PS Advisor: The Curse of the Pox

Cleaning and sealing may revive anodized aluminum.


Perhaps it’s a result of leaving my boat in the California sun and polluted air for half a year without a washdown due to being away, but my 29-year-old CS36 has suddenly developed a bad case of the pox on every piece of aluminum hardware on

Terry Rugg

Photo courtesy of Terry Rugg


the deck. Any suggestions for dealing with it?


Luther Abel,
Indulgence, CS36
Alameda, Calif.


While regular washdowns and waxing/sealing the aluminum twice a year will help prevent the dreaded pox, reviving stricken aluminum hardware is not as easy because the anodized coating has been compromised.

Boat maintenance master Don Casey, on the BoatUS website (, suggests cleaning the surface using a mild abrasive like Bar Keeper’s Friend


Sticky Zipper

I recently purchased an Islander 36. The cabin overhead is a sort of PVC material with a series of nylon zippers to give access to the underside of the deck. Said zippers are, well, completely zipped. I can’t budge them; I’ve tried the proprietary Teflon-based zip lubes; the various low-friction general lubricants like Sailcote; and finally the old all-systems stand by, WD-40. The zippers are still stuck fast. Do you have any ideas, suggestions or remedies?


Terry Rugg,
Tatenda, Islander 36
San Diego, Calif.


Most of us attack stuck or corroded zippers with force, but that is a bad idea. Usually, the zipper pull can be coaxed loose, or at least broken off and the zipper teeth will remain serviceable. Another bad idea is using WD-40, or any petroleum-based product, on plastic zippers.

Our suggested course of action would be to try soaking the offending zipper (slide and teeth) with vinegar. This cheap remedy won’t harm the fabric. When you cannot soak it (as in this case), wipe it down with a rag soaked in vinegar, and use a toothbrush to remove any corrosion. If that fails, spray the zipper with a silicone spray. Be careful with overspray though; surfaces to be painted or varnished can be contaminated and adhesion will suffer.

Then, attach a cord to the zipper slide and try to coax it in the direction of closing the zipper. If this too fails, then you’ll need to carefully break the zipper slide in half and remove it, then replace it. Once the zipper is repaired (and with any new zippers), be sure to use a zipper protectant like Snap-Stick (

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Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


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