Call us on +44 (0)191 646 1000

Outwards & Upwards

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

    Snap Shackles

    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

  • 165. Top Tips Tuesday - Climb It Now!

    Small tear on the casting of starboard spreader root. Clevis pin missing stainless ring; a piece of bent wire has been substituted.

    If you are one of the many who didn't lift your mast out at the end of the 2016 season and haven't, as yet, made a trip aloft to check your rig out, now is the time to climb that spar before you set off on your summer cruise. Why? Because you never know what issues you may find up there! The other week, whilst in Corfu, a member of my local club who is living the dream and keeps his yacht out in Greece met up with Jenny & I in Mandraki for just a couple of beers and a bite to eat. Conversation, as always amongst us blokes gathered round the table, inevitably got around to boats and after what I think was a 'couple' more beers (or was it more?) I found out next morning that I had apparently volunteered to climb his mast and check his rig out. When professionally climbing a mast back in the UK I always use a Spinlock Mast Pro "bosuns chair", as I think its the most secure of all the chairs on the market (and of course that's the make we have on our Mystery) along with a Solent Top Climber. This allows me to 'stand up' in the chair and get right to the very tip of the mast head gear. When climbing a mast for an inspection I always take a mobile phone with me, Leatherman, roll of pvc tape and white self amalgamating. Should my Leatherman multitool not provide me with the correct size screwdriver or pliers one can always be hoisted up. Two days later (not that I needed a full day to sober up) as it was bright sunshine, and as I am long sighted, I climbed his mast wearing my Gill bi-focal sunglasses. Yes I know I have said it before but what a brilliant item of kit this is!

    Gill Bifocal Sunglasses

    For safety reasons I always go up on two halyards and would strongly reccomend that you do also, this is after examining the halyard for strength (get your winch man to hoist you so that your toes are just touching the deck then bounce up and down as hard as you can) and any signs of chafe. Satisfied with the integrtity of the climbing halyard and the back up one, I was then winched up the mast, got to the lower set of spreaders and discovered that the casting on the starboard spreader root had a small tear and that the clevis pin was missing the stainless ring; a piece of bent wire had been substituted. Climbed further and found that the same had happened to the upper starboard spreader bracket, once again a small tear. As the owner of this boat is not happy aloft, this is where my mobile phone comes in useful, providing images that can be down loaded later onto a computer or in this case to my iPad so they can view from the comfort of the cockpit. No more issues until I got to the top of the mast and found that the inner forestay was badly stranded where the wire entered the rollswaged T-terminal! Inner forestay condemned and as for the tear in the spreader root(s) I suggested that he monitor the bracket(s) over the next few months.

     Upper and lower part of Tricolour full of water and lens badly crazed from UV

    Fast forward two weeks and now back in the Uk, with even the temperature on the North East coast as hot as Corfu, and this time the task was to fit a replacement TV antenna at the top of a mast. Climbed and once up there, before we fitted the Glomex antenna, noticed that his mast head tri was way past its sell by date. Upper and lower part of the light full of water and the lens badly crazed from exposure to sunlight! Not only that, the halyard diverter had seen better days. It was badly worn where it clamps on the forestay wire allowing it to tilt, making it as much use as a chocolate fire guard! My message, it's always a good idea to inspect your mast at least once a year. Click onto this link for our thoughts on mast inspection.

  • 151. Top Tips Tuesday - Reduce the trip factor

    Jenny's bruised leg!

    Jenny, my better half, is well known amongst our sailing friends for having a ‘slight’ lack of spatial awareness. When on board our last yacht, never a day went by without her bouncing her head off the companion way sliding hatch, banging an elbow on the companion way steps or ricocheting off the cooker. Yes, she can even stumble on a peanut  which has been dropped in the cockpit on our friends Oyster at ‘gin o clock’ but strangely, never ever spills a drop of the precious liquid in her left hand! Back on dry land she once managed to fracture her elbow, tripping on a raised paving stone when walking to, yes to, the pub and surprising as it may seem she has never had a problem when coming back! The poor girl is at the moment suffering from an extremely painful  hematoma in her upper thigh after slipping on a rock whilst walking in the Lake District the other day, however, the plus points of my good long-suffering wife are too numerous to mention and include proof reading and correcting my awful spelling and punctuation on each and every blog at midnight on a Monday night!

    Outboard lead block assembly

    When fitting out Hindsight we put a lot of thought into reducing the ‘trip factor’ on the deck. The side decks of the Mystery are not particularly wide so when routing the furling line I went for Schaefer’s ‘Clear Step’ blocks which keeps the walkway clear as the reefing line is on the outside of the stanchions.The Clear Step is indexed to easily slip over most existing stanchions and is secured by a simple set screw, large diameter ball bearing Delrin sheaves ensure smooth rolling. Harken do manufacture a similar product, the ‘Outboard lead block assembly,' however the nod went to the former as it looked more in keeping with the traditional looks of the boat, however for the aft turning block I did go for a Harken ratchet with becket.

    Shock cord keeps block off the deck, preventing damage

    I wanted to keep some tension on the line when furling (prevents a riding turn on the drum) as against relying on a crew member to ease the line out! Why a turning block with becket? Cos I attached a short length of shock cord to the block/guard rail to stop it or the deck being damaged in a bouncy sea state. We also lead the backstay control line through the cockpit coaming as against over the teak capping on the production boats as a way of helping reduce the trip factor and we shied away from U bolts and went for folding padeyes for safety line and jackstay take off points as a means of preventing stubbed toes or even more bruises.

    Leading the backstay control line through the cockpit coaming

    Am not sure if Jenny is ‘proud’ of her past track record but she did point out (when proof reading the blog last night) that this past Christmas, whilst enjoying a sunshine break in the Canaries, she managed to stub her toe while taking a ‘comfort break’ at 2am in the morning, she blames it on an unfamiliar layout in the flat we were renting and not the alchohol consumed earlier. It however meant that she has only just tried on her new Dubarry boots which were her Christmas prezzie as the little toe of course was broken!

    Folding pad eyes used for safety line clip points

  • 90. Top Tips Tuesday - Stainless Doesn't Rust! (Or Does It?) - Crevice corrosion


    We all take our stainless steel fittings for granted, after all stainless doesn’t rust or does it? Stainless steel, as you probably know, was ‘discovered’ like all great things in the world in Great Britain by Harry Brearly and yes I have been known to rant on about the Hovercraft, the Harrier Jump Jet etc etc.

    However let’s get back to stainless. Keel bolts, for example when buried in timber are in a non-oxygenated environment and thus the corrosion resistance can be adversely affected likewise the fastenings used to bolt a pintle(s) or gudgeon(s) to a wooden rudder.

    P1050803     P1040909


    Now to get a bit more technical:

    Crevice corrosion is a localised form of attack which is initiated by the extremely low availability of oxygen in a crevice. It is only likely to be a problem in stagnant solutions where a build-up of chlorides can occur. The severity of crevice corrosion is very dependent on the geometry of the crevice; the narrower (around 25 micro-metres) and deeper the crevice, the more severe the corrosion. Crevices typically occur between nuts and washers or around the thread of a screw or the shank of a bolt. Is this the reason the anchor swivel failed?


    Crevices can also occur in welds which fail to penetrate and under deposits on the steel surface.

    Now here’s an interesting one, self assembly rigging terminals from manufacturers such as Sta-Lok or Petersens. At Sta-Lok they used to write (nowadays its personal preference) that for ‘interior waterproofing, you should unscrew the two parts and insert a blob of silicon rubber about the size of a grape on the former inside the bottom of the end fitting before assembling, Petersens don’t believe in filling the fitting with silicon, they reccomend regular flushing with fresh water.

    Our recommendation is that at this time of year, go over all your stainless steel shacklesswivels, rigging screws etc with a fine tooth comb and check their integrity, if the mast is down likewise all mast fittings. If the mast is still up and assuming the wind abates before it gets too cold up you go in a bosuns chair and check out all the stainless fittings.

    If you want to bring your stainless back up to a ‘new look’ there are a number of excellent polishes on the market. Vistal works well and can be used with success on a number of other substrates. Shurhold Magic Wool is an excellent product for a wide variety of surfaces and of course there is the excellent Daveyshine high performance metal polish. If abroad where temperatures are in general warmer, Spotless Stainless is my favourite. Why? Because there is no work involved! Paint it on, (suggest you crack open a can at this stage) leave and as long as its not allowed to dry out  your stainless will look like new in no time!

    photo     photo[1]

  • 63. Top Tips Tuesday - Secure enough to prevent a M.O.B?

    Jackstay underside (hidden from UV)      Jackstay Topside (exposed to UV)

    Secure enough to prevent a M.O.B?

    Had a skipper in the chandlery on Saturday, brought in his old jackstays and asked us if we could make up a new set to exactly the same length, my reply "yes no problem I would agree the stitching looks well past its sell by date" his response, "Didn't notice the stitching, I just wanted to smarten up the deck!" Anyway instead of making a set up (turn around in our extremely busy sailloft doesn't match his equally busy sailing schedule) he purchased a set of Baltic Adjustable Jackstays and went away a happy skipper. Later that day, just out of curiosity, whilst I was in the sailoft I gave a sharp tug of the stitching, it failed with very little effort, even with my arthritic wrists! and as can be seen from the footage taken later whilst pulling the other end, just as weak!

    If you haven't already done so we do strongly recommend you spend half an hour checking the condition of your jackstays this weekend. Attachment points, be they U-bolts or folding padeyes (my preference) and securing shackles (check the monel seizing wire is still intact) and whilst you're at it even the industry standard hooks can occasionally fail to operate properly! As can be seen from the second image featuring a safety line, this particular one was recently condemned to the bin.

    Shackle Fail       Safety Line Spring Fail

    If the unthinkable does happens and you have to abandon your boat, for the month of May only we are offering free delivery (mainland UK only excluding Highlands) on all Seago liferafts.



  • 15. Top Tips Tuesday - Water In Your MOB Light & Other Quick Checks That Could Save Your life!

    You would be staggered by the number of boats that I work on that, after a cursory glance over, I can often pick up potential life threatening issues like MOB lights that are full of water and don’t work! Split rings that secure guard rail terminations to the pullpit/pushpit that are on their last legs, genoa reefing line lead blocks that are seized etc etc. When boarding your boat for a day’s boating its always worth carrying out a quick check of the deck, five mins max is all you need to set aside. MOB lights of the variety that are sold on a lot of  horseshoe and traditional lifebuoys are susceptible to water ingress round the rubber O ring seal. At the start of the season after changing bulbs or batteries it is worth using some Lanocote on the rubber and threads, it makes an excellent seal and, very importantly, also helps preserve the rubber. However my preferred MOB light is the Jotron SL-300. It’s fully sealed so no danger of water ingress, yes a little more expensive but a great bit of kit. Genoa furling line lead blocks can end up with flats on them as a result of the sheave binding, with the potential of the reefing line cutting into & jamming. The result, perhaps a sail that cannot be reefed as the squall hits. Lead blocks to consider if you want to upgrade include the excellent Clear Step by Schaefer which keeps the line free from the deck. Guard rails, I positively hate plastic coated guard rails, water can sit behind the coating, and as its stagnant (no oxygen) the stainless can rust, you lean against the rail and the wire gives way! Aside from that, I always use split pins as against split rings to secure the clevis pin, so many times I have seen rings that are opened up and hanging on by a wing and a prayer. Worried about them snagging? Use self amalgamating tape or those rather nice leather chafe protectors.



  • SEASONAL BASH GONE BAD. Better Check Your Mooring Lines and Fenders.

    Was down at our local marina just after the height of the storm the other day and apart from the remains of a furling genoa flapping sadly in the breeze, I did see a few Mooring Lines and Fenders that were definitely past their ‘use by date’.

    If you are not using your boat during the winter, my recommendation is to strip all the ‘canvas’ work off to reduce windage and wear and tear, however if you are sneaking in the occasional sail, consider investing in a container of  Wet & Forget. It is a great treatment that will prevent sails/canopies etc ‘turning green'. Incidentally, it can also be used on teak decks, fiberglass etc as well as on your patio at home!

    Fenders with exposure to UV will, over time, lose their elasticity. That combined with a low temperature can give rise to failure just when you need them most, so make sure the best of the bunch are taking the most load.

    Lines are, of course, subject to chafe. Consider using chain round the pontoon berth cleat, a spring shock absorber and then make sure that your warps are protected from chafe at the ‘boat end’ by using something like the Spiroll Chafe Protectors.

    Picture 23
  • Outwards & Upwards... Keep banging the drum!

    Boring? Yes yes I know I am. I keep going on about the need to keep an eye on what is happening in and on your boat as well as up your mast! Be it the shackle pin that needs tightening up, a clevis ring that has snagged and started to uncoil, mooring rope chafe (are they fit for purpose as we get into the cycle of windy autumn weather?) You need to keep a vigilant look out every time you visit the boat. If you don't take your mast down in the winter and we strongly recommend you do, you ought to climb your mast on a regular basis, start of season, mid and at the end, get up in the clouds and check what's happening! Have the lens on your nav lights suffered from UV damage, are new bulbs needed, signs of chafe on the cable entry or exit. The image below is of a three core cable used to provide power to an Aquasignal tri and anchor, customer advised that the tri was no longer working but the anchor was. No problems below deck, power was getting to the above deck Index Marine plug checked out with a multi meter, problem eventually found at the top of the mast, where the cable exits the mast. Further down the mast the deck and steaming light were causing problems, but that's another story.

    Tips and Advice: Outwards and Upwards - blog
  • UV Radiation Linked To Death Of Mouse

    Today, my business partner Andy B copped out of his early North Sea swim and bare foot run along Tynemouth beach (He had muttered something about the cold Northerly blowing) As he has just returned from a week's rest and relaxation I thought he needed a little exercise and sent him to climb a 50 foot mast. His mission? To remove a halyard that had jumped the sheave at the top of the mast, replace the damaged sheave and possibly the halyard. Apart from climbing in his Spinlock Harness coupled to a Solent Topclimber, so he could get right to the top of the mast his riggers equipment pouch included a Leatherman multi tool, monel seizing wire (to mouse the shackle) PVC electricians tape, McLube and of course the replacement Lewmar block. When he finally came down from the clouds he was of course clutching the damaged block. Luckily the halyard was okay. It was interesting to note that the shackle had been 'made secure' or 'moused' by a cable tie that had eventually failed through UV degradation. If you ARE going to use a cable tie as a means of securing a shackle make sure that you use the UV stable ones, better still use Ormiston's seizing wire to mouse the item.

  • 1. Whoopsie Wednesdays - Wind At Last

    Finally some wind! This Sunday saw the first good, solid blow we've had here in the North East for ages (months in fact). Strong winds over a weekend usually bring in torn sails, covers etc and true to form Monday the 2nd brought in a couple of ripped sails and a sprayhood with the clear panel blown out. Tuesday we had the 'fender and mooring line guys 'in they are the folks who haven't used their boats over the weekend for whatever reason but went down Monday evening to check them out! With the autumn looming and the possibility of stronger winds, now is the time to check the conditions of your mooring lines and fenders. Mooring lines pay particular attention where the rope passes over/round the fairlead and also wraps round the pontoon cleat. That said, do check the complete length. Fenders, the area to check out? Around the attachment point for the eye, see second image. Incidentally I am always surprised to find that guys have immaculate boats but scruffy fenders. With half an hour work their fenders could be brought up to the same standard, Universal Stone is great for this likewise Starbrite inflatable Boat and Fender Cleaner/protector gets 'young Robs' nod.

Items 1 to 10 of 17 total

  1. 1
  2. 2