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Sailing life hacks

by Nick Colman, Towergate Insurance 3 Jan 2014 16:48 GMT 3 January 2014

The modern world is full of gadgets and devices to make our lives that little bit easier. Sometimes however, the simplest items can be used outside of their intended purpose to help overcome those little challenges in life. The internet has taken to calling these "life hacks" and a quick Google search (other search engines are available!) will reveal pages full of handy tips and uses for household objects you may never have thought of.

Here at Towergate, we started thinking – what do sailors do to make their lives on the water easier? We wanted to get straight to the source and ask those who know best so we asked the helpful folk on the forum. Here's what they recommended:

Protect your shrouds with sections of bike inner tube

Dinghy sailors in particular will be familiar with the problem of split pins on shrouds becoming worn or catching on other parts of the boat or clothing. Many sailors wrap tape around the shroud plate and pin however, there's a more permanent yet equally cost effective method of protecting them.

"Mister Nick" says: Use bike inner tube and slide it onto the shroud when you rig the boat. Stops anything catching and stops the split ring getting bent or pulled out, plus it's easier to remove than tape and reusable.

Dry out the mast step in your Laser using a jug mop

Lasers are one of the most common dinghies on the water. Almost as common as the problem of keeping your mast step dry when you've brought your boat ashore and need to wash and store it. If you store your Laser with a mast step full of water, it can freeze in cold conditions, expand and cause a split. This in turn would let water through the deck and into the hollow hull. There's an ideal cheap household item which can help with this.

"Jeffers" says: If you have a Laser (or similar that has a 'pot' for the mast step) you can keep it dry by either using a Jug Mop (cost about 70p from many kitchen retail outlets) or by getting a length of dowel or an old batten with a bit of sponge attached to the end.

Use plastic bags to help get boots on over the top of your dry suit

Anyone who's ever tried to wrestle on wetsuit boots or boots over a dry suit will understand that it's not exactly like slipping into a pair of flip flops. But your days of struggling may be over thanks to this helpful tip involving something we all have plenty of lying around.

"Laser193713" says: Tesco bags (other brands are available) to put over your drysuit socks when putting your boots on top. No more tugging and struggling. Once the boots are on always pull the plastic bags out by tearing them so that the boots grip with the drysuit making your footing much more steady. You also look less silly than having two bag handles hanging out of the tops of your boots!

Use stronger reusable bags to hold wet kit in your car

Sticking with handy uses for carrier bags, many supermarkets and other retailers offer stronger, woven plastic bags for shoppers to reuse. In addition to being ideal for carrying heavy shopping, they're also handy for holding wet kit and saving the back of your car from getting damp.

"Winging it" recommends Tesco and Ikea bags in particular!

Need to make a quick fix? Get your epoxy putty from an unlikely retailer...

Who'd have thought it that Lidl would be a favoured retailer of sailing maintenance materials?! For making quick repairs, you can't beat epoxy putty.

Hopefully you don't get through too much of it but if you do, "Winging it" has this advice: Lidl's epoxy putty is great for instant repairs and way cheaper than you will find anywhere else.

IMPORTANT: If you're making repairs to your boat which would affect its seaworthiness or the results of a marine survey, always consult a specialist and use approved materials.

We'd like to say a huge thanks to those who contributed ideas on the forum. We hope these tips have been useful. If you have any more ideas, feel free to post them on our facebook profile. Happy sailing!

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