Suction Grab Bar

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Got a suction grab bar on your boat? Maybe for cleaning the bottom? Here's another great use for it!

How many uses do you know for this little gizmo?

Lots of cruisers use a suction grab bar when cleaning the bottom of the boat to keep them in one place. Otherwise, as you scrape one way, you push yourself away in the opposite direction . . .

Others use them when applying varnish, Cetol or Semco to the cap rail from the dinghy, to keep themselves in position . . . or when doing other chores on the “big boat” from the dinghy.

Okay, that’s two uses. And now for a third, from Belinda aboard Rickshaw. Admittedly, it’s mainly for the women . . .

Put it in the shower — in the boat, on deck if you use a cockpit shower or SunShower, or at the marina — and use it as a footrest when shaving your legs. Or just when trying to really scrub or feet and legs, say after a painting project.

I get so frustrated with marina showers not having a footrest of any sort. I’m not a contortionist who can easily put my foot up on the handrail! I’d much rather have a little bar at a convenient height.

Got a suction grab bar on your boat? Maybe for cleaning the bottom? Here's another great use for it!

Be aware that these suction bars have to be attached to a smooth surface — if any air can get under them, they’ll fall off. Smooth fiberglass is best. And never put your full weight on one, just in case it does fall off.

Contrary to the older style bars with simple suction cups, newer ones have a little lever on each side of the handle to firmly make and lock in the suction. You release the bar by releasing the levers — instructions come on the package.

Many of the grab bars sold are 17″ or more long. These are too big to be of practical use on a boat and tough to stick in a shower bag to take to the marina shower. I much prefer the 12″ one I’ve linked to below.

You can buy the suction grab bars in most home improvement stores, general retailers (Walmart, Target, etc.), and many pharmacies. They’re also available on Amazon (I’ve never found that the ones marketed for cleaning the bottom of the boat worked any better, but they generally cost considerably more):

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  1. I’ve never used this for cleaning the boat…does this work both for above and below the waterline?

  2. I wonder if they would work as a temporary hold during a storm for inside the cabin? We have a large living space down below on our sailboat but very few areas to grab for support when its storming out . Thought we are pricing out teak hand holds at the moment..but that could be a few months..And someone needs a pedicure in that last photo 🙂

  3. This gizmo is somewhat similar to the suction cups used to handle large panes of glass. I’ve used those cups, and lent those out to others to use, when working on a boat (including replacing some large plexiglass ports). I’m sure they would also work in the shower as long as you can find a flat surface large enough for the single larger suction cup…so I’ll let my wife know. The glass ones are cheap too…usually on sale at Harbor Freight for just a couple bucks. And I know they float in at least salt water as I inadvertently tested one…which you know is always handy when working around a boat.


  4. foot rest for shaving legs… Brilliant!

  5. foot rest for shaving legs… Brilliant!

  6. We have one in our head for the guys to use during rough seas! Can’t convince them they can sit down to go!

  7. I have one, it looks just like the one in the picture. It has many uses on my boat but the daily use it gets is in my aft sleeping quarters, I use it to basically to easily and quickly pull myself out of bed.

  8. I’ve got ‘trigger finger’ impairment on my hand so use mine on the sliding window next to the helm of our powerboat. It’s much better than a small knob, and can be used elsewhere when I need it.

  9. It is great for lifting your floor boards (sole)

  10. We use ours in the shower to put a cloth over when docked in a marina, instant curtain rod!

  11. Just put ours with the stuff we’re taking to the boat. Thanks for reminding me.

  12. Al Alan C Holman there are couple of places on Dalliance where we could use This Gizmo.

  13. Kathy Orr says:

    We have the same grab bar in one of our heads, specifically for guys to hang onto in rough seas.

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