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  • 162. Top Tips Tuesday - Good Job I Practise What I Preach

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    Well Hindsight was finally launched at Port Napoleon near Marseille on Friday the 19th May, this was followed by three frantic days of even more 'boatbuilding.' Fortunately I had on board two experienced and very practical big boat sailors, Trevor & Martin, who managed to turn their hand to everything thrown at them on an incomplete boat, including leak solving on both heads and galley sinks, priming the calorifier, successfully reconnecting the mast wiring (all labelled but minus legible writing) coaxing the autopilot into life etc etc.

    Trevor, our navigator and my mentor, had suggested that I purchase extra fuel containers, however with a main tank of 115 litres capacity, a keel tank of 35 and a extra couple of 10 litre containers I felt that we probably had enough capacity to get us across to Corfu. Our navigator however decided that with a light wind forecast I should purchase a couple more 20 litre containers which we duly did, in hindsight thank goodness for that! The marina at Port Napoleon is huge and lift in/mast stepping is very efficient however there is no fuel berth, yes they will get diesel for you but 150 litres, you must be joking! Nowt less than 2000 litres gets you the fuel bowser. And don't ask for a beer at five to ten in the evening in the restaurant! So with only 20 litres in the main tank (the transport company who did an excellent job of trucking it from Newcastle to Port St Louis wanted as little as possible fuel on board) and 30 litres in the 'keel tank(s) we went looking for fuel. Found it at Port De Bouc, filled the main tank to the brim only to discover the fuel pouring into the bilge, leaking from an incorrectly assembled inspection hatch. Yes, another of my many 'build' blunders! Using Jenny's stainless teapot as a container we managed to transfer approximately 15 litres of contaminated fuel from the bilge to our two ten litre tanks. Sorted the leaking hatch out and filled the 20 litre cans and 'set sail' destination Corfu. Well we motored and motored and motored with a very small amount of sailing down to the island of Sardinia topping the main tank up on the way from the 20 litre containers using one of those wonderful ' shake your wrist' fuel transfer pumps and filtering it through our Mr Funnel fuel filter.

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    Yes there was a little motor sailing but where was the breeze? We arrived La Caletta Marina but of course as it had just turned 11am the pumps were closed and fuel wasn't available till much later, however, we patiently waited and spent most of the time searching the port and surrounding area in vain for the rubbish bins! Tanks full, on we motored for another two days, I had hoped that we might get the main tank filled again before entering the Straits of Messina but it was not to be, the timing was all wrong. Sat night saw us motor through the straits of Messina with a lot of traffic and buzzed by the port authorities when we switched on the EchoMax. Early Sunday morning we exited the straights, turned to port and motored up the heel of Italy. At last the breeze filled in, on the nose of course, but hey at least we were sailing! Lasted a couple of hours and then on with the engine again. Later that day the wind returned and in anticipation of a great sail we hoisted the cruising chute, that lasted about 40 mins. So engine on once again and then the wind arrived and we actually sailed for eighteen hours close hauled at first, then two and finally three reefs, as the wind eased we tight reached till 1300 hours on the 28th, once again with the wind dropping. Again it was engine on again and with the end almost in sight it was a case of let's go for it and use the dregs of the contaminated fuel which we strained again through our brilliant Mr Funnel Portable Fuel Filter. Mr Funnel certainly lived up to its name as the fuel rescued from the bilge was found to contain at least a litre of water which it successfully filtered out. So running on fresh air we finally reached our destination, the marina at Mandraki Corfu. Engine running hours 128.4 hours, trip miles 900nm, 275 litres used, 3.2 miles/litre all figures courtesy of Martin.

  • 161. Top Tips Tuesday - Saved My Bacon

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.11.21Stress levels have been rising rapidly since Jenny broke her wrist and the date to ship our Mystery looms ever closer, there are so many ‘five minute’ jobs to do that somehow take at least an hour. That is apart from a sprayhood, which I have only just started to sew, a suncover to finish (started that one in Feb!), bimini to design, bend frames, fit them, pattern make and then sew it all together, and I almost forgot the simple task of applying the final coat of epoxy including the waterline to sort, then only a couple of coats of antifouling plus a final polish of the topsides.

    It was looking bad first thing last Friday morning, I had managed three coats of Awlgrip Hullgard on the hull area whilst Hindsight had been sitting in her build cradle some years ago however I did have what I thought would be a very long and time consuming job of removing eight months of 'underwater growth'. You may ask why one launches a yacht without any A/F protection to prevent fouling?  It's a long story, but slightly unhappy with the fore and aft trim of the last boat of this design that I had sailed with the owner I took it into my head that by moving a fuel tank forward etc etc we could overcome this little niggle. This we did, so I launched her without a waterline in place and lacking epoxy where she had sat in the cradle.  Once we had a waterline, ie a scum line round the hull, easy peasy lift her out and there is your answer! Circumstances however meant that she never came out of the water for just over half a year, issues with the supply of fuel from the new tanks to the engine, Jenny’s ill health etc

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    Hindsight was lifted two weeks ago and it was a relatively easy job to dry sand the untreated gelcoat and apply the Awlgrip. However, when the dust had settled and the epoxy dried on the two 'cradle areas' I then had the task of removing this growth and prepare the complete underwater surfaces for a final coat followed by two coats of Blakes Ocean Performer. Pressure washing made no impression but mechanical sanding did work, sort of, however I was removing epoxy which was bad news and there were still traces of contamination on the surface (see second image, contamination on keel). Andy, my old partner and now MD of marinechandlery.com, proved once again that at times he is a little genius, as he told one of his staff (who was working on a powerboat in the marina yard) to give me a spray bottle of Starbrite Boat Bottom Cleaner, they use it for cleaning prop shafts and propellers!  A squirt of this applied to the encrusted surface and within seconds small encrustations start to fizz and within a very very short time a square metre of hull was clean and yes the boss certainly saved my bacon as I managed, with a lot of help from Mackem Jack, a friend and fellow sailor from Sunderland to get the hull clean rubbed down and epoxied before the freezing East Coast weather kicked in again last weekend!

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  • 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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  • 158. Top Tips Tuesday - Mal De Mer & How Jenny Was Cured!

     

    IMG_0912 As the day draws nearer (or so I thought) when we load Hindsight onto a transporter and ship her down to Port St Louis near Marseille then sail her round to the Corfu area, we have been filling the spare bedroom with some of the essentials we need to keep onboard. Our original plan was that when she had been finally completed ‘three years ago in 2014 ’ we were going to sail her down the East Coast through the Channel across the Bay of Biscay etc, however, with the past recession/work load, that helped put paid to that plan. Now it all may change AGAIN as Jenny, when out walking Millie and our daughter's dog early last Tuesday got tangled up with them tripped over her charges and two other four legged friends who were off the lead, result, one broken wrist. Fortunately, if that’s the right word, a clean break and just second bone chipped; it’s the left hand and of course she is left handed!

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    Anyway to get back to Tuesday's Top Tip, Jen does suffer from seasickness and whilst we were going through on Monday night the kit we had retained from the old Hunter Channel, we discovered her Boarding Ring Glasses had somehow got smashed, probably cos they were under a pile of other boat bits and not in the hard case they come with! For those who haven’t heard of them, for Jenny and loads of other boaters they are the answer from heaven to the old problem of an effective cure for seasickness, great also for sufferers of travel sickness on the train, road and in the sky. Incidentally, we have in the past (before the original supply dried up) supplied them to an American Airline, not United Airlines I hasten to add!

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    Boarding Ring Glasses which won a World Marine Award for innovation are a medical device, CE label, class 1 (no prescription required) they instantly and permanently eradicates motion sickness, there is no need to wear them constantly it takes 12 minutes maximum for them to be effective, just put the glasses on when the symptons appear, you can read, write talk and eat and most importantly when the symptons disappear you can take them off! If you are a wearer of glasses? No problem, they can be worn directly over the top. Kids up to 9 years old are catered for with a childrens model available in blue or pink and come with built in shades.

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    Testimonials:

    They do exactly what it says Review by Margaret

    These glasses do indeed work. We are in our early 60s and my husband has suffered from chronic travel sickness all his life. Amongst other restrictions, as divers, this made our boat diving experiences interesting to say the least and he was sick on every occasion. Over the years we have tried everything, local recommendations, prescription, homeopathic the lot, to no avail, so we were understandably sceptical when we saw the glasses for sale at the dive show. Thankfully we were wrong, they do exactly what it says. Even only wearing them only three or four times a year on our holidays whilst diving and as a passenger on airport transfers he has found that they certainly do work and although he still starts to feel nauseous, wearing the glasses intermittently as per the directions works and takes away the feelings of nausea, he has not actually been sick since we purchased them.

    Margaret Sewell, St Albans Herts

    Certainly did the trick Review by Gill McD So far so good, they certainly did the trick on the one occasion I used them, and will definitely use them this season. Gill McDougall

    Any look is better than green! Review by Cat McW Me too, luckily no mirrors around, but any look is better than green! Catriona McWilliam

  • 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.

  • 156. Top Tips Tuesday - Sleep Soundly Skipper - Rocna and Fortress Anchors

    Rocna Vulcan Anchor

    On the Hunter Channel 31 we didn't have the luxury of a windlass (perhaps that's why my lower back is so problematic these days) however we did compensate for the lack of grunt by having, as our main anchor, one of those superb alloy Fortress ones. Our rode was multiplait with a lesser amount of chain, it did the job and we never had any sleepless nights but maybe that was the alcohol that we consumed! For the Mystery it had to be a Rocna, we sell loads and a number of guys have emailed us saying what a brilliant bit of kit, we even had a two page letter from a very grateful skipper in which he credits this make of Anchor for keeping him and his first mate happy, they can now sleep soundly when at anchor in the West of Scotland! Well my Jenny isn't the best of sleepers at any time and no it's not my snoring that causes this, however I decided that the Rocna was the one for me and as for my stern anchor it would be Fortress (light weight so easy to deploy from our dinghy and of course excellent holding capabilities). However when we came to fit the Selden retractable bowsprit onto the bow roller assembly the Rocna roll bar was in the way. Fortunately the Vulcan, which incidentally comes from the same stable, normally sold to powerboat owners, has no roll bar but the same excellent characteristics as the proven Rocna, problem solved!

    Happy Hooking - The Art Of Anchoring - Book

    Happy Hooking... the art of anchoring by Alex & Daria Blackwell and is an excellent read, over 300 pages on everything you would need to know about anchoring including the 'Top Ten Rude Behaviours' that show disrespect and breech of etiquette in an anchorage. Its a book that you can come back to time and again when a situation arises and you need a second opinion.  If you are in the market for a new anchor we are giving away a free copy of Happy Hooking with every Rocna or Vulcan!

    Anchor Ring

    As I said before the last boat we owned didn't have an windlass so maybe we should have invested in a Anchor Ring a nifty bit of kit that enables you to lift up to a 60lb anchor, apparently all you do is slip the anchor ring over the anchor line, attach the shackle buoy assembly and motor your boat forward at a 30-degree angle off of your anchor point and the anchor line will slide through the ring as the buoy floats the anchor to the surface, clever folks these Americans!

  • 155. Top Tips Tuesday - Gin O'Clock - Lagun Yacht Cockpit Tables

    Push Pit/Gin Seat

    Its not quite the end of the long build road, but when Jenny asked me the other day how was I getting on with certain 'essentials' on the Mystery, like the two pushpit gin seats and the cockpit nibbles table I thought that seeing as it's a nice sunny weekend it would be nice to get the seats treated  before fitting them (saves having to clear up spills from the fibreglass). The Teak Wonder range of products are my favourites. For the pushpit seats, as the wood was fresh from the workshop, I used Teak Wonder Dressing & Sealer to maintain the golden colour before installing them on the pushpit, a second coat can be applied when dry usually after one hour and with the conditions on Saturday this is what I did.  To bring the cockpit seats and coaming up to scratch its going to be a case of applying Teak Wonder Cleaner, maybe Teak Wonder Brightner if the teak doesn't lighten enough and then the dressing and sealer.

    Lagun Teak Table Top

    As for a removable cockpit table some twelve years ago when fitting out our Channel 31 we made up a cockpit table that straddled the centre main track, worked well but often got in the way. For the Mystery we went for one of the excellent Lagun yacht tables, the table can be height adjusted, turned, spun around, folded and packed away and with no legs of its own, there is plenty of room to play footsie with the person opposite! The table can be bought in teak effect (Rimini) or white melamine, however please note the teak veneer option as per my images has now been discontinued. Its simple to install and comes with fasteners, backing plate and plastic wedges (see image below) for non vertical surfaces! Deploying the frame is easy as it slides into the mounting bracket, stowing it away after use is just as easy.

    Lagun wedge adjustment and leg (stowed position)

    Please note that with every complete unit we are giving away a stowage bag worth £45.00, deal or no deal?

    Lagun Table Stowage Bag Made Buy Storrar Marine Chandlery

  • 154. Top Tips Tuesday - Be Seen, Be Safe

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    When I was a lot, lot younger, thinking myself to be a competitive dinghy sailor, I would spend hours polishing my bottom (Enterprise, National 12, International 14's and then Flying 15's). So sad I was that on one occasion I faired in with car bodge (filler) the metal hound bands on my wooden Enterprise mast! Did it do any good? Who knows but the feel good factor must have helped. When I started sail making, working at Musto & Hyde back in the early seventies, I was lucky enough to be offered the use of Keith Musto's Flying Dutchman to pursue my 'Olympic Dream'. This particular dinghy had the spinnaker pole stowage on the foredeck with twin troughs port and starboard. I remember at the Cork pre Olympic regatta at Kingston Lake Ontario being told by one of the class experts that once we 'sampled' the lake 'chop' we would have been far better off with the pole stowed amidships cos of all that extra weight forward, was it a psychological wind up?, who knows but we were certainly not the quickest upwind when it was lumpy! Now with me well past my sell by date I still do occasionally get the racing urge, Wed night racing at the RNYC and of course old habits die hard, keep weight out of the ends like stow the outboard amidships, likewise keep the crew out of the cockpit and get the foredeck guy off the bow pronto, smaller diameter lighter weight halyard, carbon battens.

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    On the Mystery we deliberately located the raft amidships (still easy to deploy), my second hand Avon likewise, we are using Cruising Dyneema halyards less weight, windage and lower stretch and as for weight and windage aloft definitely no radar up the mast and no reflector either big or small permanently attached to the mast or rigging. You may ask why not fit a round tubular type, in my humble opinion they are a waste of space!

    92b5d5e1-7b85-49aa-9f7a-1d27565d7ba2On board Hindsight our first line of defence is a Echomax Active XS Dual Band RTE (radar target enhancer) at the tip of the mast, minimal windage and as for the weight only 573 grams When a radar pulse is received a switchable buzzer sounds and a coloured LED illuminates, green for X band, Yellow for S band.

    On top of that we will carry on board, to hoist on the burgee halyard, an Echomax EM230I inflatable radar reflector. It gives an astonishing maximum response of 25.6m2, folds down neatly to the size of a book and weighs just 413 grams! Great for racers as it exceeds ISAF, ORC & RORC requirements and for 'retired racers' like me who want to cruise in comfort with less heeling, less pitching and at a higher speed due to a more efficient mainsail. You never know that 1% extra speed through the water, never mind the reduction in leeway, could get you through the tidal gate or even better to the bar in the marina before they call last orders!

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    A friend of mine who is a very talented naval architect made the following comment...

    "These days in particular yacht owners are encouraged to carry radar equipment or at least reflectors (and a plethora of other equipment such as AIS). The reality is a 30ft yacht has the same degree of requirement to be see and be seen as a 60ft yacht. Arguably to be equally effective both yachts need to carry the same equipment of the same size at the same height above waterline. However on the smaller yacht this extra weight aloft is going to have a much greater effect on stability; in particular reducing the yachts AVS, the angle of roll at which the yacht can no longer oppose heeling forces and come back upright"

  • 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.

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