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  • 176. Top Tips Tuesday - When Waiting For Weather

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    Yesterday, sheltering below deck on board Hindsight in Mandraki harbour, which is just under Corfu town fort, and listening to the rain beating down with a 'little' lightning and obviously thunder got me thinking, has the weather broken yet in the UK, has Autumn arrived? Youngest daughter then WhatsApp'ed Jenny and I, saying there was no sign of her baby coming yet and then started complaining about the poor weather back in the UK. Next minute boss man Andy texted, weather is c..p here; no doubt you are enjoying fabulous sunshine and how about letting me have next week's blog on time for once so I can correct all your spelling, grammar and punctuation as I am short staffed on Monday/Tues! Having spent Sunday morning slowly working through the list of to do items (only thirty three still to do) and failing miserably it got me thinking about what has been our four most popular autumn Tuesday Top Tips over the last few years?

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    Number one without a doubt has been Wet & Forget, this superb product was first featured on my blog 'Flying off the Shelves' in December 2013. Spray your decks, canvas work or anything that turns green through lack of sunshine in the autumn or winter with a diluted solution of Wet & Forget and it won't! PS. It doesn't need any hard work; you wet the surface you want to protect and that's it.

    be2c1652-55fc-46ec-b1ec-1f2082dc05b5Second on my list is Freezeban. See My Top Tips Tuesday blog 'Lay Up For Winter' in which I advised that this non toxic antifreeze is an excellent safe product for protecting water pressure systems and calorifiers. Regular repeat orders would certainly confirm this, however beware last year our supplier 'ran dry' so don't leave it too late.

    As for my third TTT that was my blog on 'Winterising Your Marine Engine'. Don't forget that even though it's considered standard practice to fill your fuel tanks up to the brim help prevent condensation and of course the possibility of contracting the dreaded diesel bug, (especially  now they add a small measure of Biofuel to the diesel) Grotamar82 is the perfect product to help keep your fuel healthy 365 days of the year and your filters clear.

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    Tested out on my backside when we sailed Hindsight down from Marseille to Corfu, was an excellent product called Tear Aid which we import from Holland. The week before the delivery  trip I managed to tear the backside on my 'past their sell by date' mid-layer salopettes. Our supplier had none in stock surprise surprise when I ordered them so it was make do and mend. Over a thousand miles later my backside was still dry, the patches showing no sign of letting go so I have cancelled the order and will carry on with old faithful. Tear Aid which I blogged about in blog 'Wonder product' in August 2016, does what it says it will do. It repairs all sorts of hard to stick to materials, it's brilliant on acrylic canvas, so if you are leaving your canvas work on this winter to protect your bright work and it's looking a little thin on say a stress point, Tear Aid is more than up to it! Abrasion or a tear on foullies, it's brilliant. Cracked window on a spray hood or canopy a repair using Tear Aid will outlast the item!

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  • 172. Top Tips Tuesday - Bragging Not Blogging

    IMG_1469So we won last Wednesday night, good boat speed, having said that half the fleet were on a summer break/participating in the Fastnet etc etc. Skipper had a smile on his face (unlike the previous Wednesday night when we went from first to third due to my tactical wizardry, the expression on Marks face was more like that of a slapped backside!) However, despite fitting a Soak halyard clip, trying it out before the race and then not using it for some reason best known by our foredeck man, we still got the spinnaker halyard caught, fortunately not when it was at a critical time! The Soak clip can be used with as small a diameter as 4mm and up to 9mm, strip the outer cover of a 12 mm? Whilst it will find more and more favour with the racing fleet methinks it will find a use on my Mystery when I decide to go for a hoist of our cruising chute.

    Writing about the Mystery (and if all goes to plan we will, at last, be 'cruising' the Ionian early September) I had promised a guy I met out there that if he was still interested I would bring him out three of the Clear Step outside lead furling blocks. He had admired them when moored alongside me in Mandraki harbour back in September! The Schaefer Clear step gives you a clear lead aft for your furling line, one less thing to trip on!

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  • 171. Top Tips Tuesday - Greater Love Hath No Man

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    As keen readers, especially those with a very good memory, may recall Marine Chandlery’s MD Andy Burgess saved the day last year when his better half Jill’s new car was scraped in the supermarket car park on its first outing (Top Tips no 120, 5th of July 2016). In that instance the excellent product Vistal Hard Surface Cleaner came to the rescue. Why the title of today's blog ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’? Let me explain... this time Andy had to rescue Jill’s new mobile from the upstairs toilet and what’s more try and keep it working! Early morning Sunday past, Andy had just finished showering when he ‘overheard’ an expletive from the bathroom so popped his head round the door and when he asked why this choice noun, he was shown the reason why. Apparently Jill was just hitching up her jeans after finishing her daily ablutions when she heard a splash and there was the aforementioned phone taking an early bath. With no regard to his personal safety our hero Andy plunged (his hand) in, rescued the Samsung Galaxy, hosed it down, immediately drove into work, popped it into a Gadget Saver,left it for eight hours and yes folks Jill’s mobile lives on.

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    So maybe if you want to get yourself or your loved one ‘out of the s..t you may want to do as Andy has now done and that’s keep a Gadget saver next to the toilet as well as one on the boat!

    Mind you, your editor who does not live dangerously, (by keeping his mobile in his back pocket) should have given his own personal Gooper to first mate Martin before we went out to celebrate our safe arrival in Mandraki harbour, Corfu, the other week. Unfortunately Martin’s phone got so carried away with the celebrations later that night that it went for a skinny dip at midnight! The Gooper Dry Bag is 100% waterproof and so easy to use even if you are feeling a little under the ‘weather’. No fiddly little clips to undo if you have mislaid your glasses, maybe dropped them in the water along with the phone or if you suffer from arthritis like yours truly. As it says on the Gooper packet "Foolproof and fumble-free automatic closure ensures a waterproof seal every time" and  with the price of car keys these days at over £150-00 why not invest in a Gooper to keep them safe and dry?

  • 168. Top Tips Tuesday - Stormy Weather, StormBag

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    One of the first storm jibs that we ever made (after Alan Bax and I left Musto & Hyde sailmakers) was back in the mid seventies. It was destined for a rather pretty Harrison Butler and was, of course, a hank-on sail; needless to say the owner never used it in anger for some considerable time! On Hindsight, our Mystery 35, on our delivery trip from Marseille to Corfu we carried a storm jib in the guise of a STORM-BAG and guess what, little wind for the six days and what little there was on the nose so no need to use it however if we hadn’t carried one no doubt we would have needed it.  The storm jib we fitted to Dshigit (the Mystery 35 that I first fell in love with and set Jenny and I down the self build route) was a conventional hank-on storm sail. But why didn't we, seven years later, go down the storm sail route? Apart from the lack of performance  ie once you start rolling or furling your Genoa  that vital ability to claw to windward disappears rapidly and I am not talking about a few degrees! If you go down what I consider to be the old fashioned route... the 'inner forestay with a hank on storm sail scenario' yes you get a better windward performance than that from a furled Genoa. However compared to a STORM-BAG the cost implication of fitting an inner forestay which includes modifying the mast, strengthening the deck etc to ensure a strong anchorage plus some method of tensioning the new inner forestay will probably set you back  £1500-00 at least for your average 35 footer plus of course there is the cost of the sail. Over that shock? Consider the weight and windage of the inner forestay and the tensioner (over centre lever) the stowing of the forestay and then there is the safety aspect. There is at least a 1/2 hour out on the foredeck possibly in horrendous conditions away from the safety of the cockpit... it is a 'trip' forward to rig the forestay and tension it, back to the cockpit to collect the jib and then there is the hanking on (one hand for the sail, one for the boat?) of the sail, sheets to be transferred (rolled genoa secured) and then led aft and then that jib is hoisted behind a bulky furled genoa which is in itself creating turbulence. Why didn’t we go down the Storm Bag route for Dshigit? Sadly they didn't exist back then!

    Fitting the StormBag

    The STORM-BAG storm sail was designed as a safe, efficient but economical way of flying a storm sail from a furled genoa, safe in so much as minimum time on the foredeck, no chance of furled genoa coming loose, efficient - no turbulence as set on the furled genoa and with a blunt leading edge so much easier to keep the sail drawing in confused seas, less weight and windage at all times. Economical as no deck or mast mods needed, no inner forestay required nor tensioning device, jib sheets are self contained. Plus and its a big one, your existing genoa will maintain its designed shape longer as its not being used in strong winds! The STORM-BAG is available in five different sizes suitable for boats 20 to 60 feet long (custom models are possible upon request) it comes complete fully equipped with sheets, tack strop, snap shackles; its very compact and takes up very little space on a yacht. With today's weather being so unpredictable who knows when you might need one!

  • 167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip!

    167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip

    In last week’s blog (or ramblings of a simple sailor as Jenny calls them when she is correcting my spelling and grammar at midnight) I waxed lyrically about Josephine, the very pretty and immaculate 37 footer that was moored alongside us in Mandraki ‘marina’ Corfu. As well as doing a superb job of varnishing with Epifanes, incidentally my favourite make of varnish, Adonis was applying International’s Interdeck non slip deck paint on the coach roof. Its an excellent low textured non slip paint that I have been using and recommending for more years that I care to remember. Many of the dinghies constructed of wood that I fitted out for customers and raced over the years such as International 14’s, Enterprises, Flying fifteens etc got the Interdeck treatment on the ‘floor’. The other benefit of using a coloured non slip is that it brings to life the varnish work by way of a contrast. Brent, the owner of Josephine's choice of colour was cream for the coach roof, however, there are four other colours to chose from. If their colour palette is not to your liking Hempel have a range of five colours including a Navy (not reccomended for the Med I hasten to add).

    Kiwi Grip Deck Coating Application

    As the construction of racing dinghies evolved and we were fitting out GRP boats and latterly ones constructed using epoxy resins, for surfaces that we wanted to be non slip we used instead of an ‘off the shelf’ paint a mixture of epoxy, base colour and colloidal silica rolled on using in those days what was an Artex roller. In certain classes, like the high performance twin trapeze International 14, a very aggressive non slip surface is called for by helm and crew and by varying the mixture this could be achieved. We all, however, want an excellent nonslip, but for most of us ‘amateurs’ the thought of mixing epoxy, then colour and an additive is a no no. KiwiGrip which is a non-skid deck system fits the bill and a big plus (apart from no measuring/mixing required) is that if you have in the past replaced fittings, moved them or whatever KiwiGrip can hide a multitude of sins. KiwiGrip is a single pack, water based acrylic coating for racing and cruising yachts, it can be applied directly over a wide variety of surfaces with MINIMUM of preparation, The level of grip can be varied according to preference using the supplied textured roller, however for seating areas a smoother texture can be achieved using a sponge roller.

    Customer testimonial:

    Hi, Please find a few photos (above) of work on our Enlish narrow boat lying on the Canal de Deux Mers in the S of France. Kiwi Grip was bought at marinechandlery. Had to be careful re temperature and rain! But all worked well and successfully covered some ‘irregularities’ ! Best wishes, Mike

    The New Lizard Sailing Boot - Waterproof, Breathable, Excellent Vibram Soles, Inner lacing system for ultimate stability

    Incidentally, blogging about getting a good grip reminded me that boss man Andy Burgess who races sports boats (spends most of his time wrestling with a spinnaker pole on the foredeck) has been, over the last few months, using a pair of the new Lizard waterproof, breathable and light weight boots and is raving about them! They are of a rugged but lightweight design and apart from being breathable, they offer excellent traction over a wide variety of surfaces and are priced at only £189-95!

    Product report in Classic Boat Magazine:

    'It's difficult to be sure, but we may have never worn a better boot.  Totally Waterproof but breathable with sticky Vibram soles, adjustable (so you can wear thin or thick socks) and extremely lightweight, these Lizard Sailing Boots would absolutely make Christmas for a lucky someone.  There's a clever tightening system in the form of an interior drawstring that pulls everything in yet leaves the ankle with 360 degree of rotation.  Our tester, once he'd sailed in them, wore them round the house for days afterwards, simply because he liked them so much.'

  • 166. Top Tips Tuesday - Now Is The Time, Go For It!

    Josephine, the very pretty and immaculate 37 footer that was moored alongside us in Mandraki ‘marina’

    The other week we were fortunate enough to end up moored alongside this rather pretty yacht in Mandraki harbour, Corfu. According to Brent, her American owner, she was built in the UK in 1956 at a boatyard owned by Percy M See in Fareham Hampshire and this 37 footer was constructed of mahogany on oak frames. Being a nosy so-and-so I did notice the chap, who was working from a rubber dinghy alongside and varnishing the gunwhales, was using my favourite make of varnish. Later, speaking to Adonis the Greek guy (or 'god' of varnishing) who looks after the yacht in the owner's absence and was applying the finishing touches, he told me that in his opinion, Epifanes is the only make that stands up to the ravages of the Mediterranean sun. With its double U.V. filter and its low V.O.C/high solid formulation it makes for an extremely flexible finish that will not crack on wood under stress (ideal for older boats where there is a bit of movement!) Josephine is a credit to Adonis' skill in the preparation and application of the varnish and looks a million dollars. If you have put off your varnishing earlier this year through a lack of time or poor conditions now is the time to go for it!

    Varnish work onboard Hindsight using my favourite Epifanes

    Hindsight, our Mystery 35, has no exterior varnish work however all the interior woodwork including the cabin sole has been varnished by Jenny and I with Epifanes two pack polyurethane. Likewise the  bulkheads and heads compartment glass work with their two pack paint. Why did we use two pack as against one pack? Hopefully no movement of joints and, as Millie the dog will be onboard when we next go out in early September, we wanted a bullet proof scratch resistant coating! Incidentally we didn't want a high gloss finish (better to hide my brush marks) and used their satin finish. For the painted bulkheads and glassfibre surfaces in the heads we added International's Perfection matting additive to take away the gloss.

    Nellie Dean mid repaint

    Andy Laurence (our website guru) who purchased an Alan Hill designed Cutlass 27 just over a year ago, waited until the start of this summer before tackling his hull repaint job. Last week he just finished painting Nellie Dean* with Epifanes Nautiforte before the weather turned. If he had been able to get his yacht 'indoors' no doubt his choice of paint would have been Epifanes two pack however as he was subject to the vagaries of the North East climate and wanted to go for white he chose Epifanes Nautiforte. It's a one pack formulation, high gloss with a rapid film drying with exceptional flowing properties. It's non yellowing with excellent colour stability and a long lasting gloss. Andy's preparation on a tired looking hull, rub down with 240 wet and dry, followed by a coat of Epifanes Multi Marine primer, rub down and then the top coat, both coats applied with a four inch foam roller. Some folks tip off with a dry brush, Andy didn't and is delighted with the result as the image shows! His next step the PSP Coveline stripe on the topsides molding.

    Nellie Dean port side after repaint

    *Nellie Dean was NOT Andy's choice of name but being a superstitious old sea dog he decided to live with the name! Google Nellie Dean and you will find out that it was a popular ballad sung during the first world war.

  • 165. Top Tips Tuesday - Climb It Now!

    Small tear on the casting of starboard spreader root. Clevis pin missing stainless ring; a piece of bent wire has been substituted.

    If you are one of the many who didn't lift your mast out at the end of the 2016 season and haven't, as yet, made a trip aloft to check your rig out, now is the time to climb that spar before you set off on your summer cruise. Why? Because you never know what issues you may find up there! The other week, whilst in Corfu, a member of my local club who is living the dream and keeps his yacht out in Greece met up with Jenny & I in Mandraki for just a couple of beers and a bite to eat. Conversation, as always amongst us blokes gathered round the table, inevitably got around to boats and after what I think was a 'couple' more beers (or was it more?) I found out next morning that I had apparently volunteered to climb his mast and check his rig out. When professionally climbing a mast back in the UK I always use a Spinlock Mast Pro "bosuns chair", as I think its the most secure of all the chairs on the market (and of course that's the make we have on our Mystery) along with a Solent Top Climber. This allows me to 'stand up' in the chair and get right to the very tip of the mast head gear. When climbing a mast for an inspection I always take a mobile phone with me, Leatherman, roll of pvc tape and white self amalgamating. Should my Leatherman multitool not provide me with the correct size screwdriver or pliers one can always be hoisted up. Two days later (not that I needed a full day to sober up) as it was bright sunshine, and as I am long sighted, I climbed his mast wearing my Gill bi-focal sunglasses. Yes I know I have said it before but what a brilliant item of kit this is!

    Gill Bifocal Sunglasses

    For safety reasons I always go up on two halyards and would strongly reccomend that you do also, this is after examining the halyard for strength (get your winch man to hoist you so that your toes are just touching the deck then bounce up and down as hard as you can) and any signs of chafe. Satisfied with the integrtity of the climbing halyard and the back up one, I was then winched up the mast, got to the lower set of spreaders and discovered that the casting on the starboard spreader root had a small tear and that the clevis pin was missing the stainless ring; a piece of bent wire had been substituted. Climbed further and found that the same had happened to the upper starboard spreader bracket, once again a small tear. As the owner of this boat is not happy aloft, this is where my mobile phone comes in useful, providing images that can be down loaded later onto a computer or in this case to my iPad so they can view from the comfort of the cockpit. No more issues until I got to the top of the mast and found that the inner forestay was badly stranded where the wire entered the rollswaged T-terminal! Inner forestay condemned and as for the tear in the spreader root(s) I suggested that he monitor the bracket(s) over the next few months.

     Upper and lower part of Tricolour full of water and lens badly crazed from UV

    Fast forward two weeks and now back in the Uk, with even the temperature on the North East coast as hot as Corfu, and this time the task was to fit a replacement TV antenna at the top of a mast. Climbed and once up there, before we fitted the Glomex antenna, noticed that his mast head tri was way past its sell by date. Upper and lower part of the light full of water and the lens badly crazed from exposure to sunlight! Not only that, the halyard diverter had seen better days. It was badly worn where it clamps on the forestay wire allowing it to tilt, making it as much use as a chocolate fire guard! My message, it's always a good idea to inspect your mast at least once a year. Click onto this link for our thoughts on mast inspection.

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

    The new, revolutionary Team O Offshore Lifejacket

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

    The inspiration for BackTow - Team O lifejacket

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

    Team O BackTow Lifejacket - How it works

  • 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.

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