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Life Onboard

  • 176. Top Tips Tuesday - When Waiting For Weather

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    Yesterday, sheltering below deck on board Hindsight in Mandraki harbour, which is just under Corfu town fort, and listening to the rain beating down with a 'little' lightning and obviously thunder got me thinking, has the weather broken yet in the UK, has Autumn arrived? Youngest daughter then WhatsApp'ed Jenny and I, saying there was no sign of her baby coming yet and then started complaining about the poor weather back in the UK. Next minute boss man Andy texted, weather is c..p here; no doubt you are enjoying fabulous sunshine and how about letting me have next week's blog on time for once so I can correct all your spelling, grammar and punctuation as I am short staffed on Monday/Tues! Having spent Sunday morning slowly working through the list of to do items (only thirty three still to do) and failing miserably it got me thinking about what has been our four most popular autumn Tuesday Top Tips over the last few years?

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    Number one without a doubt has been Wet & Forget, this superb product was first featured on my blog 'Flying off the Shelves' in December 2013. Spray your decks, canvas work or anything that turns green through lack of sunshine in the autumn or winter with a diluted solution of Wet & Forget and it won't! PS. It doesn't need any hard work; you wet the surface you want to protect and that's it.

    be2c1652-55fc-46ec-b1ec-1f2082dc05b5Second on my list is Freezeban. See My Top Tips Tuesday blog 'Lay Up For Winter' in which I advised that this non toxic antifreeze is an excellent safe product for protecting water pressure systems and calorifiers. Regular repeat orders would certainly confirm this, however beware last year our supplier 'ran dry' so don't leave it too late.

    As for my third TTT that was my blog on 'Winterising Your Marine Engine'. Don't forget that even though it's considered standard practice to fill your fuel tanks up to the brim help prevent condensation and of course the possibility of contracting the dreaded diesel bug, (especially  now they add a small measure of Biofuel to the diesel) Grotamar82 is the perfect product to help keep your fuel healthy 365 days of the year and your filters clear.

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    Tested out on my backside when we sailed Hindsight down from Marseille to Corfu, was an excellent product called Tear Aid which we import from Holland. The week before the delivery  trip I managed to tear the backside on my 'past their sell by date' mid-layer salopettes. Our supplier had none in stock surprise surprise when I ordered them so it was make do and mend. Over a thousand miles later my backside was still dry, the patches showing no sign of letting go so I have cancelled the order and will carry on with old faithful. Tear Aid which I blogged about in blog 'Wonder product' in August 2016, does what it says it will do. It repairs all sorts of hard to stick to materials, it's brilliant on acrylic canvas, so if you are leaving your canvas work on this winter to protect your bright work and it's looking a little thin on say a stress point, Tear Aid is more than up to it! Abrasion or a tear on foullies, it's brilliant. Cracked window on a spray hood or canopy a repair using Tear Aid will outlast the item!

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  • 175. Top Tips Tuesday - See No Ships

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    I am constantly amazed as to how many ‘good old’ Blakes Seacocks we sell and ship all over the world: in the past week seven to a skipper in the USA, same for Henderson watertight hatches (seems the popular choice that the rowers use when crossing the Atlantic and other large oceans) As for electronic charts, whilst the majority are destined to be used on yachts or powerboats under 50ft occasionally we get a ‘bulk’ order for a superyacht and they will often be purchased in multiples of three or four. We assume one for the bridge, one for the backup system on the bridge, one for the big say 45 foot tender and the last for the ‘small tender’ usually about 25 foot! As for seeing ships, since the price came down (how long will it stay down with the way the pound is falling?) Bynolyt binoculars have been flying out the door so fast that both the distributor and ourselves have been constantly running out of stock! The SeaRanger II has been the choice of the RNLI since 1999 and was awarded PBO’s best buy and at £179.95 inc FREE UK SHIPPING* is a great way to keep an eye on the shipping. Also down in price at only £199.95  is the new improved and fast selling Bynolyt SeaRanger III. Slightly heavier than the SeaRanger II it has larger lenses to allow in more light, resulting in a clearer, higher quality image. The SeaRanger III is, of course, used by mariners and also by professional and commercial end users worldwide. Like the Searanger II it has an integrated illuminated compass and built-in height distance scale.

    * Terms and conditions apply

    Whilst the SeaRanger has a built in compass and height scale there are times when our little hand held compass comes into its own, easy to slip into a pocket it features a lanyard so you can keep it secure, has built in illumination and with a non slip rubber outer its easy to grip but tough as old boots! Folks I hate to say it both would make good Christmas prezzies.

    Plastimo Hand Bearing Compass

  • 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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  • 169. Top Tips Tuesday - Ten Top Tips To Prevent A Man Overboard

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    Schools have broken up and your summer cruise is looming. However, have you worked out the 10 best ways to prevent man overboard? Consider this quote from the Essentials of Sea Survival, F Golden & M. Tipton 2002 'There are no circumstances when you are better off in the water than out of it'. Food for thought, certainly made me think when I first switched from dinghies to bigger boats.

    My thanks must go to the guys at Spinlock for allowing me to reproduce their thoughts on preventing a man overboard however I must confess that I have ‘strayed’ from point no 4 out in Greece when sailing or motoring in predominately light winds around the Greek Isles. Instead of wearing our trusty Spinlock 5D Deckvest Lifejacket & Harness Jenny and your scribe have opted instead for a couple of Spinlock Deck Pro Harness. Lightweight and easy to wear when the going gets hot. The only complaint that Jen has? Her suntan is not that even!

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  • 168. Top Tips Tuesday - Stormy Weather, StormBag

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    One of the first storm jibs that we ever made (after Alan Bax and I left Musto & Hyde sailmakers) was back in the mid seventies. It was destined for a rather pretty Harrison Butler and was, of course, a hank-on sail; needless to say the owner never used it in anger for some considerable time! On Hindsight, our Mystery 35, on our delivery trip from Marseille to Corfu we carried a storm jib in the guise of a STORM-BAG and guess what, little wind for the six days and what little there was on the nose so no need to use it however if we hadn’t carried one no doubt we would have needed it.  The storm jib we fitted to Dshigit (the Mystery 35 that I first fell in love with and set Jenny and I down the self build route) was a conventional hank-on storm sail. But why didn't we, seven years later, go down the storm sail route? Apart from the lack of performance  ie once you start rolling or furling your Genoa  that vital ability to claw to windward disappears rapidly and I am not talking about a few degrees! If you go down what I consider to be the old fashioned route... the 'inner forestay with a hank on storm sail scenario' yes you get a better windward performance than that from a furled Genoa. However compared to a STORM-BAG the cost implication of fitting an inner forestay which includes modifying the mast, strengthening the deck etc to ensure a strong anchorage plus some method of tensioning the new inner forestay will probably set you back  £1500-00 at least for your average 35 footer plus of course there is the cost of the sail. Over that shock? Consider the weight and windage of the inner forestay and the tensioner (over centre lever) the stowing of the forestay and then there is the safety aspect. There is at least a 1/2 hour out on the foredeck possibly in horrendous conditions away from the safety of the cockpit... it is a 'trip' forward to rig the forestay and tension it, back to the cockpit to collect the jib and then there is the hanking on (one hand for the sail, one for the boat?) of the sail, sheets to be transferred (rolled genoa secured) and then led aft and then that jib is hoisted behind a bulky furled genoa which is in itself creating turbulence. Why didn’t we go down the Storm Bag route for Dshigit? Sadly they didn't exist back then!

    Fitting the StormBag

    The STORM-BAG storm sail was designed as a safe, efficient but economical way of flying a storm sail from a furled genoa, safe in so much as minimum time on the foredeck, no chance of furled genoa coming loose, efficient - no turbulence as set on the furled genoa and with a blunt leading edge so much easier to keep the sail drawing in confused seas, less weight and windage at all times. Economical as no deck or mast mods needed, no inner forestay required nor tensioning device, jib sheets are self contained. Plus and its a big one, your existing genoa will maintain its designed shape longer as its not being used in strong winds! The STORM-BAG is available in five different sizes suitable for boats 20 to 60 feet long (custom models are possible upon request) it comes complete fully equipped with sheets, tack strop, snap shackles; its very compact and takes up very little space on a yacht. With today's weather being so unpredictable who knows when you might need one!

  • 167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip!

    167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip

    In last week’s blog (or ramblings of a simple sailor as Jenny calls them when she is correcting my spelling and grammar at midnight) I waxed lyrically about Josephine, the very pretty and immaculate 37 footer that was moored alongside us in Mandraki ‘marina’ Corfu. As well as doing a superb job of varnishing with Epifanes, incidentally my favourite make of varnish, Adonis was applying International’s Interdeck non slip deck paint on the coach roof. Its an excellent low textured non slip paint that I have been using and recommending for more years that I care to remember. Many of the dinghies constructed of wood that I fitted out for customers and raced over the years such as International 14’s, Enterprises, Flying fifteens etc got the Interdeck treatment on the ‘floor’. The other benefit of using a coloured non slip is that it brings to life the varnish work by way of a contrast. Brent, the owner of Josephine's choice of colour was cream for the coach roof, however, there are four other colours to chose from. If their colour palette is not to your liking Hempel have a range of five colours including a Navy (not reccomended for the Med I hasten to add).

    Kiwi Grip Deck Coating Application

    As the construction of racing dinghies evolved and we were fitting out GRP boats and latterly ones constructed using epoxy resins, for surfaces that we wanted to be non slip we used instead of an ‘off the shelf’ paint a mixture of epoxy, base colour and colloidal silica rolled on using in those days what was an Artex roller. In certain classes, like the high performance twin trapeze International 14, a very aggressive non slip surface is called for by helm and crew and by varying the mixture this could be achieved. We all, however, want an excellent nonslip, but for most of us ‘amateurs’ the thought of mixing epoxy, then colour and an additive is a no no. KiwiGrip which is a non-skid deck system fits the bill and a big plus (apart from no measuring/mixing required) is that if you have in the past replaced fittings, moved them or whatever KiwiGrip can hide a multitude of sins. KiwiGrip is a single pack, water based acrylic coating for racing and cruising yachts, it can be applied directly over a wide variety of surfaces with MINIMUM of preparation, The level of grip can be varied according to preference using the supplied textured roller, however for seating areas a smoother texture can be achieved using a sponge roller.

    Customer testimonial:

    Hi, Please find a few photos (above) of work on our Enlish narrow boat lying on the Canal de Deux Mers in the S of France. Kiwi Grip was bought at marinechandlery. Had to be careful re temperature and rain! But all worked well and successfully covered some ‘irregularities’ ! Best wishes, Mike

    The New Lizard Sailing Boot - Waterproof, Breathable, Excellent Vibram Soles, Inner lacing system for ultimate stability

    Incidentally, blogging about getting a good grip reminded me that boss man Andy Burgess who races sports boats (spends most of his time wrestling with a spinnaker pole on the foredeck) has been, over the last few months, using a pair of the new Lizard waterproof, breathable and light weight boots and is raving about them! They are of a rugged but lightweight design and apart from being breathable, they offer excellent traction over a wide variety of surfaces and are priced at only £189-95!

    Product report in Classic Boat Magazine:

    'It's difficult to be sure, but we may have never worn a better boot.  Totally Waterproof but breathable with sticky Vibram soles, adjustable (so you can wear thin or thick socks) and extremely lightweight, these Lizard Sailing Boots would absolutely make Christmas for a lucky someone.  There's a clever tightening system in the form of an interior drawstring that pulls everything in yet leaves the ankle with 360 degree of rotation.  Our tester, once he'd sailed in them, wore them round the house for days afterwards, simply because he liked them so much.'

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