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Objects of Intense Desire: Elastic Bands

Rob Murray

Avant
Beneteau First 435 Sloop
November 3rd, 2019

I was helping a fellow cruiser with a minor repair aboard their boat. We needed a fastener, a 1” 10/32 stainless machine screw and nut to finish up the job. He dived into his parts drawer to grab one, and immediately began using his ‘sailors vocabulary’.

The small plastic box that held some fasteners had opened inside the drawer, dumping the contents to the bottom. The clasp on the box had failed long ago, and he had used a rubber band to hold it closed. In the heat of the tropics, the rubber band had perished, leaving the box unsecured with little crisp bits of elastic stuck to it.

A common problem when cruising in warmer climes is the failure of elastic. Bungee cords, waistbands, cuffs and rubber bands all have a reduced life in the heat. While there are no ready replacements for many of these, at least for rubber bands we have found a solution.

While we have been accused of holding Avant, our Beneteau First 435, together with rubber bands, this is actually untrue. We do need elastic bands for many simple things aboard, holding small bundles together, boxes shut, books closed, papers together, line coiled, and so on, and we found rubber bands, with a life measured in weeks or months in the heat (whether under tension or loose) just could not do the job. Standard rubber bands we had relied on in temperate climes with great success were virtually self destructing in the heat. We now use silicone elastics to hold Avant together!

Where to Find Them

In the women’s hair accessories section of many ‘dollar stores’ (‘Waldo’s’ in Mexico) you can often find silicone elastics. Unlike the matte rubber bands, they’re a bit ‘shiny’, and they hold together in the heat. They also come in some snappy colours, unlike the monotonous beige of rubber bands (a bonus, as it makes them easier to find when they go zinging off into space when you try to use them).

I offered my cursing friend a few from our supply, and all was well again. Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a difference.

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