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Sound Rigging Tip #413: There's a right way to apply rigging tape. No kidding.


Rigging tape probably has more uses on a sailboat than duct tape, and we think that's saying a lot. From covering sharp objects to holding stuff in place, it's one of the most useful things in the tool bag. Its stretchy, form fitting, easy to use style makes it a crew favorite on just about every boat. Trouble is, eventually it gets baked by the sun, becomes brittle and the adhesive fails. Next thing you know the tape unwinds, and you have what we in the business refer to as a flag: a ribbon of unrolled tape flapping in the breeze and looking sloppy. Some bits are reachable and easily remedied, but some not so much. One thing's for certain. Flags detract from the handsome look of an otherwise ship-shape boat. What's a skipper to do?

The next time you reach for the rig wrap, try these simple steps to make your tape job last for the whole season.

  1. Start with a clean roll of tape.
  2. Cut a clean end and apply the tape by stretching it to a nice form fit.
  3. Finish up by doing one more wrap, but this time pull the tape just enough so it will lay flat. DO NOT stretch it!
  4. Finally, CUT (do not rip) the tape and push the bitter end down with your thumb. Note: Cutting the tape on a slight angle, instead of at ninety degrees, seems to work best.
  5. Want to make doubly sure it doesn't come apart? Smear a wee dab of Elastomeric over the end of the tape. That's about as bullet proof as rigging tape gets.

Follow these simple steps when applying your rigging tape, and see if it doesn't get you through a flag free season.  Many thanks to Rigger Dave for sharing his expertise and contributing this article.

Happy Sailing!

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