Monthly Archives: June 2019

  • 266. Top Tips Tuesday - We Like A Drink

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    I must admit that Jenny and I do like a drink. As we age 'gracefully' it's quality not quantity and as we are now enjoying the Ionian weather (took a long time arriving, the weather that is) it's often a refreshing pre dinner G&T before we row or motor ashore after firing up our little Yamaha. Well for the last three years that we have had Hindsight in Greek waters it's been a case of slipping on a couple of old but regularly serviced lifejackets for our shore leave (our regular Spinlock deck vests being too valuable to leave in the inflatable whilst we wine and dine at a nearby taverna). Touch wood the old jackets have never been 'borrowed' or gone walkabout whilst in Greece but we still have concerns about leaving safety equipment such as lifejackets in the dinghy, faced with maybe a 1/2 mile walk. Having said that I don't fancy carting them up to our choice of eating place then dumping them on the floor, table or chair either!

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    Those clever guys at Spinlock have, however, come up with the answer to my prayers. The recently introduced Alto, not a lifejacket but a flotation aid that is worn round the waist rather like a 'bum bag' or as they are called in the US of A, a fanny bag. You can wear it in the small of your back or facing forward. Once you have fastened it round your waist, you tend to forget it's there. Certainly, sitting on a bar stool at the Tree Bar in Nidri the other day with it nestling in the small of my back I wasn't aware of its presence; meal times its small enough to be removed and placed on the table or deposited on a convenient empty chair!

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    Please be aware the Spinlock Alto is not a full blown lifejacket, it's described by the manufacturers as a 75 Newton floatation aid which, as a ex-dinghy sailor, I know that it gives you 1/2 as much  flotation again as most standard foam buoyancy aids. The Spinlock Alto is designed for adult use only, 40 Kilos upwards, and is only available in one size to fit from 70 to 140cm waist. As can be seen from the Spinlock promotional video below it's also great for canoeing, or in my case when I inflate my Gul paddle board and disappear off to do a bit of exploration of the coastline when Hindsight is at anchor. Keeps Jenny happy that I am wearing a flotation aid, me happy that I am not wearing a full lifejacket!

  • 265. Top Tips Tuesday - I Wish

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    Having climbed a good number of masts over the last forty five years and winched work colleagues up aloft more times than I wish to remember, it's not very often we come across winches (especially on production yachts) that are man enough to get myself, weighing in at just over 12 stone or my boss Andy, these days a mere 10 stone, up a mast easily. On our Mystery I decided to go for larger size winches than were fitted to the production ones, ours being a home built one. Not only do they serve as halyard winches but with the 110% jib being sheeted on the coach roof they also service this need. Why larger ones? Well, I felt that if I was sailing with Jenny and if I had ever to do a mast climb, at least going up in barrel size would give my long suffering wife a fighting chance to get me aloft should the need arise. Well the acid test came the other day; the PVC tape that I had used to wrap round the clevis pins and split pins had finally given up the ghost due to exposure to UV and nearly three years of Greek temperatures and the tape on both the lower and upper spreaders was streaming aft like a set of jib telltales!

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    Well last week Jen succeeded in hoisting me up the mast to the lower spreaders. It was slow progress but she managed it and today was the acid test, the upper spreaders were the target. However, once at my 'destination' the old tape removed and replaced with new, and after I had been safely lowered she did comment, "I wish I had given you permission to purchase an Ewincher." Let's hope she remembers those words when we fly back out to Greece in early September as I haven't broken the news that I need to go a bit further up the spar, this time to the mast head, as the vanes of our Windex are slightly 'skew whiff'.

    With its 3 modes of operation, Ewincher is your new crewmember that assists you with all your maneuvers on your sailboat:

    • In assisted mode: Ewincher does the work for you in the winch's 1st or 2nd speed
    • In manual mode: you can use Ewincher like any other winch handle to make adjustments
    • Combined mode: add your own speed to the one of the handle to reach exceptional hauling speeds

    Ewincher's extreme power and adjustable speed allow you to perform all possible maneuvers while sailing: hoisting, sheeting, adjusting sails, furling your genoa or even hauling a crewmember up the mast.

    • Genuine winch handle - 2.2kg
    • Brushless engine
    • Manual or assisted mode
    • 15 to 80 revolutions per minute
    • Torque of 80Nm: Ewincher is equipped with an adjustable torque from 10kg to 32kg of traction on the handle, it allows manoeuvring sailing boats up to 55 feet without damaging anything. As you hold it like a regular winch handle you will feel immediately if there is a blockage in the lines, any problem. This is something you don't have with electric winches: you press the button and if something is wrong and you are not careful enough, the electric winch will keep on working and can damage the sails or boat.
    • Waterproof and locking system
    • Long-lasting battery life: Ewincher offers a great autonomy thanks to its Lithium Ion battery: more than a day of sailing with only one charge. Charging time takes about 1½ hours and consumes 7Ah (1.7% of a 400Ah battery bank) It is a high efficiency Lithium-ion 25v battery 3000mA.On a 40ft boat that means you can in one day: Hoist the mainsail 3 times, put in 30 tacks and put an 85kg man up the mast (15m lift).

    An optional extra battery is available if desired. Ewincher includes the unit, one battery, the charger, a lanyard, a winch handle pocket for the cockpit, and carry case. It comes with 2 years warranty.

  • 264. Top Tips Tuesday - Make do and mend

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    Out in the Ionian, a refreshing swim from the transom of Hindsight when at anchor is easy on the feet with our fold down stainless ladder (assuming the weather is good enough and the last four weeks have not been typical!) however at last it's looking up! With the warmer weather, a refreshing plunge from the shoreline in a secluded bay is a different matter. Small pebbles or larger rocks, take your choice it's very hard to find a sandy beach. To overcome this, last year I bought myself a pair of Crocs for this very purpose, however I also wear them ashore to keep grit out of my deck shoes. Last week disaster struck as one of the heel straps snapped on my Crocs as I was tugging it slightly harder than necessary. Well I can wear and walk with the damaged shoe but swimming with it is a challenge, fortunately they do float!

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    I did price up a replacement pair in Nidri on the island of Lefkas, however balked at the price of 46 euros as the Crocs I bought back in the UK were a discounted style at fourteen pounds! So it was a case of delve into the starboard 'spares & repairs' stowage lockerand find a tube of Stormsure, an excellent product that, once cured, has amazing properties such as tremendous elasticity coupled with high strength! Back in England I have have used Stormsure to stick the sole back down on my old trainer, repair Jen's scruffy dog walking coat, her beach wellies also; and back in the sail loft permanent repairs on clear panels in sprayhoods where customers don't want to have the panel replaced. For that it's brilliant! Clear rear windows in convertibles, where you cannot repair them in the sail loft due to the permanently attached metal roof bars, Stormsure has been a godsend, giving convertible hoods another lease of life.

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    In the locker can also be found a couple of packs of Tear Aid. The A sachet is the perfect repair tape for all fabrics and, in my opinion, far superior to spinnaker repair tape(clear so you don't end up with a patch work looking kite) As for repairing acrylic on biminis, spray hoods etc it's the only tape that I know that sticks permanently to acrylic canvas. As stated on the packet it's extremely strong, watertight, airtight, very elastic, does not fade, does not dry out and of course it's permanent! As for the B pack, has all the same features as the A pack performance wise, however this is the one for Vinyl and PVC repairs. Great for instant repairs on most inflatable dinghies, vinyl life buoy covers and of course clear spray hood windows. Back home it came to the aid of the grand children's paddling pool earlier this year when our dog Millie decided to join in the fun and punctured the inflatable side panel.

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    As for a third vital 'repair' product we keep on the good ship Hindsight, a Gadget Saverpack. And judging by experience of one 'Liveaboard' that I was talking to last night in George's tavern on Kalamos (his track record being, dropped but recovered three mobile phones and one I-pad over the past seven years, all 'dead' even after 'drying out' in the sun) this handy pack may have saved his bacon on more than one occasion! As for the effectiveness of this, Andy my boss these days managed to save his wife's brand new Samsung Galaxy after Jill tried to flush it away! Read all about it on my blog 'Greater Love Hath No Man'.

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  • 263. Top Tips Tuesday - Silence is golden

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    Some say I had a reputation for being a little noisy when competitive dinghy racing all those years ago, so much so that when my brother, myself and a sailing friend of ours decided to buy three unpainted Enterprise dinghy hull and decks together (bulk purchase meant a better price) the names we chose for the dinghies, once we had painted, varnished and fitted them out, were See No Evil, Hear No Evil and of course Speak No Evil. Sadly, no prize for guessing which one I ended up with! Some years later looking for some 'swimming practice' I then repeated the exercise by purchasing an International 14 hull, varnished then fitted it out, called it 19th Nervous Breakdown, put it on the water did reasonably well in competitions then sold it at a profit!

    This turnover of dinghies helped to make my early sailing self financing, however when we started our fledgling sailmaking company back in the mid seventies, all we had was Alan Bax's National 12 as a 'company' boat, my Int 14 having been sold to help raise some finance. A year or two later Alan and I heard through the grapevine that there were a couple of GRP International 14 Kirby V bare hulls which had been imported into the country by Performance Sailcraft (manufacturers of the Laser, which of course was designed by Bruce Kirby) surplus to their requirements. We purchased both as a job lot, fitted the first one out put it on the water, called it 'Animal Farm' and when we sold that one on we repeated the exercise with the second. The colour of the gelcoat of the second hull was gold, hence the name 'Silence is Golden'. Our landlords, whose fabrication business specialised in alloy welding, helped construct alloy space frames to absorb the rig loads, saving the hulls from buckling. It was, we like to think, leading edge technology of the day! Since those heady days, boat building materials have changed dramatically. These days some production cruising yachts incorporate 'space frames' to absorb the rig loads, be that they are fabricated in stainless, alloy or glass reinforced fibre, and of course carbon fibre can also be found in production racing dinghies such as the National 12, Int 14 and small keelboats like the Flying 15.

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    Last year the Autumn air was, I am ashamed to say, filled with an expletive or two as I kicked a cup of freshly made coffee across the cabin of our yacht. How? Well in the Mystery, with its relative snug interior, we have 'done away'  with a floor mounted saloon table to give us more space, instead the table is stowed horizontally against a bulkhead and only lowered if we decide to eat down below, which in the Ionian is not very often! The starboard leaf of the table is supported by a rather clever set of hinges which spring  out offering support. So being the lazy so and so (takes probably twenty seconds to deploy the table!) that evening I did as I had done for the last couple of years, placed a hot cup of coffee on the cabin sole which is varnished with Epifanes two pack varnish, which happily takes the heat of the base of the cup. Forgetting the cup was there I jumped up at the command of Jenny to pour a Metaxa and in the process sent the fresh brew flying!

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    This year on my 'jobs to do list' was fix a couple of folding cup holders to the side of the saloon seats. Hopefully no more spilt drinks and no more words said in anger! Whilst they won't take large mugs, they are the perfect size for a pre dinner G&T's if the weather is not suitable for the cockpit ... or a sobering coffee after staggering back from the taverna!

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    Writing of gold, some folks love the golden colour of fresh cut teak, others prefer the weathered grey look. As for me, this loud mouthed scribe, I personally prefer a bit of colour on the small amount of teak we have on board. Our washboards, tiller, cockpit seats and, of course, on our brilliant cockpit table I use Teak Wonder Dressing and Sealer. However, very popular in the chandlery back in the UK, is International's Wood Skin and Deks Olje. Some folks, of course, swear by good old fashioned Golden Teak Oil! You pays your money and you takes your choice, Matt finish or glossy.

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