Sam Longley uses soil pipe to protect his boat's bow from marina pontoons

Being a single-handed sailor, and preferring pontoons to anchors, I do have a tendency to hit the bow against the pontoon if I cannot stop in time. As a result, the bow has become marked and chipped over the last few years, with unsightly repairs in a different colour to the gelcoat. So, deciding that a bow protector was needed, my solution was as follows.

Firstly, using some card, I cut patterns against the bow at three equally-spaced points to establish the three radii. I then laid the patterns over each other, and quickly realised that if I were to use a piece of 100mm soil pipe I would be able to make a cheap and effective bow protector.

I therefore purchased an 850mm length of 100mm white soil pipe from Wickes for £4.99: I already had half a tube of a Sikaflex in my possession.

While the radius fitted perfectly at the top, the bow had a much sharper curve at the bottom. However, I could see that I’d be able to use a 90mm width at the top and 45-50mm at the bottom. By keeping the bottom narrow, the mastic would fill in any misalignment and the middle would still fit properly. I marked a line down the pipe with a felt-tip pen then measured 45mm either side at the top and 25mm each side at the bottom. I cut it with a jig-saw, but any fine-toothed saw would do.

I then marked the centre of the boat’s bow, offered up the piece and marked either side with a felt-tip pen: then I stood back to check that everything was central. I then applied masking tape to the felt-tip lines to stop the mastic spreading too far. I used the half-full tube of mastic, and having applied copious amounts to the protector, I pressed the piece in place and held it there with two duct-tape strips for 24 hours. I removed the masking tape after trowelling the mastic and before it started to cure, which removed a slight excess of the mastic.

I now have a nice protector that looks neat, and no amount of pulling will detach it: so even if the bow has a sidelong hit, it should still work.

Sam Longley

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