Boating is the only activity in which you get to be a carpenter, a mechanic, a painter, a seamstress, an electrician and a plumber. But even the pros know that keeping it simple is often the best way to address a problem and get on with enjoying the boat. So rather than spend time running to the marine supply store, we’ll use lip balm to lubricate canvas snaps. We’ll use a turkey baster to suck the debris from a sea strainer rather than disassemble the whole thing. We douse cables with baby powder when installing new equipment, knowing that they’ll pull more easily through tubes and pipes. We’ve gleaned a boatload of cheap, fast and easy boatyard tips so you can better enjoy your time on the water.
1. Sandbag Anchor
A small, rugged bag filled with sand makes a great dinghy anchor, as it stows easily and won’t mar the finish of a hard dink nor puncture an inflatable. Try a bank-style coin bag available at an office supply store, or a small nylon bag such as those used by backpackers and campers to keep gear dry. In fact, a backpack filled with sand makes a dandy emergency anchor, should you find yourself hookless.
2. Gack Buster
Want a cheap home remedy for washing away scum lines and rust stains? you can buy oxalic acid, the primary ingredient in most hull cleaners, in powder form at hardware stores for about half the price of the prepackaged potion. Mix with water, don gloves and safety glasses and, with the boat out of the water, apply with a cheap brush. rinse and watch the shine come back.
3. Beat the Cold
In colder climates, use a hair dryer or a heat gun set to low to warm and expand cold canvas. after doing so, you’ll be able to make every snap without using herculean strength. While you’re at it, use the hair dryer to lift the dew from your windshield.
4. Grease Wheezer
Petroleum jelly is cheap, readily available and has loads of uses aboard. use it as lip balm or to coat battery terminals. apply to screws and bolts to lessen the chances of cross-threading, galling and splitting. a thin film buffed out with a rag makes deck hardware gleam.
5. Deck-tal Hygiene
Toothpaste will remove surface rust from stainless-steel fittings. use a toothbrush to apply, then buff with a rag for a brilliant shine.
6. Citrus Fix
Out of Crest? Rub lemon juice or lime juice on stainless steel, then buff it with a rag for a deep shine. I’ve found that it also leaves a protective coating.
7. Knife Life
Coat filet knives with cooking oil after each use, dispensed from a recycled spray bottle. The oil prevents rust from forming on the blade, and it won’t contaminate your dinner.
8. Vise Squad
Ever need to tighten a nut on one side of a bulkhead, but your arms aren’t long enough to reach around the other side and hold a wrench on the bolt head? Locking pliers serve as a second set of hands when working solo. Tighten the nut by hand, and then clamp on the pliers. Go to the other side and turn the wrench or screwdriver: Most times (we are talking about boats, right?) there’s an obstruction on the side where you clamped the pliers, and as you turn the bolt, the pliers will rotate until they fetch-up on the cable, corner or underside of the deck, allowing you to sock the fastener tight.
9. Name Game
Need to remove a painted name, registration numbers or some — oops! — splattered antifouling that you let dry on your topsides? Spray-on oven cleaner works great.
10. Glare Bear
If your light-colored helm reflects in your windshield and obscures your vision on bright days, lay a dark towel or T-shirt over the top of the dash. The glare will disappear.