Marine Chandlery

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

  • 288. Top Tips Tuesday - Disaster!

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    Well the last time I 'think' I saw my diary it was sitting in the boot space of my old car, along with my just repaired stainless boarding ladder before this 10 year old estate was to be part exchanged  for a newer second hand set of wheels last Friday.

    Why is it such a disaster? Because it has all my thoughts or ideas for future Top Tips, along with all sorts of vital information including the date of my wife's birthday penciled in by Jenny! It could be at work. I have searched but will try again tomorrow, perhaps it's still in the old car but why is the stern ladder now in my workshop but no sign of the diary? Or, perish the thought, it could be in one of our upstairs rooms. Two spare bedrooms are, at the moment, full to the brim with the contents of our attic which as I write is being converted into a spare 'bedroom' for when the grandchildren come to stay. Old sails, old toys, school reports, pewter mugs won at Bass week during the sixties, suitcases, model yachts and boxes of other junk that's never been sorted through since we last moved house some 12 years ago. Is the diary in there? Yes I know we downsized cos the two girls had flown the nest and now guess what we are upsizing! Funny old world, at least it would be if I could find that ruddy diary!

    As regular readers of my words of wisdom or 'ramblings of a predictable boring old git' as one reader observed the other day, I have been known to repeat myself, however I make no apologies to mention Wet & Forget again. But, and it's a big but, it's now newly available in a container which has a built in Sniper nozzle which will automatically mix the contents with water. The Sniper nozzle makes it perfect for treating roller reefing headsails whilst they are still on the rig as it will spray up to 8m high. No need to take the sail off and find a suitable clean space to treat. Just lower your unfurled headsail part way down, spray the top half then hoist fully and spray the remainder. By doing so the chances of getting a green speed stripe down the leech should you furl your headsail whilst it's still damp after sailing is almost zilch! Wet and Forget is safe to use on Dacron, Mylar, Kevlar and Carbon Fibre sails. It's also perfect for spraying onto sail covers, stack packs, canopies etc as it will keep the fabric free from that green mould which tends to 'grow' on the side which never sees the sun in the winter. You can also use Wet & Forget on your teak deck, all bright work, glass fibre, pontoon walk ways be they manufactured from wood, concrete or whatever!

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  • 287. Top Tips Tuesday - A Helping Hand

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    Many years ago, for my sins, I was talked into becoming the regional race training coordinator for the RYA North East region. My task was to coordinate, and occasionally run, training weekends for various classes of dinghies. However, the nature of the beast was that I was more often out on the water at the event, videoing and coaching, sometimes getting in the big name coaches courtesy of the RYA. Jim Saltonstall, a very very successful Olympic coach, was one such name I 'imported', with me driving the coach boat and getting right up close. I am still in awe of his words of wisdom! On my 'retirement' from the post, I got back into some serious dinghy racing on the open meeting circuit and quickly found that those weekends watching other folks practise mark rounding, tacking, starting technique, boat trim and of course sail setting helped me enormously. It is, I think, safe to say that if one has had a grounding in dinghy sailing, once you move over to cruising or racing keelboats the chances are you will be a better sailor as a result of it; your boat handling is better and you pay more attention to sail setting and boat trim. Passage making is more comfortable and you get to your destination faster, as for racing, enough said!

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    At my local club during the autumn/winter, every fortnight they run a 'fun race' for those guys who want to carry on sailing during the close season. The other weekend I offered to jump onto a yacht whose owner was relatively new to sailing and had, I am lead to believe, never raced before. A few pointers were called for, including 'be on the start line when the gun goes'. Well the start was downwind and with a strong tide pushing the fleet onto the line, unfortunately my 'words of wisdom' were completely wrong and we subsequently ended up downstream of the start mark! However not having the upper body strength of the Incredible Hulk and with the yacht having a 150% Genoa I wasn't looking forward to sheeting in this large sail, so speaking nicely to my boss Andy the day before I managed to persuade him to lend me our rigging shop's Ewincher.

    The above clip was taken by the owner of the yacht whilst he was helming (who says we men cannot multitask) On our Mystery it's Jenny who uses our own Ewincher to hoist the main, sheet the head sail in and get me up the mast, so this was my first real opportunity to use one in anger. My verdict, brilliant and if you are thinking of converting to electric winches or upgrading to electric, why bother? Or, on a festive note, perhaps you're looking for an expensive Christmas present for the crew member who has everything ! As for my boss, the demo Ewincher makes our rigger's job so much easier if a mast climb is called for as the majority of production yachts these days have halyards winches that will hoist the main or sheet the genoa in with some effort, but to get a man up the mast that needs even more grunt!

    • Genuine winch handle - 2.2kg
    • Brushless engine
    • Manual or assisted mode
    • 15 to 80 revolutions per minute
    • Torque of 80Nm: Ewincher is equipped with an adjustable torque from 10kg to 32kg of traction on the handle, it allows manoeuvring sailing boats up to 55 feet without damaging anything. As you hold it like a regular winch handle you will feel immediately if there is a blockage in the lines, any problem. This is something you don't have with electric winches: you press the button and if something is wrong and you are not careful enough, the electric winch will keep on working and can damage the sails or boat.
    • Waterproof and locking system
    • Long-lasting battery life: Ewincher offers a great autonomy thanks to its Lithium Ion battery: more than a day of sailing with only one charge. Charging time takes about 1½ hours and consumes 7Ah (1.7% of a 400Ah battery bank) It is a high efficiency Lithium-ion 25v battery 3000mA.On a 40ft boat that means you can in one day: Hoist the mainsail 3 times, put in 30 tacks and put an 85kg man up the mast (15m lift).
  • 286. Top Tips Tuesday - The Key To Long Life

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    They say the secret of a long life is to avoid smoking, drink moderately, a healthy diet and exercise! Well I don't smoke, as for my alcohol consumption, two pints on a Tuesday night in which we discuss in detail why we didn't win last Sunday's cruiser race! Friday it's a G&T and maybe a glass or two of wine, Saturday would probably be the same until Jen reminds me that I've a blog to write for next Tuesday. Sadly if I don't find inspiration and start the blog by Saturday night I then hit the bottle Sunday, seems that the more I consume the easier the words flow (usually rubbish). As for my diet, Jenny is an excellent cook however my downfall is the 'just one cheese and biscuit’.

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    As for exercise, brisk walking of our dog at the moment is out of the question. I am fully mobile from my replacement hip op two winters ago, so much so that I even rejoined my childhood dinghy club last Christmas and as a present to myself bought an RS400 dinghy for some Wednesday night racing. However before I had the opportunity to waggle the tiller, after some 45 odd years of crawling round loft floors sailmaking, my knee decided enough was enough so for Christmas this year Santa is buying me a replacement. My exercise at the moment consists of cycling down to the beach each day at 6-30 in the morning where I join three other hardy folks for a dip in the North Sea, all of us shunning the benefit of wetsuits. Jenny thinks that we are all mad as hatters, however, after we have thawed out, it does set you up for the day and you do, as a bonus, get the benefit of some spectacular sunrises!

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    Anyway enough of my rambling, back to the subject matter. Colin Fletcher, these days the Scottish and Northern rep for Wessex Resins (manufacturers and distributors of West System,) called in the other day unannounced. Andy was on his 1/2 term week and seeing the boss wasn't around, Colin collared me and asked if I was still writing a weekly blog, to which I replied, 'yes'. He then dropped his car key onto the table and proceeded to tell me that as a canny Scotsman he had saved himself a truck load of money by mending his VW camper van key using a little blob of West G/Flex.  Apparently the metal part of the key had snapped off in the lock, fortunately he managed to extract the business end. Priced a new key, which was not cheap so decided to put G/flex, one of his companies products, to the test. Colin admitted that he didn't practice what he preaches, proceeded to mix a tiny quantity of the two components and joined them together with no surface preparation! A few thousand miles down the road the key is holding up, he is a happy chappie, and perhaps seeing he has saved himself a few quid the next time he calls in to see Andy at short notice, to keep him sweet, he brings with him a packet of shortbread!

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    When fitting out the Mystery we eventually used G/flex to bond the Whale grey water tank, which is manufactured from hard to bond polyethylene, to the glass-fibre bilge. We had initially tried Sikaflex 291i but whilst it stuck to the abraded GRP it didn't to the tank. By passing a flame across the surface of the waste tank and then setting the tank down onto 4 blobs of the mixed resin/catalyst mix we ended up with a tremendously strong bond. We also used, with great success, the same epoxy to glue a thin stainless plate to the wooden cover for the cooker. It means as soon as we had stopped cooking we could safely put the 'lid down' over the hot cooker surface freeing up a valuable serving surface. G/flex's ability to absorb the stress of expansion and contraction was invaluable and three years down the line no sign of the wood metal join failing. As can be seen it can be used with success to bond dissimilar materials and most importantly damp and difficult to bond woods! Incidentally if you're having a bad day, or perhaps on a diet day like me and my blog hasn't cheered you up, try watching the G/flex Epoxy Kayak challenge. If Sinbad the sailor was still around I am sure it would bring a smile even to his face!

  • 285. Top Tips Tuesday - Salt! It's bad for your health (except with your fish and chips)

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    My better half, many years ago, forbade me from applying a liberal sprinkling or ‘dusting’ of salt on my food. However there is still one exception to the rule for both of us and that’s salt on fish and chips (not that we regularly participate in this most wonderful of British dishes) As for the fish, it has to be haddock, not cod. I am told by one of our regular customers who, apart from sailing his beautiful Rustler 36 on the West Coast of Scotland, owns and runs the ‘best fish & chip shop in Sunderland’ his words not mine! Apparently line caught Haddock is far superior to net, mind you when we did get our visas approved, stamped and ventured into 'Mackem' country to sample his wares Jenny and I did agree that with that sprinkling of salt they were superb! In the village of Tynemouth where we live, just North of the river Tyne, there are two chippies, Marshalls which we used to frequent many many years ago after our Wednesday evening racing (Jimmy Hendricks allegedly bought his fish supper from there after playing a gig at the old CLUB A'GOGO in Newcastle. There is even a plaque on the wall to prove it!) The new kid on the block is the Longsands fish restaurant eat in or take out, always good but my and Jenny's grouse is that they, like a lot of other establishments, serve this dish when its a take out meal in a cardboard box, not in good old fashioned paper. This does, from my vast gastronomic experience, keep them warmer and absorbs the surplus oil. Mind you this marvellous British Institution always tastes better if beef dripping is used in the frying process but of course, like salt, apparently it's bad for you!

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    However salt is bad for your engine, your rigging, sails, sprayhood/canopies and of course clothing! If you are lifting out/winterising your inboard or outboard and you click on either of those two words you will get Andy’s wise words of wisdom on how to go about it and very importantly keep everything’ tickety boo and salt free!’ Incidentally the image below shows that even though I had run my little 2.5 Yamaha in fresh water for over 30 minutes there was still salt in the cooling channels  when I dropped the bottom end off to check the condition of the impeller. Next year I will be leaving the outboard out in Greece having checked out the bottom end this year but will make sure I run through some diluted Salt Off (I will add some to the very large plastic container I use when I flush this small engine) For larger outboards one can, of course, use muffs and they can also be used to feed the water/Salt Off mixture through my yachts sail drive using the handy reservoir which is part of the Salt Off kit, attach between your hose and the muffs.

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    As for your rigging, try and keep the lower terminal salt free as much as possible, by regularly washing down with fresh water, and if you have a spare few minutes, read online, ‘How to Keep the Stainless Steel Stainless’, The subject matter appears on page 9 in the Blue Wave wire design catalogue which you can view it by clicking here. For cleaning stainless fittings, Spotless Stainless is brilliant if your carrying it out in the summer in the UK or in warm climates. Daveyshine cleans, polishes and protects, bronze, brass, alloy, chrome and of course stainless and temperature is not an issue. We also sell this product to a few museums and stately homes! Have used both and can recommend them. Starbrite Chrome & Metal polish is another we stock, personally, I have never used it however, if it's as good as their Non Slip Deck Cleaner it will be a winner.

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    Salt deposits on sails, canvas work and foulweather gear can and do create problems. Salt crystals are abrasive, damaging stitching and can eventually break it down. If you have the need for speed do remember that spinnakers and assymetrics don’t ‘float’ so well in light airs due to the weight of the salt so regular washing in fresh water is essential. As far as sails and canvas work goes we use a dedicated sail laundry to wash and proof if a customer wants us to send them away but if you want to DIY we do have an excellent range of sailcloth/canvas cleaners and proofing agents. For foul weather gear always follow the manufacturers washing instructions and note if your breathable foulie(s) are now leaking (and they are not manufactured with Gore-Tex) nine times out of ten it will need recoating with something like Gill proofing spray. You would be surprised at the number of sprayhoods, stackpacks etc we get in for repair where the zips have ‘frozen’ solid or rotted away due to the presence of salt! If they are beyond repair we can sew in new however a little zipper lubrication never goes amiss where the article has a zip, my favourite brand is Shurhold’s Snapstick Zipper Lubricant.

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    If your power-boating or sailing is carried out on the sea when you get back to the marina it pays to wash down the decks using Starbrite non-skid deck cleaner and the top sides with Meguiar's one-step cleaner/wax on a regular basis to help maintain that shiny look and protect your investment, and of course, if laying up at this time of year don’t forget to give it a polish!

  • 284. Top Tips Tuesday - Now You See It, Now You Don't

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    I lead a very sheltered life now that I am well past the usual retirement age, and have been ‘booted upstairs’ to idle a few hours away in the sail loft attached to the bricks and mortar chandlery emporium of www.storrarmarine.co.uk. Sadly, with me now being consigned to the loft, I don’t get the opportunity to listen to the shop counter scandal and never ever get the chance to flick through suppliers catalogues which I used to enjoy. However, even though I am only supposed to be working part time, I have been asked on occasion to man the pumps down on the shop floor whilst boss man Andy Burgess swans off on a very rare holiday or perhaps gets his hands dirty with onsite work. Just last week saw him working down in the smoke at the world famous Henley River and Rowing Museum. His task, changing the overhead displays, which included lowering the priceless 1948 Olympic medal winning Henley Pair down and moving it to a different location, then lifting the Sydney gold medal winning four up into the clouds and once again securing it with stainless wire, numerous swaged splices, and of course, set up to the correct tension using stainless rigging screws.

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    So, for a second week, I once again find myself indispensable. Why? Andy B is now enjoying quality time with his two daughters as it's half term week up in the North East, and I am in the firing line, meeting, greeting and hopefully serving customers, and of course giving my opinion, for what its worth, a tackle by tackle overview of the matches that took place over the weekend. What a marvellous game we enjoyed on Saturday! Yesterday lunchtime saw me eating what we in the sail loft call a ‘train drivers’ sandwich (tomato & hard boiled egg in a brown granary bun seasoned with a sensation of ground black pepper and don’t ask why we call them that!) down in the chandlery office and idly thumbing through an old 2018 Bartoncatalogue. My eye was caught by a picture of Andy Laurence’s daughter, Ruby, relaxing in the cockpit of his beautifully restored Alan Hill designed Cutlass 27, Andy whom, when he is at work, steers www.marinechandlery.com down the high tech seas, then when it's rest and recreation time, he can be found either working on further restoration of Nellie Dean or sailing her out on the North sea. As a postscript he painted the topsides in Epifanes yacht enamel some three odd years ago and she still looks a million dollars!

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    The old traveller on Nellie Dean which was mounted at the aft end of the companion way was in the way, a trip hazard and a hair catcher. However, Andy ain’t got much left, bit like me, but he does often sail with his wife and daughter. Also, if in light winds he pulled the traveller slightly up to windward to keep the boom on the centreline (with minimum leech tension to aid pointing ability,) the old mainsheet traveller position made it almost impossible to go down below! By removing the old one and fitting one of Barton’s brilliant removable mainsheet track systems, apart from freeing up the cockpit when not in use by removing it completely, with it being located further aft the sheeting on the boom become more efficient!

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    As for the Henley 'project', well done Andy and the team, must have taught him well now let’s see if his photos of the two boats which are shown below are as good as his wire work. My verdict, yes, but don’t yet give up the day job! Not that I can talk, my headline image of the sandwich…… spot the ‘deliberate’ mistake! The catalogue under was a Schaefer one and not Barton, how many of you spotted that? My boss certainly didn’t when he proof read it!

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  • 283. Top Tips Tuesday - The Vital Spark

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    THE 'VITAL SPARK' was the name given to a fictional Clyde Puffer created by Scottish writer Neil Munro. Short stories regarding the exploits of the crew, and of course, the boat first appeared in the Glasgow Evening News in 1905. These small steamboats were, in those days, providing a vital supply route round the West coast of Scotland and the Hebridean Islands.

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    The cargo they carried was varied to say the least; one day coal, the next day furniture, perhaps gravel and often livestock. The stories appearing in that newspaper over a period of 20 years were collected in book form, inspired a film and came out as three popular television series. The series also brought David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, one of his first acting roles. When we first launched Hindsight, in order to light the stove I used either matches or a refillable Turbostick gas lighter, although I must confess the latter was more often using for sealing rope ends than lighting the cooker! Matches, even though our yacht is based in Greece (normally a sunny dry climate in the summer) were never that satisfactory an option, the combustible head would fly off or crumble and the striking pad on the box often seemed to attract moisture. Earlier this year I dug deep into my pocket, (dislodging a few moths at the time) and purchased an 'Electric Arc Lighter'.

    The beauty of this little beast is that there is no fuel to purchase and store, it's flame less and wind proof and it's charged through a USB cable which is included in the package. For charging this and other devices onboard Hindsight we have a Blue Seas USB dual chargerfitted on the console next to the chart table, and up on deck on the coach roof 'garage' is a second waterproof twin socket manufactured by Scanstrut. This I often use in conjunction with my old iPad which is wirelessly connected to my below deck Raymarine plotter and protected from the elements by a Gooper, in an easy to open/seal waterproof case.

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    As always electronic/electrical technology moves on and since we fitted our Mystery out those clever guys at Scanstrut have come out with another charger unit called the Scanstrut Rokk which charges at three times the rate! With the speed that my mobile discharges maybe I am due for an upgrade if not a new dog and bone.

    Scanstrut Rokk USB Charger Unit

     

     

  • 282. Top Tips Tuesday - I Can't Believe I'm Saying This!

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    Andy, who is these days the owner and boss man of the bricks and mortar Storrar Marine Store and www.marinechandlery.com, may well not be a happy chappy when he reads the below, as if you want to follow my 'words of wisdom' you can save yourself hard earned money in the future, as well as protecting your investment! Mind you as always there is a catch, you will have to spend a little to achieve this so maybe he will forgive me?

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    Consider removing all the halyards, reef lines etc from the mast and boom replacing them with 4mm polyester mousing lines. Apart from slowing any deterioration of them it will give you an opportunity to wash them, remove salt crystals which apart from being destructive makes the ropes less comfortable to handle when dry. Of course examine them for signs of chafe or wear and if satisfied store in a dry location out of direct sunlight. If you are leaving the mast up this year (I strongly recommend that you get it lifted out on a regular basis to check it out) make sure that the mousing lines are tied off on the pulpit so that they are not damaging the anodising by rubbing against the spar when the breeze is up.

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    Perhaps invest in a foil saver if you're not taking your mast off. When hoisted up the foil using the one remaining headsail halyard, tension is applied by tying the rope tail back to the mast. This action helps prevent the joints in the extrusions 'working' and in the worst case scenario failing. Many a headsail has ended up with a series of grey stains in the area of the joints due to the fretting of the alloy extrusions as they have become slack. If you do decide to take the plunge and purchase a foil saver from Andy you must specify the make and model of the headsail reefing gear you have.

    Maintain the value of your boat and obviously its looks by giving it a regular polish at least once a year if not more, once in the autumn and again in the spring is my recommendation but I sail Hindsight in the Ionian, where the sun is fierce, and of course if your hull is of a dark blue, green or red gelcoat, which are prone to fade, the only way to stop them chalking is by a regular maintenance programme. Yes it can be hard work if you are relying on elbow grease, however an initial investment in say a Shurhold polisher will not only save you time but when you come to sell your boat she will still look and command top dollar. I got my Shurhold some ten years ago it's still doing sterling service. It moves in 2 directions at the same time to prevent burning the surface. It also came with a built in circuit breaker so no worries about using it in an aggressive environment. Not the cheapest on the market however it gives a professional result in the hands of amateur as I have proved. As for polish/fine scratch removers I use and recommend the Meguiar’s range.

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    Something you never see up in the North East of England (maybe down South?) is the chain removed from the chain locker and hung up on an appropriate trestle or pallet and then washed down with fresh water. Stops it 'festering' in the locker and It also gives one the opportunity to give it and the swivel if fitted and shackle a thorough inspection.

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    Don't forget to stuff a rag soaked in something like WD40 up the end of the exhaust pipe if your boat has been laid up on a exposed coastline, perhaps stuff rags up drain outlets. Having said that if you have invested in a dehumidifier that drains into a sink don't block that one up!

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  • 281. Top Tips Tuesday - A Flash Of Inspiration!

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    The rig on the Mystery is that of a big mainsail with a slight overlapping 110% jib. To help control this tall slim sail there are 3 vertical battens in the leech and headsail cars that are 'remotely' controlled from the cockpit. As the breeze picks up you reduce the size of the headsail, the genoa  or jib car is moved for'ard on the track to maintain optimum trim, base of the jib sail flat but with a leech that is not too open but still allowing the airflow to 'escape'. Speaking of the breeze picking up, we had spent two nights in Kalamos harbour ('welcome to our harbour, my name is George, let me take your lines and by the way this is my taverna at the end of the quay') lovely guy, their shrimp saganaki is to die for.

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    Our destination that next morning was Nidri where it was our intention to refuel before our trip north to Corfu. The forecast was force 3 to 4 with thunderstorms forecast for later in the afternoon, we tripped anchor at 9:45, for once there was no other anchor over ours even though we were one of the first to arrive on the Tuesday afternoon. As we motored away from the harbour in a confused sea from the blow the night before but with no wind we did notice it getting fairly gloomy over the mainland on our starboard side.

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    Turned the corner, what little wind died away completely and we motored on enjoying flats seas down the channel between the mainland and Kalamos, up ahead however it didn't look too promising; black sky and lightning flashes in the distance, forecast as I have already said for 'later'. Within 20 minutes a spectacular but frightening thunderstorm all around us, the lightning taking on a purple tinge and by a simple calculation not that far away! From the flash it's 5 seconds per mile till you hear the thunder, well by Jenny's estimation it was now no more than a mile away! Then without warning came the wind and horizontal rain, we were knocked flat (no sails up) windspeed showing over 50 knots, visibility 10m max. Not sure it was a flash of inspiration that made us decide earlier not to hoist the main (tis so easy now we have our Ewincher), or a second sense as to what lay round the corner!

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    Out in the Ionian little or no wind is often the de facto and when there are clear blue skies and no threat of thunder our 'small' jib doesn't give Hindsight enough 'oomph' either close to or off wind, so out comes the code zero or the cruising chute. Both are sheeted using a Harken turning block at the stern however we also use, to great effect, an easily attached/removed tweaker or barber hauler to control the leech. The Antal is my favourite, manufactured from a lightweight composite material with a flexible attachment loop so less danger of, or damage to, you or your boat. A barber hauler can also be used with great effect off the wind if you have a overlapping genoa of say 135 or 150% which is a lot harder to set effectively than a sail with a shorter length foot.

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  • 280. Top Tips Tuesday - You Must Be Joking!

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    I got a text from Andy this Sunday morning, 'Too early to start laying up email? I have just had the first of another chandlers e-mails on the subject'. Well what with Hindsight on the Iris pontoon in Nidri and me looking out over the stern of our Mystery, yes there are a lot of boats now on the shore awaiting the colder weather but on a beautiful sunny day out in the Ionian it certainly doesn't put me in the mood to blog about all things cold and damp. I had, in Jenny's absence, (she flies out today courtesy of Easy Jet at considerably more cost than her Thomas Cook flight had been) almost got ahead of myself and completed the next blog so that I could give her my undivided attention when she arrives. Jen arrives late tonight so there are a load of things to do on the boat before she turns up, empty and get rid of the rubbish, clean the cooker, wipe down all the surfaces, air the bedding to name but a few of the tasks I need to do before I collect her. Oops, nearly forgot I need to fit in the Wales v Australia rugby match too. Dan one of my sons-in-law is an Aussie, however the folks on the boat next to me are all Welsh, which team do I support this morning?

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    Not quite panic stations but it did mean a quick trot up to the Iris pool bar to get an internet connection as well as seeking inspiration with a large, cool beer or two and the occasional swim. So here goes... a few of my laying up essentials. Firstly, once the sun stays low on the horizon, or on some days, never bothers to show its smiley face during the autumn/winter months, your boat may 'turn green.' Not just the decks and cabin surfaces away from the 'sun' but canvas work, furled sails, ropes etc will all suffer. To prevent this happening once you have given her a wash and coat of wax, spray a diluted solution of Wet & Forget on all the surfaces. By doing so you save yourself an awful lot of elbow grease and money (getting canvas work/sails laundered). Wet & Forget will keep the algae and mould at bay and incidentally if you have already got  'shades of green' you don't need to use any elbow grease. Just spray on and leave, nature will do the rest, either keep the contamination away or if you are already seeing signs of it it will be removed slowly by a combination of rain and wind!

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    Having said that if you are not using the boat in the winter, remove any item above deckthat can suffer, such as sprayhoods, sails, canopies etc, unless an item of canvas work is for instance protecting instruments or bright work. The more windage the more strain it puts on your mooring lines and cleats. Check your lines for chafe, cleats are secure and whilst on the subject don't forget to fit rubber shock absorbers to your lines and if you already have them stretch them out and check for signs of deterioration. Check your fenders, are they strong enough for the winter ahead?

    It's a good idea to drain your water system down, especially if lifting out, as the air temperature can be a lot lower than the sea and consequently the interior of the boat a lot colder. However don't forget to run non toxic Freeze Ban through the system, you would be surprised the number of folks who don't. A small amount of untreated water in say the water pressure pump  or the water filter can freeze and destroy that particular piece of equipment! A chap I know didn't run Freeze Ban through his system even though he drained everything and come next season filled his water tank and could not understand why the pressure pump ran continuously. Yes he was filling the bilges as a result of a plastic fitting failing when the water inside froze!

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    So once you have removed all the perishables, don't forget to remove all the soft furnishings and anything that will collect and retain moisture. It's then a case of keeping the interior dry. If you haven't got shore power the Starbrite No Damp dehumidifiers are an excellent way of drawing moisture out of the interior, however if your boat does have, for instance, a keel stepped mast (rain water can often find its way into the bilges) or say a weep on a stanchion you will need to be replacing the crystals on a fairly regular basis. If you have a dehumidifier, no problem plug and play but make sure it can drain into the galley sink. The two 240 volt units we stock are the excellent Meaco DD8L Junior and the Seago Smart Dry 2. Andy has used the former to great effect during his past St Peters River Tyne winter series, he credits the boats numerous wins to a good helm and his skill on the foredeck, cynics such as me put it down to a drier lighter sports boat!

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    Protect your engine, make sure that the antifreeze hasn't been diluted by topping up with fresh water during the season and is to the correct strength, change the oil and the filterand if an inboard consider one if those very economical tube heaters to leave under the sump. Eliminate condensation in your fuel tank by filling it up and make sure you add Marine 16 to avoid the dreaded diesel bug.

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    On the subject of laying up we have some excellent in depth (not written by me!) articles on our site. Read more on laying up for winter and also winterising your engine (inboardand outboard), you may save yourself a lot of hard work, heartache and expense next spring! As for me I am off to watch the rugby, pint in hand and sitting in the sun, yes it's a hard life but someone has to do it!

  • 279. Top Tips Tuesday - Stupid O'Clock/Good and Bad News

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    As you may have read in an earlier blog, we had to abandon our second 'sailing in the sun' holiday. The good news is that Jenny's chest pain, the doctors have discovered, is the result of her throwing the ball every day for Millie our dog using what we Storrar's call the 'twanger'. For the uninitiated it's a length of plastic, handle one end and a cup to hold a ball see image above. Once loaded and 'fired' it will (in the right hands) propel a tennis ball a fair old distance! Her UK doctors have now diagnosed a muscular issue/repetitive strain causing the problem as against something a lot more serious. Having said that we cannot fault the staff at the Corfu hospital for the care that Jenny received the other week during her hospitalisation.

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    So here I am again out in the Corfu boatyard awaiting an early Monday launch. The Newcastle to Corfu flight departed at six am Sunday morning, the first part of the bad news was a stupid o'clock taxi collection 3:30 in the morning to meet up with friends who were flying out to their yacht. Mind you, whilst cursing the early start that they had requested, I was glad of the extra time 'twiddling my thumbs' as my carry on cabin bag was rejected by security. Twas bad news again, because a pair of elastic shock cord pliers in my carry on bag were apparently a dangerous weapon. They didn't seem bothered about the Ewincheror the MOB1 I also had in my hand luggage. Seven pounds  sterling was what it cost to get my carry on sent out as hold luggage. Incidentally I have borrowed these same pliers from the sail loft on three other occasions and never had an issue, must have been the early start security crowd not yet bored sitting behind the X-Ray machine! So today, this Monday morning, the bad news continued as I watched the boat yard guys move our yacht to the slipway cradle I get a text from Jenny still in the UK. "Thomas Cook are in liquidation, I'm trying to find another carrier, watch this space". Another text follows, "I'm back on schedule, same airline that you flew out on, same ungodly hour but now four times the price that you paid some two weeks ago!"

    The good news out in the Ionian is that you can almost guarantee sunshine but the bad news is that the sun and UV exposure certainly play havoc with items made from PVC, nylon etc in double quick time and even though we strip the boat down of all 'perishables', when not on Hindsight it is surprising just how quickly they can degrade. Our horseshoe life buoy three and a half years old which has only been exposed to daylight for 13 months has already turned sticky (depending on the make you can often purchase replacement outers at a sensible price) and the Rescue Throw Bag outer cover has already perished through exposure to the Sun's rays.

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    To prolong the life of all the soft items on the deck I always say, 'not using it? Store it away' and that not only applies to boats in hot countries but also the UK! Yes it's easy to remove a horse shoe buoy etc but if your not using the boat from say December till March get the spray hood, canopies and sails off (the exception to the rule, if the canopy or hood is protecting varnish work or a vulnerable hatch) and by reducing windage you are also taking the strain and chafe out of mooring lines, fenders etc.

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