Practical advice for all sailors. Tom Cunliffe has sailed tens of thousands of miles all over the world and has been a Yachtmaster Examiner since 1978

Correspondence with two experienced YM readers has reminded me that leather laces on deck shoes aren’t always the success their makers would like to imagine. They seem either to be so stiff that they come undone no matter how you tie them, or they are long, thin and snap at what sailors used to call the ‘nip’ and what we might more clumsily refer to as ‘the point of chafe’.

The answer in both cases is to abandon shoe polish and treat them liberally with good old Dubbin. If you can’t find this in today’s synthetic world, go to a motorbike shop and relieve the proprietor of a small can of leather dressing. Keep the laces well greased and, if yours are thin like mine, snip a couple of inches off one end over the winter and re-lead them so a fresh length takes the strain next season.