinion?

The Teak Rail was founded by the highly regarded maritime author and journalist John Konrad, who grew up sailing dinghies and racing yachts when not fishing with his grandfather in New York’s Long Island Sound. Konrad attended SUNY Maritime College before spending years sailing the world’s oceans aboard vessels of all sizes. Working his way up the ranks, he eventually earned a Master’s Unlimited license. Later, he wrote, with journalist Tom Shroder, Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster, which chronicles the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, and founded gCaptain (http://gcaptain.com), a leading maritime and offshore news blog. Konrad created The Teak Rail because it’s the site he always wished he could have read before packing for a four-month trip aboard a supertanker in Alaska or before choosing a new EPIRB for his 43-foot custom sailboat. As site captain, John writes few of the articles aboard The Teak Rail, leaving composition tasks to the handpicked and trusted crew of experts whose work he supervises. As a result, The Teak Rail offers readers decades of experience in using the equipment found on our pages and in knowing how to select the right equipment in the first place.


Q. How is reviewed gear tested?

The Teak Rail is not afraid to pick up the phone and talk to outside experts or consult countless articles and reference sources on familiar and esoteric topics. We also have direct access to gCaptain’s large forum of commercial mariners who work their gear hard and rely on it to save lives. In short, maintaining our boats to the highest standards is what we live for. But, since opinions can differ, The Teak Rail also has two yachts that serve as floating test laboratories. One vessel is a Tanton 43 Cat Ketch designed by Yves-Marie Tanton and built in Taiwan. The other vessel is a classic 72-foot Burger Motor Yacht operated out of Morro Bay, California (www.onboardnauticalevents.com/site/papagallo).


Q. Why only write about the best equipment?

Today’s boater is faced with too many choices. Countless brands and types of varnish, marine electronics and new safety devices confuse and frustrate the typical boater who, let’s face it, is more interested in enjoying his time on the water than repairing the boat. We limit the choices to make shopping easier, and limit our choices to equipment we know will get you through the worst offshore conditions.


Q. What makes something the best?

The best components are not necessarily the most expensive. Nor do they possess the most buttons, the most features or the thickest operating manuals. In fact, we believe “the best” types of gear are the least expensive ones that meet both our needs and our high standards — equipment that’s simple to use, durable and gets the job done in any conditions.


Q. Do you take suggestions for article ideas?

You bet! We encourage readers to join the conversation, and accept suggestions over at our Contact US page. Our readers are our best resource. We also expect that if we goof you will let us know by leaving a reply in the Comment section at the end of each article or contacting us directly. We love finding new and better gear so please don’t be afraid to call us out on something or point us in a different direction. We won’t always agree, but we appreciate any thoughts and suggestions as well as your scrutiny of what we write.


Q. How did you come up with The Teak Rail?

Hi, John Konrad here. I and some friends have been thinking about a website like The Teak Rail for a long time, but we wanted to wait until we could give the idea our full attention. Now is that time. The inspiration came in part from our heroes in the marine and technology fields, people like: Science author and screenwriter Nigel Calder and marine expert Don Caseywho gave us the knowledge and faith to drill holes in our own boats; also people like:

Naval architect and sailor Steven Callahan, who completed an Atlantic crossing after losing his boat mid-ocean and small boat sailing authorities and authors Lin and Larry Pardey.

who have shared their mistakes and given us the confidence to sail far offshore. We would also like to thank the editors of our favorite publications, including Consumer Reports and Practical Sailor plus Brian Lam of TheWireCutter and sister site TheSweetHome and Ben Ellison, editor and owner of Panbo for helping to teach us what quality equipment looks like and how it should handle.


Q. How can I help support The Teak Rail?

Thank you for asking! We appreciate your support and have outlined a variety of ways in which readers can help on our Support Us page.