PS Advisor May 2013 Issue

Curing the Hardened Sole

What to do when your sailing shoes lose their grip.

Photos by Drew Frye (top) and courtesy of Bill Crowley

My closet is full of boat shoes and sailing boots that are in excellent condition on the topsides, but to a sole, their bottoms have become hard and slippery. Is there any known cure short of replacement?

Last week, when heading out for a sail on an unfamiliar small boat, I put 80-grit sandpaper on my Makita sander and worked the bottoms of a pair of old Tobago sailing sandals, until the sole felt less slippery. On board, the sandals gave me much more traction than they had for a very long while. Does Practical Sailor have any other possible solutions?

Bill Crowley

Clarsa, 1979 Venture Newport 23

Sailing Education Adventures,

Napa, Calif.

Hardened sailing-shoe soles are not limited to just a few brands; most grippy soles lose their stick after a while. Soles designed for high-traction gripping are typically made of a soft rubber. This soft, tacky rubber wears down more quickly, eventually hardening over time. Sailing shoes are regularly subjected to salt water, abrasive nonskid surfaces, sun, and numerous wet-dry cycles; a soft material in a harsh environment obviously won’t last long.

None of the sailing-shoe makers we contacted could offer any better tips for returning grip to a hardened sole. However, rather than ditching a perfectly good upper, we recommend having the shoes re-soled. There are a number of re-soling businesses online—some specialize in sailing shoes—and chances are good that you’ll find a few local cobblers in your own area that can do it as well.

Since we have a closetful of old sailing moccasins, sandals, and athletic shoes, we’ve decided to do a review of re-soling businesses (online and local). We welcome reader recommendations; email

SSB Mounting

What is the recommended way to mount GTO-15 SSB antenna wire to the backstay without sacrificing a good contact or encouraging corrosion? Everybody seems to have a different opinion, including: hose clamps, lots of tape, and electrician’s putty (coax-seal).

Mike Hirko

Destiny, Tayana Vancouver 42

Gig Harbor, Wash.

Single-strand, high-voltage wire, such as Ancor GTO-15, is a good choice for connecting antenna tuners to a backstay or long wire antenna. The physical connection between the isolated stainless-steel wire or rod rigging can be tricky, both due to dissimilar metal issues and diameter differences.

If you are installing insulators on a backstay, it’s a good time to have a rigger slip a Nicopress fitting on the stay, close to the lower terminal end. The second portion of the dual-slot Nicopress receives a short, tinned, stranded copper wire of about the same diameter. Once crimped, the rugged pigtail connection (about 6 inches long) should be clamped to the backstay and fitted with a heavy-duty ring terminal. The GTO-15 lead is also fitted with a ring terminal, and these can be fastened together with a small copper nut and screw.

If the backstay insulators are already in place, the tinned, stranded GTO-15 conductor can be clamped to the backstay with multiple hose clamps. Though less elegant and durable than the Nicopress, the GTO-15 is a functional alternative, but it should be checked often for broken strands and corrosion. Coatings can help, but dielectrics can impede signal propagation.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

New to Practical Sailor?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In