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

  • 228. Top Tips Tuesday - Adonis On The Stern Deck?

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    Poseidon was the Greek God of the sea, earthquakes, storms and horses and is considered to be one of the most bad-tempered, 'bit like me' says my better half? Having said that, would you have opened this blog if it was titled Poseidon on the stern deck? Probably not! Posing for this shot wasn't too hard, I managed to hold my breath and keep my stomach in long enough!

    The last couple of days we have been at anchor in Vliho bay around the corner from Nidri, no shore leave possible as the weather system worked its way past.  I'm so glad we have a Vulcan anchor, one of the new generation anchors (same designer as the Rocna/same holding power but no roll bar to foul our Selden bowsprit) on the end of our chain with a scope of 7:1, which according to the authors of that excellent book 'Happy Hooking, The Art Of Anchoring' is ok. Having said that, I would have preferred 8:1 however the room to swing was limited as there was an awful lot of folks sheltering. We didn't drag, however it was a night to stay on deck as there was a lot of movement! Fenders were deployed in anticipation, a large flashlight and horn joined us. Luckily no one made contact but there were a few near misses.

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    Our heads compartment is set up for one to have a shower,  the mixer unit trigger head is on a hose so no problem, however with space being limited and if it's warm enough, I prefer to use the Whale unit in the cockpit. Yes it's cold water only, however as a tough old Northern git sailing in Greece (whenever Andy gives me shore leave) I can live with this! The shower unit also gets called into use when I have just had a swim or the cockpit needs a wash down.

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    The more sophisticated units have both hot and cold taps in a self contained unit which usually are flush mounted into the transom, the idea being you stand on the 'swim platform' and wash yourself down after a swim or if you want to keep the combined heads/shower area dry.

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  • 227. Top Tips Tuesday - Look, No Hands!

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    Sorry it's a bit misleading this title of mine, should read 'look no feet’. However it don't sound rite as a title. The Mystery 35 is unusual in so much as most modern cruising yachts these days over 30ft are fitted with a wheel steering, however Hindsight has a good old fashioned tiller c/w a Spinlock adjustable tiller extension. The advantages of tiller steering are that you get so much more feedback when going upwind, it also lets you know when you need to reef as the tiller starts to load up, or if you are starting to broach when hard pressed downwind, the rudder loses grip and the feel through the extension disappears....it goes light. The downside of tiller steering is that when you are going astern, unless you keep a very very firm grip and only use small amounts of movement, it kicks like a mule! So letting go of the tiller to throw the lines when stern to quay mooring 'Med style’ can be a challenge whilst Jenny is still up forward paying out the chain.

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    Whilst we haven't had any cross words (plenty time for that yet) we did feel it would be nice on occasions to have Jenny back on the stern deck with lines ready to step ashore/ fend off or whatever. We fitted a Quick windlass during the build. No complaints as yet, however two years on and a growing number of stern to berthings I did notice the other week that they do sell a remote radio receiver and hand held fob at an attractive price.

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    Trouble is that electrics are not my strong point however when we took the plunge it wasn't that hard to fit. In fact the hardest thing was stopping the sweat running into my eyes when attempting to fix the receiver (grey box in the image) to the chain locker bulkhead. The smaller box to the left of the receiver is an on/off switch and the fuse, both recommended by Quick so that in the case of a issue you can isolate the receiver.

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  • 226. Top Tips Tuesday - Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

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    Once upon a time we dreamt of eventually taking a yacht down to the Mediterranean as we had spent a number of very enjoyable fortnights on Peter and Anita's ketch rigged Oyster and thought in my retirement (or semi retirement as it's worked out) this would be that dream.

    The first time we spent a night aboard their ketch some eight or nine years ago was in Vlikho Bay near Nidri at Levkas. Next morning after, dare I say it, a rather late session in the Vlikho yacht club and feeling a bit shabby (must have been the dodgy prawns I ate the night before) I was told by Anita that my task as we got underway was chief washer up, ie washing the anchor and chain of the glutinous mud for which the bay is famed, and woe betide me if I left any trace as Jen my long suffering wife's task was to flake the chain down below in the fore peak chain locker. The high pressure hose that they had was an excellent weapon, bit like a surgeons scalpel as to the way it cut through the muck!

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    Well some years later, after we sold our Hunter Channel 31, we persuaded Cornish Crabbers to sell us a Stephen Jones Mystery 35 bare hull and deck c/w internal bulkheads, fitted keel and rudder assembly (incidentally the original builders, Hunters, refused us this option years earlier, likewise Select before they went into liquidation, same answer). Three quarters of the way through the build Jenny said 'don't forget the deck wash' and of course I had forgotten. We had already fitted those excellent Forespar through hull seacocks, so no worries about electrolysis, 3/4 inch for salt water toilet inlet and two 1 1/2 for black water waste (toilet and holding tank) so was very reluctant to cut another hole in the hull. Fortunately, my co director Andy, now some years later my boss, came to the rescue. "Why not fit an Aquafax Brass Manifold to the 3/4 inlet, 'T' off for toilet, deck wash and here is your bonus ball why not also fit a salt water pump next to the sink and use salt water for washing dishes/boiling spuds etc as carrying fresh water on the Mystery may be an issue".

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    Well Jenny's happiness is complete, or almost, as when raising the anchor it's so easy to clean the chain whilst it's being lifted. The Parmax deck wash pump is fitted below deck in a small locker and it's been wired so that once the windlass is switched on the 'pistol' can be used for cleaning duties.

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    The hose assembly is stored in our chain locker however the self sealing bayonet fitting on the end of hose allows the assembly to be disconnected should storage space be an issue.

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  • 225. Top Tips Tuesday - String Em Up

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    No it's not a rant about our current batch of politicians, nor for those of a similar age who may have worn the popular sixties string vests and pants, a reminiscence of days past when men were men and my teacher wife Jenny could hug a child in the playground who had grazed her knee! Trap the air (that was the theory behind these undergarments) between the skin and the next item of clothing. Nowadays the excellent base layers from Gill or Musto do a great job of keeping you warm and wicking moisture away.

    Storage on our Mystery 35 is fairly limited, being of a relatively narrow beam and a traditional layout, no aft cabin but a quarter berth next to the nav station so storage is an issue. When it comes to reading matter I prefer the feel of paper rather than say a Kindle, which means we carry loads of books, mags, Sudoku books for Jenny and sometimes newspapers. Storage of paperbacks is easy, we have a dedicated book shelf, however for the other items we rely on the chromed, elasticated string, storage/magazine rack, it's surprising just how many 'hard to stow items' it will accommodate.

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    Fruit, with the exception of bananas, we pop into one of the hanging string storage netsthat Andy sells by the bucket load! Not only fruit but glasses cases seem to find their way there too! It’s great not to end up with all these on the saloon boards once the breeze picks up!

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    Writing about storage, Blue Performance do a large range of items from rail mounted stowage 'bags', cockpit bags, halyard bags, bulkhead bags and of course cabin tidies. It’s worth browsing through their range it’s very comprehensive!

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    Whilst our local Wednesday evening series has now finished up at the RNYC Northumberland with, dare I say it, a satisfactory conclusion, we are sitting in the waterside bar of the yacht club, Corfu Mandraki, composing this blog (claiming expenses of course from Andy for the cool beers consumed). Once Jenny has proof read the subject matter, it will be an afternoon zizz under the Blue Performance Free Hanging Sunshade (note to self, I must finish the Bimini which I started to fit over a year ago), head and back supported by those brilliant Freebags! Second note to Andy....  add Jen's two ice cold rosé blushes to my expenses account.

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    Once the breeze dies and it's time for beddybyes, we rely on our mozzie companion wayand hatch nets to keep those nasty critters away from our delicate skin!

  • 224. Top Tips Tuesday - When The Going Gets Tough

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    When the going gets tough the tough get going and you can bet your bottom dollar that these daring artists will be relying on first class equipment to help keep them safe whilst performing various 'death defying' acts. Cirque Du Soleil were in town last week (Newcastle upon Tyne) from August the 29th till Sunday the 2nd. Those of you that are familiar with the 'experience' will know that they perform to very high standards both at ground level and in the air. Boss Andy is a great fan of them. He has seen them eight times, four times in Las Vegas the rest of the time in the UK, the most recent being last Sunday. The other day we were delighted to get an order for both Spinlock and Wichard equipment from their head of acrobatic rigging. The Spinlock clutch they ordered was the XCS model, it features alloy sides for sustained higher load operation and if you require it, you can upgrade the cam and base plate to the ceramic coated version for consistent holding and performance on high tech line. The XCS model will also handle a wide variety of lines from 8mm-14mm and is available in a choice of colours - white coated, black anodised or silver polished alloy.

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    Equipment that performs to the highest standards is essential to the safety of the Cirque Du Soleil artists and the smooth and safe running of the various acts. Both Andy and myself also 'perform to the highest standard,' well almost in my case with my advancing age and dodgy sailmakers knees, when either racing on the St Peters winter series or in my case the hotly contested RNYC Wed night series when I am back in the UK. We both rely on the Spinlock Deck Vest LITE for safety and comfort, especially for Andy whilst he wrestles with the the spinnaker pole on the foredeck!

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    On the Mystery 35 that Jenny and I now sail in Corfu we rely, for rope handling, on two banks of Spinlock cleats. They have been a revelation compared to another well know make that we had fitted to our last yacht! We both rely on Spinlock Deck Vests, elasticated safety lines and carry one of their Deck Pro Mast Harnesses should I be sent up the mast and of course, with the Mystery being tiller steered, one of their excellent adjustable tiller extensions!

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    The Wichard 10mm bow shackles we are supplying to the Cirque Du Soleil feature an allen pin (no risk of snagging) and have a working load of 1440kgs. Incidentally this well known manufacturer of high quality marine hardware also build and market a range of furling systems under the Profurl banner. Having fitted a number of these systems in the past they are built to the highest standards and are competitively priced!

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  • 223. Top Tips Tuesday - Got That Sinking Feeling

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    If your boats in the water and you're 'abandoning ship' for a few weeks or more you need to have the utmost confidence in your electric bilge pump and the float switch if ones fitted*. You must of course, make sure the pump is permanently connected to the battery once you turn the isolating key to the off position! The correct size fuse must be fitted in case there is a problem with the pump. If a float switch is fitted you must make sure that there is no debris in the bilge that may impede the working of it ie floating debris jamming it open maybe resulting in a burnt out motor. *If your yacht or powerboat is on a swinging mooring perhaps a quay wall and there is no external power source and if your automatic electric bilge pump is the type that does not have a float switch but is activated by sensing a resistance against the impeller every 2 1/2 minutes you should of course be aware of the current drain on the battery, if it's say a small Rule 500 GPH, its weekly consumption is 1.4 amps per week in checking mode, if it's the larger 1100GPH Model it's 1.8 amps per week.

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    As for manual bilge pumps, when was the last time you replaced the diaphragm? There are no hard and fast rules as to when it should be replaced however if it's exposed to the weather and you do not know its history, my advice would be to change it ASAP! If ordering a replacement don't send us the old one, we only need the model type ie Whale Gusher Urchin or Henderson MK V etc.

    As for bailing out your dinghy or getting to the bottom of a deep bilge on say a Folkboat, there is nothing better than the Whale easy bailer. It's available in two different sizes and can also be used as a diesel (not petrol) transfer pump. Maybe you are participating in the ARC this year, if so it's great for transferring fuel from Jerry can to the tank. Alternatively the Rule Submersible and Inline pump can be used with a lot less effort or the Battery Operated Handy Pump which can also pump petrol as well as diesel. Writing about diesel however, if the diaphragm on your manual bilge pump is neoprene and not nitrile and you have had a small amount of that fuel in the bilge and pumped it out (responsibly of course) the chances are that it's now beyond redemption!

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  • 222. Top Tips Tuesday - Toilet Tips

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    Alliteration, apparently it's when the first letter of every word in the sentence is the same, according to my retired school teacher wife! However let's get back to the subject in question. Most sailors would agree that it's in or around the heads, be it a yacht or powerboat, that more often or not we end up with an issue. In our years of owning a boat and having sailed with friends on their yachts,  touch wood it's always been in the headscompartment that we have come to a 'sticky end' and not at the seacock! However if the problem is down below where the discharge pipe exits the hull, its not usually a costly lift and a couple of days lost as that excellent device the Seabung could save your wallet as no expensive lift out nor time on the water lost!

    A well known marine toilet manufacturer recommends that, after visiting the heads you should pump the waste away with the minimum of seven strokes (both up and down) per metre of discharge pipe, but having on occasions being awakened by the sound of a manual toilet pump being used in the middle of the night methinks not a lot of guys adhere to this guideline! As for me, and having in the past had to unblock the outlet on more than one occasion, the first image of the blog was taken on the pontoon at Graciosa a small island off the tip of Lanzarote, Jenny abandoned ship whilst I cursed and sweated buckets! Nowadays I usually pump through some more 'fresh' water to help prevent a build up of uric scale. However, I am also a great believer in a dose of LeeScale on a regular basis, not for me I hasten to add, but a 10%  mixture (20% if you have a large build up) flushed down the toilet to help clear build up on the inside of the outlet pipe. Incidentally, LeeScale can be left in the system overnight for maximum effect.

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    Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner & Lubricant, which we keep in our heads compartment, helps remove stains and water deposits from bowls easily and quickly. It can be used with confidence in all plastic and china bowls, and as it contains no harsh chemicals it will not damage seals or valves. Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner will not interfere with the action of most holding tank treatments and the product that I now use is Odourlos. It breaks down waste, is 100% organic and biodegradable and prevents unwanted odours!

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    When working on the interior of Hindsight and concentrating on the heads area, we fitted an Oceanair Brush & Stow Compact toilet brush. The Brush & Stow is wall mounted and has a lock-in lid which keeps shower water out and odours in! The brush head is the perfect size for all marine toilets and replaceable brush heads are available. From the same company we also flush mounted their DRYroll waterproof toilet roll dispenser. As its name implies, it's perfect for keeping the toilet paper dry and the clever design means that when you close the 'lid' it automatically rewinds any spare paper! The dispenser can also be surface mounted, all in all an excellent bit of kit!

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    The saying 'don't put anything down the toilet unless it's been eaten first' is a rule that should be strictly adhered to and for the crew of Hindsight that includes toilet paper! Yes you can get soluble paper but why increase the risk of a blockage and hours spent taking the plumbing apart? Been there, got the medal!

  • 221. Top Tips Tuesday - Sacrificial Strips And Another Exciting Subject

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    In the last three weeks we have had in our sail loft a couple of large furling genoas that have suffered badly from UV damage, so much so that we have had to remove a 30cm strip from one and about 40cm of damaged cloth from the other. In both these instances there was no sacrificial strip sewn to the aft edge of the leech nor the foot to protect the sailcloth from the effects of UV exposure. In the UK the majority of furling genoas are fitted with UV strips as standard, however some sailors prefer to use a 'zipped sock' which is hoisted up to protect the sail when not in use. The skippers who go down this route are often club racers. Why? The sail sets better in light winds because of the lighter weight. Across the North Sea Dutch sailors seem to be much keener on these protective socks, perhaps it's because a lot of sailing is on inland waters and the winds tend to be lighter. If you don't have a sac strip fitted as standard to your roller reefing headsail, you need to either lower the sail after sailing, hoist a 'Furled Headsail Cover' or contact your local sailmaker and have a UV strip fitted! Don’t forget to tell the guys in the loft which side the strip should be fitted on alternatively we can supply an ‘off the shelf’ cover in pale grey. However, if you want a bespoke in your favourite colour no problem give us a bell and we will make one!

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    Sacrificial strips, as their name suggests, will over a number of years deteriorate whilst protecting the sailcloth below. However, if the strip is nearing the end of its useful life (you can often tell by the dramatic colour change in the cloth) and you are on your summer cruise when it starts to fail don't attempt to repair it with adhesive sail repair tape, instead use  some Tear Aid A. It's strength and adhesive properties are outstanding on fabrics and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only repair tape that will successfully adhere to acrylic canvas. However, it has its limitations. Tear Aid A can not be used to repair clear panels in sprayhoods or PVC products, for those applications you need Tear Aid B, great also for repairing boss man Andy's garden paddling pool, repaired almost  three years ago and still going strong! Tear Aid is brilliant as a repair material for foulies and other sailing garments, my images shows my 'team' Vounaki Jacket which was repaired in great haste just before I disappeared off for six weeks of hard sailing! The repair, incidentally, is still holding up four months later having survived a vigorous washing at the wrong temperature.

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  • 220. Top Tips Tuesday - Scrub A Dub Dub

    c7e6d2ef-136c-4e99-84f4-278619fed724With our Mystery 35 now in Greek waters, last year, to escape the midsummer heat, we abandoned the good ship Hindsight in late June. Hindsight was 'parked' up in the small marina at Mandraki on Corfu Island while we flew back to the UK. When we returned early September that year I noticed that round the waterline we had a rather nice 'beard' on the starboard side of the hull; on the port side (which didn’t get nearly as much sun) the start of one too. It's a fact that no matter how good your antifouling is, if your boat is not being used regularly you will, especially with the sunshine we have been having recently in the UK, get some growth round the waterline. Assuming you have used a boot top antifoulround the waterline at the start of the season, scrubbing the surface to remove the growth will not remove this coating.

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    If you are on a pontoon berth with access fingers, the Shurhold speciality angled brush is an excellent weapon to remove this growth with minimum effort; available in two style of head round or oblong, both can also be used for topside cleaning! OK you will have to turn the boat round to get to the other side, but it shouldn't take you too long to give her a 'shave.' If, however, you don't have the luxury of a finger pontoon and are on 'slime lines' as we are in Greece, or on a swinging mooring, you may well find that the best way to attack the waterline growth is jump into a dinghy and hold yourself in position with a Suction Lifter (I also use it for lifting my floorboards, but that’s a different story!). In your other hand is a 3M Scotch Brite Hand Pad which will, with very little effort, clear the waterline of the growth.

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  • 219. Top Tips Tuesday - Hot, Sweaty And A Flash Of Lightning

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    With the kind of weather we have been experiencing over the last few days it does so remind me of our last two weeks in the Ionian, just before we abandoned the good ship Hindsight to escape the Greek mid summer heat. Yes we also got lightning, thunder and hailstones, not to mention torrential rain! Back in the UK with the unseasonably warm weather we have been having (certainly for the North East), we have seen a sharp increase in products that Andy retails that help keep you comfortable below deck. High tech materials to put on top or under your bunk mattress, windscoops to circulate air through the boat when the breeze is up and electric fans when the breeze switches off.  Easy to erect and stow sunshades, and maybe, after this weekend's electrical storms, we will sell a few Forespar Lightning dissipators.

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    Should you have a classic yacht or powerboat or just a boat which has the bunks covered in traditional vinyl, with the night time temperature we have been experiencing you will probably end up all hot and sweaty so why not consider investing in some CoolMax high tech fabric, it's designed to manage moisture by improving air circulation and to reduce humidity build up while you sleep. It's manufactured from an innovative fabric which ''breathes'' so that when you lie on it, the heat and moisture generated by your body will evaporate within the first hour. This will then allow your body to maintain a cool environment while you rest. Cut to size, lay it on the bunk and enjoy a cooler nights sleep! CoolMax can, of course, be used with great success on bunks that have a woven covering.

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    Airmat has always been a steady seller but now it's hard to keep up with demand. Unlike Cool Max you put it under the bunk(s) or the saloon upholstery. Designed to allow improved airflow, which of course dramatically reduces moisture build up, through its 8mm thickness. This provides a solution to the age old problem of left over condensation and resulting mildew growth under bunk mattresses or cushioned areas.

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    12 Volt fans are now not only being shipped abroad to hotter climates but of course there is a demand for them in the UK. From the market leading Caframo range, the three speed Bora is the model Jenny and I have fitted in our cabin and on those still nights when the temperature is still high, the breeze has disappeared and the Windscoop ineffective, the fan can be a godsend. Mind you if it had been around when we fitted out Hindsight the new Maestro would have been the one to go for. Why? Because it's remote control and if I wanted to switch it on or off I wouldn't have to get out of my bunk!

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    If, however, there is a little or more breeze we rely on a Windscoop, the original ventilating sail. It’s aerodynamically designed to force the slightest breeze into your cabin to keep you cool and comfortable. It fits any hatch or companion-way up to 120cm and can be hung from a halyard or rigging.

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    Now that the build of Hindsight is 'almost' complete (only 35 items on the list to tick) and we have the Bimini fitted (still needs a little fine tuning however) the Free hanging Sunshade is now redundant. It was, however, last year a brilliantly effective piece of kit as the Bimini was still in kit form back in the UK! The Deck Sunshade from the same company is a great way of helping to keep the interior cool. Like the free hanging Sunshade you can assemble and pack it away in a minute and both are manufactured from rip stop, reflective material that provides UV protection.

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    Never thought about fitting a Forespar Lightning Dissipator however after a year in Greece and experiencing a few of the lightning storms, I thinks I may have been remiss in not fitting one to the top of our mast; oops my list of jobs to do has just jumped to 36!

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