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Monthly Archives: January 2017

  • 147. Top Tips Tuesday - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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    Having admired, raced and cruised my friend Klaus’ yacht a number of times (inc a stormy North Sea crossing) I always felt, as he did, that it floated fractionally down by the stern and not to the scribed waterline. As Jenny and my project was to the same design but ‘home fitted out’, we wanted to try and improve the trim. So after speaking to the designer it was decided to fit new smaller fuel tanks amidships to help lift the stern; they would have sufficient capacity for most of the motoring I was likely to do however, for say a long delivery trip, the factory fitted tank capable of holding 140 odd litres of fuel (installed just forward of the rudder post) would be utilised. New tanks were manufactured & installed which are filled by a separate deck filler and all the relevant plumbing was completed including a change-over valve. A week before we launched Hindsight we fired the engine up using fuel from the new tank, success! It ran perfectly, we then added fuel to the factory installed tank, switched over the fuel supply, the engine ran for about twenty seconds and then stopped. Fuel starvation? No it was showing water in the main tank primary filter. We cleaned it out, bled ‘fuel' through and discovered it was not diesel we were pulling but water! Conclusion: water in the tank but how much? My next thought was how long had it been sitting there? As there was no tank drain fitted and no way to access the tank, dare I risk sucking the contents out and hoping that we would never have an issue with the remaining dregs or the dreaded diesel bug, or should I bite the bullet and somehow gain access to the tank which would mean major surgery to the cockpit sole? Well, after a month of deliberation, we decided better safe than sorry so we cut a hole in the cockpit capable of taking a low profile Lewmar hatch. This exposed the tank and, having found ‘signs’ that there was baffle fitted running athwartships, we then cut two circular holes in the tank. Peering inside it looked as though there was an awful lot of contaminated fuel. I had thought of initially using a battery operated Handy pump but when I saw how much liquid needed removing I went for a Whale High Flow Submersible 12v DC pump. I removed over 40 litres!

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    However methinks I would have been better with a Rule Portable pump which can run continuously without any damage. The source of all the water? Maybe the filler cap had never been screwed down tight enough when the hull, deck and fuel tank assembly left the factory six years ago and of course I should have checked it was on tight or was it a faulty filler cap seal?Now the tank is empty I am going to use a high pressure water pump on the screwed down cap and see what happens. Will I see a pool of water appearing in the bottom of the tank or was it operator error in the first instance?129c8968-7998-4ca2-89a7-6da7236f23d6

  • 146. Top Tips Tuesday - Cool Max, More Like Cool Rob - breathable mattress bases & other cabin comforts

    Drawing out a template before cutting the Airmat AG+ to size

    Boy do I like my shuteye and as I get a little bit ‘closer’ to seventy I have been known to nod off occasionally in an afternoon or early evening; however, I hasten to add, never when I am at work! 'Twas alright when I was the ‘boss’ having a few quiet z's in the sailloft but now as an employee it’s just not on! I climb into bed or onto my bunk, hit the pillow and that’s it, the next thing it's the alarm clock or a crew member that is shaking you saying ‘your time on deck.’ When we had our last boat out in the Canaries I paid particular attention to the materials used in the construction of the bunk mattresses and cushioned areas some twelve years ago. Microcare was my choice of fabric. Not only is it breathable but also water and urine proof! As for the base, I used a mesh to encourage airflow and even in the height of summer, during a heatwave, I never felt uncomfortable. However we did notice that eventually, due to left over condensation, we were getting a bit of mildew growth! However I digress. When invited to go on an overnight sail with a guy who has non breathable vinyl bunk mattresses, I must confess I sneak a rectangle of CoolMax onboard which, due to its innovative construction, breathes when you lie on it, the heat and moisture generated by the body will evaporate during the first hour. The makeup of the fabric allows the air to flow freely through the core ensuring no moisture will be trapped. CoolMax is, of course, fully machine washable so no worries there!

    Cool Max and Airmat breathable bunk mattress underliner

    For Hindsight with its breathable covers and mesh bases, to help improve airflow I am in the process of cutting some Airmat AG+ which is a three dimensional cushioning with a hygienic coating which dramatically reduces moisture build up through its 8mm thickness. It provides a solution to the age old problem of condensation and the resulting mildew growth under bunk cushioned areas on board, ideal for use under vinyl or breathable fabrics! Speaking of condensation, our polypropylene based sidelining is great for covering glassfibre as can be seen in the image below, as well as using it on the lower vertical sides of the fore cabin to cover a gelcoat finish I have used it as a lining to cover the ‘rough’ GRP layup at the back of certainlockers. Polypropylene doesnt absorb moisture so no risk of a musty smell ‘further down the line’

    polypropylene based sidelining

    As many of you will be aware, the interior of a boat in the Greek Isles (our eventual destination) and other sub tropical climates can get very hot below deck, especially when the breeze drops and the Windscoop then becomes redundant. To offset this, on Hindsight we have installed a Caframo Bora fan in the forecabin which is the area where I hope to do most of my sleeping (unless ordered by Jenny to sleep in the huffy bunk if my snoring becomes too much) This particular model features a three speed touch control and is quietest in class!

    Caframo Bora fan

  • Taking Care of Winches

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    Marine engines and outboards suffer a terrible regime – they sit doing nothing for ages then are expected to start first time and run reliably. This is why we lavish so much care on them.

    Winches are in the same situation but often ignored perhaps regarded as being indestructible. A bit of TLC for winches is a great way of protecting your investment, and winches should be serviced during the winter lay-up and again once or twice mid-season to keep them in top condition.

    It used to be the case that stripping a winch for cleaning was fraught with flying springs and tiny bits that went overboard, and people used to advise fitting a cardboard box around the winch to catch parts jumping out when lifting the drum. This is no longer the case, although sometimes a bearing cage may lift out within the drum instead of staying on the shaft. Then it will slowly slide out of the drum and hit the deck when you least expect it! You will usually find the pawls are captive in the top of the drum and can be removed with their springs when the drum is taken away from the shaft.

    All the parts should be cleaned using a bath of paraffin or white spirit. Don’t use your washing up bowl – cut a 1 gallon plastic bottle open at the top and pour in a little liquid then use a cheap paintbrush or old toothbrush to remove all the old grease.

    A light smear of winch grease should be applied to the bearings and gear teeth. Don’t over-grease as this may result in the excess being squeezed out in the wrong place.

    P1030450Do NOT grease the pawls or their sockets as grease on a pawl face can cause the pawl to remain closed despite the spring action and the winch would be free to spin and extremely dangerous. A light oiling is required. On the left is what happens if you don’t follow this procedure. This pawl has been sticking and taking the sheet load without properly engaging in the ratchet track. As a result the pawl socket is damaged and a new drum will be needed.

     

     

     

     

    When re-assembling, make sure the pawls are in the right way round! If the pawls or springs are damaged or missing we have a number of spares kits available.pawls

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    If you have not done this before, use your camera or mobile phone to record everything before you dismantle it, then you will have a reference for putting it back together again.

  • Childrens Lifejackets (by Crewsaver)

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  • 145. Top Tips Tuesday - My Top Picks For The 'Disaster Bag' - Emergency Repairs At Sea

    Our top product picks for emergency repairs at sea

    When we sold our Hunter Channel 31 which was berthed in the Canary islands we advertised it as yacht complete with all, yes all the gear, we had accumulated over the 12 or so years that she was in our ownership. The logistics of bringing back all that loose equipment was frightening and as for the expense we might have incurred with excess baggage, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

    However, now the Mystery is finally in the water I have put onboard a selection of tools and now its on to what we call our Oh S..t Bag or more politely the ‘disaster bag’ which hopefully covers most mishaps such  as... what happens if a toilet seacock gets blocked; the mainsail rips and its 100 miles from a sail maker; the inflatable develops a leak after muggins pulled it over a sharp object; or I bounce the transom of 'Hindsight' off the Lefkas town quay and so on. In a way its good to start afresh as new products have been introduced to the market and old favourites have been replaced with a better performing product often at a more competitive price!

    The first item that I pop in the bag and that was not available all those years ago is G-Flex, a superbly versatile epoxy from West Systems which can be used to repair all sorts of substrates such as GRP, alloy, wood and those extremely hard to glue plastics like polyurethane; so versatile it can even be used underwater! Next on my list is Stay Afloat putty. It’s a one step instant water leak plug for below and above the waterline (great for that hard to solve window leak). Instead of carrying a pack of wooden bungs I am going for a Sta-plug by Forespar which is a form fitting emergency plug that can be trimmed to suit. For replacing a damaged seacock or hose whilst afloat a Seabung is an essential bit of kit, no need to go to the expense of a haul out. Sixth into the bag is a packet of Dr Sails (see video below of Dr. Sails being used by Didac Costa to repair a sail during the Vendee Globe), a brilliant flexible epoxy which can be used to repair torn sails (both woven & laminate fabrics). Whilst on that subject of rips or a tear, sachets of Tear Aid type A and B. Type A is a superb repair patch material which can be used on all fabrics except PVC. For sprayhood windows & most inflatable dinghies Tear Aid B can be used, having said all that it makes sense to carry the appropriate Polymarine inflatable boat repair kit! A tube of Stormsure can be use to repair sea boots or help stick your deck shoe sole back on and then there is a roll of ‘proper’ gaffa tape. We stock the incredibly tough and sticky T Rex tape. Finally a way to save your mobile from a watery grave, should it fall into the bottom of a rather wet dinghy a Gadget Saver, as it says on the packet ‘dries out wet electronics rapidly’.

  • 144. Top Tips Tuesday - Stormy weather? No problem with a Mighty Mug onboard

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    As readers of my blog will know we finally launched “Hindsight” last August (only three years late), and, just before Christmas I tensioned the rigging and bent the canvas on; then sailed her from our 'summer berth' at the RNYC Blyth to the Royal Quays marina North Shields. T’was a perfect day, relatively flat sea state, wind not quite dead on the nose however it was gusting 15 to 20 knots so one reef in the main. Crew consisted of nervous skipper (me) and the other Rob who works for Andy in the workshop. Unfortunately the only pic that came out any good on my phone of the maiden voyage was the image taken just before I tidied up the halyards into the  halyard bags. Honestly we were only 100mtrs outside the piers!

    Since that sail and with a family holiday abroad, the other 134 items on my to do list has not shrunk but expanded somewhat and that does not include mugs and other cooking utensils etc.

    Last night, feeling sorry for myself, slumped in front of the telly suffering from what could only be described as man flu (incidentally Jenny has come out In sympathy but ONLY with a heavy cold!!!), our dog managed to knock over with her tail, my coffee mug perched on a low table. After we had both cleared up the mess she said 'shame we hadn't got a couple of those Mighty Mugs at home, I did notice that you had already got a couple onboard Hindsight then you can throw that bloody squeaky toy to the dog till your arm gives up or she gets bored!

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    Mighty Mug comes in two sizes and a variety of colours, can be washed in a dishwasher, and, as one of the the video shows on youtube even if you fire a plastic bullet it just wobbles! Simply place a Mighty mug down on a flat surface and it creates an airlock which allows Mighty Mug to resist accidental knocks thereby avoiding spills. When you lift Mighty Mug the pressure is instantly normalised allowing the airlock to release and the mighty Mug to lift naturally.

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