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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?

  • 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.'

  • 164. Top Tips Tuesday - Sit Up And Take Notice of the new TeamO BackTow Lifejacket

    The new, revolutionary Team O Offshore Lifejacket

    I'm now just getting my feet under the table after our Mystery delivery trip (Marseille to Corfu with the majority of those 900 odd nautical miles under power) so after expecting a load of ripped sails and new orders for canopies etc I popped into work Sunday to check on the ‘state’ of the loft and run through old e-mails and came across a mail shot from one of our regular suppliers which certainly made me 'sit up and take notice'. So what got me all excited? It was a new take on lifejacket design. I first read about the TeamO concept some years ago, thought it was a good idea and heard nothing more until I opened the attachement!

    The inspiration for BackTow - Team O lifejacket

    The TeamO patented Backtow lifejacket functions in a man-overboard situation by turning the user into a face up seated position once they enter the water and are being towed towed alongside the vessel. This of course keeps the airways clear of the water and allows communication and immediate rescue by the crew. The TeamO Backtow lifejacket will turn an unconscious person into a SAFE position and requires no subsequent action by the user to maintain this position, the Backtow also reduces the risk of injury during recovery. Watch the video it will certainly make you sit up and take notice!

    Team O BackTow Lifejacket - How it works

  • 159. Top Tips Tuesday - If All Goes To Plan - Electronic Nautical Charts and Updates

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    If all goes to plan (never seems to in the Storrar household) we load the Mystery onto a low loader and truck her down to Port St Louis near Marseille and then sail her round to Corfu in mid May. If it had all been plain sailing from the time we purchased the hull and deck, Hindsight would have been in the water completed by  the spring of 2015. We would have then taken our time and sailed her down the East Coast through the Channel, across the Bay of Biscay and into the Med, however it was not to be. Why? Difficulty selling our last boat, family ill health etc etc! However feeling slightly optimistic this weekend, not sure why cos Jenny’s wrist which she broke some two weeks ago is not looking good and on top of that her car still has not passed it's MOT test, not that she could drive it in her present state, I sat onboard and ‘played’ with my Raymarine plotter after inserting the Navionics Platinum+ electronic chart 33P+. Maybe my ‘sunny’ mood was due to the fact that there is a special offer on them at present and Andy (now my boss and me a part time worker) suggested delaying my purchase till last week! Platinum+ gives you all the bells and whistles:

     *   3 Dimensional Views  *   Satellite overlays  *   Dock to Dock Autorouting  *   Plus of course HD Sonar, freshest data and community edits.

    Until the end of May we have a special offer on Navionics Platinum+ XL3 charts now at only £219.95 (RRP £299.95)

    If you are not starting from afresh why not take advantage of the fact that Garmin have just released their Bluechart update for the 2017 season, likewise C-Map, so if you want to be bang up to date send it back post haste (make sure you send it signed for) and we will upgrade it by return! If you're currently using Navionics, update your electronic chart at a discounted price against a new one and benefit from free updates for the next 12 months. Simply order an update card and you can do the update yourself online.

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  • 157. Top Tips Tuesday - Tame That Leech with the Antal Dynablock

    Hindsight Deck Plan

    The Stephen Jones designed Mystery 35 has a 110% jib (probably best way to describe it as being tall and slim, bit like me?) The headsail is long in the luff/leech and relatively short in the foot and it is easy to handle by a lighter weight crew member like Jenny. The jib on our boat is sheeted through adjustable cars with the control line taken back to the cockpit. Chris Owen, when he designed the jib, incorporated vertical battens in the headsail to help control the leech. However, with a narrow sheeting angle which equates to good pointing ability there are times, when reaching, that even with the cars in their forward position the upper leech is too open. To control this a barber hauler block can be successfully deployed; it keeps the slot open once the main is eased and with the genoa sheet then ‘popped’ into the block a perfect leech can be achieved. Attach to a stanchion base or through a folding padeye - see no 17 on the deck plan!

    Antal Dynablock

    The new Antal Dynablock caught Andy’s eye when shown them the other month and with him knowing my need for speed he conveniently left one on my desk (good salesman that boss of mine, I taught him well) so the upshot is I am going to carry a couple on board for this very purpose. Also available from Antal is a Barber Block, twice the working load but twice the price. If you are a ‘proper’ racer unlike me, a fast cruiser or just enjoy the pleasure of a yacht with bigger genoa sheets than 12mm this is the one to go for. It's feature include an easy 2:1 control (a line thru the ring allows easier control of the block height and with the larger 54mm dia sheave will take up to 16mm.

  • 153. Top Tips Tuesday - Sea-Tag MOB Alarm For Under £80.00!

    Sea-Tag Man Overboard Wristband

    Hopefully by late May we will be onboard Hindsight, sailing  from Port Saint Louis to Corfu via the Straits of Messina. Let’s hope the sun is shining and the winds, for once,  not on the nose!  As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs to maintain the classic looks of the Mystery our Raymarine chart plotter is mounted below deck, for navigation on  deck we will be using an iPad in a Gooper waterproof case (power for the iPad supplied via one of those superb waterproof Scanstrut sockets which is mounted on the instrument pod above the sliding hatch). As a sail maker and chandler of ill repute for almost fifty years my worst ever nightmare would be to see front page headlines in our daily paper which might read ‘local chandler didn’t practise what he preached and due to circumstances ‘beyond his control’ there was a major incident’! The sailing club bar gossip is bad enough when for once in the lead we sail over the spinnaker on a Wednesday night race or set the grass on the nature reserve sand dunes on fire during a flare demo!

    Sea-Tag Man Overboard Wristband and App

    Last week I wrote about lowering the ‘trip factor’ and with that in mind I thought that this week it would be a good to follow on with some words about a rather nifty bit of personal kit called  Sea-Tag, which comes into its own should you have the misfortune to part company with your boat. Sea-Tag is worn as a wrist band and in crew mode, no mobile network (GSM) coverage is necessary. Monitor your crew and let your crew monitor you by connecting wristbands to all apple or android devices on board using the free Sea-Tags app. The wristbands transmit a continuous signal to all the paired smart phones and tablets. If the signal is interrupted (by immersion or being out of range) the alarm on the phones/tablets go off. The Sea-Tags application displays the MOB’s position, the real-time position of the boat, and provides real-time updates of the heading and distance to retrieve the MOB.

    If you are a single handed sailor and there is mobile network coverage, in the event of a man overboard, your phone (left onboard) will send a text message (SMS) with the position and time of the event. The person on land can contact the authorities and communicate the last known GPS position of the MOB.

    Sea-Tags can be used on boats up to 15mtrs long, however they are not suitable on steel hulls or an exotic racer made from carbon! Batteries are good for 600 hours operation and user-replaceable.

  • 152. Top Tips Tuesday - Better late than never - Removing rust and paint with the Tercoo rotating blaster

    Removing multiple layers of antifoul

    Last winter I was a bit of a naughty boy and instead of listening to Jenny and concentrating on finishing the Mystery project, on a few Fridays and weekends I took time off and helped the Vounaki crew prepare the underwater surfaces of Mark's Albin Express in the hope that the crew, which includes yours truly, could end up with a smooth hull and keel and mount a 'serious' challenge for the RNYC Wednesday night series trophy races.

    Removing multiple layers of antifoul

    Earlier in 2016 Mark had bought the Albin from Scotland where she had been cruised for all of her life. Judging by the condition of the keel and the hull it looked as though the previous owner's idea of 'spring fitting out' was just to slap another coat of antifouling on regardless of the state of the existing finish!

    Over the course of at least three months we removed at least 6mm of badly applied antifoul which unfortunately seemed to stick like a limpet. As for the keel, which to put it bluntly, was in a hell of a state, rougher than a badgers a..., with large patches of rust and a very uneven surface. We tried everything to quickly and safely remove and prepare the surface for its first coat of Primocon, angle grinder, rotary wire brush and yes even a hammer and cold chisel, progress was so slow that we got very, very disheartened and had to retire to the bar on a number of occasions to lick our wounds. It's a shame we hadn't discovered Tercoo as it would have kept us away from the club ship as the triple disc will strip approximately 30 mtrs of steel.

    Tercoo Rotating Blaster for removing paint and rust

    Tercoo is a rotating disk for the removal of rust, paint, tar, epoxy, paint, adhesives etc from various materials such as steel, iron, concrete or stone. The result is a sandblasted surface with the appropriate texture suitable for the application of a new protective coating.

    Tercoo is a natural rubber disk with 12 hard metal (tungsten carbide) tips (pins). The tips are at a certain angle to the centre of the disk. During operation, the centrifugal force created by the rotational speed of the drill causes the flexible rubber disk to react in such a way, that a "hammer effect" is created with the tungsten carbide tips. This movement ensures that the tips clean the surface perfectly, removing all contaminants and other old coatings. The hammer effect creates no heat, so tough materials such as tar, adhesives and sealants will be easily removed. This is an entirely opposite concept compared to other tools. Other tools use friction to remove contaminants (steel brush etc) which produce a lot of heat and work ineffectively with bitumen based products, tar, adhesives, tectyl etc. In other words, it does not matter what the coating, Tercoo is always clean. If using Tercoo to remove antifouling our recommendation apart from making sure you have a good mask, eye and hands protection is to purchase the adjustable guide for GRP.

    The Tercoo rotating blaster in action - Paint stripper and rust removal tool from Storrar Marine Chandlery on Vimeo.

  • 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

  • 136. Top Tips Tuesday - S T R E T C H your laying up days with Flood It

    Flood It LED Lamp lighting up the deck

    Yesterday I spent the best part of the day working on the Mystery down at the RNYC, weather wise it was a  grim day with a strong bitterly cold North Easterly, frequent rain squalls and as luck may have it I was working on deck positioning and fastening down Schaefer deck organisers so was glad of my Gill base layer and my ever faithful Musto Gortex mid layer salopettes and jacket as protection against the biting wind and the driving rain! I was, I must confess, glad when the gathering gloom helped me decide to call it a day!

    Next week, of course, the clocks go back so time working outdoors will be limited however if you want to extend your working day, why not invest in one of the excellent Flood IT cordless rechargeable LED floodlights. We started using them at work over a year ago; found them brilliant. Not only are they great for outdoor illumination but the smaller model is perfect for lighting those hard to access areas which need attention. Decided to put them on our website, the rest is history!

    Fitting out a new boat from scratch and having sold all the ‘old’ equipment when our Hunter Channel was sold in the Canaries, did give us the opportunity to upgrade the contents, both fixed and portable such as LED anchor/tri and cabin  lights, more efficient fridge for the Greek climate so we went for the Isotherm Classic self pumping unit as against a air cooled unit etc. However I digress, as everyone knows you can never have enough ‘torches’ on board the hand held spotlight that gets the nod from me is the rechargeable 3watt spotlight, it’s weatherproof, has an output of 140 lumens and comes with a 240 and 12 Volt adaptor. As can be seen from the second of my snaps it’s an excellent bit of kit, be it spotting mooring buoys, lobster pots, illuminating sails and hopefully never a man overboard!

    Again, Flood It LED lamp lighting up the deck, this time from a different angle

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