Over time, chafing from lines can actually wear away gelcoat. Likewise, chips will appear where hatches or ports bang. While eliminating chafe is the best course of action, in some cases, a protective patch can be a viable solution.
Faced with a chafe problem on his own boat, sailor Andrew Grogono developed the Wear and Tear Pad, an ultra-thin (.002 inches) piece of 301 stainless steel backed by an all-weather double-sided tape. To use, just peel off the backing paper and stick the patch on the hull at the point of friction or impact (making sure the hull is clean and dry, first).
We put two 2 x 6-inch Wear and Tear Pads on a tight 90-degree bend on the gunwale of our 23-foot test powerboat where fender lines rub. The first, which was not adequately pre-molded to fit the curve, pulled up, but the second, which was pre-bent to fit the radius before applying, is holding tight after six weeks in the weather. How long the adhesive will stand up will be answered in the months to follow. Grogono says his have held up for two years. The Wear and Tear Pad can be removed with a heat gun, but it is not meant to be reused. The patches come in two sizes 2 x 6 inches ($25) and 2 x 9 inches ($32). The price includes $5 for shipping.