PBO readers and experts share their top tips on filling interior holes, cleaning alloy spars and more!

Some handy tips from PBO readers as reported in the February 2012 issue.

For the latest practical boating advice see the February 2014 issue of PBO, out in the shops on 3 January.

For it’s a jolly good filler

The interior of our Bénéteau Océanis 381 Sacha is finished in a nice cherry veneered ply. However, the previous owners screwed things to it leaving ugly holes.

My mum told me about some wax filling sticks she had successfully used on furniture, so I bought some and set to work.

The relevant area needs to be thoroughly cleaned to remove any residual polish – I used a damp cloth wrung out in a solution of Stardrops cleaning fluid – and a small ball-pein hammer can be used to gently tap down any raised edges of wood. The sticks are rubbed into the damage and the wax left to harden.

This is then polished off, leaving a neat repair that can hardly be seen. Topps make a liquid polish dye that can be used to polish big areas, concealing light scratches and finishing with a deep, rich shine.

Laura Davies, Llangollen

Baby you can clean my spars

Nothing cleans alloy spars better than good old Johnson’s Baby Lotion. A couple of years ago, our Golden Hind 31 Keppel was on the hardstanding at Mortagne-sur-Gironde with her spars lying alongside.

My wife saw this as a golden opportunity to give the well-weathered 10-year-old spars a good once-over, and they came up like new.

The picture illustrates the year’s difference between Keppel’s first spring clean (top section) at Mortagne, and a quick buff with baby lotion a year later, after over- wintering on the hardstanding at Rochefort.

This location is surrounded by trees, so boats can get a bit mossier and muckier than usual. There may only seem to be a small margin between the grimy and the clean, but it still gives an indication of what’s possible.

Two rags are required – one to apply the oil and another to buff it. No elbow grease is needed: it’s a doddle.

Richard Hare, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Net stops mozzies going down the hatch

While shopping in Inverness I found an Army & Navy store that sold insect covers for single beds, which gave me an idea. I bought one then popped round to the chandlery and asked if they had a metre or two of leaded 6mm or 8mm line, which they gave me free as it was the end of a reel.

I went home and did a rough measurement of the forward hatch, then cut about 61cm (24in) off the bottom of the netting, gathered and tied the top to seal it and attached a bit of string with about 30.5cm (12in) of spare for making any attachments required to stop it blowing away.

To the bottom, I stitched a length of leaded line slightly wider than the hatch, and hey presto – a midge cover. For the companionway and sliding hatch, I cut a long slice into the back of the netting and put in a piece of leaded line, then two smaller pieces of leaded line either side of that to make three sides of a square around the hatch.

I placed a final length of leaded line along the bottom to weigh the netting down across the door. Total cost: £9.99.

Trevor Martin, by email

Well served by tennis balls

However good the quality of the tarpaulin or cover over the boat, it always seems to rub through on the tops of the stanchion posts.

This can be overcome by making a cut in an old tennis ball and forcing it over the top of the post and rail.

The cost? Zero – have a chat with your local tennis club!

David Lewin, by email