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Life Onboard

  • 247. Top Tips Tuesday - Blade Runner

    Blade Runner, the film, was released to the public in 1982 and is set very conveniently in the year 2019 (believe it or not I have been waiting to use the name of the film since I started my TTT blogs many years ago) Director Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, just across the river Tyne from my favourite pub the Low Lights, and like me managed only one O level. I wondered if he found that skiving off school to go messing about in boats was more attractive than schoolwork? In the film Blade Runner, ex detective Rick Deckard is called out of retirement to track down and eliminate a team of humanoid androids that have escaped. Up on planet Newcastle today, February the 12th 2019, the boss of www.marinechandlery.com Andy Burgess has been asked to track down the missing blade which has done a runner, boom boom! Does he fail to complete his mission or does he pass with flying colours and track a replacement down? Only time will tell.

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    If you take a wander round your local boatyard and stick your head down low you will be surprised with the number of both powerboats and yachts that have been lifted out with little or no anode(s) left on the backing plate! If the anode is not doing its job for whatever reason, earth wire broken, been painted over, fallen off or just wasted away, failing to keep an eye on the anode(s) can lead to some very expensive repair bills. Whilst a replacement two bladed prop can be had from around three hundred pounds a rebuilt stern drive for a powerboat or sail drive, what with parts labour, lift out/in can run into thousands. A sinking through the failure of a skin fitting, apart from the danger of loss of life may be hundreds of thousands. I have seen an aluminium yacht salvaged from the seabed and the hull reminded me of a colander, what happened to the cathodic protection?

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    Sacrificial anodes are supposed to do what they say on the box ie sacrifice themselves whilst protecting the superior metal, however for me to even try to attempt to explain this ‘black art’ would be like me trying to explain the theory of relativity to Jenny!

    However our very good friends at M.G.Duff advise us that Cathodic protection is an electrochemical process which halts the natural reaction (corrosion) of metals in a particular environment by superimposing an electrochemical cell more powerful than the corrosion cell.

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    Sacrificial Anodes are fitted or bonded to the metal to be protected, this results in an electrical potential difference and the metal becomes cathodic causing the sacrificial anode to waste instead. In a correctly installed MGDUFF Cathodic Protection System corrosion only occurs to the sacrificial anode which is replaceable. The number and size of anodes is determined by the type of material and the surface area being protected. Several factors determine the type of cathodic protection system fitted. Firstly the environment in which the vessel is operating, secondly the size and type of construction and finally the length of time that the vessel is likely to be afloat before the next maintenance slipping.

    I knew that you could use either zinc plated or stainless 316 bolts however I didn’t realise that bilge water could cause a problem, stainless bolts will place more of a demand on the anode than zinc plated but this is not a problem. With a stainless bolt it is normally easier to undo the nut to change the anodes as the end of the season. It is extremely important to ensure no bilge water is allowed to wet the bonding connection on the inside of the boat, whether stainless or zinc plated the bonding cable may start to corrode and develop high resistance. Make sure you cover the connection with Lanocote or similar to protect the connection. If you have a boat be it yacht or power and you do have an issue with water in the bilge it makes sense to use zinc plated bolts. If you are like me and need to work to a list spend a couple of minutes reading the MGDuff preseason checklist :

    1. Check you are using genuine MGDuff anodes
    2. Check that your anodes will last for the duration of the forthcoming season. Renew if more that 50% wasted
    3. Check that your anodes are surely fastened, the fixing blots, nuts and washers are tight
    4. Check all internal bonding to ensure that the connections are clean and the cable is clipped up where necessary. if you have an MGDuff electro eliminatorcheck that the springs are sound and it is positioned so that the brushes are in contact with the shaft.
    5. Check that you are fitting the correct anode material for the waters you are in i.e.
      • Salt water = Zinc 
      • Brackish Water = Aluminium
      • Fresh Water = Magnesium
    6. When fitting a new anode you should also replace the serrated fan disc washers under the nuts and change the backing sheet on wood and GRP hulls. Exposed fixing studs, nuts and washers should be well greased or painted after assembly

    Andy, being a bit like our hero the detective Rick Deckard (note the 'nautical' name) did manage to track down a replacement so the story does have a happy ending!

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  • 246. Top Tips Tuesday - Brace Yourself!

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    It’s a bit of a topical title, as the lovely Claire Green (she who used to run the chandlery clothing department and for the last few years has used her IT expertise to put together the ramblings of a grumpy old git into a presentable blog) is due to give birth on the 13th of February! For once I thought I would get ahead of the game by preparing this one in advance, just in case the new edition to the Green family came early! For my wife Jenny it was a case of brace yourself when we were cruising in Greece last autumn and ended up in the middle of some rather nasty weather. This has been described by some as a Medicane, sometimes referred to as a tropical hurricane. For the first customer who bought a Rocna from us back in 2010 for his Moody it was an instruction that he shouted to the guy on the windlass the second time it was deployed, his new anchor dug in so fast the first time it was used in anger it nearly sent that foredeck hand over the pulpit!

    Grateful thanks to Jake Kavanagh for allowing us to use the above cartoon.

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    As for Jenny and I we had been tracking, with growing concern, the weather that was predicted to hit us around the 28th of September and decided to make our way up past Nidri and find what we hoped would be a secure and safe anchorage in Vliho bay. The morning before the bad weather was due to hit we anchored in 5 mtrs of water, our anchorbeing a Vulcan (same designer same superb holding power as a Rocna) let 40mtrs of chain out and hooked up our 18mm octoplait snubber using 7mtrs in length to help take the shock out of an all chain rode. During the day as the wind started to rise we dismantled the bimini, removed the outboard from the inflatable and took the cruising chute, code zero and gang plank down below to reduce windage over the deck (the Mystery doesn’t have the large cockpit lockers that a lot of cruisers have).

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    Sadly I didn’t deflate the dinghy and bring it onboard but as it’s always stored on the foredeck I was concerned that it would be a windage issue if the s…t hit the fan! Finally 8 fenders were deployed around the topsides, with our large ball fender ready close to the mast if we ended up with a visitor alongside.

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    Whilst Jen was making some sandwiches and dug out the flask to give us a source of hot drinks later, I sneaked a quick look at Happy Hooking by Alex & Daria Blackwell, their excellent book on anchoring technique, and concluded that if we had room to swing (which we did have) it would be sensible to let some more chain out and increase the length of the snubber, so we ended up with a ratio of 10-1 ie 50 mtrs.  Later in the afternoon we spotted a rather large charter cat (height and windage of a double decker bus) slowly drifting down on us with no sign of life on board. Out came the fog horn but no response. Just as the stern cockpit got within 2 mtrs of our pulpit and each hull almost level with our bows help arrived in the form of the Sailing Holidays rib with one of their instructors onboard and a couple from Carlisle, customers of my old company back in Newcastle. Dave & Karen had seen our predicament and rang the Sailing holiday base at the Iris pontoon, they boarded the cat and managed to pull it away from our bows; thanks once again guys! I believe it then took them something like eight or so attempts to get the charter cat's anchor to hold! Text and WhatsApp messages were starting to come through of a sinking in the Lefkas canal and the nearby marina was 'closed’ for boat movements.

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    By eight that evening as the wind was still increasing, it was a case of on with our baseand mid layers followed by full foul weather gear and then our Spinlock lifejackets with safety lines ready to deploy. Handheld Standard Horizon VHF in the cockpit plus our powerful rechargeable spotlight and a couple of waterproof LED torches. Ready for anything, or so we thought. It was then I decided that I would try and get a little shut eye before the wind peaked. Ten minutes later a mighty shriek up on deck from Jen as the spotlight which had been secured, or so we thought, shot across the cockpit as the boat heeled right over. Back on deck it quickly became apparent that no sleep was going to be possible as Hindsight was now being thrown sideways, and veering wildly. Later that night, when the wind was at its worst, the Avon dinghy, which had already been flipped over and back probably seven or eight times, decided this time it would try and join us in the cockpit! At least three yachts to windward of us that we could just make out in the pitch black were dragging and our searchlight was constantly being used to warn those whom we felt were getting close. Apparently the crew on one of the 'drifters' made ten attempts to reset his hook and the talk at the Vliho yacht club three days later was that up to 30 boats had dragged. Others that had abandoned the pontoon on the lee shore opposite Tranquil Bay and the quay at Nidri spent the night motoring round and round, unable to get their anchorsto hold.

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    As we have a retractable bowsprit on the Mystery to use with the cruising shute and the light wind code zero, we could not go down the Rocna route as the roll bar would 'clash' with the sprit, instead we went for the Vulcan which like the Rocna was designed by Peter Smith. The Vulcan has no roll bar but features a  unique combination of shank and fluke geometry which, in conjunction with a roll palm at the rear of the fluke, self rights. As for its holding power, one word for that: magnificent!

    Due to the holding power of the new generation anchors such as the Vulcan, Rocna, Manson as compared to old faithfulls, the Blackwells do feel that in certain anchorages the description of the holding ground perhaps should be altered, see their comments below!

    "We are converts to the new generation scoop-type anchors and have retired our CQR as well as our Admiralty-type anchors from active duty. No, it is no longer about a weight on a rope. The new generation of anchors represent significant advances in anchor technology and engineering.

    In fact, we're so convinced that we are intending to help re-write many of the cruising guides. Where anchorages are rated as having poor holding, we believe they may have been rated with inferior anchors, as we have often found the holding to be good. So if your anchor is not holding as well as you might like, consider your options. The insurance of having a good modern anchor may just let you sleep peacefully through the night secure in your chosen anchorage".

  • 245. Top Tips Tuesday - Not Fade Away

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    Those of my avid readers who are of a similar, or perhaps older, age than yours truly may remember a Buddy Holly record, which he recorded in Clovis New Mexico in 1957. Believe it or not it featured drummer Jerry Allison pounding out the beat on a cardboard box!  The song was covered by the Rolling Stones in 1964 and was a major hit in the UK. No cardboard box this time instead it had a strong Bo Diddley beat. Other artists who have also covered the song include Rush & Tanya Tucker! The Grateful Dead to the best of my knowledge didn’t record it they however first played Not Fade Away on June 19th 1968 and subsequently performed it more than 600 times before the group disbanded.

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    Not Fade Away is the title of a book by John Gribbin about the life and music of Buddy Holly, its also the title of a book by Alan Heek, its subject matter is staying happy when you’re over 64!  "Wonder if it will keep the over seventies happy" I hear Jenny say. Having said that I was happy with the way that the old RS400 I bought the other week (to help me regain my youth), scrubbed up!

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     Buy a new yacht or powerboat with a gelcoat in a majestic dark blue, racey red, carbon black or even British Racing Green and yes it will look superb in the showroom or straight out of the box. However, five, ten, fifteen or maybe twenty years down the line will it still look as 'smart' as a white hull which has also not been polished on a regular basis? The Mystery 35 with classic lines drawn by Stephen Jones, was originally built by Hunter Boats, then Select and finally Cornish Crabber, and  has, with only two exceptions, been moulded with a dark blue gelcoat. In that colour they do look superb but as mine and Jen’s end game, once we had finished fitting her out, was to keep Hindsight in sunny climates I was that second person to break the mould and go for a light colour; pale grey with a red waterline band painted in two pack polyurethane (two pack paint in bright colours tend to retain their colour much better). When I was a boy I can still remember my father regularly polishing his Morris Oxford and his next car a Riley 4/68. However these days it's rare to see people washing their cars on the front drive, never mind polishing them, perhaps that’s why an awful lot of folks (not our readers I hasten to add) don’t polish their boats on a regular basis! Unlike the paint finish on a car, a gelcoat finish does need regular attention to keep it looking smart and, more importantly, protecting the resale value. At least once a year you should give it a treat and use a good quality polish to maintain its looks, my preference is Meguiar’s Premium Marine Wax. If there is a little light oxidation, the surface is slightly ‘chalky’ (run your finger over the surface and it comes away with a deposit on it) their Color Restorer is the one to use followed by at least one coat, preferably two applications of the Premium Wax. Meguiar’s Oxidation Remover is a heavy duty cleaner which safely removes moderate oxidation, waterspots and scratches from gelcoat surfaces. It restores colour adding brilliant shine and gloss, once again finish off with the Premium Marine Wax polish to lock the colour and gloss in.

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    My recently acquired old RS400 was given the ‘oxidation’ treatment followed by the polish. If the gelcoat is as bad as the Beneteau pictured above it may well come up looking better if first you rub it down with something like 800 grit wet and dry then, as 3M suggest, finish sanding with 1500-grit as its easier to buff out a fine grit scratch. When wet sanding by hand, soak the abrasive paper in a bucket, if using a machine you can wet the surface using an old household spray bottle but add a couple of drops of washing up liquid to the water to keep the gelcoat surface and the grit lubricated. Beware of corners and the edge of the topsides as gelcoat is often thinnest there. Once you have an even matt surface, follow it up with Meguiar's colour restorer and then polish. If you have a coloured gelcoat such as dark blue, red etc and keep your boat in a sunny place, there is much to be said for purchasing a sun shade to protect the gelcoat, its initial outlay is soon offset by the protection it gives against fading!

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    Gelcoat staining as a result of the boat being used on waters that have a high concentration of peat such as Kielder water or Loch Lomond or berthed/used on a river that is discoloured can, with a very little elbow grease, ‘change colour.’ By using an excellent stain remover called Y10. This product is an oxalic acid based paste that you brush on, leave for 10 minutes and wash off. The effect is dramatic as can be seen when it's been applied to the bows of this classic Contessa 32.

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     Finally, if you want to take the easy route, why not consider buying a dual action polisher like the Shurhold, a professional grade machine designed for the novice! Not cheap, however I bought mine some 10 years ago and it's still going strong. It has helped keep both my previous yacht, the Channel 31, and my current boat free from the ravages of the Canarian/Greek sun! If you don't want to purchase outright a good quality polisher, perhaps check out your local hire shop, with polishers speed isn’t everything so using a high speed electric drill and polishing pad is an invitation to possible gel coat damage!

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  • 244. Top Tips Tuesday - Bingo Wings

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

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

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

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

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

  • 243. Top Tips Tuesday - Lubrication For Dry January

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    I have it on good medical advice that a 'dry January' is not only good for your health but also for your wealth, maybe it will leave you a little smug as others fall by the wayside! As for me, well as I 'blog away' it's with one eye on the clock as at twenty past nine tonight I will take a ten minute brisk walk down to my favourite pub, the Low Lights on the fish quay in North Shields, (believed to be over 400 years as an ale house) and sit with two or three fellows sailors of a similar age whilst downing a couple of pints of draught Bass drawn from the hand pump. So good is the Bass at the Lowlights that twice a year the sales director of Seago (he who is based in deepest Wales) after twisting boss man Andy's hand into buying even more Liros rope, life jackets, life rafts and other safety equipment insists on buying him a pie and a pint in the evening . Simon Thomas, as we in the marine trade all know, has his faults, including passionately following the fortunes of the Welsh RFU team but in his defence he certainly knows a good pint, sadly my boss only drinks lager, so lucky me gets to tag along to keep the Welshman company. However whatever your take on dry January now is the time to check up on your boat lubrication and if your tool kit looks thirsty...

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    Not the cheapest, however Team Mclube Sailkote dry film non staining product is in my/our riggers opinion the best high performance lubricant available in the marine market. As it says on the tin 'for everything that slides'. It's clean, dry and easy to use. It's long lasting, won't wash out and it repels water, dirt, salt and other contaminants. An essential product for a yachtsman or power boat enthusiast's tool kit. For ball bearing blocks, travellers etc Team Mclube One Drop is a superb ball bearing conditioner, only one drop is needed to keep bearings rolling freely, it helps kees them dirt-free and it stop bearings from skidding! I used it on an elderly Oyster mast which had Harken cars at the inboard ends of the batten pockets and the results were dramatic.

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    Smooth Sail is a liquid engineered sail and track lubrication. It's great value and comes in a 500ml trigger spray container. It is environmentally friendly with no aerosol propellants, solvents or toxic chemicals. Use for fast and easy sail hoists, mainsail slides run freely and for those racers that change headsail, seconds can be found with quicker sail changes. Drops and reefing are faster and smoother through reduced friction. A great product to keep in your boat's tool kit.

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    Harken Grease is a high performance white grease. It's formula is designed so as to optimise winch performance and it has outstanding anti-wear properties. If your self tailing or standard winches are manufactured by Harken, for service information go online to www.harken.com, likewise respectively for Andersen or Lewmar. Word of warning however, never ever use grease on the pawls! Pawl oil whatever the make is the correct lubricant and please only a tiny amount, its purpose is to lubricate pawls and springs to improve rotation.

    K99 is not a dog food but an economical water resistant grease perfect for those boats that have conventional stern tubes. Other uses include trailer hubs/wheel bearing lubrication for units that are subject to immersion. It can also be using as a general purpose lubricant around the house and garage. Sold in a 500gm tub the contents can be easily dispensed into a grease gun If required.

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    Quicksilver High Performance Gearlube is for use on on all lower units on outboards and all stern drives. It's the most recommended OEM marine gear lube on the market. It provides proper corrosion protection and lubrication for marine gear cases not found in automotive based products. This gear lube of course provides maximum protection against water intrusion. It's sold in any easily dispensed tube containing 8fl oz.

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    Blakes Seacock grease is a superb water resistant grease which is not only our recommended lubricant for this particular make of quality valve but all metal seacocks be they manufactured from brass, DZR or bronze. For the Lloyds approved Marelon valves the grease to use for lubrication is Lanocote. As well as insuring your composite valves operate freely it's a great product to prevent thread 'freeze up' on rigging screws. By using Lanocote as a barrier between dissimilar metals it will help prevent electrolysis and as a sealer its great for porous surfaces, perhaps sealing an elongated stitch hole in a sprayhood?

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    Snap stick is the perfect easy to dispense lubricant for applying to zips on sprayhood and cockpit canopies (especially useful where the zip is subject to straining such as going round a sharp curve). It's great for both plastic and metal zippers, snap fastenings, slides and locks on canvas. Snap Stick protects for up to three months in one application, it's non toxic, bio-degradable and of course it protects against corrosion.

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    A couple of 'old favourite' lubricants that are found in most tool kits are WD 40 & 3 in 1 oil.  In case you have forgotten WD-40 is an excellent cleaner as well as a protector. Perfect for loosening rusted parts and of course tackling that annoying squeak, banish it with a little squirt and sleep easier at night  3 in 1 oil, described on the container as a toolkit in a can, has hundreds of uses. It's a specially formulated lubricant with a spout applicator for precision. Handy to know for that sailing club 'pub quiz' is that its manufactured for the guys at the WD-40 company!

    Having read through all that why not go off and enjoy that well earned drink, cheers!

  • 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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  • 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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