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Do-it-yourself (DIY)

Rubber placemats and rug pads do great double duty in protecting surfaces and keeping tools from sliding all over.

This section is be devoted to things you can do yourself to maintain or upgrade your boat, saving yourself money, and often aggravation. As we refit Aleria, our vintage Bowman 57 cutter ketch, we'll write up our experience for all to share. We'll cover everything from renaming to rewiring, and everything in between. Stay tuned as we work our way to intimate knowledge of our fine chariot.

We're not going to get into expert advice and product selection. There are others out there much more qualified. Instead, ours will be an every guy and gal kind of thing. What you should know in basic care for your boat, your equipment, and yourself aboard.

By the way, check out DIY magazine. Jan Mundy, the publisher, is a powerhouse of information on which products to use for the job. You get free advice by email if you subscribe to the magazine. And if you get a chance to see her at a boat show, do not hesitate. Bring lots of pens and paper for notes...a tape recorder if she lets you would be even better.

Practical guides

Product reviews


Our theme song: Under the floor boards
(To the tune of "Under the Boardwalk")

  • DO NOT use a flashlight that doesn't need batteries (the kind you shake) near a compass - it is a powerful magnet!
  • New uses for old socks #1: Put an old thick sock over a rubber glove and you've got a polishing tool extraordinare
  • Rubber rug mat: Those liners that keep rugs from sliding on the floor also keep tools from sliding and damaging the floorboards. They make great placemats, too.
  • Empty plastic bottles: Fill with fresh water and freeze at home then use to keep your icebox cold all weekend without meltdown issues! Saves $2 per week too.
  • Spray nozzle on soy sauce: Makes an awesome bug killer. Shoot them dead midair during dinner with no worries about contamination.
  • Digital camera use #1: Take pictures of the stuff you can't see at the masthead to keep a record of fittings
  • Mini hammocks for perishables: String a mini hammock in the galley and keep your fruit, potato chips, bread and other perishables from banging around underway
  • Candles in jars: Recycle those pretty little used class jars from things like pesto into safe and lovely candles. Get some candle gel and wicks at the local hobby and craft supply store, put in some decorative elements like small sea shells, sand, etc, and you'll have a great set of candles that don't melt, won't spill, and snuff out completely when you screw the lid on. It's easy. Just melt the gel in a small pot and pour it over the wick into the jar. That's it! Gel is clear and burns twice as long as wax.
  • Plastic apron: Wearing a heavy plastic apron while cooking underway can help protect you against serious burns in case of a spill
  • New uses for old socks #2: Stuff wine bottles into old socks for a nice protective cushion. Color code them according to the contents -- white wine in white socks, red wine in dark socks, liquor in pastels.
  • Magnet on a stick: Helps you retrieve those screwdrivers that invariably dive into the bilge.
  • Mast stepped scratching post: Wrap a section of scrap carpet around the mast and sew into place for a great scratching post for your cat
  • Digital camera use #2: When taking things apart for fixin', like winches and engines, take digital pictures as you take it apart. Then if you forget how to put it together, you'll have a record.
  • Hazmat: Keep a couple of super absorptive mats onboard in case of a fuel spill
  • Gorilla Glue (aka gorilla snot): Awesome stuff to have onboard!
  • Gorilla Tape (new stuff): Same reputation as Gorilla Glue in a duct tape.
  • GPS for $20: If you have a laptop, turn it into a gps with the addition of a "gps mouse" sold on ebay for ~$20.
  • NEVER use paper towels on Plexiglas if you don’t want to scar them forever.
  • Get yourself a an engine service manual, not the maintenance manual they provide owners but the parts and procedures manual mechanics use. Best $100 you'll ever spend. Will help you diagnose and fix many "routine" engine problems.

Joy of sailingCoastal Boating (Reg. in Ireland No. 443222) is a division of Knowledge Clinic Ltd.
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