Friday, February 24, 2012


Marathon, FL 24º42.366N | 81º5.669W

rub strake |rəb strāk|nouna continuous line of planking or plates from the stem to the stern of a ship or boat.

See that piece of hardware on the edge of the teak rail? I needed two more of them (for the midship cleats), but how the heck do I search for 'that stainless steel plate thingy'?

I've already written a screed about cheesy and vapid nautical words, but some things on a boat require unique names, and this is one of them. My only problem was that I didn't know what that word was. After a great deal of digital stumbling on Google and various marine websites, I discovered the term "rub strake," and thus confidently called West Marine to order two more.

When we were refinishing the toe rails, I discovered that our rub strakes had been installed improperly. Their purpose is to keep the lines from chafing the wood, but ours were installed too far from the edge of the wood, allowing room for the lines to rub the finish -- and some of the wood -- off.

So, we had to move the plates out onto the edge, about an inch from their original placement, which meant for each of the four plates, we had three holes in the rail that needed to be filled. As with any boat project, this was way more complicated than it should have been.

First, an entire week of rain kept the holes filled with water, leaving us to wait until they were dry before filling them properly.

Second, what to fill the holes with? They didn't need a cosmetic treatment since the plate would cover them. Otherwise, we would have drilled them larger (!) and put in teak plugs. After conversations with several clerks and searching online forums, we decided on West System G-Flex, a thickened epoxy. It worked beautifully. Holes filled. New holes drilled. Plates back on. Project done? No.

Third, installation of the original four plates was accomplished during the several days it took for our two new rub strakes to arrive. By the time we had them in hand, a blow came in and then we left. First on the Keys TO DO list: Install final rub strakes.

Then we can file that nautical word away for a rainy day -- or the rare Nautical Words category on Jeopardy.

p.s. -- Those rails looks great, don't they?

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