Monthly Archives: July 2019

  • 271. Top Tips Tuesday - My poor old knees

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    Fifty or so years of kneeling ain't done my knees any good! It wasn't a regular attendance at a place of worship but a long career in sailmaking. Perhaps a foretaste of things to come was that many years ago, in the late seventies, I managed just one race out of six at the Enterprise World championships spending the rest of the week first in hospital with a knee the size of a football (it had been a hard week beforehand making sails for the event), the rest of the week on crutches. Fast forward some twenty years later and a good customer of ours, who happened to be an orthopaedic surgeon, removed some 'bits' from my knee after seeing me struggling at work. No, he did not operate in the sail loft but did examine my knee in situ! Fast forward another twenty years and again the same knee is giving me trouble and despite repeated ice packs and Ibruprofen, it's not getting any better. Let's hope that my trip to the doctors this week will set me on the road to recovery. Whilst my left knee has been giving me jip it doesn't mean that Andy my boss man has allowed me to take a sickie, 'too much to do in too short a time', so it has to be said that the Freebag Prohas been a blessing in disguise when kneeling on the sail loft floor or whilst out putting the finishing touches to a spray hood in Amble marina, see above image!


    The big brother or sister (to be politically correct) to the Freebag Pro, the Freebag boat cushion, has been for many a year, giving sterling service on board our first yacht, the Hunter Channel, and now we have the Mystery we have treated ourself to not one but two new (the old has been relegated to the workshop for when I am working on the Caterham.) Not only useful as a 'go anywhere' cushion or backrest, be it aboveor below deckon the boat, but they are also great for taking ashore and in our case using them on the rocky beaches in the Ionian.

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  • 270. Top Tips Tuesday - Water, water everywhere!


    Back in May I wrote a blog entitled 'Things can only get better'. This was after we discovered an issue in the grey water tank plumbing at the conclusion of the 2018 season which eventually resulted in the bilges of our Mystery flooding, the end result being the need for a replacement shower drain pump which had been damaged through water ingress. Two days of my precious early summer cruising lost grovelling in the stern locker as well as the bilge! Later that month I realised that I had never ever attached a wooden plug or bung to each of the inlet/outlet seacocks in the three years we have had Hindsight on the water. Note to myself, ‘Storrar always practice what you preach.’ Yes I know we have Forespar reinforced glass seacocks on the Mystery so no danger of them failing through electrolysis as per the image shown below, however if a hose had failed and no bung to hand, what then, go hunting for the pack of plugs which I knew was somewhere onboard, but where? Once found, select the correct diameter, then find a hammer and belt it in assuming the saloon hasn’t been completely flooded.


    Forespar, the manufacturers of those excellent seacocks mentioned above, have for a number of years been manufacturing the Sta-Plug Emergency Bung that can be used in a variety of situations where sea water would make an entrance. With their soft body they can be used to plug a hole that’s not circular. Recently they have introduced to the marine market a mini version called, appropriately enough, the Forespar Sta-Plug Mini Emergency Bung! However you would need an awful lot of them to plug the leaks in the powerboat pictured above!

    Another American import (makes a pleasant change from all those far East imports) is a product called Stay Afloat Emergency Plug & Sealant. It's a unique mixture that is super adhesive, will stick to most surfaces and will instantly stop water leaks during a damage control crisis or emergency situation on your boat. I used this product last year to repair a water leak on a window, but it's uses are many; waterproofing fittings, temporary boat plug, use on broken or leaking through hulls, broken or leaking transducers, leaking or weeping cable glands. A little can go a long way so that may be the temporary answer to the powerboat skipper's prayer!

    With a roll of drums we have a British designed and manufactured product! Seabung is a through hull/seacock breach controller and did you know that seacock and hose failures cause 50% of moored boat sinking? Seabung is not just a plug, it allows replacement of hoses and seacocks whilst the vessel is afloat. Quality holiday time lost because of the offending toilet outlet? Seabung will allow you to remove a blocked seacock, free the obstruction without the expense nor time lost of an expensive lift out! Sounds like a winner to me.

  • 269. Top Tips Tuesday - Three Steps To Heaven

    Three Steps To Heaven was a song co-written by Eddie Cochran and released in 1960. The record became a posthumous UK number-one hit for Cochran following his death in a car accident in April 1960. Whilst I do admit these days to being an old git, I can only vaguely remember the song on radio Luxembourg. It was re-released by Showaddywaddy in 1975 and I was told in no uncertain terms by my big brother that the original was by far the best, and who was I to argue! In those days the shearline (where the hull meets the deck) was perhaps one metre, maybe slightly more, above the waterline. Fast forward some forty or fifty years and very few boats designed/built have a low freeboard, below deck headroom and loads of storage is what skippers and their crew want. The downside of increasing the freeboard is that the distance from the deck to the marina pontoon is, on most modern boats of over 35 feet, a bit of a challenge and climbing aboard or off amidships becomes hard work. Rigid ladders are all very well but storage is often an issue and they can be damaged or damage the hull if, say, a passing boat throws up a 'bit' of a wash and the ladder gets trapped between the hull and the pontoon or quay.


    Fortunately those clever folks at the various fender manufacturers have made life easier for those sailors who have higher topsides than we have on Hindsight our Mystery 35. Fender steps range from a single rung to a two, three or even a four rung step. Being flexible there is no danger of damage to the boat and of course being manufactured from a tough but flexible yielding material they will protect the hull if it gets some movement from a passing boat!

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    High topsides, of course, do present other challenges such as getting a line ashore to a pontoon cleat or ring and then back to the boat. Not new to the market but redesigned in so much as the head is now manufactured from carbon/glass reinforced PA with forged aluminium and stainless, is the Hook and Moor M60. This fiendishly clever boat hook can be extended from 1-25m to 3-2m and, as it says on the label, 'thread the dockline through rings, cleats and buoy rings with a simple push or pull. Like magic or three steps to heaven?

  • 268. Top Tips Tuesday - Get a grip!


    As an ex-dinghy racer who is now cruising a Mystery 35, but still thinks he needs 'the need for speed,' I did indulge myself when fitting her out and upgraded with a few goodies that would, I think, help us go that little bit faster. For instance, instead of the weight and windage of a rigid Echomax radar reflector half way up the mast I went for the inflatable version of that manufacturer's range. It's hoisted on a flag halyard, should  conditions deteriorate, and as another bonus it does give a better reflective footprint than the EM180. We fitted a retractable Selden bowsprit and for accurate sail trim. I used cruising dyneemafor both my main and genoa halyards. The layout of the Mystery, ie a narrow sheeting angle, is such that the two cabin top Andersen winches in conjunction with a battery of clutches both port and starboard are used to hoist sails, put reefs in and adjust the fore and aft position of the genoa cars for my 110% jib when reefing that sail. However we have recently been having an issue with the main halyard slipping so this next trip out to the Ionian, being carried in my hand luggage, will be a Antal V-cam 814 series clutch and as I will be mounting it on the mast it is the horizontal model I will be going for.


    The Antal V-Cam 814 works in a different way to the majority of clutches on the market, the V-Grip is an Antal patented system for rope locking. It works with a pressure exerted on three sides of the line with a higher friction and, consequently with a lower pressure, in order not to damage ropes.  Click here to see how the V-Grip System works.


    1. Pressure on three sides. Unlike the usual flat cam, V-Grip is fitted with a V-shaped cam that improves the holding strength without damaging the line cover.

    2. Load distribution. The curved base- V-Cam pair increases the bearing surface, preventing the load from being concentrated at a critical point.

    3. Line retrieval with closed lever. Line retrieval can be achieved with the lever closed. The line stops automatically in the new position with no slippage.

    4. Emergency opening. The line can be released under load without the use of a winch because the Antal mechanism guarantees easy opening even under heavy conditions.


    Antal also manufacture an excellent block that I use when barber hauling the headsail. As mentioned above it’s a 110% jib, fitted with vertical battens to help control the leech. The Dynablock offers a light and reliable solution  that offers an easy, fast and safe connection as can be seen below. Use it for a variety of uses including, of course, barber hauling your jib, cruising chute or code zero.


    1. A light and reliable solution that offers an easy, fast and safe connection 2. The resin sheave is on composite fibre bushing with two side ball bearings. 3. Spare snap-loops (DBS04 for size 44 and DBS05 for size 56) available.

  • 267. Top Tips Tuesday - Beyond Redemption


    With our time on Hindsight in the Ionian nearly over, Monday the 24th of June saw us departing Cleopatra marina in Preveza at 7:45am. Motoring out, we hoisted the main and 110% jib and set sail. However, forty minutes later the early morning breeze died away so it was a case of hoist the black triangle and motor sail North.  As so often happens in this part of Greece, it's either zero or too much wind. Five hours later we had the latter, 24 knots of breeze and of course it was on the nose! Our destination that night was Platarias, both locations incidentally mainland Greece. At this time of year, almost high season in the Ionian, space in anchorages and harbours does become limited. Often if you are not in your chosen location before lunch time you have to make do with second best. Well when we 'rolled up' ten hours later, weather beaten, very hot, tired and thirsty and still with that 24 knot breeze, the two options were either to anchor in the bay outside the harbour, which was very lumpy, or to enter and moor stern on and of course all the best and easier places were already taken!


    Hindsight, of course, does not have the luxury of a bow thruster which would make it a little bit easier as the breeze was blowing parallel to the quay. The need for speed of course overrules the very thought of fitting one to make our 'parking' easier! On entering the harbour and slowly motoring around then deciding on our eventual location, checking of course first that you're not going to drop your hook over another anchor and chain (all the skippers stand at the bow of their craft and watch for any misdemeanours ie crossed anchors by the late arrival to the party) It's then a case of hook down, get it to bite whilst going astern and aim for your chosen spot. The trick is to try and hold the bows in position whilst paying out the chain. If it's breezy, which it was, pay out too much rode and the bow falls off, not enough and one rapidly looses steerage. Well we managed easily (only took us five attempts) albeit with a little help from the reception party who were by now waiting to take our lines on the quay. The 'leader' of the group who helped us park was a charming and knowledgeable guy in a small inflatable that methinks had seen better days!


    If your inflatable has started to lose pressure and the porosity of the fabric is questionable, perhaps expanding foam can be used as a last resort. However, before you do the drastic and go down that route it's worth trying some Sealflex sealant for Inflatables. For repairs, ie applying a patch or re gluing say a seam that has started to part company, first you have to ascertain what fabric the boat was manufactured from. The common materials used in their construction being Hypalon or PVC. Most inflatable dinghies these days are manufactured from the latter, cost being the reason. However, if in the market for an inflatable and you are intending to take it to a sunny climate a dinghy manufactured from Hypalon such as the Seago will last a lot longer than one manufactured from PVC. If applying a fabric patch, the adhesives for both materials are available in either premixed (single tube/tub) or as a liquid to which you add a catalyst. It is generally recognised that the two part route provides a stronger repair especially if, say, the tube is parting company from the transom!


    Patch material for both Hypalon or PVC is available in a range of colours but for instant patch repairs Tear Aid, available only as a translucent film, is a brilliant addition to your yacht or powerboat’s 'first aid' kit. With this self adhesive tape virtually no preparation is required and almost max adhesion is obtained within five minutes. If, however, you are only in the mood to remove years of ingrained muck from your tender or RIB, Polymarine’s Inflatable Boat Cleaner works wonders and if you follow it up with an application of their Boat Finish it will help seal the surface from absorbing future surface contamination.

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    As I mentioned earlier, skippers do stand on their bows when space is tight and show their displeasure if they think there is going to be a crossed anchor, the headline image was taken the morning  after when two other yachts that had moored the night before after us decided to hell with crossed anchors lets just get our stern in to the quay and sort it out next day! Only took them an hour to lift and separate, bet they were glad there was no breeze blowing.

    Please note that the below image was not captured at Platarias but on Kalamos, but it illustrates what great spectator sport that a crossed anchor can be next morning!


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