Monthly Archives: August 2019

  • 275. Top Tips Tuesday - Plastic Isn't Always Fantastic

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    The trouble with plastic it takes a really long time to degrade, they do say that a plastic bottle takes 450 years to completely decompose and as one of those strange folk that takes a peverse delight ‘enjoying’ a dip in the North Sea summer or winter without the benefit of a wetsuit I do come across an awful lot of discarded plastic, fortunately not when swimming but…, In the summer our little beach at King Edwards Bay Tynemouth can be littered with plastic buckets, spades, toys a variety of sand moulds all after a hot day, talk about a disposable society. In the winter we don’t get the bucket and spades, plastic bottle debris etc however if we have had a few days of gale force North Easterly’s its often fishermens debris, old lobster pots with rotten wooden bases the plastic hoops still intact, fish boxes, polypropylene netting and lengths of rope which are all coming up from the seabed. The above images are of just over two weeks worth of plastic discarded on our sometimes lovely beach! Items made from this material whilst enjoying a long life do suffer from the effects of sunlight in so much as they can fade quite badly and they can become brittle. Plastic is notoriously hard to successfully glue to itself but to attach to another substrate, well up to now almost impossible!


    The other day, we received a circular from those clever guys at Blue Gee raving about GEE PRO BOND, according to the ’blurb’ it’s a fast cure adhesive with rapid strength, it will bond alloy, steel and carbon steel. Composites such as epoxy and GRP polyester/vinylester laminates and as for plastics apparently it will bond ABS, Acrylics, Vinyl & Polycarbonates and you don’t always have to pretreat the surface! Well being the suspicious sort of guy that I am, beware of snake-oil salesmen, I asked if I could have a sample to try (nowt like a freebie being off Scottish parentage) sadly no was the answer, but buy some and if not happy with the performance send back and we will refund your monies, so two weeks later with our sail loft wanted to securely fasten a poorly fitting plastic batten end to a GRP rod for an industrial application (had to take a 100 kilo pull) it was a case of lets put Gee Pro Bond to the test and of course it did what the packaging said, a brilliant bond with no surface preparation!

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    Since that then I have repaired the sail lofts trusty Dyson and i'll be taking a Gee Pro Bondout to Greece, I have a couple of jobs in mind, first one is to repair the plastic man overboard light bracket, the second being put together our dish rack drainer, I managed to snap an upright after attempting to load it up with a deeper than normal plate!

  • 274. Top Tips Tuesday - Thumbing Through


    I was thumbing through a trade catalogue whilst having a bite to eat the other lunchtime when I came across this little bullet point which got me thinking. I haven't ventured past my second spreader since the Mystery mast was re-stepped in 2017, so let's add it to my 'to do' list when we return to Corfu early September. These days the majority of yacht masts don't get unstepped at the end of the season so it is very important to inspect on a regular basis (unlike me). As I mentioned in my previous blog “TTT 265 - I Wish”, we had deliberately upgraded our halyard winches in the hope that Jenny would be able to hoist me aloft and in fairness to her she had managed to get me to the upper spreaders earlier this year. Being the cunning so and so that I am, my plan is to beg borrow or steal boss man Andy's demo Ewincher this time and kill two birds with one stone, get to the top of the mast easy peasy and then later on keep him happy by writing another of my 'brilliant' blogs on the marvellous electric winch handle!

    When I am 'climbing' a mast I always use two halyards, the second being the back up in case the first fails or we have a mechanical failure. Once in my bosuns chair I then get my wincher to hoist me a couple of feet off the deck. I then proceed to 'bounce’ up and down as hard as I possibly can to try and discover a weak point in either the halyard, sheave, clutch or self tailing arm on the winch. Then it's a case of up you go, the safety halyard tightened, if possible, at the same time.


    If you are unlucky enough not to have an Ewincher to take the effort out of hoisting you up, you can suggest that at each spreader or fitting the wincher takes a break to get their breath back whilst an inspection is carried out. Inboard and outboard ends of the spreaders, lower shroud terminals and so on. You may be surprised at what you find, be it a steaming light full of water or an opaque lens, further up a spinnaker turning block shackle that has deformed and cracked as can be seen above, maybe a block that has started to open allowing the halyard to jump the sheave or a block that not swivelling sufficiently causing the side plates to be 'attacked' by the halyard.

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    On top of the world but not quite on 'top of the mast' I find the Solent Top Climber is a great aid to get me a little higher up so I can inspect the top of the mast and yes, one of the more unusual items that I’ve found was a small fish lodged in the mast head halyard assembly! Whilst up there take a good look at the VHF antenna and masthead transducer cables that may be suffering from either chafe or UV degradation. Check also the navigation lights for crazing or cracking of the lens. When going up aloft I always take my mobile and no it's not to play a video game whilst up their but to record anything that may look a little suspicious. Email your image(s) to Andy or myself at for expert advice. Mclube dry lubricant and a roll of PVC tape also keep me company!


    And no I didn't climb a mast to get this shot, ‘twas taken from the deck of the ferry that runs from Ancona in Italy down to Igoumenitsa on mainland Greece. Methinks a little bit of chafe on a tang, not life threatening in this case but should another tang fail? I will have to check this one again when we once again migrate North this coming October!

  • 273. Top Tips Tuesday - Jealous Guy


    John Lennon started writing the song Jealous Guy back in 1968. It was a track from the Imagine album. Since then it has been covered by a variety of artists, at least 92 cover versions we are lead to believe, including our own Geordie Brian Ferry. Released as a single by Roxy music (Brian was the vocalist) it reached number 1 three months after Lennon's death. Being a Geordie, Ferry that is, meant that he always got a brilliant reception at the City Hall Newcastle, as he spoke our language. Jenny and I saw him perform at least three times at that iconic venue and almost fifty years later she still thinks he is hot! Sadly the last time we saw him perform was at the Metro Arena in Newcastle. Soulless place, it smells of hot take away food, the beer was poor and as for the feed back from the sound system that night, bloody awful!

    Andy Lawrence, our website expert, has over the last few years restored a lovely looking Cutlass sailing yacht which was built in the early seventies. Two years ago he upgraded the electronics and went for the B&G Vulcan chart plotter and B&G VHF which has a built in AIS. Fast forward to the other day when the sales manager of Vesper Marine came a calling. Now we guys know it takes a lot to get Andy, our resident Scotsman, excited; haggis and a wee dram have been known to do the trick but after Sales Director Mathew Forbes had finished his pitch, pointing out what the Vesper Marine WatchMate Vision² SmartAIS can do, our man from North of the border and resident IT/website whizz was heard to mutter under his breath "if my boss gives me a pay rise, I will buy one!" Talk about a jealous guy.


    This now excitable Scotsman then blurted out to yours truly, who had heard him muttering under his breath... “It's very clever, tells you when things are going wrong. It triggers an alarm to warn you of a potential collision situation, it has a brilliant safety at anchor feature, it silently and continuously watches for a man overboard and sounds the alarm as soon as it detects one. It has built in WORLD WIDE coastal outlines for better situational awareness and, of course, it transmits as well as receives!”

    Exclusive vesper marine advantages -

    • BUILT-IN WIFI - Manage your transponder using your smartphone and smartwatch
    • HIGHER RESOLUTION GPS - Fast 5Hz 50 channel GPS receiver
    • NMEA 2000 GATEWAY - Translates NMEA 2000 navigation data and routes it over WiFi, USB or NMEA 0183
    • UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY - Compatible with all AIS enabled MFDs and marine equipment
    • LOW POWER CONSUMPTION - Always on, always visible, always watching
    • SECURE PORTS - Galvanically isolated ports protect your equipment from high current damage
    • WATERPROOF - IPx7 rating - can be mounted anywhere
    • UPGRADABLE AIS PLATFORM - Get the latest transponder features automatically using your smartphone or tablet
    • WATCHMATE APP - Monitor navigation data, AIS and GPS, manage alarms from your smartphone or tablet
    • DECKWATCH APP - Monitor navigation data, AIS and GPS, view alarms, manage settings from your smartwatch
  • 272. Top Tips Tuesday - The Cat's Whiskers

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    I know Storrar Marine is not my 'baby' anymore, Andy is, these days, the driving force behind the original bricks and mortar chandlery Storrar Marine and of course our internet site (and doing a much better job than I ever did) but it still gives me a kick to see most afternoons that I manage to stagger into my old place of work the number of boxes, tubes etc ready to be collected by the carriers and to learn facts like, for instance, that in the past year he has shipped over 200 pairs of Boarding Ring Glasses to the USA and Canada, never mind the European sales of these brilliant anti seasickness glasses that work. Blakes Seacocks seem to fly of the shelf more often than not for export. Whale/Henderson waterproof hatches usually destined for these guys that think rowing across the Atlantic is just a walk in the park incidentaly one of our old ‘Saturday lads’ has signed up to the challenge, best of luck Anthony! Andy's latest find, Ewincher, the electric winch handle, trickles out as well as the excellent Stormbag as for the Forespar Telescopic poles it ain't quite one a week but it's a steady stream!

    The Forespar telescopic whisker pole is a great way of getting a bit more oomph when sailing downwind, They find their use in non spinnaker class racing and short handed cruising, or whenever downwind performance is desired without the use of conventional spinnakers. A properly sized and deployed whisker pole will allow the headsail to add considerable power and speed to downwind sailing. Telescoping whisker poles allow one pole to be used with furling headsails. Reduce your genoa sail area and then retract some of the whisker pole, easy peasy!  By projecting the headsail out to weather and out of the mainsail's 'wind shadow' the headsail can fill and stabilise. Without a whisker pole the headsail will flop from side to side, limp and useless. The use of a whisker pole will allow "wing on wing" sailing dead downwind with surprising performance. The expression ‘the cats whiskers ’is to be highly enjoyable, desirable, or impressive... sums up the Forespar telescopic whisker pole nicely!


    For pole stowage on our Mystery we use a couple of Nawa pole stowage loops. They can be easily attached to stanchions or push-pit; they keep the deck free so no danger of stubbing one toes!

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