Tim Marsden shares a practical project to ensure the smooth closure of locker lids

One of my pet hates always occurs when a well-meaning crew member leaves a locker lid open, and it comes crashing down on the next roll of the boat with a gelcoatshattering crunch.

Sailing with children has also heightened my awareness of boat safety: one of these days someone’s little fingers will be in the way as they reach into the locker for a fender, and as usual it will be all my fault.

To this end, when fitting my new kitchen over the winter, the gas struts that keep the vertically-opening doors in place gave me an idea. I have obviously noticed gas struts used on everything from car hatchbacks to engine bays on huge motorboats, but for some reason I had always thought of them as expensive.

This is not the case: a bit of online research yielded a 250mm gas strut, available in a variety of strengths from 50-150 Newtons (5-15kg). The strut is supplied with a number of optional brackets, with ball and socket joints to aid alignment when fitting.

One strut with fixings, including delivery, costs £1.99.

The only additional parts I needed were an aluminium plate to spread the stress on the hatch lid and a small hardwood block, glued to the inside of the locker, to support the other end of the strut.

The job can be completed in a few hours with simple hand tools and parts from the ‘that will come in handy, one day’ box.

I realise that the strut isn’t manufactured from marine-grade 316 stainless steel, and that the salty environment will eventually take its toll on the metal components: but at £1.99 each I can afford to replace them every season if needed.

Tim Marsden
Nantwich, Cheshire


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