Marine Chandlery

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

  • 385. Push and play!

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    As regular readers of my ‘pearls of wisdom’, or bulls..t as my dearly beloved has been known to say, will know, ‘I have always been West System's no 1 fan of their 'G/Flex epoxy’ ever since Colin the West technical sales rep showed me how he had saved himself a truck load of money by repairing his car key* (mind you as a canny Scotsman like myself why spend a fortune replacing the damaged key when you can repair it see my blog 286). I have elderly West 655 tooth paste size tubes of resin & hardener thickened epoxy kit in my man cave at mon repos, likewise another ‘set’ out on our Mystery 35 at Lefkas, It’s appeal? Such a versatile epoxy able to glue, with the correct preparation, almost any substrate, including what used to be hard to glue plastics! Now it's available in a ‘no measuring’ handy, easy to use dispenser! Perfect for those small bonding jobs where you would (if you’re like me) mix three or four times what you would need and dispose of the surplus! Bigger projects no worries go down the G/flex 650-K route.

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    On the boat it’s good for glueing most plastics (HDPE, LDPE, ABS, PVC, Hypalon and POLYCARBONATE) perfect for repairing say a compass or vhf radio plastic bracket or the GPS bracket currently residing in my workshop awaiting repair. My fault for standing on it when trying to fit a new canopy we were making!

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    Sad old me also repaired our old sun damaged scoop bailer which lives permantley in our inflatable dinghy out in Greece. Incidentally, a pontoon neighbour out there borrowed my 655 kit and repaired the foot pedal of his Whale galley foot pump two years ago and when I caught up with him last year in Kalamos (I’m George, welcome to my harbour and by the way this is my taverna) it was still going strong! For those of you that are old enough to remember, we have a customer who was successful in making seaworthy again one of those ‘impossible to repair’ Tabur Yak dinghies which he incidentally rescued from a skip! I also know of a car mechanic who spends time on the water who repaired a plastic car bumper using West 655 thickened epoxy, saved himself a small fortune, bumper looked like new when resprayed and 15000 miles down the road its still holding up!

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    As I said above, you can now buy G/flex 655 thickened epoxy adhesive in a handy dispenser. Push out the required amount, mix thoroughly for 2 minutes and play. Remember no syringes or mixing cup required and, of course, with the cap back on the dispenser there is no chance of a sticky mess to contaminate your tool locker and keeps the contents fresh for next time you want to use it. With a working time of 45 mins and at 22 degrees centigrade, full strength is obtained after 24 hours. It can, of course, be used at much lower temperatures, min temp of  4 degrees but cure time will be longer! As well as successfully bonding a variety of plastics it can be used with confidence on various metals, glass, masonry, fibreglass, wood including difficult to bond species such as teak after suitable surface preparation.

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    To enhance epoxy adhesion to a plastic surface, especially high and low density polyethylene (HDPE & LDPE), flame treat the bonding surfaces. I use a small rechargeable blow torch, as shown above, incidentally these lighter fuel rechargeable torches are also great for sealing rope ends!

    Sadly West 655 couldn’t come to the rescue of my two car key/fobs, when I purchased a ‘new’ second hand estate car a couple of years ago! I decided as we had had a few vehicles pinched locally that I would store them in a Faraday cage (Jen’s microwave) trouble was after a few days of doing this she forgot they were in when reheating a cup of coffee, one survived just with only a little melt  but it eats batteries the other was burnt to a crisp £250-00 was the cost of the replacement.

  • 384. Going, going, gone!

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    As you are no doubt aware, the last 12 months have seen lots of supply chain issues caused by positive home testing and the resulting absenteeism from the work place, the Suez Canal blockage, lack of shipping containers, world wide shortage of chips (fortunately not the ones I enjoy!). Getting stock of Outboard motors, Life jackets, VHF radios, Chart plotters, foul weather gear etc etc... has been a nightmare. One product that’s been selling well (when we have had stock) is the Metermaid, that clever ‘plug and play’ device that accurately measures your electricity consumption. We ran out again just before the Christmas break however the first good news of 2022 is that Boss man Andy has been able to extract a batch of forty from the manufactures and they turned up yesterday!

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    The beauty of the Metermaid is that it accurately measures your power consumption if using a power tool in the boatyard like a Rotary Tercoo for rust or Gelcoat removal, same applies if running say a heater or dehumidifier and the boatyard or sailing club can only guesstimate how much to charge you for electricity consumed. Likewise you can keep a close eye on your pontoon power consumption as the unit is sealed against water ingress (rated to IP67 waterproofness)

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    As the headline stated ‘Going Going Gone’ when we got this delivery lunch time yesterday the consignment was forty in number, by the time I finished writing the blog 8pm that evening we had already taken orders for eight via the online shop. As our next order of Metermaids is not due til mid Feb, best to strike whilst the irons hot and get one ordered.

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  • 383. Dream on!

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    My introduction to dinghy racing was almost sixty years ago, crewing for the guy who introduced our family to sailing. Colin owned a GP14 which, in those days, he kept on a mooring at the mouth of the river Tyne. Before the start of a race, run under the burgee of Tynemouth Sailing club, we used to row out in his ‘tender,’  transfer to the GP, row it back to the shore and clean a week’s accumulation of slime from the underwater surfaces. No VC Teflon based antifouling nor Harken Antifoul Alternative Speed Polish back then! Since those carefree days in the late fifties I have raced a variety of dinghies for fun. However in the mid seventies and beyond, having gone into partnership with a sailmaker whom I met whilst I was working as an apprentice at Musto & Hyde sailmakers racing, to a certain extent, became a means to an end; by winning races at club, open meeting or championships level we sold more sails and this meant one could help put a roof over our heads and food on the table! A summer holiday with Jenny was never taken before the kids came along as there was always an open meeting or championship to attend, so when our two girls arrived we decided that our ‘summer’ beach holiday would be (with Jenny my wife teaching) two weeks in the Canaries over Christmas. By the time our two girls were teenagers and the nature of my business had changed from primarily sailmaking with a chandlery attached, to a large chandlery and smaller loft, I kept telling Jen what we should do was moor a small cruiser in the Canaries and spend Christmas holidays out there as well as the Feb & October 1/2 term weeks. During the summer holidays when I was ‘hard at work,’ she could take the girls out and use this boat as a ‘holiday’ cottage. ‘Dream On’ was the response I used to get whenever I brought up the subject! Some years later with financial help (a loan from my father) my wife and I purchased a British Hunter Channel 31 bare hull and deck and over four years fitted her out, then sailed and raced her for a short period of time on the North East coast, we then had her shipped out to the Canaries. As for the chosen name for the Channel, what else but Dream On! Now that I am in my early seventies and only working limited hours, my time on the water is mainly cruising the Ionian May/June and Sept/October. For July & August whilst in the UK, it’s the occasional race in a shared Flying15 or guesting on a customers yacht.

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    With storm Arwen reaping havoc down the North East Coast and beyond on Friday night, and witnessing the above sea state this past Saturday morning, I must confess having seen the above recent Chart Art image of our favourite cruising area in the Ionian, I started to dream on again and think warm seas, sunshine, favourite anchorages and welcoming watering holes. What with the poor weather, threats of a lockdown why not keep your cruising memories alive by commissioning a Chart Art with that little extra, the addition of the course sailed on the voyage you undertook this year.

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    Not into cruising but a keen racer? We do  get requests to supply Chart Art showing the winning course sailed during a race be it of a day's duration or longer, be it the Round the Island Race, Three Peaks or Round Britain. Maybe that Sunday bash round the cans would make a good talking point especial if the skipper of the yacht you beat has come round for a bevvie or two!

    Chart Art is printed onto high quality 100% cotton canvas and stretched over the finest genuine artists stretcher bars complete with stretching wedges ready for you to hang. Hanging kits are supplied with all Chart Art canvas so putting them up on the wall is easy. The Canvas hanger incorporates a cut-out which allows the canvas to be hung on a standard two pin picture hook, which is also included. Using the included kit ensures that the canvas is “pulled” flush to the wall on a secure fixing.

    Prints are available in 6 sizes:

    16'' x 24'' Canvas 20'' x 30'' Canvas 24'' x 30'' Canvas 24'' x 36'' Canvas 30'' x 40'' Canvas 40'' x 60'' Canvas

    The printing process uses technologically advanced 12 colour UV ink printed onto the finest 100% Cotton artists canvas, which is sourced from some of the biggest international art suppliers. Museum Quality Artists Stretcher Bars are made of the finest quality European kiln dried knotless pine, which has the advantage of being extremely hard wearing and not susceptible to warping that cheaper woods are prone to. Each bar features a rounded back edge which is designed to ensure that the canvas is always kept a full 1⁄2" (13mm) above the stretcher bar to ensure that there can be no ghost impressions on the canvas. These stretcher bars also incorporate ‘wedges’ which are placed in each corner and allow the canvas to be stretched extremely tightly over the frame. It also allows the canvas to be restretched over time, which can be of particular importance for the larger sizes.

    Chart Art is produced under license from the UK Hydrographic Office, however there are some Admiralty charts (non UK waters) which include data owned by foreign Hydrographic authorities and prints of these may only available after paying an additional licence fee. The same appplies to other charts such as Imray. In this case contact us for a price.

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    Custom charts: The standard UKHO chart is designed for use on the sea, for vessels approaching and leaving ports and avoiding the obstacles along the coast. Chart Art is more about displaying the coast and its relation to the sea, so sometimes you only want to see part of a chart or a specific island. No problem – we can crop into any chart to show just the area you want, be it the whole of the Hamble River or a special bay in Ireland we can probably work out a way to do it.

    Please call 0191 646 1000 or email sales@marinechandlery.com to discuss your requirements.

  • 382. Was it my age or just the sunshine?

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    January 2020, an intimate dinner party (whatever that is, but it reads well) with fellow yachties. After a few bevvies my old crew, Pete, with whom I sailed with in the early seventies/early eighties, International 14’s, Keith Musto’s Flying Dutchman as well as Flying15’s, made a suggestion, ‘Wouldn’t it be a pleasant change from this cruising that we now enjoy if, for a few weekends during the summer, once you’re back from the Ionian, we turn the clock back fifty odd years and the two of us 'golden oldies' source an elderly Flying 15, ‘do’ a couple of open meetings and compete in  Bassenthwaites sailing week?’ ‘Sounds good to me,’ I said, expecting a sharp kick under the dinner table from my better half. Bass week, as it’s is known up North, offers a weeks competitive racing in a variety of classes inc, of course, the 15. One can camp on site, go ‘upmarket’ with a caravan or motor home as base camp or stay locally in a B&B or hotel. Next morning Jen said over breakfast, ‘Why not, we enjoyed it all those years ago despite, on a couple of occasions, when the lake level rose and we had to abandon the tent. One condition, our accommodation mustn’t be under canvas!’

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    First things first Pete found a twenty year old 15 at a reasonable price from the Hayling island fleet and we sourced a caravan to hire for the ten days at a cost of almost the same as my 1/2 share of the boat. And then came lockdown! FFRESCO wasn't sailed that year, however come 2021 things were looking a little more positive and so in February of this year and we enquired again re caravan hire. To our horror we found rental costs had sky rocketed (assuming you could find one to hire for that week) upshot was we ended up buying an elderly van, so much for ‘a weeks racing on the cheap!’ However, working on the theory that we would manage to compete in 2021,2022 & 2023 we have more than broken even with the cost of the van purchase! That is, of course, assuming that the two of us crocks manage to survive a weeks racing, last time we both sat out or ‘hiked’ on the race course was an awful long time ago, the last century to be precise!

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    Bass week was on with certain restrictions. We pitched or parked our caravan on site, raced and boy was it a steep relearning curve! Our finishing positions did get better and by the fifth day we had progressed from, at times, being almost tail end Charlie to leading the Wednesday morning race for the first lap, dropping to second and after managing to sail over the spinnaker (knot on the halyard ‘failed’) at which point my elderly back decided it had had enough! However as can be seen from the headline image (which incidentally landed on my desk the other day) my face is a little screwed up. Is it due to the pain of trying to sit or hike out for the last three days? Or is it from the fact that unlike Pete I had left my Gill sunglasses as well as my Musto Fastdry cap ashore? I like to think it was the latter!  What I like about the the Gill bi-focal glasses, assuming of course I am wearing them, is the fact I can enjoy the benefit of them in bright sunlight keeping the glare off the water and if needed, can check whilst afloat sailing instructions if a certain code flag is hoisted. As for my sailing in Greece, there is no need to change specs if consulting the pilot book or chart. My trusty cap, assuming it's sunny and am wearing it, helps stop my follicly challenged head from getting sunburned! Both glasses and cap come with retainers so no worry about them taking a dip if the breeze gets up!

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    In an effort to get fit for next years Bass week and help stop my body going into terminal decline, not only have I embarked on a keep fit regime but have started to cycle to my part time work in the sail loft. With the sun low in the sky those Gill sunglasses are a godsend.  A round trip of about 14 odd miles, it's getting easier the more times I do it but sadly my hour in the gym twice a week hasn’t produced that six pack yet that I am expecting but here‘s hoping!

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  • 381. When Disaster Strikes

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    Yes, I have managed to pitch pole an International 14 on a number of occasions and found myself flying through the air like the  daring young man on his trapeze but these days I am all for a peaceful life. Mind you, I doubt my ‘down the mine shaft’ as the Australian skiff sailors call it was as spectacular as this shot of a 49er.  Having said that, today has been a disaster. Woke at 4-30am this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so after watching the clock radio for 45 minutes crawled out of bed, slipped my Gill changing robe over my pyjamas and staggered down stairs. Millie the dog thought it was time for a walk but after five minutes realised that grumpy old me wasn’t in the mood to venture outside. Worked on my latest Top Tips Tuesday blog that had been festering overnight, gave up at 7 and cycled down to the North Sea for my regular dip. Came back feeling rejuvenated and, with it being a day off from work, after breakfast disappeared off into the country to winterise the fresh water system in the caravan we had bought earlier this year.

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    Flushed through with some Starbrite non-toxic antifreeze and came home only to discover the subject that I had hoped to blog about was ‘on hold’ as the company who’s images I was going to use thought it might show their product in a bad light. Sent them a draft copy asking for a quick response, by three pm no response! 'Plan B' swung into action. Rang again a photographer who had taken a pic of yours truly making his ‘Fly 15 racing comeback’. No reply so another message left, please ring me as a matter of urgency. Carried on with the blog in the hope he would ring back and then just before my evening meal lost the b…dy article. Oh how I hate iPads and the like.  Let’s hope while composing 'When Disaster Strikes’ it's third time lucky as it's almost past my bedtime! So here goes…Fire Safety Stick is a new totally unique system which works like no other traditional fire extinguisher. It has so many advantages over traditional water, powder, foam or CO2 extinguishers as well as being very compact. It really does makes sense to keep the Fire Safety Stick close at hand on the boat.

    One hopes that the yacht that you are sailing on is never dismasted however if the unthinkable ever occurs, have you got an emergency aerial thats up to the job? Remember that saying ‘bigger is better’? Well, the Shakespeare emergency aerial (still at a knock down price whilst stocks last) is worth considering. Working on the same principle that is used to inflate manual lifejackets,  when deployed its 1.6mts long with a range of up to three times greater than any existing helical emergency antenna.

    Wooden bungs are ok for plugging seacocks however, if the seacock parts company from the hull or as a result of impact damage you end up with an irregular shaped breach, the unique edge gripping riblets help hold the Sta-plug in a hole, keeping water out. The riblets help Sta-Plug™ conform to the shape of the hole, sealing a leak near the edge where a tight fit is crucial, and holding the plug more securely in place.

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    If your flares are up for renewal this winter why not consider instead an electronic distress flare the EDF1 Flare is the most compact electronic flare on market. Its 40% smaller than similar devices, safe to store and operate, has a seven-mile visibility and six-hour operating life. Ideal for your grab bag or liferaft.

    The Ocean Signal PLB1 is 30% smaller than the competition, has a seven-year battery life, and carries a seven-year warranty,

    SPECIFICATIONS:

    • Satellite Transmission 406.040MHz, 5 Watts
    • Homing Transmission 121.5MHz 50mW nominal
    • Operation Life >24hours @ -20°C
    • Operating temperature range -20°C to 55°C
    • Weight 114g

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    And finally, dare I say it, with less than six weeks to Christmas any of the above would make excellent stocking fillers except of course the Starbrite Antifreeze, best leave that securely wrapped up under the tree!

  • 380. What a state!

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    With the laying up season well under way up North, maybe down South as well, some boats, both power and sail, will be emerging from water after probably a longer than normal immersion due to the pandemic and restrictions which were in force. It’s reassuring to know that there are a number of products on the market that can make you life a lot easier! Two of which I have written about below.  If, like me, you find that those little, white crustaceans have made a beeline for your underwater appendages such as your prop and prop-shafts, trim tabs and rudder the quickest and easiest way to get rid of them is with an application of Starbrite Boat Bottom Cleaner, ticks all the boxes. It works wonders in removing them with the minimum of hard work and I do speak with confidence having used it every time we have laid Hindsight up as well as during the build process!

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    This excellent product came to my rescue in the final stages of our Mystery 35 fit out. As the water line hadn’t been marked on by the moulders of the hull we had no idea how far up the hull I should take the epoxy coating before we applied antifouling!  Easily solved, drop the boat in the water see how high or low she floats once mast/sails etc were on then take her out again after a few days and carry on with the epoxy coating. Best laid plans of course can go wrong, and they did. It ended up being five months in the briny whilst we sorted out a fuel starvation issue, then there was a pre booked family winter holiday in the sun, a break that, if I had pulled out, would have meant divorce, and other callings like a bit of work on the old abode.

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    Should you lift your yacht and discover a ‘sensation’ of rust on the keel hull joint or maybe it has more than that, perhaps the keel has kissed a rock (through no fault of your own I hasten to add) but is no way as bad as the above, why not invest in a Tercoo Rotary blaster, if you haven’t already done so. It's a brilliant rust removal tool as well as an excellent paint stripper! Young Rob who works for Andy is (amongst his various job descriptions) a whizz keel stripper/antifouling remover and application expert. He swears by them in the nicest possible way. He tells me it makes very light work of a soul destroying job ie. removing rust and layers of antifoul from a keel! Depending on the job you are about to tackle, you can buy a single flexible disc, a double or triple. We major on the double or triple, however, if it's a small amount of rust showing where the keel joins the hull, the single would be the answer. As for stripping down to bare metal the underwater surfaces of a large Bruce Robert steel ketch, the owner reported back to us "thank you for suggesting the Tercoo!  I was dreading the task but it put a smile on my face once I saw what the tool was capable of doing" I used one during lockdown to strip a cast iron set of legs on a garden table and yes it made my job easier and put a smile on my normally grumpy old face!

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  • 379. Layup tips from the team

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    When laying up your sailboat for the winter months we suggest that you, weather permitting, remove ALL sails once you have stopped sailing. You would be surprised at the number of furling head sails we get in for washing just after the start of the sailing season all with a ‘lovely’ green stripe down the inside of the sacrificial strip!

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    Please also be aware that a lot of insurance companies will NOT cover you for the loss or damage to a furling genoa if it comes adrift and flogs itself to death whilst either on the water or on dry land! If you for whatever reason leave your reefing headsail on, make sure that you have at least four ‘wraps’ of the sheets round the sail and as well as using the cleat to secure you also add a knot to prevent the sail unraveling!

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    Once you take the headsail off the foil we strongly recommend you run a foil saver up the furling system track and tension the extrusion using a 6mm pre-stretched line tied back to the mast. By using a saver it will save the foil joints from shaking themselves stupid on a windy day as can be seen below!

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    If the joints are worn and there is movement it can lead to the bolt rope being damaged and with the fretting between the two sections resulting in staining of the sail as per the second image.

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    For both powerboats and yachts with canvas work, be it canopy, spray hood, bimini, dodgers etc, winter gales and therefore chafe are enemy No1. They can shorten the lifespan of a canopy etc by at least 50%. Enemy No2 is bird droppings (seagulls and of course starlings eating berries at this time of the year leave purple poop stains) so remove these fabric items asap after you have stopped using your craft.

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    The exception to the rule? Only if the canvas work’s sole purpose is protecting bright work, instrumentation or seats and you cannot protect by the use of a tough tarpaulin. However, if using one, do make sure you create a ‘ridge pole’ effect so that rain runs off and secure it well! If you have a tailor made winter cover, brilliant, if not maybe consider one, especially if you have teak decks. They're not cheap but worth their weight in gold. If your budget allows, send your sails and canvas work to us and we can wash (this removes airborne contaminants and the salt crystals that damage the stitching and fabric) dry them and, if applicable, reproof, check over and store till the start of the new season.

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    If you would rather D.I.Y, our Yachticon Sail and Canvas Cleaner is excellent, as is Iosso. It's a brilliant all round cleaner that can be used to remove mould, mildew, tough to shift dirt, in fact most stains. It is, of course, safe to use on fabrics, vinyl, plastic, fibreglass and wood. For canopies manufactured from Weathermax, Holmenkol Textile Wash is the one, can also be used for washing Goretex, Coolmax and Thinsulate garments. Granger’s Fabsil Gold is the industry standard when it comes to re-proofing if you have just cleaned your acrylic spray hood or canopy. A word of warning, DO NOT, under any circumstance use a high pressure washer to remove bird droppings or green mould/algae. This method of 'cleaning' can knock the stuffing out of the fabric and blow stitching apart in five seconds flat. The ‘softly softly’ approach of soaking and the careful use of a sponge/soft brush is the only way.

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    If you're storing sails in your garage or in the loft, make sure that you lay down a couple of traps to discourage rodents for ‘removing’ fabric to make a nice warm nest during the winter!

    SPARS, HALYARDS & MOORING LINES

    If you have lifted out we strongly recommend that the mast is removed. We have all seen or read about the domino effect in boatyards however, before it's unstepped, we suggest that you mark the threads of the rigging screws with PVC tape so that come the spring it is easy to replicate the same rig tension.

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    Once the mast is off and before it's stored on a mast rack or trestles, remove all the rigging (after labeling) to avoid an electrolitic reaction between the stainless wire and the alloy spar. Wash the mast down with fresh water and apply a coat of alloy polish. If the mast is fitted with an Aquasignal Quickfit Tricolour remove and cover the base with the purpose made cap.

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    If the mast does not have a mast foot make sure you cover the end as birds and other creatures are liable to build their nests inside! If you are NOT removing the mast and boom for whatever reason, purchase some thin strong line, attach to the tail of the rope halyard and carefully pull them through.

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    After you have stripped the mast, remove jackstays and at the same time don’t forget your danbuoyman overboard horseshoe, etc. To keep the ropes in good condition when not in use, hand wash them (warm water only) to remove salt and dirt deposits. If your boat winters afloat check the condition of your mooring lines, especially where they go through a fairlead or are made off on a cleat. If you haven’t already done so consider purchasing some mooring compensators, when fitted they take the snatch away preserving lines, fairleads and cleats and should you be spending the night aboard they help to ensure that you get a good nights sleep. Last but not least, any lines taken off the boat should be coiled when dry, avoiding kinks and do not store in direct sunlight.

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    THE GALLEY

    Make sure you disconnect the gas cylinder at the end of the season. After that I would suggest you check the date printed on the flexible rubber hose, it may well be past it's sell by date! For cleaning galley surfaces my favourite cleaning products is Vistal (almost the same as Universal Stone which we used to sell however Vistal is 'home grown' made in the UK) its great for hobs and work surfaces including Corian, it’s ‘other uses’ are too many to mention but do include cleaning fenders, inflatable tenders, paint work and gelcoat!

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    Check for perishable foodstuffs and remove, likewise any out of date tinned ‘emergency’ supplies often stored in the bilges! Take all the alcoholic drinks home and drink whilst planning next year’s on the water activities. Make sure fridge and freezer lids are left propped open after thoroughly cleaning, likewise, lockers and cupboards.

    THE HEADS

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    Heads I win, tails you lose. Cleaning and winterising the heads is a job that I just love (to avoid). If you have holding tanks fitted, discharge them and add to the tank some Odourlos (which helps to break down the waste) and fresh water, then flush through and empty again. To ensure that you keep the uric scale build up to a minimum I always tell my guests to pump at least 20 times to clear the lines, however at the end of the season I am a great believer in using LeeScale fast marine de-scaler, which I suggest you leave in the system overnight for maximum effect then flush system thoroughly. For cleaning the toilet bowl I use and recommend Starbrite’s toilet bowl cleaner, it’s specially formulated not to damage seals or valves.

    Whilst in the heads, if the shower drain pump is there, remove the filter from the unit and give it a good clean, even though you may not use for showering, but only use the wash basin and it has a dual function you will be pleasantly surprised or disgusted what’s clinging to the filter!

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    WATER SYSTEMS

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    Don’t forget to drain down your fresh water systems and run non-toxic Starbrite Antifreeze through the system to protect water pressure pumps, pipe work, taps and calorifier. With the cold snaps a few years ago we have had quite a few boat owners coming in late Feb/early March reporting damaged water pressure pumps, water filters, impellers, taps and shower heads. Even though most systems had been drained down, sufficient water had been trapped to expand the appliance and cause, in some cases, an expensive repair.

    SOFT FURNISHINGS

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    Down below, remove as many of your soft furnishings as you can, however be careful where you store them. Like sails, soft furnishings make great nests for rodents.

    For cleaning vinyl upholstery and head lining we would suggest either Starbrite’s Vinyl cleaner and Shampoo or their Vinyl Cleaner and Polish. For woven fabric, Yachticon Sail and canvas cleaner or Iosso are both excellent products that we have used with success.

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    Remove as much as possible of the contents of your lockers (assuming you have the space) and store in a dry area. If any of these items have been subjected to salt water exposure rinse in fresh water and store when dry away from direct sunlight.

    SURFACES

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    Make sure you wash down all hard surfaces in the saloon and cabins with something like a mild solution of Iosso, remember a little goes a long way. Starbrite Bilge Cleaner or Marine16 Zero when added to bilge water will remove grease, scum, floating oil and keep the bilges smelling sweetly. Don’t forget to wash and dry the underneath of the floorboards if possible leave up so air can circulate. Stubborn stains on most surfaces including those that are painted or varnished can be cleaned with Vistal. As it’s 100% natural, it’s safe for use when there are children present, allergy sufferers or pets.

    FOULIES, LIFEJACKETS & CLOTHING

    Remove all foulieslifejackets and clothing and take them home. For foul weather gear we recommend that you treat them with Granger’s Fabsil this residue-formula maintains water repellent finish on fabric and is effective of course with Gore-Tex and other waterproof breathable fabrics. Fabsil Aerosol contains silicones and other waterproofing agents and bonds well to cleaned fabrics such as acrylic, nylon, polyester and cotton!

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    Lifejackets; If auto, remove the activation unit and gas bottle then wash the jacket by hand in warm water and dry naturally. Check your jackets for chafe and before reassembling/repacking check the expiry date on the activation unit and if bottle is rusty or has rust spots, discard. For further advice on the care of your lifejackets, if you go onto either the Crewsaver or Baltic sites you can get some first class tips. We do carry rearm kits in stock for the majority of popular life jackets and for the few that we don’t, they can be obtained within a few days.

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    FIGHTING OFF THE DAMP

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    240V dehumidifier is worth considering. If you do decide to take the plunge go for one which has the facility to drain directly into the sink outlet. The Meaco DD8L Junior (best on test according to Sailing.com) operates using the ‘desiccant principle’ and will work at a lower temperature than those using a refrigerated coil. If the cost of the above dehumidifier is beyond your budget the Seago unit is £30-00 cheaper! If you'er prepared to wait (delivery early January) the Store Dry Air Circulator is an excellent piece of kit combating mould and mildew, its dual action uses a low wattage heating element and an internal fan to heat and circulate air. The effect of heat and circulation prevents stale air pockets which in turn prevents mould and mildew from forming!

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    Tube heaters are available in a variety of sizes they have built in thermostats, and prices start as low as £31-95. Very popular as a sump heater they can also be found in saloon or cabin. These low power consumption heaters come complete with a set of brackets that enables one to easily attach to a wood or plastic base board if required.

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    If you don't have a 240V power supply the Starbrite No Damp Dehumidifier is great for removing moisture and of course refill packs are also available. Simple and safe the moisture is collected in the base of the unit and can be removed at one's convenience.

    CUT THE GREEN OUT!

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    Wet & Forget is superb at keeping away the green algae which tends to form on boats in the winter (especially the side that does not see so much sun). You dilute it 5:1 with water then simply spray it on decks be they teak, grp or painted. If you decide to leave halyards, covers or canopies on (sailing throughout the winter?) Wet & Forget will keep the algae at bay with NO HARD LABOUR NEEDED!

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    FINALLY

    If you are ever worried about your electricity consumption whilst using either a dehumidifier or a heater be it tube or Stor-Dry Air Circulator you can check your consumption with a Metermaid, just add the ‘maid’ to your shore supply cable and you can keep a close eye on your outgoings!

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  • 378. Laying up for winter 2021 - Part 2

    Following on from our previous 'Tips and Advice' on Winterising Inboard Engines, this week Andy looks at Winterising Outboard Engines.

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    4-STROKES:

    One hopes the 'bottom end of your leg is in better condition than the image above shows, however, if it's not don't despair Starbrite's boat bottom cleaner will soon strip away the growth.

    Add the correct amount of fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank. If you have an internal fuel tank fitted in the boat, the best way to add the stabilizer is to add the correct amount (for the fuel remaining in your tank) to 1 litre of fresh fuel, mix thoroughly then add to the main tank. Next place your engine in a fresh water tank or connect a flushing attachment and run your engine for 15 minutes to get the mixed fuel completely through the fuel system and to remove any traces of salt from the cooling system.

    If your engine has carburettors rather than fuel injection, increase speed to fast idle then disconnect the fuel supply. Just before engine the starts to stall (and it could run for up to 3-4 minutes!), quickly spray Quicksilver Storage Seal into the carburetor until the engine dies from fuel starvation.

    After you have stopped the engine and disconnected the kill cord, remove the plugs (beware they may be hot) and add a small amount of engine oil into each plug hole. Rotate the flywheel manually to distribute the oil in the cylinders then reinstall the spark plugs. Remove the thermostat and check for correct operation by dropping it into boiling water. Change the engine oil and filter as well as the gear box oil.

    At this stage its worth touching up any exposed alloy surfaces with the appropriate primer and correct coloured paint. Spray Quicksilver Corrosion Guard on all external metal surfaces (except anodes). Finally, store the engine upright to allow water to drain out.

    Should your engine be fitted with remote controls and steering, ensure you grease all lubrication points as per manufacturer’s recommendations.

    One thing that’s worth noting is if your engine is still under warranty you need to check the terms as carrying out even basic maintenance like changing oil and filters may invalidate the warranty, particularly where your engine is subject to an extended warranty offered past the standard manufacturer's warranty.

    2-STROKES:

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    Add the correct amount of fuel stabilizer to any inboard fuel tanks, however, if it’s a small auxiliary engine with a separate tank or integral tank, empty contents into a petrol engine car AFTER carrying out the following procedure. Either place your engine in fresh water or connect a flushing attachment and run your engine in neutral for 10 minutes. Increase speed to fast idle then disconnect fuel supply. Just before engine starts to stall (and it could run for up to 3-4 minutes!), quickly spray Quicksilver Storage Seal into carburetor until engine dies from fuel starvation.

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    The easiest way to drain the two stroke fuel mixture from a small outboard's internal tank (once the engine is cold) is as follows.... Make sure the tank breather on the filler cap is closed then get a pr of needle nose pliers and squeeze the clip that holds the rubber fuel hose onto the carburettor or fuel pump. Once the clip has been removed, ease the rubber tube off and with a suitable container to drain the 2 stroke mixture into ease the breather open and the fuel will then drain slowly out. As we run a petrol car it was easy to dispose of the mixture into the fuel tank.

    After disconnecting the kill cord, remove the spark plugs (once again beware they may be hot) and inject 1oz of Quicksilver Storage Seal around the inside of each cylinder. Rotate the flywheel manually several times to distribute the oil in the cylinders then reinstall the spark plugs. Remove the thermostat and check for correct operation by dropping it into boiling water. Drain and replace the gear oil and at this stage its worth checking for any bare metal surfaces that may need treatment. First use the appropriate primer followed up with the correct coloured paint. Spray Quicksilver Corrosion Guard on all external metal surfaces (except anodes). Finally store upright to allow water to drain out. Should your engine be fitted with remote controls and steering, ensure you grease all lubrication points as per manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • 377. Laying up for winter 2021 - Part 1

    Starting our series of Laying Up For Winter top tips, this week Andy looks at engines and winterisation covering inboards. Watch out next week for advice on outboards.

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    INBOARDS:

    At the end of the season we strongly recommend that you fill your diesel tank to the brim as this will help prevent a condensation build up, however, before doing so we suggest you also add the appropriate amount of diesel fuel additive like Marine 16. This, along with a full fuel tank, will help prevent the dreaded diesel bug.

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    So, should you do your oil change now? Most experts prefer to do it at the end of the season, some say “best in the spring”. The main concerns are acids in the used oil attacking metal surfaces and sludge or debris settling and hardening in small oil passages. You should run the engine under load (in either forward or reverse gear) for at least twenty minutes before draining the oil and changing the filter. This warms the oil making it easier to remove as well as putting any particles into suspension in the oil so they are removed at the same time. Our mechanic has always used a Pela vacuum pump to remove the oil which is retrieved via the dipstick hole. It’s sucked straight into the pump’s container which lessens the chance of a spillage. Not quite so robust is the Seago Extract-It but it was still awarded best buy by PBO. On a tight budget? Consider the traditional brass cylinder type this may be the answer, however you do need to collect the oil in a separate container!

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    If you are like Rob (of advancing age and suffering from arthritis in the wrists) and have difficulty in undoing the oil filter, the Universal Griptech Rubber Strap Wrench takes the pain away! It's also worth investing in a packet of Uniwipe Ultragrime Industrial wipes, with 100 in the box its a convenient way to keep your hands clean never mind your surroundings and they're great for cleaning your tools too!

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    If your boat is being stored on dry land, once she is up on the hard stand we suggest that you close the water inlet seacock, open the water filter and with the engine running pour in an appropriate antifreeze mix. Carry on pouring till you can retrieve the mixed antifreeze from the exhaust outlet. Once you have done this, stop the engine and turn off the diesel tap. If you intend to leave your boat in the marina or on moorings don’t follow this procedure with the antifreeze as you will pollute the water. In this case we would recommend draining the seawater system. Next, disconnect the starting circuit from the battery and consider taking all batteries home and storing in a warm place, however, if you are leaving the boat on the water make sure there is still a battery to run the bilge pump!

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    If the engine could do with a clean, consider cleaning it down with an engine cleaner and degreaser, this will remove any ingrained grease and grime. Don’t forget to keep on top of any rust spots; surface should be prepared with the appropriate primer than follow up with the correct colour paint. Spray all exposed parts of the engine with Quicksilver Corrosion Guard  then get a couple of oily rags and stuff them up the exhaust pipe and engine air intake. It should then be noted in your maintenance log so that you remember to clear these before starting next season.

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    If you have access to shore power a tube heater will stop any moisture from freezing as it circulates warm air round the engine bay. Check, however, that a heater can be left unattended; some yacht clubs don't allow heaters to be left unattended in their boatyard. A dehumidifier will also reduce moisture protecting your engine and your soft furnishings. A Metermaid will help you keep a weather eye on your electricity consumption.image

    At this time of year it’s worth checking the condition of all water hoses and belts. Check the impeller (out of sight out of mind), the engine anode and of course the thermostat. Incidentally, to check a thermostat is working all you have to do is remove and place in a bowl of boiling  water and check it activates, depending on the make of engine it may either open or close when placed in the hot water so make sure you check the status before you drop it in.image

    Throttle and gear shift cables can snap where the cable exits the outer casing so examine closely by gently flexing the cable and check for broken strands. If old, stiffness in the operation may mean the beginning of cable failure. Check along the full length of the outer casing for any signs of damage.

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    Finally, for what it costs, a replacement primary and secondary fuel filter should be fitted regardless of the condition of the old. If you are using your onboard spares stock, don't forget to replace the spares whilst it's fresh in your mind, incidentally Yanmar now produce and of course we sell a spares kit, contents include oil and fuel filter, impeller, gaskets etc

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    Loads more advice and tips can be found in Marine Diesel Basics. A great book which not only covers all you need to know about winterising your diesel engine but also maintenance, storage and spring recommissioning and he also covers sail drives, shaft seals, batteries etc etc. To sum up, an excellent book, superb illustrations and well worth the cost at £10.99

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  • 376. Monitor your meter! Metermaid Portable Electricity Meter

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    Since early September, Jen and I have been enjoying some quality time out on Hindsight in the Ionian. To bring us back to reality, at least once a week we delve into our iPads; in her case to catch up on the news back home and for me likewise but, more importantly, to send through the weekly blog to my Boss Andy. Out here there don't seem to be any queues at petrol stations, as far as I have seen, the tavernas rely on bottled gas and, talking to their staff, as far as I can tell no shortages nor price increases. And yes supermarkets on the islands have some empty shelves but that is to do with the holiday season coming to an end as the tourists on the smaller islands are mainly yachties. However, when I logged on this morning to start composing (if that's the word for my weekly ramble), Jen did think the above Greek news headline was appropriate considering the subject I was being asked to talk about; the Metermaid.

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    I'm not sure what's happening with electricity prices back home but with a Metermaid you can, of course, keep a check of your electric consumption. It, of course, offers total flexibility to monitor your electricity use on board be it running a dehumidifier or maybe a tube heater to warm the sump over the winter. Use one in the boatyard or on hard standing when using power tools such as a drill with a Tercoo blaster / GRP removal tool or a rotary polisher etc. We also sell Metermaids to small marina operators, yacht clubs and boatyards as well as caravan park owners, caravanners and motor home owners and, believe it or not, three the other week to a tree surgeon!

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    One of our regular customers, who kindly sent us the above image, uses his Metermaid to monitor electricity usage while running his Meaco dehumidifier. Methinks that if electricity prices rise this winter like gas prices Andy will be fitting Metermaids to the sewing machines in the sail loft and the power tools when being used in the boatyard to check on consumption.

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