Q&A: Diamonds Are A Woman’s Best Friend!

Question: Three friends and I are outfitting my Skye 51′ for a five-year circumnavigation and we are replacing the old teak decks…I have heard many more pros than cons to Treadmaster and I would like to know your honest opinion on installation, upkeep, durability and general contentment with the product. Any input that you care to supply would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Morgan’s Cloud had teak decks when we bought her in 1991; however, when they started leaking, we replaced the teak with an aggressive nonskid paint. We were happy with the nonskid until we spent two winters living aboard the boat in arctic Norway, when we found that the snow would compact under our weight and turn into mini ice rinks under each foot. So four years ago, as part of a major refit on the boat and in the interests of not having one of us inadvertently skate right off the deck one snowy day, we removed the nonskid paint and installed Treadmaster diamond traction sheets.

We highly recommend Treadmaster: Your shoes grip it like blazes even in the snow, it dampens the crash below when hard things hit the aluminum deck, it’s durable, and it’s easy to clean using a long-handled brush and boat soap. In fact, we like Treadmaster so much we have used smooth traction sheets on the cockpit seats to hold the cushions in place and on the floor of the shower and head.

However, we need to add some caveats:

  • Installing Treadmaster is a huge amount of work. It took us 3 person-months of intense labour. A rough outline of the proceedings are as follows:
    • sanding the deck
    • determining the centre line and cross lines on the boat (not an easy task on a multiply curved surface)
    • designing a layout
    • templating the whole deck (absolutely necessary, along with making sure all fittings can run freely and be removed if necessary with the Treadmaster in place)
    • cutting out the Treadmaster sheets
    • painting the seams between the sheets
    • gluing the sheets down, etc. (more on installation)
  • It’s not a cheap solution. The sheets are 4’ by 3’ and retail for about $100.00 each. We used somewhat over 20 sheets for our boat. (Because of the size of our order, we were able to negotiate a discount with Defender Industries, the US supplier.)
  • It definitely gives the boat an industrial look but, in our opinion, beauty is as beauty does.
  • Sitting on it will give you a bad case of waffle butt.

In summary, unless you can pay someone else to do the work or you have a lot of extra time and energy, we only recommend installing Treadmaster if you are going to be living on and/or sailing the boat in snow. Otherwise, non-skid paint, if applied properly with sufficient grit, will do the trick for significantly less time and money.

But, then again, after using it for four years now, we wouldn’t give it up!

Update Sept 2017

We are hearing very good things about KiwiGrip deck paint and, if we were doing this job again today, we  would seriously consider it in place of Treadmaster.

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Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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