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Monthly Archives: August 2017

  • 174. Top Tips Tuesday - Us Hardy Folk

    70121bfc-e91d-4321-ba58-121e16a11061Us Geordie sailors in the North East like to quaff our Gin neat, rub Jack Daniels on our bald heads in a vain attempt to get our follicles to spring to life, use Balkan 176 vodka as our aftershave, remove Newcastle Brown ale bottle caps with our teeth and go trotting from hostelry to hostelry through the Bigg Market Newcastle upon Tyne in the middle of winter, wearing thin t-shirts or in the case of Geordie ladies the skimpiest of dresses (in Andy’s case a pink fairy dress on his rare nights out).  What we do like, apart from our nights out, is to cruise on the opposite side of the North Sea however by late August we toughies are usually back across the pond. So whilst its welcome news its come a bit late for us hardy folk to be told that the newly published 4th edition of the Baltic Sea and Approachesis available. Having said all that if you are already planning your 2018 summer cruise and the Baltic is your destination this pilot book is a must. The nine countries bordering the Baltic Sea offer an immense variety of cruising grounds, people and cultures. There are thousands of harbours and innumerable anchorages, and it would take an entire bookshelf, to cover them all in detail. The information contained in this book is therefore selective. It has been chosen for its value both at the planning stages - preparing the yacht, choosing the most suitable route, timing and communications etc - and again on arrival, when a general overview of each individual country is followed by specific harbour information.

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    Mind you for those of you about to follow the sun and head South, destination the Canary Islands, perhaps join or shadow the next ARC the bang up to date Cruising Guide to the Canary Islands has been published at just the right time! Written by Oliver Solanas Heinrichs & Mike Westin, and having kept our Hunter Channel 31 first of all at Puerto Mogan, Gran Canaria, then in Lanzarote during the Summer months, Graciosa in the winter and finally settling in Gomera I wish It had been published when we first arrived all those years ago. What I like about the guide is the tips from local sailors on the best harbours, marinas and anchorages. Priced at only £27.95 it's of course bang up to date and with over 180 pages is worth every penny.

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  • 173. Top Tips Tuesday - Dry Ship... Not On Your Nelly

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    Apart from being a left-handed dyslexic, ‘asked’ to leave the Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School at sixteen having failed all my O levels as I was always bunking off to go sailing, I have a memory like a sieve when it comes to remembering certain things. I can, of course, remember all the details of the International 14's POW Thursday’s cup race back in the late seventies when we led for the first three laps and then got slowly overhauled by Mike Peacock: or the time when competing in Keith Musto’s Flying Dutchman at the European championships on Lake Thune when they had over twenty attempts to get the fleet off cleanly and the race was finally postponed to another day as the race officer ran out of cartridges for the starting cannon! But ask me for my mobile number or home post code (have only lived in the same place for ten years) and I am stumped. Fortunately Jen cannot remember our wedding anniversary either but as she said the other day it's like four life sentences without an early release for good behaviour.

    With Hindsight, our Mystery 35, now in the water in Mandraki harbour Corfu and Jenny and I getting ready to drive out to Greece (Millie the dog is insisting she comes with us) we are slowly working through the list of items we need to bring out with us to finally complete the ‘things to do.' Luckily Andy my boss gave us a leaving present when we had Hindsight shipped down to Marseille by truck; a Weems & Plath logbook and also one of their excellent Maintenance logbooks, open the front cover and the first page can be filled with information that you maybe don’t need every day but when asked for you need it fast! The Maintenance logbook has got blank pages for specifications, spare parts, section on it for boat's maintenance and separate repair record, blank pages for drawing on and most importantly a page at the back for additional information. Strange that Jenny has already written under ‘needed’, three bottles of Gin, couple of bottles of Port, cans of Fever Tree tonic, however what worries me that, if we say, each have two G & T’s per night a bottle is going to last maybe a week and a half and if we arrive Greece on the 4th September and leave Corfu on the 15th of October, even allowing for Jenny to fly home to see our youngest daughter's new born in the middle of September we are going to  run out of gin fairly rapidly. Looks like she will have to visit the duty free at Newcastle Airport on her way back out!

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  • 172. Top Tips Tuesday - Bragging Not Blogging

    IMG_1469So we won last Wednesday night, good boat speed, having said that half the fleet were on a summer break/participating in the Fastnet etc etc. Skipper had a smile on his face (unlike the previous Wednesday night when we went from first to third due to my tactical wizardry, the expression on Marks face was more like that of a slapped backside!) However, despite fitting a Soak halyard clip, trying it out before the race and then not using it for some reason best known by our foredeck man, we still got the spinnaker halyard caught, fortunately not when it was at a critical time! The Soak clip can be used with as small a diameter as 4mm and up to 9mm, strip the outer cover of a 12 mm? Whilst it will find more and more favour with the racing fleet methinks it will find a use on my Mystery when I decide to go for a hoist of our cruising chute.

    Writing about the Mystery (and if all goes to plan we will, at last, be 'cruising' the Ionian early September) I had promised a guy I met out there that if he was still interested I would bring him out three of the Clear Step outside lead furling blocks. He had admired them when moored alongside me in Mandraki harbour back in September! The Schaefer Clear step gives you a clear lead aft for your furling line, one less thing to trip on!

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  • 171. Top Tips Tuesday - Greater Love Hath No Man

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    As keen readers, especially those with a very good memory, may recall Marine Chandlery’s MD Andy Burgess saved the day last year when his better half Jill’s new car was scraped in the supermarket car park on its first outing (Top Tips no 120, 5th of July 2016). In that instance the excellent product Vistal Hard Surface Cleaner came to the rescue. Why the title of today's blog ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’? Let me explain... this time Andy had to rescue Jill’s new mobile from the upstairs toilet and what’s more try and keep it working! Early morning Sunday past, Andy had just finished showering when he ‘overheard’ an expletive from the bathroom so popped his head round the door and when he asked why this choice noun, he was shown the reason why. Apparently Jill was just hitching up her jeans after finishing her daily ablutions when she heard a splash and there was the aforementioned phone taking an early bath. With no regard to his personal safety our hero Andy plunged (his hand) in, rescued the Samsung Galaxy, hosed it down, immediately drove into work, popped it into a Gadget Saver,left it for eight hours and yes folks Jill’s mobile lives on.

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    So maybe if you want to get yourself or your loved one ‘out of the s..t you may want to do as Andy has now done and that’s keep a Gadget saver next to the toilet as well as one on the boat!

    Mind you, your editor who does not live dangerously, (by keeping his mobile in his back pocket) should have given his own personal Gooper to first mate Martin before we went out to celebrate our safe arrival in Mandraki harbour, Corfu, the other week. Unfortunately Martin’s phone got so carried away with the celebrations later that night that it went for a skinny dip at midnight! The Gooper Dry Bag is 100% waterproof and so easy to use even if you are feeling a little under the ‘weather’. No fiddly little clips to undo if you have mislaid your glasses, maybe dropped them in the water along with the phone or if you suffer from arthritis like yours truly. As it says on the Gooper packet "Foolproof and fumble-free automatic closure ensures a waterproof seal every time" and  with the price of car keys these days at over £150-00 why not invest in a Gooper to keep them safe and dry?

  • 170. Top Tips Tuesday - Up A Height . . . Use A Mast Harness

    Mast_pro_frontRegular readers of my blog (posted 27th June no 165) will possibly remember that when out in Corfu the other week I ended up climbing a friends mast to check it out and yes I did find a couple of ‘issues’. No doubt when we fly back out to Corfu end of August, sail down to Lefkas and then meet up at the Vliho yacht club for a couple of sherberts I will be once again coerced into climbing the mast(s) of my mate Pete’s Oyster. Conversation may go something like this ‘nice to see you again, have a beer and ‘oh by the way, if your not doing much tomorrow do you fancy taking a trip up aloft to ...’ No issues with that as long as he buys me another Mythos once I get back to the deck. If you, as a reader, haven't climbed a mast before and may need to for what ever reason, can I suggest you read and perhaps download these words of wisdom that the guys at Spinlock have allowed me to reproduce.

    As a professional mast climber of some forty odd years I agree wholeheartedly with their statement that a mast harness is inherently more safer for going aloft than a typical bosuns chair!

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