Monthly Archives: June 2015

  • 70. Top Tips Tuesday - Heatwave On The Horizon - Keeping Cool Onboard Your Boat


    There is nothing like lying on a vinyl covered bunk in a ‘pool’ of sweat with perspiration dripping off your face, yes I’ve been there and got the medal! Fortunately these days the majority of bunk coverings are breathable so lying in bed on a hot night isn’t such an ordeal! When we first took our Channel 31 down to the Canaries many years ago you couldn’t easily purchase an off the shelf windscoop so I made my own in our sail loft. At anchor with a breeze blowing it was excellent at directing fresh air down the forehatch and out of the companionway or through the aft hatch(s). These days there is a choice of either the original Windscoop or the more sophisticated Blue Performance design which has a built in mosquito or bug net to help keep below deck an insect free zone and specially designed panels which help catch the breeze from any direction. For that hot airless night in the marina when you’re plugged into shore power and electrical consumption isn’t an issue, the Caframo range of fans are worthwhile considering; incidentally the Taku (not cheap but a superb bit of kit) is a hatch mounted 12 volt fan which can be swivelled to either exhaust air out of a cabin or draw fresh in.

    Taku-7620_Boat_view       Taku

    CoolMax will also help you have a comfortable nights sleep, Jenny, who can get very hot at night, (lucky me) considers it to be the bees knees. It is a high tech fabric, designed to manage moisture by improved air circulation and to reduce humidity build up whilst you rest. The material is 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. The make up of the fibre allows the air to flow freely through the fabric and through the core, ensuring that no moisture will be trapped inside the mattress, pillow or cushion.

    COOLMAT-2small      Airmat illustration

    Keeping Cool Onboard Your Boat


  • 69. Top Tips Tuesday - My Midge Misery! - Mosquito Nets For Boats


    Many many years ago when I was just a simple sail maker I would travel the length and breadth of the UK and Eire, even got as far as India, running sail setting clinics and race coaching  sessions for a variety of dinghy classes however I digress. My first really bad experience of midges was when (after spending a day on the water coaching the Flying 15 fleet at the Clyde Cruising Club Loch Lomond) myself, Jenny and our two young daughters attended a barbecue on a small island on the loch on the Saturday night. When we stepped ashore Jenny and I could not understand why all the club members were standing in the barbecue smoke, we soon found out. Yes it’s not a pleasant experience being eaten alive when the breeze dies!

    As we graduated to cruising bigger boats on the West Coast of Scotland and the inland waterways of the Netherlands we did of course experience similar experiences. For personal protection ‘Avon’s Skin So Soft’ is Jenny’s choice of repellent to help keep the critters at bay but for me Malibu aftersun and insect repellent is my secret weapon! For the boat, these days, there is an excellent choice of barriers to help keep flying insects outside the interior, from companion way covers to throw over mosquito nets and screens as well as a dual hatch cover and mosquito nets, however, if we are ‘going out for the night’ we always, after of course covering up any fruit etc, spray the interior with insect repellent before abandoning ship!

    Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 09.16.04         IMG_0228


    Mosquito Nets For Boats

  • 68. Top Tips Tuesday - Going Aloft This Father's Day?

    Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 13.10.12

    Last week I was called to one of our local marinas to try and ascertain why a skipper was having so much trouble hoisting and lowering his cruising chute! If you do have ‘top end trouble’, before attempting a mast climb it’s always worth getting your, or a friend’s, camera (make sure it’s got a powerful zoom) and firing off a few shots from different angles. Once back at the ranch displaying the pics on a screen, zoom in till you just start to lose the resolution and you may be able to pick up what’s gone wrong and save yourself at least one trip to the top! On this particular occasion it wasn’t possible to ascertain what the issue was however the chute halyard had got a rougher than normal surface to it so there was obviously a friction issue somewhere on the mast.

    Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 13.07.48

    For climbing a spar, I prefer the Spinlock Mast Pro for its excellent security. I couple this with the Solent Topclimber, this combination means I can ‘stand up’ easily to get to mast head transducers (assuming no masthead mast steps fitted) or anything else that’s above the halyard sheave, however, rigger Rob, if he is spending an hour or so aloft, goes for the Solent bosun’s chair with the wooden seat, he finds it’s a bit more comfortable if aloft for a longer period of time. In my ‘kit bag’ which always accompanies me to the top, apart from my usual assortment of tools I always have my well used but trusty Leatherman, a can of MclubeWD Contact sprayBoeshieldMonel seizing wireSelf amalgamating and PVC tapes. Already fastened to my ‘chair’ is one of those excellent Tool Savers which can be attached to a tool or expensive piece of equipment like a mast head transducer that you may be refitting.

    If you do have to climb your mast for whatever reason, before you do so it might be worth your while to read Mike Coates’(PBO’s mast expert) article which he wrote for us earlier this year.

  • 67. Top Tips Tuesday - Wild Weekend With Storm-Bag


    There were not many out over the weekend, what with the strong winds, and of those who ventured out I wonder how many of them managed to make sensible progress to windward with well furled genoas. But showing my age.... in the ‘good old days’ we always had a quiver of headsails, no 1 light, no 1, no 2, working jib and storm jib. The down side, apart from the storage on board of all these sails, was that it meant time on the foredeck changing headsails as the wind strengthened, the big advantage of course being that one’s pointing ability did not fall off as you reduced area and sensible progress to windward could be maintained!

    Nowadays with roller reefing headsails, to reduce area all we do is luff to take the load off the sheet and then pull the furler line, however the big downside (even with a well shaped genoa with foam luff to aid flattening) is that the ability to claw to windward dramatically falls away the more you furl and if the wind is of a strength that only a pocket handkerchief of a headsail is required and we want to beat to windward what do we do then? Crawl forward and rig the inner forestay (assuming one is fitted) return to the cockpit and once again crawl forward this time with the storm sail bag in our teeth, remove sail from bag and then hank on (having watched the empty sail bag disappear overboard) attach sheets, assuming you managed to take them forward at the same time! Time spent out away from the security of the cockpit 25 mins minimum? Or take a Storm-Bag forward (jib sheets are part of the ‘package’ and already attached) attach tack of sail, wrap storm bag round furled genoa, attach spinnaker or spare genoa halyard to head of sail, retreat to security of cockpit and hoist. Time spent on the foredeck 5mins max, and as for pointing ability, excellent!



    "....We studied the installation of a removable inner forestay: hard and heavy, with the building of a structural fixing point on the deck, on the mast, a halyard and probably the adding of runners... We then thought of long and exhausting manoeuvres with two crew handling a bag on deck, finding the sheets... The choice was simple, we opted for the Storm-Bag: we did not regret it..." Capt. Blind

  • 66. Top Tops Tuesday - Oops! - Dealing with fuel and oils spills - De-Oil-It

    Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 08.05.03

    How many times have we  tried to squeeze a few more drops of diesel or petrol  into our tanks (motor vehicles probably loads of times)? Well we are all a bit more wary of getting  a spillage of fuel on  our decks or in the water. However I have a confession to make.... yes I’ve done it, much to my embarrassment in the little picturesque harbour of Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canaria where unfortunately for me the fuelling berth is right next to the "Yellow Submarine Experience" and of course with all the holiday makers watching disaster struck! With the very recent introduction of DE-OIL-IT to the UK retail marine market, should you be unfortunate enough to allow fuel to contaminate the water immediately spray the stain and this brilliant product allows natural bacteria to break it down and return it safely back into the ecosystem as an inert form of dirt! DE-OIL-IT eliminates 100% fuel and oil stains on land, water and all other surfaces as they say on the spray container ‘kick the slick out of it’. Since that unfortunate incident at Puerto Mogan (and no that was NOT the reason we moved the Hunter up to the island of Graciosa at the top end of Lanzarote) we have always carried on board a pack of Dieselwick and when filling up I strategically place one round the filler cap. Dieselwick sheets will only absorb diesel or oil based fluids not rain or seawater and can therefore be used in any wet conditions. For under the sump of your engine or in the bilges, a Sanol ‘oil sock’ is worth considering. Like the Dieselwick sheets it will not absorb water just oil and as such will float on top of bilge water collecting any contaminant.

    Below are a couple of demonstration videos well worth a watch:

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