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Marine Supplies, Sailing Products, Helpful Tips, Advice and Reviews

  • 249. Top Tips Tuesday - The Liveaboard Wife

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    The Liveaboard Wife was written by a friend and occasional next door neighbour of ours, who some eight and a half years ago decided he was going to quit the rat race and with his partner, Elaine, sail their Moody 44 Mychi from its berth at the RNYC near Newcastle, down the North Sea, through the Dutch and French canals (sampling the wines on the way) and exiting at Port Napoleon in the Mediterranean. Their final destination, Lefkas marina, being their winter base and Nidri as the ‘base camp’ for their Ionian exploration. Once down there they got quickly ‘sucked into’ the liveaboards scene. His partner Elaine joined a choir, walking group and animal rescue as well as ending up as The Moody Owners Association Mediterranean Captain. Jan, who served his apprenticeship at Vickers Armstrong working on the tools and had in his own words ‘never done anything arty, dramatic or creative’ and had never sung in his life (except when at a Newcastle football match), not to be outdone by Elaine (now his wife) joined a male expat/sailors choir, called the Levkas Shantymen, and much to his own and Elaine’s amazement started to write poetry. He became known as "The Bard of Levkas” and performed regularly at expat functions.

    Apart from his poetry, his choir practice and the occasional concert, Jan found that his past knowledge of running his own steel fabrication/engineering company could be put to good use once again in the Lefkas area. When leisure time permitted, he fabricated, in stainless, the occasional stern gantry, boarding ladders, pushpit and pulpit mods and repairs. Now Jan and Elaine have sailed their Moody back to its home base for a refit and he is rejoining the ‘rat race’ in a very small way, so if you are in the market for a stainless gantry or whatever, he has lots of experience of Med style stern mooring.  Contact  him at www.yachtfab.com I gather distance is no object.

    Jan is too modest to admit it but I have seen him in action, singing with the Lefkas Shantyman and reciting his poetry. He certainly has a certain stage 'presence' so if you want a ‘celebrity’ to ‘do a turn’ at your yacht club, view this clip filmed at Concrete Bills in Nidri, it's best with sound. As for 'Jan the man,' he is the handsome one with the six or is it seven pack dressed in black (just like Johnny Cash) on the right!

    Having now 'completed' almost two full seasons of my semi retirement and having seen first hand what skippers wives/girlfriends/mistresses and Jenny put up with, I thought that maybe those skippers who are so demanding may be interested in the following products which will/should make life on board a little bit easier for their 'Liveaboard Wife'.

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    • Always ready to use. 
    • No loading, messenger or guide lines. 
    • Use the your real mooring line directly. 
    • Works as a ordinary boat hook when the hook head is in its locked position. 
    • Made in glass fibre reinforced nylon and extruded aluminium.

    Stern mooring in the Ionian can be great spectator sport for the crews that arrive early and are sitting at the quayside taverna bar watching beginners, (like me and Jenny) some of the bare boat charter crews and a fair number if not most of the Italians, who ‘park’ like they drive! Often on the quay there is a friendly soul to take your stern lines. However, if the wind is up and a cross current running, say at Preveza town quay, the ‘helping hand’ ready to catch your lines can have a habit of vanishing at the critical time. The Robship Hook and Moor boathook may help save your skipper's face or, quelle surprise, him having to raise his voice as once again he (not the faithful Liveaboard Wife) gets it wrong. The Mystery 35 that Jenny and I sail is tiller steered and if you let go of the tiller when going astern, unlike a wheel it will immediately kick like a mule to port or starboard depending on what kind of mood it’s in. So my 'two month at a time Liveaboard Wife’ is reluctant to steer Hindsight in reverse. Consequently at times life can get a little hectic in so much as said wife Jenny must pay out the rode after ensuring the anchor is firmly dug in (thank goodness it’s a new generation Vulcan anchor, sister to the Rocna that digs in fast)  She must ensure sufficient chain is paid out so that the stern almost reaches the quay but not so much that the bow falls away and you end up sideways. For her then it's a mad dash to the stern to throw the line ashore to hopefully a clued up bystander. Skipper, of course, is doing nothing apart from clenching the tiller firmly between both hands and issuing instructions. Should the quayside line catcher disappear at the critical moment or was never there in the first place the first thing the 'Liveaboard wife' must do is get a stern linethrough the mooring ring and back to the boat in double quick time. This superb Hook & Moor boathook will extend to three metres if we are ‘short’ of the quay. It's so clever that it can thread a line through a ring or hollow cleat like magic. It has a rubber handle for a good secure grip however if it does go overboard in the heat of the moment it will float. It weighs just over a kilo, retracts to only 115cm is easy to stow and apart from that it doesn’t shout!

    For the price of approx 2 bottles of cheaper gin there is another intelligent boat hook or line feeder which goes by the name of ‘Catching’. It has almost all the bells and whistles as the Robship Hook & Moor, in fact you can get the price down low to that of a really good craft gin if you buy only the singing and dancing head and fit that to your old boathook!

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    The importers of the Catching Boathook and Line Feeder comment ‘this is the best line-reever we’ve seen. It’s really tough and solid. In our humble opinion, it leaves all other line-reevers and mooring devices in its wake!’ I haven’t tried this make in anger, only played with it in the chandlery and yes it seems to do all that asked of it!

    Now that the boat is safely moored up and she has her five parts gin, one part tonic and one part ice, where is she going to find a comfortable place to relax in the cockpit cos the halyard bags c/w halyard tails dig in her back, likewise the cockpit coaming locker catches, remind me whose bright idea was it to fit teak slats to the cockpit seats and as for the mainsheet traveller that’s literally a pain in the butt when you’ve company aboard! If the drink doesn’t help her get comfortable, throw her a Freebag but only after you have brought your own tipple up from down below. The Freebag can be described as ‘instant comfort abroad,’ originally developed by a Norwegian yachtsman to increase comfort and endurance on long voyages in rough waters. The Freebag today is commonly used by people trying to find comfortable and relaxing positions in boats or on, in our case, the rocky beaches of The Ionian. The Freebag boat cushion incorporates a patented design and is a lightweight, multifunctional water repellent cushion/bag and if she ever happens to nudge the skipper overboard in a hot moment, you could always take pity on him after he has cooled off and throw him his, (shame to get yours wet) cos they float!

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    When we were fitting out the Mystery, all those years ago in a rash moment I decided to upgrade from the size of the winches that were fitted as standard on the factory fit out boats. This was in the hope that Jenny would be able to winch me to the top of the mast if the occasion demanded. Whilst she is now keeping the spectre of ‘bingo wings’ (see blog no.244) at bay with regular trips to the gym she does feel that perhaps it would be a good idea to invest in an Ewincher and then she wouldn’t have to raise a sweat whilst hoisting me up the mast! She also pointed out that even though we don’t race Hindsight, it has become very apparent over the last two seasons that if another yacht seems to be catching us up or getting away from us immediate sail trim is called for and a fast tack or two becomes a matter of life and death!

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    Whilst Jen is more than capable of steering the Mystery on the wind in flat water when it’s a force 4 or above in a lumpy bash to windward it's yours truly on the tiller and she has to provide the grunt to these 'oversize  winches which because of the narrow sheeting angle double up as sheet winches! Why not electric winches I hear some folks say, well with a powered winch, a inexperienced crew on the button if you’re being hoisted up the mast, hit a snag and your foot gets stuck where the lower shroud(s) intersect the mast it ‘does not let the winch hand know’, likewise I have seen a clew pulled out of a genoa by an ‘enthusiastic’ crew member! With the Ewincher you will feel it through your hand and unlike an electric winch you can set up a torque limit directly from their mobile app.

  • 247. Top Tips Tuesday - Blade Runner

    Blade Runner, the film, was released to the public in 1982 and is set very conveniently in the year 2019 (believe it or not I have been waiting to use the name of the film since I started my TTT blogs many years ago) Director Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, just across the river Tyne from my favourite pub the Low Lights, and like me managed only one O level. I wondered if he found that skiving off school to go messing about in boats was more attractive than schoolwork? In the film Blade Runner, ex detective Rick Deckard is called out of retirement to track down and eliminate a team of humanoid androids that have escaped. Up on planet Newcastle today, February the 12th 2019, the boss of www.marinechandlery.com Andy Burgess has been asked to track down the missing blade which has done a runner, boom boom! Does he fail to complete his mission or does he pass with flying colours and track a replacement down? Only time will tell.

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    If you take a wander round your local boatyard and stick your head down low you will be surprised with the number of both powerboats and yachts that have been lifted out with little or no anode(s) left on the backing plate! If the anode is not doing its job for whatever reason, earth wire broken, been painted over, fallen off or just wasted away, failing to keep an eye on the anode(s) can lead to some very expensive repair bills. Whilst a replacement two bladed prop can be had from around three hundred pounds a rebuilt stern drive for a powerboat or sail drive, what with parts labour, lift out/in can run into thousands. A sinking through the failure of a skin fitting, apart from the danger of loss of life may be hundreds of thousands. I have seen an aluminium yacht salvaged from the seabed and the hull reminded me of a colander, what happened to the cathodic protection?

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    Sacrificial anodes are supposed to do what they say on the box ie sacrifice themselves whilst protecting the superior metal, however for me to even try to attempt to explain this ‘black art’ would be like me trying to explain the theory of relativity to Jenny!

    However our very good friends at M.G.Duff advise us that Cathodic protection is an electrochemical process which halts the natural reaction (corrosion) of metals in a particular environment by superimposing an electrochemical cell more powerful than the corrosion cell.

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    Sacrificial Anodes are fitted or bonded to the metal to be protected, this results in an electrical potential difference and the metal becomes cathodic causing the sacrificial anode to waste instead. In a correctly installed MGDUFF Cathodic Protection System corrosion only occurs to the sacrificial anode which is replaceable. The number and size of anodes is determined by the type of material and the surface area being protected. Several factors determine the type of cathodic protection system fitted. Firstly the environment in which the vessel is operating, secondly the size and type of construction and finally the length of time that the vessel is likely to be afloat before the next maintenance slipping.

    I knew that you could use either zinc plated or stainless 316 bolts however I didn’t realise that bilge water could cause a problem, stainless bolts will place more of a demand on the anode than zinc plated but this is not a problem. With a stainless bolt it is normally easier to undo the nut to change the anodes as the end of the season. It is extremely important to ensure no bilge water is allowed to wet the bonding connection on the inside of the boat, whether stainless or zinc plated the bonding cable may start to corrode and develop high resistance. Make sure you cover the connection with Lanocote or similar to protect the connection. If you have a boat be it yacht or power and you do have an issue with water in the bilge it makes sense to use zinc plated bolts. If you are like me and need to work to a list spend a couple of minutes reading the MGDuff preseason checklist :

    1. Check you are using genuine MGDuff anodes
    2. Check that your anodes will last for the duration of the forthcoming season. Renew if more that 50% wasted
    3. Check that your anodes are surely fastened, the fixing blots, nuts and washers are tight
    4. Check all internal bonding to ensure that the connections are clean and the cable is clipped up where necessary. if you have an MGDuff electro eliminatorcheck that the springs are sound and it is positioned so that the brushes are in contact with the shaft.
    5. Check that you are fitting the correct anode material for the waters you are in i.e.
      • Salt water = Zinc 
      • Brackish Water = Aluminium
      • Fresh Water = Magnesium
    6. When fitting a new anode you should also replace the serrated fan disc washers under the nuts and change the backing sheet on wood and GRP hulls. Exposed fixing studs, nuts and washers should be well greased or painted after assembly

    Andy, being a bit like our hero the detective Rick Deckard (note the 'nautical' name) did manage to track down a replacement so the story does have a happy ending!

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  • 246. Top Tips Tuesday - Brace Yourself!

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    It’s a bit of a topical title, as the lovely Claire Green (she who used to run the chandlery clothing department and for the last few years has used her IT expertise to put together the ramblings of a grumpy old git into a presentable blog) is due to give birth on the 13th of February! For once I thought I would get ahead of the game by preparing this one in advance, just in case the new edition to the Green family came early! For my wife Jenny it was a case of brace yourself when we were cruising in Greece last autumn and ended up in the middle of some rather nasty weather. This has been described by some as a Medicane, sometimes referred to as a tropical hurricane. For the first customer who bought a Rocna from us back in 2010 for his Moody it was an instruction that he shouted to the guy on the windlass the second time it was deployed, his new anchor dug in so fast the first time it was used in anger it nearly sent that foredeck hand over the pulpit!

    Grateful thanks to Jake Kavanagh for allowing us to use the above cartoon.

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    As for Jenny and I we had been tracking, with growing concern, the weather that was predicted to hit us around the 28th of September and decided to make our way up past Nidri and find what we hoped would be a secure and safe anchorage in Vliho bay. The morning before the bad weather was due to hit we anchored in 5 mtrs of water, our anchorbeing a Vulcan (same designer same superb holding power as a Rocna) let 40mtrs of chain out and hooked up our 18mm octoplait snubber using 7mtrs in length to help take the shock out of an all chain rode. During the day as the wind started to rise we dismantled the bimini, removed the outboard from the inflatable and took the cruising chute, code zero and gang plank down below to reduce windage over the deck (the Mystery doesn’t have the large cockpit lockers that a lot of cruisers have).

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    Sadly I didn’t deflate the dinghy and bring it onboard but as it’s always stored on the foredeck I was concerned that it would be a windage issue if the s…t hit the fan! Finally 8 fenders were deployed around the topsides, with our large ball fender ready close to the mast if we ended up with a visitor alongside.

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    Whilst Jen was making some sandwiches and dug out the flask to give us a source of hot drinks later, I sneaked a quick look at Happy Hooking by Alex & Daria Blackwell, their excellent book on anchoring technique, and concluded that if we had room to swing (which we did have) it would be sensible to let some more chain out and increase the length of the snubber, so we ended up with a ratio of 10-1 ie 50 mtrs.  Later in the afternoon we spotted a rather large charter cat (height and windage of a double decker bus) slowly drifting down on us with no sign of life on board. Out came the fog horn but no response. Just as the stern cockpit got within 2 mtrs of our pulpit and each hull almost level with our bows help arrived in the form of the Sailing Holidays rib with one of their instructors onboard and a couple from Carlisle, customers of my old company back in Newcastle. Dave & Karen had seen our predicament and rang the Sailing holiday base at the Iris pontoon, they boarded the cat and managed to pull it away from our bows; thanks once again guys! I believe it then took them something like eight or so attempts to get the charter cat's anchor to hold! Text and WhatsApp messages were starting to come through of a sinking in the Lefkas canal and the nearby marina was 'closed’ for boat movements.

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    By eight that evening as the wind was still increasing, it was a case of on with our baseand mid layers followed by full foul weather gear and then our Spinlock lifejackets with safety lines ready to deploy. Handheld Standard Horizon VHF in the cockpit plus our powerful rechargeable spotlight and a couple of waterproof LED torches. Ready for anything, or so we thought. It was then I decided that I would try and get a little shut eye before the wind peaked. Ten minutes later a mighty shriek up on deck from Jen as the spotlight which had been secured, or so we thought, shot across the cockpit as the boat heeled right over. Back on deck it quickly became apparent that no sleep was going to be possible as Hindsight was now being thrown sideways, and veering wildly. Later that night, when the wind was at its worst, the Avon dinghy, which had already been flipped over and back probably seven or eight times, decided this time it would try and join us in the cockpit! At least three yachts to windward of us that we could just make out in the pitch black were dragging and our searchlight was constantly being used to warn those whom we felt were getting close. Apparently the crew on one of the 'drifters' made ten attempts to reset his hook and the talk at the Vliho yacht club three days later was that up to 30 boats had dragged. Others that had abandoned the pontoon on the lee shore opposite Tranquil Bay and the quay at Nidri spent the night motoring round and round, unable to get their anchorsto hold.

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    As we have a retractable bowsprit on the Mystery to use with the cruising shute and the light wind code zero, we could not go down the Rocna route as the roll bar would 'clash' with the sprit, instead we went for the Vulcan which like the Rocna was designed by Peter Smith. The Vulcan has no roll bar but features a  unique combination of shank and fluke geometry which, in conjunction with a roll palm at the rear of the fluke, self rights. As for its holding power, one word for that: magnificent!

    Due to the holding power of the new generation anchors such as the Vulcan, Rocna, Manson as compared to old faithfulls, the Blackwells do feel that in certain anchorages the description of the holding ground perhaps should be altered, see their comments below!

    "We are converts to the new generation scoop-type anchors and have retired our CQR as well as our Admiralty-type anchors from active duty. No, it is no longer about a weight on a rope. The new generation of anchors represent significant advances in anchor technology and engineering.

    In fact, we're so convinced that we are intending to help re-write many of the cruising guides. Where anchorages are rated as having poor holding, we believe they may have been rated with inferior anchors, as we have often found the holding to be good. So if your anchor is not holding as well as you might like, consider your options. The insurance of having a good modern anchor may just let you sleep peacefully through the night secure in your chosen anchorage".

  • 245. Top Tips Tuesday - Not Fade Away

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    Those of my avid readers who are of a similar, or perhaps older, age than yours truly may remember a Buddy Holly record, which he recorded in Clovis New Mexico in 1957. Believe it or not it featured drummer Jerry Allison pounding out the beat on a cardboard box!  The song was covered by the Rolling Stones in 1964 and was a major hit in the UK. No cardboard box this time instead it had a strong Bo Diddley beat. Other artists who have also covered the song include Rush & Tanya Tucker! The Grateful Dead to the best of my knowledge didn’t record it they however first played Not Fade Away on June 19th 1968 and subsequently performed it more than 600 times before the group disbanded.

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    Not Fade Away is the title of a book by John Gribbin about the life and music of Buddy Holly, its also the title of a book by Alan Heek, its subject matter is staying happy when you’re over 64!  "Wonder if it will keep the over seventies happy" I hear Jenny say. Having said that I was happy with the way that the old RS400 I bought the other week (to help me regain my youth), scrubbed up!

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     Buy a new yacht or powerboat with a gelcoat in a majestic dark blue, racey red, carbon black or even British Racing Green and yes it will look superb in the showroom or straight out of the box. However, five, ten, fifteen or maybe twenty years down the line will it still look as 'smart' as a white hull which has also not been polished on a regular basis? The Mystery 35 with classic lines drawn by Stephen Jones, was originally built by Hunter Boats, then Select and finally Cornish Crabber, and  has, with only two exceptions, been moulded with a dark blue gelcoat. In that colour they do look superb but as mine and Jen’s end game, once we had finished fitting her out, was to keep Hindsight in sunny climates I was that second person to break the mould and go for a light colour; pale grey with a red waterline band painted in two pack polyurethane (two pack paint in bright colours tend to retain their colour much better). When I was a boy I can still remember my father regularly polishing his Morris Oxford and his next car a Riley 4/68. However these days it's rare to see people washing their cars on the front drive, never mind polishing them, perhaps that’s why an awful lot of folks (not our readers I hasten to add) don’t polish their boats on a regular basis! Unlike the paint finish on a car, a gelcoat finish does need regular attention to keep it looking smart and, more importantly, protecting the resale value. At least once a year you should give it a treat and use a good quality polish to maintain its looks, my preference is Meguiar’s Premium Marine Wax. If there is a little light oxidation, the surface is slightly ‘chalky’ (run your finger over the surface and it comes away with a deposit on it) their Color Restorer is the one to use followed by at least one coat, preferably two applications of the Premium Wax. Meguiar’s Oxidation Remover is a heavy duty cleaner which safely removes moderate oxidation, waterspots and scratches from gelcoat surfaces. It restores colour adding brilliant shine and gloss, once again finish off with the Premium Marine Wax polish to lock the colour and gloss in.

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    My recently acquired old RS400 was given the ‘oxidation’ treatment followed by the polish. If the gelcoat is as bad as the Beneteau pictured above it may well come up looking better if first you rub it down with something like 800 grit wet and dry then, as 3M suggest, finish sanding with 1500-grit as its easier to buff out a fine grit scratch. When wet sanding by hand, soak the abrasive paper in a bucket, if using a machine you can wet the surface using an old household spray bottle but add a couple of drops of washing up liquid to the water to keep the gelcoat surface and the grit lubricated. Beware of corners and the edge of the topsides as gelcoat is often thinnest there. Once you have an even matt surface, follow it up with Meguiar's colour restorer and then polish. If you have a coloured gelcoat such as dark blue, red etc and keep your boat in a sunny place, there is much to be said for purchasing a sun shade to protect the gelcoat, its initial outlay is soon offset by the protection it gives against fading!

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    Gelcoat staining as a result of the boat being used on waters that have a high concentration of peat such as Kielder water or Loch Lomond or berthed/used on a river that is discoloured can, with a very little elbow grease, ‘change colour.’ By using an excellent stain remover called Y10. This product is an oxalic acid based paste that you brush on, leave for 10 minutes and wash off. The effect is dramatic as can be seen when it's been applied to the bows of this classic Contessa 32.

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     Finally, if you want to take the easy route, why not consider buying a dual action polisher like the Shurhold, a professional grade machine designed for the novice! Not cheap, however I bought mine some 10 years ago and it's still going strong. It has helped keep both my previous yacht, the Channel 31, and my current boat free from the ravages of the Canarian/Greek sun! If you don't want to purchase outright a good quality polisher, perhaps check out your local hire shop, with polishers speed isn’t everything so using a high speed electric drill and polishing pad is an invitation to possible gel coat damage!

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  • 244. Top Tips Tuesday - Bingo Wings

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    With my next birthday rapidly approaching, my better half suggested that, as I had decided to turn the clock back by at least twenty years by purchasing an elderly RS 400 dinghy to club race in a local early spring series before switching to sedate cruising in the Mystery mid May, it might be sensible to exercise my stomach muscles in the gym instead of down at the pub on a Tuesday night! Furthermore it might be an idea to also work on my calf muscles, as the last time I had hiked a Flying 15 in earnest was a fair few years ago and I had difficulty walking the next day. That was not because I slipped on the ice whilst getting the boat ready to compete in the RNYC winter series!

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    Never one to disobey Jenny, this past Saturday saw me 'enjoying' a conducted tour of a gym which I am glad to say has a close association with a hospital who last year fitted me with a new hip and now say......go dinghy racing if you so desire! After seeing the facilities and casually noting that I would not be the oldest if I joined, I then signed up, closely followed by she who shall be obeyed at all times signing also on the dotted line. Questioning her on the drive home I asked her why she should take such a rash step, she muttered under her breath something about bingo wings. "Strange expression that" I said, “enlighten me.” It's believed to have originated in Australia (where else) where a lady's upper arm, through a slight lack of muscle tone, can wobble around like wings as she waves her winning bingo ticket in the excitement at having won. Jenny felt, last year, that whilst she was happy tiller steering, not wheel I hasten to add, the Mystery on the wind under full sail in up to a force four, winching in the 110% jib was starting to get beyond her, never mind hoisting me up the mast! Being the sympathetic sod that I am, I assured her that her upper arms were just as well toned as the day that I first set eyes on her across the beach at Tynemouth sailing club in 1969, but perhaps we should consider a very early combined birthday/Christmas present for her of an EWINCHER powered winch handle and if we did that we could cancel her gym membership within the 'cooling off period' they offered us thus saving us money which would be set against its purchase! As for bingo wings, she should keep them at bay by helping me hand polish the topsides, never mind rubbing down the antifouling.

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    Why not go down the powered electric winches route I hear one or two folks say. Well for the Mystery there is, firstly, their location as the sheeting angle of the genoa is fairly close to the centreline and the Andersen winches that are fitted are mounted on the cabin coach roof and thus  a winch motor would protrude into and through the headlining! Secondly if you do your sums and work out the cost of retrofitting a couple of sheet winches say Lewmar 40 self trailers at a discounted price of £2250-00 each plus the relay, switches, heavy duty cabling etc which then adds another £250-00 and then if you then get a boatyard to do the work you probably wouldn’t get much change out of £3000-00 per winch. Go down the ‘Anderson route’ and the discounted price of a single similar size winch jumps to £3500-00 before the add on(s). However assuming you can upgrade your winch, ie fit a motor/gearbox, a conversion kit will still cost you around two grand. For example a Lewmar 40 conversion kit for a single winch will set you back £1800-00 plus cabling etc and boatyard charges and don’t forget you will need two kits unless you want to sail on one particular tack for the rest of your life!

    The beauty of an EWINCHER is that you only have to buy one to service all your winches, be it for sending a super slim me (after three months in the gym) up the mast, for hoisting the main, trimming the cruising chute and of course sheeting in the the jib. I gather that if your windlass fails it will even help recover your Rocna.

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    • It’s very easy to handle and insert into the winch socket, thanks to its ideal ergonomic design and very light weight (2.2 kg)
    • The electric assistance is easy to use, with all the controls located on the hand grip, allowing you to keep winching as you normally would, but with the addition of considerable torque (80 Nm) while ensuring precision (15 to 80 rpm). You maintain the feeling of winching while considerably reducing the physical effort involved.
    • You can use the assisted or non-assisted mode, or both at once, to ensure maximum precision all while maintaining the feeling of winching. You can use the ewincher as a manual handle at any time.
    • It’s always in the ideal position to limit your effort.
    • The removable, rechargeable battery lasts a very long time
    • Waterproof

  • 243. Top Tips Tuesday - Lubrication For Dry January

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    I have it on good medical advice that a 'dry January' is not only good for your health but also for your wealth, maybe it will leave you a little smug as others fall by the wayside! As for me, well as I 'blog away' it's with one eye on the clock as at twenty past nine tonight I will take a ten minute brisk walk down to my favourite pub, the Low Lights on the fish quay in North Shields, (believed to be over 400 years as an ale house) and sit with two or three fellows sailors of a similar age whilst downing a couple of pints of draught Bass drawn from the hand pump. So good is the Bass at the Lowlights that twice a year the sales director of Seago (he who is based in deepest Wales) after twisting boss man Andy's hand into buying even more Liros rope, life jackets, life rafts and other safety equipment insists on buying him a pie and a pint in the evening . Simon Thomas, as we in the marine trade all know, has his faults, including passionately following the fortunes of the Welsh RFU team but in his defence he certainly knows a good pint, sadly my boss only drinks lager, so lucky me gets to tag along to keep the Welshman company. However whatever your take on dry January now is the time to check up on your boat lubrication and if your tool kit looks thirsty...

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    Not the cheapest, however Team Mclube Sailkote dry film non staining product is in my/our riggers opinion the best high performance lubricant available in the marine market. As it says on the tin 'for everything that slides'. It's clean, dry and easy to use. It's long lasting, won't wash out and it repels water, dirt, salt and other contaminants. An essential product for a yachtsman or power boat enthusiast's tool kit. For ball bearing blocks, travellers etc Team Mclube One Drop is a superb ball bearing conditioner, only one drop is needed to keep bearings rolling freely, it helps kees them dirt-free and it stop bearings from skidding! I used it on an elderly Oyster mast which had Harken cars at the inboard ends of the batten pockets and the results were dramatic.

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    Smooth Sail is a liquid engineered sail and track lubrication. It's great value and comes in a 500ml trigger spray container. It is environmentally friendly with no aerosol propellants, solvents or toxic chemicals. Use for fast and easy sail hoists, mainsail slides run freely and for those racers that change headsail, seconds can be found with quicker sail changes. Drops and reefing are faster and smoother through reduced friction. A great product to keep in your boat's tool kit.

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    Harken Grease is a high performance white grease. It's formula is designed so as to optimise winch performance and it has outstanding anti-wear properties. If your self tailing or standard winches are manufactured by Harken, for service information go online to www.harken.com, likewise respectively for Andersen or Lewmar. Word of warning however, never ever use grease on the pawls! Pawl oil whatever the make is the correct lubricant and please only a tiny amount, its purpose is to lubricate pawls and springs to improve rotation.

    K99 is not a dog food but an economical water resistant grease perfect for those boats that have conventional stern tubes. Other uses include trailer hubs/wheel bearing lubrication for units that are subject to immersion. It can also be using as a general purpose lubricant around the house and garage. Sold in a 500gm tub the contents can be easily dispensed into a grease gun If required.

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    Quicksilver High Performance Gearlube is for use on on all lower units on outboards and all stern drives. It's the most recommended OEM marine gear lube on the market. It provides proper corrosion protection and lubrication for marine gear cases not found in automotive based products. This gear lube of course provides maximum protection against water intrusion. It's sold in any easily dispensed tube containing 8fl oz.

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    Blakes Seacock grease is a superb water resistant grease which is not only our recommended lubricant for this particular make of quality valve but all metal seacocks be they manufactured from brass, DZR or bronze. For the Lloyds approved Marelon valves the grease to use for lubrication is Lanocote. As well as insuring your composite valves operate freely it's a great product to prevent thread 'freeze up' on rigging screws. By using Lanocote as a barrier between dissimilar metals it will help prevent electrolysis and as a sealer its great for porous surfaces, perhaps sealing an elongated stitch hole in a sprayhood?

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    Snap stick is the perfect easy to dispense lubricant for applying to zips on sprayhood and cockpit canopies (especially useful where the zip is subject to straining such as going round a sharp curve). It's great for both plastic and metal zippers, snap fastenings, slides and locks on canvas. Snap Stick protects for up to three months in one application, it's non toxic, bio-degradable and of course it protects against corrosion.

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    A couple of 'old favourite' lubricants that are found in most tool kits are WD 40 & 3 in 1 oil.  In case you have forgotten WD-40 is an excellent cleaner as well as a protector. Perfect for loosening rusted parts and of course tackling that annoying squeak, banish it with a little squirt and sleep easier at night  3 in 1 oil, described on the container as a toolkit in a can, has hundreds of uses. It's a specially formulated lubricant with a spout applicator for precision. Handy to know for that sailing club 'pub quiz' is that its manufactured for the guys at the WD-40 company!

    Having read through all that why not go off and enjoy that well earned drink, cheers!

  • 242. Top Tips Tuesday - What Lurks Round The Bend?

    What lurks round the bend, and no it's not an effort on my behalf to attempt some toilet humour however... what’s that saying, ‘out of sight out of mind.’ How many times over the last few years have I blogged that if you haven't lifted your mast out recently or you have no intention of lifting it out with spring only three months away (four if you live up North like us hardy Northerners) you ought to dust off your pitons get your climbing boots out the cupboard and get up that stick?! However, before you climb, spend a few minutes reading the Spinlock guide to ascending masts. However in our humble opinion do not go up on one halyard always two. Assuming you’re going to do the climb it’s surprising what you can find up there. If, however, the boatyard or your insurance insist the mast comes out when you winter ashore, set aside an hour to give it a good look over. Once satisfied everything is hunky dory don’t forget to give it a good polish with Yachticon aluminium polish. Our blog 'Spars & Rigging' posted early last year will give you an idea or two of what to look out for.

    Apart from the usual opaque lens, damaged wiring through UV degredation or chafe, wobbly brackets due to missing or poor quality fasteners, forestays with damaged strands I once found a fish, sadly I hadn’t taken my mobile up with me to record this fishy tale, but I did bring this tiddler back down to deck level for the owner to see. Charlie then assured me that he had never had the mast in the water knockdown whilst Trinity has been in his ownership!

    As I mentioned I did make the mistake of not taking a mobile phone or camera up that time with me to record any potential issues, however if climbing with a mobile as against a digital camera don’t forget to stick it in one of those superb Gooper bags not only are they 100% waterproof and touch friendly but they are supplied with a strong lanyard!

    If you think you have an issue in a hard to reach place, say in the bilges, behind a bulkhead, an image that you have captured and you can view after you have extracted yourself from a place that you never thought you could get into can be a Godsend. Perhaps take a Freebag Pro with you as well as the camera/phone, resting on one can make the unbearable bearable.

    A longtime customer of ours with a elderly, but, in my opinion superbly maintained H Rassy bought the 90 degree copper pipe (see headline image) fitting into the chandlery some months ago. This was a few weeks later after he had purchased from us a replacement DZR ball valve. Water was making its way into the bilge; he suspected the valve, duly changed it but still this liquid kept appearing. Eventually it was traced to one of the cockpit drains. Lesson to be learnt, always dip your finger in the ‘water’ and check if it’s salt water or fresh, however beware if you have a dog onboard as Jan, a friend and good customer  of ours, found out to his cost earlier this summer!

  • 241. Top Tips Tuesday - Out With The Old, In With The New

    For a good few years we have been singing the praises of Grotamar, the diesel fuel additive that helps prevent the dreaded diesel bug. We first mentioned this product back in my blog of October 2010 and since then we have used it ourselves on our own craft and sold it to a variety of users like the local truck service centres, domestic central heating oil suppliers and a number of farmers as well as scores of powerboat and sailboat owners. We were, I must confess as they say in footballing terms, ‘gutted’ when the importers of this product advised us that it would no longer be available for retail sale in the UK.

    November in Amsterdam for a lot of the marine trade means METS, and to this huge Marine  European Trade Show (almost 16,000 exhibitors from all over the world) went our commander in chief Andy armed with a load of missions including ‘find a replacement for that excellent product Grotamar’ After three hard days of foot slogging and the occasional Amstel in the evening he once again landed on these shores, this time with his passport, wallet and loads of technical leaflets with him,  but that’s another story. Marine 16 Ltd was a company that caught his eye and it’s a British company to boot, which makes a pleasant change. They have, in their own words, been ‘bringing the most comprehensive range of fuel treatments on today’s markets.’ Yes I had heard of them and they had an excellent comparable product to Grotamar according to Practical Boat Owner but as the saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke don't fix it’ so we never stocked it. Well with our supplies of Grotamar now well and truly dried up, we are now stocking the complete range of Marine 16’s diesel fuel products. Incidentally the guys at Marine 16 are ‘proud to supply the RNLI’ what better recommendation do you need!

    If you are confident that your fuel is ‘bug’ free Diesel Fuel Complete is the additive to use. The important benefits from using this maintenance product are:-

     

    • Stops diesel bug
    • Cleans injectors and filters
    • Fuel complete bottle
    • Protects fuel pumps
    • Contains antifoam
    • Demulsifies water from fuel
    • Increases cetane rating
    • Gives easier starting
    • Improves fuel consumption
    • Reduces smoking

     

    If you think your diesel fuel supply may have an issue with the dreaded bug, we do sell at a very reasonable cost a Marine 16 Ltd Diesel Bug Testing Kit and can be used to check for microbial contamination of diesel fuels in boats, storage tanks, home heating fuels etc. It is easy to use and can of course put your mind at rest if you think your fuel is dodgy!

    Diesel Bug is the boating name given to the organisms that forms slime in diesel fuels. Diesel bugs are, in fact, microbial organisms and come in three main varieties where fuel spoilage is concerned. There is bacteria, yeasts & moulds in case you were ever asked at a sailing club quiz night! They feed on water, hydrocarbons and nutrients in the fuel and, if present, form a slime in the fuel and on the sides of the tank which, when disturbed, such as in rough seas, blocks fuel filters which often leads to engine failure. Regular users of Grotamar will be delighted to learn that Marine 16 has the same active ingredient and not surprisingly, produced very similar results and in a Practical Boat Owner test conducted some months ago Marine 16 performed as well and slightly better in filtration test results. In the PBO decontamination trial it gave a complete kill after just three hours and came top of the list  for filterability. Marine 16 not only prevented microbial growth but killed inoculated microbes to below detectable limits after 14 days.

    You may ask how does the dreaded diesel bug grows? Well its impossible to prevent microbes entering fuel tanks and systems however the presence of water is a key factor in determining the rate and extent  of microbial growth so to help prevent Diesel Bug we would suggest investing in the brilliant Mr Funnel. Not only will it prevent dirt and debris entering the tank but its built in filter is so clever that it does not allow any water present in the fuel to pass through! What Mr Funnel cannot do though is stop condensation, so don’t forget to keep your tanks topped up, especially in winter!

     

  • 240. Top Tips Tuesday - Whodunnit?

    The other month, August the 7th to be precise, I was called down to our local boatyard on the river Tyne to have a look at a furling system that a customer had an issue with, I signed in, grabbed a key fob for the security gate and entered the yard. Once in the yard some three or four hundred yards away I thought I could see a hi-tech racing yacht minus its keel sheltering under a temporary structure . Being a nosey sort of guy I decided that a closer inspection was the order of the day and lets forget about inspecting the suspect furling system for the time being. Well, as I got closer, it became apparent that this 'state of the art flying machine' had never set sail nor was ever likely to be launched, on closer inspection it quickly became apparent that it was a mock up of a hull and lying next to it were a couple of shafts and plastic propellers!

    After my initial interest faded I did the necessary inspection on the furling system(condemned it!) exited the boatyard, handed my key fob back to the office and asked the question,” What is it?” Apparently it was a prop for the TV detective Vera series and, if you are like me not a telly watcher, let me enlighten you. Vera is a British crime drama series based on novels of the same name, written by crime writer Ann Cleeves. It was first broadcast on ITV on 1 May 2011, and up till then I have missed all eight series! I have read that it stars Brenda Blethyn as the principal character, Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. Vera is a middle-aged employee of the fictional Northumberland & City Police, who is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. She plods along in a constantly dishevelled state, but has a calculating mind and, despite her irascible personality, she cares deeply about her work and comrades. Bit like me I hear Jenny say!

    Since that sighting of the 'boat' I have managed to watch an episode of Vera, enjoyed spotting local landmarks in some of the more obscure locations, but as my boss Andy says and he is a great fan of the series, “some of the accents need a little bit of polish.” However not the kind you put on the topsides! As I wrote above, Andy is a great fan of Vera and if there had been a Christmas special of this program no doubt he would be (assuming his two girls are tucked up in bed) sprawled out in front of the telly with a tumbler of Jack Daniels in his hand. Speaking of Christmas my boss sends his Christmas greetings and the compliments of the year as do I and all the members of staff. Thanks for supporting us through an uncertain year and we look forward to being of service in 2019. As for Vera’s racing machine apparently we will be seeing it on our screens in 2019.

  • 239. Top Tips Tuesday - Banish Xmas Boat Yard Blues

    This year we have pulled together our  'Top Tips Tuesday's Top Christmas Picks' to create a series packed full of Christmas gift inspiration. Just follow the links below to see what we have on our 'Christmas List' this year...

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 1

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 2

    Stocking Fillers

    More Nautical Gift Ideas

    Banish Xmas Boat Yard Blues

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