Monthly Archives: May 2016

  • 115. Top Tips Tuesday - Mast Climbing - Three Steps (Possibly Four) To Heaven

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    When a customer asks us to climb a mast to maybe fit a new mast head wind speed transducer, new cups for a NASA  unit, change the filament bulb on an anchor light to a LED or carry out a rig check I always ask what size winches are fitted to get us up the mast and are they self tailing? Older yachts with small halyard winches on the mast or on the coachroof do present a challenge as do some production yachts as the winches fitted as standard are great for hoisting sails but not powerful enough to hoist an elderly guy like me who’s climbing days are long gone! In a situation like this we always carry in the van a Topclimber however our ‘method statement’ for our insurance company, incidentally two pages long, states that we also need to wear an independent harness for this. Our weapon of choice is the Spinlock Mast pro harness.

    The advantage of the Topclimber is that it enables one to ‘stand up’ and reach the top of the mast when working on something like the V-Tronix combined aerial and Windex!

    Another device to help get you right to the top is also called a Top Climber – confusing, but an  excellent bit of kit. The full title is actually ‘Solent Leisure Top Climber’, basically its a set of stirrups that attaches to a bosuns chair.


    Those of us of a particular vintage may remember the Eddie Cochrane record ‘three steps to heaven’ well my idea of boatie heaven is four! On the mast for Hindsight which I was starting to prepare for stepping I am fitting a couple of light weight/low windage folding mast steps at the top of the mast to make reaching those hard to reach items easier, I am also fitting a couple a metre up from the base of the spar making it possible to fit the sail cover round the headboard and upper portion of the mainsail with little effort.


    Mast Climbing

  • 114. Top Tips Tuesday - Echomax - Who Wants Weight And Windage Aloft?


    I started racing National 12's and Enterprise dinghies in the sixties and eventually graduated to faster and more twitchy International 14's (did more than my fair share of swimming!) and then when my back started to give I ended up racing Flying 15's which then finished my knees off! My first venture into bigger boats was a Channel 31 which we completed from a series of mouldings and now we are at it again finishing off a Mystery 35. As a relapsed racer I am a firm believer of still trying to keep weight out of the ends and weight and windage out of the rig so when it comes to being seen in foggy conditions my ideal combination would be Passive as well as Active. An Echomax Active X band Radar Target Enhancer which is of minimum windage and weighs only 327g and a small but effective Passive Reflector. Sadly a passive reflector such as the Echomax 230 or 230BR weighs in at over 2.1kilos with the corresponding windage so for the racer in me who now cruises it was a no no, instead, it's going to be the Echomax EM230i inflatable, when fog is threatening, inflate and hoist! It exceeds the ORC and RORC requirements  and as for reliability it passed six year trials. Jenny who controls the purse strings will perhaps say no enough is enough and no Echomax Active but hey, what about one as a combined birthday and Christmas present perfect for the guy who has everything!

  • 113. Top Tips Tuesday - Jack Stays - Fit And Forget, I Think Not!

    We have a couple of Andys in the company and a couple of Robs, now that this Rob (he who writes the blogs) has 'semi retired' it does make life a little easier with a bit less confusion. This week Boss man Andy's right hand man, the other Andy, is going South to sail his new acquisition back North, so with part time Rob and the other Andy absent this week life will get a lot simpler!

    Some simple checks around the boat will make your time on the water a lot safer. One of the essential safety items missing from Andy Laurence's new purchase was a set of jack stays or safety lines, now rectified by the purchase of a set of Safeolina adjustable ones. Whilst talking safety lines in the chandlery today with him it did get me thinking, when was the last time you checked your jack stays? The stitching, the anchorages and fastenings as well as the shackles.

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    Stitching does suffer from abrasion and the effect of UV, we test our lines to over 2.5 tons, after some years of exposure you would be surprised at how much the strength has diminished, shackles even if they are stainless they can corrode and the folding pad eyes or u bolts likewise. Examine all components with a fine tooth comb and if you have the slightest doubt as to their integrity replace!


    If you use a lashing to secure your lines, make sure that it's replaced with Dyneema, which is much, much stronger. Make sure of course the jack stays are not loose. It's no use being clipped on and finding that the jack stay is so slack it goes over the guard rail. Speaking of clipping on, are your tethers in good condition? (see safety hook that has 'lost' its ability to self close' below) and do check that when clipped onto the jackstays there is sufficient tension in the webbing to keep you if possible on the boat!


  • 112. Top Tips Tuesday - Waterproof USB Charger Socket - Dragged Into The 21st Century

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    Your blogger has been trying (but failing miserably) to complete his ‘retirement’ project and sail off into the sunset, she should have been finished some three years ago but that’s another story! We decided to call her Hindsight some two years ago, rather apt methinks considering the various setbacks along the way! Anyway at long last with the majority of the woodwork done apart from a bit more varnishing and more than half of the electrics complete we do see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. As Hindsight is of a traditional look we wanted to keep the cockpit area in keeping with the character of the yacht. So our Raymarine plotter is down below at the nav station but as a concession to easier navigation we are going to duplicate the information on deck via our iPad. It just so happens that Scanstrut has just brought out an excellent waterproof USB charger socket, that will be our power source on deck and to protect our iPad from the weather it will be safely ensconsed in a Lifedge waterproof iPad case which surprise surprise is another excellent Scanstrut product. Below deck on the chart table we are in the process of fitting a Blue Seas double USB port, all of this means that when Jenny and my dream finally turns into reality your blogs will be written whilst hopefully merrily sailing along!


  • 111. Top Tips Tuesday - West Systems Six10 - Sorry David!


    The subject of last week's blog was T-Rex, ferociously strong temporary repair tape. We then followed it up with a ‘hard sell’ which featured the tape (which sold so well we ran out of stock, now back in) and other excellent bits of kit like West G/flex epoxy that you could carry on board in your tool kit, vital if you should you end up taking on water either below or above the waterline. David Johnson, the sales and technical operations manager of West Systems dropped us a line which reads:

    Hi Andy and Robby, Love your mails every few days.

    You missed out Six 10, it’s a great go to product, WEST SYSTEM in a tube. Tape a little pack of glass tape to it and leave it in a locker for an emergency. If you haven’t got a mastic gun an emergency will create all sorts of ingenuity in dispensing it.

    Keep up the good work. Have you subscribed to  great portal for all things epoxy!


    So here goes, ‘another product thats worth keeping on board is a tube of West System Six10, then tape a little pack of West tape to it and leave in a locker for an emergency’!

    There you go David, hope I have made my peace, incidentally methinks that Robert Redford should have carried some as in the film ‘All Is Lost’ he could have used this product instead!

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