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Top Tips Tuesdays

  • 199. Top Tips Tuesday - Preseason Prep - Below Deck


    Yes, I know it's already the sixth day of spring and the outook is looking an awful lot better than last week, however if it's still brass monkey weather where your boat is currently located it's worth concentrating on your 'below the deck' tasks and leaving antifouling and polishing the topsides to warmer days. If your better half or you are not that technically minded then I suggest concentrating on thoroughly cleaning down all surfaces. For bilges I use a solution of diluted Bilgex however if it's a heavy contamination use neat but in both cases rinse thoroughly with fresh water afterwards. For most other surfaces Vistal is excellent, as it states on the box 'one pot does the lot'. However if there is some mildew on a surface or fabric, Starbrite or Yachticon's mildew remover works a treat but once again don't forget to rinse the treated surface.


    As for the technical side, if in doubt or on a learning curve can I suggest the Boatowner's Mechanical & Electrical Guide, carried on the boat as a ready reference. To get started, first check that all metal seacocks, the engine and the propshaft are electrically bonded as one, same goes for the rudder shaft. If in doubt, consult MG Duff’s very informative Cathodic Protection Handbook. Check the condition of the earthing wire and the cross sectional area. The correct wire to use is a minimum 4mm² PVC insulated multi-stranded tinned copper cable, if in the slightest bit of doubt replace. If you regularly use shore power, and most of us do, consider fitting a galvanic isolator into the boat’s earth supply cable if there isn’t one already fitted. It may appear just to sit there doing nothing but it does prevent stray electrical currents attacking underwater fittings such as seacocks, anodes, propellers and shafts.


    Check all seacocks operate freely and then service them. For the superb Blakes seacocks, use their seacock grease as a lubricant. For Forespar seacocks (glass reinforced nylon) it’s a smear of Lanocote and the same for Bronze and DZR. If handles are rusty, consider changing them to stainless ones. Check hose connections are sound, of course ensuring they are fitted with no less than 2 stainless hose clips for security. Check the condition of the hose material, flex it where it leaves the hose tail for signs of deterioration, change if the slightest bit suspect. In case of a problem with a seacock or hose when afloat make sure you have the correct size wooden bung attached with some 3mm polyester cord. Consider the purchase of a set of Seabungs (as featured on Dragon’s Den) or the excellent Stay Afloat, and carry at least one roll (if not two) of E-Z Tape on board should a weep develop from a pipe later in the season.

    If you have a mechanical seal (Deep Sea Seal, PSS or Volvo), read through the manufacturer’s service instructions. Does it need lubricating (the popular rubber Volvo seal should be greased every 200 hours or once a year, whichever comes 1st), don't forget when the time comes to launch you may need to ‘pinch’ the seal to expel trapped air after she is in the water. Remember seals, both shaft and sail drive, have a finite life span and components should always be replaced according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Your insurance company would no doubt take a very dim view if you had an intake of water and no documented proof of having the seal replaced within the recommended timescale.


    Service sea toilets as per the manufacturer’s instructions. As a rule of thumb however, remove the pump and grease the inside of the barrel with petroleum jelly, check all seals for deterioration and consider replacing the joker valve on the toilet outlet. If cruising, carry a set of toilet spares as it may be difficult to obtain parts in some ports. For the popular Jabsco manual toilets there are three different service kits available depending on the age of the original assembly however a lot of skippers with older models are upgrading to the complete Twist n’ Lock pump unit (saves you buying a spares kit and you get a complete new barrel etc). Check all outlet hoses for calcification, if only a small build up use a good quality toilet system descaler, or if more serious remove hose and try breaking the deposit away with a block of wood and a hammer. If this doesn't work,  replace only with odour proof toilet hose. Consider fitting a heads water treatment unit which not only reduces odours but also helps prevent the build up of deposits in hoses. If you have a permanent 'toilet smell' down below, check if the odour is permeating through the toilet hose wall. To check, place a damp cloth over the hose, leave it overnight then sniff the cloth. If the cloth smells, change the hose.


    If you haven’t got a gas alarm fit one or at the very least purchase a hand held detectorand fit a bubble leak detector next to the bottle. If you don’t already, make sure you can cut off the gas supply at the tap next to the cooker. Check the flexible orange gas hose that goes from the stop cock to the cooker is in date and also in good condition. If you are short of gas locker space and unable to carry 2 gas bottles, consider purchasing a Dometic Gaschecker - great for telling you how much gas you have left. With the publicity recently of deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning, if you haven’t already done so fit a carbon monoxide detector. It will only take you two minutes to screw to the bulkhead but may save your life!


    "Fire down below” spoken, or more likely shouted, are words we never want to hear. However in partnership with the Boat Safety Scheme ’Go Boating Stay Safe’ campaign, there is a booklet available entitled Fire Safety On Boats which is worth a read. For more information on boat safety and routine safety checks visit We recommend that you make sure all fire blankets and extinguishers are within easy reach and close to companionways, hatches, galley and the engine. Check that your extinguishers are still in date and not suffering from lack of pressure, if dented or rusty consider replacing, and if you haven’t got an automatic clean agent extinguisher located in the engine ‘room’ and no space to fit make sure you have an engine room door fire gate that you can aim and fire a clean agent one through. Yes, powder will work on an engine room fire however it can do a tremendous amount of damage if sucked into a running engine. Incidentally, in the last year we have seen an increasing number of customers purchasing the new generation PFE portable aerosol fire extinguishers, 70/80% smaller than standard units, they are ‘human safe’ and leave no harmful residue. It is of course suitable for use on both liquid fuel and electrical fires.


    Having taken the precaution of winterising your water system by adding Freezeban in the Autumn, you should first drain any treatment. Water tanks and pipes should be sterilized by adding the appropriate quantity of Puriclean into the tank then fill to the brim with fresh water. Open up all taps on board until the solution is coming through then close taps and leave for up to 12 hours. Empty the tank completely then rinse system through with another full tank of fresh water and then refill. After treatment, don’t forget to replace your water filter.


    Don’t forget to check that the automatic bilge pump is working after the close season and whilst you’re at it, when was the last time you changed the diaphragm in the emergency manual bilge pump? Whilst you have the floor boards up it’s worth having a check that everything is in order.

    Your first aid box is another vital component of your safety equipment often overlooked. It's certainly worth checking that the contents are in date, not damp or water damaged, and there are no gaps, bandages used last year, tweezers borrowed by your daughter to pluck her eyebrows and not replaced. Ginger tablets and seasickness tablets are are they still in date? Consider purchasing a pair of Boarding Ring anti seasickness glasses. They are a tried and tested remedy for motion sickness. If you haven’t got a ‘sailors’ first aid book its worth a purchase and if planning an adventure like the ARC or similar why not consider enrolling on a first aid course.


    Check all flares for being within date, (it’s an offence in some foreign countries to even carry out of date flares onboard). Perhaps consider slowly changing over to a couple of LED flares – no disposal worries and they have user replaceable batteries. Lifejacketsshould be inspected (both bladder and, where fitted, safety harnesses) for wear or chafe, loose stitching etc, and should be manually inflated for at least 24 hours preferably with dry air from a pump. Any that lose pressure should be referred to a service centre for specialist repair or should be replaced. Check all lifejacket cylinders for rust, unscrew from firing head and check they have not been pierced. Weigh them and ensure that the weight is above the minimum gross weight stamped on the cylinder. When refitting cylinder ensure it is tightly screwed into place. When replacing lifejacket cylinders, always ensure they are the correct weight and size specific to your lifejacket – the manufacturer’s label on the jacket should give this information. Change the water dissolving mechanisms (they fire the pin that allows the CO2 to automatically inflate the bladder) annually as they may have absorbed moisture and be on the point of firing. Check ‘Hammar’ hydrostatic systems ensuring they are ‘in the green’ and in date, if not replace. If your lifejacket is not fitted with a crutch strap fit one immediately, a lifejacket without one is virtually useless. If cruising, even inshore, consider adding a spray hood, and a light preferably the Spinlock Pylonwhich gives 360′ sighting, they can both be life savers! Those clever guys at Spinlock also now offer a Lume-On lifejacket illumination system which consists of 2 water activated LEDs which are attached to the back of the bladder. Safety lines, one for every member of crew, examine carefully and if not of the ‘Gibb style’ hook’s consider changing. Your EPIRBis the battery still in date, if you have just purchased the boat has the registration been brought up to date.

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    Personal EPIRB’S (PLBs) are now under £200-00, if sailing singlehanded they are an essential bit of kit.  If you aren't single handed there are a couple of alternatives to consider. If you have AIS on board then an MOB1 is worth considering. It can either be carried in your pocket or fitted inside your lifejacket so it activates automatically when your lifejacket inflates. Once activated it will transmit an alert to your boat and all other AIS receivers within range. This gives the crew members still on board an easy way to find your exact position.

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    The other alternative is a man overboard wrist band system. Crew members wear wrist bands which are connected to either a mobile phone or a tablet via bluetooth. If a crew member falls overboard the bluetooth connection is lost and an alarm is raised on the device giving the position where the signal was lost as well as direction and distance to that position.

    Your grab bag should contain an emergency torch so change the batteries. Make sure the handheld VHF is holding it’s charge (replacement batteries are available for certain models) Having said that many skippers are going with a handheld VHF with DSC facility, the price has dropped again to just under £215 and they have the added benefit of having a GPS built in. Check the expiry date of any flares carried in the grab bag. Seasickness tablets, food and water rations, are these in date? If you have an emergency credit card/cash, has the card expired and is the currency appropriate for your landfall.

  • 198. Top Tips Tuesday - Wet & Forget works like magic!


    Yes I know I am a boring old f..t, almost as bald as a coot, and according to Jenny daft as a brush! As for getting out of bed in the depth of winter these days and then, after having had a hot shower to ease my stiff back, having to bend down to put my socks is still a hell of an effort! However there is one product we sell that does put a smile on my face and requires no effort on my behalf to obtain a good result. Its that brilliant product WET & FORGET. Yes I know I am like a parrot and have blogged about it repeatedly but this product certainly does the business with absolutely no hard work, which is the bit I like!


    We first heard about WET & FORGET from the guys who launder our sails. they had been asked to spray WET & FORGET onto a huge superyacht head sail, as the sail had been often furled whilst still damp. they wanted a product that would keep the dreaded green ‘mould’ at bay with minimum effort and at a low cost.


    Since we first used the product in anger (we tested it out on a road sign some 4 years ago believe it or not and then to convince ourselves sprayed a test patch on a customers winter cover, with his permission I hasten to add) Since then we have used it ourselves to remove green algae from decks made of all substrates such as glassfibre, wood and steel with no effort at all. Its safe to use on all fabric covers be they manufactured in PVC or woven materials. Excellent results are obtained when sprayed onto contaminated halyards, jackstays etc etc. WET & FORGET can of course be used at home on wood decking, paths, block paving so can be bought using the household budget account, see images below of my bosses patio before and after. Believe it or not these images were taken 24 hours apart!

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    So easy to use all you have to do is dilute the concentrate in a ratio of 5:1 with water , it's sold in a 5 litre container so makes up to an economical 30 litres. You spray the diluted mix onto the surface to be treated, leave and let nature do the rest. The combination of rain, wind and UV work together to remove the unsightly staining. As it's name suggests, all you do is wet and forget. You do not have to scrub the surface, it may take up to ten days before you see any difference as weather conditions, rain, sun and wind dictates how fast it works, incidentally it rained just after Andy (the boss) applied WET & FORGET to his patio!

    Down to your boat for the first time this weekend? Disappointed to see that green tinge? Spray the deck, canvas work, ropes etc leave and concentrate on other fitting out tasks which you have to put some effort in confident that very soon the 'green will be gone' and don't forget that before you hoist your furling genoa spray it with WET & FORGET. Well worth the little effort that would require!

    To help keep your canvas work in ‘Top Tips’ condition, brush or spray on some Fabsil Gold. As well as being the water proofer that Hancocks sail laundry use and recommend, an application of this product avoids the ‘sodden look’ to your woven fabric; water beads and runs off just like rain falling on the waxed surface of a newly polished car.

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  • 197. Top Tips Tuesday - Varnish Remover For Butterflies


    Please don’t report me to the RSPCA, cos this blog is not about the inhumane treatment of the Red Admiral or any other species of butterflies! But I digress, we sometimes get in our engine workshop, Mercury, Yamaha or Tohatsu outboard motors (these are the three makes we sell, service and sometimes repair them if things go wrong!) It's usually in the spring when we get the non-starters and its often traced back to the fact that last year's fuel is still in the tank and always still in the carburettor! Yes I know its a bit late telling everyone that they should always drain the tank at the end of the season but its worth reminding folks before the start of this coming season that it's good practice to always turn the fuel supply off and let the engine die before drawing the dinghy up onto the beach, or if securely tied to the stern of the boat once again stopping the engine through fuel starvation. Incidentally if you don’t already carry out this procedure you will be surprised just how long the engine will keep running on idle or low revs and after a couple of attempts you will get used to turning off the fuel perhaps 50 metres from the beach.

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    Yamalube Carburettor Cleaner is a powerful carburettor cleaner specially developed to eliminate deposits and varnish on butterfly valves, throttle chambers, nozzles, tanks, floats and venturi tubes. Yamalube Carburettor Cleaner reduces fuel consumption whilst increasing engine performance, stabilizes the idle, and improves the engine’s accelerating. It's easy to use and of course full instructions are printed on the aerosol can.


    Two stroke outboard fuel mix is more likely to cause varnish issues however for both two and four stroke petrol engines there are a couple of Quicksilver products that can be added at every fill up. Quicksilver Quickare keeps fuel fresh between every fill up and helps prevent or controls corrosion, gum and varnish build up. Quicksilver Quickleen helps remove carbon deposits from carburettors and injectors, intake valves, spark plugs, piston crowns and cylinder heads it helps prevent engine knocking and piston seize up as well as extending spark plug life.


  • 196. Top Tips Tuesday - Good News! Antifouling Prep Just Got Easier


    We all hate antifouling and the preparation that goes beforehand, however the good news is that it's just got easier, why? Read and inwardly digest and if you have either a large build up of rust on your keel or multiple layers of antifouling you want to remove easily perhaps consider using one or both of the products mentioned just below.

    Removing rust from cast iron keels has always been a soul destroying job however the relatively new to the market Tercoo has made it so much easier. We have first hand experience of how effective the Tercoo tool is, it certainly made my task so much easier when tackling a badly rusted Albin Express keel that we were wanting to get ready for applying fairing filler. Also in our local boatyard the owner of a steel Bruce Roberts thought it was the best thing since sliced bread for preparing the underwater surfaces. As for the other Rob, he has not stopped smiling since he started using the Tercoo for prepping rusted keels!

    Where there are copious coats of antifouling that need to be removed, Peelaway Marine, a new product to the market, looks the business, doing the job in just one application. Peelaway Marine can be used on a wide variety of substrates, grp, wood, metal and ferocrete, however, it works faster in temperatures above five degrees so I haven’t had a test run of it myself yet but word from the yard is that it works well.

    Unsure of what to do next, read our 'Definitive Guide To Antifouling'

  • 195. Top Tips Tuesday - Spectacles,*********, Wallet & Watch


    Last October with Hindsight out the water and safely chocked up in the Corfu boatyard, Jenny and I decided that it would be less hassle if we left the majority of our 'summer clothes' onboard to save us the task of taking them all home and then some seven odd months later bringing them all back again! Great plan we thought as bitter experience, (get the pun?) has taught us that the North East in the height of summer can be and is often a cold, wet and windy place. When out for a Wednesday night race it's often the full monty; base, then mid layer, which are my trusty Musto Goretex salopette and jacket (now in at least their tenth season) topped off with my Gill foulies and my Spinlock Deck Vest Lite. So when some three weeks ago we started getting ready to pack for a non sailing winter break (not at that time on our radar back in October) Gomera an unspoilt Canary Isle was our choice of destinations, last year's cunning plan suddenly and then rapidly started to unravel. Surprise, surprise no shorts for Jenny and precious few tops as well. As for yours truly, all I had in the way of sunshine clothing was a couple of old t-shirts I had purchased at an International 14 European championships in the last century! My shorts?, sadly the UV had done the dirty on two pairs of Musto Fast Dry ones left at home and they were falling apart. What a b****s up, however, with my scruffy moth infested Musto wallet in hand, off we trotted to M&S to hopefully get sorted. Spotted bargain t-shirts for me, reduced to £2-50 each, shorts for Jenny at full price and then that night it was a repair session to my shorts, many thanks to Tear Aid for making it so easy. Clothes packed into the case, along with reading matter but then I realised I had made another b***** up, where were my Gill bi-focal sunglasses and Jenny's Boarding Ring glasses? Why, they were onboard Hindsight in Greece, where else!


    Fast forward to the morning of our flight, by then I had managed to talk Andy into lending me his own Gill bi-focals, great for map reading and as 'normal sun glasses' Jen then sweet talked him into lending her the chandlery's demo Boarding Ring glasses, not only are they brilliant at helping her keep her food down where it belongs when sailing, but as a poor passenger in a car (nowt to do with my driving I hasten to add) they keep her from feeling iccy when on the twisty roads of Gomera! So good are they that they even enabled her to take snaps out of the car window as we ‘hurtled’ down the mountain roads without fear of projectile vomit!


    Having berthed our Channel 31 in San Sebastián harbour for some three years during the Mystery 35 fitting-out we had always enjoyed good weather. Sadly this time, yes we had three good days of sunshine where on the last day of these we got to take the hire car up into the mountains and enjoys the forest walks and afterwards, the superb anchovies in the harbour cafe at Valle Gran Rey.


    However for the next six days which included the remaining two days of car hire it was a bit like being back in the North East, strong cold Northerlies, unfortunately neither of us had base, mid layer or foulies to keep the elements at bay but on the last day I did have (for once on my wrist) my Optimum Time watch to remind me that there was only a few more hours till we caught the ferry from San Sebastián Gomera to Los Christianos Tenerife and then on to the airport!


  • 194. Top Tips Tuesday - Don't take it for granted!


    A first time yacht owner was in the chandlery late November and was complaining that he thought the mainsail he had inherited was badly stretched down the leech as the boom was not clearing the spray hood when it was hoisted up as far as it would go and if he lowered the hood and then sheeted in the sail, a severe crease ran from the clew through the inboard ends of all the batten pockets. Apart from that it was a real sod to hoist! He then started talking about buying a new main to Andy, boss man, who whilst a wizz on all things mechanical and electrical, suggested to him that perhaps once the old git (ie. me) was up and running again after his replacement hip that he brought the offending sail into the loft for evaluation. Well I am back on my feet, even more grumpy if thats possible and here's what I found. Sail was still in fairly good condition for its age, cloth had a bit of 'body' however the bolt rope had shrunk which meant that once it had been cut in the tack area and then the hand stitching at the cunningham hole/reef points unpicked and stretched out, the bolt rope shot up the luff tabling 17cm, which should mean the sail could be hoisted higher up the mast allowing it to clear the hood. The sail slides looked as though they had been lubricated with wheel bearing or stuffing box grease and apart from staining the sail, me-thinks the lubricating properties of this gunge would be zilch! To remove the grease I used the excellent 3m citrus cleaner and we then sent the sail to Hancocks sail laundry for a thorough clean.


    As for the severe crease down the inboard end it would be hard to tell by laying out the sail on the loft floor what the problem was but I think that by putting the battens in the wrong way round ie stiff end first flexible end at the leech, the previous owner wasn't doing the sail any favours!


    Sail slides are always going to be a source of friction, worse still if the main has been constructed with a full length top or top and second batten. As a sensible alternative to grease I can strongly recommend carrying a can of Mclube or Smooth Sail on board. A regular squirt of either will help make hoisting the main an awful lot easier.

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  • 193. Top Tips Tuesday - Old Age, I Hate It!

    Snap Shackles

    I never thought it would happen to me but I have to finally admit that old age is definitely catching up with me. Last night we were eating out and what with the background noise there were times that I was having to ask the lady sitting next to me to repeat herself. Furthermore, earlier this week, whilst attending my regular Tuesday ‘put the world right’ session in my local, I had trouble picking up my first pint, mind you, having spent an hour with needle, left handed palm and whipping twine in the sail loft earlier that day didn’t help, the joy of arthritic hands! As for my other body parts, well the offending hip that had been giving me gyp for the last few years has been sorted, but I blamed the demise of that on my rock and roll lifestyle when I was a teenager! Unfortunately my sail maker's knees, after almost forty odd years on the loft floor, ain’t too brilliant these days, shame I couldn’t have a lubrication nipple fitted to the side of the joint so that first thing in the morning I could squirt some Mclube into the relevant area! However on the plus side, Jenny assures me my good looks haven’t faded and with the fashion for close cropped hairstyles I can get away with being bald as a coot. On the down side, however, my six pack seems these days to be more of a family economy bundle.

    Leather Pull Tags

    On the Mystery some six years ago, in anticipation of not being able to get my leg over (the guard rails) when we finally put her in the water, we fitted stanchion gates on both port and starboard gunwales next to the chain plate/cap shrouds. What I should have done, once we launched her, was to make it a lot easier to grasp the ring pull on the pelican hook. This year when we launch Hindsight she will be fitted with a couple of leather pull tags, likewise for the spinnaker halyard snapshackle. They can be purchased in silver or tan and incidentally, if you are so inclined and wish to customise or ‘pimp’ your boat, you can have them custom printed for a small extra charge! This spring I also intend to fit a couple of our leather chafe protectors over the fork terminals connecting the upper guard rail to the pulpit. As for the leather spreader boots we retail, I will at some stage be the one climbing our mast, but methinks I will wait till my hip joint has fully bedded in before going aloft, maybe add to the 2019 to do list!

    Leather Chafe Protectors

    Whilst on the subject of leather, the other day we exported a couple of our leather steering wheel kits out to Portugal, they trickle out on a regular basis. As for a recommendation, I know my mates Peter and Anita Kassell recovered the wheel on their Oyster Nimrod. Once fitted in place it brought the cockpit back up to scratch!

    Suede Leather Wheel Cover Kit

  • 192. Top Tips Tuesday - Answer To My Prayers


    The trouble with flexible water tanks is that (as far as I know) the only way to gauge how much water is in the tank is to press it with your hand and try and estimate if it's say 1/2 full, more, or less and the issue we have had on both our Channel 31 and now the Mystery 35 is that in both cases the flexible tanks have been in the for'ard cabin under the double berth. Want to check the water level? Well it's a case of stripping down the  berth, lifting up at least three sections of the mattress and after removing the wooden infill, feeling the flexible tank and trying to make an educated (or otherwise) guess and then replacing the wooden infill, mattress sections and of course then struggling to secure the elasticated fitted, cotton bedsheet. Once you have done that in a hot climate, all that you now want is a drink and on our boat I can assure you it's not drinking water!

    IMG_0948      IMG_0949

    Well my prayer was answered the other day as, during recuperation from my hip replacement, bored, sad old me was thumbing through a trade publication and came across the Topargee water gauge. Its now being imported from Australia by the guys who bring into the country those superb high holding power Rocna and Vulcan anchors that we sell so many of. The new H2F-FM Water Tank Gauge now features a larger backlit screen that actually shows the number of litres remaining in your tank, rather than the traditional full/half/empty display. This makes it easy to know your average daily water usage and will help you plan your 'refuelling stop' The good news is the sender is fitted in the hose line and there is nothing fitted to the tank, so for either rigid or flexible tanks it's a win win situation. The Topargee H2 water tank gauge is available for surface or flush mounting, you can chose to display either litres or gallons and the kit comes with a 1.4Mt sender lead, however sender extension leads are available but please note that these leads cannot be cut and joined!



  • 191. Top Tips Tuesday - Stress-free Sailing


    It would be great if all our boating was stress-free, sadly it never seems to happen. However when working on last week’s blog ‘Help is at hand’ over the Christmas holidays and wanting to check something out, I wandered over to Andy’s chandlery book shelves and found this little gem STRESS-FREE SAILING for single and short-handed techniques! With my first mate Jenny having broken her wrist early summer 2017 and the joint only just coming out of plaster before she flew out to Corfu to join me, handling the boat on my own was a completely new ball game. I managed, just, but there were a few scary moments! Sadly, seven months on, her wrist is still very weak as I quickly found out the other week as, after having my hip replacement, putting on my post operative compression stockings was impossible (leg/knee etc swollen so I couldn’t bend my leg to reach my foot). Poor Jenny was struggling to help me and in a lot of pain!

    We drive down to Corfu this coming May for some rest and recreation, by then I hope to have absorbed enough of the book to give both of us stress-free sailing. Loads of pictures and diagrams and includes a QR code to gain access to 21 action videos.


  • 190. Top Tips Tuesday - Help is at a hand

    After over fifty years in the marine trade it still surprises me to come across the occasional yacht that does not have that essential midships mooring cleat. Yes they all have cleats and fairleads that are positioned bow and stern, they do their job, keep the boat parallel/close to the pontoon, jetty or quay but of course are unable to stop any fore and aft movement. Yes you can use the rigging chain plate to take a spring fore and aft but I would worry about the likelihood of chafe and of course with a midship cleat is perfectly placed for arriving alongside and lassoing a cleat on a pontoon.


    Help is at hand if your yacht is fitted with an alloy toe-rail. Unfortunatley it’s not quite a five minute fix but I would be surprised if it would take more than an hour to fit two of the Allen Bros toe rail cleats, (incidentaly they are sold singly). Each cleat comes with the necessary stainless fastenings and the only other item you may need to purchase (unless already in your tool kit) is a tube of Duralac or Tef-Gel to act as a barrier between the alloy toe rail and the stainless fasteners.


    If you don’t have an alloy toe-rail, why not consider a Barton sliding cleat as your mid-ship spring cleat, simply remove a genoa track end stop, slide on the cleat (available to suit 25 and 35mm track) and lock in the appropriate position. When not in use, slide the cleat to one end of the track, or leave off one track end stop permanently to enable easy removal of cleat.


    If you are unlucky enough to have neither an alloy toe-rail or a genoa/jib track in a suitable place you can, of course, drill and bolt through the deck a pair of alloy cleats however you will need a substantial backing plate on the underside of the deck. Methinks epoxy coated ply or an alloy plate bedded down with Sikaflex or similar, however if using the latter don’t forget the barrier paste! Remember of course that if drilling and fastening through the deck, always countersink the fastening hole and fill with sealant!

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