Monthly Archives: June 2016

  • 119. Top Tips Tuesday - Solar Panels That Work In Partial Shade!


    Andy Laurence, who runs our internet site, is now the proud owner of a 1968 Cutlass 27 which (after sailing her up from Pin Mill this past May) he is now slowly bringing into the 21st century. The list is long and includes a new Yanmar engine, purchased but not fitted yet, new electrics inc replacement LED navigation lights and the fitting of a solar panel to help keep his tiller pilot running. Andy has now fitted one of the Spectralite semi-flexible modules. The advantages of this style of panel include the fact that they can be flexed 1cm per 30cm for fixing to curved solid surfaces such as a coach roof, they can be walked on with deck shoes (not sure however if they are claw proof) and as shading cannot always be avoided they have been designed with two distinct halves of separate parallel strings of cells, if one half is shaded the other half continues to deliver its full half of power where some other makes fall away below battery charging voltage. Andy’s dog Max, however, has not been trained yet as I write to lie fore and aft as against athwartships, call it work in progress!


    On our Mystery 35 where it is also still work in progress, Jenny insists that when we finally get her in the water we should always have a supply of ice when cruising the Ionian. To top up our power consumption we are fitting a Spectralite semi-flexible module on the curved sliding hatch garage and either slung over the boom or attached to the bimini one of their TX-solar modules with LOXX fasteners, they enable the panel to be instantly but securely attached to a bimini or sail cover meaning power is available on the move, at anchor or tied up to a jetty. If you leave your boat you can, if you want to, simply fold it up and take the TX-module with you. They are available with up to four wings depending on output required and are easy to transport or stow below deck as each module comes complete with its own carry bag. The appropriate base parts of the Loxx fastener/hole punch are included to make it child’s play to securely attach but easily remove from your bimini or sail cover. Sunware TX-modules can also be supplied with 10mm eyelets if you prefer to lace it to say your pushpit.


    Andy has recently added to our site a range of portable Solar Power battery maintainers, they have a durable water resistant casing, are reverse polarity protected and come with a 12 Volt DC power plug and battery clips, prices start at £24.95 for the smallest unit which is suitable for a battery up to 50 amphours (great for our Sports boat battery) the other two will help maintain a battery either up to 100 or 250 amp hours!


  • 118. Top Tips Tuesday - Maintaining Windward Performance with Storm-Bag

    As a competitive dinghy racer I have always valued my boat's pointing ability, especially competing in a championship of some 200 boats (those were the days of the big Enterprise fleets) as you can imagine the ability to get a good start was paramount! Winter racing on the river Tyne likewise, be it dinghies like National 12’s in the seventies or eighties. Nowadays we value good pointing ability on the Sports boats that we race.

    For my new build project the Mystery 35, when we eventually launch her, and with typical North East weather, the going will get tough, I obviously want to maintain the excellent windward ability these Stephen Jones designed yachts are renowned for. Instead of a very furled genoa and virtually no pointing ability or setting a storm jib on an inner forestay I am going down the Storm Bag route. An Inner forestay, apart from the cost, is extra weight and windage aloft which is something I hate, never mind modifying the mast and the purchase of a Wichard Babystay Adjuster to put tension into the stay. It invariably means strengthening the deck or bulkhead aft of the anchor locker and the purchase of a hank-on storm jib and sheets. Cost of all this for a 35 footer is going to be quite a bit over a couple of thousand pounds depending on the cost of a mast lift out/in and deck/bulkhead mods.

    From a safety aspect, with the breeze up, the less time you or your crew spend out of the cockpit the better; clip on then go forward to set up the inner forestay, come aft then take a storm sail forward, hank it on, then take sheets back and hoist probably more than 20 minutes during daylight, quite a bit longer when its pitch black! Then of course there is the turbulence coming off the fully furled genoa.

    For heavy weather sailing the Storm Bag gives superb pointing ability as its deployed round the furled genoa (no danger of the furled genoa coming adrift should the reefing line let go). Cost at £849.00 for a light displacement 35 footer is far less than the price of modifying mast/deck, purchasing an inner forestay assembly as well as the sail and sheets. Plus, and its a big one, the safety factor - on average less than eight minutes on the foredeck!


  • 116. Top Tips Tuesday - Bilge Pump Checks & Spares - Legacy From The 60's


    The other week our ‘other Andy,’ he who looks after our website, purchased a 50 year old Cutlass 27 sailboat which had been laid up in Suffolk for two years. In his haste to bring her North and enjoy the fabulous weather we have been having over the last few months he did admit to setting of in a bit of a hurry. The sail back to the North East was fairly uneventful apart from the engine cooling water pump being seized solid! After freeing it off and getting it to rotate, the bearings finally collapsed, so engine running time was strictly limited and very noisy. Our man was delighted with the way she sails (which was a good job as the engine wasn’t functioning that well due to the afore mentioned issue). Safely back in the North East and now caught up on his beauty sleep our intrepid adventurer started to go through the yacht with a fine tooth comb, oops the bilge pump had worked but when he tried to pump the bilges there appeared to be a lot of movement as he found the pump was held on by only one fastener. Further investigation brought to light a deck gaiter that has probably been there since the boat had been first commissioned! When you purchase a replacement or a spare it is much easier to supply if you advise us who manufactured the pump and what model it was. Judging by the state of the deck gaiter I think the diaphragm should also be thoroughly investigated for signs of deterioration and if in the slightest doubt change it! Whilst substituting the existing navigation lights for the low power consumption LED ones, he found out why the bicolour light on the pulpit wasn’t working – it wasn’t connected to anything! Mousing a new wire through the chain locker in the forepeak through the pulpit should be fun. . . but two hours later not so!

  • Flexible Impeller Pumps

    kb header Flexible Impeller Pumps are commonly used for seawater cooling pumps for inboard engines, but there's an important difference between diaphragm pumps and flexible impeller pumps; flexible impeller pumps cannot run dry for more than a few revolutions, usually enough to be self-priming. Therefore if you start the engine before opening the cooling water intake seacock, you are bound to destroy the impeller and lose cooling to the engine.

    Rule 1 - Find the pump number (stamped on the cover plate of the pump), call us for the replacement impeller part number and carry a spare impeller kit onboard.

    Like diaphragm pumps, flexible impeller pumps are positive displacement, therefore self-priming and can handle small amounts of solids.

    CW-JabscoPumpHow a flexible impeller pump works: 1. A partial vacuum is created as the flexible impeller vanes straighten upon leaving the cam, and air pressure drives liquid into the pump. 2. The rotating impeller carries liquid from the inlet to the outlet port. As a consequence of their design, flexible impeller pumps can pass fairly large solids. 3. When the flexible impeller vanes regain contact with the cam, they bend forcing the liquid to be discharged from the pump in a uniform flow. Liquids can be pumped in the opposite direction by reversing the rotation of the pump.

    How to change an impeller: Remove the end cover and O ring or gasket. Remove the impeller with slip-joint pliers (often referred to as Pump Pliers!) or a puller. Try to avoid using a pair of screwdrivers, even with the shafts taped up, in case you damage the pump casing. Fit a new impeller: Lubricate the shaft and the inside of the pump body and the end cover. Use Pump Lubrication (normally Silicon grease or Glycerin, but you can use washing up liquid if there is no alternative) to help develop prime and prevent damage from dry-running the pump at initial start-up. Mount the impeller by making a pushing and twisting movement in the rotating direction. Lubricated impellers should not be stored for extended periods of time. The engine should be run after installation of a new impeller to wash out the lubrication. These recommendations apply to any service work on the pump and its components that require the use of lubrication inside the pump for assembly and start-up. Warning! Do not use any petroleum-based products to lubricate the inside of the pump. Only use Pump Lubrication. Other products can damage the impeller, which will damage the pump and lead to engine failure. Do not run the impeller without water or lubricant; this can cause engine failure or a fire.

    Replace the O ring or gasket and re-fit the cover (Pump number outwards!). The screws don't have to be too tight, in fact consider replacing them with a PinWing kit to make this job easier next time.

4 Item(s)