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

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 217. Top Tips Tuesday - Small But Perfectly Formed

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    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!

  • 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'

  • 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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  • 186. Hip Hip Hurray

    Marseille to Corfu delivery trip

    All being well by the time you read this, I will be either 'kicking my heels' waiting to be discharged from hospital along with my new all singing and (eventually) dancing hip or, you never know, I might already be at home not yet bored but give it time. Reading matter already awaiting my attention includes Marine Diesel Basics, Splicing Modern Ropes and Happy Hooking, books I got quite enthusiastic about the other week! However I digress. Having always considered myself to be fairly active round the boat, I hate to admit that old age is definitely catching me up and I am now finding myself just a little bit less mobile with ‘sail makers knee’, never mind my dodgy hip so maybe I should make life a little easier for myself. There is an autopilot on the Mystery which, I must confess, came in very handy on our long motor/occasional sail from Marseille to Corfu however, this autumn, when venturing out singlehanded with the tiller pilot working happily away there were a couple of occasions when I was out of the cockpit stowing fenders, hoisting the main or whatever when I thought it would be nice to easily alter course without having to get back to the control unit some fifteen feet away and dare I say it Ionian charter boat skippers do sometimes have the habit of doing the unexpected!

    Raymarine S100  Remote Control

    Staff member Andy Laurence purchased a Raymarine S100  Remote Control for use on his recently restored Cutlass 27 after a little incident with some piles on the banks of the river Tyne! He was out single-handed and on deck removing fenders after leaving the lock at Royal Quays. Nellie Dean, his pride and joy, was on Autopilot at the time and without warning, not a command from the skipper, decided to go hard a starboard! Andy thinks if he'd had the remote slung round his neck at the time he could have avoided kissing the ironwork as the yacht had the base station already fitted (he assumes the past owner either forgot to give him remote control or kept it for his next boat). After using the remote all this season, he is a convert, so much so he talked me into buying the system for next season.

    Raymarine S100 Remote Control

    The compact Raymarine S100 Remote Control gives you basic onboard wireless control of any Raymarine SeaTalk autopilot, even if you are below deck and out of sight of your autopilot. It’s  easy operation and intuitive menu structure gives easy access to all its feature (sounds perfect for someone like me who isn’t that computer literate to say the least)  The Raymarine S100 wireless control is powered by two AAA batteries, displays two lines of text, displays signal strength and has an "out of range of base station" warning and of course it has a Keylock feature so that you can temporarily lock the autopilot keys to ensure that it is not accidentally operated!

  • 184. Top Tips Tuesday - Trickle Or Treat - Merlin Smartgauge Battery Monitor

    Merlin Smartgauge Battery Monitor - Easy Installation

    The MERLIN SMARTGAUGE BATTERY MONITOR (now with a two year warranty)  is certainly not trickling out, it’s more like a torrent! Andy went away on his half term hols early on Sunday the 29th with a good stock of them for this time of the year and on our website over the Sunday/early Monday sold four and promptly ran out of stock!  I then had to  break my vow which is, when the boss is on holiday try my utmost not to contact him unless there is a real emergency. However, sometimes needs must and he gets a text, which went, "need to order another ten Merlin SmartGauges!" Well as I start this blog, being Saturday the 4th and, dare I mention it, my day off, it looks like he will be ordering another batch of ten in the very near future.

    Smartgauge Battery Monitor

    SmartGauge represents a totally new approach to monitoring the state of charge of deep cycle batteries. The most common type of meter used for this purpose is an amp hours counter which basically adds up the current going into a battery and subtracts the current coming out to give a representation of the state of charge of your batteries.

    The SmartGauge works on a different principle. The final result is a battery state of charge meter that is much simpler to install, simpler to set up, simpler to understand and yet gives a meter that actually does a far better job of telling you the state of charge of your batteries. SmartGauge uses computer models of different types of lead acid, deep cycle batteries. This model is then used by an algorithm in SmartGauge to calculate the state of charge. The algorithm continually calculates results and some of these results are fed back into future calculations giving an ever changing, and self correcting, result.

    The result is that SmartGauge cannot run out of synchronisation with the batteries and successfully manages to track the battery capacity as they age and lose capacity, which is the biggest problem with the amp hour counters and the main reason they make such a poor job of tracking the state of charge of batteries over time.

    Merlin Smartgauge Battery Monitor - Easy Installation

    Installation is incredibly simple. To monitor a single battery bank only 2 light duty cables to the battery are required, or 3 light duty cable if the voltage of a 2nd battery is to be monitored as well. It benefits from automatic self-setup and adjustment, is suitable for both 12V and 24V systems and its shuntless design retains factory warranties. So what are you waiting for treat yourself and your boat now, don’t wait till Christmas!

  • 183. Top Tips Tuesday - The Weakest Link? The Art of Anchoring

    We do not recommend the use of swivels on an anchor rode

    A couple of weeks ago, whilst laying up our Mystery in the Corfu Boatyard, I saw that the guy next to me had lowered his ground tackle onto a piece of ply. Being a nosy so and so I wandered over and took note of his method of connecting his anchor to the chain! Stainless shackle from the anchor to a stainless swivel, stainless shackle to the chain.

    In Alex & Daria's excellent book 'Happy Hooking The Art of Anchoring' they do not recommend the use of swivels and I quote "We do not recommend the use of swivels on an anchor rode. Under normal circumstances you do not need it. Whether you have a chain or rope rode, it should untwist all by itself when you weigh anchor obviating the need for a swivel. Perhaps the only circumstance where you might consider adding a swivel would be if you were to anchor your boat for a very long period of time. Then, just as in a permanent mooring setup, you should incorporate a heavy duty swivel, as your boat is liable to swing around many times."

    They also write and once again I quote "Many people opt for a shiny stainless steel shackle. Just consider that stainless steel is, by its very nature, smooth and the pin is thus actually inclined to unscrew itself. We would suggest using a galvanized shackle instead. As the galvanized shackle's surface is rough it tends to bind and not open easily.

    Whatever you wind up using, make sure the shackle pin is secured or 'moused' with high grade monel wire. As opposed to stainless steel or copper, Monel® is inert and will not react with metal shackle."

    Millie the dog 'at anchor' in the beer garden

    As we all know stainless steel can rust and it's in hidden spots that are not easy to inspect. If, for whatever reason, you do need a swivel and you want stainless, go for the best i.e. Kong but inspect it on a regular basis for signs of rusting. As for me I have taken on board the advice from 'Happy Hooking' and fitted a galvanised fixed connector for my Vulcan (has the dig in/holding quality of the original Rocna, but with no roll bar and therefore clears my bow sprit). I used Loctite on the threads of the swivel for security and of course peace of mind!

    Mid November I go under the surgeon's knife and hopefully, with my new hip joint bedded or properly dug in, will be back in the sail loft before too long. To keep me out of mischief whilst laid up I have Happy Hooking to reread. I also intend to delve into Marine Diesel Basics that I skimmed through and blogged about last week, over 200 pages and excellent drawings on most subjects. Incidentally, when down in the local boatyard today, I did notice and photographed the danger of leaving a rodent or bird entry, as per the illustration in last week's blog!

    when down in the local boatyard today, I did notice and photographed the danger of leaving a rodent or bird entry

    If that isn't enough 'Splicing Modern Ropes' is on my reading list as well. All I need now are some short lengths of offcuts, be it Dyneema or similar high tech rope, borrow Andy's fids and D scissors and before you know it (I hope) I will be making up some soft shackles and loops. Once again, like the Diesel basics book, loads of very informative and easy to follow pictures/text.

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  • 176. Top Tips Tuesday - When Waiting For Weather

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    Yesterday, sheltering below deck on board Hindsight in Mandraki harbour, which is just under Corfu town fort, and listening to the rain beating down with a 'little' lightning and obviously thunder got me thinking, has the weather broken yet in the UK, has Autumn arrived? Youngest daughter then WhatsApp'ed Jenny and I, saying there was no sign of her baby coming yet and then started complaining about the poor weather back in the UK. Next minute boss man Andy texted, weather is c..p here; no doubt you are enjoying fabulous sunshine and how about letting me have next week's blog on time for once so I can correct all your spelling, grammar and punctuation as I am short staffed on Monday/Tues! Having spent Sunday morning slowly working through the list of to do items (only thirty three still to do) and failing miserably it got me thinking about what has been our four most popular autumn Tuesday Top Tips over the last few years?

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    Number one without a doubt has been Wet & Forget, this superb product was first featured on my blog 'Flying off the Shelves' in December 2013. Spray your decks, canvas work or anything that turns green through lack of sunshine in the autumn or winter with a diluted solution of Wet & Forget and it won't! PS. It doesn't need any hard work; you wet the surface you want to protect and that's it.

    be2c1652-55fc-46ec-b1ec-1f2082dc05b5Second on my list is Freezeban. See My Top Tips Tuesday blog 'Lay Up For Winter' in which I advised that this non toxic antifreeze is an excellent safe product for protecting water pressure systems and calorifiers. Regular repeat orders would certainly confirm this, however beware last year our supplier 'ran dry' so don't leave it too late.

    As for my third TTT that was my blog on 'Winterising Your Marine Engine'. Don't forget that even though it's considered standard practice to fill your fuel tanks up to the brim help prevent condensation and of course the possibility of contracting the dreaded diesel bug, (especially  now they add a small measure of Biofuel to the diesel) Marine 16 is the perfect product to help keep your fuel healthy 365 days of the year and your filters clear.

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    Tested out on my backside when we sailed Hindsight down from Marseille to Corfu, was an excellent product called Tear Aid which we import from Holland. The week before the delivery  trip I managed to tear the backside on my 'past their sell by date' mid-layer salopettes. Our supplier had none in stock surprise surprise when I ordered them so it was make do and mend. Over a thousand miles later my backside was still dry, the patches showing no sign of letting go so I have cancelled the order and will carry on with old faithful. Tear Aid which I blogged about in blog 'Wonder product' in August 2016, does what it says it will do. It repairs all sorts of hard to stick to materials, it's brilliant on acrylic canvas, so if you are leaving your canvas work on this winter to protect your bright work and it's looking a little thin on say a stress point, Tear Aid is more than up to it! Abrasion or a tear on foullies, it's brilliant. Cracked window on a spray hood or canopy a repair using Tear Aid will outlast the item!

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