Yachting Monthly experts and seasoned skippers share their advice on a whole range of issues for the cruising sailor. Do you have a tip to share? Email us at email@example.com
Keep an eye on your jackstay stitching
At sea, especially with bad weather, heavy clothing, working on the fore deck or sailing shorthanded, most of us use weather jackstays and tethers.
Only recently I was sailing with a friend of mine and he had rigged jackstays on deck, which I think was a good idea because the ride was quite bumpy and the water temperature was far below summer levels.
The reason I am writing this, however is not to give him a compliment, but because we had a discussion on the material to be used.
Basically there are three options: a line, a steel cable (with or without plastic cover) and a flat nylon strap.
I would suggest to choose the last because the first two have the disadvantage that you can slip over them as these can ‘roll’ under your shoes.
The nylon webbing also has a disadvantage though and that is the deterioration of the stitching under the influence of UV light.
To avoid this disadvantage, I have asked my sail maker to use a different colour for the stitching on the loops at both ends; blue stitches on white nylon.
Once the stitches are discoloured (to white) I know it’s time to renew the stitches.
Sailcloth manufacturers have developed chemical treatments to retard mildew growth when the fabric is produced.
However, there is a delicate balance between killing the fungus and killing the humans. So the problem has not gone away.
Surface mildew can be cleaned off the sail with a diluted bleach solution.
Vigilance is needed in this area, as once mildew creeps between layers of fabric, the sails need to be sent out for industrial cleaning.
In our experience, once a sail has had a mildew problem, it will probably always have a mildew problem.
A good cleaner can reduce the black spots to dirty white spots, but if the boat stays in the same area where the mildew started, the spots will soon be grey, and then it’s only a matter of time before they are black again.
Epoxy rudder filling
Rudders on many craft can be quite poorly produced, and every owner should check their rudder blade for problems if it’s foam- or paste-filled.
Over time both will absorb moisture especially if any damage occurs, and any water in the rudder can freeze and expand in sub-zero temperatures; causing more damage.
Another issue is that with stainless steel stocks and moisture ingress the risk of crevice corrosion increases.
Not only can the moisture freeze but the added weight can be really quite significant, just where you don’t want it at the end of the boat.
There are now products on the market like West System’s new Pro-Set, which absorb minimal moisture and are good to fill in an old blade keeping it light, also the epoxy is well known to stick to almost anything including aluminum and stainless stocks, an area that I regularly find early signs of detachment of the stock from the filling when surveying yachts.
Taking care of your teak
My former yacht (a 36ft steel Koopmans design) had all her decks, cabin and cockpit surfaces covered with teak.
And I have to admit that she looked really smart.
Besides the looks, it also provided good insulation, and above all, great anti-slip qualities.
All these advantages come with a price, however, because teak decks might be the most beautiful but it is still and will remain the most expensive option.
There are other disadvantages too and one of these is that teak needs maintenance.
There are many ways to keep your decks in top condition, but not all of them are effective, easy and environmentally friendly.
The easiest way is to take a high-pressure washer.
But this has a devastating negative effect on the wood in the long run as it deepens the grain in the wood every time you use the washer, which results in an even faster build-up of dirt.
Another option is to use one of the many different products available to either clean the decks or create a preventive protective layer.
The option I prefer is, once or twice a year, to use a scouring pad with fresh water.
The use of a pad prevents the deepening of the grain and the fresh water is not only environmentally friendly, but it also results in the authentic nice grey colour of the teak once it is dry.
It is not the quickest option but if you look for the dirt that is flushed away it gives you pride in your work and I promise you will like the result.
One last remark: never leave anything on your decks unless necessary as it prevents the deck from drying once wet.
For the same reason, although coiled lines might look nice, they should be avoided.