• 312. Top Tips Tuesday - No Mans Land


    Living fairly close to the Scottish Border (approximately sixty miles as the crow flies) we do, at times in the North East, feel that we are living in a quiet backwater. Is it because our three 'local' football teams haven't performed well for a considerable number of years? The track record of Newcastle (now under the ownership of Mike Ashley) is a single win, the 1969 Fairs Cup!, Sunderland, sold by American Ellis Short in 2018 to a holding company called the Maddox, last won a trophy in 1973 and that was the FA Cup Final, slightly better. As for the Smoggies, the nickname for Middlesborough FC, their last success was in 2004 in the Carling Cup final with a win over Bolton! But sadly, now they are languishing in the relegation zone of the Championship league (used to be known as the second division when I was a boy).

    Fortunately, when it comes down to 'stars' on the water, probably the most successful racing dinghy club in the North East has been Tynemouth Sailing Club at the mouth of the Tyne, a club which has produced numerous World, European and National winning helm and crew! All is not lost...


    It does, however, seem that with the recent introduction of the new C-map Max-N+ Reveal chart EW-Y619 English Channel to River Humber and the chart EW-Y624 Scotland & NI-North Channel to Firth of Forth once again we Northerners have missed out on recognition!

    The text below is taken straight from the horses mouth so to speak, these new charts feature:

    Ultra-High Resolution Bathymetric Imagery – Superior identification of the sea floor. View the sea floor in a whole new light. Clearly identify sea floor structure, along with reefs and ledges to find the best fishing and diving spots. C-MAP Reveal will take your charts to the next level.

    MAX-N+ Reveal Chart Features include:

    • High-definition C-MAP Reveal layer on selected areas
    • C-MAP Reveal charts contain full C-MAP MAX-N+ vector navigation data, including new features like High Resolution Bathymetry (HRB), Custom Depth Shading, C-MAP Genesis Layer, Raster Layer and satellite imagery
    • Full-Featured Vector Charts – making navigation easier by providing accurate, up-to-date vector chart detail derived from official hydrographic office information
    • Custom Depth Shading – customise your experience. Custom Depth Shading offers many options. You can set a colour to alert you when you are out your safe depth, use a traditional paper-like view or create your own custom palette
    • Hi Res Bathymetry Layer – HRB helps you identify shallow areas, drop offs, ledges, holes and humps on the sea, river or lake bottom
    • C-MAP Genesis Layer – adds 1 foot depth contours compiled from Genesis social mapping, on top of the official charts
    • Easy routing helps you automatically plot the shortest, safest route based on detailed chart data and your vessel information
  • 307. Top Tips Tuesday - Your Wish Is My Command!


    Usually boss man Andy leaves it up to me as to what subject or gossip I pontificate about in our weekly (or twice weekly as it had been for the first two months of the lockdown) blog. However this week is the exception to the norm. "You must tell folks that as the lockdown eases and they look forward to quality time on the water, now is the time to purchase a Navionics Platinum+ chart at a greatly reduced price"

    Platinum+ charts include all Navionics+ content and features, enhanced with additional viewing options, like satellite overlay and SonarChart Shading. Until the 15th of June we are offering 20% discount off the retail price of all Navionics Platinum+ XL and XL3 charts. For example 28P+, the UK & Ireland chart (RRP £339) is now only £271.96. Please note this offer does NOT apply to Platinum updates/exchanges.


    To find out if your plotter is compatible with Navionics Platinum+ charts check out our compatibility table by clicking here.


  • 254. Top Tips Tuesday - Beware the rollover on April 6th


    Back in the early seventies whilst working for Musto & Hyde as a trainee sailmaker I was asked by a sailing school friend of mine if I fancied helping him sail his dad's 36 foot steel yacht back from Esbjerg in Southern Denmark to Blyth Northumberland. As a dinghy racer I jumped at the chance of ‘broadening my horizon’ and so four of us set off on Pete’s dads yacht, three International 14 racers and one more experienced cruiser. For navigation we were relying on a Walker trailing log and an RDF radio direction finder. Well to cut a long story short the ‘string’ on the trailing log snapped ten miles out and as for the RDF, well we ended up at Flamborough Head some distance South! Nowadays with advances in electronics life aboard is a lot easier and, dare I say it, less stressful but please be aware of April 6th 2019 if your electronics are more than 10 years old!


    As I said above, with the likes of GPS and chart plotters, navigating can be a lot easier but beware as from what I understand if you have a GPS which is getting on in life (over ten years) and has not been subject to a firmware update, this rollover could cause stand-alone GPS receivers and systems using GPS chips to change by 19.7 years either in the past or future, thus generating errors in both the GPS position and time. However if onboard equipment has been installed after August 1999 or has regular firmware updates from the manufacturers , there will be minimal risk of an error occurring! Please note that not all products will rollover on April 6th 2019, some may rollover on a different date due to the implementation in the manufacturer’s firmware. The full text of Safety Bulletin 13 - GPS  Week Number Rollover can be obtained by clicking here.


    If, like me, you have a wash and a wear (and elderly back up hand held) onboard and it’s showing its age, rather like me, why not treat yourself to the Garmin GPS73 for what it costs at £140.95 it's a relatively cheap back up and should you decide maybe to go ‘off piste’ when out walking in say the Lake District it will help keep you on the straight and narrow and maybe lead you to your favourite pub!


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


    ‘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!


    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!


    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!


    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!


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

  • 229. Top Tips Tuesday - Laying Up For Winter 2018

    It's that time of year again when we pull together our joint experience and expertise to offer you 'Top Tips' and 'Essentials' for laying your boat up for the winter. Below are the links to this years series of articles and offers. We hope your find them useful.

  • 218. Top Tips Tuesday - Three Times As Fast


    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!


    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.


    • 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.


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


    • 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.


    • 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.


    • Standard barrel size also fits existing USB sockets.


    • Input Voltage: 6-30V
    • Output Voltage: 5V =/-5%
    • Cut out Dimensions: 29mm (1 1⁄8'') dia.
    Scanstrut Rokk Charger+
  • 217. Top Tips Tuesday - Small But Perfectly Formed


    Yes I know I have, at times, rambled on or gone off at a tangent when 'blogging away.' I always blame it on the alcohol that seems to lubricate the creative juices! However, to get to the point quickly, this Saturday past I was on the front line, working in the bricks-and-mortar chandlery when a customer  started questioning me about the range of hand held VHF radios we carried. Little did I realise that in the display cabinet under the counter I was standing behind held a little gem, the new Standard Horizon Ultra Compact HX40Ehandheld vhf. Reading off my script I told him about the HX300E, at just over £100.00 with 5 watts of output probably our best-selling handheld, I then mentioned the top of the range HX870E with its 6 watt output it has the advantage of built in DSC and GPS, great as an onboard backup or chuck into the grab bag if the s..t hits the fan. At that moment my boss butted in (obviously wanting to deny me my commission) saying "hot off the press is this little beauty, the new ultra compact HX40E" and cutting me out completely he ran through all it's features!

    The new Standard Horizon HX40E compact handheld VHF radio

    The new HX40E is only 52mm wide by 95mm high by 33 mm deep making it the smallest marine handheld Standard Horizon have ever produced. Despite its small size, it still offers 6W of output power and delivers a loud 600mW of audio output.

    Other valuable features of the new HX40E are; Submersible (IPX7 – 1m for 30 minutes), FM Broadcast Receive, ATIS setting for inland Waterways, Preset key used to recall up to 10 favorite channels, Easy-to-Operate Menu System, Scanning operation and Multi-Watch (Dual Watch and Triple Watch), CH16/S Quick Access. The built-in Lithium Polymer battery is 1850mAh which delivers exceptional battery life as well as 3 hour quick charging with the supplied charger.

    Mind you I had the last laugh as just after Andy finished his sales pitch, the phone rang. It was an urgent call for him; I made the sale, hopefully I'll be getting the commission but don't hold your breath!

  • 159. Top Tips Tuesday - If All Goes To Plan - Electronic Nautical Charts and Updates


    If all goes to plan (never seems to in the Storrar household) we load the Mystery onto a low loader and truck her down to Port St Louis near Marseille and then sail her round to Corfu in mid May. If it had all been plain sailing from the time we purchased the hull and deck, Hindsight would have been in the water completed by  the spring of 2015. We would have then taken our time and sailed her down the East Coast through the Channel, across the Bay of Biscay and into the Med, however it was not to be. Why? Difficulty selling our last boat, family ill health etc etc! However feeling slightly optimistic this weekend, not sure why cos Jenny’s wrist which she broke some two weeks ago is not looking good and on top of that her car still has not passed it's MOT test, not that she could drive it in her present state, I sat onboard and ‘played’ with my Raymarine plotter after inserting the Navionics Platinum+ electronic chart 33P+. Maybe my ‘sunny’ mood was due to the fact that there is a special offer on them at present and Andy (now my boss and me a part time worker) suggested delaying my purchase till last week! Platinum+ gives you all the bells and whistles:

     *   3 Dimensional Views  *   Satellite overlays  *   Dock to Dock Autorouting  *   Plus of course HD Sonar, freshest data and community edits.

    Until the end of May we have a special offer on Navionics Platinum+ XL3 charts now at only £219.95 (RRP £299.95)

    If you are not starting from afresh why not take advantage of the fact that Garmin have just released their Bluechart update for the 2017 season, likewise C-Map, so if you want to be bang up to date send it back post haste (make sure you send it signed for) and we will upgrade it by return! If you're currently using Navionics, update your electronic chart at a discounted price against a new one and benefit from free updates for the next 12 months. Simply order an update card and you can do the update yourself online.

  • 153. Top Tips Tuesday - Sea-Tag MOB Alarm For Under £80.00!

    Sea-Tag Man Overboard Wristband

    Hopefully by late May we will be onboard Hindsight, sailing  from Port Saint Louis to Corfu via the Straits of Messina. Let’s hope the sun is shining and the winds, for once,  not on the nose!  As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs to maintain the classic looks of the Mystery our Raymarine chart plotter is mounted below deck, for navigation on  deck we will be using an iPad in a Gooper waterproof case (power for the iPad supplied via one of those superb waterproof Scanstrut sockets which is mounted on the instrument pod above the sliding hatch). As a sail maker and chandler of ill repute for almost fifty years my worst ever nightmare would be to see front page headlines in our daily paper which might read ‘local chandler didn’t practise what he preached and due to circumstances ‘beyond his control’ there was a major incident’! The sailing club bar gossip is bad enough when for once in the lead we sail over the spinnaker on a Wednesday night race or set the grass on the nature reserve sand dunes on fire during a flare demo!

    Sea-Tag Man Overboard Wristband and App

    Last week I wrote about lowering the ‘trip factor’ and with that in mind I thought that this week it would be a good to follow on with some words about a rather nifty bit of personal kit called  Sea-Tag, which comes into its own should you have the misfortune to part company with your boat. Sea-Tag is worn as a wrist band and in crew mode, no mobile network (GSM) coverage is necessary. Monitor your crew and let your crew monitor you by connecting wristbands to all apple or android devices on board using the free Sea-Tags app. The wristbands transmit a continuous signal to all the paired smart phones and tablets. If the signal is interrupted (by immersion or being out of range) the alarm on the phones/tablets go off. The Sea-Tags application displays the MOB’s position, the real-time position of the boat, and provides real-time updates of the heading and distance to retrieve the MOB.

    If you are a single handed sailor and there is mobile network coverage, in the event of a man overboard, your phone (left onboard) will send a text message (SMS) with the position and time of the event. The person on land can contact the authorities and communicate the last known GPS position of the MOB.

    Sea-Tags can be used on boats up to 15mtrs long, however they are not suitable on steel hulls or an exotic racer made from carbon! Batteries are good for 600 hours operation and user-replaceable.

  • 126. Top Tips Tuesday - Banish Fiddly Drybags - Gooper Automatic Self Sealing Drybags


    Hopefully, if all goes to plan and the weather plays ball, Jenny & I will be launching Hindsight our ‘home’ completed Mystery 35 this Thursday. If you don’t know the Mystery, she was designed by Stephen Jones, has a traditional look to her 35ft overall length but is only 24ft 9inches on the waterline with a 9ft 11 beam, a lead keel and they sail like a dream!

    Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century we have been talked into installing a Raymarine chart plotter, however to keep the ‘traditional look’ its tucked away below deck. Above deck we are using our trusty iPad which we will (with a little help from techy Andy) use to repeat the navigational information. During rough weather, or on a rainy day, the iPad will be snug as a bug in a rug in a gooper AUTOMATIC SELF SEALING BAG.

    The seal is a foolproof and fumble-free automatic closure which ensures a waterproof seal every time, so no need to take gloves off to insert your device. The gooper is as I said before automatic self sealing, its waterproof to 30 metres, and of course keypad and touch screen usable. gooper  is also credit card safe, video & camera usable. Phones are fully functional through the bag allowing for voice and audio without the need for a headphone or audio jack. gooper comes in two sizes, the smartphone case has internal dimensions of 10.5 x 15.5cm and the tablet version is 22.6 x 30cm.

    Please note that you should keep at least 7cm away from pacemakers and/or a standard compass.


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