Monthly Archives: September 2020

  • 324. Top Tips Tuesday - The Tale Of The Leaking Dinghy (Or Not)

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    Last October I brought back to England my elderly (1992 vintage) Avon dinghy as one of the patches that a previous owner had stuck on the underneath was starting to lift. Like most of my good intentions the job was put on the 'back burner' until a week before I was due to come back out to Greece when I realised my Hypalon two pack adhesive and patch material were still in foreign parts, on Hindsight! Fortunately in the sail loft there was some scrap Tear Aid, a brilliant clear repair material which we use for all sorts of repairs where stitching would be inappropriate, like delaminating 'plastic sails' invisible mends to foul weather gear etc etc.

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    With now over five weeks of the dinghy bobbing gently in our wake it hasn't budged an inch however last nights electrical storm followed by fearsome winds and torrential rain resulted in some 50mm of rain dumped in the dinghy. Getting rid of that rainwater? I must confess at the moment I still rely on brute strength and ignorance; pull the bow of the dinghy up over a guard rail covered with Andy's split tube* and a couple of sail chafe protectors (maybe that's why the original patch started to fail in the first place?).

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    However my 'neighbour,' clever folks these Germans, didn't do what I did (and he has an extra eight years of maturity on me, me 'slightly' over seventy). He got into his dinghy with what looked like, from 15m away, a Whale easy bailer stirrup pump and within less than five minutes his dinghy was empty. No strain on his body and no possible damage to the dinghy. Was he feeling a little smug watching me struggle to get my boat upright? Heaven knows, however I did feel maybe a little smug as my Vulcan anchor (designed by the guy who invented the Rocna) held last night whilst his 'plough' type anchor did not and he ended up almost alongside Hindsight! He told me earlier that he had been approx 400m to windward of us when the breeze picked up!

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    Methinks a little plastic pump such as the Whale Easy Bailer might be a useful addition to our inventory next year, what say you Jenny? Or to make it even easier, how about a Seago battery operated pump? Just press the button on the top and wait for the water to empty!

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    * Don’t forget that stainless steel will rust if not exposed to air. Split tube should either be a loose fit or if snug removed on a regular basis and trapped dirt removed from the wire.

  • 323. Top Tips Tuesday - Fitted In The Nick Of Time

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    I finally got out to Hindsight on my tod, Billy no mates was the expression Jenny used, and why did I set off on my own? Concern for the boat's batteries was the reason. Last October, on the advice given to me some years ago from a seasoned sailor and sparky to boot who told me 'best to disconnect the batteries before you leave the boat as against leaving them connected to a charger'. Well I have followed his advice over the years and never had any issues, off to the UK, batteries disconnected in Oct 2019, due to go back out this year in early May, what could go wrong? A virus called Covid19 came and scuttled my early season plans so once things 'settled down' and we could venture to far away shores we decided that we would go out early September, get those batteries connected and charged and then go sailing just as we usually do. Tickets were on hold from our earlier travel so it was just a case of rebooking... or was it? Jen then started having second thoughts, sitting up in the sky in a tin tube with 200 odd passengers for a few hours didn't appeal to her as she has had a couple of health issues in the past. So here I am, writing this blog on my tod and having just ridden out my second Medicane in three years. Some folks know how to have fun! However, I'm very pleased that I got round to fitting the folding grab rail kit to the sprayhood just before the storm hit! Incidentally it was brought out to Greece at my good ladies request! It was a bit hairy going forward to check the condition of the anchor chain and snubber line at 2am in the morning in the pitch black with the boat being laid over and yawing widely.

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    Being on my own meant, however, that I could spent all my time doing those 'little jobs' which I never get round to do when Jen's out with me (we are too busy enjoying and socialising ourself when she's on board). On the list of things to do was a means of making it easier to go forward past the sprayhood in a breeze or a lumpy or rolling sea, so a relatively new to the market set of folding sprayhood bars came out with me. The package, as can be seen in the above images, comes with two hinged bars, available in two different lengths, complete with four split clamps and four tube ends, all of course in 316 stainless. As I was installing the assembly on the boat far away from Andy's sail loft, I also took a packet of Tear Aid with me to reinforce the four holes that I had cut in the spray hood, Tear Aid would also stop the raw edge from fraying.

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    As for fitting the two folding bar assemblies, it was the time spent making sure that I got the bars in the correct plane that took the longest. Once I was happy with the aesthetics it was cut four holes in the hood, reinforce the fabric then cut the bars to length and assemble once the clamps had been attached to the bars. The complete job was done afloat with the exception of the hacksawing of the tubes, I took them ashore and found a suitable object to hold them whilst attacking them! Another job crossed off the list and I hope a satisfied customer, Jen, when she hopefully comes out next year!

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    Incidentally, with the cruising we now do in the Ionian, sailing in a t-shirt as against a set of foulies the Spinlock Deckvest Lite+ lifejacket is our preferred jacket of choice. Much lighter than its big  brother the Spinlock Deckvest 6D. Obviously when the Medicane hit the other day it was worn even in the cockpit! It has the same buoyancy as it's all singing and dancing brother inc crutch strap and built in harness however it doesn't have a light or a sprayhood so it's almost half a kilo lighter. And folks, that’s not me in the below image. I ‘lost’ my head of hair many years ago!

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  • 322. Top Tips Tuesday - True Story (Luv My Ewincher)

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    The plug was pulled some months ago on the official 2020 Southampton Boat Show, in its place sprang up BOATS2020. Sadly this was cancelled literally at the last hour (less than a day before the official opening!) Apparently Southampton City Council decided the show could no longer go ahead due to the rising risk of Covid-19 and growing government fears! As for Jenny and I and Covid-19, this year's on the water activities have been frustrating to say the least as usually we drive down to Greece with all our 'goodies' including antifouling, polish etc to keep the UV damage at bay. Once that's out of the way it's island hopping in the sun! If you are frustrated by the on/off/on/off situation re the just cancelled show, we do have a cracking 'SOUTHAMPTON SPECIAL' to warm the cockles of your heart, if that's the correct expression, seeing the temperature gauge back in the UK is on the up again.

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    From today till the 4th of October we are repeating that fantastic offer we had the other month which helped kickstart our turnover and that of the manufacturer of the handle as we came out of lockdown. Buy an ewincher and we will throw in a spare battery worth almost £300 (incidentally when the last offer was running we had to place four more orders with the French manufacturers to keep up with demand) However before you discard this 'hard sell', take a minute to read the below email that my boss Andy was sent the other day, the guy in question sails the West Coast of Scotland on a forty five footer, with a big tall rig, fully battened mainsail, as for the weight of that sail, I should know cos his main and genoa are in our sail loft once a year for a 'wash & brush up' and they weigh a ton!

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    Andy,

    I wanted to give you some feedback about the ewincher you supplied. I had been thinking about buying one for a while and finally went ahead this summer. I bought it mainly to help with delivery trips when single-handed in these times of social distancing. My expectation was that it would help to limit jib sheet flogging by speeding up setting the genoa after tacking. Of course it does that, but the main revelation was the effortless hoisting of the main sail. It completely transforms sail management. Shaking out a reef after yet another squall in this stormy summer we're having, is no issue. The battery easily lasts for a day's sailing and the multiple charging options (boat 12v system and shore power) make it easy to keep it charged. Of course, the free spare battery that was on offer helped clinch the sale as the unit is always available. A secondary benefit is that I can ditch the cumbersome kit I previously used to climb the mast. Once I'd volunteered my son to go aloft to change the failed windex (Rob subsequently diagnosed a seagull strike), he was up there in a couple of minutes (literally) and had the unit changed for a new one in not many minutes more. The sheer versatility of the ewincher and its ability to deal with the "heaving lifting" jobs means that, even when fully crewed, there's no shortage of willing hands to manage the sails. I should have bought one long ago!

    Regards, Andrew

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  • 321. Top Tips Tuesday - The Tin Triangle

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    Was the Vulcan anchor named because it looked like the British iconic bomber of the same name? Heaven knows but to me there is a certain similarity in its shape to the  outline of the aircraft methinks? The Vulcan To The Sky Trust website is worth a look at if you're so inclined. It may, however, be that the designer of the Vulcan (and the Rocna) New Zealander Roger Smith was a fan of Star Trek, apparently they (the Vulcans) are typically depicted as faster, and longer-lived than humans, what that's got to do with the anchor don't ask me however the Vulcan bomber was, according to my source, 'the only aircraft ever to fulfil every role the RAF called for.' Methinks a statement that could be attributed to users of both the Vulcan and Rocna anchors! Incidentally, The Tin Triangle was the affectionate name given to the Vulcan bomber.

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    One of our regular customers sent us the below email the other day, it sums up what I find so reassuring in my own Vulcan capabilities in that it always sets first time and it's easy to remove the glutinous mud found in the area of the Ionian that I frequent! My confidence in it's holding power was proven when our anchor held in the Medicane that swept through the Ionian the other year, we held in seventy knots of wind... many didn't!

    "Hi Andy 

    Just to let you know. We took the boat up to Jura anchoring every night. I have been delighted with the Vulcan, it set first time every time and comes back onto the bow roller in the correct orientation. Also it is a lot easier to clean the weed and mud off without the roll bar

    Thanks Jonathan"

    Why did we go for the Vulcan instead of the Rocna? Holding power is the same but the Vulcan is more expensive however we have a retractable bowsprit on the Mystery which the roll bar on the latter would foul. If you have a spare few minutes, the video below featuring these superb new generation anchors is worth watching.

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  • 320. Top Tips Tuesday - Things That Go Bump (In The Night)

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    Over the comparatively short time I have cruised with friends either in Greece or on the West Coast of Scotland or on our own boat, there has been a few occasions when we have been awoken by another boat or an object 'bumping' us awake! The first time it happened we were anchored in Tinkers Hole on the west side of the Island of Erraid. Way past midnight I was woken up by an odd sound, a strange moaning and it sounded like someone was walking on the foredeck. Nipped up on deck to find the fog had come down and the almost naked skipper peering into the mist. He had come up on deck to investigate the noise, the footsteps that I heard belonged to the skipper as for the moaning we both thought it must be seals or heaven forbid, perhaps an amorous couple!

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    Some years later we were anchored in a bay off the island of Corfu, I was awakened from my slumber at around 2 in the morning by shouting on deck and looking through the port hole (was an Oyster ketch belonging to friends) saw we were alongside another yacht we had admired earlier in the evening which had anchored some 150mtrs to windward of us. Despite our shouting and shining a spotlight over the deck and cabin the crew slept through oblivious and 'carried on' downwind, next morning we found them a further 200mtrs to leeward. Some years later in a crowded anchorage in Vliho bay near Nidri on Lefkas island with the breeze building rapidly, a rather large charter catamaran decided to drag its anchor, crew had gone ashore some two hours earlier so it was up to Jenny and I to fend the cat of in the gathering gloom. I must now confess after a few brief encounters we do now deploy fenders if the anchorage is 'busy'. Our wandering fender which is a large ball type is always ready to be deployed as well.

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    Dock fenders have, over the last few years, gained in popularity if one is returning to ones berth. If you’re short handed or trying to berth a long keeled yacht which, when going astern, have a mind of their own they can be a blessing in disguise! Attaching either style of fender can be a challenge if the marina doesn't allow you to bolt or screw through, if this is the case we do sell a rather clever piece of kit which does the business. I am not sure if the guy parking his high speed craft was relying on a few of these fenders, if not what's that saying 'practise makes perfect!

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