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  • 151. Top Tips Tuesday - Reduce the trip factor

    Jenny's bruised leg!

    Jenny, my better half, is well known amongst our sailing friends for having a ‘slight’ lack of spatial awareness. When on board our last yacht, never a day went by without her bouncing her head off the companion way sliding hatch, banging an elbow on the companion way steps or ricocheting off the cooker. Yes, she can even stumble on a peanut  which has been dropped in the cockpit on our friends Oyster at ‘gin o clock’ but strangely, never ever spills a drop of the precious liquid in her left hand! Back on dry land she once managed to fracture her elbow, tripping on a raised paving stone when walking to, yes to, the pub and surprising as it may seem she has never had a problem when coming back! The poor girl is at the moment suffering from an extremely painful  hematoma in her upper thigh after slipping on a rock whilst walking in the Lake District the other day, however, the plus points of my good long-suffering wife are too numerous to mention and include proof reading and correcting my awful spelling and punctuation on each and every blog at midnight on a Monday night!

    Outboard lead block assembly

    When fitting out Hindsight we put a lot of thought into reducing the ‘trip factor’ on the deck. The side decks of the Mystery are not particularly wide so when routing the furling line I went for Schaefer’s ‘Clear Step’ blocks which keeps the walkway clear as the reefing line is on the outside of the stanchions.The Clear Step is indexed to easily slip over most existing stanchions and is secured by a simple set screw, large diameter ball bearing Delrin sheaves ensure smooth rolling. Harken do manufacture a similar product, the ‘Outboard lead block assembly,' however the nod went to the former as it looked more in keeping with the traditional looks of the boat, however for the aft turning block I did go for a Harken ratchet with becket.

    Shock cord keeps block off the deck, preventing damage

    I wanted to keep some tension on the line when furling (prevents a riding turn on the drum) as against relying on a crew member to ease the line out! Why a turning block with becket? Cos I attached a short length of shock cord to the block/guard rail to stop it or the deck being damaged in a bouncy sea state. We also lead the backstay control line through the cockpit coaming as against over the teak capping on the production boats as a way of helping reduce the trip factor and we shied away from U bolts and went for folding padeyes for safety line and jackstay take off points as a means of preventing stubbed toes or even more bruises.

    Leading the backstay control line through the cockpit coaming

    Am not sure if Jenny is ‘proud’ of her past track record but she did point out (when proof reading the blog last night) that this past Christmas, whilst enjoying a sunshine break in the Canaries, she managed to stub her toe while taking a ‘comfort break’ at 2am in the morning, she blames it on an unfamiliar layout in the flat we were renting and not the alchohol consumed earlier. It however meant that she has only just tried on her new Dubarry boots which were her Christmas prezzie as the little toe of course was broken!

    Folding pad eyes used for safety line clip points

  • 150. Top Tips Tuesday - Wet & Forget mould, lichen & algae remover works superbly!

    Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 08.58.11Yes I know I have ‘gone on and on’ about Wet & Forget on a number of occasions; it’s that brilliant with no effort required in removing/keeping decks, canvas work, ropes etc., free of the green mould that appears when there is a lack of sunlight. I was asked the other day to look at a leaking hatch on a Colvic motor sailor which was moored astern of Hindsight. I think I have this customer's leaking hatch issue sorted, a simple replacement inner seal for the Houdini as against making up an acrylic cover, that is assuming it’s not the seal between the deck and hatch that's the issue. Ten minutes before clambering onboard his boat I had been spraying a diluted solution of Wet & Forget on Hindsight as the starboard side deck and teak capping of the Mystery (doesn’t catch any sun) was starting to show ‘shades’ of green after the last few weeks of poor weather. As I had some left I also sprayed the finger pontoon and then a flash of inspiration, which makes a refreshing change for me! Why not use the remaining diluted solution as another demo with some more images, before and after? So without asking his permission which was, I know, a bit naughty, I sprayed the last of the liquid on the starboard deck on Friday the 3rd of February, on Saturday and Sunday the weather was so awful that instead of freezing my butt off on Hindsight I treated myself to a wood fire, a glass of wine and three rugby matches. The next time I was down at the marina was a week later Friday the 10th, just out of curiosity I took a quick look at the Colvic to see if the Wet & Forget had started working and it had BIG STYLE!

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    Once treated with Wet & Forget the surface needs no waterblasting, scrubbing or rinsing. The surfactants work on contamination in conjunction with the elements (wind and rain) to slowly but gently wash the contamination away from the treated surface. No doubt the horrendous weather we had on the East Coast that weekend did speed the process up but it is impressive, lets hope the owner likes the unauthorised demo! Don’t forget Wet & Forget can be used at home or work on timber decking or fences, block paving etc so the purchase of a 5 litre container (dilutes to 25 litres) does not have to come out of the boat budget.

  • 149. Top Tips Tuesday - Perfect Timing

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    Those clever guys at Oceanair have once again come up trumps in the Heads Department. Apart from their award winning hatch and port light shades, they also manufacture the Dryroll, an excellent toilet roll holder that keeps toilet paper dry. Now they have developed a combined toilet brush and holder and with perfect timing as the heads compartment on Hindsight is nearing completion!

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    The Oceanair Brush & Stow is wall mounted for stability, has a removable bowl for easy cleaning and with a small brush head it's ideal for smaller size bowls (as well as the standard bowl size). It features a clip-in lid, to secure the brush to the bowl and the built in seal keeps shower water out, whilst trapping odours in. When the time comes you can purchase a replacement brush head which has a push release button so hands do not come in contact with the old brush!

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    The Oceanair Dryroll, apart from being waterproof when closed, so keeping the toilet paper dry, has an automatic paper rewind and can be flush or surface mounted. We fitted one to our Hunter Channel 31 some twelve years ago and never ever had to contend with damp toilet paper, shame they hadn’t come up with the Brush & Stow then as our toilet brush and holder did, in rough weather, end up in all sorts of positions! Incidentally the Brush & Stowwas given a ‘Dame’ award at Europe’s huge marine trade fair last autumn, well done guys.

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  • 148. Top Tips Tuesday - Life In The Old Dog Yet

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    No I am not blogging about myself (makes a pleasant change) but about my recently refurbished inflatable dinghy. Having spent way over budget getting Hindsight onto the water it was felt prudent by the controller of the purse strings, my Jenny, that I should start to go easy on the credit-card. As Hindsight is hopefully going to be based in Greece this year and having seen PVC dinghies out there ‘go sticky’ after two years if they have not been protected by a fabric cover, I began searching some time ago for a small second hand Hypalon dinghy and managed to pick up a rather scruffy Avon Redcrest which the owner assured me was airtight, took it home, blew it up and yes three weeks later it was still holding its air. This particular model is of a round tail design so no sponsons to protect the yacht from outboard contact but having no rigid transom it stows into a very compact size.If at anchor we will have to make sure the tender is moored alongside both fore and aft, other options?

    Hoist on to the fore deck and leave inflated or our prefered method hoist, quickly deflate and stow. So when planning and installing the wiring we made sure we had a socket in the fore cabin close to the Lewmar foredeck hatch which was capable of taking the not inconsiderable load that a Rule High speed inflator/deflator draws. This pocket rocket can inflate or deflate a 4 man dinghy in under 2 mins, never mind the smaller Redcrest, so deflating and stowing on deck does not become a chore. Incidentally, when used as a deflator it will ensure that your dinghy will fit the stow bag first time!

    If my hopefully bargain basement find wasn't airtight, (porous and not through an obvious puncture) plan A was going to be swung into action which was to use Sealflex inflatable boat sealant which incidentally can be used on both Hypalon & PVC dinghies. Fortunately there were none, however if there had been any small tears or leaks I would have used the contents of an Inflatable Boat Repair Kit, available for both types of fabric, and in a range of colours after preparing the surface, Toluene for Hypalon, MEK for PVC.

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    On the aft quarter of the dinghy the original name had been written over and wanting to rename her again, but worried about damaging the fifteen year old fabric through using a solvent, I decided the best plan of action was to cut a piece of white fabric to hide the old names and then use inflatable boat two pack adhesive (methinks the one pack adhesive is great for quick repairs but for long term two pack better) followed up by renaming her using the Identipack.

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    To restore the dinghy to its former glory we used the superb Polymarine inflatable boat cleaner, works superbly on either material so much so it only took half an hour to clean 'tender to Hindsight'. I then followed it up with a coat of inflatable boat finish which helps prevent fading and brightens the colour. Now all I need is a second hand Redcrest outboard bracket, make a thwart, manufacture a dodger and revarnish the oars using my favourite varnish from Epifanes!

    Incidentally if any one has a second hand Redcrest bracket, thwart and dodgers please drop us a line to lifeintheolddog@storrarmarine.co.uk

    PS. My other Top Tip of this week... ascertaining whether your dinghy is Hypalon or PVC? Take a valve cover off and peer inside. If black chances are its hypalon; if same colour as the exterior of the hull it's PVC.

  • 147. Top Tips Tuesday - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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    Having admired, raced and cruised my friend Klaus’ yacht a number of times (inc a stormy North Sea crossing) I always felt, as he did, that it floated fractionally down by the stern and not to the scribed waterline. As Jenny and my project was to the same design but ‘home fitted out’, we wanted to try and improve the trim. So after speaking to the designer it was decided to fit new smaller fuel tanks amidships to help lift the stern; they would have sufficient capacity for most of the motoring I was likely to do however, for say a long delivery trip, the factory fitted tank capable of holding 140 odd litres of fuel (installed just forward of the rudder post) would be utilised. New tanks were manufactured & installed which are filled by a separate deck filler and all the relevant plumbing was completed including a change-over valve. A week before we launched Hindsight we fired the engine up using fuel from the new tank, success! It ran perfectly, we then added fuel to the factory installed tank, switched over the fuel supply, the engine ran for about twenty seconds and then stopped. Fuel starvation? No it was showing water in the main tank primary filter. We cleaned it out, bled ‘fuel' through and discovered it was not diesel we were pulling but water! Conclusion: water in the tank but how much? My next thought was how long had it been sitting there? As there was no tank drain fitted and no way to access the tank, dare I risk sucking the contents out and hoping that we would never have an issue with the remaining dregs or the dreaded diesel bug, or should I bite the bullet and somehow gain access to the tank which would mean major surgery to the cockpit sole? Well, after a month of deliberation, we decided better safe than sorry so we cut a hole in the cockpit capable of taking a low profile Lewmar hatch. This exposed the tank and, having found ‘signs’ that there was baffle fitted running athwartships, we then cut two circular holes in the tank. Peering inside it looked as though there was an awful lot of contaminated fuel. I had thought of initially using a battery operated Handy pump but when I saw how much liquid needed removing I went for a Whale High Flow Submersible 12v DC pump. I removed over 40 litres!

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    However methinks I would have been better with a Rule Portable pump which can run continuously without any damage. The source of all the water? Maybe the filler cap had never been screwed down tight enough when the hull, deck and fuel tank assembly left the factory six years ago and of course I should have checked it was on tight or was it a faulty filler cap seal?Now the tank is empty I am going to use a high pressure water pump on the screwed down cap and see what happens. Will I see a pool of water appearing in the bottom of the tank or was it operator error in the first instance?129c8968-7998-4ca2-89a7-6da7236f23d6

  • 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

  • 145. Top Tips Tuesday - My Top Picks For The 'Disaster Bag' - Emergency Repairs At Sea

    Our top product picks for emergency repairs at sea

    When we sold our Hunter Channel 31 which was berthed in the Canary islands we advertised it as yacht complete with all, yes all the gear, we had accumulated over the 12 or so years that she was in our ownership. The logistics of bringing back all that loose equipment was frightening and as for the expense we might have incurred with excess baggage, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

    However, now the Mystery is finally in the water I have put onboard a selection of tools and now its on to what we call our Oh S..t Bag or more politely the ‘disaster bag’ which hopefully covers most mishaps such  as... what happens if a toilet seacock gets blocked; the mainsail rips and its 100 miles from a sail maker; the inflatable develops a leak after muggins pulled it over a sharp object; or I bounce the transom of 'Hindsight' off the Lefkas town quay and so on. In a way its good to start afresh as new products have been introduced to the market and old favourites have been replaced with a better performing product often at a more competitive price!

    The first item that I pop in the bag and that was not available all those years ago is G-Flex, a superbly versatile epoxy from West Systems which can be used to repair all sorts of substrates such as GRP, alloy, wood and those extremely hard to glue plastics like polyurethane; so versatile it can even be used underwater! Next on my list is Stay Afloat putty. It’s a one step instant water leak plug for below and above the waterline (great for that hard to solve window leak). Instead of carrying a pack of wooden bungs I am going for a Sta-plug by Forespar which is a form fitting emergency plug that can be trimmed to suit. For replacing a damaged seacock or hose whilst afloat a Seabung is an essential bit of kit, no need to go to the expense of a haul out. Sixth into the bag is a packet of Dr Sails (see video below of Dr. Sails being used by Didac Costa to repair a sail during the Vendee Globe), a brilliant flexible epoxy which can be used to repair torn sails (both woven & laminate fabrics). Whilst on that subject of rips or a tear, sachets of Tear Aid type A and B. Type A is a superb repair patch material which can be used on all fabrics except PVC. For sprayhood windows & most inflatable dinghies Tear Aid B can be used, having said all that it makes sense to carry the appropriate Polymarine inflatable boat repair kit! A tube of Stormsure can be use to repair sea boots or help stick your deck shoe sole back on and then there is a roll of ‘proper’ gaffa tape. We stock the incredibly tough and sticky T Rex tape. Finally a way to save your mobile from a watery grave, should it fall into the bottom of a rather wet dinghy a Gadget Saver, as it says on the packet ‘dries out wet electronics rapidly’.

  • 144. Top Tips Tuesday - Stormy weather? No problem with a Mighty Mug onboard

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    As readers of my blog will know we finally launched “Hindsight” last August (only three years late), and, just before Christmas I tensioned the rigging and bent the canvas on; then sailed her from our 'summer berth' at the RNYC Blyth to the Royal Quays marina North Shields. T’was a perfect day, relatively flat sea state, wind not quite dead on the nose however it was gusting 15 to 20 knots so one reef in the main. Crew consisted of nervous skipper (me) and the other Rob who works for Andy in the workshop. Unfortunately the only pic that came out any good on my phone of the maiden voyage was the image taken just before I tidied up the halyards into the  halyard bags. Honestly we were only 100mtrs outside the piers!

    Since that sail and with a family holiday abroad, the other 134 items on my to do list has not shrunk but expanded somewhat and that does not include mugs and other cooking utensils etc.

    Last night, feeling sorry for myself, slumped in front of the telly suffering from what could only be described as man flu (incidentally Jenny has come out In sympathy but ONLY with a heavy cold!!!), our dog managed to knock over with her tail, my coffee mug perched on a low table. After we had both cleared up the mess she said 'shame we hadn't got a couple of those Mighty Mugs at home, I did notice that you had already got a couple onboard Hindsight then you can throw that bloody squeaky toy to the dog till your arm gives up or she gets bored!

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    Mighty Mug comes in two sizes and a variety of colours, can be washed in a dishwasher, and, as one of the the video shows on youtube even if you fire a plastic bullet it just wobbles! Simply place a Mighty mug down on a flat surface and it creates an airlock which allows Mighty Mug to resist accidental knocks thereby avoiding spills. When you lift Mighty Mug the pressure is instantly normalised allowing the airlock to release and the mighty Mug to lift naturally.

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  • 143. Top Tips Tuesday - A Rope Stripper, the perfect Christmas gift

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    Jenny, my long suffering wife, has been telling me for more years than I wish to remember that she finds it increasingly hard to buy me, the guy who has everything, that perfect Christmas gift. Yes I certainly appreciate those thoughtful and often quirky stocking fillers such as a can of Fentimans tonic water and/or a bottle of Fever Tree, Terry’s chocolate orange ‘box’ and of course the Christmas edition of Private Eye. However, for my main prezzie, something that would set my heart beating faster, what could be better than a Stripper for Christmas and yes folks they do come in all shapes, sizes and prices. For me the Ambassador Marine Stripper propeller protector (having been onboard and seen one in action) is the one to go for, yes it's not cheap but when you consider the cost of a lift out, diver call out, maybe a bent P bracket or even worse, the loss of your boat its starts to look very good value for money! It's available in both a sail drive or a shaft drive version.

    My first prop ‘foul’ incident was some years ago when helping friends take their superb Dutch designed and built Breehorn 37 through the Caledonian canal when at the bottom of Neptune's staircase we literally ground to a halt. The second time we had a foul up, this was on another friend's yacht, I was so impressed with the way the Stripper coped with cutting away a lazy line as we fouled when leaving a stern to mooring in Sivota that I vowed then and there that one day I'm going to have one for Hindsight, which at that time was our work in progress project! Fortunately Jenny was aboard for both these incidents so when she asked me last December what I wanted for Christmas, I replied "a Stripper and make it a combined Christmas/birthday/semi retirement present!" Well my dream came true; what a joy my own personal Stripper, now ceremoniously bolted to the sail drive on Hind Sight August past. Yes I will still keep a close look out for the unmarked lobster pot buoys when sailing the North East coast this winter. If I do miss spotting one in poor visibility or run into that polythene sheet floating just below the surface, the stripper will save the day.

    PS. For keen followers of Top Tips Tuesday (or is it unfortunate ones) I regret to say there will be no more ‘words of wisdom’ till January 2017, so all it remains to say is have a great Christmas and New Year from myself, boss man Andy and all the team.

  • 142. Top Tips Tuesday - An easy 'How to' guide with West Systems

    This week's 'Top Tip' is an easy "how-to" guide on repairing the area around a stanchion base on a fibreglass boat. Lots of boats have damage around the stanchion base and if left they can lead to much more serious problems when water gets into the deck, not to mention the added risk to crew.

    Many thanks to West System Epoxy's Hamish Cook and David Johnson for their permission to use this article.

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    We asked Hamish… How do you repair a stanchion on a fibreglass boat?

    Is one or more of your lifeline stanchions coming away from its base? It’s a common problem but it’s vital that it’s fixed quickly. A repair with thickened WEST SYSTEM® epoxy and fibreglass will do an excellent job, as our technical expert Hamish explains.

    There’s a lot of stress placed on the humble stanchion. Often knocked when docking, or shoved when setting sail, it’s not uncommon for them to weaken, or even wrench away from their base entirely. However, given the vital role that these posts play in crew safety, it’s essential that they’re fixed as soon as possible.

    On a fibreglass boat, fixing a stanchion base with epoxy is a relatively straightforward procedure. My colleague David Johnson has produced a video (above) talking you through the repair. Here’s my written step-by-step guide to assist you through the process.

    Step 1 – Grind away the damage

    The first step is to take out the stanchion and grind back the hole to remove all damaged material. When grinding, ensure you taper in to the centre of the hole; grinding a bevel around the edge will create an enhanced surface area for your epoxy bond, so that the repair is as strong and long-lasting as possible.

    Step 2 – Insert a backer

    Make sure you wipe the area clean with alcohol.

    Then, if the hole is deep (if you’ve exposed the inside of the boat), you’ll need to push in a backer which your epoxy resin repair will adhere to. We recommend using peel ply for this. Cut your peel ply to size and push it inside the hole, cementing it in with WEST SYSTEM epoxy thickened with WEST SYSTEM 406 Colloidal Silica. Leave it to cure.

    Step 3 – Apply thickened epoxy

    Mix up some more WEST SYSTEM epoxy resin and hardener and blend it with WEST SYSTEM 406 Colloidal Silica to a mayonnaise consistency. Use a small brush to apply this to the peel-ply-reinforced gap, pushing it well in and smoothing it around, so that it fills any irregular shapes. This will ease the transition to the fibreglass part of your repair.

    Step 4 – Apply fibreglass

    Once this has cured, the next step is to mix up some more WEST SYSTEM epoxy , this time adding some WEST SYSTEM 402 Milled Glass Fibre Blend. Push this mixture into the hole with a mixing stick first of all, before working it into the hole with a brush, stippling to feather out any spiky bits of the fibre and remove any air bubbles.

    Step 5 – Apply your peel ply

    To help compact the repair, apply some more peel ply to the fibreglass mix when it’s wet. Ensure the peel ply is nicely wet out by the fibreglass mixture. If you’re working in any sort of windy weather, you may wish to apply masking tape to secure the peel ply.

    That’s all there is to it. Once this has cured, you can grind it back, apply your gel coat and re-fit the stanchion. You’ll find this is a sound repair that will last a long time.

    Don’t forget to watch our stanchion repair video by David Johnson.

    Want to know more about fibreglass boat repair? We have a whole host of articles – take a look here.

    Image credit: Sailnet.com

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