Sailing Hacks

Sailing Hacks is our collection of “how to” posts and ideas for making the cruising life easier.  The list is a mix of stand-alone posts and short notes.  Enjoy, comment, share !  (and all standard disclaimers apply…).

Cleaning your winches

Rinsing sheets at the end of the season:  Soak your sheets (a.k.a. ropes) in warm water with a dilute solution of vinegar.  How much?  Surely you’ve got some little cuts or hangnails on your hands after a year of cruising.  Just dip your hand in the water and keep adding vinegar until it stings a little.  Let them soak for a good long while, then rinse with fresh water and let them soak a second time in water with a touch of liquid fabric softener.  Air dry fully before putting away (preferably not coiled, just in a big spaghetti ball to avoid sharp kinks).

A cheap and elegant nose mask:  Those little fiber-tissue things with the metal nose clip usually last about 15 minutes before we get fed up with them and throw them away in disgust (itchy, sweaty, fog-inducing on safety glasses, etc.)   A shipyard neighbor, witnessing one-such tantrum, gave us a better method.  Simply take an old tee-shirt and pull it down over your head until it stops on the bridge of your nose and ears (and, if you have long hair tied back in a ponytail, that makes a nice stop on the backside as well).  If the sleeves are long enough, you can tie those back around your head for added security.  The jersey cotton breathes (and so do you) while keeping out the dust from nose, mouth, and ears.  Bonus points if you take a marker and draw a big smiley face around the mouth!

Stinky boat sandalsThis trick applies to all stinky footwear of the plastic persuasion.  The offending pieces should be plunged into a bucket of warm water and scrubbed with a brush and mild detergent.  Rinse thoroughly, and then plunge them in another bucket of warm water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda.  Let sit overnight.  Rinse, dry, sniff, repeat if necessary.    

Stinky crew membersPersonal hygiene at sea is often neglected, and a lowered state of vigilance may even be vindicated as a form of liberty or freedom of expression. However, with all due respect to the rights of the individual, communal living in a small space as well as numerous sea-induced skin afflictions require a minimum of care, even when water use must be minimized.  Disposable wipes are popular but very bad for the environment (although some are now made with biodegradable fibers.)  A great alternative is a no-rinse cleansing fluid like the kind used for babies.  For the body, this can be rubbed on by hand or with a washcloth.  For those situations requiring a disposable support, a simple paper towel can be used. 

Squeaky fendersThere is nothing, absolutely nothing, more aggravating than fenders that squeak against the hull and resonate through the boat all night long.  That rubbery CREAK- creak CREAK-creak CREAK-creak with every passing ripple can quickly drive you mad.  If adjusting the dock lines doesn’t fix the problem, we have a trick that can offer at least temporary relief.  Dishwashing liquid.  Just liberally slick up the offending fender with a little detergent between the fender and the hull, add a sprinkle of water and enjoy a few hours of peace. 

How to dry your intimate apparel without attracting unwanted attentionAt some point, you are going to have to do laundry, usually by hand while in port or at anchor, and you will have to hang the laundry up to dry, usually along the life lines or hanging off the boom.  For most items, this poses no problem as long as you remember to use good quality clothes pins.  Maybe it’s my southern belle genes coming through again, but seeing people’s undies proudly flapping in the breeze makes me shudder, and the idea of parading my own intimate apparel for all to see is straight out of the question.  The most elegant solution I’ve seen is to use a paréo (a thin cloth used as a wraparound skirt or beach cover up).  You simply pin up your undies on the rail (while no one is looking, of course) and then fold the paréo over them.  With a few clothespins along the top and sides to keep out the lookie-loos, your intimates will dry quickly through the thin cloth.      

WD 40: A Eulogy (and what to use instead)  

Lewmar Wavegrip Winch Maintenance (from our Spray days) 

NASA Clipper Duet Transducer Part 1 and Part 2 (from our Spray days)