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

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

    Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 10.38.55

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!


    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.


    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.


    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!

  • 218. Top Tips Tuesday - Three Times As Fast


    My old iPhone and iPad are a bit like me, long past their sell by date; the phone was one of my bosses cast offs from some four years ago and as for the iPad, well it was won in a competition run by International Paints many many years ago, both still working (just) and both held together with West's G-flex epoxy! Like me their endurance or battery life is not that great and, when on our Mystery during May and June of this year, it seems like they both needed charging constantly. The iPad was in the cockpit repeating our Raymarine plotter information, as for the phone, we used it to keep us up to date on the weather, the Windy and Foreca apps being our preferred source of information. Both devices are protected from the elements in those excellent, easy to use, Gooper waterproof to 30 metre cases!


    Our waterproof Scanstrut USB port, as shown installed on our Mystery 35, has been excellent in giving us an 'on deck' source of power, but the two units have a very short battery life so the new Scanstrut Rokk Charge+ which charges at three times the rate and costs only £36.95 would have a vital role to play onboard Hindsight.


    • The socket will work with any USB Type-A connector to charge up to 2 devices at a time.
    • Compatible with phones, tablets, fish finders and chartplotters.


    • Tested and approved IPX4 waterproof rating with the cover closed and waterproof with 1, 2 or even 0 cables plugged.


    • Designed for use in all marine environments, whatever the conditions. Anti-corrosion coating on circuit board combines with a UV resistant shell and 316 stainless hinge and spring.


    • Easy to install with a low profile and small mounting footprint, the socket can be both opened and closed with ease; even with gloves on.


    • Standard barrel size also fits existing USB sockets.


    • Input Voltage: 6-30V
    • Output Voltage: 5V =/-5%
    • Cut out Dimensions: 29mm (1 1⁄8'') dia.
    Scanstrut Rokk Charger+
  • 217. Top Tips Tuesday - Small But Perfectly Formed


    Yes I know I have, at times, rambled on or gone off at a tangent when 'blogging away.' I always blame it on the alcohol that seems to lubricate the creative juices! However, to get to the point quickly, this Saturday past I was on the front line, working in the bricks-and-mortar chandlery when a customer  started questioning me about the range of hand held VHF radios we carried. Little did I realise that in the display cabinet under the counter I was standing behind held a little gem, the new Standard Horizon Ultra Compact HX40Ehandheld vhf. Reading off my script I told him about the HX300E, at just over £100.00 with 5 watts of output probably our best-selling handheld, I then mentioned the top of the range HX870E with its 6 watt output it has the advantage of built in DSC and GPS, great as an onboard backup or chuck into the grab bag if the s..t hits the fan. At that moment my boss butted in (obviously wanting to deny me my commission) saying "hot off the press is this little beauty, the new ultra compact HX40E" and cutting me out completely he ran through all it's features!

    The new Standard Horizon HX40E compact handheld VHF radio

    The new HX40E is only 52mm wide by 95mm high by 33 mm deep making it the smallest marine handheld Standard Horizon have ever produced. Despite its small size, it still offers 6W of output power and delivers a loud 600mW of audio output.

    Other valuable features of the new HX40E are; Submersible (IPX7 – 1m for 30 minutes), FM Broadcast Receive, ATIS setting for inland Waterways, Preset key used to recall up to 10 favorite channels, Easy-to-Operate Menu System, Scanning operation and Multi-Watch (Dual Watch and Triple Watch), CH16/S Quick Access. The built-in Lithium Polymer battery is 1850mAh which delivers exceptional battery life as well as 3 hour quick charging with the supplied charger.

    Mind you I had the last laugh as just after Andy finished his sales pitch, the phone rang. It was an urgent call for him; I made the sale, hopefully I'll be getting the commission but don't hold your breath!

  • 216. Top Tips Tuesday - Wash Day Blues


    Having spent almost two months on Hindsight earlier this year living the life, it was an eye opener in so much that, even though we lived in shorts and t-shirts, washing them, underwear and of course bedding came round so quickly. Back in the days before automatic washing machines started to appear, Monday tended to be the day for washing and of course ended up in song with Dolly Parton the American country and western singer writing and recording a song entitled 'Wash Day Blues' which included the lines....' No blue Monday washday I look like a lady hobo, just rubbing and scrubbing'. As for Jenny and I it was a case of rubbing and scrubbing small quantities and frequently! Collapsible buckets came in very handy as did our brilliant stainless steel clothes pegs, which were tested to 35 knots of breeze!

    Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 10.23.19

    If you're willing to pay for it, there is, in Greece, the opportunity to have your laundry done in marina complexes (assuming you are near to one) and in most towns or larger villages where a laundry service is available. Prices do vary from around 12 euros a 'load' or less. On our return from Greece I was staggered to learn, when back at my ‘part time work’ (six days last week/six days this), that in the last week of June Andy sold via his website no less than 5 Soba Babynova washing machines! Sadly we cannot fit one in on our Mystery 35. The below image shows one of these machines installed on a Sun Oddessey 42DS thanks Kevin for the that, incidentally he writes ‘the plinth can be removed to get to the filter’.


    Features include:

    • Compact size
    • 3kg drum capacity
    • Bolt down or roller option
    • Stainless Steel drum and tub
    • Automatic temperature control
    • 50KG Weight when empty

    Technical Data:

    • Spin Speed 1000rpm
    • Dimensions (h/w/d) cm 67/46/46
    • Energy Efficiency class B
    • Power consumption (60 degrees) 0.7kWh
    • Washing efficiency B
    • Drum capacity 3kg
    • Water consumption 48L
    • Programme Duration (60 degrees) 100mins
    • Features: Wool programme, temperature selection, eco valve, body galvanised & powder coated, stainless steel drum & tub, detergent drawer to front.
    • Power and Water Supply: Voltage – 230V, Watts – 2.2kW, Fuse protection – 10A,
    • Cold water supply
  • 215. Top Tips Tuesday - Clawing To Windward


    It's a well known fact that as you start to reduce the area of your roller reefing headsail area in response to the breeze piping up, one’s ability to make good progress to windward diminishes rapidly and before you say it, yes, a sail fitted with a foam luff does help flatten the sail but nothing beats a nice flat headsail for that upwind performance. In the good old days before roller reefing systems became the norm and a genoa or jib was hanked on, one would go to sea with a ‘quiver’ of headsails consisting of at least a number 1, 2, 3 and of course a storm jib. Many a happy hour was spent by sailors of my generation clinging on for dear life on a foredeck whilst we did a head sail change as the wind increased! The downside, of course, was time spent on the bucking foredeck but on the plus side windward performance was not compromised which is always reassuring when there is a leeshore close to hand. The question is….how does one get the best of both worlds, the convenience of a roller reefing genoa which can be reduced in area at a ‘pull of the line’ and once the sail is an appropriate size for the wind strength still retain pointing ability? Perhaps you should consider the French made Storm-Bag.


    We have been selling the Storm Bag in the UK for over eight years and the feed back we get is that yes it makes a brilliant storm sail, easy to deploy with minimum time spent on the foredeck, however a number of our customers have also used it to great effect as a number three jib praising its excellent ability to punch to windward. If you have, say, a yacht of thirty three feet and wanted a dedicated storm jib we would recommend the 6m²model, however if you want a heavy weather head sail/storm jib you may want to consider the next size up which is the 8m² model. The Storm-Bag, (whatever size from 4m² to 13m²) is packaged for immediate deployment with minimal hassle on a furled headsail. The main virtue is simplicity and safety, less time on the foredeck and also avoids the need for a baby stay with all the expensive installation that would be required. The Storm-bag wraps around the furled genoa and forms a perfect aerofoil eliminating any dead area at all and avoiding the turbulence that can effect a sail on an inner forestay.

    Here is an article by Norwegian sailor Jon Amtrup:


    “Today, Norwegian sailor Jon Amtrup, cruising expert and publisher of TheSailNews shows you a new innovative product that allows you to hoist a storm jib faster and easier and from the safety of the cockpit!

    There is no really easy way to hoist a storm sail when the weather is bad. The key is to be prepared. And the new Storm-bag looks like a product that can make life on foredeck and on board much easier in a big blow.

    The Storm-bag is a new concept from the company Storm-bag Delta voiles in the French sailing Mecca Trinité sur mer. They have seen the way modern cruisers are set up with one furling Genoa and very seldom any cutter stay.

    What to do when there is a big blow coming? The shape of a nearly rolled up Genoa is very seldom a good solution.

    And to take the Genoa down on deck may seem like a nightmare for people who are only taking it down every autumn.

    There already exists a few different solutions for rigging a storm jib, but most of them require a lot of work on the foredeck in heavy conditions. The Storm-bag is so far the smoothest solution we have seen.

    It comes folded in a yellow soft bag. Wrap it around the furled Genoa, attach the halyard, tack strop, and sheets and it is ready to be hoisted from the safety of the cockpit. The orange sail is double so it folds around the furled Genoa, and the two separate clews join together as one.”

  • 214. Top Tips Tuesday - Summer Cruising Prep


    It’s that time of year when you may be thinking of, or have already started to get ready for, your summer cruise, here are a few tips that may help you have a trouble free and enjoyable cruise. Have you checked your rig recently? Make sure all split pins are secure in the clevis pins and have been taped over to prevent snagging on boots or worse still slicing into your bare ankle; go aloft in a bosun’s chair; if you don’t have one consider purchasing one before you leave, you may need to climb the mast sometime during your cruise and it's not always possible to borrow one! Make sure you go up on two halyards that are in sound condition and don’t use snap shackles to secure the chair to the halyards, use a standard screw pin shackle through the spliced eye in the halyard. Check all split pins aloft together with tangs, T terminals, backing plates, spreader roots etc for security. Rig tensions should be checked with a tension meter. This is even more necessary if you have recently re-rigged and not re-tensioned. The wire will have bedded in and stretched causing a reduction in rig tension. Make sure all running rigging is free of chafe or damage, replacing any defective lines before they break. Consider replacing spiked wire/rope halyards with one of the modern low stretch materials such as Dyneema, Spectra etc. All navigation lights should be checked to make sure they are in working order, it’s far easier to change them while in port than up a mast while at sea: carry spare bulbs for each type of lantern. Ensure spinnaker pole piston fittings are free and well lubricated, if you use a full batten mainsail system it’s worth while spraying the track, batten and intermediate slides with a PTFE type dry lubricant which will make hoisting easier.

    If you didn’t do it pre-season, make sure the water in your tanks is drinkable. If necessary flush out with a proprietary tank cleaner to remove any nasties that may be lurking, which could result in an upset stomach for you and your crew, and make sure you change your water filter if fitted. Carrying a pack of Aquatabs is always a good idea when filling up elsewhere in case the water you take onboard isn’t very good quality. It's advisable to sample a glassfull before filling your tanks and carry a quantity of fresh bottled water as a back up if you should have any issues with the quality of the water available. If an electric pump is the only means of drawing water from your tanks consider having an alternative method such as a Whale Flipper; you could be left without means of obtaining water from your tank if you have a pump or electrical failure which could be serious on a 2-3 day crossing.


    Check your sails before you depart. Its no good remembering a couple of days into your cruise that you didn’t have that small tear in your genoa repaired that’s now developed into a long split! Carry a repair kitsail repair tape, sail cloth, needles, twine, webbing, sewing palm etc on board. Being able to carry out a temporary repair may save your sail from further damage and prevent you having to curtail your cruise.



    If you haven't already done so pre-season, make sure your engine has been serviced. If cruising abroad, make sure you have sufficient oil and filters to make at least one oil change, it may just get you home if you have either an oil leak or water entering the engine and emulsifying the oil. Dose your fuel with a diesel biocide and carry additional to add to your uptake of fuel together with a couple of sets of fuel filters in the event you develop a fuel bug problem. Tip, if buying diesel abroad try to buy from somewhere that has a good turnover rather than somewhere off the beaten track where fuel may have been standing in storage tanks for some time. Carry spare water impellers and a kit of gasket material so you can make your own; it can be notoriously difficult to obtain even the simplest of spares while abroad. Carry details of your engine parts supplier in the UK, the only way you may be able to obtain spares is to have them shipped from the UK. Ensure you have spare electrical fuses of the correct type and amperage.


    Test your VHF with the Coastguard before you leave, if you have a hand held make sure it’s fully charged and in working order. If cruising offshore consider carrying an emergency VHF aerial in the event of a dismasting. Check your flares are in date. Any that are out of date should be removed and replaced with new as some authorities will fine the skipper a considerable sum of money. Gaining in popularity are the new LED flares like the Ocean Signal EDF1 and the Odeo Distress flare. Benefits include a ‘burn time’ of up to 9 hours at full illumination, up to 14 year shelf life with supplied batteries. It can be carried on aircraft with your baggage and its search and rescue aircraft safe and no problems with disposal like traditional pyrotechnics. If you carry an EPIRB or PLB (an essential item if you plan any sea crossings or sailing more than a few miles away from the coast) make sure the batteries are in date and very importantly that you have registered it with the Coastguard EPIRB registry who will hold your details; in the event of an emergency it makes their job much easier to know who or what they are looking for! An AIS beacon is worth considering if you are crewing a yacht or powerboat, should you go overboard and are carrying one it enables those on board a vessel with an AIS to quickly and effectively locate you. Check your liferaft to make sure it and any hydrostatic release’s are within their service date. As a minimum, a set of wood plugs for every through hull fitting is essential, preferably attach them to the through hull fitting etc; it's no good having to go looking for an item to bung up a hole when you're sinking in the middle of the night, however, these days a lot of skippers are investing in a Sta-Plug Emergency Bung and a tub of Stay Afloat or, for a blocked valve, Seabung. If you are planning on any night sailing or even have the chance of getting caught in the dark ensure you replace batteries in your Danbuoys and torches; always carry spare sets of batteries on board. Have you serviced/checked over your lifejackets, if not, now is the time to do so. No crutch strap? Your jacket is useless without one. Ensure you have more than just one re-arming kit per lifejacket: it's no good if you discharge your lifejacket on the first day of your holiday and render it unusable! Make sure all jackstay lines haven’t been degraded by UV, replace if necessary, check you have harnesses (or lifejacket with harnesses) complete with safety lines for each person on board. It's preferable to always wear a lifejacket and be clipped on at all times and essential at night, never leave the cockpit to go on deck without being ‘clipped on’ and never leave the security of the cockpit at night without telling someone. While the idea is not to fall overboard, it does happen so make sure there is someone who can take charge and know exactly what to do in the event of a man overboard. For the small cost its worthwhile carrying at least one thermal protection aid (TPA) it can be a lifesaver in helping keeping a wet cold person warm and alive. Ensure you have a good first aid kit and someone who knows how to use it together with one of the approved first aid books which can be an excellent reference manual when in a panic! If cruising offshore where you may be a couple of days away from help, add items such as ‘Steri-strip closures for treating severe/deep cuts, Melolin dressings for treating minor burns and a ‘Sam Splint’ which is an easily storable roll up splint for immobilising fractures.



    Make sure your GPS, chart plotter etc is working, update or buy new electronic charts. If going abroad make sure you back up your plotter charts with up to date paper charts both for the crossing and your destination. The North Sea has numerous rig movements, it can be quite daunting to suddenly come across a rig or production platform at night or in the fog that isn’t on your old chart and then there are wind farms... enough said! Pilot books for the area you're cruising will both simplify navigation and give details of where you can berth, obtain supplies, fuel etc. Make sure you carry the correct documentation for both yourself and the boat; some countries now demand your insurance policy is available for inspection in their native tongue. Many countries now require a ‘Certificate of Competence’ (ICC) in preference to the Yachtmaster/Yachtmaster Coastal, it’s as well to check with the RYA as to what documentation is required for a specific country. Keep all fuel receipts especially if visiting Holland where you may be asked for proof of purchase of red diesel in the UK.


    You need to be warm and comfortable while at sea, many a passage has been spoilt by the crew being cold and miserable. Make sure you have a good set of foul weather gear and importantly the correct mid and base layers to wear under them. These days foulies are there to keep the elements out. They no longer give much thermal protection so you need to invest in some form of thermal wear to keep you warm. The North Sea and beyond, even mid season, can be a very cold place, day or night, especially if you get wet. Appropriate boots and deck shoes are a necessity. If your budget allows go for breathable, they are so much warmer and more comfortable. Consider purchasing a couple of pairs of waterproof, breathable Sealskinz Socks if short of funds. Does your wife/partner dread the summer cruise as a result of sea sickness, there’s nothing worse than being debilitated for days while the husband is enjoying his sailing, try one of the electronic ‘Relief Bands’, not the cheapest pieces of kit but something that really works and can save a holiday! My wife who having sailed more than 25,000 miles in the last 15 years for no apparent reason started becoming seasick while on passage, a Relief Band has been a complete cure allowing her to carry on sailing, I’m sure without it she would have packed up. An alternative to the Relief Band and roughly half the price are Boarding Ring Anti-Motion Sickness Glasses which are excellent. Before you leave port make sure you tell someone responsible where you are going and when you expect to depart/arrive, make sure you set yourself a realistic ETA, don’t think you can do it in two days when realistically it will take you three. It can cause worry when you haven’t arrived when expected. If you haven’t already done it register a CG66 with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which can be done online.

    Be safe and enjoy your cruising,


  • 213. Top Tips Tuesday - Losing Its Stretch


    No it's not a blog about knicker elastic failing at a critical moment, however it must be put in writing that when my eldest daughter was about four and was being trailed through Newcastle by her mum, her knickers fell down whilst walking along and without any drama stepped out of them and tried to carry on as if nothing happened! We all use elastic on our boats for one reason or another, be it hidden away in a batten pocket for tensioning battens on mainsails of a certain vintage, holding the anchor locker open, stopping the furling line Harken ratchet block damaging itself or your precious teak toe rail or deck.


    However if you have a set of lazy jacks fitted to your mast to assist the lowering and controlling of the mainsail, a little assistance from two lengths of elastic running horizontally from your cap shrouds to the forward line never comes amiss! Not so much of a help if you have a fully battened main as you never ever have an issue with the inboard end of the batten hooking or catching on the the lazy jack when hoisting/sometimes lowering, however for a 'soft mainsail' which is one which does not have full length battens, these two pieces of elastic (assuming they haven't lost their strength like mine have) can be a godsend keeping a nice gap for the sail to be hoisted. Whilst we are on the subject, if you haven't already fitted Lazy Jacks and are intending to, do make sure you fasten the upper attachment point 2/3 of the way up the mast and don't under any circumstances take the easy option and use the spreader flag halyard eye as your take off as it may result in the outboard end of the spreader being pulled downwards, which could threaten the integrity of the rig!


    As for the style of lazy jacks, I like the Harken system, and no not because it costs a bit more and Andy hopefully would make more money, but if sailing downwind and the leeward lazy jacks are creasing the mainsail, it's easy to ease the tension off that side with the cleat at the forward end of the boom. If you are working on a limited budget the Seasure range of 25mm blocks are excellent and of course Barton have a 'ready to install kit' as do Harken.


    Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 11.20.59

  • 212. Top Tips Tuesday - Practise What You Preach


    Almost two months ago (17th of April) I blogged about that great product the Freebag  (which we had just started importing). The response, I have to say, was excellent and happy to report that our  two new Freebags did sterling service on the long almost non stop drive down from Newcastle to the ferry port of Ancona in Italy then overnight on the Igoumenitsa ferry, where due to circumstances beyond our control we were 'turfed' out of our cabin and ended up sleeping in a couple of seats in the bar, made an awful lot more comfortable by the Freebags! Now that we are living the dream and  either sailing or motoring from harbour to harbour or anchorage to anchorage in the Ionian, they are once again giving sterling service both on and off Hindsight. Today was supposed to be a 'rest day' nothing to do, I assure you, with the large quantity of port Nick and I had consumed after a superb meal cooked by Lorraine formerly of St Peters marina in Newcastle upon Tyne.

    Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 11.15.33

    Not only does the Freebag provide an excellent cushion in the cockpit, on the deck, or on the beach but because of its unique design, one can also use it as a bag to put all those essentials including my latest reading matter the latest Harry Hole novel, my wife's Crocks and  cossie (costume), wallet for the beach bar etc etc. Sunglasses are worn and they are of course those brilliant Gill bi-focal sunglasses, great cos I don't have to remember to carry a spare pair of reading glasses!



    Two seconds after this blog winged its way across from Meganisi I got a return email from my boss Andy. Obviously he was 'delighted' that for once my weekly ramblings were on schedule but seemed surprised that I hadn't bothered to mention the Freebag Pro. Included in the message were a couple of images of him slaving away in his back garden, knees protected of course, whilst he applied a coat or two of Burgess Marine Wood Sealer. Methinks he may be a little jealous of my life style in the Ionian and wanted a little more text from the old codger!


  • 211. Top Tips Tuesday - The French Connection


    There I was tied up at the Hotel Iris pontoon in Nidri last Thursday sitting by their pool enjoying a Mythos beer whilst trying (not too hard I hasten to add) to think of a subject for next week's Top Tips Tuesday when I was alerted by the sound of a genoa flogging itself to death. Looking up I saw a husband and wife team attempting to control the sail. Jenny suggested I get off my backside and offer a hand as the wind by now was gusting top end of a four/five. Off l trot and by the time I was on the pontoon four or five other skippers alerted by the noise were gathered around the bows of this elderly French flagged yacht. Census of opinion amongst the bystanders was that with the wind gusting so strongly the only solution was to let it flog to death, until I pointed out that if his forestay parted with all the shaking, the rig would more than likely end up coming down on Hindsight! An hour later the sail was tamed as can be seen by the below image. Yes we ended up winding round the genoa the spare halyard that had caused the halyard wrap in the first place!


    Later that afternoon, having retired to the pool along with all the other skippers awaiting the free beer we had all been promised, I became aware of a dull ache in my right upper arm which, as the day progressed, got worse and worse. Sleeping that night was not brilliant to say the least and during the following day the pain continued to got worse. On the Friday morning we tracked down a physio in Levkas who could see me midday Tuesday earliest. Twas an 'interesting' experience to say the least. She spoke no English and as for my Greek, my vocabulary is limited to yamas..... cheers and kalimera....... good morning! Anyway two hours later, thirty five euros poorer and still thirsting for the free beer I had been promised last week l had my TTT subject which became even more relevant whilst sitting happily anchored off Lefkas town quay after my treatment Mutine (another French flagged yacht) decided to drag its anchor, not a Rocna I hasten to add! Fenders out, engine on and stand by the windlass, fortunately he managed to up anchor just before the two yachts made contact.


    Later on, after the genoa had been tamed and of course the wind had then died away and we were back on Hindsight a rigger turned up and he proceeded to tell him that there was no way he would climb the mast due to the absence of any suitable halyards and it would be a crane and basket job to attend the top of the mast. For our company it is often an issue when faced with a cruising yacht with in mast reefing, a lack of a safe viable topping lift and a spare genoa halyard as the fail safe. If you don't have two spare halyards in good condition you cannot expect a rigger to do a mast climb, the alternative... crane with a man basket or lift the rig out, both very expensive options! Whereas an 8mm braid on braidhalyard (break load approx 1600kg) for a 40 foot mast will set you back about £35. If your mast doesn't have a spare block or blocks at the masthead, the Barton size 3 with a break load of 400kg will cost you less than £16. As for securing it to the masthead, it comes with a shackle and if you don't already have a take off point to use as an attachment, a shaped cranked tang such as the RWO2280. However I would drill it out to accept 6mm Monel rivets or pan head machine screws tapped into the mast. If using the latter make sure the length of the fastening you are using will not snag a halyard and of course beware of a cable conduit and don't forget your barrier between the dissimilar metals!

    Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 11.10.35


  • 210. Top Tips Tuesday - Whip it or dip it?

    Splicing Modern Ropes

    Blog no 210 was, I assure you, not written after reading a few chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey on Jen's Kindle but it's a few words on whipping rope ends. If you have all the time in the world or, like me, you're sitting at anchor in Tranquil Bay, Nidri in the Ionian,  there is nothing more satisfying than going through your mooring lines etc and checking the condition of each one and that the hand whipping on the end is still in good condition and if it isn't getting out the whipping twine, palm and needle. For those whipping 'virgins' there are many excellent books on the subject of rope craft, however my boss Andy's favourite is The Splicing Handbook by Barbara Merry, no it's not that silver haired lady who cooks for a living! As for me, the new kid or author on the block, Jan-Willemstad Polmen, has brought out an excellent book, (published methinks less than two years ago) and has some excellent pictures and informative text on the subject of whipping. It is also bang up to date on splicing these 'newer high tech lines' as well as traditional braid on braid and the like.

    Splicing Modern Ropes

    If you are time precious you can of course rely on a 'heat set end' to keep the halyard, sheet or mooring line intact, the downside being that should one stand on the end of rope you can easily break the melted resin down! The bog standard lines such as braid on braidhalyards are easy to heat seal however the more high tech lines are a different kettle of fish as the 'melting point' is so much higher! Andy sells a range of gas powered hot knives which do an excellent job of sealing the end. Starbrite's Dip-It-Whip-It is also a great answer to sealing the ends of ropes, especially the loose weave style of line that doesn't have a cover on it! Of course Dip It & Whip It can be used on all low tech lines you may have on board.

    Dip it Whip it

    Which ever method you use, be it a traditional whipping, heat sealed end or painting on some of Starbrite's Dip-It-Whip-It (available in a choice of colours, clear, red, green, black and white) don't under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES open your tablet or iPad and Google whipping, you will be in danger of going way way beyond E L James's Fifty Shades Of Grey!

    Best wishes and happy whipping,


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