Boat Uses for Everyday Items.

9th March 2017
giving up sailing
Are you a good skipper
Cats on boats

Boat uses for everyday items

Making better use of the available space on a boat

When it comes to owning a boat, it does not matter how big or small it is there is never enough room. I know this because every time I find a cat I swing it around and inevitably it hits something and makes a real mess. We need everyday items on the boat to have more than one use and sometimes the simplest of ideas are the best.

The male side of the human gene pool is not normally noted for coming up with great ideas that actually work so I have asked for some innovative thoughts to the question of “What else can I use this everyday item for?”

Here are some answers I got.



We all know that everyone needs a can or two of WD40 on a boat but did you know for fast relief from a bee or wasp sting, spray WD40 directly on the bite. It will soothe the pain at once. You can also use WD40 for loosening stuck bolts, cleaning, separating glassware that has stuck together, killing cockroaches, cleaning toilet bowl stains, waterproofing shoes, removing barnacles and a 1000 other uses. Personally, I find it very good at removing the mess a cat leaves after being swung round the boat.

Everyday items on a boat


Flat Fenders.

Most people will throw flat fenders out but before you do think what else they can be used for. Why not make a neat cut towards the top of the fender (not all the way)? They can then be used as storage containers for shoes, lines, swimming gear or anything else but still keep the boat looking neat. You can also use flat fenders as rope snubbers. A larger one can be used as a fresh water container for flushing your outboard.


Washing machine dryer sheets.

You know those sheets of paper you put in the dryer to stop clothes clinging together (this does not apply to men. Please look up what a drying machine is). You can also line the bottom of clothes draws with them to keep clothes smelling fresh and stop the musty smell. They will also remove smells from shoes if you put them inside and remove static from screens.


Nappies or diapers.

OK, all you women will have a baby aboard who likes to call himself the skipper but would he want to wear nappies? Probably when he has his man cold but what else can they be used for? Put one under your boat engine and it will gulp up oil, water and keep the engine bilge clean, especially during a service. It certainly saves buying those expensive oil soakers and will save you from using 63 rolls of paper towels.


Glass suction cups.

Again, I cannot think of a second use for it but using one this year has been a revelation. I use one to attach to the hull when the boat is in the water and clean the anti-foul. I know it is simple but it has saved me floating away every time I rub my bottom. I can also use it to hold onto and get down to the prop to clean it. For those hard to reach bits attach an empty coke bottle to your broom. It creates an upward force making the cleaning a cinch. Now your bottom will be perfectly clean and no nappies will be required.


Digital weather station.

This has got to be one of my favourite every day second uses. Most digital weather stations come with an outside transmitter to tell you the temperature and to be honest what is the point? Why not put the outside transmitter in another place where it is more useful? You could put it in the fridge or the boat engine room and get a permanent readout. I put mine in the bedroom when my wife goes to bed so I know how hot she is feeling!


Tissue boxes.

Everyday use for a tissue boxWhy throw an old tissue box away when it can be used again? We all tend to collect plastic bags for rubbish bins and the like but before you know it they have been breeding and there are hundreds of them. You will be surprised at just how many you can get in a tissue box which keeps them tidy and allows you to pull out one at a time.


Weed sprayer.

Those garden sprayers are fantastic everyday items on boats. Fill them up with clean water, pump the pressure up and they can be used to clean the boat, dinghy and anchor chain when you haul it out the mud. Paint it black and leave it in the sun and it makes a perfect deck shower.


Broken mugs.

Boat mugNo, not the skipper who got hit in the face with the boom but the drinking type. If the handles have broken why not stick a small cleat to the mug instead. They look good and even make a present for other sailors.


Dinghy covers.

This one is just a money saving idea. Our dinghy melted in the sun so I needed to find a way of protecting the new one. Dinghy covers are very expensive but I found that a car protector cover was cheap, protected from the sun, came with ties and was the perfect fit on the dinghy.


Old lines.

uses for old lineI know. Sailors tend to keep any bit of old line over a few mm long for years hoping that it may be of use somewhere. Chances are you inherited a boat with miles of old line because let’s face it, we never do use them. Why not learn to make them in mats, coasters, bracelets or other everyday items. It is something to do on a night passage when everyone else is asleep and it keeps you awake. You may earn “good boy” points from the other half or even to sell a few for-beer tokens.


Shade Sails.

Using old sails to make shade sailsNow here is an idea that may actually make you some money or improve the value of your house. Those old sails that have become baggy or worn can be made into clothing, bags and many other things but the big one at the moment is Shade sails. They look attractive, can be put up easily and provide protection from the sun or rain. Buy them from a manufacturer and shade sails cost a fortune but if you have an old sail then they are perfect. You can even use them to make attractive fencing or dividers in the garden. I am sure you can think of other everyday uses as well.


These are just a few ideas for using everyday items on boats.

Men are pigsI found out that my wife can wash up as well which is a brilliant second use. She is still better in her primary role of a pleasurable exercise machine though. Darn, I have just found out she has other uses as well. She can throw heavy things very accurately but failed when it comes to contacting an ambulance.

After seven years aboard she is still trying to find a use for me but failed at that as well.

So, what do you think of the ideas I have suggested. I am sure you have some uses yourself of everyday items on the boat and I would really like to know what they are?



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  1. Hi Mark
    Enjoying your blog!
    My other half can’t leave a tyre alone without trying to sneak it on board as a fender for the dinghy.
    One mans junk is another mans treasure!

  2. Brilliant ideas! Forwarding to The Captain as he is the pack rat and I tend to throw things out before their time and then get an earful. I have curbed my disposal habit since coming aboard Amandla as The Captain has proven time and again the uses for the crazy things he strores away for a rainy day.

    1. Thank you for that comment Julie. I tug my forelock to you. We are back in Crete as we love it here but will be setting out soon.. well fairly soon, well when the weather is better, well sometime anyway.

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