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  • 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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  • 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+

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