Top Tips Tuesdays

  • Confined To Barracks - Week 2, Part 2

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    Mrs Storrar, she who casts her eye over my grammar, spelling and punctuation, before each 'boatie' blog is signed off on a Monday night, dropped a hint today. Seeing I was on a natural wood theme, perhaps it was time the two wooden fireplace surrounds in our house, which were looking a little shabby, got some attention. Perhaps I would like to sand them with wet and dry followed by the Epifanes varnish; and by the way the oars of our inflatable dinghy could do with some TLC as well!

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    Well I had some Epifanes in the workshop, their traditional clear varnish with extra UV filterso that's the dinghy oars sorted, (just needs a rub down in the bare patches} build up with some thinned coats and then a final coat. As for the fireplaces, we need a matt finish so its Epifanes Rubbed Effect varnish to the rescue, which is a very quick drying scratch resistant interior varnish. It provides a beautiful satin sheen, outstanding flowing ability and excellent resistance against alcohol and household chemicals! I had finished all the stripped hall and landing doors, internal surfaces (outer were French polished as per my blog earlier this week) with this product and years later they still are looking good!

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    Our conservatory was 'attacked' by a nationwide blind company a few years ago, allegedly the best in the business we were led to believe, and as we had purchased and they had fitted two vertical ones in our bathrooms with no complaints, we invited them to quote for retractable blinds to help control the temperature in its south-facing location. Quote came through, wasn't the cheapest by a long chalk, but we always thought that there is 'no such thing as a free lunch'. So we ordered then six weeks or so later I came home very late from work to find an extremely angry better half. Dinner is in the dog methinks. It was not just a disaster in the conservatory! The guy who fitted our blinds told Jen, as he was leaving that night, he was a bricklayer in his earlier life and found our project a 'challenge' and that he would be back tomorrow to finish the job off! A year later after numerous phone calls, and then ten more e-mails to the finance director, we finally got our money back!

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    My plan of attack once I have done every thing else on my list, clean out the screw holes, fill same with a mixture of epoxy and micro balloons, rub down and follow up by tinting this filler, if required, with up to a maximum of three coats using Epifanes Mahogany stain.  If, we still have a colour difference it is possible to mix Epifanes Mahogany stain (10% maximum) with their one and two part varnishes to camouflage colour differences in existing systems, obviously we would have to coat all the beams! As a footnote, our 'blind bricklayer' did turn up next day but was not allowed across the threshold!

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    Whilst our bricks and mortar chandlery is closed for the foreseeable future, you can order online and we will do our best to ship as soon as possible. If you have a technical query re varnishing or any other subject e-mail us at tech@storrarmarine.co.uk and we will get back to you but please bear in mind we are working a skeleton staff. Finally the guys at Marineware, importers of the Epifanes paint and varnish range, have put together their tips to help you on your way. Follow their tips and you won't go wrong!

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    From Simon - ‘All varnishes have their own thinners, use them as they will enhance flow and control the drying process. As the pros say... Juice it up!’

     From Richard - 'Always remember to thin early coats of varnish to penetrate into the timber. Refer to Technical Data Sheets for recommended ratios.'

    From Chris - 'Pick a good day for varnishing, direct sunlight can cause the varnish to dry too fast or unevenly and then crack or wrinkle, wind can blow dust and dirt on to your drying varnish and make it dry out too fast. A warm varnish will flow better than a cold.'

    From Dave - 'Should you see bubbles in the varnished surface while brushing or rolling and tipping, make a final pass with the brush very slowly over the area, using very light pressure. This method will remove the bubbles.'

    From Glen - 'Make sure the varnish isn’t cold so it can flow properly when being applied. When brushing use long, even strokes with the grain.'

  • Bored And Confined To Barracks? Week 2, Part 1

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    It's not that Jenny and I are never satisfied, but we have lived in five different houses since we tied the knot over 45 years ago. The first was a rented seafront flat, the other four have been bought as 'projects', in other words needed stripping out then restoring from the attic to the ground floor! Whilst we have 'succumbed' to UPVC windows in our present house (twas bought with them already fitted) all the others have had wooden frames primed, under coated and top coated with Epifanes yacht enamel. Despite living near to the North East coast, our woodwork has always outperformed our neighbours', coated no doubt with household paint! The image above is of our front door which was, some thirteen years ago, stripped to bare wood, coated with Epifanes wood primer followed by their undercoat and finished with two applications of Epifanes yacht enamel and hasn't been coated since. It's North facing, and if it's a strong Northerly wind (like today) we get salt deposits and sand clinging on the door. Yesterday, bored with going through cupboards and sorting out redundant clothing and accumulated sailing related junk, I decided that the door was looking a little scruffy, time for a repaint methinks. However, a quick wash down with fresh water and a little elbow grease whilst using Vistal Hard Surface Natural Cleaner brought it back to a respectable look! The other bonus (apart from not having to repaint) of course is that I can then 'borrow' the Vistal for use on the boat!

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    As for the interior of the house, we do like the look of wood, and Epifanes gloss varnishfollowed by their rubbed effect varnish* has been used on various floors and other areas throughout the house. 13 years on, the floorboards in the back lounge are still looking good but lift the rug and one can see the effects of the sun on a south facing room. If this lockdown carries on, to be added to my to do list might be....... strip the varnish off, sand the faded area to restore the original colour and then get the varnish out! Fortunately the kitchen ceiling alcove doesn't get the sun so that's a blessing!

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    The hall, when we arrived all those years ago, was 'decorated' if that's the correct word in a dirty cream paint. We lived with it for some three years whilst we worked on other areas of the house but then one evening, having used some paint stripper on an a piece of furniture, I decided that I would try some on one of the panels in the hall. Cream came off easily, green followed that and then what looked like a treacly substance and behind that oak panels! 45 gallons of Nitromors, 160 man hours of Jen and my labour, lost count of how many Scarsten scraper blades this was followed by 10 weeks work by two French polishers, three of their weeks work was removing the tiny specs of paint from the corners of each panel. After a year the hall staircase, upper landing and seven outward facing doors were restored to their original glory. No we didn't use Epifanes on this project as it would not have looked right had to be French polished. Yes Jenny does think I have OCD!

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    As for our plastic fantastic, the Mystery 35, whilst it does have a glass fibre hull and the deck/cabin moulding is constructed using the same material, we have tried to create a traditional looking interior by the use of wood wherever possible, including vacuum bagging of mahogany veneered ply onto the grp upper surfaces in the cabin sides then varnishing with Epifanes gloss followed by a final coat of rubbed effect varnish! Bulkheads were painted cream to keep up with the traditional look.  As the wood used in the construction was stable and not prone to any movement  we went for Epifanes two pack paint and varnish, unbelievably hard wearing! Incidentally when ever space permitted we rolled as against brushed using a concave roller (gets into corners and doesn't leave a line when joining up)

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    If you have brought your floorboards, tiller, washboards etc home and still haven't got round to working on them or you are still able to work on your boat, read what the experts at Marineware have to say about obtaining a superb finish by clicking on here. Remember we might be closed as a bricks and mortar chandlery but you can order online for carrier delivery.

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    *Epifanes Rubbed effect varnish is not UV stable so we always recommend that your first few coats are clear gloss before your application of rubbed effect.

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  • Bored And Confined To Barracks?

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    Our bricks and mortar chandlery is regrettably closed for business till we hear otherwise, however we still can send out mail orders but regret for ‘locals’ you are unable to click and collect! If your marina or boatyard is not allowing you access to your boat due to the current restrictions, why not take the opportunity to brush up on either the racing rules or the collision regulations? Once I have worked partly through Jen’s ‘to do’ list that's what I intend to do! We have a great selection of books on the subjects and boss man Andy advises me he will work 24/7 to ship them out! We also have some excellent ‘plastic fantastic’ Weems & Plath recognition tool and study aids (their words not mine) for the identification of vessels by Lights & Shapes and another on the Rules of the Road.

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    If you are already red hot on the rules, to ease the ‘confined to barracks’ mood, worth buying if you haven’t already got one is the Speedy Stitcher. One of those items that can find a use at home and on the boat so if your good lady needs her horse blanket repaired, the dog or cats fabric basket needs a stitch, maybe your motor bike cover seam too or the sails in the garage or loft need a little TLC this may be the tool for you? Buy one, advise the material you are trying to repair/colour and I will slip a small piece in, assuming we have it in stock!

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    To get your brownie points up why not invest in a container of Wet & Forget? Its brilliant stuff and you don’t need to put any effort into getting an excellent result. It will treat and remove mould lichen & algae from block paving on the front or side drive, excellent on decking or that green wooden fence, spray it on an area of the brickwork that doesn’t get the sun in winter and is in need of a clean up, just spray either the diluted solution on, you need to use a garden spray or purchase the new premixed Wet & Forget Rapid, just connect to a hose and go! A container of the Rapid will treat up to 200 sq mtrs depending on the porosity and you can reach an area that is otherwise accessible. Both the original Wet & Forget and Wet & Forget Rapid can safely be used on any canvas work you may have brought home. Its excellent and perfectly safe to spray on furling headsails to prevent the green mould appearing during a damp summer or autumn. If your canvas work or sails already have a ‘touch of green,’ please note that the results are not immediate and any green staining will not disappear until the item is subject to rain and wind but there is not a ‘time limit’ as to when the item is sprayed then exposed! It can of course be used safely on GRP decks/cabins etc, teak or varnish work and of course you can raid the house keeping money to pay for it!

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    If you have brought some varnish work home, look out for our next blog, it did occur to me last night whilst I was ’slapping’ a coat on these two kickboards that some of us might need a refresher (bit like my knowledge of the rules of the road!)

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  • 304. All You Need To Ask About Topsides And Brightwork

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    Too often one sees a relatively new powerboat or yacht that is no doubt immaculate 'down below' but it's topsides, cabin and deck are sadly lacking some TLC. Tis especially true of boats built from GRP with a gelcoat finish with a colour such as dark blue, green or red. If you have the time and inclination to keep up to date with your washing and polishing, not only will it look like a well kept craft but, if and when you come to sell her, you will more than get back any money spent on keeping it ship shape and Bristol fashion but if a potential buyer is looking at two 'identical' potential buys the smart one methinks would get the nod! If, like me, your boat resides in sunny climes, it's even more important to keep on top of the exterior maintenance as the effects of UV can soon dull a gelcoat especial those of a bright colour.

    Wash: Its a well known fact that all GRP gelcoat surfaces will benefit from at least one application per year (or preferably 2 if you are out in say the Med) of a good quality wax which not only seals the surface from ingress of dirt but also protects against UV degradation. However before you get onto the 'hard work' to get the best result and protect your investment, we recommend that you first wash the surface down to remove any surface contaminants. If, after carrying out that task, you then discover you have some minor gelcoat damage that requires attention, now is the time to tackle this.

    Gelcoat Repairs:

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    For those annoying unsightly hairline cracks (often found round stanchion bases) MagicEzy Hairline fix is the business! It's great for stress cracks, crazing and scratches. For best results scrape out any dirt / wax / grime with a sharp needle / pin. Flush the surface to be repaired with Acetone, in our experience, simply washing the area is not as effective. Use MagicEzy 9 Second Chip Fix for ‘sorting’ nicks, chips and gouges. This excellent product is available in 11 colours (inc five shades of white). For larger dings that you may want to tackle, we suggest you clean the immediate area with 1200 wet/dry paper, this will remove any oxidised gelcoat still remaining, without doing this your repair will end up having a miscoloured ring round it. Getting the correct coloured gelcoat can be a pain, however we always recommend in the first instance you contact the original boatbuilder or importer of the boat whilst armed with the hull build number to see if they can supply. Once you have ascertained the correct match and prepared the surface to accept ‘catalysed’ gelcoat, apply with a soft brush leaving the material slightly proud. Carefully apply a piece of clear Sellotape or cling film over the gelcoat, this will prevent the gelcoat drying tacky. When set remove the tape and carefully sand to shape using a sanding block with 400 then 600 and finally 1200 wet/dry paper and plenty of water, do this carefully so as not to damage or rub through the surrounding gelcoat. The repair can then be polished to a mirror finish using Farecla or a similar compound.

    Polishing:

    After the wash down using something like Internationals Super Cleaner and with no dings, crazing or whatever to attend to we recommend that you use a mild cleaner such as Meguiar's Colour Restorer-Mild Cleaner which will safely remove light oxidation and most stains from the gelcoat either by hand or machine. By using a machine to do the hard work the task will be completed quicker than buffing by hand using a 100% cotton polishing cloth. If using a machine we recommend a variable speed machine like the Shurhold Dual Action polisher with either a microfibre or foam polishing bonnet, keep the speed slow and don’t stay in one area as it is all too easy to overheat and damage gelcoat. Don’t be tempted to use an electric drill with a polishing bonnet, they are usually too high a speed and can result in burn damage to the gelcoat. An oxidation remover such as  Meguiar's Oxidation Remover will bring life back into most faded topsides, however, if the topsides are very chalky and dull (dark green & blue gelcoat are particularly susceptible) you can start with a coarse paper 200-300 working up to 800 or 1000 grade, or after using the more aggressive grades spread compound evenly onto the hull in areas of about a square metre so it doesn’t dry. Work with the polisher in lines. While working, don’t place your polishing mop on the ground or on the plank you are working on; one speck of grit on its surface can have disastrous results on your topsides! When applying cleaner or oxidation remover always work on a cool surface in the shade.

    Brighten and Restore Your Topsides

    Don’t try to polish or wet/dry rust or black berry bird droppings marks from your decks or hull, the stains can be deep into the gelcoat. Instead try using a stain remover based around oxalic acid such as Y10 or Davis FSR either should bleach out the stain. After thoroughly cleaning with either the mild cleaner or the oxidation remover the surface must then be sealed using a good quality uv resistant wax, for best results apply at least 2 coats with a day between each coat to allow the wax to harden, applying the second coat too soon will only remove the first! For GRP cabin sides and other smooth gelcoat surfaces the technique is the same, however for cleaning and removing oxidation on moulded in nonslip I always use Vistal Hard Surface Cleaner. Vistal can also be used to help bring a sparkle back to dull painted or varnished surfaces; its also great for brightening your stainless pull/pushpit, alloy stanchions and other metal surfaces.

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    Above:  An application of Y10 on rust stain followed by Vistal on non-slip surface.

    Teak Decks:

    Teak decks can suffer badly in our damp climate growing algae and moss during the winter months and I have no doubt that boats in other locations suffer similarly. Whatever you do don’t be tempted to clean them with a pressure washer, they will certainly be clean but the pressure of the water jet will tear out the soft grain leaving them like a ploughed field. It is best to clean them with one of the proprietary teak cleaners my choice being Teak Wonder cleaner, however we all tend to have our favourites, anyway following their instructions, use Starbrite Magic Scrub and, for the awkward corners, their stainless bristled Detailing Brush or a Shurhold Scrubbing Pad and ONLY scrub across the grain. After cleaning, the decks should be given a wash with Teak Wonder brightener, this will restore their colour. When dry, spray with ‘Wet and Forget’ which will stop any moss or algae growth.

    Last But Not Least:

    Should you have halyards, webbing lifelines and other items that are resting on the deck and have ‘turned’ green over the winter months don’t despair. Don’t get the pressure washer out (destroys stitching/fabrics etc) but spray Wet and Forget on these items and leave, the diluted solution will do all the hard work and prevent re-growth. If any covers, dodgers or spray hoods are also looking ‘green’ they will also benefit from a spray.

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  • 303. All You Need To Ask About Antifouling But Were Reluctant To Ask

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    Cleaning:

    Make sure your hull is clean and ALL traces of grease and marine growth have been removed, if necessary wash the hull with a detergent or a degreaser so as to remove any contaminants. If you have any stubborn remnants of barnacles – or the white calcium deposit left after pressure washing they can be easily removed using Boat Bottom Cleanerhowever make sure you wear gloves and eye protection when using this product as it is quite aggressive.

    Preparation:

    Lightly abrade the old antifouling with 120 grit paper preferably used wet, make sure you wear a mask, gloves and eye protection; antifouling not only kills marine growth, any dust produced can create severe respiratory problems and irritation to humans. After rubbing down make sure all the slurry is washed off with fresh water. No doubt the poor weather over the last few weeks has delayed your antifouling however don’t be tempted to apply primer, antifouling etc when the substrate is not free of moisture!

    If you are changing to a different make/type of antifouling make sure it is compatible with the one you are covering, if not, or if you’re unsure of the existing antifouling, apply an appropriate barrier coat such as Seajet Underwater Primer or one recommended by your chosen antifouling manufacturer. All loose antifouling must be removed, if it is just small patches you should be able to feather the edges of the patches using your 120 grit so the area will not show through the new coating, patch coat these areas with the barrier coat followed by antifouling before giving the full hull a coating. If you have a build up of a number of seasons applications of antifouling you should perhaps consider removing these. Not a pleasant job but worthwhile as it will save you future problems! This can be done by just using a scraper, although it is often easier to use one of the gelcoat friendly antifouling removers or Peelaway – don’t be tempted to use standard paint removers as this may adversely affect your hulls gelcoat. Be careful not to damage any underlying epoxy coatings, when you have removed the old antifouling if your hull hasn’t had a protective coating of epoxy it may well be worthwhile coating with Seajet 117 Multipurpose Epoxy Primer to give protection against osmosis, however you must abide by the manufacturer’s instructions regarding temperature, mixing, application and over-coating materials.

    Keels: 

    Iron keels should be rust free, in an ideal world shot blasting and coating with several coats of Interprotect or the likes will give long lasting protection, if you have a Westerly with rusted keels (bilge or fin) it would be advisable to Tercoo blast or shot blast clean then leave as long as possible before sweep blasting again removing the surface rust before priming – Westerly keels are notorious for being porous and retaining water, shot blasting and immediately painting usually results in failure of the paint system owing to moisture retention in the steel under the old coating.

    If you are unable to shot blast, grinding clean and coating with 4-5 coats International Primocon (first coat thinned) or similar will give good protection, observe the recommended over coating times for various antifouling types.

    Alloy Hulls, Outdrives etc:

    If you have just purchased an alloy boat please note you must NOT use an antifouling containing copper, likewise alloy outdrives and outboard legs. Use something like International’s Trilux or the like and remember if antifouling a GRP hull fitted with outdrive(s) or outboards and it’s a copper based product that you are going to apply, it is recommended that you leave at least a 25mm gap around the unit.

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    Filling:

    If you have to fill any underwater surfaces as a result of hitting an underwater object or over enthusiastic use of a scraper, do not under any circumstances use a polyester filler, use only an epoxy based one such as Epifanes Epoxy Filler 1500.

    Masking Up: 

    When masking water lines make sure you use the ‘Blue’ 14 day tape product which not only gives a good crisp line but can also be easily removed on completion of the paint job. If you use standard paper masking tape ensure you remove it immediately you have finished painting; However if you have had the misfortune to leave this style of tape in place and find it impossible to remove, 3M Citrus Cleaner is an excellent product to assist, WD40 is also worth a try.

    Protection:

    Wear disposable gloves and eye protection when applying antifouling as splashes on hands and face irritate the skin and using thinners to remove them can make it worse by driving the material into the pores making it difficult if not impossible to remove.

    Application: 

    Apply the correct number of coats of antifouling as recommended by the manufacturer – usually a minimum of two, on high pressure areas on your hull (leading edge of keel, rudder etc) they can benefit with the addition of a patch coat before painting the whole hull. Do not be tempted to thin the antifouling, you are diluting the active ingredient! Use a roller as it will give a better coverage and finish than using a brush, if using a plastic paint tray place it / cover it in a plastic carrier bag before use, not only will you be able to use it again, many solvents in antifouling melt plastic paint trays leaving you with a sticky mess to roll onto your hull!

    Do not paint over your transducer with conventional antifouling, use a water based antifouling as this will not damage the transducer surface nor weaken the signal!

    Specific Boot topping paints such as International ‘Trilux’ or Hempel Waterline Boot Top perform better than standard antifouling as they tend to be of the ‘hard’ type, are stronger and will stand up to the occasional scrub during the season.

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    Propellers should be cleaned and polished with fine emery cloth or wet and dry. If you are in a heavy fouling area coat with Sea Jet Peller Clean or International ‘Prop-o-Drev’ this will help keep the prop clean whilst a coating of Propshield will be of benefit in lesser fouling areas. Dispose of masking tape, rollers and safety wear responsibly when you’ve finished.

    Anodes, remove if possible before antifouling, if there is still 2/3rds left and you’re leaving them in situ, either mask off or coat with soap before you start work, antifouling on the anode surface will prevent it working!

  • 302. They Look The Same But Which Is Better?

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    Maybe it's time for a rethink on zinc! Not my words, but those of that well known manufacturer of anodes MG DUFF who, of course, are proud to manufacture in the UK! With the emphasis these days on 'saving the planet' most folks will now acknowledge that we are at last slowly moving towards more environmentally friendly products, or cutting right back on our use of plastics. Back in Tynemouth Jenny is particularly proud, or smug if that is the correct word to use, that some 12 years ago when we last changed our car we, or was it she, ignored the advice of politicians and went back down the petrol route. After a couple of issues with our wheels last year (during our drive down to the cruising grounds of Corfu, driving not flying) we decided, for this year, to purchase an almost new, same make same size second hand estate car, once again with a petrol engine..... which we then discovered were almost as rare as hen's teeth but that's another story!

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    Zinc vs Aluminium, they look the same but which is better? Maybe it's a time for a rethink on zinc, as anodes made from this metal can only be used in salt water whilst aluminium can be used in salt and brackish water. The zinc anode has been traditionally used for over 60 years by boatowners worldwide however more and more aluminium ones are now being fitted as standard by leading UK boat builders! Whilst zinc anodes are widely available for all installations* aluminium anodes, which are available for most applications, have a 20% longer life (think sail drive and out drives that eat up traditional anodes at a fearsome rate.) Other advantages of aluminium anodes include a higher output = better protection and they are three times lighter than zinc, you keen racers will be pleased to note. They even cost less than zinc and of course they are more environmentally friendly.

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    In Everett Collier's excellent book 'The Boatowners Guide to Corrosion,' in the Appendix or Glossary he describes an anode as 'The electrode of an electrochemical cell with the more negative or less noble potential. The less noble  metal of an electrolytic cell that tends to corrode' So the question that is often asked is that 'how come an aluminium anode can protect a sail or out drive which is manufactured from the 'same' metal?' The answer is that your or my unit is manufactured from a very corrosion resistant alloy whilst the anode is not!

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    A word of caution however, under no circumstances fit a zinc pear shape hull anode ('cos you already have one as a spare) then go out and purchase an aluminium anode for fitting to the prop shaft, out drive or sail drive! Zinc and aluminium should never be mixed.

    * Regrettably the Beneteau prop anodes are not available in aluminium, apparently they are too costly to make in this material!

  • 301. Straight From The Horses Mouth

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    Maybe it's in my Scottish blood, mum was a Kilmarnock girl, dad from a small village near Perth and they met in London! As for yours truly, I was born in Iraq (father was by then the resident civil engineer supervising the building of a rail bridge over the river Tigris near Baghdad). With my Scottish/Arab 'ancestry’ I do like value for money,  quality and with anything technical or electrical it must be  easy to use. The Merlin Smart Gauge Battery Monitor now with a two year warranty can be fitted almost 'straight out of the box' so  easy to fit and simple to operate!

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    One of our customers, who operates a 40 odd ft yacht for charter on the West Coast of Scotland, has the following to say about the Smart Gauge...

    "Rob, I fitted the Merlin Smartgauge to my boat earlier this season after several charter clients experienced trouble keeping the service batteries charged.

    After several week's use, I have to say that I find it to be an excellent piece of kit. Its main benefit is that it provides clients with what amounts to a "fuel gauge" of the service battery bank's remaining useful capacity. You can see at a glance when the battery bank is fully charged, and what capacity remains when it's not fully charged. Much more meaningful to the average sailor than looking at a voltage reading (although it does also give a voltage reading!). It's now easy to keep the batteries in good shape - when the Smartgauge shows only 50% capacity left, charge the batteries!"

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    It's also very easy to fit. Unlike shunt-based battery meters, the Smartgauge has just three wires - to be connected directly to the battery terminals, via small fuses. There's no disturbance to existing cabling. It really couldn't be easier. I gather that its other key benefit is that it is self-calibrating, so it still gives meaningful data as the battery bank ages over the years. We'll see how that goes. All in all, it's a great addition to the boat's instrumentation, and it looks neat and tidy mounted at the nav station".

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    To sum up... The SmartGauge battery monitor, super simple installation, highly accurate state of charge meter.
    • Battery state of charge (percentage) for main auxiliary battery bank.
    • Battery voltage for 2 battery banks.
    • Ultra low power consumption.
    • User programmable alarms for low voltage, high voltage, low status etc.
    • "Shuntless" design for super quick installation.

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  • 300. Charge it to the household budget!

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    It can be hard to justify spending money on the boat when there are important calls on a family's disposable income, be it the mortgage, car leasing payments, utilities bills, insurance, perhaps even school fees! The shelling out of hard earned income seems endless so when it come to a 'luxury' item for use on the yacht how do you justify it? Maybe by charging it to the household account? If, for example, the item is a Freebag Pro, not only can it be used to help ease the load on your knees when decorating or laying a laminate floor in the  house but comes in jolly useful in the greenhouse or potting shed when you are down on your knees, in the garage or shed when mending the lawn mower or cleaning your offspring's mountain bike. Wet & Forget is another excellent product that be used at home or on the boat for keeping green mould at bay, its great for spraying on paths, greenhouse roofs etc and patio furniture, for the boats its sprayed on sails, awnings sail covers and of course on decks.

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    Having personally used my original Freebag for over 15 years as a brilliant 'mouldable' cushion, backrest and pillow on my Hunter Channel 31 never mind when on 'shore leave' as a comfy seat on a stoney beach. A few years ago we took the plunge, importing a hundred, and started selling them on through our mail order site www.marinechandlery.com. They went so well that on Andy's subsequent order for more stock he decided some 18 months ago to take a punt and include a batch of Freebag Pro'swhich are the perfect answer to protecting ones knee's at home be it when rubbing down skirting boards in prep for painting, laying laminate flooring or when gardening. At work we use them to protect our knees when repairing sails and canopies sailmakers and of course the other Rob uses them in the boatyard when he's knees down on the hardstanding or concrete!

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    So charge to the household account and don't feel guilty, and if that doesn't go down well blame it all on my boss!

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  • 299. Love is in the air (and on the water!)

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    Who said romance and quality time on the water don't go together? With Valentine’s day fast approaching, the person who should be obeyed at all times, no not Jenny but my boss Andy, decided along with input from the lovely Claire who adds images, links etc to my blogs and then posts them out, that I should 'do' a Valentine’s themed blog for Tuesday the 11th, in other words a boring old hard sell. And as Andy told me this morning that it needed to be done and dusted before the weekend as Claire ain't going to be around after Friday, no pressure then! Twas a case of thinking cap on then, ‘Storrar, quaff some alcohol and wait for inspiration.’ That came when Mrs Storrar handed me the tea towel after supper and said 'just wipe dry those two glasses' and let's have a glass of port each. Just so happened the tea towel that she handed me was one of a batch sold to www.marinechandlery.com by Elaine the blushing bride in the above image. The shot was taken whilst the mayor of Nidri on Lefkas was reading Elaine and her husband to be their wedding vows. The poem featured on the tea towel was written by the handsome groom, Jan. Not sure if the towel is the most romantic present one might receive but it sure is practical!

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    Another item that many sailors may well appreciate on Valentine's Day would be a Freebag. Unfortunately for me Jenny has already got a couple onboard Hindsight so it's back to the drawing board for her gift. Boarding Ring glasses would certainly be appreciated by those who suffer like my good lady from seasickness but damn it, she already has a pair and thinks they are brilliant in so much as they actually work! However me thinks to keep your relationship on an even keel why not push the boat out and buy her or him one of those amazing Hook & Moor boathooks, pricey but so is a divorce settlement. Mmmm, we don't have one on Hindsight perhaps it's time I bought Jen one?

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    So what does the first mate, or maybe Master Bates buy Roger the cabin boy, methinks a folding plate and cutlery rack it should be; like the tea towel not that romantic but very very practical. However a flash of inspiration, as your dearly beloved is always going on about saving battery power by turning the majority of the cabin lights off etc, why not treat them to a Merlin Smart gauge? This excellent bit of kit which is very very easy to install might just give skipper something to whinge about seeing how the amps  are draining out of the battery.

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    Back in the romantic mood, why not consider treating your beloved to an intimate candle lit supper in that remote riverside pub you have never gone to as its down a poorly lit lane. You can, of course, be guided there and back by our  rechargeable spotlight.

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    As for our happily married couple Jan & Elaine, their first 'date’ was on Jan's Westerly Storm in what turned out to be a nightmare of a passage across the North Sea from Newcastle to Norway some twenty years ago, they survived the North Sea crossing and on 6th of Sept 2013 tied the knot onboard their Moody in the Ionian. As for the Grumpy old codger, me, if I don’t go for the Hook & Moor as my Valentine’s offering to my long suffering wife, it may be that I will look for a suitable sweetener under Andy’s nautical gift section on the website.

  • 298. Pole Position®

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    The other week I waxed lyrical about the Hook & Moor boathook. What I didn't mention in that blog is that it has turned out to be (apart from a great bit of kit) a means of keeping many a sailing couples' marriages or relationships intact! The only down side (if you can call it that) of the Hook & Moor is the price, it's not cheap at £167.95 inc UK delivery (terms & conditions apply). Having said that there are now out on the water a growing number of foredeck crew, both male and female, who no longer fear the bark of the helm when it comes to picking up a mooring buoy, entering a lock or securing a line to pontoon cleatswhen it's blowing old boots! As for the feedback: "despite the price it's excellent value for money, superbly engineered to the highest standard from top quality materials and, of course, it is so versatile." This very clever boathook will effortlessly pass a line through a mooring ring to secure the boat, feeding a mooring warp through a pontoon mooring cleat is easy peasy and of course it can be used on a wide variety of varying diameter ropes should you so wish!

    Having said that if you are one of those folks who simply wants to take a line over a cleat or a bollard, be it in a lock or on a pontoon, perhaps the Pole Position, a patented rope handling device, is the one for you? It's less than half the price of the Hook & Moor at £69.95 but not as versatile, as you cannot pass it through a ring or the centre of a cleat just round one. And you can only use it on a 'specially adapted rope' for each application! As a keen sailor, Wade Marine's boss man, Colin Wade, saw a need for a rope handling devicethat would make mooring a simple stress free task that can be performed by all levels of sailors, from the novice to the keen yachts person.

    Pole position is a rope handling device that allows a length of rope to be manipulated and accurately placed at a distance from the user. When mooring a boat, for example a pleasure boat, at a mooring or dock it is often difficult or unsuitably timed to jump ashore and secure the boat to the mooring bollard. This could be because the boat is being operated singlehandedly, so it would be unsuitable for the Skipper to leave the helm or it could be that it is not possible to get close enough to the dock to jump ashore.

    This leaves the only option of throwing the loop of rope over the bollard, rarely achieved at a first attempt and subsequently see’s the boat drifting away from the dock or mooring.

    Pole position will address this primary mooring issue, but can, as will be described, be used in many other applications.

    The rope manipulation is completed by means of a receiving part attached to the rope in a permanent secure fixing, at a suitable position from any end of rope feature, such as a loop or another device. The manipulation device can then be used at any point by sliding on and down the rope to meet with the receiver and subsequently securing the rope end, the pole attached can be extended telescopically if required to allow accurate placement of the rope end and easily released when the manoeuvre is completed.

    Primarily designed for use as a mooring device the Pole Position unit can also be used with a number of items of safety equipment such as rescue devices allowing them to be passed accurately out to the person in distress. For example a person in the water is often thrown a life ring which then free floats, and on occasion it could be that the individual has been in distress for some time and is suffering fatigue and can struggle to receive or swim to the life ring, Pole Position can be applied in the same way as when mooring, the life ringrope would have the receiver attached and the pole would then be used to position the ring close or even over the person in distress, allowing an easy return to safety. This would be the same for man overboard slings, allowing over the head placement or even catchment of an unconscious person.

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