Boat maintenance,painting & other tips for any yacht steel,timber & GRP

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Multimeters: one of the most useful & almost indespensable bits of equipment on any boat. You don't need an expensive unit, easily available for about £5. 00. just needs to show a range of DC volts, which all do, DC amps, most have a 10 amp setting with a number of milliamp ranges & continuity to tell if two ends of a circuit are connected. The remainder of the settings are seldom used so don't get too confused with other irrelevant settings. Not difficult to use. Use DC 12 volt for checking battery voltage & if a circuit is live or not. Ohms (continuity) for seeing if there are breaks in wires or switches, & amps to test electrical leaks. NEVER connect the leads on positive & negative battery terminals when using on DC amps, disconnect the terminal from the battery & always between the terminal and the terminal connectiom.

Manoeuvring: Any vessel with the rudder directly aft of the propeller can be turned in a much shorter space IF the boat is NOT moving & by putting the rudder hard over first then when in gear, give the engine bursts of highish revs fwds. & then into reverse to stop any headway & then repeating forward gear bursts. This uses prop wash to push the stern one way or the other. The boat just turns on the spot if done properly. Particularly useful for long keel boats.
Applying long lengths of masking or striping tape: This is really easy to get a long straight line without bumps or dips in a matter of minutes. DO NOT go inch by inch following the old line, this ensures a wobbly line. Simply choose a wind free day, attach about a foot or less at the starting end & peel off a minimum of ten feet of tape and gently stretch to its maximum & lay the tape in position keeping a tension & using your eye along the tape as it lays on the hull. Much easier than it sounds. Just correct the start to align that when finished. You can gently guide the tape by lifting away from the hull if it is obviously rising or falling. Practice makes perfect and it is easy to lay one length of 15 feet at a go without any wobbles in a fraction of the time taken to do it inch by inch.
Removing Vinyl stripes & emblems: Trying to remove old vinyl tapes & emblems from GRP is easier than you think. Just use a hot air gun and a wooden spatula with a sharp edge & gently warm the tape up and pull it off or ease off with the spatula & it will come off cleanly without leaving any residue. Just trial & error the correct temperature & speed of removal. Too hot & it just softens & breaks, too cold and it will not release. Not as critical as it first seems. Try not to melt the boat though !!!
Making your own covers etc: making your own sail covers & cockpit covers in acrylic canvas is not too difficult at all if you have a sturdy sewing machine. The older models are stronger as they are more robust. A good tip when trying a hem a long run without using pins etc. is to use double sided narrow tape. Easily available in long rolls & very effecient. Very good for helping to attach UV strips to sails.
Furling Gear :So much damage is done by furled sails coming loose on moored yachts in extreme gales each season. At best the sail is wrecked, at worst the mast can be lost. Just tie a sail tie around the furled jib passing trhough the clew and make sure it is a tight wind ( no bagginess) and the risk is eliminated.

Rust spots: Domestic WC scale remove & cleaner will often remove rusty stains on GRP hulls & decks on contact without any effort.

Gel coat: Deep scractches in gel coat can be removed by using wet/dry paper 600 grade on backing block & finally using cutting compound & Tcut to finish. Gel coat is usually much thicker than imagined.
Varnishing: When biuilding up varnish layers on new timber, the manufacturers advise rubbing down between coats, but that is a long process. Better to add further coats within a day of one another, leave to harden for a few days then rub flatten & apply finish coats. The coating thickness is the main protection, not the surface finish.
Skin Fittings: When trying to remove a flange tube type sking fitting for replacement it is often found that all the internal parts are siezed or difficult to access.. In that case don't waste time undoing them just cut the face flange off from the outside & the whole assy. drops through. Small angle grinder will grind the face off quickly. Just avoid creating too much heat so a bucket of water & short & sharp grinding.