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In the category of things that you probably don’t think a lot about on land that make quite a difference at sea are zippers. Yes, zippers, along with just about everything else on a boat sailing in salt water, tend to corrode. And when they corrode badly, they cease to open. We have had metal zippers on multiple items seize up requiring us to either throw them away or live with the fact that they no longer ZIP. This is in spite of our applying lubricants, vinegar, heat and FORCE in a futile attempt to resurrect them.

It seems the best thing to do to prevent tragedies such as this is to apply some preemptive lubrication. That, or purchase items which only have plastic zippers. Too bad they’re not more common.

Tip: We have learned to leave dual zippers, as the bag in the pic below has, together in the middle as opposed to both at one end. This way if one side refuses to budge, we can still access whatever is in the bag.

One of our awesome MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) duffle bags, which we love.
Too bad the zippers tend to corrode down here.

13 Comments

    • I don’t know what that is but if it’s a lubricant, as the name suggests, I would assume it would work in preventing zippers from seizing up, if applied regularly. After the fact, nothing can save them (not just my opinion but also that of the owner of a sail loft who works with a lot of boat canvas projects).

      • Yes it is a dry lubricant, so it would not contaminate the contents. From their website:

        “Sailkote is the easy to apply high-tech, high performance dry lubricant that makes sails, hulls, rigging, deck hardware, and anything that moves on your boat run smoother, work more efficiently and last longer than you ever thought possible.

        Team McLube Sailkote is the only dry lubricant currently available that has been specifically designed for marine use. Sailkote is a translucent liquid that sprays or wipes on and completely dries in seconds. So, unlike oils, silicones, and waxes, it will never attract dirt, water and contaminants that eventually degrade lubrication performance. “

  1. · Most Zippers – One of the most frequent maintenance items.
    Clean frequently McNett Zip-Care and Aqua Seal Zip Tech
    If frozen, soak in Boeshield T-9 and then work free carefully, clean corroded area of zipper with brush
    Happens on expensive water proof clothing and raincoats that are stored for a while.

    http://creative-cruising.com/sailing-what-didnt-work.htm

    After I read your entry this morning, I was looking for another sailing blog to read from the beginning and found this.

    Fair Winds, Following Seas, Good Anchoring, and plenty of ice cubes,
    RayG

  2. It is actually Mountain Equipment Co-Op, remember how you had to buy a membership the first time you shopped there?

    And a sewing trick for a stuck zipper is beeswax. Would a small shot of WD40 get it started? Then you could use the wax to keep it operating.

    • Right you are (re MEC). My early-morning memory is not all that sharp. As for the WD40, consider it tried. It failed, as did the others. As I wrote, prevention is the key. Once they’re stuck, fogetaboutit.

  3. I just use silicone spray and that has been the best solution I have found…..My zippers work as good today as when we bought the boat………Spray, work it, spray, work it, spray work it….I also use for my snaps now as well……I was sick of the creams, gels, etc…..

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