The New Cruisers' Duct Tape?
28 January 2012 | Mt Hartman Bay, Grenada
What I am going to say may be heresy to some. I admit it, and I am ready for the responses and the hoots of derision. However, I am no longer a complete believer. I no longer think that duct tape is the greatest thing since sliced bread on a cruising boat. There, I said it.
So what has drawn me away from the teachings of Red Green and many other wise people? What has made me open to ridicule and being pointed at in the street by passer-bys? "Rescue Tape" has made me a convert to its' powers.
"Rescue Tape" is a silicone-based self-almagamating tape. It's nice to have something that doesn't rely on an adhesive for its' holding power. After a tour of duty hanging out in the foc's'l of our boat, duct tape's adhesive can get a little uncooperative, often splitting its' attention between both sides of the tape. NOT helpful when you need it to to be somewhere of your choosing. The self-adhesive qualities of Rescue Tape means that the "stick factor" is impervious to temperature and the vagarities of humidity. Yes, it does require the tape to be wrapped around something, but that is often the purpose given to duct tape, too.
Okay, adhesiveness alone isn't enough for me to allow myself to be publicly ridiculed. How about the fact that this stuff is rated to temperatures up to 500 deg F? Holy Hades, Batman! You can actually put this stuff on a leak on an exhaust hose and have confidence that it won't be a melted puddle of gunk in the engine compartment in a matter of minutes.
This stuff is also rated to 8,000 volts.... what does this mean to a cruiser? It means that this tape can be used to insulate any connection on the boat. We don't use it alone, most of the time, but it has its' uses. For those with an SSB antenna, it can be used as insulation for the GTO cable to antenna connection. We've also used it as added insulation and strain relief on microphone cables, since ICOM doesn't seem capable of making microphones with good strain relief on their own. We cheated yesterday and used it to insulate a splice in one of our lamps (we took the dimmer out of the picture as it was not working). If you don't trust the connectors alone, a bit of this stuff will do the trick. Try that with duct tape; actually, please don't. It also doesn't create a mess if you need to remove it to get at something... that's the no adhesive thing again. We now use it in conjunction with coax-seal to waterproof our outdoor electrical and radio connections... it isn't anywhere near as messy as coax-seal to work with.
The next selling point for me is that it is also rated to 950 psi. Ah, so it can be used for engine leaks in other places, too! And because it is impervious to most chemicals, it won't degrade. Oh yeah, it is also UV resistant, too. Try leaving duct tape in the sun for a while. It's also waterproof, not that this is much of a surprise.
We were first introduced to this stuff when our buddy David had an emergency on his boat. The seal on his dripless shaft (good lord, that sounds rude) split, and he was taking on water at an alarming rate... literally; his alarm on the bilge pump went off. Someone else rushed over with this Rescue Tape and bound things together well enough for them to motor the boat around to the next bay and get hauled out.
We are going to try a couple of test strips on our anchor rode to see if it will work as an indicator of how much chain we have out. It will be easier to work with than paint, and it may not come off as easily. We bought a number of rolls at the Toronto Boat Show (cheap!) in different colours, so we will be able to use our familiar colour pattern on the chain as we have since the start.
I don't see people making quotes about this tape, like the many comments about duct tape. I don't see Red Green (who in real life IS a boater) changing his show for this stuff, but I do see how it is one more thing that can prove very useful on a sailing boat. Too bad it can't make coffee...