Monthly Archives: June 2013

  • Introduction to Barometers

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    There are three main types of barometers: mercury column, aneroid or barograph. As the mercury column involves a glass tube at least 84cm long it is not the most practical thing to have aboard. Both the aneroid and barograph use the same mechanism but the barograph records the air pressure using a pen on a paper attached to a drum moved by clockwork.


    An aneroid barometer uses a small, flexible metal box called an aneroid cell (capsule), which is made from an alloy of beryllium and copper. The evacuated capsule (or usually more capsules) is prevented from collapsing by a strong spring. Small changes in external air pressure cause the cell to expand or contract. This expansion and contraction drives mechanical levers such that the tiny movements of the capsule are amplified and displayed on the face of the aneroid barometer. Many models include a manually set needle which is used to mark the current measurement so a change can be seen. In addition, the mechanism is made deliberately "stiff" so that tapping the barometer reveals whether the pressure is rising or falling as the pointer moves. It is not the actual pressure but this change in pressure that guides you on what the weather may be doing next. Most complaints from users that their barometer does not work properly are because they have failed to adjust it to the proper barometric pressure for the area in which it is being used. Aneriod barometers are fully adjustable. Adjustment can be made by turning a small brass screw on the back of the movement until the barometer needle is set on the current pressure for that geographic area on that day.  After setting, move the gold needle on the glass over the registering needle so you can easily observe any rise or fall.

    To enure that your barometer is working properly, you can do the following tests:

    • Using the small brass adjusting screw, turn it so that it makes an arc from the 8 o'clock position to the 4 o'clock position and back again. It should do this smoothly and without sticking. Be careful to not unscrew so far that the screw falls out.
    • Place the barometer in a clear plastic bag, blow air into it and seal tightly so the air will not escape. Gently push down on the bag. If your registering needle moves several millibars, it is most likely working as expected.
  • 5.Outwards & Upwards - Suspicious stains on your headsail...


    Harping on as I always do about casting your eyes around the boat we had a customer in the other day complaining about some stains on his genoa, after he describing them (see piccy) I said to him, ‘sounds like you have a joint problem’ In other words the connectors between each of your headsail roller reefing foils are starting to work loose.  The end result can be bolt rope damage when you hoist your sail at the start of the season followed by unsightly staining on the sail as the alloy ends grind away, followed by chafe on the sail leading to holes that will need repairing (second piccy), or failure of the foil, on a windy day an inability maybe of being unable to furl the genoa, which could be potentially life threatening.  If you can get replacement joints obviously that’s the solution however if it’s an old system disassembling a headsail roller reefing can be a nightmare thru stainless/alloy ‘welding themselves together’

    Plastimo do a budget range of systems, however my favourites at the lower end is either the new Harken ESP or the Profurl system, both are superbly engineered and easy to assemble.  For assembling units containing dissimilar metals ie stainless/alloy use Tef Gel or Duralac and for your sail washing and proofing requirements, Tip Top via our sail loft.

  • In The Pink - Anodes : Cathodic Protection Against Corrosion

    In The Pink- Anodes : Cathodic Protection Against Corrosion

    'In the pink', an expression often used to describe a child/person in the best possible health. As for this propeller I think not! Yes, it's pink however it is clearly not in the best of health. It's sometimes a case of 'Fit 'n' Forget' when it comes to anodes however the consequences of neglecting to keep on top of your cathodic protection can be very expensive.

    Here are a few extracts, we think you may find useful, from:

    MG DUFF's Free - 'Cathodic Protection Handbook and Product Guide'

    We hope to have more stock of these leaflets soon as they have just finished amendments and are sending it back to print, but in the meantime:

    Considerations to make when selecting your anodes:

    Not all anodes are suitable for every environment, for example the surface of a zinc of aluminum anode will if left in fresh water for some time become covered with an off white crust of oxide which effectively seals the anode and stops it working even when returned to salt water. Zinc Anodes suffer the same problem in brackish conditions whereas Aluminum will continue to operate effectivly in river estuaries and other areas of brackish water indefinitely. The consequences of this passivation of the anode are that the next most anodic item within the anode bonding system will start to sacrifice itself which could of course be very serious.

    Electro Eliminators:

    Whether your boat is steel, wood or GRP an 'MGDUFF Electro Eliminator' offers the best solution for bonding to your stern gear and achieving maximum protection.

    Running directly onto the propeller shaft the electro eliminator places the anode on constant low resistance contact with the propeller shaft.

    The copper graphite brushes will give at least 2000 running hours under normal conditions. The electro eliminators will also remove the irritating interference to electronic equipment caused by the rotating shaft.


  • Anchor Rope Installations...


    The other day we had a skipper ask us to look at his ground tackle with a view to modifying it to suit his windlass. Apart from the shackle being in a poor condition the rope he had in his chain-locker was multiplait. Both Quick and Lewmar state only three strand rope be used on windlasses NOT multiplait.

    Join the chain to rope with a good back splice, which will flow freely thru the windlass. NB if you do not know how to splice rope to chain correctly ask us to do so!

  • 10.Top Tips Tuesdays: Man Overboard!

    P1040903With the cruising season well into its swing if  you haven’t already done so, now is the time to check out your man overboard equipment. Is the light on your danbuoy working, new bulb/batteries, does the buoyant rope need replacing, is the drogue suffering from UV degradation? What about the throwing line or throwing strop still in  good condition, have you and your crew had a few practise throws? Speaking of practise when was the last time you had a simulated MOB and tried to recover from the water your favourite fender and do you have a procedure/equipment in place to recover from the water? Lifejacket have you checked the condition of the bottle and firing mechanism, if the jacket is not fitted with a crutch strap fit one, does it have a light and sprayhood, if light fitted have you tested it? Jackstays have they been inspected for wear/UV damage, lifelines, should be at least one for each crew member plus a spare, are the hooks all of the self locking type? Flares do you have sufficient on board for the cruise you are planning and are they in date, have you considered a laser flare?

  • 4. Outwards & Upwards...

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    A good customer of ours was caught out in a blow last year and feels that his T terminal backing plate (as pictured above) may have failed then. His comment last Saturday was, 'Now I wish I had the mast taken down this last winter instead of leaving it up'  Why? In the worst case the rig could be lost, in this case lost time sailing. By dropping the rig in the winter it means that you can give a close inspection to all mast fittings, rigging, both standing and running sheaves, navigation lights and antennas. Also means that you can give the mast, once you have washed it down with fresh water, an application of Hempel's Alu Protect. If you have a fear of heights, a good way to inspect the majority of the rig is with a good digital camera that has a something like an 18 Optical zoom, means then you can download photos and get expert advice if needed. Speaking of heights, my favourite bosun's chair is the Spinlock Mast Pro, not the most comfortable as it does not have a wooden seat however it is very secure. Incidentally, did you know that the theoretical lifespan is halved when the mast stays up in winter storage and even if the boat never leaves her berth the condition of the standing rigging will deteriorate. Vibrations will cause metal fatigue where the wires enter the terminal. An excellent new book Skipper's Mast and Rigging Guide by Rene Westerhuis has just hit the bookshelves and is certainly worth reading. As I keep stressing, once you have finished for the day, washed her down with fresh water, give her an eyeball, if you have had a rough passage your inspection must be a lot more detailed.

  • DRAGONFLY with chirp technology!

    Looking to purchase a new fishfinder? If so maybe it’s worth considering the new Dragonfly Sonar/GPS with its dual channel 'Chirp' sonar that lets you explore bottom structures like reefs, wrecks etc as well as  target fish as never before! If local call into the chandlery, we have a demo unit up and running so you can gauge for yourself just how good the unit is.


  • Gloriana: Holed and Decapitated!


    ‘Gloriana’ lost the Royal emblem and her name off her transom - photo: AdamBMorgan

    'Gloriana’ lost the Royal emblem and her name off her transom - photo: AdamBMorgan

    Gloriana Holed and Decapitated screamed the headlines, yes it’s true the Queens row barge Gloriana which lead the Jubilee Pageant last year collided with Kew Bridge the other day after ‘apparent engine failure’ Editors’s note: how can a row barge have engine failure, did the rowers all collapse with cramp?

    The story reads:

    GLORIANA: Last year she was one of the central boats in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pageant on the Thames. But recently Gloriana is looking a bit battered after her engine failed and she drifted into Kew Bridge. She lost the crown off her stern and, to add insult to injury, the Chiswick RNLI RIB that went to help her managed to put a hole in her port quarter.

    To counter all that, however, the man who helped mastermind Gloriana’s build programme, Mark Lochrin Edwards, was awarded an MBE for services to boatbuilding in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

    Whilst the design and build of the barge utilises structures and techniques that have changed little since the clinker built long boats of Anglo-Saxons who first arrived on our shores in the 4th century AD and carries on a centuries-old tradition of royal row barges on the Thames we do humbly suggest that perhaps she should be repaired using either West System Epoxy or SP Gurit, both makes are easy to use, they will produce a strong repair even in the hands of unskilled artisans!

  • 9.Top Tips Tuesdays: Crushed Balls Will Bring Tears To The Eyes...

    An awful lot of cruising boats, as well as almost all race boats, rely on ball bearing races to keep their blocks, traveller, furling systems running freely. Human nature being what it is, its more often than not 'fit n forget' However if you neglect to maintain the consequences can be disastrous. Roller reefing upper swivel bearing fails, the forestay then bird cages as you try and furl/unfurl your head sail and bang mast comes down as the wire snaps! The majority of ball bearing races or rollers are fitted with either hi Torlon or low load Delrin races, regular washing out with fresh water is essential to flush out debris and to ensure their free running. These fine specimens (I thought they were rat droppings) are way past their sell by date, no wonder putting the 2nd reef in was proving difficult! Team McLube One Drop Ball Bearing Conditioner is great for putting the bounce back in your traveller or battcar balls, as for the rest, keep washing regularly! Other great products (and I have and continue to use them) from McLube include their Sailkote High Performance Dry Lubricant and Hullkote High Performance Speed Polish. The latest offering from the company is the McLube Antifoul Alternative Polish  which I haven't tried however, co director Andy will no doubt be polishing his bottom this autumn in preparation for the local winter series!


  • Reflections...

    hatsAt last a bit of sun whilst out on the water (well at least it was in the North East) and with the sun comes the danger of sunburn from the glare. Apart from using a waterproof sun cream or sun block its worth investing in some head protection, something like the Gill, Dubarry or the Musto fast dry crew cap, all have a cap saver which is a clip that attaches to your collar to stop it blowing away. For the traditionalists the Musto fast dry brimmed hat or the Gill technical sailing Sun Hat is worth considering, the Musto having a chin strap to avoid it disappearing over the stern of the boat. The Gill, well it’s a dangly ‘thing’ that you clip onto the collar! Not only will they help to protect your face if you are like me or Andy, bit thin on top, protect that as well!

    Decent sunglasses are a must, Gill do an excellent range, Musto have for years marketed their  Sunnies, sadly they are dropping them from their range , however the good news is we still have a few pairs left!

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