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General Interest

  • 217. Top Tips Tuesday - Small But Perfectly Formed

    The new Standard Horizon HX40E compact handheld VHF radio

    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
  • 214. Top Tips Tuesday - Summer Cruising Prep

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    It’s that time of year when you may be thinking of, or have already started to get ready for, your summer cruise, here are a few tips that may help you have a trouble free and enjoyable cruise. Have you checked your rig recently? Make sure all split pins are secure in the clevis pins and have been taped over to prevent snagging on boots or worse still slicing into your bare ankle; go aloft in a bosun’s chair; if you don’t have one consider purchasing one before you leave, you may need to climb the mast sometime during your cruise and it's not always possible to borrow one! Make sure you go up on two halyards that are in sound condition and don’t use snap shackles to secure the chair to the halyards, use a standard screw pin shackle through the spliced eye in the halyard. Check all split pins aloft together with tangs, T terminals, backing plates, spreader roots etc for security. Rig tensions should be checked with a tension meter. This is even more necessary if you have recently re-rigged and not re-tensioned. The wire will have bedded in and stretched causing a reduction in rig tension. Make sure all running rigging is free of chafe or damage, replacing any defective lines before they break. Consider replacing spiked wire/rope halyards with one of the modern low stretch materials such as Dyneema, Spectra etc. All navigation lights should be checked to make sure they are in working order, it’s far easier to change them while in port than up a mast while at sea: carry spare bulbs for each type of lantern. Ensure spinnaker pole piston fittings are free and well lubricated, if you use a full batten mainsail system it’s worth while spraying the track, batten and intermediate slides with a PTFE type dry lubricant which will make hoisting easier.

    If you didn’t do it pre-season, make sure the water in your tanks is drinkable. If necessary flush out with a proprietary tank cleaner to remove any nasties that may be lurking, which could result in an upset stomach for you and your crew, and make sure you change your water filter if fitted. Carrying a pack of Aquatabs is always a good idea when filling up elsewhere in case the water you take onboard isn’t very good quality. It's advisable to sample a glassfull before filling your tanks and carry a quantity of fresh bottled water as a back up if you should have any issues with the quality of the water available. If an electric pump is the only means of drawing water from your tanks consider having an alternative method such as a Whale Flipper; you could be left without means of obtaining water from your tank if you have a pump or electrical failure which could be serious on a 2-3 day crossing.

    SAILS:

    Check your sails before you depart. Its no good remembering a couple of days into your cruise that you didn’t have that small tear in your genoa repaired that’s now developed into a long split! Carry a repair kitsail repair tape, sail cloth, needles, twine, webbing, sewing palm etc on board. Being able to carry out a temporary repair may save your sail from further damage and prevent you having to curtail your cruise.

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    ENGINE:

    If you haven't already done so pre-season, make sure your engine has been serviced. If cruising abroad, make sure you have sufficient oil and filters to make at least one oil change, it may just get you home if you have either an oil leak or water entering the engine and emulsifying the oil. Dose your fuel with a diesel biocide and carry additional to add to your uptake of fuel together with a couple of sets of fuel filters in the event you develop a fuel bug problem. Tip, if buying diesel abroad try to buy from somewhere that has a good turnover rather than somewhere off the beaten track where fuel may have been standing in storage tanks for some time. Carry spare water impellers and a kit of gasket material so you can make your own; it can be notoriously difficult to obtain even the simplest of spares while abroad. Carry details of your engine parts supplier in the UK, the only way you may be able to obtain spares is to have them shipped from the UK. Ensure you have spare electrical fuses of the correct type and amperage.

    SAFETY:

    Test your VHF with the Coastguard before you leave, if you have a hand held make sure it’s fully charged and in working order. If cruising offshore consider carrying an emergency VHF aerial in the event of a dismasting. Check your flares are in date. Any that are out of date should be removed and replaced with new as some authorities will fine the skipper a considerable sum of money. Gaining in popularity are the new LED flares like the Ocean Signal EDF1 and the Odeo Distress flare. Benefits include a ‘burn time’ of up to 9 hours at full illumination, up to 14 year shelf life with supplied batteries. It can be carried on aircraft with your baggage and its search and rescue aircraft safe and no problems with disposal like traditional pyrotechnics. If you carry an EPIRB or PLB (an essential item if you plan any sea crossings or sailing more than a few miles away from the coast) make sure the batteries are in date and very importantly that you have registered it with the Coastguard EPIRB registry who will hold your details; in the event of an emergency it makes their job much easier to know who or what they are looking for! An AIS beacon is worth considering if you are crewing a yacht or powerboat, should you go overboard and are carrying one it enables those on board a vessel with an AIS to quickly and effectively locate you. Check your liferaft to make sure it and any hydrostatic release’s are within their service date. As a minimum, a set of wood plugs for every through hull fitting is essential, preferably attach them to the through hull fitting etc; it's no good having to go looking for an item to bung up a hole when you're sinking in the middle of the night, however, these days a lot of skippers are investing in a Sta-Plug Emergency Bung and a tub of Stay Afloat or, for a blocked valve, Seabung. If you are planning on any night sailing or even have the chance of getting caught in the dark ensure you replace batteries in your Danbuoys and torches; always carry spare sets of batteries on board. Have you serviced/checked over your lifejackets, if not, now is the time to do so. No crutch strap? Your jacket is useless without one. Ensure you have more than just one re-arming kit per lifejacket: it's no good if you discharge your lifejacket on the first day of your holiday and render it unusable! Make sure all jackstay lines haven’t been degraded by UV, replace if necessary, check you have harnesses (or lifejacket with harnesses) complete with safety lines for each person on board. It's preferable to always wear a lifejacket and be clipped on at all times and essential at night, never leave the cockpit to go on deck without being ‘clipped on’ and never leave the security of the cockpit at night without telling someone. While the idea is not to fall overboard, it does happen so make sure there is someone who can take charge and know exactly what to do in the event of a man overboard. For the small cost its worthwhile carrying at least one thermal protection aid (TPA) it can be a lifesaver in helping keeping a wet cold person warm and alive. Ensure you have a good first aid kit and someone who knows how to use it together with one of the approved first aid books which can be an excellent reference manual when in a panic! If cruising offshore where you may be a couple of days away from help, add items such as ‘Steri-strip closures for treating severe/deep cuts, Melolin dressings for treating minor burns and a ‘Sam Splint’ which is an easily storable roll up splint for immobilising fractures.

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    NAVIGATION:

    Make sure your GPS, chart plotter etc is working, update or buy new electronic charts. If going abroad make sure you back up your plotter charts with up to date paper charts both for the crossing and your destination. The North Sea has numerous rig movements, it can be quite daunting to suddenly come across a rig or production platform at night or in the fog that isn’t on your old chart and then there are wind farms... enough said! Pilot books for the area you're cruising will both simplify navigation and give details of where you can berth, obtain supplies, fuel etc. Make sure you carry the correct documentation for both yourself and the boat; some countries now demand your insurance policy is available for inspection in their native tongue. Many countries now require a ‘Certificate of Competence’ (ICC) in preference to the Yachtmaster/Yachtmaster Coastal, it’s as well to check with the RYA as to what documentation is required for a specific country. Keep all fuel receipts especially if visiting Holland where you may be asked for proof of purchase of red diesel in the UK.

    PERSONAL:

    You need to be warm and comfortable while at sea, many a passage has been spoilt by the crew being cold and miserable. Make sure you have a good set of foul weather gear and importantly the correct mid and base layers to wear under them. These days foulies are there to keep the elements out. They no longer give much thermal protection so you need to invest in some form of thermal wear to keep you warm. The North Sea and beyond, even mid season, can be a very cold place, day or night, especially if you get wet. Appropriate boots and deck shoes are a necessity. If your budget allows go for breathable, they are so much warmer and more comfortable. Consider purchasing a couple of pairs of waterproof, breathable Sealskinz Socks if short of funds. Does your wife/partner dread the summer cruise as a result of sea sickness, there’s nothing worse than being debilitated for days while the husband is enjoying his sailing, try one of the electronic ‘Relief Bands’, not the cheapest pieces of kit but something that really works and can save a holiday! My wife who having sailed more than 25,000 miles in the last 15 years for no apparent reason started becoming seasick while on passage, a Relief Band has been a complete cure allowing her to carry on sailing, I’m sure without it she would have packed up. An alternative to the Relief Band and roughly half the price are Boarding Ring Anti-Motion Sickness Glasses which are excellent. Before you leave port make sure you tell someone responsible where you are going and when you expect to depart/arrive, make sure you set yourself a realistic ETA, don’t think you can do it in two days when realistically it will take you three. It can cause worry when you haven’t arrived when expected. If you haven’t already done it register a CG66 with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which can be done online.

    Be safe and enjoy your cruising,

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  • GDPR - How to validate your e-newsletter subscription

    You may have heard about the new General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"), that comes into effect May 25, 2018. To help comply with GDPR consent requirements, we need to confirm that you would like to continue to receive newsletters ie. 'Top Tips Tuesday' and offers from us.

    You should have received an email from us already with a link to either confirm your subscription or to unsubscribe. Sadly we can't provide you with this link from our website but if you missed the email look back in your inbox for the title 'Stay In Touch'.

    Alternatively at the very bottom of every newsletter, ie. Top Tips Tuesday, we send there is a link to 'update subscription preferences' or 'unsubscribe'.

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    If you click to update subscription preferences you will be presented with the form below. Most fields will already be filled. Complete any fields you wish to update, check the box that gives e-mail marketing permissions and then click the button 'update profile'.

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    We hope that our newsletters are useful to you and that you wish to continue hearing from us.

    All the best,

    The marinechandlery / Storrar Marine team

     

  • 197. Top Tips Tuesday - Varnish Remover For Butterflies

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    Please don’t report me to the RSPCA, cos this blog is not about the inhumane treatment of the Red Admiral or any other species of butterflies! But I digress, we sometimes get in our engine workshop, Mercury, Yamaha or Tohatsu outboard motors (these are the three makes we sell, service and sometimes repair them if things go wrong!) It's usually in the spring when we get the non-starters and its often traced back to the fact that last year's fuel is still in the tank and always still in the carburettor! Yes I know its a bit late telling everyone that they should always drain the tank at the end of the season but its worth reminding folks before the start of this coming season that it's good practice to always turn the fuel supply off and let the engine die before drawing the dinghy up onto the beach, or if securely tied to the stern of the boat once again stopping the engine through fuel starvation. Incidentally if you don’t already carry out this procedure you will be surprised just how long the engine will keep running on idle or low revs and after a couple of attempts you will get used to turning off the fuel perhaps 50 metres from the beach.

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    Yamalube Carburettor Cleaner is a powerful carburettor cleaner specially developed to eliminate deposits and varnish on butterfly valves, throttle chambers, nozzles, tanks, floats and venturi tubes. Yamalube Carburettor Cleaner reduces fuel consumption whilst increasing engine performance, stabilizes the idle, and improves the engine’s accelerating. It's easy to use and of course full instructions are printed on the aerosol can.

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    Two stroke outboard fuel mix is more likely to cause varnish issues however for both two and four stroke petrol engines there are a couple of Quicksilver products that can be added at every fill up. Quicksilver Quickare keeps fuel fresh between every fill up and helps prevent or controls corrosion, gum and varnish build up. Quicksilver Quickleen helps remove carbon deposits from carburettors and injectors, intake valves, spark plugs, piston crowns and cylinder heads it helps prevent engine knocking and piston seize up as well as extending spark plug life.

    Quicksilver

  • 196. Top Tips Tuesday - Good News! Antifouling Prep Just Got Easier

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    We all hate antifouling and the preparation that goes beforehand, however the good news is that it's just got easier, why? Read and inwardly digest and if you have either a large build up of rust on your keel or multiple layers of antifouling you want to remove easily perhaps consider using one or both of the products mentioned just below.

    Removing rust from cast iron keels has always been a soul destroying job however the relatively new to the market Tercoo has made it so much easier. We have first hand experience of how effective the Tercoo tool is, it certainly made my task so much easier when tackling a badly rusted Albin Express keel that we were wanting to get ready for applying fairing filler. Also in our local boatyard the owner of a steel Bruce Roberts thought it was the best thing since sliced bread for preparing the underwater surfaces. As for the other Rob, he has not stopped smiling since he started using the Tercoo for prepping rusted keels!

    Where there are copious coats of antifouling that need to be removed, Peelaway Marine, a new product to the market, looks the business, doing the job in just one application. Peelaway Marine can be used on a wide variety of substrates, grp, wood, metal and ferocrete, however, it works faster in temperatures above five degrees so I haven’t had a test run of it myself yet but word from the yard is that it works well.

    Unsure of what to do next, read our 'Definitive Guide To Antifouling'

  • 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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  • 194. Top Tips Tuesday - Don't take it for granted!

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    A first time yacht owner was in the chandlery late November and was complaining that he thought the mainsail he had inherited was badly stretched down the leech as the boom was not clearing the spray hood when it was hoisted up as far as it would go and if he lowered the hood and then sheeted in the sail, a severe crease ran from the clew through the inboard ends of all the batten pockets. Apart from that it was a real sod to hoist! He then started talking about buying a new main to Andy, boss man, who whilst a wizz on all things mechanical and electrical, suggested to him that perhaps once the old git (ie. me) was up and running again after his replacement hip that he brought the offending sail into the loft for evaluation. Well I am back on my feet, even more grumpy if thats possible and here's what I found. Sail was still in fairly good condition for its age, cloth had a bit of 'body' however the bolt rope had shrunk which meant that once it had been cut in the tack area and then the hand stitching at the cunningham hole/reef points unpicked and stretched out, the bolt rope shot up the luff tabling 17cm, which should mean the sail could be hoisted higher up the mast allowing it to clear the hood. The sail slides looked as though they had been lubricated with wheel bearing or stuffing box grease and apart from staining the sail, me-thinks the lubricating properties of this gunge would be zilch! To remove the grease I used the excellent 3m citrus cleaner and we then sent the sail to Hancocks sail laundry for a thorough clean.

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    As for the severe crease down the inboard end it would be hard to tell by laying out the sail on the loft floor what the problem was but I think that by putting the battens in the wrong way round ie stiff end first flexible end at the leech, the previous owner wasn't doing the sail any favours!

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    Sail slides are always going to be a source of friction, worse still if the main has been constructed with a full length top or top and second batten. As a sensible alternative to grease I can strongly recommend carrying a can of Mclube or Smooth Sail on board. A regular squirt of either will help make hoisting the main an awful lot easier.

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  • 193. Top Tips Tuesday - Old Age, I Hate It!

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    I never thought it would happen to me but I have to finally admit that old age is definitely catching up with me. Last night we were eating out and what with the background noise there were times that I was having to ask the lady sitting next to me to repeat herself. Furthermore, earlier this week, whilst attending my regular Tuesday ‘put the world right’ session in my local, I had trouble picking up my first pint, mind you, having spent an hour with needle, left handed palm and whipping twine in the sail loft earlier that day didn’t help, the joy of arthritic hands! As for my other body parts, well the offending hip that had been giving me gyp for the last few years has been sorted, but I blamed the demise of that on my rock and roll lifestyle when I was a teenager! Unfortunately my sail maker's knees, after almost forty odd years on the loft floor, ain’t too brilliant these days, shame I couldn’t have a lubrication nipple fitted to the side of the joint so that first thing in the morning I could squirt some Mclube into the relevant area! However on the plus side, Jenny assures me my good looks haven’t faded and with the fashion for close cropped hairstyles I can get away with being bald as a coot. On the down side, however, my six pack seems these days to be more of a family economy bundle.

    Leather Pull Tags

    On the Mystery some six years ago, in anticipation of not being able to get my leg over (the guard rails) when we finally put her in the water, we fitted stanchion gates on both port and starboard gunwales next to the chain plate/cap shrouds. What I should have done, once we launched her, was to make it a lot easier to grasp the ring pull on the pelican hook. This year when we launch Hindsight she will be fitted with a couple of leather pull tags, likewise for the spinnaker halyard snapshackle. They can be purchased in silver or tan and incidentally, if you are so inclined and wish to customise or ‘pimp’ your boat, you can have them custom printed for a small extra charge! This spring I also intend to fit a couple of our leather chafe protectors over the fork terminals connecting the upper guard rail to the pulpit. As for the leather spreader boots we retail, I will at some stage be the one climbing our mast, but methinks I will wait till my hip joint has fully bedded in before going aloft, maybe add to the 2019 to do list!

    Leather Chafe Protectors

    Whilst on the subject of leather, the other day we exported a couple of our leather steering wheel kits out to Portugal, they trickle out on a regular basis. As for a recommendation, I know my mates Peter and Anita Kassell recovered the wheel on their Oyster Nimrod. Once fitted in place it brought the cockpit back up to scratch!

    Suede Leather Wheel Cover Kit

  • 191. Top Tips Tuesday - Stress-free Sailing

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    It would be great if all our boating was stress-free, sadly it never seems to happen. However when working on last week’s blog ‘Help is at hand’ over the Christmas holidays and wanting to check something out, I wandered over to Andy’s chandlery book shelves and found this little gem STRESS-FREE SAILING for single and short-handed techniques! With my first mate Jenny having broken her wrist early summer 2017 and the joint only just coming out of plaster before she flew out to Corfu to join me, handling the boat on my own was a completely new ball game. I managed, just, but there were a few scary moments! Sadly, seven months on, her wrist is still very weak as I quickly found out the other week as, after having my hip replacement, putting on my post operative compression stockings was impossible (leg/knee etc swollen so I couldn’t bend my leg to reach my foot). Poor Jenny was struggling to help me and in a lot of pain!

    We drive down to Corfu this coming May for some rest and recreation, by then I hope to have absorbed enough of the book to give both of us stress-free sailing. Loads of pictures and diagrams and includes a QR code to gain access to 21 action videos.

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