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General Interest

  • 233. Top Tips Tuesday - Planning Ahead

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    Yes, I know I can be the world’s worst person for planning ahead, having said all that, during my Ionian sailing this year I did write notes in my Weems & Plath Maintenance Logbook (Jenny also makes notes on her mobile in case I forget to act on them) but me actually taking any notice of what I have written until a week before we make our annual pilgrimage down to Greece is another matter! Having said all that if you are considering refreshing the topsides of your boat before the start of this coming season and don’t have a deep enough wallet to get it profesionally sprayed nor the temperature to brush or roller coat using two pack polyurethane, can I suggest that you take a look at the Epifanes Mono-urethane yacht paint range if your boat is of fiberglass construction. However if your pride and joy is of a wood construction Epifanes Bootlak yacht enamel is the one to go for. It flows out well, with excellent gloss, durability & flexibility.

    When I decided, nearly 40 years ago, to spread my sailmaking wings by purchasing a small chandlery in Newcastle,  the previous owners had only stocked one make of paint manufactured on the South side of the river Tyne however some two years later I went South to sail in a championship near Salcombe and on the day that the racing was cancelled due to strong winds, decided that I would call in and see a famous local boat builder called Alex Stone. After admiring his build quality and the superb paint and varnish work on a Salcombe yawl we got round to talking paint and varnish. Alex swore by the Epifanes range which is manufactured by a Dutch company W.Heeren & Zoon BV and so it came to pass that I too fell in love with this company's products once I had tried them! Since those early days our sales of Epifanes have gone from strength to strength. 'IT' Andy painted (his method of application foam roller and he didn’t even bother tipping it off with a dry brush so pleased was he with the result) the topsides of his yacht some two years ago and as can be seen from the reflection on the hull it is a credit to the quality of the paint and the way it was applied.

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    Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 13.53.17Living very near the North Sea our old wooden front door takes a battering but as it is white in colour we use Epifanes Nautiforte which apart from being ideally suited for wood that expands and contracts has excellent ‘non yellowing’ properties which keeps in looking fresh, five years on it's looking in better shape than our next neighbour’s door which was painted by a make that in the adverts features a big woolly dog! In our kitchen and above the hob we have a wood ceiling which we installed over ten years ago and then coated first with five coats of Epifanes gloss varnish and then finished with a coat of their rubbed effect varnish. Since varnishing it all those years ago the only refreshing we have done is to wash it down once a year! Methinks it's good for at least another ten years!

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    Ok, it doesn't get a lot of hard wear like the bar top on the opening image but just read what Simon Band has to say about the Epifanes varnish applied to his village community pub’s bar tops! Praise indeed and I am told that the real ales they offer are also outstanding! Talking of a hard life in a nautical environment, our floor boards on the Mystery are finished with Epifanes two pack matt finish varnish, very very hard wearing even Millie our ships dog didn't manage to scratch the surface last year!

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  • 232. Top Tips Tuesday - Lokalisiert Und Repariert Lecks!

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    I was a bit p..d off to put it mildly when in the middle of a Corfu lightning and torrential rain storm to discover that the hatch which had been installed by me six years ago was starting to leak, not from the cabin roof frame but between the glass and the alloy surround. Not much I hasten to add but in an extreme downpour a few drops every minute, disappointing considering that for most of its working life the hatch was covered so it wasn't sunlight as far as I could tell that caused it to fail. As we only became aware of this issue with only two days left before we returned to the UK it was a case of let's see if we can sort it easily with an application of CAPT. TOLLEY'S CREEPING CRACK CURE.

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    Well, after digging everything out of my spares locker including the proverbial kitchen sink the answer was an emphatic no, Sikaflex, Geocel, Boeshield, G-FLEX, McLube, PSP REPAIR TAPES and so on were all there but no CRACK CURE! However there was a chandler in the village just outside of Gouvia marina that Jenny managed to find some in at not quite twice the price we sell it online and through our chandlery back in the UK!

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    This penetrating co-polymer sealant is formulated to be so thin that by using capillary action it can find its way INSIDE fine cracks and set to a CLEAR flexible seal. Use it for leaking windows, portlights, decks, coachroofs, cracked planks, deck fittings, skin fittings or any other fine leaks! Preparation was simple, I cleaned the surface with methylated spirit, allowed it to evaporate off and then ran a bead of liquid sealant along the offending area. Next day I put the ‘repair’ to the test and connected a trigger spray nozzle to the boatyard hose turned the water on and sprayed the hatch from a variety of directions. Touch wood it's been a success, having said that time will tell but so far its looking good!

  • 231. Top Tips Tuesday - Winterising Your Outboard Engine

    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.

  • 230. Top Tips Tuesday - Winterising Your Inboard Engine

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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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