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The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

The Most Dangerous Thing on Your Boat

Rob Murray

Beneteau First 435 Sloop
February 8th, 2017

OK, maybe not the most dangerous, but certainly the most likely to draw blood is the trimmed zip tie, cable tie or zap-strap. Since one of our definitions of success is ‘no blood on the deck’, eliminating these tiny irritating cuts has been a long term goal.

Avant has 100’s of these sharp edged terrors on all variety of systems, plumbing, electrical and jury-rigged. Each trimmed zip tie is a tiny razor waiting to draw blood when you reach into a locker or equipment space. Many mundane maintenance tasks have resulted in multiple bandaids being required, as well as plentiful use of colourful “captain’s words”.

But I have found a solution! Close trimming of the ends with a dollar store toenail clipper places the sharp end close in and out of harms way. As an added bonus, many clippers retain the clipped ends to prevent them falling in the bilge and potentially clogging a pump.

As I undertake chores in the lockers festooned with these, I first reach in and trim the remaining sharp ends and as a result have drastically reduced bandaid consumption!


  1. Adam McKenzie says:

    Great article & one people iterated to us when we got our boat. We have been using nipple pliers or sometimes called end cutting pliers. Can get them into most places but struggling to find a good manufacturers pair to purchase. Interested to try this simple solution.

    Happy Sailing

  2. Ron Morrison says:

    Good idea! I’ve been a victim more than once. I have elected to not trim them at all in certain places, but reluctantly. Also, we have banned their use on deck, due to the eventuality of being lost at sea. Not us, them.


  3. Bjarne Hansen says:

    Great suggestion! We usually use side-cutters, but the nail-trimmers cut closer and partly round the corners. I’ll add them to the toolbox.

    If I may add a note of caution when using zip-ties in locations exposed to sun: unless the ties are made of UV-resistant plastic, they may have a lifetime of only a few months in the tropical sun.

  4. Ernst says:

    I’ve lost lots of blood on those and for many years now I have successfully used a razor blade to trim of the ends of the cable ties. Nothing smoother than a cable tie end finished off with a razor blade.

    It is also a good idea to turn (if possible) the cable tie so the protruding end is to the side of the cables you tie.

    Of course, be careful with the razor blade not to defy the purpose in the end 😉

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