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263. Top Tips Tuesday - Silence is golden


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.


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!


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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