Soft Shackles

  • 187. Perfect Timing

    The impossible small gap between the car and the boiler

    So they released me from hospital last Wednesday morning along with a pair of crutches, goody bag of pain killers, physiotherapy notes and a DIY 'self injection kit' for injecting your stomach once a day. I soon found out, it's a slightly different technique from using a set of West or SP Syringes to inject epoxy into a wood or GRP void! Since being discharged I have read more in the last few days than in the last fifty years, likewise have watched more rugby. Saturday all on BBC, apart from the England matches (Jenny obviously thought I wasn't worth a short subscription to watch those on Sky), life wasn't too bad. However, by mid Sunday morning, boy did I end up depressed. I had managed to get a few hours of sleep but after shuffling along to the loo at 4am (10 min round trip) then back, hoisting myself back into bed, shuffle into position, stick pillow between legs and then attempt to pull bedding over, could I get back to sleep? So it's was switch on radio 5 and listen to the cricket. England out for 195 and our bowlers making no impression on the Aussies, Jenny then came through with a cup of tea at 6:30 before leaving to walk the dog and said "house seems a little colder than normal, looks like the heating hasn't come on." Off she trotted, with yours truly hoping that it was a just the weekend timing and nothing else. (Incidentally the boiler is due it's annual service this coming week.) However, it was not to be. On inspection by Jen it was the closed circuit circulating water pressure. Simple to solve, just twiddle the two knobs under the boiler, watch the needle(s) rise and then when both in the green sector twiddle opposite way again. However with Jenny still suffering from the effects of a broken wrist earlier this year she didn't have the strength. It's normally five or less minutes to do and usually happens if we haven't been using the system for some weeks. The boiler is mounted in a, by modern standards, narrow garage and for me to get to it whilst on crutches the car would have to moved and guess what, because I am not going to be able to shoehorn myself into the Caterham for the next few months, apart from it now being on SORN I have disconnected the battery and brought that inside. I didn't have the guts to ring boss man Andy B up at 6:45 on a Sunday morning even though he had said on more than one occasion, "Need any help just give me a shout and your wish will be my command!".

    It just so happened I had in the workshop a old main sheet tackle with Ronstan ball bearing blocks

    Dressing gown on, down into the garage and yes there is no way I could get to the boiler. Tow the car out backward with Jenny's proper car? No way to get me or expect Jen to grovel on the ground with 125mm ground clearance and secure a tow rope round the back axle. Lever under the front wheel? A good idea but the only item long enough to use was the Forespar Telescopic Whisker Pole for the Mystery which is stored in our attic ready for next season. How did we move the 'boy toy' to gain access to the boiler? It just so happened I had in the workshop a old main sheet tackle with Ronstan ball bearing blocks. One end was attached to the roll bar through a soft shackle to avoid damaging the powder coating the other end through the towing eye on the proper car.

    Soft Shackle

    Job done boiler fired up, Jen goes off to walk the dog. I grab the Ipad to do a final check on this week's TTT and then send it through to work, I find the images but no text. Was convinced I had written it just after being discharged from hospital last Wednesday or was it the drugs that made me think I had, yes perfect timing!  At least today's 'adventure' gives me something to write about. My son-in-law Ian is driving up from Leeds with Clare and the new baby later today so as the car only weighs 540kg he can, I am sure, push it back in without too much difficulty!

  • 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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