Seven Money-Saving Sailing Tips and Techniques

Here are some great cost conscious tips from our friend Capt. John of

Follow these seven easy “do-it-now” sailing tips to save yourself time, aggravation, and money on repairs for more fun-filled, worry-free sailing time today and less “glued-to-the-dock” time tomorrow!

Would you rather be checking out this view, or stuck in a marina waiting for parts and sweating over repairs? Put preventative maintenance at the top of your “to do ” list for more sailing and cruising time–and less dockside headaches!

Remember this one single fact about sailboat maintenance–the more time and effort you take today, the less time and money you will spend tomorrow. That applies to hull, deck, and sailing rigging maintenance. Follow these seven easy steps to success:

1. Protect Your Docking and Anchor Line

Attach a line to your boat and lead it to a cleat, piling, bollard, ring, rail, sail, and you can guarantee that line will rub and wear somewhere. Chafe kills lines, and will deplete your “go sailing” pocketbook faster than you can raise a mainsail!

Stop chafe at the pass. Wrap rags, old fire or garden hose, or strips of canvas around a docking or anchor line wherever it touches the hull or passes through a fitting. This will protect your costly line and extend its service life.

2. Replace Worn Running Rigging

What’s the most forgotten piece of rope rigging on a sailboat? And one that often gets chafed and worn more than any other. Failure of this line could put you in hot sea-water! Furling line.

Consider that this line passes over more parts than most any other rigging. It winds in and out of a drum, passes over and through multiple fairlead blocks and then to the cockpit.

But that’s just a start. Make sure to check your halyards, boom vang, main sheets, Genoa sheets, and traveler lines for wear.

Pay particular attention where they are tied onto a block becket (strap) or fitting; where they pass through blocks or eye-straps, or where they contact other fittings.

For example, the Genoa sheets rub over the shrouds, as do the Genoa clews, so the sheets in those areas have high chafe-potential.

Make up new sheets or halyards if you suspect the line might be past its service life. That could save you a trip to the top of the mast (broken halyard), or having to wrestle a Genoa sail flapping like a mad cobra in the wind (broken furling line).

3. Check your Anchor Gear before You Sail

Not many pieces of true “boat insurance” get ignored as much as the boat anchor. If you need an anchor to stop for a rest, in an emergency, or to keep from being blown onto a lee shore, this vital piece of sailing gear needs to be ready to go over the side in seconds. But will it set and hold?

Inspect the shank (long arm) for warping each time before you sail. Look straight down at the anchor from a standing position. If you see the slightest amount of bend, consider your anchor worthless. You cannot straighten a bent shank without severe loss of metal strength.

Check all the “joints” of your anchor, like galvanized thimbles (those tear-dropped shaped pieces of metal that protect rope eyes), shackles that join rope to chain or chain to the anchor, and the bolt where your anchor dead-ends to your boat. Scan every inch of the rope part of an anchor rode for wear and chafe.

Replace rusted thimbles, frozen shackles, and chafed line. Lash stainless seizing wire or plastic wire ties from the shackle pin onto the shackle body to keep pins in place. Once a year end-for-end your rope or chain rode. Swap the end dead-ended to your boat for the end attached to your anchor. This can extend expensive anchor rode life by 50% or more!

4. Look for Loose or Missing Rigging “Pins”

Standing rigging (stays and shrouds) keeps the mast in place–as long as it maintains integrity. Check each cotter pin–those “bobby pin”-like fittings found in holes of your wire rigging and clevis pins. Replace worn, broken, or missing cotter pins before you cast off.

Shape cotter pins the right way. Avoid the common practice of bending each leg into a “U”-shape. Do that and you’ll have a tough time if you need to remove the cotter for repairs or in an emergency. Instead, spread the legs into a “Y”-shape–just enough to hold the pin in place. That way, you can change out cotter pins fast and easy.

5. Stop Leaks before they Become Bigger

Keep an eye on water collection spots. Any low spot aboard can and will collect water. A bit of condensation can be expected. Use a light, even in daylight, to check sail lockers, engine drip pans (the pan area beneath the bottom of the engine), cabin lockers, bilges forward and aft, and the anchor well.

Crawl back and shine your light into the shaft exit area on sailboats with inboard diesel engines. Shaft exits and couplings (where the engine joins to the shaft) are notorious “leakers”. And, these areas are often forgotten because they are out of sight. Marine insurance companies attribute leaky shaft couplings as one of the major causes of sinking at a dock or mooring.

So, it pays to check this area before and after you go sailing, arrive at an anchorage, or get underway from a pier, mooring, or anchorage. It takes just seconds and will give you peace-of-mind for a more relaxed sailing day!

6. Rinse, Flake, and Fold Your Sails

Your sails take it on the chin through air and spray filled with salt, dirt, and dust. Wash off your sails at the first opportunity after a coastal cruise. If day sailing, rinse down your sails once a season.

Make this chore faster and easier if you rinse the sails on deck while dockside. Hoist them for a few minutes to dry in a light breeze. At the end of your cruise or the end of the sailing season, fold and bag your sails to keep them clean, out of the harmful UV rays, and extend their lives.

7. Wash and Dry Lines before You Stow

Stow lines clean and dry. Lower an anchor line and chain to the bottom and it’s sure to pick up mud, sand crystals and other bottom matter. All of these act like tiny, microscopic razors to saw the delicate fibers of your anchoring line.

After you return from a sail or cruise, pull the anchor line out of your anchor locker. Give it a good fresh water rinse. Hang it over your rail or lifelines to dry. Flake it back into your anchor locker. Repeat these steps often to keep your costly rope dry , mold and mildew free for many seasons to come.


Use these seven super sailing tips to maintain your costly sailboat and sailing gear in tip top shape. You will save money and add new life to your sails and rigging–wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

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