Velcro Aboard: Fast Tips for Quick Fasteners

Posted by Drew Frye at 03:43PM - Comments: (3)

Hook and loop fasteners are familiar from jacket cuffs and companionway bug screens, but during our many years of fiddling around boats, we’ve come up with a few applications that even a Velcro-lover haven’t yet tried. Let’s look at some new tricks.


The tail of this clew strap is secured on both sides by Velcro.

Clew strap. In the August 2019 issue of Practical Sailor we look at making your own clew strap. A less common application is holding the mainsail tack tight to the mast when reefed. Typical slab reefing systems are good at pulling the sail down, but the outhaul is sheeted hard in a strong wind, the bolt rope or sliders can be pulled right out of the track. Again, a double-sided Velcro strap is fast and strong. At least 6 inches of Velcro for each 100 square feet of sail area and at least two full wraps around the boom.

This Velcro clew strap is fastened with the fuzzy side down for easy sliding as the outhaul is eased.
Reducing friction. Sailors use non-skid material under plates and mugs to keep them from landing on the floor. But sometimes you want an item to slide. One of our favorite uses for Velcro is under the clew strap for the main sail. Webbing on aluminum is reasonably slick, but by applying the fuzzy side of self-adhesive Velcro to the underside and coating the boom with Sailkote, outhaul adjust-ments are easy. This also works on the bottoms of drawers.

This stick-on Velcro button secures a plastic hatch cover
DIY fiberglass window covers. The concept is simple enough. Cut 0.9-inch fiberglass shower surround material (any home improvement center sells 4-by-8 sheets) to the outline of the window and attach with Velcro. The problem is, when you try to remove the cover, the glazing may come loose when you pull the cover off (yes, it happened to us). The solution is to attach the cover with buttons covered with a variation on Velcro marketed by 3M under the names Dual Lock and Extreme Releasable Fasteners. Instead of little fabric hooks, the working parts are tiny molded mushrooms that interlock with an audible “snap” when pressed together. To remove, lever the buttons off using your fingertips rather than by pulling straight out. For details, read “DIY Fiberglass Hatch Covers,” PS March 2016.

Heavy duty "Dual-Lock" fasteners from 3M can be used to mount light fittings.
Fastening light hardware. Using the same high-grip adhesive as 3M High Bonding Tape, Dual Lock is much easier to remove, because you can pop the object loose first, providing direct access to the adhesive strip (sometimes a screwdriver may be helpful—it’s strong stuff). Because the backing tape is very strong, you can work a knife under one corner and remove the Dual Lock without leaving any residue be¬hind. However, although it is strong, the adhesive may creep under sustained load in warm temperatures. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance regarding weight and load limits.

Velcro is great for covering wire runs.
Wiring covers. Hiding wires is al¬ways a challenge. You may need to drop the ceiling, drill holes, scrape, glue, or perform extreme boat yoga, all for the sake of appearance. However, if the cabin in question is carpeted, you can hide them in plain sight while maintaining instant access. Cut strips of the carpet or matching fabric about one inches wide. Hot knife the edges to prevent fraying. For more color variety, try a cotton towel, but use varnish at the edges (a hot knife won’t work here). Lightly coat one side with contact cement or 3M Super 76 spray adhesive. This will allow self-adhesive Velcro to bond permanently. These “hider strips” will stick to the carpet liner, securing the wires in an accessible and chafe-free manner. So long as wires are run along natural corners, they are unobtrusive.

Screens. Everyone does this. Stick Velcro around the companionway and slap a screen on. But we always wonder, if the screen is in¬stalled from the outside, how do you close it from the inside? If you have a carpet-lined cabin, there is a super-simple solution. Cut screen material 3-5 inches larger than needed. Slap the Velcro hook on one side and loops on the other. When used alone, neither strip sticks well to the screen. However, when paired together, the adhesive sticks to the other tape through the holes, bonding to itself like duct tape in a tangle. Offset the corners in opposite directions for strength, just as bricks are offset. Roll them up for storage. The Velcro on both sides makes for a nice neat bundle.

Tiller pilot holder. The last time we had a tiller pilot, like many sailors, we attached a length of cord and a snap hook to make sure it didn’t go for a swim. We recently tried multiple wraps of Velcro, and found it provided more support, reducing bouncing in waves.

Mounting pictures. Got kids? They are naturally inclined to decorate their space. If a carpet-lined berth is to be theirs, give them some Velcro stick-on dots and let them go to work. The hook part will stick to the carpet, yet is easily removed without damage. Sailing is more fun when the kids are left to play on their own.

We'd love to hear of other uses we haven't yet thought of. Give us your suggestions in the comment box below, or by email at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.

For specific product information and review of properties, read “Getting a Grip on Velcro,” PS April 2016.

PS Technical Editor Drew Frye is the author of "Rigging Modern Anchors." (2018, Seaworthy Publications). He blogs at www.sail-delmarva.blogspot.com.

Comments (3)

Two other uses: using Velcro "ties" I loop them around my power cord about 5' apart and attach the power cord to the lifeline to keep it off the deck. Also use the double lock to hold open my wood framed screened companionway doors.

Posted by: Silversailor | July 20, 2019 11:43 AM    Report this comment

I use super magnets for a variety of quick release functions,rather than the "tear apart" of Velcro: examples, bi-fold door catch for the head,air horn grabber for close access and instant release,and the grabber for the articulating arm of my MFD

Posted by: peter woodsworth | July 18, 2019 9:50 PM    Report this comment

If the Velcro gripping strength is too great, the gripping strength can be reduced by trimming the fuzzy side with a scissors. The more gripping fibers trimmed, the less the gripping strength.

Posted by: Terry K | July 18, 2019 11:20 AM    Report this comment

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