• Confined To Barracks - Week 6, Part 1 - Reach For The Stars


    Many are the weekends in the close season when I get 'writers block' faced with another blog. During the season it's not usually a problem as there are lots of ideas and subject matter to be found in marinas, boatyards or out on the water; nor the months of October and November as new products are showcased at METS, the huge Marine Trades Assoc exhibition in Amsterdam. As I blog today my thanks must go out to Doug Sharp of the RNYC, Blyth, Northumberland who, with time on his hands, (usually by now he is in his favourite cruising ground of the West Coast of Scotland) has been posting some great images on the club Facebook page over the last few days. Long may he continue doing this even though lockdown may be relaxed, who knows more subject matter? If we are allowed to access our boats in late May what will our priorities be? Slap a quick coat of antifouling on, launch, forget about the polish of topsides and enjoy the rest of the summer? Having said that a lot of the preseason work can be done when she's afloat and that includes mast inspection, assuming the mast hadn't been lowered during the close season and was checked over earlier.


    Once back in the water, if you are climbing a mast never forget to go up on two halyards after inspecting them, use a strong mousing line and withdraw the halyard completely checking for sign of chafe or other weaknesses. If satisfied, replace, but don't under any circumstances go up aloft on perhaps a spinny halyard that runs through an external block! The shackle pin may be loose, cracked or the attachment point almost worn through. Always attach the halyards to the chair with a bowline, snap shackles can catch on the way up, after you have reached the dizzy heights make sure the guys on the deck tie off the halyard tail as against relying on friction from the winch drum and the self tailing stripper arm to keep you aloft. Once up there can you reach up to adjust the vanes of say the Windex or maybe change a bulb? If the mast doesn't have mast steps at the top, we always go up with a set of stirrups or Top climber already attached to our bosuns chair, it allows you to 'stand up' and gain that vital 75 odd centimetres.

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    When climbing I always make sure I have my mobile with me, tis handy if there is an issue up aloft and I want to discuss it with, say, the owner, so I take a few pics! For our avid readers images can be e-mailed to us for further advice, we welcome them and in the unlikely event we cannot answer them by return, with over 45 years in the marine trade I do have a fair number of expert contacts. Apart from my mobile, my multi-tool will be in my ditty bag, a can of Boeshield, scrap of fine wet and dry, a reel of monel siezing wire, some good quality electricians tape, a roll of self amalgamating tape and some split pins. Mclube dry film lubricant is also handy to keep on the boat and take aloft.


    As for what kind of bosuns chair to go aloft in, both Andy and I favour the Spinlock, however the other Rob who often spends a couple of hours aloft prefers the Solent with the addition of a hard seat! Coupled, of course, with a top climber. Those nice guys at Spinlock have produced a guide to going aloft; excellent it is, but you must climb on two halyards!



  • 177. Top Tips Tuesday - Much More Than A Yacht Chandler

    As chandlers, sail-makers, marine engineers and of course online retailers of all marine related products, even after a lifetime in the marine trade it never ceases to amaze me how various marine products we retail and our sailmaking sewing skills end up on all sorts of projects not necessarily marine related, for instance over 500 Whale foot pumps for use in military vehicles.


    Zingaspray, a nice order for over 200 cans destined for the RAF. Our Liros ropes have helped keep a well known Sunderland based motor manufacturer rolling along and only the other week we supplied almost a thousand mtrs of 8mm solid Dyneema for the local windfarm.


    In our sail loft, apart for the sails, covers and canopies we have manufactured roof blinds for cricket club indoor practice ‘ranges’, spinnaker nylon drogues for a company that inspects water pipes, mesh reflective covers that keep baby lobsters cool in the summer and every year we laser cut, print and sew over a thousand airbag components for a well known British sports-car manufacturer. Many, many years ago we manufactured a positive pressure cover for when the engineers were topping out the nuclear reactor at Hartlepool power station. They say variety is the spice of life so let’s not forget the sling shot pouches destined for Saudi Arabia.


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    Apart from all the yachts we re-rig (we would love to be given the opportunity to quote for your replacement rigging) our stainless wires hang sculptures in schools and colleges, all sorts of boats in various roofs and even planes, bikes and cars, and of course are used in all sorts of other applications like, brick blast retainers when the boffins are photographing at very high speed the way an explosive charge dissipates! Our stainless wires (balustrading) are used on various projects including over 3000 Mtrs of 8mm stainless wire and 400 Tensioners on the walkway of the Historic Royal Borders Bridge.

    One product that we get asked a lot for and we sell to both the retail and commercial market is Rydlyme. Only yesterday we supplied 100 litres to engineers working on a BT site in the Midlands. They were servicing some stand-by generators and wanted to make sure the cooling channels on the diesel engines were free from calcium, lime, rust and other mineral deposits. So, skippers, if your engine has been running a little warmer than normal and you are satisfied that the impeller is in tip top condition why not, this coming autumn, treat your engine, be it inboard or outboard, to a dose of the Rydlyme medicine? Even If your engine is just a few years old and running sweet as a nut and cool as a cucumber it would be worth adding a dose of Rydlyme to your engine servicing jobs list. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Please note that Rydlyme Marine is non–corrosive, but the application of this product may expose pre-existing under deposit corrosion (pitting, holes or similar damage) that can result in leaks in pipes, equipment or systems.


    Speaking of deposits, and in this case rather smelly ones, perhaps now is the time to consider adding or treating your heads and the associated pipe work to a dose of LeeSan Leescale. Having spent many a happy hour ‘hammering’ the toilet outlet pipe (after removing it) to break up the lime scale, prevention is definitely better than cure!

  • 91. Top Tips Tuesday - Protect Your Threads - Galling


    Last Tuesday in my TOP TIPS TUESDAY blog the headline I used was ‘Stainless Doesn’t Rust (or does it)' I then went on to talk in the article about crevice corrosion, and I also stated that crevices can form under welds, WRONG* (but more about that later!)

    Galling is the term used when two surfaces in contact seize up as a result of cold welding. The problem (also known as adhesive wear) is most common in materials such as stainless steel and we in the marine trade come across it occasionally where you have stainless rigging screw body** and a stainless stud or fork. To help prevent galling make sure that the two surfaces are clean and free from any contamination, do NOT use a mild steel brush to help you clean the threads; consider the Shurhold Detailing Brush which has stainless steel bristles and a squirt of WD40. My recommendation after cleaning is to use a lubricant such as Lanocote or Selden Rigging screw oil to lubricate the threads.

    ** most good turnbuckles these days either have a chrome plated phosphor bronze body, or if the body is stainless there is a bronze threaded insert both ends which prevents galling however, threads should still be clean before adjusting.

    Incidentally when mooching round our local boatyard a couple of years ago I came across these very simple homemade covers (made from old bits of hose pipe) for protecting the threads and help keep them clean.

    Some skippers of course leave their mast up when lifting out, me, I prefer my mast to be down and then you get the chance to check everything out, rigging, nav lights, mast head equipment etc and of course all the fastenings used to hold the fittings in place.
    As a consequence of last weeks article I did get a response from an ‘avid reader’, a retired metallurgist, who wrote and I quote "Your summary of the significant subject of crevice corrosion is fine - that is it is caused by a lack of oxygen in the crevice leading to a breakdown of the oxide film (chromium oxide) that gives stainless steel its corrosion resistant properties (see below image showing the results of crevice corrosion).
    * However you also mention corrosion associated with welds. This is commonly known as weld decay and is brought about by the heat of the welding process causing the chromium present in stainless steel to combine with any carbon present to form chromium carbide - thus depleting the steel in the vicinity of the weld of its essential chromium. (Lose the chromium and you say goodbye to any corrosion resistance). This problem can be overcome, at a cost, by adding titanium to the alloy. Titanium has a greater affinity for carbon than does chromium, hence mopping up the carbon to form titanium carbide and thereby leaving the chromium behind to do its corrosion resisting job". Thank’s to Peter Baylis for putting me right!

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