row2k Features
Rowing Hacks: The Gunwale Guard
May 14, 2020
John FX Flynn

A very simple and easy hack

While it is true that not many of us are doing much traveling, let alone trailer-loading and regatta-going, this is prime-time to use some good rowing hacks to make things easier - and, in this case, a bit safer - when we call all get back to business as usual.

Case in point: how are you fixed for gunwale guards at your place? If you have any boats in your fleet with flat, sharp-edged gunwales that like to chew through straps when the boat is lashed to a rack, then you probably have a system already, but let us suggest that it is high time you put this simple hack to work to make sure you are fully stocked on gunwale guards for, you know, 'next time.'

The idea here is to have a pre-cut piece of rubber or tubing that you can place against the side of the boat, where it sits on the rack, that you can strap over - this prevents the strap from actually touching a sharp or thin gunwale. Some shells seem to need these treatment more than others, depending on the manufacturer, but this trick will work to make your straps last longer on any kind of boat.

The hack here, of course, is not the gunwale guard itself--lots of places use them and they are a virtual necessity for certain makes of boats - but we've gotten a heap of suggestions over the past few years of this column for ways to hack up new ones and make sure you have a full set on hand when it comes time to start strapping things down on the trailer. After all, they do tend to get lost, so having extra on hand, and a cheap way to replace all the ones that go missing over the course of the year, is where these hacks come in handy - and what better time than now to make sure you have heaps ready for the first post-shutdown trip.

Garden hose might be the cheapest solution out there, particularly if the hose you use has been rescued from the trash-heap, or if it is the dock hose you just replaced finding new, recycled life. If you want to get fancy, there are a host of suitable options online, from food-grade tubing to EVA plastic, but the real key is something rigid enough to hold up to the strap but flexible enough to not scratch the boat or become brittle on a cold-weather haul - in other words, like a garden hose!

For those looking to over-build this hack and go heavy-duty, you could make your guards out of PVC. At the same time, when you can make the guards out of hose and tubing with a sharp razor, why go the PVC path, which requires a bit more in the way for sawing and could damage the boat.

Another tip, for once you have hacked up a whole bunch of gunwale guards: have a place to put them when you arrive and unload. That's right, a 'gun'l guard box' - or bucket, even - that is the go-to place for al all the guards as the boats get unstrapped, will help make sure that they wind up in one place, fully accounted for, instead of in pockets or tucked into unis. This way, you will have them all when it comes time to strap everything back down, and you won't have to re-visit this hack to make new ones out on the road.

Have a great boat-trailering idea we haven't touched on yet? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

Have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion here? Send it to us!

During these unprecendented times, row2k is working hard to keep rowing coming to you; please help us keeping it coming by supporting our work!


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