10 of the best PBO reader-submitted DIY practical projects to enhance your summer cruise

Build your own helmsman’s backrests

Singlehander Sam Longley fits creature comforts on his yacht

This might, from a distance, look like Y-fronts drying on the rail, but it’s actually a very comfortable DIY backrest!

Adjustable helmsman's backrest

Nautical underpants – these are not. This is a DIY helmsman’s adjustable backrest (one on each rail)

The usual way to stop the wires of guardrails cutting into the helmsman’s back when sitting on the side deck is to have horizontal padding on the wires. I found this uncomfortable and, as I actually only needed it in a limited spot, I devised a different support.

I originally used 9mm plywood coated in epoxy resin but this needed annual maintenance. I looked for some polycarbonate but found some very strong Trespa plastic (architectural composite material used for external cladding) as an alternative. Mine is 8mm thick but 6mm thick would work just as well.

Initially, I cut the shape and tied them in place, but that was a mistake – I once found my wife and grandson had nicked them on arriving at a port and were using them like table tennis rackets to play bat and ball. Words were exchanged but as we all know grandmas are not to be reckoned with. I am not sure that I won the exchange!

Next time round, I drilled each one with three sets of two holes at the centre to suit the wires and attached them with strong cable ties. By not tying too tight they can be slid along the wires to the optimum position and give a nice flat surface to rest against. And when coming alongside a pontoon I can slide them clear of the deck cleats.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Build your own helmsman's backrests
  3. 3. Make your own wear pads out of a stainless pedal bin
  4. 4. Make your top-loading fridge more easily accessible by using plastic bins
  5. 5. Cockpit locker organisers
  6. 6. Make your own secure vented companionway covers for summer
  7. 7. Old leggings make great fender socks
  8. 8. How to make a handy bag for a fortress anchor
  9. 9. DIY halyard hangers under your sprayhood
  10. 10. Add permanent buoyancy to your tender or dinghy using builder's foam in a dry-bag
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