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  • 134 & 135 Top Tips Tuesday - Laying Up For Winter 2016

    It's that time of year again when we pull together our joint experience and expertise to offer you 'Top Tips' and 'Essentials' for laying your boat up for the winter. Below are the links to this years series of articles and offers.

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  • 133. Top Tips Tuesday - Greens Are Good For Your But Not On Your Boat!

    Wet & Forget 'before and after' picture. On the left a pontoon covered in green algae before the application of Wet & Forget. On the right an image of the same pontoon after Wet & Forget has done its work. The pontoon is now cleared of algae.

    I've just got back from my summer holiday so yesterday afternoon went down to a check our boat out at my local club. I happened to notice that already the sun is not reaching all of the surfaces it would normally touch during the summer months. This means that fairly soon the deck, superstructure and any canvas work, ie spray hoods/canopies as well as ropes halyards and mooring lines, not exposed to sunlight may soon start to turn green! A half hour spent this October spraying a diluted solution of Wet & Forget on vertical or horizontal surfaces, be they wood, glassfibre, steel or fabric of any type, will ensure that they will remain free from moss, mould, mildew or lichen this winter. The result, a saving of up to at least eight hours at the start of the season on 'Spring cleaning' or expensive sail laundry bills! Wet & Forgetdoes what it says without any hard work, just dilute and spray onto the surfaces you wish to protect and then leave nature to do the hard work. Incidentally Wet & Forgetis also great for use around the exterior of your house, use with confidence on paths, brickwork, decking etc to prevent or get rid of existing moss and lichen.

    When we first learned about this product we were a little sceptical about its properties i.e. you just sprayed it on and then forgot about it letting nature do the hard work so we found a suitably ‘green’ cover up at Amble marina and after obtaining the boat owner’s permission sprayed a test panel. Three weeks later I was back up North and took a second picture, note that not only has the green vanished from the fabric but look closely at the toe rail in both images, now you see it now you don’t!

    Another Wet & Forget 'before and after' picture.  On the left a boat cover covered in green algae, on the right, Wet & Forget has done its job and the same cover is now free from algae.

  • 132. Top Tips Tuesday - Magnetic Pull?

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    Strange that whenever on a non sailing holiday I seem to be inexplicably drawn towards the nearest boatyard, maybe looking for the abandoned boat that could be my next project? The other day, meandering through the yard at Gouvia marina, I came across a mast from a super yacht. It was fitted with four sets of enormous spreaders, each pair had built in LED spots to illuminate both the deck and the spar. As well as the ability to illuminate the complete mast it was fitted with all the bells and whistles one would need on such a big boat including these three halyard locks for the main, genoa and staysail, which, when engaged, would transfer the running rigging loads and free the large Harken winch on the mast for other duties. Perched on the top of the spar was the remains of a badly damaged Windex. To see it from the deck I think one would have needed superb eyesight or a bloody good pair of binoculars such as the Bynolyt Searanger II. Seeing these large locks brought back happy memories as the last time I played with or even used a halyard lock in anger was many many years ago on one of my International 14'S. Early twin trapeze days saw many a mast fall down, a very steep learning curve! Fortunately I was wearing my Gill bi-focal sunglasses so when I wanted to examine these super yacht locks in more detail the glasses were more than up to the job. Since Gill introduced these to the market some three years ago they have been the first bit of kit I pack when off seeking sun.

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    Casual chic has never been my forte so my 'on hols' day time dress is usually a twenty five year old tee shirt and a pair of Musto fast dry shorts, they are at least ten years old! Earlier this season I did think the shorts were on their way out as they had started to fall apart, fortunately Tear-Aid (which I wrote about in a blog the other week) came to the rescue and despite being hand washed three times these last two weeks, Tear-Aid is living up to its name with no sign of failing to hold this flimsy fabric together! Tear-Aid will be the second bit of kit I pack in the future, it has so many uses: repairing all sail fabrics from spinnaker cloth to high tech laminates, foulies, spray hood windows, inflatable dinghies, naming but a few.

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  • 131. Top Tips Tuesday - Don't Believe All You Read

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    My Tuesday Top Tip for this week (we're now on our Greek fact finding mission) is that one should not always believe what you read. Perhaps I should have got out and checked the parking first at the apartment we were staying at in Anthoussa before following the signs. Having driven through the 'tunnel'  and down the steep slope to the parking area I was then told to come back up and not to park there! Fortunately I didn't scratch the car as there was at least 3cm clearance on the corners, however, I now have two almost bald tyres because to get back up the slope we needed plenty of power thus loads of wheel spin and black smoke. Jeremy Clarkson would have been proud of my wheelie!

    There is no mention of this torturous route in the Greek Waters Pilot we have brought along with us as bedtime reading matter. It's an excellent read and unlike the parking sign it has my utmost confidence!

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  • 130. Top Tips Tuesday - Be Prepared With Boarding Ring Anti Motion Sickness Glasses

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    It's only three years late but she floats and there is, of course, loads more to do. However it's no more boat building for the next couple of weeks. In the anticipation that next year Hindsight will be berthed for at least some of the season in Gouvia marina Corfu, we the Storrar family are 'doing' a dummy recce. This Wednesday evening sees us taking the overnight ferry from Newcastle to Ijmuiden Holland, we then drive through Germany, Switzerland and then half way down the leg of Italy, we take the overnight ferry from Ancona disembarking next day at Igoumenitsa. Job almost done as Corfu is then just a short ferry crossing. Why drive you may wonder? Well Millie, the Lurcher (collie/whippet), will be coming with us and she doesn't like flying! It's probably my skill (or lack of it) that makes Jenny rather prone to seasickness when sailing on the North East coast, likewise my driving can surprisingly make her car sick, fortunately however, when we sold our last boat she brought her trusty Anti Motion Sickness Glasses back with her. An excellent product for those of you that suffer from any form of motion sickness and I can vouch for its effectiveness during a fairly lumpy North Sea crossing a couple of years ago. No great surprise I did today notice her Boarding Ring Glasses sitting next to a growing pile of holiday clothing.

    Ps, Boarding Ring Glasses are also available in a children's size.

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  • 129. Top Tips Tuesday - What Goes Up Should Come Down (in a controlled manner)

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    When I was a boy and that was a long time ago, our first family boat was a Yachting World Heron dinghy called Lollipop. Why Lollipop? Cos it takes a lot of lickin and yes we did win a couple of handicap races! Colour of the dinghy was, of course, red topsides and a white bottom! Every winter when she was ‘laid’ up, one of my jobs was to remove the forestay and shrouds from the mast and with them being manufactured in galvanised wire, coat them in lanolin. The beauty of galvanised wire is that its ‘appearance and handle’ tells you when its passed its sell by date, ie rusty and stiff! The problem of course with stainless rigging is that its still looks shiny after 15 or more years and if its about to fail gives you no warning! Ask around the yacht club bar or a marina and its regarded as a grey area, however, if you read the MECAL technical notes ( page 1 & page 2) they state, and I quote, ‘generally insurers are nervous of rigs that are more than 10-12 years old.’ This refers to a standard production GRP sailing yacht with aluminium masts and stainless rigging.

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    If you haven’t had your mast lifted out since she was in your ownership perhaps this winter is the time to do so. Once she is on the ground, not only can you go over the mast, fittings, pulleys etc with a fine tooth comb, you can also check out the electrical cables where they enter and exit the mast for signs of chafe and UV damage, check halyards for chafe and, why not at least consider changing the mast head navigation bulbs to LED or go the whole hog and fit a new unit if the lens is suffering from UV damage. As for the standing rigging, if you do not know the age of the rigging (you have bought second hand some years ago) it may be considered negligent by an insurance company or assessor if, heaven forbid, you had a rig failure.

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    Keeping a record of all your boat maintenance is essential for your peace of mind and ease of giving an accurate reply to queries posed by insurance companies, boatyard or just the odd job man who is doing a guvy job antifouling her, if you know the make of antifouling used last time there is no need to use a barrier coat of Primocon or the like. The Weems & Plath maintenance logbook is, I think, an excellent way of keeping track of all this.

  • 128. Top Tips Tuesday - The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back

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    Apart from trying to retire, still working and slowly putting the finishing touches to our now launched Mystery, I do when time permits like to race on a Wednesday night especially if the breeze is up. In May of last year young Mark purchased an Albin Express from the Clyde which had never been raced. Out went the Plastimo reefing drum and foils as well as all of the cruising paraphernalia and, this past winter, we stripped off about 8mm of antifouling as well as grinding all the rust from the keel and attempted to fair it over the cold winter months. Skipper Mark is very keen, but as his racing experience is limited he is on a steep learning curve but learning fast. We have, this season, managed to grab a couple of firsts which is great considering the rest of the crew (with the exception of Commodore Tony) are also relatively new to racing. We are changing systems, now we can winch the genoa whilst the weight is to windward, the main traveller works and we finally have a jib and main cunningham that also can be controlled from the rail. Next for treatment was to get both the boom outhaul and the backstay sorted!

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    The other day, after a fairly hairy ride, (as seen above) I did notice that the rigging had gone slack (when we returned to shore,changed our underpants and put the boat to bed) as the mast had started to sink down into the deck. As the no doubt hotly contested championships were looming, Mark was coaxed in to having her lifted, mast removed and the deck in the area of the mast step opened up. Looks like the culprit, apart from a rather hairy broach, had been a previous owners method of putting electrical cables through the deck; drill the hole and don’t bother to properly seal end grain if its a wood or foam core! Sp Eposeal is excellent as a deep penetrating sealer as is either SP106 or West System 105. Should you find it impossible to dry out completely your damp wood, assuming its not completely rotted, use G/flex epoxy from West System; its also great for repairs and bonding difficult to glue plastics.

    When bolting fittings onto glassfibre, first drill the correct size hole and then use a countersink; this then gives us a greater surface area for applying sealant. The result... no leaks and no issues five years down the line! For an adhesive/sealant I like either Sabatack XL (good range of colours inc Mahogany and Teak) or Sikaflex 291i available in black or white. If only a sealant is required, Geocel 201 is a high performance flexible polymer sealant, the modern replacement for polysulphide. Available colours are black, white, grey and teak.

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  • 127. Top Tips Tuesday - It Never Rains But It Pours - Mr Funnel

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    As you may be aware for the last six years of my spare time I have been fitting out the hull and deck of a Mystery 35, regular readers of my ramblings will of course know that it should have been launched three years ago, well last week it finally hit the water and when I checked last night was still floating!

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    The hull and deck of Hindsight was delivered with engine in situ as well as the fuel tank which we later discovered was under the cockpit sole. Whilst it was possible to install these with deck already in place it would have been fairly tricky so I let the experts do it!  As a  dinghy sailor for most of my life I have always been conscious of keeping weight amidships so my cunning plan was to use the space under the cabin sole for my day to day fuel consumption by installing three smaller interconnecting tanks (see the before installation dry run images) and for longer passages use the factory fitted as the backup, incidentaly both systems have separate primary filters.

    Two weeks ago we finally finished the fuel plumbing and with Hindsight on dry land and  a water feed to the engine, turned the key and yes she started first time. Fairly impressive I thought for an engine fitted six years ago and only turned over by hand every three months. It ran perfectly on the new tank(s) however when we turned the valve to the factory fitted one, which just had 25 litres of fuel added, the engine spluttered and died! Tried starting her again and discovered the primary filter full of water and the source of that water? Methinks that me, muggins hadn't had the intelligence to check that the fuel filler cap was screwed firmly closed when she was delivered some six years ago! We pumped out over 35 litres of contaminated fuel and then to save it being thrown away purged the diesel of water by passing it through one of those excellent MR. FUNNEL portable fuel filters, incidentally in the instructions for their use they do state that you 'test by adding water to cover the bottom 1/3rd of the filter. Water should not pass through'. As for the diesel that we purged of water, it was poured into the fuel tank of the works van and a week and a half later its still running well! One more essential item to add to the Hindsight shopping list is a Mr Funnel!

    Mr Funnel from Storrar Marine Chandlery on Vimeo.

  • 126. Top Tips Tuesday - Banish Fiddly Drybags - Gooper Automatic Self Sealing Drybags

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    Hopefully, if all goes to plan and the weather plays ball, Jenny & I will be launching Hindsight our ‘home’ completed Mystery 35 this Thursday. If you don’t know the Mystery, she was designed by Stephen Jones, has a traditional look to her 35ft overall length but is only 24ft 9inches on the waterline with a 9ft 11 beam, a lead keel and they sail like a dream!

    Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century we have been talked into installing a Raymarine chart plotter, however to keep the ‘traditional look’ its tucked away below deck. Above deck we are using our trusty iPad which we will (with a little help from techy Andy) use to repeat the navigational information. During rough weather, or on a rainy day, the iPad will be snug as a bug in a rug in a gooper AUTOMATIC SELF SEALING BAG.

    The seal is a foolproof and fumble-free automatic closure which ensures a waterproof seal every time, so no need to take gloves off to insert your device. The gooper is as I said before automatic self sealing, its waterproof to 30 metres, and of course keypad and touch screen usable. gooper  is also credit card safe, video & camera usable. Phones are fully functional through the bag allowing for voice and audio without the need for a headphone or audio jack. gooper comes in two sizes, the smartphone case has internal dimensions of 10.5 x 15.5cm and the tablet version is 22.6 x 30cm.

    Please note that you should keep at least 7cm away from pacemakers and/or a standard compass.

     

  • 125. Top Tips Tuesday - Cynical Rob 'discovers' a wonder repair product!

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    Cynical Rob, as I was known throughout the marine trade by those poor sales guys who used to come knocking at the chandlery door when I was working full time. Now that I am semi-retired and working part time (only working five days this week, can you hear the violins playing?)  and nowadays spending the majority of my time in the sail loft, Andy is the bloke they have to convince that their latest offering is the best thing since sliced bread. However, the other day, as I was trying to source a particular type of large zip to sew into a stack pack for a fifty footer, I came across a product called Tear-Aid which seemed to be the perfect repair material for a permanent fix for all kinds of materials, unless of course you have access to an onboard sewing machine and spare matching fabric! I e-mailed the distributors in Holland and three days later a selection of materials that had been 'repaired'  with Tear Aid arrived, now even I was impressed! Tear-Aid type A repairs acrylic spray hoods, biminis, polyester and dacron sails, hard to repair spinnakers, foul weather gear, hypalon inflatable tenders ie Avon, fabric holdalls and sailbags, dry suits, wetsuits etc etc. Type B is just as strong (needs 24 hours to develop max strength) it's  perfect for repairing split spray hood and cockpit enclosure windows, will successfully repair PVC dinghies such as Seago and Waveline, vinyl cockpit and below deck vinyl seats and pvc boat covers, vinyl inflatable canoes as well as inflatable water toys to name but a few. Both Tear Aid A & B are a great addition to your tool box and the even better news is that they have an unlimited shelf life!

    Perfect for hard to repair acrylic, still holding after 20kg force!

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