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post #1 of 14 Old 10-31-2013 Thread Starter
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Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

I'm just finishing my Chameleon nesting dinghy and I am thinking about what I can use for a rubrail so it doesn't scratch my boat when I come alongside. I don't have a Westmarine here, so it has to be something I can find in a hardware or building supply store. Any ideas?? I thought about using soft hose tubing split to go around the gunwall or even lashing a pool "spaghetti" to the side, but neither will look very elegant... I need help!

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

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I'm just finishing my Chameleon nesting dinghy and I am thinking about what I can use for a rubrail so it doesn't scratch my boat when I come alongside. I don't have a Westmarine here, so it has to be something I can find in a hardware or building supply store. Any ideas?? I thought about using soft hose tubing split to go around the gunwall or even lashing a pool "spaghetti" to the side, but neither will look very elegant... I need help!
No, not a non marine item that works well. I've seen attempts(made a few myself) to find a cheap working rub rail.

The old standby canvas foam rub rail which is expensive up front (4-5.00/foot), I think is a good buy. I get 8 to 10 seasons out of it and I store the dinghy outside all winter in Maine. If you take care of it(store inside), you should get at least a decade out of it, maybe longer. It'll protect your boats topside and decks.

The best thing is, it works like no other rub rail. It's soft, well cushioned and best of all, for wooden dinghys like your Chameleon, it's easy to apply with screws and washers or boat nails(which I use). After all the work you've done, your project deserves it!

This is the second rub rail on a 20 year old Nutshell I built when my daughter was 2. Here she is sailing it this past season. You can order it from several suppliers.


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Rockport, Maine.
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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

I tried, and failed, as well, to come up with something as good as an old fashioned Taylormade, or other brand, canvas rubrail, for my Boston Whaler 11' dinghy.

I've used old firehose on docks, before, but I wanted something a little nicer looking on my dingy. I even considered using loading dock bumpers, something I had seen used on a marina holding tank pumping boat, but it doesn't save you any money.

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

I struggled with this question this season. I built a hard shell dinghy but due to time delays really didn't have time to address the issue before leaving on a 3 week cruise. As a temporary measure, I attached foam pipe insulation which started to fall apart after one day and wouldn't protect the corners of the dinghy which, of course, was the part that kept banging into my boat!

Finally, a few days into our cruise, I pulled out an old dock line and screwed it into the gunwale all around the boat. The line was soft enough that the screw heads went into the line far enough that they wouldn't scratch but the line was firm enough to hold the screw! Low and behold, it worked amazingly well. I will be sticking with that method. Looks rather nautical as well!

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

Tom, I like the look of that rubrail. Thanks for the idea and the photo. What kind of application exactly is the "canvass foam" manufactured for? Where would I begin looking for such a product? I fear my shopping here will be somewhat limited.

Group9, thank you as well for the suggestion.

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

Years ago we had a little El Torro that we used as a dinghy for our, then, Rhodes Reliant. I made a very nice rub rail for the boat out of discarded fire hose. I was able to buy a 25 foot length of 4" diameter fire hose from a local salvage shop that was roughly 6" wide when laid flat. We bought a length of 1/4" thick neoprene foam from a local wet-suit maker and cut it into 5" wide strips, sewed the ends together, and pulled it through the hose. We then used a punch and set snap buttons along both edges every 6-8" with matching buttons screwed and glued to the dinghy rails. It actually worked very nicely for many years. If you cannot find discarded fire hose, one could do the same thing with Sunbrella fabric and neoprene.

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

I just use dinghy sized fenders. Polyform makes a nice one.

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

Nodders, that just might be the solution for me. thanks.

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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

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I struggled with this question this season. I built a hard shell dinghy but due to time delays really didn't have time to address the issue before leaving on a 3 week cruise. As a temporary measure, I attached foam pipe insulation which started to fall apart after one day and wouldn't protect the corners of the dinghy which, of course, was the part that kept banging into my boat!

Finally, a few days into our cruise, I pulled out an old dock line and screwed it into the gunwale all around the boat. The line was soft enough that the screw heads went into the line far enough that they wouldn't scratch but the line was firm enough to hold the screw! Low and behold, it worked amazingly well. I will be sticking with that method. Looks rather nautical as well!
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Nodders, that just might be the solution for me. thanks.
I have seen fairly large three strand rope used to very attractive effect, but I don't know if they just screw through it or how it is attached. Seems the least expensive and likely available.
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Re: Hard dinghy rubrail ideas?

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I have seen fairly large three strand rope used to very attractive effect, but I don't know if they just screw through it or how it is attached. Seems the least expensive and likely available.
I wondered the same. thought of using epoxy, but then removing it would be problamatic. The screws work really well and easy to remove should I need to replace it or remove for whatever reason.

Pictures of my futile attempt with foam pipe insulation can be seen on my blog linked to below....

I am not really from Toronto


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