Monthly Archives: April 2020

  • Confined To Barracks - Week 6, Part 2 - Bang For Britain


    Jenny and I have been out on the street every Thursday night (apart from the first one when I am ashamed to say we forgot) without fail paying tribute to those working for the NHS on the front line in the fight against Covid-19. We mustn't also forget those guys who are helping to keep us safe, including one of our sons in law serving in the police force; teachers educating the kids whose parents are involved in keeping the UK ticking over; shop workers in supermarkets, independent butchers, bakers, green grocers and their staff, delivery drivers etc etc we owe them all a debt of gratitude.

    The first Thursday night that I was out, after 20 seconds of clapping my poor old arthritic wrists were giving me so much gyp that I am ashamed to say that I had to stop whilst Mrs S carried on! I rushed indoors grabbed a sauce pan and spoon returned to the fray and promptly drowned Jen out with my banging. So, for the last few Thursday nights there has been no clapping from either of us, two sauce pans, two wooden spoons and a barking dog are our modus operandi!


    Boss man Andy and his family however make even more noise than we two do with his 'girls' in fog horn mode; eldest daughter using the Eco friendly rechargeable Ecoblast, the youngest (who has always got a lot to say for herself according to Andy) blowing her own trumpet and as for his good lady Jill, after a hard day at school, it's a case of taking it a little more easy, she just presses a button. Andy, to compete with all that noise, did what we do raid the kitchen cupboard and 'bangs his own drum' that's his percussion instrument sitting on the grass. Being a man of course he cannot multitask, bang the drum and take a pic whilst standing on one leg!


    Our most popular fog horn by a long way sold through either our bricks and mortar chandlery Storrar Marine Store or through our mail order operation is the Ecoblast. Simply pump air into the storage cylinder attached to the horn with the pump which is included, then let it off! It's a powerful 110db, approx 60 blasts per 'charge' and of course there is never any need to buy another refill!. The Blaster Horn is also environmentally friendly it delivers over 100db using a puff of air from your mouth! The Blaster horn is hard wearing and should the plastic diaphragm fail it can be easily be replaced with any thin plastic film. As for the Air Signal Horn, it's powered by an ozone friendly propellant, refills are not expensive at £6-95. Its only drawback, as far as I can see, is that we cannot sell it down under in Australia as it must be kept upright! Sorry just trying to make a joke and failing miserably!


    Ps don't forget to bang for Britain tonight at 8pm or give a honk or two for all those 'heroes.' Incidentally,  with 'time on my hands' and the attic now cleared, I did discover one of my old Arthur Ransome books, 'We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea,' and reading it remembered that as the fog came down whilst they were at anchor... What did they use to stay safe? Like us on Facebook and email your answer to... to win a Boaties frying pan!

  • Confined To Barracks - Week 6, Part 1 - Reach For The Stars


    Many are the weekends in the close season when I get 'writers block' faced with another blog. During the season it's not usually a problem as there are lots of ideas and subject matter to be found in marinas, boatyards or out on the water; nor the months of October and November as new products are showcased at METS, the huge Marine Trades Assoc exhibition in Amsterdam. As I blog today my thanks must go out to Doug Sharp of the RNYC, Blyth, Northumberland who, with time on his hands, (usually by now he is in his favourite cruising ground of the West Coast of Scotland) has been posting some great images on the club Facebook page over the last few days. Long may he continue doing this even though lockdown may be relaxed, who knows more subject matter? If we are allowed to access our boats in late May what will our priorities be? Slap a quick coat of antifouling on, launch, forget about the polish of topsides and enjoy the rest of the summer? Having said that a lot of the preseason work can be done when she's afloat and that includes mast inspection, assuming the mast hadn't been lowered during the close season and was checked over earlier.


    Once back in the water, if you are climbing a mast never forget to go up on two halyards after inspecting them, use a strong mousing line and withdraw the halyard completely checking for sign of chafe or other weaknesses. If satisfied, replace, but don't under any circumstances go up aloft on perhaps a spinny halyard that runs through an external block! The shackle pin may be loose, cracked or the attachment point almost worn through. Always attach the halyards to the chair with a bowline, snap shackles can catch on the way up, after you have reached the dizzy heights make sure the guys on the deck tie off the halyard tail as against relying on friction from the winch drum and the self tailing stripper arm to keep you aloft. Once up there can you reach up to adjust the vanes of say the Windex or maybe change a bulb? If the mast doesn't have mast steps at the top, we always go up with a set of stirrups or Top climber already attached to our bosuns chair, it allows you to 'stand up' and gain that vital 75 odd centimetres.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.19.53

    When climbing I always make sure I have my mobile with me, tis handy if there is an issue up aloft and I want to discuss it with, say, the owner, so I take a few pics! For our avid readers images can be e-mailed to us for further advice, we welcome them and in the unlikely event we cannot answer them by return, with over 45 years in the marine trade I do have a fair number of expert contacts. Apart from my mobile, my multi-tool will be in my ditty bag, a can of Boeshield, scrap of fine wet and dry, a reel of monel siezing wire, some good quality electricians tape, a roll of self amalgamating tape and some split pins. Mclube dry film lubricant is also handy to keep on the boat and take aloft.


    As for what kind of bosuns chair to go aloft in, both Andy and I favour the Spinlock, however the other Rob who often spends a couple of hours aloft prefers the Solent with the addition of a hard seat! Coupled, of course, with a top climber. Those nice guys at Spinlock have produced a guide to going aloft; excellent it is, but you must climb on two halyards!



  • Confined To Barracks - Week 5, Part 2 - Bits For A Houseboat, Boat Or House


    The trouble with being confined to barracks is that over the last five weeks the waist band on my strides has shrunk and the bathroom scales have decided to tell little white lies; however Jenny has an idea in her head that it's the extra food and drink that I am currently consuming! Five weeks ago when it all kicked off and I, like most folks, was confined to barracks, to comfort myself I started to have a biscuit with my elevenses, a KitKat or similar with my afternoon cuppa. With lunch there was often a bag of crisps to hand as well as a sarnie. Come five o'clock it's been a pre-dinner gin, a glass or two of wine with dinner and then the cheese with the coffee.  The good news was that I think it helped keep my spirits up, the bad news was that this 'wining and dining' is starting to show in the wrong place! Sadly this week it's been 'boot camp;' kick out the biscuits, no more cooked breakfasts and as for the booze at least two or maybe three dry days a week, tis a shame one of them is today!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.12.01

    In the dim and distant past when Andy and I often worked a seven day week at the start of the season, the way that we differentiated the weekdays from the weekend was that on a Saturday I had a good old fashioned fry up and for a Sunday it was a Seahouses kipper. As we were putting in the hours, weight was never an issue, so it was a shame we didn't have a Boaties frying pan at the time as you can pack an awful lot more in due to its unique shape. Tis perfect for your houseboat, power or sailboat and of course your home.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.12.24

    Andy keeps one of these brilliant spotlights at home, reckons it great for when two cats try and out wail each other in his back garden; quick as a flash he is out of bed and with a quick dazzle they are off. Strange noises in a darkish street?  It's the perfect deterrent. As for me I've got one on the Mystery with it's Super-bright 630 lumens on high power or 250 lumens on standard beam it's great to have on board, spotting buoys, warning shipping off, rowing back to your yacht at anchor on a pitch black moonless night. Of course it would be indispensable in a MOB situation, let's hope one never occurs.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.12.30

    Did you know that Bilgex is not only handy on the boat but useful round the house or garage. It's the perfect product for removing traffic film from cars and grease and soil from paintwork and it dispels sickening odours. On the boat it emulsifies oil and grease in the bilge, gets a fresh smell in that area and of course it's biodegradable!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.12.37

    Starbrite mildew remover is a great product for keeping at home and for life on the ocean wave. At work we have a washroom that isn't insulated or heated with a North facing outer wall, so every winter without fail we get those little black spots appearing on the painted surface. A quick spray of this product and its away before long. Mildew on Shower curtains? It makes quick work of that and as for Andy's girls play tent that was put away slightly damp two winters ago, Starbrite mildew remover put a smile back on their faces the following spring, in double quick time!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.12.47

    On the boat it's a handy product, it's surprising that even in Greece with its more temperate climate but very wet winter, items stowed in cockpit lockers like horse shoe life buoys, ropes etc do suffer from mildew. A quick spray and then a rinse in fresh water deals with it. In the sail loft, sails covers etc can be successfully treated and even my boat jumble find, a replacement seat for the Avon dinghy got the treatment!


  • Confined To Barracks - Week 5, Part 1 - Go On Spoil Yourself


    Strange times these, where plans which had been made months or even years ago are being dismantled. So, as Ian Drury sang all those years ago, we do need, 'reasons to be cheerful'. Today, Monday the 21st, I have put on hold the DFDS ferry booking Newcastle to Amsterdam for early May. With our Mystery in a boatyard in Nidri on Lefkas island, we drive down at the beginning of the season, back out at the end with an 'intermission' in the hottest months of July and August when we fly back. Why drive down? Well we fill the car up with antifouling, boat bits which this year include the outboard which had come back to be serviced and our trusty Avon dinghy which needs some TLC. In the roof box goes bedding and clothing, plus, of course, copious bottles of gin, and in the past, loads of cans of Fever Tree tonic. Mind you this year we had already bulk bought Aldi's 'look a like tonic' considerably cheaper and hard to tell the difference! I then had to email Oscar travel and do the same with the Acona to Igoumenitsa ferry booking, then there were the flights at the back end of June for Jenny and I plus the one way car hire from Manchester airport to Newcastle! As for September when we normally fly back out again, we still haven't given that any thought! However, let's be positive, and as I pour myself a drink from the 'Greek stash' of gin three hours earlier than I should have my pre dinner drink, I think we should all spoil ourselves, cheers!


    As a cruising couple, not in the first flush of youth I hasten to add, when the Covid-19 cloud finally lifts, should we not have already treated ourselves? Last year we would have splashed out on an E Wincher, Wor lass (remember we are Geordies) thinks that now she has the ability to hoist me to the top of the mast using this bit of kit and leave me up there, it's a brilliant muscle saver. She, and yours truly, do also like the fact that if its honking or blowing hard as they say in posh places she can cope with winching in the headsail after a tack, whilst her elderly sailing companion, me, keeps a firm grip of the tiller!

    Another item that would have been added to our 'Go On Spoil Yourself' wish list would have been the new Vesper Watch Mate XB-8000 AIS. Yes, we have an excellent Echo Max fitted (which certainly came into its own when motoring through the Strait of Messina between Italy and Scicily on a pitch black night some three years ago). The Vesper, unlike normal AIS which sends and receives AIS data, also has smartAIS which is an active safety system with smart alarm logic that alerts you rapidly to potential dangers. It connects to your other instruments, tablets or smart phones via WiFi, USB, NMEA0183 or NMEA2000. If you are using the Navionics app with a phone or tablet, it will overlay AIS targets on  the chart.

    SmartAIS includes these three powerful features:
    1. Safety Underway. This alerts you when smartAIS detects a potential collision.
    2. Safety at Anchor. If your anchor drags, smartAIS will let you know immediately.
    3. Safety for your Crew. If someone has gone overboard, smartAIS not only alerts you, it also provides their location so you can pick them up quickly.It means you can focus on sailing your vessel, knowing smartAIS is always keeping watch in the background and is ready to alert you the moment it detects a hazard or unwanted event.


    In these strange times I find that my sleep pattern is not particularly good. Usually, I sleep well, however these days I wake more often than normal.  On Hindsight the only poor night's sleep I have ever had was when Medicane Zorba kept us awake with wind speeds of up to 80 knots back in 2018. If you haven't got a Rocna or a Vulcan, as we have as our main anchor, perhaps now is the time to spoil yourself and order one. I can guarantee you will have a better night's sleep secure in the knowledge that your newly acquired anchor is well dug in. If, however, you have got one of the above and your kedge is still a heavy, hard to handle beast why not treat yourself to the Lewmar LFX alloy folding anchor. Considerably cheaper than the brilliant alloy Fortress which we carry on board as our kedge, and it's a shame it wasn't on the market when we were fitting out our boat, could have saved some money! The LFX, which has been on the market now for over a year, is the perfect anchor for man handling into your dinghy. It ,of course, has superb holding power as its main feature, lightweight being its second!


    As many of us know, getting comfortable on deck, in the cockpit or wherever for our afternoon shut eye, can be a challenge. If you haven't already got one on your 'Go On Spoil Yourself,' list you could do a lot worse than invest in one or a couple of Freebags. A word of warning though. At the time of writing we have only got another 12 in stock and as it's a product that we buy in from Norway it may be some considerable time before we get our replenishment stocks in these uncertain times. Going ashore to sit on a deserted beach your Freebag doubles up as a hold-all and will help to keep chilled drinks cool.


  • Confined To Barracks - Week 4, Part 2 - Cleaning Up


    Mrs Hinch may have over 3.2 million followers, however can those devotees honestly say the products that they read about, buy and use are as practical both at home and on the briny as the ones that my boss man Mr Burgess or Wor Andy (as they say up on Tyneside) regularly endorses? Mind you if he gets past 9 followers it will be fairy cakes all round and a fairy tale come true!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.18.56

    Wor Andy thinks Vistal is a winner, not only on the boat but around the house; hundreds of uses including cleaning and polishing faded and dirty UPVC window frames, cleaning glass mirrors and work surfaces, grouting in the kitchen and shower cubicle, refreshing paintwork etc etc.  On his classic Cobra replica car it's perfect for cleaning the chrome spokes, restoring textured leather or vinyl upholstery, polishing out the clear window of the soft top and don't forget exhaust and oil marks!


    Wor Andy practises what he preaches on the water as well, Vistal is perfect for cleaning GRP including removing grime from textured non slip surfaces, removes rust stains, water line staining, exhaust marks, cleans fenders, inflatable dinghy tubes the list is endless. Its a great product for buying through the household budget; use it at home and then when lockdown finishes take it out for a day on the water. Better still buy two and then you will never be caught short.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.19.53

    Wor Andy also thinks Daveyshine metal polish is a winner, cos his editor told him so! In the Storrar house it's used for cleaning and polishing the brass ceiling light in the kitchen as well as the one in the conservatory. The copper navigation light he brought back from India - long story, but part payment in lieu of wages when he was out coaching their National sailing team. He could not take his wages out of the country as money due to the exchange controls in those days, so nautical antiques or artefacts were purchased from the ship breakers yard. Mind you, the duty he had to pay at Heathrow was eye watering! Silverware, including a few sailing trophies, benefits from a dose of Daveyshine, as well as the chrome work on the Caterham.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.20.05

    Daveyshine polish can, of course, be found on the Storrar Mystery 35. It's superb for cleaning and refreshing the alloy stanchions and the port light surrounds. Brings a sparkle to the stern boarding ladder and, of course, is used to keep the ship's clock and barometer Shipshape and Bristol fashion. No doubt one day, when Wor Andy kicks the racing habit and settles down to some gentle cruising, he will carry a tub aboard.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.20.55

    Wor Andy endorses Gill Wash-In Cleaner and Reproofing Spray. They're so handy for reproofing the bairns' (term used in the North East to describe children under the age of about 10) school coats and mum's Gill OS3 jacket (which gives her great protection from the elements when she's on playground duty) once they have been washed with the Gill Wash-In Cleaner. He uses the cleaner on a regular basis on his Gill OS2 jacket and salopettes as he can often be found down in the local boatyard removing or replanting rigging on customers' spars, mucky pup that he is! Once clean, it's a case of spray on the proofer works smashingly, 'like water off a duck's back'. Of course, once washed, Wor Andy uses those brilliant shiny practical stainless pegs that he sells by the ton to keep them on the line and once he gets that cruising yacht no doubt he will borrow some from the utility room to keep on the boat!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.21.21

    Finally before Wor Andy hits the bottle again please feel free to forward and like this post and or us on Facebook, if possible he wants to get into double figures!

  • Confined To Barracks - Week 4, Part 1 - DIY Small Outboard Service


    For an awful lot of us at the start of the season, we dig the outboard out of the garage, transport it down to the boat and when the time comes to using it, we clamp and lock it to the tender, turn the fuel tap on, add a touch of choke, pull the starter cord and wonder why our outboard won't start after the winter lay up AND ITS NOT BECAUSE WE HAVE FORGOTTEN TO ENGAGE THE KILLCORD! With the Covid restrictions that are currently in place, I have no doubt that there will be a rush to the water once the restrictions are lifted!

    Whilst we will do our very best to service your engine once restrictions are lifted, there is bound to be a delay so why don't you tackle small engine servicing yourself?


    So here are my top tips for servicing your small outboard yourself. Please note, however, if your outboard is still under warranty you will invalidate the terms of your warranty by servicing it yourself. It will need to be serviced by an authorised dealer for that make of engine. Speaking of warranties, on the Thursday before the Easter weekend I did make a phone call and spoke to the Mercury rep about this. He said, "I have no doubt that soon our company will be addressing the issue of warranties that could be in jeopardy as a result of not being able to get the engine serviced in the specified time limit due to the lockdown" Yamaha have also advised a 3 month extension on any warranty service that is due between 1st March - 31st May 2020


    If you haven't washed your engine down with fresh water having used it on the sea last season, do so. Dry off and then inspect the engine for any sign of visible damage. Any paintwork chips should be touched up with primer to stop corrosion on metal surfaces, followed by the appropriate top coat. We do, of course, stock a range of aerosol and pots of touch up paints and these can be sent by courier during the lockdown, along with other items required for the service.

    If you omitted to run the engine in fresh water at the end of the season (assuming you have used it in salt water) you must do so at this stage. Run for at least 20 mins to purge through any salt deposits that may be left in the cylinder head assembly and water pump unit. Whilst the engine is running check you have water coming out of the telltale. If not or it is weak it may be a big job to strip down and clear the salt build up from the cooling passages in the power head etc.


    Remove any fuel from the internal tank, be it 2-stroke mixture or untreated 4-stroke fuel which has been sitting there unless it was dosed with fuel stabilizer before storage. Drain the tank and, most importantly, the carburettor by opening the drain screw. Dispose of any old fuel by pouring it in the tank of a petrol NOT DIESEL car. Incidentally, stale fuel is one of the most common causes of non-starting, which we often see at the start of the season.

    Replace with fresh fuel and, if the engine isn't going to be used much, add some Quicksilver Quickstor fuel stabilizer to keep it in good condition throughout the season

    For 4-stroke outboards, drain the engine oil, replace the drain screw gasket and filter (if present) and fill with new 4-stroke oil. 2 stroke engines of course rely on the oil in the fuel mixture for lubrication!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.59.58

    At this stage, in a service carried out in our workshop, we would remove the carburettor and clean with Quicksilver Power Tune. We would check the float height setting and check the needle valve for any sign of damage however probably best left alone in your DIY service unless you are confident at doing this. However you can clean with Power Tune without removing the carb by running the engine on fast idle then spraying Power Tune directly into the carburettor until the engine stalls.

    Drain the gear lube, the gearbox is in front of the propeller in case you are not that mechanically minded, and replace with fresh gear lube. NB: If the oil that comes out is of a creamy colour and has emulsified there is a seal issue and that would need attending to! We would always recommend replacing the gaskets on the drain screws at the same time. Always fill the gearbox from the bottom drain hole, not the top one, to prevent air locks making the gearbox appear full when it isn’t.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.00.53

    Even though the spark plug, to an untrained eye, may look OK, replace with a new one. However, keep the old as a spare. The inline fuel filter should be replaced as a matter of course if fitted (make sure it's installed the correct way round) if there is a 'direction of flow arrow.

     Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.01.09

    Remove the thermostat, located on the power head (see example photo below), check it is clean with nothing stopping it seating properly, and check its operation by placing it in boiling water to see that it opens and closes fully.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.07.00

    Remove and inspect the propeller, if there is slight damage ie a blade with a tiny nick you should file it smooth, prime and paint. If the damage is more severe, unless you replace you do run the risk of ending up with a bearing/seal issue.


    Remove the gear housing and check the impeller for any tears or defects. Also check it is still flexible and hasn't formed to the shape of the water pump housing; as per the left hand image below left. Check the water passages haven't become blocked with salt build up as per the image to the right.  Incidentally one should never run a water cooled engine without a source of coolant; it you will end up melting  the impeller and you really will have a problem!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.08.29

    Apply a marine grease such as Quicksilver 2-4-C to the drive shaft splines, making sure you don't get any grease on the top face, before reattaching the gear housing to the engine. Grease the splines of the prop shaft and refit the propeller ensuring nut is tightened to correct torque. Grease all moving parts and lubrication points.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 11.09.54

    Test run the engine using flush muffs, or if the engine isn't suitable to take flush muffs use a large bucket or a wheely bin filled with water.  Check you have good water pressure at the telltale. At this stage you should check for any oil and fuel leaks, and finally we would suggest that you do what we do and that is spray the powerhead with Quicksilver Corrosion Guard to protect electrical connections and exposed metal surfaces from corrosion.


    Should you use a remote fuel tank the above comments regarding fuel are relevant but you need to pay attention to your fuel tank and fuel line. Make sure the interior of the tank, which may be metal if an older one, doesn't have rust flakes in it. As for the fuel line check thoroughly for splits where it has been clamped to say the primer bulb or the tank fitting, flex or bend and look closely for any splits in the pipe. When you prime the fuel the primer bulb should go hard when the carburettor is full. If it doesn’t there may be a problem with your primer bulb. Over time the non-return valves in the primer bulb break down, especially these days with the current formulation of fuel. This means the fuel runs back down the fuel line towards the tank and can cause your engine to stall due to lack of fuel while running. If you find your engine stalls but starts straight away when you prime the bulb again, the chances are you need to replace the primer bulb. Primer bulbs also degrade from UV exposure/old age however when ordering a replacement check the diameter of the spigot and order accordingly!


    NB? To enable us to mail order the correct parts for you to DIY, email or ring us with the serial number of your Mercury, Mariner, Yamaha or Tohatsu outboard to ensure we supply the correct parts. The serial number can normally be found on a plate or sticker on the clamp bracket that holds the engine onto the transom of your tender. 

    Finally, If you’re unsure on how to carry out any of the above procedures, a good source of information is YouTube. You can normally find some excellent videos showing how to carry out the service items on your model of outboard.

  • Confined To Barracks - Week 3, Part 2 - Easy On The Knees


    It’s marvellous when you can purchase a product from that is useful on water as well as on dry land; it can therefore be purchased justifiably using money from the household budget without any guilt trip whatsoever! In the Storrar ‘household’ we have a couple of posh Freebags, unfortunately they were left onboard the Mystery, which is out in Greece, last October so we are unable to use them back in the UK. However, back here we do have an elderly, scruffy,  probably 14 year old one that gets used on a regular basis in and around the house, be it when yours truly is tinkering with his ‘boy toy’ (sadly at present on SORN due to the lockdown and all this fine weather we are having!) Will have to get the chrome polish out and stick the battery charger back on. Note to myself.......add to the list!


    Seems strange that at the beginning of April I am chopping up wood for kindling in anticipation of cold November nights to come later this year! Could it be frustration that we are confined to barracks when we could be out enjoying ourselves on the water or toiling away in the boatyard that makes me take it out on a piece of wood? Our old trusty Freebag certainly makes kneeling easier on a hard or uneven surface but sadly it hasn’t helped me with the standing up afterwards! Another note to myself, must get a mobile block and tackle rigged up to get me back on my feet!


    Jenny is also a fan of this oh so versatile ‘cushion’ it’s versatile, being filled with soft beads. Out in Greece our new Freebag gets taken to stoney deserted beaches in the Ionian, doubling up as a wine or beer chiller due to the built in pockets as well it’s prime use as a comfortable seat on the boat. Back in the UK the Freebag makes weeding her flower beds so much easier on the knees and whilst you are admiring the flower bed take the time to look at her old  gardening shoes. They were, methinks, many years ago, top of the range Orca Bay deck slip ons, what a nautical swank she turned out to be!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.48.23

    Andy being the boss man doesn’t usually have much time to attend to his garden, always working six days of the week, sometimes seven in the season before the lockdown; nowadays he pops into work every day for at least five hours to pack and dispatch all the mail orders that have come in. His garden, these days, doesn’t know what’s hit it! Of course, being the CEO of the company, at home he has both a Freebag Pro and and a Freebag (just hope he hasn’t borrowed my Pro from the sail loft when he posed for the pic) If he has, no worries as long as he returns it washed and smelling sweetly when we are back at work! Look again, closely,  at the image and guess what...he’s trying to out swank Jen by gardening in his posh Dubarry's, not sure if his missus would approve nor take kindly to him swigging beer exhausted after his session in the garden leaning back on a Freebag. Methinks Andy isn't going to have a relaxing Easter week, that garden seat looks like it needs some TLC!


    It was pointed out by Jenny during her proof reading session of the text that stainless clothes pegs can also be purchased from and they can also be attributed to the household budget. Perfect at home holding king size bottom sheets on the line in a force six and used with confidence on our Mystery when the breeze sets in and the washing is on the line and we two are in the taverna having a well earned cold beer or two.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.49.51

  • Confined To Barracks - Week 3, Part 1 - The List!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.28.15

    'The List' was written by Johnny Cash and given to his daughter Roseanne many years ago and he titled it '100 Essential Country Songs.' 35 years later she trimmed it down to 12 songs which are featured on the CD by that name! My list (have a boat one too of course) is the one shown above, right hand side that seems to be getting bigger. Probably when we escape lockdown it will be up to the 100 mark by the way things are going, I keep noticing things that need doing but I seem to be adding faster than I subtract items done! However with yet another Sunday confined to barracks and wondering what do I write in my weekly blog about boats and boating when we cannot get to them, never mind work on them or even use them! Anyway it started off as a beautiful morning and after I had my breakfast, my first task was..... to rinse my swimming trunks, hang them along with my towel on the line to dry. Whilst out in the garden my eye was drawn once again to our sad old garden table that had been woefully neglected since the acrylic cover blew away in a storm some six or seven years ago. I mentioned to Jenny that I should add it to the 'things to do list' and her reply "there is the subject matter for your next blog!"

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.28.25

    With the 'printers deadline' looming there was no way that I could strip the complete table down, sand and coat the top never mind tackling the wrought iron work by close of play Monday lunchtime, and show you what I had achieved. However, perhaps I could 'make a start.' I rang boss man Andy and asked him if he had anything marine-related in his garden shed for coating and preserving outdoor furniture, as I knew he had a veranda table and chairs not that he often had the opportunity to use them these past summers. Fortunately he advised he had two different wood 'treatments' at home which he kindly left on my door step after cycling down to Tynemouth, this being his allowed daily exercise! The first two wood lats were attacked with a heavy duty paper attached to an orbital sander, once most of the old coating was removed it was then a case of using a 280 grade grit to flatten the grain. Andy didn't bring my favourite Teak Wonder down however he brought a couple of other wood treatment products. The left hand slat was treated with Epifanes Teak-O-Bello, the right hand one with Deks Olje. Both products can be used to protect teak and other hardwoods/marine woods. The Epifanes Teak-O-Bello is an environmentally friendly water based product, it prevents the wood from weathering for an extended period of time. It's fast and easy to apply and according to the tin it lasts longer than solvent based teak oils and teak sealers and it resists the formation of mould! It does have a tint to it as can be seen by the finish! As for application, two coats are recommended with a short interval between applications and no worries re-applying in low or high temperature(s)


    Deks Olje, manufactured in France, is a product that can be used on teak and all boating woods; according to the blurb on the tin it's been proven over the years from the fjords of Norway to the Caribbean islands. D1, which I was going to use, is a saturator which leaves a silken finish, it's applied neat and its success lies in its saturation of the wood to bring about an even silken sheen. It's a coat upon coat process you keep a 'wet edge' and encourage, if that's the word, to soak the timber till it cannot take anymore. On our last house we used it on the decking in the south facing garden with great success! If perchance you want a gloss finish you can coat with D2 after the initial coats.

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.28.36

    As for the cast legs, they were also showing signs of neglect, however I reckon it must be over 25 years since I painted them with Epifanes yacht enamel! The Tercoo made light work of the intricate casting and you can see why it's so brilliant a device if you're using on a cast iron fin or a steel hull. View the blog on our website where Rob (not me) tackles a rusted keel. Once I have the legs back to bare metal I was going to treat it with Fertan (all the classic car owners rave about its rust inhibiting properties) or if we hadn't got an 'opened' tin at work I could borrow, it would be either a few coats of underwater primer, am sure there will be an open tin in the company's workshop! The intention is to follow up with Epifanes undercoat then their gloss yacht enamel. Bingo, job done until I tackle the rest of the table!!!


    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 10.28.45
  • Confined To Barracks - Week 2, Part 2


    Mrs Storrar, she who casts her eye over my grammar, spelling and punctuation, before each 'boatie' blog is signed off on a Monday night, dropped a hint today. Seeing I was on a natural wood theme, perhaps it was time the two wooden fireplace surrounds in our house, which were looking a little shabby, got some attention. Perhaps I would like to sand them with wet and dry followed by the Epifanes varnish; and by the way the oars of our inflatable dinghy could do with some TLC as well!


    Well I had some Epifanes in the workshop, their traditional clear varnish with extra UV filterso that's the dinghy oars sorted, (just needs a rub down in the bare patches} build up with some thinned coats and then a final coat. As for the fireplaces, we need a matt finish so its Epifanes Rubbed Effect varnish to the rescue, which is a very quick drying scratch resistant interior varnish. It provides a beautiful satin sheen, outstanding flowing ability and excellent resistance against alcohol and household chemicals! I had finished all the stripped hall and landing doors, internal surfaces (outer were French polished as per my blog earlier this week) with this product and years later they still are looking good!


    Our conservatory was 'attacked' by a nationwide blind company a few years ago, allegedly the best in the business we were led to believe, and as we had purchased and they had fitted two vertical ones in our bathrooms with no complaints, we invited them to quote for retractable blinds to help control the temperature in its south-facing location. Quote came through, wasn't the cheapest by a long chalk, but we always thought that there is 'no such thing as a free lunch'. So we ordered then six weeks or so later I came home very late from work to find an extremely angry better half. Dinner is in the dog methinks. It was not just a disaster in the conservatory! The guy who fitted our blinds told Jen, as he was leaving that night, he was a bricklayer in his earlier life and found our project a 'challenge' and that he would be back tomorrow to finish the job off! A year later after numerous phone calls, and then ten more e-mails to the finance director, we finally got our money back!

    image image

    My plan of attack once I have done every thing else on my list, clean out the screw holes, fill same with a mixture of epoxy and micro balloons, rub down and follow up by tinting this filler, if required, with up to a maximum of three coats using Epifanes Mahogany stain.  If, we still have a colour difference it is possible to mix Epifanes Mahogany stain (10% maximum) with their one and two part varnishes to camouflage colour differences in existing systems, obviously we would have to coat all the beams! As a footnote, our 'blind bricklayer' did turn up next day but was not allowed across the threshold!


    Whilst our bricks and mortar chandlery is closed for the foreseeable future, you can order online and we will do our best to ship as soon as possible. If you have a technical query re varnishing or any other subject e-mail us at and we will get back to you but please bear in mind we are working a skeleton staff. Finally the guys at Marineware, importers of the Epifanes paint and varnish range, have put together their tips to help you on your way. Follow their tips and you won't go wrong!


    From Simon - ‘All varnishes have their own thinners, use them as they will enhance flow and control the drying process. As the pros say... Juice it up!’

     From Richard - 'Always remember to thin early coats of varnish to penetrate into the timber. Refer to Technical Data Sheets for recommended ratios.'

    From Chris - 'Pick a good day for varnishing, direct sunlight can cause the varnish to dry too fast or unevenly and then crack or wrinkle, wind can blow dust and dirt on to your drying varnish and make it dry out too fast. A warm varnish will flow better than a cold.'

    From Dave - 'Should you see bubbles in the varnished surface while brushing or rolling and tipping, make a final pass with the brush very slowly over the area, using very light pressure. This method will remove the bubbles.'

    From Glen - 'Make sure the varnish isn’t cold so it can flow properly when being applied. When brushing use long, even strokes with the grain.'

9 Item(s)