Basic Repairs & Maintenance
Here some tips on how to do basic repairs to your hull, foils and sails. A lot of the minor repairs can be done by the sailor with a little help from a friend. It's a good idea anyway to get involved and take responsibility for your own equipment, keeping your boat well maintained and sea worthy. It's fun too as you learn to do stuff yourself.
Please note that these are only guidelines. Seek professional help if you are unsure.
For nicks and dings on foils use ABE Epidermix 372. A two-part epoxy filler/glue which is easy to apply and super strong. Takes 24 hours to dry and goes rock hard, so don't apply too much otherwise you'll spend a lot of time sanding off all the excess. Can also be used on the hull, but resin or gelcoat are better for this. Can be bought at most hardware stores and is available in small quantities. This is a must-have item which should be in every sailors toolbox. See http://abe.co.za/portfolio/epidermix-372/
For damage to hull, use polyester resin and fiberglass cloth or chopped strand to do repairs. Catalyst is added to the resin and then applied by brush to cloth laid over the damaged area. Dries to a hard surface which can be sanded down and faired to a smooth finish which can be painted or coated with gelcoat. Fine for small repairs but best done by a professional for more severe damage and structural repairs. Can be bought in small quantities at most hardware stores or specialist shops. Clean equipment with acetone and wear gloves to protect your hands - this job can get messy!
Gelcoat is tinted resin which is applied in a similar fashion to polyester resin once mixed with a catalyst. It gives a high-quality finish which can be tinted to match the colour of the hull. Ideal for small nicks, dings and scratches on the hull. Available from specialist shops like Allied Fiberglass http://alliedfibreglass.co.za/
Scratches on the hull can be filled with gelcoat using a spackle tool and then sanded smooth using water paper starting with a 320 and finishing off with a 1200 grit paper. Use lots of water and add a little dishwashing liquid to lubricate the sanding. Use a flat block with a little give (soft rubber padding) when sanding to get an even, smooth finish. Afterwards polish using a burnishing compound or polishing cream. Best to use a buffing machine with soft pad to get good downward pressure and an even finish. This all requires a bit of elbow grease, but that's never harmed anyone! It's all worth it in the end, to know you've got a smooth, polished hull, which is sure to give you that little bit of extra speed out on the water.
Nicks and damaged edges should be repaired immediately before water ingress which will result in swelling. Ensure all nuts are securely tightened on the rudder pintails, retainer clip and tiller. Check regularly. Make sure your universal joint is sound and has no tears in the rubber. This is the last thing you want to have fail when you're leading a race!
Foils should be stored out of direct sunlight to prevent warping.
Sail care & repairs
Wash sails (and rig) with fresh water after sailing, especially when sailing in the sea. Ensure sail is dry before rolling up on boom or around a pool noodle. Store in sail bag.
Ensure batten ends have caps to prevent pockets from tearing. Good idea also is to sew the leach pockets closed, so you don't loose a batten.
Check eyelets and cringles for wear and corrosion, especially when sailing in the sea and replace if necessary.
For minor repairs use sticky back (self-adhesive sail cloth) and place over both sides of tear or hole. Tip: cut corners round to prevent sticker from catching on the corners and coming adrift. NB make sure sail is dry before applying the sticky back!
This goes without saying, but worth a mention again, never leave your sail flapping unnecessarily when ashore. Rather take out your mast and lay on the ground to preserve sail.
Buoyancy bag repairs
There are specific puncture repair kits available for air bags. Using a PVC repair kit is found to be an effective solution. Available from most boat or hardware shops. Ensure bag is properly dry before applying.