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  • 195. Top Tips Tuesday - Spectacles,*********, Wallet & Watch

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    Last October with Hindsight out the water and safely chocked up in the Corfu boatyard, Jenny and I decided that it would be less hassle if we left the majority of our 'summer clothes' onboard to save us the task of taking them all home and then some seven odd months later bringing them all back again! Great plan we thought as bitter experience, (get the pun?) has taught us that the North East in the height of summer can be and is often a cold, wet and windy place. When out for a Wednesday night race it's often the full monty; base, then mid layer, which are my trusty Musto Goretex salopette and jacket (now in at least their tenth season) topped off with my Gill foulies and my Spinlock Deck Vest Lite. So when some three weeks ago we started getting ready to pack for a non sailing winter break (not at that time on our radar back in October) Gomera an unspoilt Canary Isle was our choice of destinations, last year's cunning plan suddenly and then rapidly started to unravel. Surprise, surprise no shorts for Jenny and precious few tops as well. As for yours truly, all I had in the way of sunshine clothing was a couple of old t-shirts I had purchased at an International 14 European championships in the last century! My shorts?, sadly the UV had done the dirty on two pairs of Musto Fast Dry ones left at home and they were falling apart. What a b****s up, however, with my scruffy moth infested Musto wallet in hand, off we trotted to M&S to hopefully get sorted. Spotted bargain t-shirts for me, reduced to £2-50 each, shorts for Jenny at full price and then that night it was a repair session to my shorts, many thanks to Tear Aid for making it so easy. Clothes packed into the case, along with reading matter but then I realised I had made another b***** up, where were my Gill bi-focal sunglasses and Jenny's Boarding Ring glasses? Why, they were onboard Hindsight in Greece, where else!

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    Fast forward to the morning of our flight, by then I had managed to talk Andy into lending me his own Gill bi-focals, great for map reading and as 'normal sun glasses' Jen then sweet talked him into lending her the chandlery's demo Boarding Ring glasses, not only are they brilliant at helping her keep her food down where it belongs when sailing, but as a poor passenger in a car (nowt to do with my driving I hasten to add) they keep her from feeling iccy when on the twisty roads of Gomera! So good are they that they even enabled her to take snaps out of the car window as we ‘hurtled’ down the mountain roads without fear of projectile vomit!

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    Having berthed our Channel 31 in San Sebastián harbour for some three years during the Mystery 35 fitting-out we had always enjoyed good weather. Sadly this time, yes we had three good days of sunshine where on the last day of these we got to take the hire car up into the mountains and enjoys the forest walks and afterwards, the superb anchovies in the harbour cafe at Valle Gran Rey.

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    However for the next six days which included the remaining two days of car hire it was a bit like being back in the North East, strong cold Northerlies, unfortunately neither of us had base, mid layer or foulies to keep the elements at bay but on the last day I did have (for once on my wrist) my Optimum Time watch to remind me that there was only a few more hours till we caught the ferry from San Sebastián Gomera to Los Christianos Tenerife and then on to the airport!

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  • 185. Magnetic Pull (Or Not)

    Nawa Stainless Steel Mooring Reel rescued from the marina using a grapnel anchor

    Mobile phones, wrench, sail maker's copper headed hammer, customer's boat keys and a Lift-the-Dot closing tool are just some of the items I have kicked or dropped overboard in my forty odd year ‘sail making/rigging ’ career; Some lost forever, some recovered either by grapnel or by using a Sea Searcher recovery magnet. My last "bit overboard" shout was earlier this year when I was fitting a Nawa stainless steel mooring reel to the pushpit of Hindsight. I had started to secure the clamps (always the hardest part as the lock nuts are easy to drop) and the backing plate and was feeling fairly pleased with myself when disaster struck and down into the briny went the reel and 32 mtrs of webbing! Fortunately there was no one around when a chain of expletives escaped from my mouth!

    As the reel was stainless there was no point in using a Sea Searcher magnet, which incidentally I always carry in my works van in case of operator error, with my track record you never know when it will come in handy but as for a grapnel it was a case of borrowing one from the marina office. Five minutes later over £150-00 worth of kit (excluding the fixing bracket and clamp) was back on the pontoon ready for a hose down! If you haven't got a grapnel onboard a folding anchor whilst not quite as effective may do the trick.

    Sea Searcher magnet

    Now Hindsight is down in Corfu we have both a Sea Searcher magnet and a grapnel on board, boat and car keys have floatation devices attached and if I manage to throw my mobile or iPad overboard they will be protected and float thanks to the Goopers! My favourite Sea Searcher story is that of Grace who was the skipper of the 70 foot James Cook sail training ketch working out of Royal Quays marina who managed to drop the boat keys overboard whilst the new crew were waiting to board! First dip with the Sea Searcher magnet brought the bunch of keys up much to the relief of Grace and no doubt her new crew! Incidentally if you do happen to drop your camera, tablet or car keys in and do recover them don't forget that a Gadget saver may save you a considerable amount of money (Andy now keeps one next to the upstairs and downstairs toilet back on his ranch) but that's another story, read about it in "Greater Lover Hath No Man".

    Andy L checking his rig making sure he uses his tool saver to prevent dropping anything on the deck

    Climbing masts and using tools aloft, touch wood, I have never dropped a drill, rivet gun or whatever on the deck below. I make sure that I am using a tool saver, loop goes over the tool and the carabiner is secured to my harness, and before I start work I check that my winch buddy is back in the safety of the cockpit! Incidentally the other Andy (our website guru) last year managed to drop his Leatherman Crunch from the top of his mast. It bounced on the gunwale, hit the edge to the pontoon finger and became unrecoverable in the depths of Royal Quays. However this inconvenience was nothing compared to his experience in Hong Kong many years ago. His colleague was up the mast of a Pilothouse Tayana 57 and the tool he dropped smashed right through one of the forward windows of the Pilothouse, and yes the air was blue!

    Ps Andy B, these days my boss, has just reminded me whilst checking my spelling, punctuation and grammar that my 'bits’ overboard should include in 2016 a rather nice digital camera with had a great amazing zoom, I managed to catch the padded camera bag on a guardrail when climbing aboard a Moody, put him in a bad mood for a few weeks!

  • 181. Top Tips Tuesday - It's A Dog's Life

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    It's a dog's life when you're not consulted as to where you will be spending your summer holidays. Me, I'd rather be sniffing round lamp posts in Tynemouth or chasing squirrels in the local park, but when my bosses Rob & Jenny Storrar decided that we would spend 'quality' time in and around Corfu on board Hindsight then my tail decided it would spend the next few weeks firmly clamped between my legs!

    My first introduction to a dogs life on the ocean waves was on the DFDS ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam (pet friendly cabin no less; i.e. no carpet on the floor in case my bladder played up during the night on the overnight crossing. As for the recreation area on the aft deck for doing my 'business' on the sandpit, you could hardly swing a cat never mind park my butt!) After a drive through Holland, Germany and Italy there was another overnight ferry in another pet friendly cabin, from Ancona to Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland. This time the rest and recreation area was the whole of deck eleven however I was a bit disappointed that after a few of my fellow canine furry friends did their number 2's, other dog owners didn't clear up! Finally there was a short ferry crossing from Igoumenitsa to Corfu, even I, as a land lubber, could tell the cutless bearing on the prop shaft was on its way out, talk about shake, rattle and roll. Finally we arrived at Mandraki harbour underneath the fort where their boat was moored bow onto the quay.

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    They then stuck me in a Crewsaver pet float before lifting me on board the Mystery, talk about humiliation. I had to be shoehorned in between the pulpit and the Harken headsail furler! The golden retriever on the boat next to us had his own personal gangplank! As for getting down the companion way steps, it took at least five chew stick bribes before I got the hang of them, however no sooner had I got used to being lifted up and onto the bow than my bosses decide that our next port of call would be Gouvia marina where the grumpy skipper decided that from now on we would be stern on to the pontoon. More bribes as I then had to learn to walk the plank and to make it worse he insisted I should join him in his restored boat jumble Avon dinghy (see blog 148. Life In The Old Dog Yet) shame he hadn't finished stenciling the boat's name using the IBS stencil kit that Andy his boss had provided.

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    Just as I was starting to talk the talk as now seasoned sea-dog, my skipper upped sticks and had Hindsight lifted out, well that was a barrel of laughs cos when we finally got her chocked I was then fifteen feet off the ground with, as far as I could work out, only an aluminium ladder to allow me access to terra firma. However, once again, my trusty Crewsaver Pet Float came to the rescue. Skipper guided me up whilst skipper mate used an Anderson winch to do the lifting. Incidentally I did overhear her saying to the skipper that her bingo wings have disappeared!

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  • 176. Top Tips Tuesday - When Waiting For Weather

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    Yesterday, sheltering below deck on board Hindsight in Mandraki harbour, which is just under Corfu town fort, and listening to the rain beating down with a 'little' lightning and obviously thunder got me thinking, has the weather broken yet in the UK, has Autumn arrived? Youngest daughter then WhatsApp'ed Jenny and I, saying there was no sign of her baby coming yet and then started complaining about the poor weather back in the UK. Next minute boss man Andy texted, weather is c..p here; no doubt you are enjoying fabulous sunshine and how about letting me have next week's blog on time for once so I can correct all your spelling, grammar and punctuation as I am short staffed on Monday/Tues! Having spent Sunday morning slowly working through the list of to do items (only thirty three still to do) and failing miserably it got me thinking about what has been our four most popular autumn Tuesday Top Tips over the last few years?

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    Number one without a doubt has been Wet & Forget, this superb product was first featured on my blog 'Flying off the Shelves' in December 2013. Spray your decks, canvas work or anything that turns green through lack of sunshine in the autumn or winter with a diluted solution of Wet & Forget and it won't! PS. It doesn't need any hard work; you wet the surface you want to protect and that's it.

    be2c1652-55fc-46ec-b1ec-1f2082dc05b5Second on my list is Freezeban. See My Top Tips Tuesday blog 'Lay Up For Winter' in which I advised that this non toxic antifreeze is an excellent safe product for protecting water pressure systems and calorifiers. Regular repeat orders would certainly confirm this, however beware last year our supplier 'ran dry' so don't leave it too late.

    As for my third TTT that was my blog on 'Winterising Your Marine Engine'. Don't forget that even though it's considered standard practice to fill your fuel tanks up to the brim help prevent condensation and of course the possibility of contracting the dreaded diesel bug, (especially  now they add a small measure of Biofuel to the diesel) Grotamar82 is the perfect product to help keep your fuel healthy 365 days of the year and your filters clear.

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    Tested out on my backside when we sailed Hindsight down from Marseille to Corfu, was an excellent product called Tear Aid which we import from Holland. The week before the delivery  trip I managed to tear the backside on my 'past their sell by date' mid-layer salopettes. Our supplier had none in stock surprise surprise when I ordered them so it was make do and mend. Over a thousand miles later my backside was still dry, the patches showing no sign of letting go so I have cancelled the order and will carry on with old faithful. Tear Aid which I blogged about in blog 'Wonder product' in August 2016, does what it says it will do. It repairs all sorts of hard to stick to materials, it's brilliant on acrylic canvas, so if you are leaving your canvas work on this winter to protect your bright work and it's looking a little thin on say a stress point, Tear Aid is more than up to it! Abrasion or a tear on foullies, it's brilliant. Cracked window on a spray hood or canopy a repair using Tear Aid will outlast the item!

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  • 175. Top Tips Tuesday - See No Ships

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    I am constantly amazed as to how many ‘good old’ Blakes Seacocks we sell and ship all over the world: in the past week seven to a skipper in the USA, same for Henderson watertight hatches (seems the popular choice that the rowers use when crossing the Atlantic and other large oceans) As for electronic charts, whilst the majority are destined to be used on yachts or powerboats under 50ft occasionally we get a ‘bulk’ order for a superyacht and they will often be purchased in multiples of three or four. We assume one for the bridge, one for the backup system on the bridge, one for the big say 45 foot tender and the last for the ‘small tender’ usually about 25 foot! As for seeing ships, since the price came down (how long will it stay down with the way the pound is falling?) Bynolyt binoculars have been flying out the door so fast that both the distributor and ourselves have been constantly running out of stock! The SeaRanger II has been the choice of the RNLI since 1999 and was awarded PBO’s best buy and at £179.95 inc FREE UK SHIPPING* is a great way to keep an eye on the shipping. Also down in price at only £199.95  is the new improved and fast selling Bynolyt SeaRanger III. Slightly heavier than the SeaRanger II it has larger lenses to allow in more light, resulting in a clearer, higher quality image. The SeaRanger III is, of course, used by mariners and also by professional and commercial end users worldwide. Like the Searanger II it has an integrated illuminated compass and built-in height distance scale.

    * Terms and conditions apply

    Whilst the SeaRanger has a built in compass and height scale there are times when our little hand held compass comes into its own, easy to slip into a pocket it features a lanyard so you can keep it secure, has built in illumination and with a non slip rubber outer its easy to grip but tough as old boots! Folks I hate to say it both would make good Christmas prezzies.

    Plastimo Hand Bearing Compass

  • 171. Top Tips Tuesday - Greater Love Hath No Man

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    As keen readers, especially those with a very good memory, may recall Marine Chandlery’s MD Andy Burgess saved the day last year when his better half Jill’s new car was scraped in the supermarket car park on its first outing (Top Tips no 120, 5th of July 2016). In that instance the excellent product Vistal Hard Surface Cleaner came to the rescue. Why the title of today's blog ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’? Let me explain... this time Andy had to rescue Jill’s new mobile from the upstairs toilet and what’s more try and keep it working! Early morning Sunday past, Andy had just finished showering when he ‘overheard’ an expletive from the bathroom so popped his head round the door and when he asked why this choice noun, he was shown the reason why. Apparently Jill was just hitching up her jeans after finishing her daily ablutions when she heard a splash and there was the aforementioned phone taking an early bath. With no regard to his personal safety our hero Andy plunged (his hand) in, rescued the Samsung Galaxy, hosed it down, immediately drove into work, popped it into a Gadget Saver,left it for eight hours and yes folks Jill’s mobile lives on.

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    So maybe if you want to get yourself or your loved one ‘out of the s..t you may want to do as Andy has now done and that’s keep a Gadget saver next to the toilet as well as one on the boat!

    Mind you, your editor who does not live dangerously, (by keeping his mobile in his back pocket) should have given his own personal Gooper to first mate Martin before we went out to celebrate our safe arrival in Mandraki harbour, Corfu, the other week. Unfortunately Martin’s phone got so carried away with the celebrations later that night that it went for a skinny dip at midnight! The Gooper Dry Bag is 100% waterproof and so easy to use even if you are feeling a little under the ‘weather’. No fiddly little clips to undo if you have mislaid your glasses, maybe dropped them in the water along with the phone or if you suffer from arthritis like yours truly. As it says on the Gooper packet "Foolproof and fumble-free automatic closure ensures a waterproof seal every time" and  with the price of car keys these days at over £150-00 why not invest in a Gooper to keep them safe and dry?

  • 170. Top Tips Tuesday - Up A Height . . . Use A Mast Harness

    Mast_pro_frontRegular readers of my blog (posted 27th June no 165) will possibly remember that when out in Corfu the other week I ended up climbing a friends mast to check it out and yes I did find a couple of ‘issues’. No doubt when we fly back out to Corfu end of August, sail down to Lefkas and then meet up at the Vliho yacht club for a couple of sherberts I will be once again coerced into climbing the mast(s) of my mate Pete’s Oyster. Conversation may go something like this ‘nice to see you again, have a beer and ‘oh by the way, if your not doing much tomorrow do you fancy taking a trip up aloft to ...’ No issues with that as long as he buys me another Mythos once I get back to the deck. If you, as a reader, haven't climbed a mast before and may need to for what ever reason, can I suggest you read and perhaps download these words of wisdom that the guys at Spinlock have allowed me to reproduce.

    As a professional mast climber of some forty odd years I agree wholeheartedly with their statement that a mast harness is inherently more safer for going aloft than a typical bosuns chair!

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  • 169. Top Tips Tuesday - Ten Top Tips To Prevent A Man Overboard

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    Schools have broken up and your summer cruise is looming. However, have you worked out the 10 best ways to prevent man overboard? Consider this quote from the Essentials of Sea Survival, F Golden & M. Tipton 2002 'There are no circumstances when you are better off in the water than out of it'. Food for thought, certainly made me think when I first switched from dinghies to bigger boats.

    My thanks must go to the guys at Spinlock for allowing me to reproduce their thoughts on preventing a man overboard however I must confess that I have ‘strayed’ from point no 4 out in Greece when sailing or motoring in predominately light winds around the Greek Isles. Instead of wearing our trusty Spinlock 5D Deckvest Lifejacket & Harness Jenny and your scribe have opted instead for a couple of Spinlock Deck Pro Harness. Lightweight and easy to wear when the going gets hot. The only complaint that Jen has? Her suntan is not that even!

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  • 167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip!

    167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip

    In last week’s blog (or ramblings of a simple sailor as Jenny calls them when she is correcting my spelling and grammar at midnight) I waxed lyrically about Josephine, the very pretty and immaculate 37 footer that was moored alongside us in Mandraki ‘marina’ Corfu. As well as doing a superb job of varnishing with Epifanes, incidentally my favourite make of varnish, Adonis was applying International’s Interdeck non slip deck paint on the coach roof. Its an excellent low textured non slip paint that I have been using and recommending for more years that I care to remember. Many of the dinghies constructed of wood that I fitted out for customers and raced over the years such as International 14’s, Enterprises, Flying fifteens etc got the Interdeck treatment on the ‘floor’. The other benefit of using a coloured non slip is that it brings to life the varnish work by way of a contrast. Brent, the owner of Josephine's choice of colour was cream for the coach roof, however, there are four other colours to chose from. If their colour palette is not to your liking Hempel have a range of five colours including a Navy (not reccomended for the Med I hasten to add).

    Kiwi Grip Deck Coating Application

    As the construction of racing dinghies evolved and we were fitting out GRP boats and latterly ones constructed using epoxy resins, for surfaces that we wanted to be non slip we used instead of an ‘off the shelf’ paint a mixture of epoxy, base colour and colloidal silica rolled on using in those days what was an Artex roller. In certain classes, like the high performance twin trapeze International 14, a very aggressive non slip surface is called for by helm and crew and by varying the mixture this could be achieved. We all, however, want an excellent nonslip, but for most of us ‘amateurs’ the thought of mixing epoxy, then colour and an additive is a no no. KiwiGrip which is a non-skid deck system fits the bill and a big plus (apart from no measuring/mixing required) is that if you have in the past replaced fittings, moved them or whatever KiwiGrip can hide a multitude of sins. KiwiGrip is a single pack, water based acrylic coating for racing and cruising yachts, it can be applied directly over a wide variety of surfaces with MINIMUM of preparation, The level of grip can be varied according to preference using the supplied textured roller, however for seating areas a smoother texture can be achieved using a sponge roller.

    Customer testimonial:

    Hi, Please find a few photos (above) of work on our Enlish narrow boat lying on the Canal de Deux Mers in the S of France. Kiwi Grip was bought at marinechandlery. Had to be careful re temperature and rain! But all worked well and successfully covered some ‘irregularities’ ! Best wishes, Mike

    The New Lizard Sailing Boot - Waterproof, Breathable, Excellent Vibram Soles, Inner lacing system for ultimate stability

    Incidentally, blogging about getting a good grip reminded me that boss man Andy Burgess who races sports boats (spends most of his time wrestling with a spinnaker pole on the foredeck) has been, over the last few months, using a pair of the new Lizard waterproof, breathable and light weight boots and is raving about them! They are of a rugged but lightweight design and apart from being breathable, they offer excellent traction over a wide variety of surfaces and are priced at only £189-95!

    Product report in Classic Boat Magazine:

    'It's difficult to be sure, but we may have never worn a better boot.  Totally Waterproof but breathable with sticky Vibram soles, adjustable (so you can wear thin or thick socks) and extremely lightweight, these Lizard Sailing Boots would absolutely make Christmas for a lucky someone.  There's a clever tightening system in the form of an interior drawstring that pulls everything in yet leaves the ankle with 360 degree of rotation.  Our tester, once he'd sailed in them, wore them round the house for days afterwards, simply because he liked them so much.'

  • 165. Top Tips Tuesday - Climb It Now!

    Small tear on the casting of starboard spreader root. Clevis pin missing stainless ring; a piece of bent wire has been substituted.

    If you are one of the many who didn't lift your mast out at the end of the 2016 season and haven't, as yet, made a trip aloft to check your rig out, now is the time to climb that spar before you set off on your summer cruise. Why? Because you never know what issues you may find up there! The other week, whilst in Corfu, a member of my local club who is living the dream and keeps his yacht out in Greece met up with Jenny & I in Mandraki for just a couple of beers and a bite to eat. Conversation, as always amongst us blokes gathered round the table, inevitably got around to boats and after what I think was a 'couple' more beers (or was it more?) I found out next morning that I had apparently volunteered to climb his mast and check his rig out. When professionally climbing a mast back in the UK I always use a Spinlock Mast Pro "bosuns chair", as I think its the most secure of all the chairs on the market (and of course that's the make we have on our Mystery) along with a Solent Top Climber. This allows me to 'stand up' in the chair and get right to the very tip of the mast head gear. When climbing a mast for an inspection I always take a mobile phone with me, Leatherman, roll of pvc tape and white self amalgamating. Should my Leatherman multitool not provide me with the correct size screwdriver or pliers one can always be hoisted up. Two days later (not that I needed a full day to sober up) as it was bright sunshine, and as I am long sighted, I climbed his mast wearing my Gill bi-focal sunglasses. Yes I know I have said it before but what a brilliant item of kit this is!

    Gill Bifocal Sunglasses

    For safety reasons I always go up on two halyards and would strongly reccomend that you do also, this is after examining the halyard for strength (get your winch man to hoist you so that your toes are just touching the deck then bounce up and down as hard as you can) and any signs of chafe. Satisfied with the integrtity of the climbing halyard and the back up one, I was then winched up the mast, got to the lower set of spreaders and discovered that the casting on the starboard spreader root had a small tear and that the clevis pin was missing the stainless ring; a piece of bent wire had been substituted. Climbed further and found that the same had happened to the upper starboard spreader bracket, once again a small tear. As the owner of this boat is not happy aloft, this is where my mobile phone comes in useful, providing images that can be down loaded later onto a computer or in this case to my iPad so they can view from the comfort of the cockpit. No more issues until I got to the top of the mast and found that the inner forestay was badly stranded where the wire entered the rollswaged T-terminal! Inner forestay condemned and as for the tear in the spreader root(s) I suggested that he monitor the bracket(s) over the next few months.

     Upper and lower part of Tricolour full of water and lens badly crazed from UV

    Fast forward two weeks and now back in the Uk, with even the temperature on the North East coast as hot as Corfu, and this time the task was to fit a replacement TV antenna at the top of a mast. Climbed and once up there, before we fitted the Glomex antenna, noticed that his mast head tri was way past its sell by date. Upper and lower part of the light full of water and the lens badly crazed from exposure to sunlight! Not only that, the halyard diverter had seen better days. It was badly worn where it clamps on the forestay wire allowing it to tilt, making it as much use as a chocolate fire guard! My message, it's always a good idea to inspect your mast at least once a year. Click onto this link for our thoughts on mast inspection.

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