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Monthly Archives: January 2018

  • 194. Top Tips Tuesday - Don't take it for granted!

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    A first time yacht owner was in the chandlery late November and was complaining that he thought the mainsail he had inherited was badly stretched down the leech as the boom was not clearing the spray hood when it was hoisted up as far as it would go and if he lowered the hood and then sheeted in the sail, a severe crease ran from the clew through the inboard ends of all the batten pockets. Apart from that it was a real sod to hoist! He then started talking about buying a new main to Andy, boss man, who whilst a wizz on all things mechanical and electrical, suggested to him that perhaps once the old git (ie. me) was up and running again after his replacement hip that he brought the offending sail into the loft for evaluation. Well I am back on my feet, even more grumpy if thats possible and here's what I found. Sail was still in fairly good condition for its age, cloth had a bit of 'body' however the bolt rope had shrunk which meant that once it had been cut in the tack area and then the hand stitching at the cunningham hole/reef points unpicked and stretched out, the bolt rope shot up the luff tabling 17cm, which should mean the sail could be hoisted higher up the mast allowing it to clear the hood. The sail slides looked as though they had been lubricated with wheel bearing or stuffing box grease and apart from staining the sail, me-thinks the lubricating properties of this gunge would be zilch! To remove the grease I used the excellent 3m citrus cleaner and we then sent the sail to Hancocks sail laundry for a thorough clean.

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    As for the severe crease down the inboard end it would be hard to tell by laying out the sail on the loft floor what the problem was but I think that by putting the battens in the wrong way round ie stiff end first flexible end at the leech, the previous owner wasn't doing the sail any favours!

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    Sail slides are always going to be a source of friction, worse still if the main has been constructed with a full length top or top and second batten. As a sensible alternative to grease I can strongly recommend carrying a can of Mclube or Smooth Sail on board. A regular squirt of either will help make hoisting the main an awful lot easier.

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  • 193. Top Tips Tuesday - Old Age, I Hate It!

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    I never thought it would happen to me but I have to finally admit that old age is definitely catching up with me. Last night we were eating out and what with the background noise there were times that I was having to ask the lady sitting next to me to repeat herself. Furthermore, earlier this week, whilst attending my regular Tuesday ‘put the world right’ session in my local, I had trouble picking up my first pint, mind you, having spent an hour with needle, left handed palm and whipping twine in the sail loft earlier that day didn’t help, the joy of arthritic hands! As for my other body parts, well the offending hip that had been giving me gyp for the last few years has been sorted, but I blamed the demise of that on my rock and roll lifestyle when I was a teenager! Unfortunately my sail maker's knees, after almost forty odd years on the loft floor, ain’t too brilliant these days, shame I couldn’t have a lubrication nipple fitted to the side of the joint so that first thing in the morning I could squirt some Mclube into the relevant area! However on the plus side, Jenny assures me my good looks haven’t faded and with the fashion for close cropped hairstyles I can get away with being bald as a coot. On the down side, however, my six pack seems these days to be more of a family economy bundle.

    Leather Pull Tags

    On the Mystery some six years ago, in anticipation of not being able to get my leg over (the guard rails) when we finally put her in the water, we fitted stanchion gates on both port and starboard gunwales next to the chain plate/cap shrouds. What I should have done, once we launched her, was to make it a lot easier to grasp the ring pull on the pelican hook. This year when we launch Hindsight she will be fitted with a couple of leather pull tags, likewise for the spinnaker halyard snapshackle. They can be purchased in silver or tan and incidentally, if you are so inclined and wish to customise or ‘pimp’ your boat, you can have them custom printed for a small extra charge! This spring I also intend to fit a couple of our leather chafe protectors over the fork terminals connecting the upper guard rail to the pulpit. As for the leather spreader boots we retail, I will at some stage be the one climbing our mast, but methinks I will wait till my hip joint has fully bedded in before going aloft, maybe add to the 2019 to do list!

    Leather Chafe Protectors

    Whilst on the subject of leather, the other day we exported a couple of our leather steering wheel kits out to Portugal, they trickle out on a regular basis. As for a recommendation, I know my mates Peter and Anita Kassell recovered the wheel on their Oyster Nimrod. Once fitted in place it brought the cockpit back up to scratch!

    Suede Leather Wheel Cover Kit

  • 192. Top Tips Tuesday - Answer To My Prayers

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    The trouble with flexible water tanks is that (as far as I know) the only way to gauge how much water is in the tank is to press it with your hand and try and estimate if it's say 1/2 full, more, or less and the issue we have had on both our Channel 31 and now the Mystery 35 is that in both cases the flexible tanks have been in the for'ard cabin under the double berth. Want to check the water level? Well it's a case of stripping down the  berth, lifting up at least three sections of the mattress and after removing the wooden infill, feeling the flexible tank and trying to make an educated (or otherwise) guess and then replacing the wooden infill, mattress sections and of course then struggling to secure the elasticated fitted, cotton bedsheet. Once you have done that in a hot climate, all that you now want is a drink and on our boat I can assure you it's not drinking water!

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    Well my prayer was answered the other day as, during recuperation from my hip replacement, bored, sad old me was thumbing through a trade publication and came across the Topargee water gauge. Its now being imported from Australia by the guys who bring into the country those superb high holding power Rocna and Vulcan anchors that we sell so many of. The new H2F-FM Water Tank Gauge now features a larger backlit screen that actually shows the number of litres remaining in your tank, rather than the traditional full/half/empty display. This makes it easy to know your average daily water usage and will help you plan your 'refuelling stop' The good news is the sender is fitted in the hose line and there is nothing fitted to the tank, so for either rigid or flexible tanks it's a win win situation. The Topargee H2 water tank gauge is available for surface or flush mounting, you can chose to display either litres or gallons and the kit comes with a 1.4Mt sender lead, however sender extension leads are available but please note that these leads cannot be cut and joined!

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  • 191. Top Tips Tuesday - Stress-free Sailing

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    It would be great if all our boating was stress-free, sadly it never seems to happen. However when working on last week’s blog ‘Help is at hand’ over the Christmas holidays and wanting to check something out, I wandered over to Andy’s chandlery book shelves and found this little gem STRESS-FREE SAILING for single and short-handed techniques! With my first mate Jenny having broken her wrist early summer 2017 and the joint only just coming out of plaster before she flew out to Corfu to join me, handling the boat on my own was a completely new ball game. I managed, just, but there were a few scary moments! Sadly, seven months on, her wrist is still very weak as I quickly found out the other week as, after having my hip replacement, putting on my post operative compression stockings was impossible (leg/knee etc swollen so I couldn’t bend my leg to reach my foot). Poor Jenny was struggling to help me and in a lot of pain!

    We drive down to Corfu this coming May for some rest and recreation, by then I hope to have absorbed enough of the book to give both of us stress-free sailing. Loads of pictures and diagrams and includes a QR code to gain access to 21 action videos.

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  • 190. Top Tips Tuesday - Help is at a hand

    After over fifty years in the marine trade it still surprises me to come across the occasional yacht that does not have that essential midships mooring cleat. Yes they all have cleats and fairleads that are positioned bow and stern, they do their job, keep the boat parallel/close to the pontoon, jetty or quay but of course are unable to stop any fore and aft movement. Yes you can use the rigging chain plate to take a spring fore and aft but I would worry about the likelihood of chafe and of course with a midship cleat is perfectly placed for arriving alongside and lassoing a cleat on a pontoon.

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    Help is at hand if your yacht is fitted with an alloy toe-rail. Unfortunatley it’s not quite a five minute fix but I would be surprised if it would take more than an hour to fit two of the Allen Bros toe rail cleats, (incidentaly they are sold singly). Each cleat comes with the necessary stainless fastenings and the only other item you may need to purchase (unless already in your tool kit) is a tube of Duralac or Tef-Gel to act as a barrier between the alloy toe rail and the stainless fasteners.

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    If you don’t have an alloy toe-rail, why not consider a Barton sliding cleat as your mid-ship spring cleat, simply remove a genoa track end stop, slide on the cleat (available to suit 25 and 35mm track) and lock in the appropriate position. When not in use, slide the cleat to one end of the track, or leave off one track end stop permanently to enable easy removal of cleat.

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    If you are unlucky enough to have neither an alloy toe-rail or a genoa/jib track in a suitable place you can, of course, drill and bolt through the deck a pair of alloy cleats however you will need a substantial backing plate on the underside of the deck. Methinks epoxy coated ply or an alloy plate bedded down with Sikaflex or similar, however if using the latter don’t forget the barrier paste! Remember of course that if drilling and fastening through the deck, always countersink the fastening hole and fill with sealant!

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