DIY Wetsuit Wash

I’m really not a fan of Winter. We’re lucky- for the most part- to have pretty temperate Winters here in Florida. However, for most of us, we will be in a Spring suit or 3/2 mm suit at some point in the Winter. For me, I hate the cold, so my wetsuit season starts up earlier than for most people, inevitably bringing out the Wetsuit Style Police to tell me “it’s not cold- get that wetsuit off.” Yeah, there’s nothing better than being a bikini clad popsicle covered in goose bumps, convulsing on the beach from hypothermia effects. Sexy.
Anywho, since wetsuit season is coming around, I figured it would be worth it to make my own DIY wetsuit wash, thinking it’s got to be cheaper than what’s in the dive shops and online.
My Mother-In-Law knows I do a lot of crafts, so she was so kind to bring me a big box of hotel shampoos and conditioners for Christmas…..”No, no, this is great, I didn’t need a new board or anything, tiny plastic bottles are even better…..” You don’t mess with the Mom In Law.
But the little bottles turned out to be useful as good portion sizes for my Wetsuit Wash, and even came with an ingredient I use.
I gathered my materials: delicate care Woolite, white vinegar, and conditioner (that I got from the bottles), a tablespoon measure, and a teaspoon measure, and a measuring cup.

Materials to make the wash

Here’s my recipe to make around 5 portions (1 portion = approximately 6 teaspoons liquid):
3 tablespoons Woolite (for general cleaning)
3 tablespoons White Vinegar (for bacteria removal)
3 teaspoons lightweight hair conditioner (to help keep seams and tape supple)
3 tablespoons Water (as a dilute)
5 empty shampoo bottles (at least capable holding 6 teaspoons of liquid or more)
Mix these thoroughly into a measuring cup with a pour spout.

Yields around 1/2 cup of wash

Pour the solution into each empty conditioner bottle, thoroughly stirring the liquid in the measuring cup prior to each bottle pour.
Next, it’s very important to label each bottle with “Wetsuit Wash”, so it doesn’t get mixed up with other stuff. I labeled mine with a simple label maker:

So, I finally ended up with around 5 bottles of wash (shake it up a bit before pouring into your bucket of water):

Finished bottles of wash

This should last me the season and more, since it’s recommended to wash your neoprene once a month. I’ll agitate the wash into approximately 5 gallons of water in a bucket. It also helps to have a softer bristle brush (like a dish brush), to get off wax and sand while washing. Don’t use the brush to scrub into the neoprene, only to remove sand, wax, or other “clingers”. Ewww.
Agitate the wetsuit in the wash and water for around 5 minutes, making sure the inside and out gets attention. You can leave it to soak, but not over 15 minutes- it’s just not effective past that.
Rinse your suit well until the water is clear, and hang it to dry on a good broad shouldered hanger, or folded over a rod at the waist (this drying method is slower).
So the next time you get bugged by the Wetsuit police, turn around, bend over, and tell them to “smell the freshness”. They’ll want to make their own wash!

Recycling Bread Tags as Leash Tags

We go through a lot of bread at our house, and like the mini hoarder I am, I’ve been collecting those plastic bread tags used to close up the bag since I knew there’s got to be other uses for them.

Plastic Bread Tags

I’ve been using them as tags on electrical cords, but I thought these could work to tag my leashes too with the length of the leash, kind of like I did in another similar project.
I used a basic sharpie pen to mark the foot length on the bread tag:

That’s all you need, but of course, I had to jazz it up a bit:

I clipped my tag close to the ankle cuff, but it does slide up and down the leash, but doesn’t get in the way. I tested it on some kooky wipeouts (yeah, I did those on purpose…sure), and the tag held on fine. I think these work better on Comp weight leashes as opposed to Big Wave weight leashes, which the tag may not fit around. These may not be for you if you’re surfing Jaws or Cloudbreak regularly, but they’re Festivus for the rest of us, you know?

Tag on the leash

Tag! You’re it!

Surfboard Contact Info and Protection

We’ve been fortunate to have a week’s worth of actual waves around here, but that also brings out the not so savory types who like to take others’ boards while they’re out enjoying the swell. Usually, the thieves who take these boards are not the most surf savvy- they just quickly drop them off at the nearest pawn shop, collect a paltry sum of cash, and go pay their expensive tuition. Well, okay, maybe the last part is a stretch.
Anyway, not all of us have custom boards we worry about being stolen or lost. I have a Stewart Hydro Hull I bought with my very first job bonus for making a software program, so it’s extra special:


It has a serial number that’s kind of in a readable scrawl by the shaper, and I have pictures, but that won’t necessarily bring Stewie back. That’s when I thought it might be helpful to put a contact number on it, but I didn’t want to put it out in the open. Also, I didn’t want something permanent in the case that it NEEDED to be sold (and I mean NEEDED to be sold- knock on wood that never happens!!).
That’s when I thought of my little digital label maker. They run about $25-$30, but it’s a great investment, and I use it for everything, not just for surf stuff. I buy the 3/4″ tape in waterproof, which you can pick up at an office supply or a big box store. Using a large font (you never know who’s going to be reading the number) I printed out a phone number- not really mine for the example, of course. 🙂

Go ahead, call it.

Next, I needed a place to put this that wouldn’t be open but that could be accessed easily. I decided to put it on the inside face of the center fin box. You can also put it on one of the side bite fin boxes, but keep in mind that someone will need an Allen wrench or a fin key. I figured a thief is not going to take the time to take the fin off and remove your number, but once it gets to the pawn shop or a fellow surfer finds it, this may catch on enough that you can put the notice out to remove the fin and say “Call Me!”
First, I cleaned the inside of the fin box very well to remove any sand, dust, or debris or the label won’t stick:

Clean out that fin box!

Next, I removed the backing from the adhesive label and used tweezers to help me place the label inside the inner face of the fin box:

Using the tweezers, I pressed down the label well against the side of the box to ensure good adhesion:

Replace the fin, and now, you have a little peace of mind that all you have to do is tell the local pawn shops and local surf forums to remove the center fin on a Stewart Hydro Hull and call the number without going into a lot of descriptions the pawn shop guy probably won’t comprehend.

GoPro Photo Shoot Saver Kit

I know it’s a fad, but I really have enjoyed this GoPro thingy, even though it felt like having blood drawn when having to go pay for it. It’s handy to see what your doing right and wrong while surfing, and gives me a confidence boost when I actually appear like I know how to surf.
The downside- outside of the cost- is that even though the waterproof housing is durable, I seem to always have have some other problem going on when I use it, and no way to take care of it when I’m already at the beach.
First, the other day, I couldn’t pull the GoPro out of the mount on the end of my board, unlike I could easily every other time before when it was new:

My GoPro mount on the nose of my longboard.

After my husband wrestled the camera from the mount for me, small bits of sand were apparent in the side tracks of the board mount. This happened because I had laid the board face down before a surf without the GoPro, sand got on the mount, and the rinse after didn’t get rid of all the sand and salt in the nooks and crannies.
A solution for this was to get a small travel toothbrush that comes with the cover. It’s small, fits into my GoPro case I made, and has a sealed cover so gunk won’t get on it in the pouch. It can brush away the sand in the tiny grooves of the mount, and keep sand and salt from tearing it up over time.

Minty fresh.

On that note, I thought having a little fresh water would be handy to help with this. I could use a small squeeze bottle, but I recycled one of those “water flavor enhancer” bottles, since when you squeeze it, a pretty fierce little stream comes out to knock away small particulate on the mount and the camera. I made a label for this on the computer and will seal it with some packing tape cut to lay over it so the label’s waterproof- it will prevent the ink from smearing.

My little 3″ water sprayer

Next, I seem to be the Queen of filming water droplets on the GoPro. After poking around the internet, I found that water photographer Art Brewer uses Jet Dry on the housing over the lens of his GoPro to keep the lens clear of water drops hanging out, blocking your film. I guess any water repellent substance could work, but it’s cheap, and easily available at the grocery. For this, I poured a bit of Jet Dry into another squeeze bottle like the other (only black, not grey), and made another eye-catching safety label on the computer for it:

No beber.

It only takes a DROP of the Jet Dry on the lens to work. I squirted a bit out, I rubbed it over the lens housing lightly using my finger, and VOILA! Works great!
Lastly, I added a small microfiber cloth to the kit to clean off the housing before putting Jet Dry on, trying to put it in the mount, etc.

Ready to be a photographer!

The little kit fits easily into the pouch for prep and emergencies.
Now, I can film myself so I can finish up my low budget live action film of Wilbur Kookmeyer. Hey- you know that would make an awesome movie. Better than “The Flintstones” with John Goodman. Never saw Dino the same after that one.

Forget-Me-Not Sunscreen Dispenser DIY

I was thinking today how it would be nice to keep some sunscreen handy in the house, not just out in the the garage with my surf equipment, which is probably bad for the lotion anyway.
I like buying the El Grande sizes in things, because not only is it cheaper, it saves on those excess plastic bottles. So, I have huge bottles of sunscreen in the garage, but if I brought them in and sat them on the bathroom sink it would be a total eyesore, plus a big thing to take up room on the sink along with everything else. I also wanted to have some sunscreen handy for my face as I’m heading out the door, whether it’s for surfing or just cruising about.
The other day, I was gifted a large bottle of sunscreen (WOO HOO!!!), and then I had to pick up some hand soap from the store. With the tub of hand soap came a small dispenser for the sink for free. We reuse ours over and over, but I decided to replace one with this new free one, so I had a spare to use.

Yes, I saved the remaining soap!!

I took the old dispenser and after putting the soap into another container, I rinsed out the dispenser and took the labels off.

Buck Naked.

Because we have a tendency to use too much of a good thing, I wanted the dispenser to dispense the right amount for my face so I wouldn’t get my face greasy- not too much, not too little- so I used a hack I’ve seen times before. I took a small rubber band and wrapped it around the neck of the dispenser. This prevents the pump from pushing all the way down (as we have the tendency to do), and gives a more measured amount of sunscreen. Or soap, if you want to use it for that too (prevents wastefulness).

Red rubber band wrapped around the neck of the pump.

I filled the dispenser up with some of the sweatproof, waterproof sunscreen and put the big bottle in the cabinet under the sink out of sight. I also made a funky label for the dispenser so I know it’s sunscreen and not lotion.

Happy little surfboard clip art!
Just the right amount.

Of course, you need to reapply, but this will give a first layer that’s handy and doesn’t look too bad in the bathroom.
Slip, slap and slop yourself silly!!

DIY Nylon Leash Loops for Board ID using Kumihimo braiding

I’ve really been fascinated by leash loops- they’re such a small item that gets taken for granted, and should be especially respected by a person like me who wipes out on a regular basis. In fact, I made it one of my first projects on this blog, creating one from cotton embroidery thread and using a Kumihimo disk. Not too long ago, I did some using plastic bags and braiding them. Now, I found some nylon crochet thread and I’m going to make some rope that looks just like what you’d get at the marine/boat store- only in the pattern and colors I want, and made by yours truly.
I went back to using the Kumihimo disk again- this tool is cheap and easy to use and learn. It’s a foam disk like you used in camp that keeps your strings separated and gives them some tension. It also creates a wicked round braid, like a rope, instead of a plain one. You can make 4, 8 or 16 strand rope braids that are VERY strong. If you want a general tutorial, there’s always one that comes with the disk, or you can look at my first project here.
I found several different large spools of nylon string at my local hobby shop, so I picked up a few colors:

Spools of nylon string

If you keep up with this blog, you know I have this little blue 5’8″ that I can’t ride very well yet, but I’m pimping it out, and that’s the important part, as everyone knows. 🙂 The other day, I cut down a board sock for it, and I was thinking, if I had a lot of clear glassed boards about the same size, it would be nice to take a quick peek to identify which was which, or if going on a trip, which one was mine- I remember that confusion on the surf mobile in Costa Rica (honestly, it wouldn’t matter what board I rode). So I thought having a unique, stand out leash loop may help. Or maybe I just wanted to braid some rope, what’s it to ya?
For this, I went with the colors of the board, blue and yellow. I did an 8 strand rope. Remember that nylon frays like crazy when you cut an end, so either knot it off or singe the end lightly with a small lighter. If you singe it, DO IT OUTSIDE! It smells, and it’s the safest place do it.

Overhand knot on a cut end

You may want to wind each strand around a special type of working spool that you can tug on a release string while you’re working, but it’s not necessary since nylon is so slippery it untangles pretty well.

Plastic feeder spools for braiding

Once I got my 8 strands together, I did one big over hand knot to join them and put the knot down though to the backside of the disk:

Backside of disk

Next, I set up my initial pattern. I took a pic of my color configuration:

6 blue, 2 yellow

But since the pictures don’t always shown the colors well, sometimes I’ll make a diagram if I like how the pattern comes out so I can remember it for the future:

When I was done braiding, I made a loop and tied it off with an overhand knot- I’ve been told not to make this loop too long or it may negate the purpose of the rail saver on a leash and cause damage to your board, so maybe 1-2 inches is plenty, depending on how thick you make your braid. I singed the ends with a lighter and also singed the knot a little to keep it from slipping out. Make sure to stretch your braid out before using it- it will have a lot of stretch coming off of the disk.
I ended up getting two leash loops out of the length of braid. Here’s one:

Here’s another pattern I did using variegated red and black string with 2 white strings and what it looked like when it was finished:

Red/back/white pattern
Completed pattern

It’s a good skill for a waterman or woman to know, and is a great way to label your board at a glance:

Leash loop attached to my board
I’ve got to be out of the water for a few days after a small surgery, so I foresee a lot of these in my future week. I’m trying to practice braiding while on my Balance/BOSU board- now that’s some surf craft training!

Surfboard Leash Organizer Hack

Ok, like I’ve said in the past, a pet peeve of mine are surfboard leashes tangled and I can’t remember which length is which, especially if I’ve got a 7′ and a 9′ side by side. I did this project to help that problem, but now, I still have a leash mess everywhere.
I was racking what’s left of my brain for something that could hang a leash up off the ground, but all the ideas I had made the leash slip off, or loop back down to the floor. I don’t want to keep my leashes wrapped around the tail of my boards, so now what?
I went to the local hardware store and started looking at all the different types of hooks. I looked at those 3M hooks I’ve used in the past- they’re usually plastic hooks with an adhesive foam backing that you can stick on the wall, and they hold OK if something isn’t in direct sunlight or heavy (DON’T hang framed diplomas from these….ahem.)
I noticed that they had one that was a “cord keeper” to organize electrical cords. Perfect! And cheap!

3M cord keeper hook front
Cord keeper hanger back with the foam sticky backing

Basically, the hook is a soft latch that pulls up, you put the cord- or leash- into, and it snugs up holding the leash cord in place. I decided to put these on my surfboard racks in the garage.

Hanging up the leash onto the cord keeper

I put these hooks BEHIND each of my racks, with the corresponding leash that goes with the board. The plastic hook is soft, and won’t scratch the bottom. In this case, I put my 7′ yellow leash, which goes with my Sharpe T&C, on it’s rack, and will put the board back into it’s slot.

Leash hanging secure, board can be put back into place

Let the adhesive dry for a while before hanging anything from it, it takes a while to cure.
Here it is from behind the board:

Leash hanging behind the board from the rack

That’s it! Now my leashes are off the floor, I have a correct leash to go with each board.
Heck, I could hang two different leashes if I need a backup for the 5th Annual Heineken Invitational Pro Charity Benefit Competition to benefit Looty (I made that up….I don’t think that exists….)