Monthly Archives: October 2019

  • 284. Top Tips Tuesday - Now You See It, Now You Don't

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    I lead a very sheltered life now that I am well past the usual retirement age, and have been ‘booted upstairs’ to idle a few hours away in the sail loft attached to the bricks and mortar chandlery emporium of www.storrarmarine.co.uk. Sadly, with me now being consigned to the loft, I don’t get the opportunity to listen to the shop counter scandal and never ever get the chance to flick through suppliers catalogues which I used to enjoy. However, even though I am only supposed to be working part time, I have been asked on occasion to man the pumps down on the shop floor whilst boss man Andy Burgess swans off on a very rare holiday or perhaps gets his hands dirty with onsite work. Just last week saw him working down in the smoke at the world famous Henley River and Rowing Museum. His task, changing the overhead displays, which included lowering the priceless 1948 Olympic medal winning Henley Pair down and moving it to a different location, then lifting the Sydney gold medal winning four up into the clouds and once again securing it with stainless wire, numerous swaged splices, and of course, set up to the correct tension using stainless rigging screws.

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    So, for a second week, I once again find myself indispensable. Why? Andy B is now enjoying quality time with his two daughters as it's half term week up in the North East, and I am in the firing line, meeting, greeting and hopefully serving customers, and of course giving my opinion, for what its worth, a tackle by tackle overview of the matches that took place over the weekend. What a marvellous game we enjoyed on Saturday! Yesterday lunchtime saw me eating what we in the sail loft call a ‘train drivers’ sandwich (tomato & hard boiled egg in a brown granary bun seasoned with a sensation of ground black pepper and don’t ask why we call them that!) down in the chandlery office and idly thumbing through an old 2018 Bartoncatalogue. My eye was caught by a picture of Andy Laurence’s daughter, Ruby, relaxing in the cockpit of his beautifully restored Alan Hill designed Cutlass 27, Andy whom, when he is at work, steers www.marinechandlery.com down the high tech seas, then when it's rest and recreation time, he can be found either working on further restoration of Nellie Dean or sailing her out on the North sea. As a postscript he painted the topsides in Epifanes yacht enamel some three odd years ago and she still looks a million dollars!

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    The old traveller on Nellie Dean which was mounted at the aft end of the companion way was in the way, a trip hazard and a hair catcher. However, Andy ain’t got much left, bit like me, but he does often sail with his wife and daughter. Also, if in light winds he pulled the traveller slightly up to windward to keep the boom on the centreline (with minimum leech tension to aid pointing ability,) the old mainsheet traveller position made it almost impossible to go down below! By removing the old one and fitting one of Barton’s brilliant removable mainsheet track systems, apart from freeing up the cockpit when not in use by removing it completely, with it being located further aft the sheeting on the boom become more efficient!

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    As for the Henley 'project', well done Andy and the team, must have taught him well now let’s see if his photos of the two boats which are shown below are as good as his wire work. My verdict, yes, but don’t yet give up the day job! Not that I can talk, my headline image of the sandwich…… spot the ‘deliberate’ mistake! The catalogue under was a Schaefer one and not Barton, how many of you spotted that? My boss certainly didn’t when he proof read it!

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  • 283. Top Tips Tuesday - The Vital Spark

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    THE 'VITAL SPARK' was the name given to a fictional Clyde Puffer created by Scottish writer Neil Munro. Short stories regarding the exploits of the crew, and of course, the boat first appeared in the Glasgow Evening News in 1905. These small steamboats were, in those days, providing a vital supply route round the West coast of Scotland and the Hebridean Islands.

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    The cargo they carried was varied to say the least; one day coal, the next day furniture, perhaps gravel and often livestock. The stories appearing in that newspaper over a period of 20 years were collected in book form, inspired a film and came out as three popular television series. The series also brought David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, one of his first acting roles. When we first launched Hindsight, in order to light the stove I used either matches or a refillable Turbostick gas lighter, although I must confess the latter was more often using for sealing rope ends than lighting the cooker! Matches, even though our yacht is based in Greece (normally a sunny dry climate in the summer) were never that satisfactory an option, the combustible head would fly off or crumble and the striking pad on the box often seemed to attract moisture. Earlier this year I dug deep into my pocket, (dislodging a few moths at the time) and purchased an 'Electric Arc Lighter'.

    The beauty of this little beast is that there is no fuel to purchase and store, it's flame less and wind proof and it's charged through a USB cable which is included in the package. For charging this and other devices onboard Hindsight we have a Blue Seas USB dual chargerfitted on the console next to the chart table, and up on deck on the coach roof 'garage' is a second waterproof twin socket manufactured by Scanstrut. This I often use in conjunction with my old iPad which is wirelessly connected to my below deck Raymarine plotter and protected from the elements by a Gooper, in an easy to open/seal waterproof case.

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    As always electronic/electrical technology moves on and since we fitted our Mystery out those clever guys at Scanstrut have come out with another charger unit called the Scanstrut Rokk which charges at three times the rate! With the speed that my mobile discharges maybe I am due for an upgrade if not a new dog and bone.

    Scanstrut Rokk USB Charger Unit

     

     

  • 282. Top Tips Tuesday - I Can't Believe I'm Saying This!

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    Andy, who is these days the owner and boss man of the bricks and mortar Storrar Marine Store and www.marinechandlery.com, may well not be a happy chappy when he reads the below, as if you want to follow my 'words of wisdom' you can save yourself hard earned money in the future, as well as protecting your investment! Mind you as always there is a catch, you will have to spend a little to achieve this so maybe he will forgive me?

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    Consider removing all the halyards, reef lines etc from the mast and boom replacing them with 4mm polyester mousing lines. Apart from slowing any deterioration of them it will give you an opportunity to wash them, remove salt crystals which apart from being destructive makes the ropes less comfortable to handle when dry. Of course examine them for signs of chafe or wear and if satisfied store in a dry location out of direct sunlight. If you are leaving the mast up this year (I strongly recommend that you get it lifted out on a regular basis to check it out) make sure that the mousing lines are tied off on the pulpit so that they are not damaging the anodising by rubbing against the spar when the breeze is up.

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    Perhaps invest in a foil saver if you're not taking your mast off. When hoisted up the foil using the one remaining headsail halyard, tension is applied by tying the rope tail back to the mast. This action helps prevent the joints in the extrusions 'working' and in the worst case scenario failing. Many a headsail has ended up with a series of grey stains in the area of the joints due to the fretting of the alloy extrusions as they have become slack. If you do decide to take the plunge and purchase a foil saver from Andy you must specify the make and model of the headsail reefing gear you have.

    Maintain the value of your boat and obviously its looks by giving it a regular polish at least once a year if not more, once in the autumn and again in the spring is my recommendation but I sail Hindsight in the Ionian, where the sun is fierce, and of course if your hull is of a dark blue, green or red gelcoat, which are prone to fade, the only way to stop them chalking is by a regular maintenance programme. Yes it can be hard work if you are relying on elbow grease, however an initial investment in say a Shurhold polisher will not only save you time but when you come to sell your boat she will still look and command top dollar. I got my Shurhold some ten years ago it's still doing sterling service. It moves in 2 directions at the same time to prevent burning the surface. It also came with a built in circuit breaker so no worries about using it in an aggressive environment. Not the cheapest on the market however it gives a professional result in the hands of amateur as I have proved. As for polish/fine scratch removers I use and recommend the Meguiar’s range.

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    Something you never see up in the North East of England (maybe down South?) is the chain removed from the chain locker and hung up on an appropriate trestle or pallet and then washed down with fresh water. Stops it 'festering' in the locker and It also gives one the opportunity to give it and the swivel if fitted and shackle a thorough inspection.

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    Don't forget to stuff a rag soaked in something like WD40 up the end of the exhaust pipe if your boat has been laid up on a exposed coastline, perhaps stuff rags up drain outlets. Having said that if you have invested in a dehumidifier that drains into a sink don't block that one up!

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  • 281. Top Tips Tuesday - A Flash Of Inspiration!

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    The rig on the Mystery is that of a big mainsail with a slight overlapping 110% jib. To help control this tall slim sail there are 3 vertical battens in the leech and headsail cars that are 'remotely' controlled from the cockpit. As the breeze picks up you reduce the size of the headsail, the genoa  or jib car is moved for'ard on the track to maintain optimum trim, base of the jib sail flat but with a leech that is not too open but still allowing the airflow to 'escape'. Speaking of the breeze picking up, we had spent two nights in Kalamos harbour ('welcome to our harbour, my name is George, let me take your lines and by the way this is my taverna at the end of the quay') lovely guy, their shrimp saganaki is to die for.

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    Our destination that next morning was Nidri where it was our intention to refuel before our trip north to Corfu. The forecast was force 3 to 4 with thunderstorms forecast for later in the afternoon, we tripped anchor at 9:45, for once there was no other anchor over ours even though we were one of the first to arrive on the Tuesday afternoon. As we motored away from the harbour in a confused sea from the blow the night before but with no wind we did notice it getting fairly gloomy over the mainland on our starboard side.

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    Turned the corner, what little wind died away completely and we motored on enjoying flats seas down the channel between the mainland and Kalamos, up ahead however it didn't look too promising; black sky and lightning flashes in the distance, forecast as I have already said for 'later'. Within 20 minutes a spectacular but frightening thunderstorm all around us, the lightning taking on a purple tinge and by a simple calculation not that far away! From the flash it's 5 seconds per mile till you hear the thunder, well by Jenny's estimation it was now no more than a mile away! Then without warning came the wind and horizontal rain, we were knocked flat (no sails up) windspeed showing over 50 knots, visibility 10m max. Not sure it was a flash of inspiration that made us decide earlier not to hoist the main (tis so easy now we have our Ewincher), or a second sense as to what lay round the corner!

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    Out in the Ionian little or no wind is often the de facto and when there are clear blue skies and no threat of thunder our 'small' jib doesn't give Hindsight enough 'oomph' either close to or off wind, so out comes the code zero or the cruising chute. Both are sheeted using a Harken turning block at the stern however we also use, to great effect, an easily attached/removed tweaker or barber hauler to control the leech. The Antal is my favourite, manufactured from a lightweight composite material with a flexible attachment loop so less danger of, or damage to, you or your boat. A barber hauler can also be used with great effect off the wind if you have a overlapping genoa of say 135 or 150% which is a lot harder to set effectively than a sail with a shorter length foot.

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  • 280. Top Tips Tuesday - You Must Be Joking!

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    I got a text from Andy this Sunday morning, 'Too early to start laying up email? I have just had the first of another chandlers e-mails on the subject'. Well what with Hindsight on the Iris pontoon in Nidri and me looking out over the stern of our Mystery, yes there are a lot of boats now on the shore awaiting the colder weather but on a beautiful sunny day out in the Ionian it certainly doesn't put me in the mood to blog about all things cold and damp. I had, in Jenny's absence, (she flies out today courtesy of Easy Jet at considerably more cost than her Thomas Cook flight had been) almost got ahead of myself and completed the next blog so that I could give her my undivided attention when she arrives. Jen arrives late tonight so there are a load of things to do on the boat before she turns up, empty and get rid of the rubbish, clean the cooker, wipe down all the surfaces, air the bedding to name but a few of the tasks I need to do before I collect her. Oops, nearly forgot I need to fit in the Wales v Australia rugby match too. Dan one of my sons-in-law is an Aussie, however the folks on the boat next to me are all Welsh, which team do I support this morning?

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    Not quite panic stations but it did mean a quick trot up to the Iris pool bar to get an internet connection as well as seeking inspiration with a large, cool beer or two and the occasional swim. So here goes... a few of my laying up essentials. Firstly, once the sun stays low on the horizon, or on some days, never bothers to show its smiley face during the autumn/winter months, your boat may 'turn green.' Not just the decks and cabin surfaces away from the 'sun' but canvas work, furled sails, ropes etc will all suffer. To prevent this happening once you have given her a wash and coat of wax, spray a diluted solution of Wet & Forget on all the surfaces. By doing so you save yourself an awful lot of elbow grease and money (getting canvas work/sails laundered). Wet & Forget will keep the algae and mould at bay and incidentally if you have already got  'shades of green' you don't need to use any elbow grease. Just spray on and leave, nature will do the rest, either keep the contamination away or if you are already seeing signs of it it will be removed slowly by a combination of rain and wind!

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    Having said that if you are not using the boat in the winter, remove any item above deckthat can suffer, such as sprayhoods, sails, canopies etc, unless an item of canvas work is for instance protecting instruments or bright work. The more windage the more strain it puts on your mooring lines and cleats. Check your lines for chafe, cleats are secure and whilst on the subject don't forget to fit rubber shock absorbers to your lines and if you already have them stretch them out and check for signs of deterioration. Check your fenders, are they strong enough for the winter ahead?

    It's a good idea to drain your water system down, especially if lifting out, as the air temperature can be a lot lower than the sea and consequently the interior of the boat a lot colder. However don't forget to run non toxic Freeze Ban through the system, you would be surprised the number of folks who don't. A small amount of untreated water in say the water pressure pump  or the water filter can freeze and destroy that particular piece of equipment! A chap I know didn't run Freeze Ban through his system even though he drained everything and come next season filled his water tank and could not understand why the pressure pump ran continuously. Yes he was filling the bilges as a result of a plastic fitting failing when the water inside froze!

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    So once you have removed all the perishables, don't forget to remove all the soft furnishings and anything that will collect and retain moisture. It's then a case of keeping the interior dry. If you haven't got shore power the Starbrite No Damp dehumidifiers are an excellent way of drawing moisture out of the interior, however if your boat does have, for instance, a keel stepped mast (rain water can often find its way into the bilges) or say a weep on a stanchion you will need to be replacing the crystals on a fairly regular basis. If you have a dehumidifier, no problem plug and play but make sure it can drain into the galley sink. The two 240 volt units we stock are the excellent Meaco DD8L Junior and the Seago Smart Dry 2. Andy has used the former to great effect during his past St Peters River Tyne winter series, he credits the boats numerous wins to a good helm and his skill on the foredeck, cynics such as me put it down to a drier lighter sports boat!

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    Protect your engine, make sure that the antifreeze hasn't been diluted by topping up with fresh water during the season and is to the correct strength, change the oil and the filterand if an inboard consider one if those very economical tube heaters to leave under the sump. Eliminate condensation in your fuel tank by filling it up and make sure you add Marine 16 to avoid the dreaded diesel bug.

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    On the subject of laying up we have some excellent in depth (not written by me!) articles on our site. Read more on laying up for winter and also winterising your engine (inboardand outboard), you may save yourself a lot of hard work, heartache and expense next spring! As for me I am off to watch the rugby, pint in hand and sitting in the sun, yes it's a hard life but someone has to do it!

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