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Old 02-22-2007
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A Shining Solution

Practical Sailor - Scotchlite

We’ll see how well 3M’s Scotchlite adheres to an old life jacket (above) and an Avon dinghy.

A Shining Solution

Sponsored by Practical Sailor Magazine

Scotchlite Reflective Tape lights up safety gear. But does it stick?

We’ll see how well 3M’s Scotchlite adheres to an old life jacket (above) and an Avon dinghy.

Visibility can be a very important element when it comes to safety on the water. For that person in the water, being as visible as possible is one of the few proactive steps they can take to ensure a successful recovery. Should you fall overboard during the day, a personal beacon, brightly colored foul weather gear and safety equipment like a fluorescent orange life vest will make you easier to locate. At night, having something reflective on you will make you easier to locate with a spotlight.

Likewise, having something reflective on your dinghy (and engine) when it’s tethered astern at night can help others see it when they’re motoring about in a crowded anchorage. And adding some reflective material to your mooring ball might simplify nighttime pick ups on those ultra-dark occasions.

So, when Sailor’s Solutions told us about a product they’re now carrying—Scotchlite Reflective Tape—we decided that $1.79 per foot, the tape would be worth testing on a number of surfaces.

Scotchlite Reflective Tape is two inches wide and comes with a strong, pressure-sensitive adhesive beneath its peel-off paper backing. This SOLAS-grade product conforms to International Maritime Organization regulations. Reportedly, Scotchlite Reflective Tape will adhere to nearly any surface, including aluminum and most metals, polyester, rubber coated cloth and vinyl. You have to make sure that the surface is clean and free of dirt, dust, or moisture. For the best adhesion, the manufacturer recommends that you not apply the tape in temperatures under 60 degrees F, and wait 48 hours before inflating or handling the object.

PS tested this product on several surfaces. First, we put it on an old, foam-filled life jacket with nylon covering the foam. Then, we applied it to an older inflatable dinghy that lives in the water. And we stuck it on the shoulders of a foul-weather jacket, as well as the wooden sides of a dock. The tape seemed to stick well in each case, but we’ll wait and see if it stands the test of time. The samples PS used came from Sailor’s Solutions, but the tape is also available through Landfall Navigation, and other chandleries as well.

Sponsored by Practical Sailor Magazine

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