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  • 141. Top Tips Tuesday - Corrosion Control

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    Time flies when you are enjoying yourself! There I was getting kind of used to ‘semi retirement’ just three days work, mainly in the sailloft sometimes working with rigs and bliss, four days tinkering with my own project, when a call came through, "Can you drop everything, go down South this week and do some pattern making on a National Trust historic building, it’s just two days work and don’t forget that you're flying out Sunday afternoon to fit two more of the UV protective sunshields that your sail loft manufactured to another National Trust property". Mount Stewart on the shores of Strangford Loch, the ancestral home of Lord Londonderry, is being ‘fitted’ with a series of sunshields to prevent UV from damaging priceless oil paintings in the galleries below. So when Claire, one of our IT experts, asked when she could expect my draft Top Tips today she was met with an oh...... sugar lumps or worse!

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    Anyway here goes, this time of year it’s worth checking out the mast and boom for any signs of corrosion behind a stainless fitting, be it still standing or removed, likewise alloy stanchions and their bases especially if a stainless bolt or split pin has been used to secure the post to the socket. Correct procedure is to always use a barrier between dissimilar metals such as aluminium and stainless. Tefgel or Duralac are my first choices, however I have also used Forespar Lanocote with success.

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    If you lift out in the winter and then remove the mast, make sure you remove both the standing and running rigging. So many times have I seen stainless standing rigging casually wrapped round a horizontal spar which can result in a ‘line’ of corrosion down the mast! As for wrapping the spar in polythene, its not a good idea. Instead wash down with fresh water then apply (assuming spar is alloy) a protective coat of either Hempel Alu-Protect or Yachticon metal polish. If its lying on a set of trestles or a mast rack its easy to check for signs of corrosion behind stainless fittings. If there are telltale signs of corrosion remove the fitting and if its only mild, clean the surface apply the barrier and make sure your replace and remember, if fastened with rivets use monel not alloy! If the corrosion is more severe, check with the mast manufacturer as to their suggested course of action.

  • 140. Top Tips Tuesday - Plan Ahead with Chart Art

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    Its not often that I ‘do a hard sell’ in my regular Top Tips Tuesday blog but pressure from above has forced my hand this week! If you’re a bloke (and like me) you probably leave, dare I say it, your Christmas shopping till the last moment then find that the gift you particularly wanted to give has a long lead time with delivery now into the New Year, why not consider ordering TODAY one of Annika Tomlinson’s superb Chart Art prints, a genuine Admiralty chart printed on canvas and mounted on artist grade stretcher bars. These are great for hanging on the wall of the family home, office (as can be seen from the below image we have one hanging in our operational headquarters of the ‘other’ Andy’s favourite cruising ground the West Coast of Scotland) or given to that faithful crew member who, come torrential rain, howling blizzard or occasionally sunshine can always be relied on to turn out and prep the underwater surfaces of your boat ready for the first coat of antifoul.

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    The beauty of Chart Art is that it can be ‘customised’ such as showing only say a favourite anchorage such as Tinkers Hole on Mull or locally the Kettle in the Farne Isles, or the route of last year’s summer cruise, photos can be added of say your boat, your crew or the maybe the pub you rowed ashore to and had that rather raucous evening! Sadly like all things special there is an extra charge for customising but as can be seen from the example below well worth the extra cost incurred!

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    A review from another order reads:

    Andy, Just a quick email to say that I hadn’t opened the chart (I simply wrapped it and delivered it to my cousin for his birthday present) – it was absolutely brilliant – a superb job done by the guy who stitched 5 charts together. Thank you so much!

    If your budget cannot stretch to Chart Art (prices start as low as £109.95 and that includes free UK delivery worth £10-00!) why not purchase an UNFOLDED Admiralty chart of a favourite cruising ground at only £36.60, customers to whom we have supplied a chart in this format have had them framed (suggest non reflective glass), pinned to a wall and on a couple of instances wallpaper paste has been used to stick them to the wall of a sailing club bar! The Chart Art printing process uses technologically advanced 12 colour UV ink printed onto the finest 100% Cotton artists canvas, which is sourced from some of the biggest international art suppliers. Museum Quality Artists Stretcher Bars are made of the finest quality European kiln dried knotless pine, which has the advantage of being extremely hard wearing and not susceptible to warping that cheaper woods are prone to. Each bar features a rounded back edge which is designed to ensure that the canvas is always kept a full 1⁄2" (13mm) above the stretcher bar to ensure that there can be no ghost impressions on the canvas. These stretcher bars also incorporate ‘wedges’ which are placed in each corner and allow the canvas to be stretched extremely tightly over the frame. It also allows the canvas to be restretched over time, which can be of particular importance for the larger sizes. Hanging kits are supplied with all Chart Art canvas so putting them up on the wall is easy. The Canvas hanger incorporates a cut-out which allows the canvas to be hung on a standard two pin picture hook, which is also included. Using the included kit ensures that the canvas is “pulled” flush to the wall on a secure fixing.

  • 139. Top Tips Tuesday - Ignore Tiny Deck Leaks At Your Peril

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    It’s surprising how much damage a very small amount of water ingress can do to a glass fibre hull or deck never mind a wooden boat! Over the last three months we have had our eyes opened on a number of occasions due to water damage such as  a complete new transom required on a sixteen foot power boat, see the remains of the transom in the image below, new mast step reinforcement wooden pad needed under the deck and 'ceiling' laminates on an Albin Express, over sixty chain plate bolts needing to be replaced on a ketch rigged Oyster and then there is our very own ‘IT Andy' who had his issues when his Autohelm went AWOL. The boat hit the quayside  and with the force of the impact his forward lower shroud U bolt came out of the deck like one of Kim Jong- Un’s dodgy rockets from its underground silo.

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    If you discover a water leak, and I know from bitter experience how hard they are to trace (it may well start a couple of metres or more from where the damp patch is showing internally), don't under any circumstances rely on a quick fix, for example a dab of silicon round the offending deck fitting. Yes it is ok as a temporary fix till the end of your hols and if you must till the end of the season but get it repaired properly as soon as you can.

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    If moisture does get under a laminate be it from a fastening, impact damage etc, wood reinforcement pads can soften and rot, stainless steel bolts can rust through due to crevice crack corrosion and fail with disastrous results i.e. the mast coming down or a rudder falling off. If you do trace a leak back to a fitting, the only 100% safe way of fixing it is to remove the fitting and fastenings and, if the substrate is sound and dry, re-fix  after removing any contamination/old sealant from the surfaces. If the fixing hole has not earlier been countersunk (see diagram below) do so before you apply your sealant to the surface of the fitting, the depression area and the thread, messy yes but you can always clean any surplus with acetone on a rag.f703e5b8-2115-407e-b2d5-7c2a878cfb7b

    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.

  • 138. Top Tips Tueday - Cut The Clutter With Seago's 3 in 1 Rescue System

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    On our last boat which we first launched just after the Millenium, on the pushpit we fitted a Baltic soft foam horse shoe buoy c/w with a Jotron automatic light, a Seago self inflating danbuoy with auto light and I also had a Plastimo safety recovery ladder as well as an outboard bracket and motor. For our ‘new’ yacht Hindsight (destined  for loads of what we hope will be hassle free stern-to mooring in the Greek Isles next year) to help cut the clutter and make it easier to throw lines to the quayside, we are opting for the new this year Seago 3 IN 1 RESCUE RECOVERY SYSTEM. It’s contained in an easy to fit/remove plastic container (means if leaving the craft for a few weeks you can remove quickly so as to avoid it fading from prolonged UV exposure). The Seago 3 in 1 Rescue Recovery system is contained in a compact waterproof burst hinge case. Inside is a danbuoy with built in lifebuoy, automatic life light, lifting loop with snap hook and sea anchor. Solas reflective tape is fitted as standard and to insure the danbuoy remains upright there is 2.5 kilos of lead weight. To deploy its just a matter of opening the case, the contents drop into the water and the danbuoy and lifebuoy inflate automatically.

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    Talking about stern-to mooring, our friends who have successfully cruised the Greek isles for a number of years and given us loads of good advice on equipping our craft,  fitted to the side of the pushpit a reel containing a long length of strong 25mm webbing  which they use to great effect when in a bay and space is limited, tying back to a tree trunk or fastening round a large rock at the waters edge.

    Two makes spring to mind and take up very little space and I cannot for the life of me remember which one they fitted to their yacht, was it the sun or the pre dinner drinks that have dulled my memory? My involvement  was  to jump into the dinghy, row to the shore towing the webbing behind and secure to a suitable object. Finally, on the return ‘journey’ secure a small pickup buoy or two onto the line. The Ankarolina is made from high impact UV resistant plastic and there are four line lengths available, an alloy reel is also available but only with a 70mtr line length. The other make we also retail and I must confess I like the look of is by NAWA. It consists of a heavy duty stainless mooring reel with an adjustable friction brake. Like the Ankarolina it comes with an excellent mounting kit and is available in three webbing lengths. Both of course take up very little space on the pushpit however you must not  forget to cleat the webbing to the boat!

  • 137. Top Tips Tuesday - Bored? West Systems have the solution. Meet Hoppy!

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    As avid readers of our regular blog will know I, with a lot of help from my friends and of course Jenny (she is brilliant at rubbing down varnish or epoxy in preparation for another coat) have been fitting out a Mystery 35 hull and deck for the last six years, finally launched the other week with just a ‘few’ outstanding jobs! Well in my very limited spare time away from the boat the other night I was reading the excellent newsletter from West System that regularly ends up on my iPad. Scrolling through, I was fascinated to read about Hoppy, the bike which you can build from wood, I'm sure it would be the perfect set of wheels to have on Hindsight, however, I have been advised by Benjy the boatbuilder and designer of the bike that there are no plans to design a folding one as yet, but hopefully early next year when the ‘jobs to do list’ shrinks a bit more who knows I might have a go at building a non folding bike, but will we now need a larger boat?screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-11-28-44

    Another first class article in this latest newsletter was one by an expat Geordie, Hamish Cook, West's UK technical expert (I used to race Enterprise dinghies against his dad many many years ago and usually got beat by a country mile) on flame-treating plastic which helps create a better bond between epoxy and plastic.

    I used this technique to glue successfully, using their G-Flex, a polyethylene Whale grey water tank to the hull of our Mystery as well as using the same technique to bond a Scanstrut waterproof junction box. I had tried some years earlier in the fitting out process to bond these items to the hull with two different well known makes of adhesive sealant, G-flex was not on the market then.

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  • 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
  • 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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