Dyer maintenance & prep

Get your boat race-ready!

Dyers require little maintenance, but a little attention will go a long way to race performance. Below is an overview of annual love you'll want to show your boat to be as fast as possible on the water.

Bottom preparation

  1. Soap and water. Clean the hull thoroughly.

  2. Look for holes and flaws. If your hull is gel coat, you’ll be doing gel repair. If your hull is painted, you’ll be doing paint touchup. I don’t have a lot of paint experience.

Here is the gel coat routine:

    1. Sand (320 grit) the areas you are going to repair. This grit will create enough roughness for your repair to stick.

    2. If you’ve got a huge hole or crack, use a micro balloon filler to make a putty. Don’t use MarineTex if you can help it. It has different hardness from gel coat so it is hard to get an even finish.

    3. Use a small implement (chopstick or even a toothpick) to be sure that the gel coat gets all the way into the crack (no bubbles). Overfill.

    4. Let your repairs dry fully. (You may want to start the day with points B-D below—then turn the boat on its stomach and do your repairs.)


  1. Check the back corner and the front joint. These are the places that rot first. Look also at the joint in the middle of the side where rail pieces are fitted together—it also rots. If you find anything soft or cracked get a good wood filler and work it into the damage. You can sand it and varnish after it dries. You’ll get an extra season out of your rails.

  2. Lightly sand the rails. 220 grit won’t clog up too quickly, but don’t try to sand off varnish—you just want roughness so the new varnish will stick.

  3. Varnish the top and sides.

  4. Be sure you varnish the underside of the rail. A little extra varnish will seal the underside and make sure water doesn’t seep in.

  5. Some people do two coats (with a very light sanding in between). This is great if you have time. Some people worry about runs, color changes, etc. IMHO, these don’t affect speed, so who care


  1. Check your stays. Make sure there are no frays in the wires. Especially look around the “hounds” where the stays attach to the mast. Tape any sharp points.

  2. If your stays were too short (common), you may want to replace them with longer ones. We sail with loose stays.

  3. Make sure your forestay clip (assuming you have an adjustable forestay) is covered or otherwise “safe.” (See the class rules on this.)

  4. Check your main halyard for fray. Make sure your outhaul and main sheet are in good shape. Make sure the click on your outhaul is covered or otherwise safe (see above).

  5. This is good time to look at things like your windex (you can use a snap on around the base of the mast), telltales (have them on your side stays), and make sure you have a good tie on the cotter pins for your thole pins.

  6. If you had trouble last season getting the right setting on your thole pin, you can drill an extra hole through the pin.

  7. Check your traveler. Make sure it is not frayed. Measure it and set it at the minimum allowed length.


  1. Tighten all the bolts in the rails. Easy to do if your rails are fixed with barrel nuts. Requires a hammer and peen if you have copper fasteners.

  2. Tighten the bolts that attach the seats to the rails.

  3. Tighten your mast base (if you have one). You want no movement in this part.

  4. If you don’t have corner brackets on the back corners, put them in. Through bolt these and through bolt all the seat connections to the rails. Make sure you put varnish into any holes you drill to seal them.

  5. Put lube on your center board trunk and into the bolt holes. You want seal things up nicely. The lube on the washer also makes your board move smoothly.

  6. Open up the back seat wall. Check to be sure the wall that seals to the back seat is tight. It attaches to a leg that runs from the back seat to the bottom. Make sure that the wall is well attached to the seat and the leg—this adds stiffness. Check the through bolts that hold the rudder fittings. If you’ve seen leaks, take off the fittings, put in some liquid rubber seal, and put the fittings back on. If you don’t have through bolts, considering changing to them as they will hold better.

  7. Check to be sure you have enough floatation and that it is well attached. You should have floatation both in the back and under the front seat.

  8. Make sure that the step under the front seat fits tightly against the bottom. You can’t glue or otherwise attach the step to the bottom, but you can add a shim under the step to make this fit tight.

  9. Look at the rest under the main seat that engages with the centerboard trunk. You are allowed to extend this rest so that it grips the trunk. Extend it if you are having trouble with the centerboard trunk wandering around when you roll tack.

  10. Make sure your rudder pintle is tight. Having this drop out is a good way to end your sailing day!

  11. If your seats aren’t tight against the rails, you can bend the seat knees, move the holes on the seats, or shim the seats. Note that you can’t attach shims to the rails—only to the seats.

  12. Check the attachment of your bow dodger (if you have one). I bolted through the hull (with some sealant). It works better than screwing hooks into the rail.


  1. Assuming your blades are painted, sand both lightly. 400 grit is max. Check for cracks and splits.

  2. Paint with an undercoat paint—not a gloss paint. Sand very lightly between coats. Do lots of coats. Dry thoroughly in between. The extra paint layers give the board strength and stiffness.

  3. Varnish the tiller and check the attachment between your tiller extender and tiller. They like to break!

  4. Some centerboards have too much play in the hole that the handle fits into. I’ve never found a great way to fix this, but you should try!