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This Low Cost 'Line Saver' Could Save Your Sailing boat!

by John Jamieson on 13 Mar 2013
SW-ChafeGearMainPhoto Captain John Jamieson http://www.skippertips.com
What one piece of low cost sailing gear could save your boat in a howling gale, or when tied up in a slip or alongside a pier, or in a swell-swept anchorage or mooring? Without it, your sailboat might well become just another marine insurance statistic! Discover one of the cheapest--but often forgotten--pieces of 'must have' sailing gear that will keep your sailing boat safe throughout the sailing season!

Few pieces of sailing gear are as cheap as chafing gear. Dock your boat alongside a pier, wharf, or seawall or inside a boat slip and you use docking lines. Each docking line connects from one point on your boat to another point ashore (when docked), in the seabed (when anchored), or to another boat (when rafted together).

As that line makes its journey from one point to another, it will rub, slide, grate, chafe, scrape, saw, or contact another part of your boat. This might be an open or closed chock, a corner of your hull, a sharp edge along your toe rail, or the razor-sharp side of a Genoa track.

Before the line arrives at the pier or piling, it contacts other 'line-killers'--sharp pier edges and corners, barnacle encrusted pilings, or jagged-edged concrete or steel structures.

Once you tie up your boat, check all around for these and other point-to-point areas that could present potential chafe problems. Imagine the tide rising and falling, or boat wakes that cause your boat to wallow alongside a pier or in her slip.

And ask yourself--where will the docking line make contact with an object that can do it harm? All of these areas will require protection to prevent line fiber destruction and failure.

Drop the anchor and your anchor line takes it on the chin--and not just the part beneath the surface. Your anchor line runs from a boat cleat and through a chock on its way to the seabed.

Constant rubbing and shock loads from passing boat wakes, ground swell, or shifting winds means sawing back and forth--and serious chafe! Add in some high octane storm winds and things can turn nasty in no time.

How to Make Chafing Gear Work for You:

Wrap a long piece of canvas around the line so that it spans the fitting by several inches on each side. Secure the ends of the chafing gear with nylon wire ties. Snip off the ends (yellow arrow in illustration).

Wrap a long piece of canvas around the line so that it spans the fitting by several inches on each side. Secure the ends of the chafing gear with nylon wire ties. Snip off the ends (yellow arrow).

Make your own chafing gear for pennies on the dollar. Use lengths of old garden hose, clean engine hose, fire hose being thrown out by your local fire department, soft PVC tubing, strips of canvas or similar spray dodger, awning, or enclosure material, or--in a pinch--rags and duct tape.

The easiest chafing gear consists of hose split length-wise, canvas sewn into a sleeve or canvas wrapped around the line and tied off with twine or nylon wire ties (see illustration).

Use the steps below to make up your own chafing gear. The steps show the method for canvas strips, but modify these as you see fit for the other materials described above.

Tools You Will Need:

* Chafing Gear (from list above)
* 6' - 9' nylon wire ties
* Exacto knife
* Wire cutters

Seven Simple Steps to Make Chafing Gear:

1. Measure the chafing points described above.
2. Split the chafing gear lengthwise with the Exacto knife.
3. Slide the chafing gear onto the line.
4. Center it at the contact point.
5. Wrap the gear tight to hold it in place.
6. Apply nylon wire ties to each end; cut excess off.
7. Monitor and re-center the chafing gear as needed.

Check your chafing gear often. It tends to move up or down the line after several hours. Make your chafing gear lengths longer in less protected anchorages for better protection. So, protect your costly docking and anchoring lines from the ravages of chafe, wear, and tear. Put chafing gear 'sentries' to work aboard your sailboat to save big money in repair costs--wherever in the world you choose to cruise!


John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!

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