Crew Gear

  • 266. Top Tips Tuesday - We Like A Drink

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    I must admit that Jenny and I do like a drink. As we age 'gracefully' it's quality not quantity and as we are now enjoying the Ionian weather (took a long time arriving, the weather that is) it's often a refreshing pre dinner G&T before we row or motor ashore after firing up our little Yamaha. Well for the last three years that we have had Hindsight in Greek waters it's been a case of slipping on a couple of old but regularly serviced lifejackets for our shore leave (our regular Spinlock deck vests being too valuable to leave in the inflatable whilst we wine and dine at a nearby taverna). Touch wood the old jackets have never been 'borrowed' or gone walkabout whilst in Greece but we still have concerns about leaving safety equipment such as lifejackets in the dinghy, faced with maybe a 1/2 mile walk. Having said that I don't fancy carting them up to our choice of eating place then dumping them on the floor, table or chair either!

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    Those clever guys at Spinlock have, however, come up with the answer to my prayers. The recently introduced Alto, not a lifejacket but a flotation aid that is worn round the waist rather like a 'bum bag' or as they are called in the US of A, a fanny bag. You can wear it in the small of your back or facing forward. Once you have fastened it round your waist, you tend to forget it's there. Certainly, sitting on a bar stool at the Tree Bar in Nidri the other day with it nestling in the small of my back I wasn't aware of its presence; meal times its small enough to be removed and placed on the table or deposited on a convenient empty chair!

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    Please be aware the Spinlock Alto is not a full blown lifejacket, it's described by the manufacturers as a 75 Newton floatation aid which, as a ex-dinghy sailor, I know that it gives you 1/2 as much  flotation again as most standard foam buoyancy aids. The Spinlock Alto is designed for adult use only, 40 Kilos upwards, and is only available in one size to fit from 70 to 140cm waist. As can be seen from the Spinlock promotional video below it's also great for canoeing, or in my case when I inflate my Gul paddle board and disappear off to do a bit of exploration of the coastline when Hindsight is at anchor. Keeps Jenny happy that I am wearing a flotation aid, me happy that I am not wearing a full lifejacket!

  • 265. Top Tips Tuesday - I Wish

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    Having climbed a good number of masts over the last forty five years and winched work colleagues up aloft more times than I wish to remember, it's not very often we come across winches (especially on production yachts) that are man enough to get myself, weighing in at just over 12 stone or my boss Andy, these days a mere 10 stone, up a mast easily. On our Mystery I decided to go for larger size winches than were fitted to the production ones, ours being a home built one. Not only do they serve as halyard winches but with the 110% jib being sheeted on the coach roof they also service this need. Why larger ones? Well, I felt that if I was sailing with Jenny and if I had ever to do a mast climb, at least going up in barrel size would give my long suffering wife a fighting chance to get me aloft should the need arise. Well the acid test came the other day; the PVC tape that I had used to wrap round the clevis pins and split pins had finally given up the ghost due to exposure to UV and nearly three years of Greek temperatures and the tape on both the lower and upper spreaders was streaming aft like a set of jib telltales!

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    Well last week Jen succeeded in hoisting me up the mast to the lower spreaders. It was slow progress but she managed it and today was the acid test, the upper spreaders were the target. However, once at my 'destination' the old tape removed and replaced with new, and after I had been safely lowered she did comment, "I wish I had given you permission to purchase an Ewincher." Let's hope she remembers those words when we fly back out to Greece in early September as I haven't broken the news that I need to go a bit further up the spar, this time to the mast head, as the vanes of our Windex are slightly 'skew whiff'.

    With its 3 modes of operation, Ewincher is your new crewmember that assists you with all your maneuvers on your sailboat:

    • In assisted mode: Ewincher does the work for you in the winch's 1st or 2nd speed
    • In manual mode: you can use Ewincher like any other winch handle to make adjustments
    • Combined mode: add your own speed to the one of the handle to reach exceptional hauling speeds

    Ewincher's extreme power and adjustable speed allow you to perform all possible maneuvers while sailing: hoisting, sheeting, adjusting sails, furling your genoa or even hauling a crewmember up the mast.

    • Genuine winch handle - 2.2kg
    • Brushless engine
    • Manual or assisted mode
    • 15 to 80 revolutions per minute
    • Torque of 80Nm: Ewincher is equipped with an adjustable torque from 10kg to 32kg of traction on the handle, it allows manoeuvring sailing boats up to 55 feet without damaging anything. As you hold it like a regular winch handle you will feel immediately if there is a blockage in the lines, any problem. This is something you don't have with electric winches: you press the button and if something is wrong and you are not careful enough, the electric winch will keep on working and can damage the sails or boat.
    • Waterproof and locking system
    • Long-lasting battery life: Ewincher offers a great autonomy thanks to its Lithium Ion battery: more than a day of sailing with only one charge. Charging time takes about 1½ hours and consumes 7Ah (1.7% of a 400Ah battery bank) It is a high efficiency Lithium-ion 25v battery 3000mA.On a 40ft boat that means you can in one day: Hoist the mainsail 3 times, put in 30 tacks and put an 85kg man up the mast (15m lift).

    An optional extra battery is available if desired. Ewincher includes the unit, one battery, the charger, a lanyard, a winch handle pocket for the cockpit, and carry case. It comes with 2 years warranty.

  • 259. Top Tips Tuesday - Searching for the sunshine (and some sailing)

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    As was mentioned in last week’s ‘I have failed’ blog, being too busy clearing the sail-loft floor to contemplate putting pen to paper before my search for sun and some sailing out of Corfu. Leaving behind a cold North East we embarked on the Newcastle to Ijmuiden ferry, our estate car loaded to the gunwales with antifouling, roller trays, Shurhold Orbital Polisher, Yanmar engine and gear box oil etc etc along with a Gul Cross inflatable SUP for a customer of ours who keeps his yacht in Gouvia.

    It was looking promising weather wise once we had disembarked on Saturday morning. However as we drove thru Holland then Germany the outside temperature kept falling and by the time we entered the Swiss road system we were greeted with sleet and snow and zero degrees! With darkness came poor driving conditions, the glare of the unlit road surface from the headlights and to boot no cats eyes to keep us on the straight and narrow! Just before we pulled over in Italy for a few hours shut-eye we observed the outside temperature climb from zero to fifteen degrees in a matter of twenty minutes! Arriving in Ancona ferry port Sunday morning we were greeted with a spectacular lightning display and torrential rain which left the terminal car park flooded. Methinks the English registered camper van with the lifebuoy on its stern knew what we were about to receive!

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    Booked in only to be told that the ferry which runs from Ancona in Italy to Igoumenitsa in Greece was running 4 hours late! Then learnt  that when we arrived at Igoumenitsa the ferries that run from there to Corfu would be on strike tomorrow! Looks like our proposed launch day of next Saturday may have to be put back till Monday!

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    As I mentioned above we are transporting a Gul Cross SUP (inflatable stand up paddle board) for one of Andy’s mail order customers; wish they had been available when I bought mine some two years ago, as it’s much better value for money, and of a superior construction!  They are great for exploring the various inlets/coastline and they do give both Jenny and I a chance to keep slightly fitter!

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    I use a 12volt high speed inflator to inflate/deflate it, also my trusty dinghy, the one I have sadly has been discontinued however the new SUP 12v Air Pump does the business.

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    Jenny worries that when I disappear on one of my paddle board explorations that I am not wearing a life jacket, however this year I have purchased a couple of the new Spinlock Alto life jackets. Worn as a belt they are perfect for paddle board safety and if we are going ashore in the dinghy at night, much more convenient than a life jacket as you wear them round your middle like a ‘bum bag’ so no more worries of facing lifejackets pinched from the Avon!

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  • 253. Top Tips Tuesday - Practical Prezzies For Mum

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    If you're like me and impossible to buy presents for, just imagine how hard it must be for your kids to buy their sailing mums a really really useful Mothers Day present. Yes we know she has the tea towel, now well past its sell by date, of sail boats or that newer one of sea birds, the pinny (apron) with a nautical theme. Port and Starboard socks seemed like a good idea at the time as did the old fashioned Sou'wester but seeing the expression on her face....... I don't think so! Kids, this year just give her a really useful present that won't be tucked away in the port locker along with the out of date flares, a half a tin of Brasso a 'useful' ball of string which in an earlier life was the action part of a lead line and three tins of extra strong lager!

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    Skippers, sometimes you just have to give your kids a gentle nudge in the right direction to give their mum that really useful gift. Ok it may break the bank but as parents all over the world will know, you can always 'lend on an interest free loan' safe in the knowledge that it will never be repaid!

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    Bring a smile to mum's face with a Freebag. It's great for keeping her comfortable in the cockpit when motor sailing to windward in a force six with wind against the tide or, having endured that 'exhilarating  sail', it can be loaded into the dinghy and taken ashore for ones 'creature comfort'  on a rocky beach. However, if mum's sick of being cold and wet and has finally taken up an alternative hobby such as gardening, maybe some archaeology, the little sister of the Freebag, the Freebag Pro, will no doubt bring  another smile to her face!

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    We skippers tolerate seasickness, most times it comes with the job description. However, when it's mum, who can be described as fair weather sailor at the best of times, a pair of our brilliant Boarding Ring Glasses may help prevent the mutiny on the Bounty or whatever your pride and joy may be called! They are also very useful if eldest son decides that his road racing or rallying skills are to be practised whilst giving his mum a lift to the supermarket.

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    Mum may be like the skipper, both his and her eyesight failing (in my case rapidly) and as we all know, nowt is worse than a damp, tired slightly tetchy man hugging the helm cos he's feeling a little green and wanting to know in double quick time if the faint smudge off the port bow is a lobster pot or the start of the buoyed channel. It's times like this when mum wishes she was not chief bottle washer, galley slave and the lookout boy! However with a little bit of help from the skippers deep pocket, the brilliant Bynolyt binoculars may, in the future, help prevent a cross word or two from being spoken when searching the horizon! Used and recommended by the RNLI for the last 15 years, these binos are fully waterproof and they float. They feature a shockproof case, are nitrogen filled, 7 x50 magnification and of course the built in compass is back lit! Oh, by the way, they are guaranteed for 25 years!

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    Kids are you feeling flush? Your latest Youtube offering has just gone viral, fancy being paid to post a video or two on house cleaning and earning squilions for endorsing a fancy toilet cleaner or a tip on using shaving foam  to remove red wine stains!  Guys are you one of these lucky teenagers that have hit that jackpot? (if so, please share your thoughts with me) Why not spend some of your hard earned dosh on an Ewincher. Mum will love you for it and, just as importantly, so will dad. This little beauty takes all the pain out of pitting muscle against that imovable object. Not only can she who must be obeyed at all times now hoist the main with no effort, she can also get the skipper to the top of the mast. Incidentally if he becomes too much of a pain why not leave him there or she could use it to hoist the dinghy aboard whilst leaving him ashore. It can also be used to raise the anchor if the the dedicated windlass battery or the motor has failed. As for sheeting in the genoa, easy peasy! Need convincing? Why not read the report?

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  • 252. Top Tips Tuesday - You Must Be Joking

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    For a good number of years I have been singing the praises of the French researched and developed Boarding Ring Glasses. They have trickled out through our chandlery and via our internet site www.marinechandlery.com on a regular basis; sold as a device that is effective in relieving the effects of motion sickness. Jenny, my wife, swears by them. She first used them on board our Hunter Channel 31 which, in those days, was berthed in the Canaries where, in the acceleration zones between certain islands, the winds can go from 5 knots to 30 in the space of five minutes and as for the wave pattern nuff said! If the weather was such that quality time on the water was impossible, car hire and the subsequent trips into the volcanic hinterland went from being an endurance marathon to an enjoyable day out as the majority of roads on these volcanic islands are very very twisty! I must confess that I have used them on a couple of occasions when being chased across the North Sea by Hurricane Bertha but please don't tell Jen!

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    Last June Boss man Andy came into work, switched on his computer and started to download the overnight internet orders and then let out an expletive, too rude to publish followed by 'you must be joking', 16 orders for Boarding Ring glasses mostly from the United States and Canada. By the end of that week he had dispatched our complete stock of over 50 pairs and had placed an order with the U.K. importer for another 100. By close of play the week after he had upped the order to 250! What caused the surge in interest? Well, we believe it was caused by a well known French manufacturer of automobiles releasing an article on the amazing Boarding Ring Glasses in their 'in house magazine'

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    We, of course, couldn't believe our luck, what with winter coming, trade was slowing down and still the orders came pouring in. However, when Andy enquired as to the status of our order for 250 with the importer it was another 'you must be joking' followed by a milder 'bloody hell now we are really up s..t creek!' Well I must confess it was one of those times when I was glad that I was no longer a director of the parent company Storrar Marine, and these days spend my 'retirement' passing the time in his sail loft three days a week and, when the mood takes, me churning out the very popular, I like to think, Top Tips Tuesday blog.

    Nine months later, after numerous phone calls to the English importer, loads of e-mails and even using a fluent French speaking English girl to try and get some sense out of the French manufacturer, (thanks Marie,) we eventually got the majority of the initial order, finally fulfilled the existing demand (thanks all you guys for being so patient) and emailed those folks who had cancelled due to the uncertainty. Incidentally, we were pleasantly surprised to see how many 'reordered' and the feedback we got, for example:

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    For you folks, the good news is that at the time of sending out this blog we have currently 53 pairs in stock and no idea when we will be receiving our next batch, so guys if you want to keep a pair on board or in your car, it's a case of first come first serve!

    Ps, Boarding Ring glasses would make an excellent mothers days gift for those kids who want to give their mums a practical prezzie!

  • 249. Top Tips Tuesday - The Liveaboard Wife

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    The Liveaboard Wife was written by a friend and occasional next door neighbour of ours, who some eight and a half years ago decided he was going to quit the rat race and with his partner, Elaine, sail their Moody 44 Mychi from its berth at the RNYC near Newcastle, down the North Sea, through the Dutch and French canals (sampling the wines on the way) and exiting at Port Napoleon in the Mediterranean. Their final destination, Lefkas marina, being their winter base and Nidri as the ‘base camp’ for their Ionian exploration. Once down there they got quickly ‘sucked into’ the liveaboards scene. His partner Elaine joined a choir, walking group and animal rescue as well as ending up as The Moody Owners Association Mediterranean Captain. Jan, who served his apprenticeship at Vickers Armstrong working on the tools and had in his own words ‘never done anything arty, dramatic or creative’ and had never sung in his life (except when at a Newcastle football match), not to be outdone by Elaine (now his wife) joined a male expat/sailors choir, called the Levkas Shantymen, and much to his own and Elaine’s amazement started to write poetry. He became known as "The Bard of Levkas” and performed regularly at expat functions.

    Apart from his poetry, his choir practice and the occasional concert, Jan found that his past knowledge of running his own steel fabrication/engineering company could be put to good use once again in the Lefkas area. When leisure time permitted, he fabricated, in stainless, the occasional stern gantry, boarding ladders, pushpit and pulpit mods and repairs. Now Jan and Elaine have sailed their Moody back to its home base for a refit and he is rejoining the ‘rat race’ in a very small way, so if you are in the market for a stainless gantry or whatever, he has lots of experience of Med style stern mooring.  Contact  him at www.yachtfab.com I gather distance is no object.

    Jan is too modest to admit it but I have seen him in action, singing with the Lefkas Shantyman and reciting his poetry. He certainly has a certain stage 'presence' so if you want a ‘celebrity’ to ‘do a turn’ at your yacht club, view this clip filmed at Concrete Bills in Nidri, it's best with sound. As for 'Jan the man,' he is the handsome one with the six or is it seven pack dressed in black (just like Johnny Cash) on the right!

    Having now 'completed' almost two full seasons of my semi retirement and having seen first hand what skippers wives/girlfriends/mistresses and Jenny put up with, I thought that maybe those skippers who are so demanding may be interested in the following products which will/should make life on board a little bit easier for their 'Liveaboard Wife'.

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    • Always ready to use. 
    • No loading, messenger or guide lines. 
    • Use the your real mooring line directly. 
    • Works as a ordinary boat hook when the hook head is in its locked position. 
    • Made in glass fibre reinforced nylon and extruded aluminium.

    Stern mooring in the Ionian can be great spectator sport for the crews that arrive early and are sitting at the quayside taverna bar watching beginners, (like me and Jenny) some of the bare boat charter crews and a fair number if not most of the Italians, who ‘park’ like they drive! Often on the quay there is a friendly soul to take your stern lines. However, if the wind is up and a cross current running, say at Preveza town quay, the ‘helping hand’ ready to catch your lines can have a habit of vanishing at the critical time. The Robship Hook and Moor boathook may help save your skipper's face or, quelle surprise, him having to raise his voice as once again he (not the faithful Liveaboard Wife) gets it wrong. The Mystery 35 that Jenny and I sail is tiller steered and if you let go of the tiller when going astern, unlike a wheel it will immediately kick like a mule to port or starboard depending on what kind of mood it’s in. So my 'two month at a time Liveaboard Wife’ is reluctant to steer Hindsight in reverse. Consequently at times life can get a little hectic in so much as said wife Jenny must pay out the rode after ensuring the anchor is firmly dug in (thank goodness it’s a new generation Vulcan anchor, sister to the Rocna that digs in fast)  She must ensure sufficient chain is paid out so that the stern almost reaches the quay but not so much that the bow falls away and you end up sideways. For her then it's a mad dash to the stern to throw the line ashore to hopefully a clued up bystander. Skipper, of course, is doing nothing apart from clenching the tiller firmly between both hands and issuing instructions. Should the quayside line catcher disappear at the critical moment or was never there in the first place the first thing the 'Liveaboard wife' must do is get a stern linethrough the mooring ring and back to the boat in double quick time. This superb Hook & Moor boathook will extend to three metres if we are ‘short’ of the quay. It's so clever that it can thread a line through a ring or hollow cleat like magic. It has a rubber handle for a good secure grip however if it does go overboard in the heat of the moment it will float. It weighs just over a kilo, retracts to only 115cm is easy to stow and apart from that it doesn’t shout!

    For the price of approx 2 bottles of cheaper gin there is another intelligent boat hook or line feeder which goes by the name of ‘Catching’. It has almost all the bells and whistles as the Robship Hook & Moor, in fact you can get the price down low to that of a really good craft gin if you buy only the singing and dancing head and fit that to your old boathook!

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    The importers of the Catching Boathook and Line Feeder comment ‘this is the best line-reever we’ve seen. It’s really tough and solid. In our humble opinion, it leaves all other line-reevers and mooring devices in its wake!’ I haven’t tried this make in anger, only played with it in the chandlery and yes it seems to do all that asked of it!

    Now that the boat is safely moored up and she has her five parts gin, one part tonic and one part ice, where is she going to find a comfortable place to relax in the cockpit cos the halyard bags c/w halyard tails dig in her back, likewise the cockpit coaming locker catches, remind me whose bright idea was it to fit teak slats to the cockpit seats and as for the mainsheet traveller that’s literally a pain in the butt when you’ve company aboard! If the drink doesn’t help her get comfortable, throw her a Freebag but only after you have brought your own tipple up from down below. The Freebag can be described as ‘instant comfort abroad,’ originally developed by a Norwegian yachtsman to increase comfort and endurance on long voyages in rough waters. The Freebag today is commonly used by people trying to find comfortable and relaxing positions in boats or on, in our case, the rocky beaches of The Ionian. The Freebag boat cushion incorporates a patented design and is a lightweight, multifunctional water repellent cushion/bag and if she ever happens to nudge the skipper overboard in a hot moment, you could always take pity on him after he has cooled off and throw him his, (shame to get yours wet) cos they float!

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    When we were fitting out the Mystery, all those years ago in a rash moment I decided to upgrade from the size of the winches that were fitted as standard on the factory fit out boats. This was in the hope that Jenny would be able to winch me to the top of the mast if the occasion demanded. Whilst she is now keeping the spectre of ‘bingo wings’ (see blog no.244) at bay with regular trips to the gym she does feel that perhaps it would be a good idea to invest in an Ewincher and then she wouldn’t have to raise a sweat whilst hoisting me up the mast! She also pointed out that even though we don’t race Hindsight, it has become very apparent over the last two seasons that if another yacht seems to be catching us up or getting away from us immediate sail trim is called for and a fast tack or two becomes a matter of life and death!

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    Whilst Jen is more than capable of steering the Mystery on the wind in flat water when it’s a force 4 or above in a lumpy bash to windward it's yours truly on the tiller and she has to provide the grunt to these 'oversize  winches which because of the narrow sheeting angle double up as sheet winches! Why not electric winches I hear some folks say, well with a powered winch, a inexperienced crew on the button if you’re being hoisted up the mast, hit a snag and your foot gets stuck where the lower shroud(s) intersect the mast it ‘does not let the winch hand know’, likewise I have seen a clew pulled out of a genoa by an ‘enthusiastic’ crew member! With the Ewincher you will feel it through your hand and unlike an electric winch you can set up a torque limit directly from their mobile app.

  • 248. Top Tips Tuesday - New Arrival(s)

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    ‘Our’ Claire, she who has the patience of a saint, she who sorts out all my random scribblings, vague or garbled instructions, contradictions, last minute additions and all things relating to our regular Tuesday’s Top Tips should, if all things go to plan, have given birth by now. The new addition to the Green family may be just over a week old assuming the baby arrived on the due date! And just for once I seem to have got ahead of the game as if it was an early birth, the TTT of the 29th January, 'Not Fade Away', was written around the 10th of that month. This ‘New Arrival’ blog was started the day after, and if the baby is very late, yes got that one nailed and ready to roll, because that one has been signed off too! Surely the new arrival will not give Claire as many sleepless nights as my TTT words of wisdom, nor her last child Max who, at three, is apparently still not the best of sleepers!

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    This winter we have already seen some excellent new products to grace the shelves. There is, of course, the excellent Ewincher which I wrote about on my TTT blog of Tuesday the 22nd of January, which, despite it's cost, I am confident will be a best seller this year! Incidentally it got a great reception at the huge German boat show in Dusseldorf which has just finished! There is already a new Standard Horizon handheld VHF in the market place, a new Ronstan quick lock winch handle, an Ocean Signal ATB1 class b AIS Transponderand a new bottom wiper or cleaner! I wonder what the next couple of months will bring not, I hope, another Beast From The East!

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    For folks like me with a very poor memory, the spec of this handheld reads like a prayer. The Standard Horizon HX890E is a floating handheld, it features 6 watt output and is a class H DSC. It’s 'job' description is 'Forget about trying to memorise the owners manual because a brand new easy to operate menu system makes this the most intuitive handheld on the market. DSC calling, position sharing, waypoint and route navigation and navigation to DSC distress call can be performed with just a few simple steps.' Sound like it’s the perfect VHF for me!

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    Are you like me, no not with a poor memory, but suffering from arthritis in your fingers and wrists? Then why not consider the new Ronstan Quick-Lock winch handle? The Ronstan Quick-Lock allows you to immediately place the drive head into the winch socket, WITHOUT the need to rotate a knob or depress a button. It's stainless steel locking lever then retains the handle securely in place until you are ready to remove it. It makes my life so much easier and less painful as I used one of the prototype handles last year and yes it can do the same for you!

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    The new Ocean Signal ATB1 class B AIS Transponder incorporating the superior SOTDMA access scheme provides increased visibility and safety at sea. Features include, simple installation and a free user friendly mobile app for set up. Other features include a faster reporting rate and higher output power than CSTDMA class B units. It sends AIS Transmissions every 5 seconds instead of the maximum two transmissions per minute and the 5W output power instead of 2W allows your transmission to reach further. Finally it's quick and easy to install and comes complete with an external GPS antenna.

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    Do you have a clean bottom? Whilst the antifouling that you use does what it's supposed to do, if you are not on your boat and using it regularly chances are you will end up with a coating of slime on the underwater surfaces and more pronounced growth around the waterline. All is not lost as the Scrubbis could well be the answer to your dirty bum! We used to sell the Brizo, a device that you could use to clean the below waterline surfaces. It worked well (I used one on my Channel 31 when we had it in the Canaries) and was great for getting rid of the growth which had accumulated in my absence! My now boss used one to great effect when he was campaigning his Sports Boat with the guys winning the winter series more often than not! Shame we left my Brizo with the Channel when we sold it some five years ago but transporting it back from the Canaries with all our other personal belongings was not an option. Whilst this cheaper product is not quite as sophisticated as the Brizo it still seems to do the business! New to us, the Scrubbis is an innovative tool to clean the boat hull in a timely and effective manner. The cleaning head is buoyant and is attached to a telescopic handle, the head is equipped with flexible scrapers that effectively clean the hull. Whilst the boat is in the water fouling is soft and has not hardened so the buoyancy acting on the thin scrappers make the ‘scratch’ force very high and effective. Scrubbis is environmentally friendly, using a Scrubbis instead of toxic paints is the solution to an environmental issue. It's foldable and easy to stow with its detachable cleaning head and telescopic handle.

    NOT FAKE NEWS!

    Yes I know I got all excited about the Ewincher the other week but I do think this is the way forward to taking the effort out of winching and judging by the reaction to our blog so do others. I will shut up, however it's worth reading this testimonial from owners who are living the dream and sailing round the world.

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    Since 2011, we have been sailing around the world on board our sailing yacht Ganesh, a 15-metre lifting-keel aluminium yacht from the Alliage Yachts boatbuilding yard.

    There are two of us on board, Corinne and myself, and I wanted to electrify 3 or 4 winches in order to facilitate handling operations with a small crew, when, visiting Paris in December 2016, I came across the Ewincher at the Nautic boat show. Attracted by the concept, we decided to try this winch handle, which was not yet in production, and we received one of the first units on board 6 months later.

    Over the past 6 months, we have covered more than 3000 miles, from the Maluku Islands to Phuket in Thailand, by way of Flores, Bali, Borneo, Singapore, Malacca, Penang, Langkawi, Ko Lanta…

    Sailing conditions were very varied, close-hauled, broad reach, flat calm, reefing in strong winds, launching the gennaker, etc., and Ewincher truly became a 3rd crewmember.

    Handling operations that used to be performed by two people are now carried out singlehanded with Ewincher – marvellous when night-sailing - the battery life is excellent, familiarisation takes just a few moments, Ewincher enables easy management of the highest loads on board a 50-foot yacht such as ours.

  • 244. Top Tips Tuesday - Bingo Wings

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    With my next birthday rapidly approaching, my better half suggested that, as I had decided to turn the clock back by at least twenty years by purchasing an elderly RS 400 dinghy to club race in a local early spring series before switching to sedate cruising in the Mystery mid May, it might be sensible to exercise my stomach muscles in the gym instead of down at the pub on a Tuesday night! Furthermore it might be an idea to also work on my calf muscles, as the last time I had hiked a Flying 15 in earnest was a fair few years ago and I had difficulty walking the next day. That was not because I slipped on the ice whilst getting the boat ready to compete in the RNYC winter series!

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    Never one to disobey Jenny, this past Saturday saw me 'enjoying' a conducted tour of a gym which I am glad to say has a close association with a hospital who last year fitted me with a new hip and now say......go dinghy racing if you so desire! After seeing the facilities and casually noting that I would not be the oldest if I joined, I then signed up, closely followed by she who shall be obeyed at all times signing also on the dotted line. Questioning her on the drive home I asked her why she should take such a rash step, she muttered under her breath something about bingo wings. "Strange expression that" I said, “enlighten me.” It's believed to have originated in Australia (where else) where a lady's upper arm, through a slight lack of muscle tone, can wobble around like wings as she waves her winning bingo ticket in the excitement at having won. Jenny felt, last year, that whilst she was happy tiller steering, not wheel I hasten to add, the Mystery on the wind under full sail in up to a force four, winching in the 110% jib was starting to get beyond her, never mind hoisting me up the mast! Being the sympathetic sod that I am, I assured her that her upper arms were just as well toned as the day that I first set eyes on her across the beach at Tynemouth sailing club in 1969, but perhaps we should consider a very early combined birthday/Christmas present for her of an EWINCHER powered winch handle and if we did that we could cancel her gym membership within the 'cooling off period' they offered us thus saving us money which would be set against its purchase! As for bingo wings, she should keep them at bay by helping me hand polish the topsides, never mind rubbing down the antifouling.

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    Why not go down the powered electric winches route I hear one or two folks say. Well for the Mystery there is, firstly, their location as the sheeting angle of the genoa is fairly close to the centreline and the Andersen winches that are fitted are mounted on the cabin coach roof and thus  a winch motor would protrude into and through the headlining! Secondly if you do your sums and work out the cost of retrofitting a couple of sheet winches say Lewmar 40 self trailers at a discounted price of £2250-00 each plus the relay, switches, heavy duty cabling etc which then adds another £250-00 and then if you then get a boatyard to do the work you probably wouldn’t get much change out of £3000-00 per winch. Go down the ‘Anderson route’ and the discounted price of a single similar size winch jumps to £3500-00 before the add on(s). However assuming you can upgrade your winch, ie fit a motor/gearbox, a conversion kit will still cost you around two grand. For example a Lewmar 40 conversion kit for a single winch will set you back £1800-00 plus cabling etc and boatyard charges and don’t forget you will need two kits unless you want to sail on one particular tack for the rest of your life!

    The beauty of an EWINCHER is that you only have to buy one to service all your winches, be it for sending a super slim me (after three months in the gym) up the mast, for hoisting the main, trimming the cruising chute and of course sheeting in the the jib. I gather that if your windlass fails it will even help recover your Rocna.

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    • It’s very easy to handle and insert into the winch socket, thanks to its ideal ergonomic design and very light weight (2.2 kg)
    • The electric assistance is easy to use, with all the controls located on the hand grip, allowing you to keep winching as you normally would, but with the addition of considerable torque (80 Nm) while ensuring precision (15 to 80 rpm). You maintain the feeling of winching while considerably reducing the physical effort involved.
    • You can use the assisted or non-assisted mode, or both at once, to ensure maximum precision all while maintaining the feeling of winching. You can use the ewincher as a manual handle at any time.
    • It’s always in the ideal position to limit your effort.
    • The removable, rechargeable battery lasts a very long time
    • Waterproof

  • 218. Top Tips Tuesday - Three Times As Fast

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    My old iPhone and iPad are a bit like me, long past their sell by date; the phone was one of my bosses cast offs from some four years ago and as for the iPad, well it was won in a competition run by International Paints many many years ago, both still working (just) and both held together with West's G-flex epoxy! Like me their endurance or battery life is not that great and, when on our Mystery during May and June of this year, it seems like they both needed charging constantly. The iPad was in the cockpit repeating our Raymarine plotter information, as for the phone, we used it to keep us up to date on the weather, the Windy and Foreca apps being our preferred source of information. Both devices are protected from the elements in those excellent, easy to use, Gooper waterproof to 30 metre cases!

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    Our waterproof Scanstrut USB port, as shown installed on our Mystery 35, has been excellent in giving us an 'on deck' source of power, but the two units have a very short battery life so the new Scanstrut Rokk Charge+ which charges at three times the rate and costs only £36.95 would have a vital role to play onboard Hindsight.

    UNIVERSAL

    • The socket will work with any USB Type-A connector to charge up to 2 devices at a time.
    • Compatible with phones, tablets, fish finders and chartplotters.

    WATERPROOF CHARGING

    • Tested and approved IPX4 waterproof rating with the cover closed and waterproof with 1, 2 or even 0 cables plugged.

    MARINE READY

    • Designed for use in all marine environments, whatever the conditions. Anti-corrosion coating on circuit board combines with a UV resistant shell and 316 stainless hinge and spring.

    GREAT DESIGN

    • Easy to install with a low profile and small mounting footprint, the socket can be both opened and closed with ease; even with gloves on.

    RETROFIT

    • Standard barrel size also fits existing USB sockets.

    SPECIFICATIONS

    • Input Voltage: 6-30V
    • Output Voltage: 5V =/-5%
    • Cut out Dimensions: 29mm (1 1⁄8'') dia.
    Scanstrut Rokk Charger+
  • 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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