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  • 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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  • 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!

  • 241. Top Tips Tuesday - Out With The Old, In With The New

    For a good few years we have been singing the praises of Grotamar, the diesel fuel additive that helps prevent the dreaded diesel bug. We first mentioned this product back in my blog of October 2010 and since then we have used it ourselves on our own craft and sold it to a variety of users like the local truck service centres, domestic central heating oil suppliers and a number of farmers as well as scores of powerboat and sailboat owners. We were, I must confess as they say in footballing terms, ‘gutted’ when the importers of this product advised us that it would no longer be available for retail sale in the UK.

    November in Amsterdam for a lot of the marine trade means METS, and to this huge Marine  European Trade Show (almost 16,000 exhibitors from all over the world) went our commander in chief Andy armed with a load of missions including ‘find a replacement for that excellent product Grotamar’ After three hard days of foot slogging and the occasional Amstel in the evening he once again landed on these shores, this time with his passport, wallet and loads of technical leaflets with him,  but that’s another story. Marine 16 Ltd was a company that caught his eye and it’s a British company to boot, which makes a pleasant change. They have, in their own words, been ‘bringing the most comprehensive range of fuel treatments on today’s markets.’ Yes I had heard of them and they had an excellent comparable product to Grotamar according to Practical Boat Owner but as the saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke don't fix it’ so we never stocked it. Well with our supplies of Grotamar now well and truly dried up, we are now stocking the complete range of Marine 16’s diesel fuel products. Incidentally the guys at Marine 16 are ‘proud to supply the RNLI’ what better recommendation do you need!

    If you are confident that your fuel is ‘bug’ free Diesel Fuel Complete is the additive to use. The important benefits from using this maintenance product are:-

     

    • Stops diesel bug
    • Cleans injectors and filters
    • Fuel complete bottle
    • Protects fuel pumps
    • Contains antifoam
    • Demulsifies water from fuel
    • Increases cetane rating
    • Gives easier starting
    • Improves fuel consumption
    • Reduces smoking

     

    If you think your diesel fuel supply may have an issue with the dreaded bug, we do sell at a very reasonable cost a Marine 16 Ltd Diesel Bug Testing Kit and can be used to check for microbial contamination of diesel fuels in boats, storage tanks, home heating fuels etc. It is easy to use and can of course put your mind at rest if you think your fuel is dodgy!

    Diesel Bug is the boating name given to the organisms that forms slime in diesel fuels. Diesel bugs are, in fact, microbial organisms and come in three main varieties where fuel spoilage is concerned. There is bacteria, yeasts & moulds in case you were ever asked at a sailing club quiz night! They feed on water, hydrocarbons and nutrients in the fuel and, if present, form a slime in the fuel and on the sides of the tank which, when disturbed, such as in rough seas, blocks fuel filters which often leads to engine failure. Regular users of Grotamar will be delighted to learn that Marine 16 has the same active ingredient and not surprisingly, produced very similar results and in a Practical Boat Owner test conducted some months ago Marine 16 performed as well and slightly better in filtration test results. In the PBO decontamination trial it gave a complete kill after just three hours and came top of the list  for filterability. Marine 16 not only prevented microbial growth but killed inoculated microbes to below detectable limits after 14 days.

    You may ask how does the dreaded diesel bug grows? Well its impossible to prevent microbes entering fuel tanks and systems however the presence of water is a key factor in determining the rate and extent  of microbial growth so to help prevent Diesel Bug we would suggest investing in the brilliant Mr Funnel. Not only will it prevent dirt and debris entering the tank but its built in filter is so clever that it does not allow any water present in the fuel to pass through! What Mr Funnel cannot do though is stop condensation, so don’t forget to keep your tanks topped up, especially in winter!

     

  • 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.

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  • 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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