Wetter weather gear

Never mind killer flares, Stalinist e-Borders, or anchor-crushed sea-horses, the biggest issue facing yachtsmen today is the zip fastener.

Whoever decided that miniscule steel or nylon teeth could be repeatedly woven together by a tiny slide in the hostile marine environment, should be taken offshore and doused with a bucket of water at dawn.

The other weekend my crew was wearing a ‘Performance’ jacket, which accurately described the effort getting it to be wind and water-tight.

Fortunately I carry a comprehensive tool-kit aboard my Contessa 32, most of which came into play to fasten his jacket. Firstly we sprayed liberal doses of WD40 over the zip – which was jammed in the down position.

Then we clamped pliers onto the zip fastener slide – no good. Then we tried a pair of mole grips – hopeless. Next we doubled up twenty feet of sail twine through the zip and put it round the sheet winch. While I lay wearing the jacket my mate winched in succeeding only in dragging me bodily along the deck – fastener still in the down position.

Using the same twine I bent it onto the mainsheet and performed a crash gybe while the jacket was lashed to the coachroof grabrail.

We considered dropping the 35lb CQR with the line bent onto the cable, maybe lashing it to the genoa and dropping it while under way, or even to a spinnaker sheet and letting it fly.

Then how about in the marina: we could lash the errant coat to the pontoon and steam away with a coat hangar bent through the zipper…

In the end my crew used a mooring rope and ended up looking like HW Tilman ashore.