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General Interest

  • 228. Top Tips Tuesday - Adonis On The Stern Deck?

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    Poseidon was the Greek God of the sea, earthquakes, storms and horses and is considered to be one of the most bad-tempered, 'bit like me' says my better half? Having said that, would you have opened this blog if it was titled Poseidon on the stern deck? Probably not! Posing for this shot wasn't too hard, I managed to hold my breath and keep my stomach in long enough!

    The last couple of days we have been at anchor in Vliho bay around the corner from Nidri, no shore leave possible as the weather system worked its way past.  I'm so glad we have a Vulcan anchor, one of the new generation anchors (same designer as the Rocna/same holding power but no roll bar to foul our Selden bowsprit) on the end of our chain with a scope of 7:1, which according to the authors of that excellent book 'Happy Hooking, The Art Of Anchoring' is ok. Having said that, I would have preferred 8:1 however the room to swing was limited as there was an awful lot of folks sheltering. We didn't drag, however it was a night to stay on deck as there was a lot of movement! Fenders were deployed in anticipation, a large flashlight and horn joined us. Luckily no one made contact but there were a few near misses.

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    Our heads compartment is set up for one to have a shower,  the mixer unit trigger head is on a hose so no problem, however with space being limited and if it's warm enough, I prefer to use the Whale unit in the cockpit. Yes it's cold water only, however as a tough old Northern git sailing in Greece (whenever Andy gives me shore leave) I can live with this! The shower unit also gets called into use when I have just had a swim or the cockpit needs a wash down.

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    The more sophisticated units have both hot and cold taps in a self contained unit which usually are flush mounted into the transom, the idea being you stand on the 'swim platform' and wash yourself down after a swim or if you want to keep the combined heads/shower area dry.

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  • 227. Top Tips Tuesday - Look, No Hands!

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    Sorry it's a bit misleading this title of mine, should read 'look no feet’. However it don't sound rite as a title. The Mystery 35 is unusual in so much as most modern cruising yachts these days over 30ft are fitted with a wheel steering, however Hindsight has a good old fashioned tiller c/w a Spinlock adjustable tiller extension. The advantages of tiller steering are that you get so much more feedback when going upwind, it also lets you know when you need to reef as the tiller starts to load up, or if you are starting to broach when hard pressed downwind, the rudder loses grip and the feel through the extension disappears....it goes light. The downside of tiller steering is that when you are going astern, unless you keep a very very firm grip and only use small amounts of movement, it kicks like a mule! So letting go of the tiller to throw the lines when stern to quay mooring 'Med style’ can be a challenge whilst Jenny is still up forward paying out the chain.

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    Whilst we haven't had any cross words (plenty time for that yet) we did feel it would be nice on occasions to have Jenny back on the stern deck with lines ready to step ashore/ fend off or whatever. We fitted a Quick windlass during the build. No complaints as yet, however two years on and a growing number of stern to berthings I did notice the other week that they do sell a remote radio receiver and hand held fob at an attractive price.

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    Trouble is that electrics are not my strong point however when we took the plunge it wasn't that hard to fit. In fact the hardest thing was stopping the sweat running into my eyes when attempting to fix the receiver (grey box in the image) to the chain locker bulkhead. The smaller box to the left of the receiver is an on/off switch and the fuse, both recommended by Quick so that in the case of a issue you can isolate the receiver.

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  • 226. Top Tips Tuesday - Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

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    Once upon a time we dreamt of eventually taking a yacht down to the Mediterranean as we had spent a number of very enjoyable fortnights on Peter and Anita's ketch rigged Oyster and thought in my retirement (or semi retirement as it's worked out) this would be that dream.

    The first time we spent a night aboard their ketch some eight or nine years ago was in Vlikho Bay near Nidri at Levkas. Next morning after, dare I say it, a rather late session in the Vlikho yacht club and feeling a bit shabby (must have been the dodgy prawns I ate the night before) I was told by Anita that my task as we got underway was chief washer up, ie washing the anchor and chain of the glutinous mud for which the bay is famed, and woe betide me if I left any trace as Jen my long suffering wife's task was to flake the chain down below in the fore peak chain locker. The high pressure hose that they had was an excellent weapon, bit like a surgeons scalpel as to the way it cut through the muck!

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    Well some years later, after we sold our Hunter Channel 31, we persuaded Cornish Crabbers to sell us a Stephen Jones Mystery 35 bare hull and deck c/w internal bulkheads, fitted keel and rudder assembly (incidentally the original builders, Hunters, refused us this option years earlier, likewise Select before they went into liquidation, same answer). Three quarters of the way through the build Jenny said 'don't forget the deck wash' and of course I had forgotten. We had already fitted those excellent Forespar through hull seacocks, so no worries about electrolysis, 3/4 inch for salt water toilet inlet and two 1 1/2 for black water waste (toilet and holding tank) so was very reluctant to cut another hole in the hull. Fortunately, my co director Andy, now some years later my boss, came to the rescue. "Why not fit an Aquafax Brass Manifold to the 3/4 inlet, 'T' off for toilet, deck wash and here is your bonus ball why not also fit a salt water pump next to the sink and use salt water for washing dishes/boiling spuds etc as carrying fresh water on the Mystery may be an issue".

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    Well Jenny's happiness is complete, or almost, as when raising the anchor it's so easy to clean the chain whilst it's being lifted. The Parmax deck wash pump is fitted below deck in a small locker and it's been wired so that once the windlass is switched on the 'pistol' can be used for cleaning duties.

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    The hose assembly is stored in our chain locker however the self sealing bayonet fitting on the end of hose allows the assembly to be disconnected should storage space be an issue.

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  • 225. Top Tips Tuesday - String Em Up

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    No it's not a rant about our current batch of politicians, nor for those of a similar age who may have worn the popular sixties string vests and pants, a reminiscence of days past when men were men and my teacher wife Jenny could hug a child in the playground who had grazed her knee! Trap the air (that was the theory behind these undergarments) between the skin and the next item of clothing. Nowadays the excellent base layers from Gill or Musto do a great job of keeping you warm and wicking moisture away.

    Storage on our Mystery 35 is fairly limited, being of a relatively narrow beam and a traditional layout, no aft cabin but a quarter berth next to the nav station so storage is an issue. When it comes to reading matter I prefer the feel of paper rather than say a Kindle, which means we carry loads of books, mags, Sudoku books for Jenny and sometimes newspapers. Storage of paperbacks is easy, we have a dedicated book shelf, however for the other items we rely on the chromed, elasticated string, storage/magazine rack, it's surprising just how many 'hard to stow items' it will accommodate.

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    Fruit, with the exception of bananas, we pop into one of the hanging string storage netsthat Andy sells by the bucket load! Not only fruit but glasses cases seem to find their way there too! It’s great not to end up with all these on the saloon boards once the breeze picks up!

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    Writing about storage, Blue Performance do a large range of items from rail mounted stowage 'bags', cockpit bags, halyard bags, bulkhead bags and of course cabin tidies. It’s worth browsing through their range it’s very comprehensive!

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    Whilst our local Wednesday evening series has now finished up at the RNYC Northumberland with, dare I say it, a satisfactory conclusion, we are sitting in the waterside bar of the yacht club, Corfu Mandraki, composing this blog (claiming expenses of course from Andy for the cool beers consumed). Once Jenny has proof read the subject matter, it will be an afternoon zizz under the Blue Performance Free Hanging Sunshade (note to self, I must finish the Bimini which I started to fit over a year ago), head and back supported by those brilliant Freebags! Second note to Andy....  add Jen's two ice cold rosé blushes to my expenses account.

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    Once the breeze dies and it's time for beddybyes, we rely on our mozzie companion wayand hatch nets to keep those nasty critters away from our delicate skin!

  • 221. Top Tips Tuesday - Sacrificial Strips And Another Exciting Subject

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    In the last three weeks we have had in our sail loft a couple of large furling genoas that have suffered badly from UV damage, so much so that we have had to remove a 30cm strip from one and about 40cm of damaged cloth from the other. In both these instances there was no sacrificial strip sewn to the aft edge of the leech nor the foot to protect the sailcloth from the effects of UV exposure. In the UK the majority of furling genoas are fitted with UV strips as standard, however some sailors prefer to use a 'zipped sock' which is hoisted up to protect the sail when not in use. The skippers who go down this route are often club racers. Why? The sail sets better in light winds because of the lighter weight. Across the North Sea Dutch sailors seem to be much keener on these protective socks, perhaps it's because a lot of sailing is on inland waters and the winds tend to be lighter. If you don't have a sac strip fitted as standard to your roller reefing headsail, you need to either lower the sail after sailing, hoist a 'Furled Headsail Cover' or contact your local sailmaker and have a UV strip fitted! Don’t forget to tell the guys in the loft which side the strip should be fitted on alternatively we can supply an ‘off the shelf’ cover in pale grey. However, if you want a bespoke in your favourite colour no problem give us a bell and we will make one!

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    Sacrificial strips, as their name suggests, will over a number of years deteriorate whilst protecting the sailcloth below. However, if the strip is nearing the end of its useful life (you can often tell by the dramatic colour change in the cloth) and you are on your summer cruise when it starts to fail don't attempt to repair it with adhesive sail repair tape, instead use  some Tear Aid A. It's strength and adhesive properties are outstanding on fabrics and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only repair tape that will successfully adhere to acrylic canvas. However, it has its limitations. Tear Aid A can not be used to repair clear panels in sprayhoods or PVC products, for those applications you need Tear Aid B, great also for repairing boss man Andy's garden paddling pool, repaired almost  three years ago and still going strong! Tear Aid is brilliant as a repair material for foulies and other sailing garments, my images shows my 'team' Vounaki Jacket which was repaired in great haste just before I disappeared off for six weeks of hard sailing! The repair, incidentally, is still holding up four months later having survived a vigorous washing at the wrong temperature.

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  • 220. Top Tips Tuesday - Scrub A Dub Dub

    c7e6d2ef-136c-4e99-84f4-278619fed724With our Mystery 35 now in Greek waters, last year, to escape the midsummer heat, we abandoned the good ship Hindsight in late June. Hindsight was 'parked' up in the small marina at Mandraki on Corfu Island while we flew back to the UK. When we returned early September that year I noticed that round the waterline we had a rather nice 'beard' on the starboard side of the hull; on the port side (which didn’t get nearly as much sun) the start of one too. It's a fact that no matter how good your antifouling is, if your boat is not being used regularly you will, especially with the sunshine we have been having recently in the UK, get some growth round the waterline. Assuming you have used a boot top antifoulround the waterline at the start of the season, scrubbing the surface to remove the growth will not remove this coating.

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    If you are on a pontoon berth with access fingers, the Shurhold speciality angled brush is an excellent weapon to remove this growth with minimum effort; available in two style of head round or oblong, both can also be used for topside cleaning! OK you will have to turn the boat round to get to the other side, but it shouldn't take you too long to give her a 'shave.' If, however, you don't have the luxury of a finger pontoon and are on 'slime lines' as we are in Greece, or on a swinging mooring, you may well find that the best way to attack the waterline growth is jump into a dinghy and hold yourself in position with a Suction Lifter (I also use it for lifting my floorboards, but that’s a different story!). In your other hand is a 3M Scotch Brite Hand Pad which will, with very little effort, clear the waterline of the growth.

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  • 219. Top Tips Tuesday - Hot, Sweaty And A Flash Of Lightning

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    With the kind of weather we have been experiencing over the last few days it does so remind me of our last two weeks in the Ionian, just before we abandoned the good ship Hindsight to escape the Greek mid summer heat. Yes we also got lightning, thunder and hailstones, not to mention torrential rain! Back in the UK with the unseasonably warm weather we have been having (certainly for the North East), we have seen a sharp increase in products that Andy retails that help keep you comfortable below deck. High tech materials to put on top or under your bunk mattress, windscoops to circulate air through the boat when the breeze is up and electric fans when the breeze switches off.  Easy to erect and stow sunshades, and maybe, after this weekend's electrical storms, we will sell a few Forespar Lightning dissipators.

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    Should you have a classic yacht or powerboat or just a boat which has the bunks covered in traditional vinyl, with the night time temperature we have been experiencing you will probably end up all hot and sweaty so why not consider investing in some CoolMax high tech fabric, it's designed to manage moisture by improving air circulation and to reduce humidity build up while you sleep. It's manufactured from an innovative fabric which ''breathes'' so that when you lie on it, the heat and moisture generated by your body will evaporate within the first hour. This will then allow your body to maintain a cool environment while you rest. Cut to size, lay it on the bunk and enjoy a cooler nights sleep! CoolMax can, of course, be used with great success on bunks that have a woven covering.

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    Airmat has always been a steady seller but now it's hard to keep up with demand. Unlike Cool Max you put it under the bunk(s) or the saloon upholstery. Designed to allow improved airflow, which of course dramatically reduces moisture build up, through its 8mm thickness. This provides a solution to the age old problem of left over condensation and resulting mildew growth under bunk mattresses or cushioned areas.

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    12 Volt fans are now not only being shipped abroad to hotter climates but of course there is a demand for them in the UK. From the market leading Caframo range, the three speed Bora is the model Jenny and I have fitted in our cabin and on those still nights when the temperature is still high, the breeze has disappeared and the Windscoop ineffective, the fan can be a godsend. Mind you if it had been around when we fitted out Hindsight the new Maestro would have been the one to go for. Why? Because it's remote control and if I wanted to switch it on or off I wouldn't have to get out of my bunk!

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    If, however, there is a little or more breeze we rely on a Windscoop, the original ventilating sail. It’s aerodynamically designed to force the slightest breeze into your cabin to keep you cool and comfortable. It fits any hatch or companion-way up to 120cm and can be hung from a halyard or rigging.

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    Now that the build of Hindsight is 'almost' complete (only 35 items on the list to tick) and we have the Bimini fitted (still needs a little fine tuning however) the Free hanging Sunshade is now redundant. It was, however, last year a brilliantly effective piece of kit as the Bimini was still in kit form back in the UK! The Deck Sunshade from the same company is a great way of helping to keep the interior cool. Like the free hanging Sunshade you can assemble and pack it away in a minute and both are manufactured from rip stop, reflective material that provides UV protection.

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    Never thought about fitting a Forespar Lightning Dissipator however after a year in Greece and experiencing a few of the lightning storms, I thinks I may have been remiss in not fitting one to the top of our mast; oops my list of jobs to do has just jumped to 36!

  • 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+
  • 217. Top Tips Tuesday - Small But Perfectly Formed

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    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!

  • 216. Top Tips Tuesday - Wash Day Blues

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    Having spent almost two months on Hindsight earlier this year living the life, it was an eye opener in so much that, even though we lived in shorts and t-shirts, washing them, underwear and of course bedding came round so quickly. Back in the days before automatic washing machines started to appear, Monday tended to be the day for washing and of course ended up in song with Dolly Parton the American country and western singer writing and recording a song entitled 'Wash Day Blues' which included the lines....' No blue Monday washday I look like a lady hobo, just rubbing and scrubbing'. As for Jenny and I it was a case of rubbing and scrubbing small quantities and frequently! Collapsible buckets came in very handy as did our brilliant stainless steel clothes pegs, which were tested to 35 knots of breeze!

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    If you're willing to pay for it, there is, in Greece, the opportunity to have your laundry done in marina complexes (assuming you are near to one) and in most towns or larger villages where a laundry service is available. Prices do vary from around 12 euros a 'load' or less. On our return from Greece I was staggered to learn, when back at my ‘part time work’ (six days last week/six days this), that in the last week of June Andy sold via his website no less than 5 Soba Babynova washing machines! Sadly we cannot fit one in on our Mystery 35. The below image shows one of these machines installed on a Sun Oddessey 42DS thanks Kevin for the that, incidentally he writes ‘the plinth can be removed to get to the filter’.

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    Features include:

    • Compact size
    • 3kg drum capacity
    • Bolt down or roller option
    • Stainless Steel drum and tub
    • Automatic temperature control
    • 50KG Weight when empty

    Technical Data:

    • Spin Speed 1000rpm
    • Dimensions (h/w/d) cm 67/46/46
    • Energy Efficiency class B
    • Power consumption (60 degrees) 0.7kWh
    • Washing efficiency B
    • Drum capacity 3kg
    • Water consumption 48L
    • Programme Duration (60 degrees) 100mins
    • Features: Wool programme, temperature selection, eco valve, body galvanised & powder coated, stainless steel drum & tub, detergent drawer to front.
    • Power and Water Supply: Voltage – 230V, Watts – 2.2kW, Fuse protection – 10A,
    • Cold water supply

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