Monthly Archives: May 2020

  • 306. Top Tips Tuesday - Dirty Thoughts!

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    With the first part of our Ionian dream firmly knocked on the head, we can only hope that by the end of August travel restrictions have been relaxed and we can yet salvage some sunshine sailing in 2020. Our 'normal' itinerary is leave the UK by the first May Bank holiday and after an overnight Newcastle/IJmuiden crossing it's a motor down through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, back onto another overnight ferry at Ancona Italy, destination Igoumenitsa mainland Greece, then it's a short drive down to Nidri on the island of Lefkas. Being 'absent' from Tyneside in previous years at Bank Holidays time I had forgotten how dirty some of the human race can be. The picturesque King Edwards Bay beach where I enjoy a morning swim all winter and some of the summer does, sadly, end up like a rubbish tip at times. How can people be so thoughtless? Beer cans, wine bottles, discarded nappies, loads of 'used once' plastic children's pails, shovels and sand moulds. Save the planet, you must be joking, these day trippers must think that the road sweeper comes down and cleans up after them!

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    Now that's off my chest, it has been brought to my attention by my boss that more and more boatie folks are asking for, and expecting him to sell them, environmentally friendly, biodegradable cleaning and polishing products, such as Starbrite Sea Safe Boat Wash. It ticks all the boxes... Environmentally friendly, biodegradable and it does work!

    If pressure washing your boat’s bottom doesn't get rid of all the deposits etc, Starbrite Boat Bottom Cleaner will! Used by yours truly to effectively remove six months of underwater growth from our Mystery (we deliberately didn't apply antifouling when we first launched her as we didn't know how she would float in the water being 'home built'). It's water based, environment friendly and of course biodegradable. Safer to use than other acid based bottom cleaners.

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    Power Pine Wash & Wax is another 'planet friendly' product from Starbrite. It works in both fresh and salt water; use it to clean, shine and protect all fiberglass, painted surfaces, glass, plastics and metals. As for the bilges, Starbrite Sea Safe Bilge Cleaner is Eco-Friendly it dissolves oil, grease, fuel and sludge, leaves 'under the boards' smelling clean and fresh. It's lake safe and contains no phosphates!

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    The image of the rubbish sitting on the steps is of the ‘debris’ I collected the other day before my swim. The below image is of the rubbish which was left on the beach and cleared away early doors  this morning by three concerned locals! I turned up 6-30 to find instead of carnage an immaculate beach, well done guys. As for my dirty thoughts they are not repeatable.

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  • Confined To Barracks - Are You Being Served?!

    I had half written a blog Sunday night but as usual changed tack at the last minute thus heaping more pressure on Claire, who 'puts' my ramblings and images together and then when the pedantic me signs them off, posts them out. Thanks Claire for all the sterling work you do!

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    Those of you who are old enough will remember 'Are You Being Served?’ It was a Sitcom which ran from 1972 to September 1985, based on a department store with the ladies and gentlemen's departments constantly at loggerheads with each other over various issues. We don't have too many issues between departments at either our bricks and mortar store www.storrarmarine.co.uk or our online site www.marinechandlery.com however at the moment the question we ask is, 'Are you being served?’.

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    Running on a skeleton staff at present does sometimes mean it takes longer to answer the phone, respond to emails etc but in these strange times please bear with us. Boss man Andy is running round like a headless chicken, unloading delivery vans, packing orders for dispatch by UPS (incidentally they managed to collect a Blake’s Seacock in these strange times from our Newcastle store last Thursday and deliver to New York* some 32 hours later, well done guys!) Apart from that he is answering the phone, responding to emails and keeping up to speed with his 'click and collect' from the locked gates! If local, please ring or email your order through and when you turn up at the 'barrier,' ring, and your goods will be brought out for you to take away.

    *NB New York, The Big Apple, not the one 4 miles from Newcastle!

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    As well as the despatch of 'marine goodies’, Andy, seen above modelling our range of PPE items, has in stock plenty of shields, masks and gloves so get your orders in fast. Regrettably however, we do not have the Barmaster 2000 visors as seen below, but rest assured our buying department is working 24/7 to source!

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  • Confined To Barracks - The Nautical Theme!

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    Perhaps it was too much to expect, the light at the end of the tunnel so soon. If we weren't still in lockdown at this precise moment I would probably be sitting on Hindsight enjoying a long G&T after a hard days antifouling in the boatyard at Nidri on the island of Lefkas in the Ionian, followed by a meal at 'Upside Down George's' on the Main Street (my favourite dish being a pork chop with a fried egg on top!) Instead it's a sit in the garden on the North East Coast at 5-30pm, bottle of beer and a glance or two at the Spectator mag, always a thought provoking read. Past editors have included Nigel Lawson, some guy called Dominic Cummings and another dude Boris Johnson, who ever he is!

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    Today I have been in my 'man cave' or huffy room as Jenny has now christened it, my attic getaway, putting the final touches to it. As I am not a particularly imaginative kind of guy, of course, it had to have a nautical theme so out went the old 'grand entrance' to this attic escape and in went stanchions, guard rails and pelican hooks, toerails glued down with West Epoxy then varnished with Epifanes varnish and, of course, non-slip tape and stainless steel rubbing strips. The vertical wood pillar helping to support the roof trusses was wrapped in foam and then, wonders will never cease, I managed to remember how to sew acrylic to a reasonable standard and 'bang' some eyelets in!

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    As I hadn't saved up for a Chart Art to adorn the wall, I borrowed the one of the West Coast of Scotland from work (hope my boss doesn't notice). One day I will ask Annika at Chart Art to make one up of the area we have spent happy times cruising. Incidentally they will, if you want, make a customised Chart Art up with your 'last memorable cruise or race' plotted on it before you went on lockdown. Food for thought?

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    My next 'assignment' is to re-step the mast, untangle the rigging and hoist the sails of my pond yacht, dismasted some twenty five years ago in a fearsome storm! Then it's some running repairs to the rigging on my bargain buy 'boat in a box' £40-00 at the local Saturday market! Mustn't forget the rudder needs rehanging also. Tis a hard 'nautical life' these days, but boy would it be nice to get back on the water!

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  • Confined To Barracks - Clear As Mud

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    Well both Jen and I sat down Sunday night to listen to the PM's broadcast and to be perfectly honest with you we, after listening to his speech, did come away a little bit confused to say the least. Having said that he had made some effort to comb his hair! Maybe it's an age thing this confusion as we are, sad to say, both over seventy years of age (mind you I have the looks and body of a 40 year old good looking athlete!) Obviously mindful of our age and still working part time, my nice boss Andy Burgess has ordered and received his first batch of face masks and shields and being the kind of guy he is, they are being advertised on our mail order site www.marinechandlery.com where they will be dispatched pronto or if local you can click and collect and save yourself some postage.

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    Given below is the technical specification for the shield, (which can be seen in use at Addenbrooke's Hospital by clicking here) as for the wearing of it, both Jen and I have found them comfortable to wear. They are very light, easy to slip on/off and do make one feel safer!

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    Jenny had a 'test run' of a mask on Saturday when she went shopping and found it a lot more comfortable than the one that she has been wearing when shopping since lockdown, Mind you, as can be seen from the image at the top it was a fearsome beast, but hey, better safe than sorry!

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  • Confined To Barracks - Little And Large

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    My lockdown list of things to do during all this uncertainty in the house/garden/car/bike (but sadly not the boat) doesn't seem to be shrinking at all. As fast as I tick a job off, two more 'to do items' materialise! The other day whilst replacing some ornamental glassware (washed and polished I hasten to add) on the wooden 'picture rail' in the hall, my eye was drawn to one of two smoke detectors fitted on the ceiling. Thought I had better test them, well the one on the upper ceiling worked but as for the ground floor one not a peep when I pressed the button. Opened it up and inside was a little sticker with the legend 'discard Dec 2019, battery not replaceable' or words to that effect. Oops another fail by yours truly!

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    Assuming that we had somehow managed to be alerted to a fire in our house (Millie our Heinz 57 dog is fairly good at panicking) we do have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and a further two more upstairs. Yes their service record is in order however the type of fire we can tackle with the two foam extinguishers is limited. Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet, flash the cash and go for a couple of much smaller (about the size of a red hand flare) but more powerful Fire Safety Sticks. Aside from the fact that they are tiny in comparison to our domestic monsters they cover all classifications of fire..... ABCF & Electrical and it's a big AND they don't need an annual service.

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    In my boys toy, the Caterham Roadsport, I do have a Fire Safety Stick, it's a condition of the insurance cover that I have to carry an extinguisher and to keep my motor insurance low for this pocket rocket my mileage is capped. Not that I ever get near the mileage limit, in fact this year with the car in lockdown and on SORN methinks it will be zilch. Hindsight, our Mystery 35, had apart from a conventional fire blanket next to the cooker, two very similar very compact extinguishers. Slightly larger than the Fire Safety Stick so when their time is up we will go for a couple of Fire Safety Sticks as they don't have a dispose by date!

    Feeling very guilty as to my lack of attention to the smoke detectors, I thought I had better check the two carbon monoxide detectors located in rooms that have multi fuel stoves. Yes both working, phew, and no issues with expiry dates, however my missus did point out that the one we have on Hindsight and also sell in our bricks and mortar chandlery storrar marine and online at www.marinechandlery.com is a lot neater and more compact. Time for a change at home I ask myself?

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  • Confined To Barracks - Banish That Sinking Feeling

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    Woke up this morning to the sound of the six o’clock news on radio 4, listened to the prophets of doom on the BBC whilst Jen and I were doing our breathing exercises in bed and thought,” Yes, I think it’s a Tuesday but it’s going to be the same routine/structure to the day as yesterday, day before that, day before that etc etc.” One of the few activities, apart from the occasional shared bottle of wine or a G&T, that has been keeping me sane has been my everyday morning cycle to the beach, a ten minute dip in a rather chilly North Sea followed by a circuit of, today, seven times up and down the steps leading to King Edwards bay followed by a very very slow cycle home once I have got my breath back! My aim is to get up to ten circuits before ‘lift off’ (next weeks target is eight circuits, week after nine and then ten) and from what they were saying on the news this morning I should have plenty of time. Whether my body and my knees will make it, however, is a matter of conjuncture! As for Jen it’s a 3/4 hour walk with Millie our dog, poor girl (Jen not Millie) has repetitive strain from throwing the ball every thirty seconds.

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    On the last two boats that Jen and I fitted out from bare hulls, we never ever worried about issues of electrolysis or bonding on all our through hull fittings and seacocks nor that sinking feeling. Why? Cos we went for ‘plastic’. On our Hunter Channel 31, which was launched nearly twenty years ago, and for Hindsight, our Mystery 35, we installed the American Forespar seacocks and through hull fittings, and they have been trouble free. New to the UK market, and now in stock at www.marinechandlery.com and on display at our bricks and mortar chandlery www.storrarmarine.co.uk, are the Trudesign range of precision moulded glass-reinforced Nylon composite fittings. As they say in their catalogue, ‘welcome to corrosion-free fittings by Trudesign.’ So if you are in the market for new or replacement skin fittings, seacocks etc why not consider going down the non metallic route, the advantages are many!

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    TruDesign is a New Zealand based company with more than 45 years experience in designing, tooling and the manufacture of complex injection moulded composite fittings. They offer a sophisticated range of marine products designed to last the life of your boat, whilst conforming to the rigid Bureau Veritas, ISO9093-2, IMCI and ABYC H-27 marine standards.

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    Having had the time on my hands to examine the build quality of the TruDesign glass-reinforced Nylon composite fittings I am most impressed, and, being a cynical old b....rd it takes a lot to satisfy me! The heads lockable diverter valve, as shown above, is, to the best of my knowledge, the only one on the market available in white. It comes with spare seal lubricant and a plastic spanner for tightening which ever TruDesign hose tails you wish to fit, be it a 90 degree or 120 bend or straight, they are of course available in white as well! As a final thought, we did have the other day, the builders of the yacht featured in the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’ on the phone asking if we could help them out with some TruDesign fittings. Our ‘spies’ advise us that in the recently postponed film ‘No Time To Die’ a smaller Spirit 46 is to feature in the trailer. Could it be a lack of skin fittings that has caused the postponement of the film or Covid-19?

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