Top Tips Tuesdays

  • 356. Bird Strike - Sail and Canvas Cleaning


    My better half Jenny is not what I would call a ‘relaxed’ flier, she hated flying with a vengeance but it was, as she said, "a means to an end"! Taking off and landing some years ago, the circulation of blood in whichever hand of mine she was holding vanished with her vice like grip. We are, however grateful, to one of our customers who was an Easy Jet pilot and very kindly spent over an hour explaining to Jen why and what the various noises were and why after take-off there was often that ‘sinking feeling’ as the plane started to level off. Nowadays the only times she grabs my hand, sits bolt upright with a look of fear and I lose feeling in my hand is if we are experiencing severe turbulence (I ain’t that keen on it either) take-off and landing she carries on with her Sudoko and will now fly unaccompanied however I was surprised the other days when she said "Lets watch Sully: Miracle on the Hudson". 'Tis an American biographical drama movie based around the emergency landing on the Hudson River by the captain whom the film was named after. The aircraft was hit by a large flock of birds during take-off, disabling both engines and he landed the plane on the water! If you haven’t seen it look it up, both Jen and I really enjoyed it and no she did not grip my hand, just kept a firm grip on her glass of red wine!


    We often get customers in with broken masthead wind indicators. Yes they too are subject to bird strikes, however the guys from Windex have brought out a new wind indicator which comes with a ‘Bird Spike.’ They do state on the package (see below) ‘No more problem with birds on your Windex’. Slightly more expensive than the standard version but methinks its worth a try as I found mine in pieces on the ground last year!


    Keeping the deck and all canvas work clean can be almost a full time job however as well as these areas do keep the pontoon in the immediate vicinity of your boat free from bird poo apparently sends a signal to them that perhaps there are more ‘safe’ places for them to alight! Scaregull, a British made product, does boast that ‘it does actually work’. Personally I haven’t tried it however I have seen a few fitted to boats in our local marina and last time I looked they certainly were poo free!

    Screenshot 2021-09-20 at 10.32.27

    If you do have to clean bird dropping from your canvas work under no circumstances use a high-pressure hose, same applies with teak! For canvas work remove the deposits as soon as possible by soaking the affected area to remove the majority of the deposit then clean the affected area (or the complete cover) with something like Yachticon Sail & Canvas cleaner. Don't forget its worth reproofing your canvas work once a year, if its relatively new Grangers Universal Silicone is the one to use, if the fabric is past its first flush (like me) Grangers Gold is the business. It produces a strong waterproof barrier against rain and it introduces a UV treatment to help prevent fading and fabric degradation caused by exposure to UV.


  • 355. Like Magic - Hook and Moor


    The late Paul Daniels, that legendary magician, was well known for his quotes. The one that sticks in most folks' minds though was first uttered in a Bradford working men's club to hopefully make a heckler pipe down. "You’ll like this" he told him "Not a lot, but you’ll like it". Well I am sure you will agree that the ‘trick’ my assistant (no not the lovely Debbie McGee but my boss Andy) is going to perform before your very eyes will amaze you and probably bring the roof down! Hopefully you ‘will like it a lot’ and no he has not been practising this a lot, was sprung on him ten minutes before the blog was signed off!

    Screenshot 2021-09-20 at 10.02.08

    Yes, I do admit to being a very 'vocal' skipper back in the days when I was racing dinghies. First in an elderly National 12, I then switched my allegiance to the Enterprise class (one of the first of many Ents was aptly named ‘Speak No Evil’) racing in championship fleets of 200 odd boats was often a wee bit stressful and voices, usually mine, often raised! Then came the need for speed and the lure, or siren call, of my first International 14, aptly named "19th Nervous Breakdown" taken from the Rolling Stones record. Not sure if I had calmed down by then, but my next 14 was christened  ‘Silence is Golden.' Shows my warped sense of humour? This was followed by a succession of Flying 15’s. In my dotage, however, Greek cruising is enjoyed in a much calmer and dignified manner, however at times mooring stern to on a village or town quay with a strong crosswind blowing and a ‘little’ current such as can be found at Preveza town quay can be a little tricky to say the least, especially with a tiller steered craft! Let go of the helm when going astern to lend a helping hand and it will kick back like a mule! In situations like this, Jenny, my long suffering first mate, is glad of her Hook & Moor. No need for the good lady to make the jump for the shore to get that the windward stern line secure round the ring and back to Hindsight! Unlike Andy, she did practise before putting the boat hook to good use. If there isn’t a helping hand on the quayside to take one's line to thread through a ring or cleat, the Hook & Moor comes up trumps.


    It’s not the cheapest boat hook on the market but as Hook & Moor state.... ‘It is the Ultimate Boat Hook’.

    The benefit of the Hook & Moor boat hook is that it pulls the mooring rope through the ringand back onto the boat in one motion without having to reach dangerously far overboard. Just place the eye of the dockline in the carabiner of the Hook & Moor, reach down and pull the hook right through the cleat or mooring eye and bring the dockline back towards the boat to secure the line’s eye on the cleat.

    image image

  • 354. My Minds A Blank (Again)


    My apologies if I repeat myself ‘occasionally’, but there are times when a lack of a fresh TTT blog subject doesn’t spring to mind even after a few attempts at lubricating the old grey matter! However after last weeks ‘words of wisdom’ on the Handy Billy (and my apologies this week to Richard, one of our avid readers, who quite rightly pointed out that the ‘genuine article' consisted only of a 2:1 purchase!) The ‘other’ Andy (our e-commerce manager) not my boss, came up with the suggestion ‘Why don’t I mention about cleaning up after an application of Sikaflex or any other make of adhesive sealants using an Ultragrime wipe", its the only product that gets it off one's hands safely to the best of his knowledge!


    Our workshop engineer agrees that they are brilliant for cleaning surfaces including hands, be they contaminated with substances such as grease/uncured epoxy/wet paint overspill, silicone, uncured PU foam, engine oil etc etc. Yes I know we should be wearing disposable gloves but getting hold of them at present is about a rare as finding rocking horse poo! In the rigging workshop your hands end up ‘black’ with the constant handling of stainless wire, the wipes are perfect for cleaning ones hands with. Up in the sail loft we use them for wiping down the sewing machines, cleaning the glass on our cutting table and keeping the hydraulic press and the eyelet closing tools free from contamination. We have also discovered that they are excellent for use on fabrics such as sail cloth and acrylic fabrics.


    A packet of these brilliant Uniwipe Ultragrime wipes will set you back £11-95 or just under 12 pence each for a super-soft strong and absorbent wipe which, incidentally, are dermatologically tested to be gentle on your hands. The wipes are alcohol free and contain vitamin E and Aloe Vera. I always take a packet out to Hindsight at the start of the season with them being so good for cleaning the engine bay after an oil and filter change, no matter how careful I am I always make a mess!


    The other product which I carry onboard and we use in the workshop as it also removes grease, oil, dirt and adhesive is the 3M citrus cleaner. It's great for reaching those hard to get to areas that you can see want a clean. Not cheap but still worth it!

    It’s must have been the drink but having taken the first image I forgot to check it out the book is titled The Art Of Course Sailing, not The A**e Of Course Sailing! Mind you some of the scrapes (excuse the pun) I have managed to get myself into over the last sixty odd years it may well relate to me.

  • 353. Handy Billy Or Handy Billie


    As I think a lot of my ‘avid’ readers will know, a Handy Billy was a loose block and tackle, often kept on deck for general use to get a pull on whatever is required, such as sheets, halyards etc. What I didn’t know (or did and forgot in my dotage) is that a Handy Billy (or Handy Billie) was also an emergency portable pump that could be carried by two men. For decades they were placed onboard most US navy ships from World War I onwards, used initially for damage control, later they were carried onboard civilian craft of all nations.

    Andy, my boss these days, has you will be delighted to know put together a Handy Billy special offer package at a saving of almost £100-00 on blocks and line of a similar quality and performance from well known manufacturers such as Lewmar or Ronstan.


    The Handy Billy special offer package consists of two imported Australian triple ball bearing blocks (one of course complete with a becket)  and 20 mtrs of 8mm top quality braid on braid. The blocks have a sheave diameter of 38mm and a safe working load of 567kgs and a break load of 1134kgs! The max available hoist once rigged up if, for instance, used in a man overboard situation if you add the short strop provided is 4m. Other uses... maybe rigged up as a gybe preventer, use perhaps for hoisting a dinghyonboard or pulling it above the high water mark, getting those bonded stores or outboardup onto the deck! All for the sum of £60 However if you want to customise Billy by the addition of say a Wichard assymetric carbine hook one end with a greater working load the cost works out at £75.

    Whilst we don’t offer on our site a "Handy Billy" portable petrol driven pump (see above), what we do sell on a regular basis are a couple of rather handy portable pumps. The Whale Easy Bailer pump, available in two sizes, can be used for diesel transfer however on Hindsight it's mainly used for bailing out the Avon dinghy after a Greek torrential rain downpour! However, if you prefer a little bit of help our battery operated pump which pulls 10 litres a minute may be the one for you? Like the Whale Easy Bailer it can be used to transfer diesel but because its powered by two D cell batteries it can be poked into awkward spaces and through narrow inspection hatches!


    PS Andy Lawrence our e-commerce manager has just reminded me that two years or so ago he used a handy billy to lift the old Lister Petter engine out of his Cutlass 27 and then lift back in his new out of the box Yanmar 2 YM 15 (approx 130 kilos) and did this without any outside assistance!


  • 352. Top Tips Tuesday - Bone Idle!


    If you are like me and are the owner or skipper of either a yacht or powerboat that has been ‘bone idle’ over the past year and a half and you had the foresight to treat the onboard fuel before lockdown, all well and good. However, if not and you are worried as to the condition of your fuel in the tank now is the time to act before you leave your berth! Did you know that you can purchase, for a very reasonable price, a Marine 16 Diesel Bug Test Kit? It can be used to check for microbial contamination of diesel fuels in boats, storage tanks, home heating fuels, road going vehicles etc.


    Should you be unfortunate enough to find you have an issue, Marine 16 Diesel Treatment(as used by the RNLI) is the way forward. Marine 16's Diesel Bug Treatment is specifically designed to prevent or eradicate diesel bug contamination. It will disperse into both the fuel and water phases and will remain active in the fuel for over a year. As you use the treated fuel it will eliminate growth throughout the fuel feed system.


    Prevention: Add Diesel Bug Treatment at a rate of 100ml to 2000 litres of fuel. Simply pour the product into the tank filler point. Do not allow contact with skin or eyes.

    Cure: Ideally the tank should be cleaned out as much as possible prior to treatment in order to remove sludge deposits. The treatment will break down this sludge over time but several treatments may be required. Diesel Bug Treatment breaks down the slimes and dead organisms to small black particulates that pass through the system like any other dust.

    For moderate contamination where there is evidence of stringy slime in the fuel or the filteruse the product at 100ml to 500 litres of fuel. Ideally this should be added to a full tank to ensure contact with all surfaces.

    For severe contamination where filter blocking or injector fouling is occurring use a shock dose of 100ml to 100 litres of fuel.

    After treatment continue to use at a preventative level so that the problem does not reoccur.


    As you well know Marine diesel engines are reliable and economical - unfortunately these benefits can soon be lost unless the fuel system is maintained. Excessive exhaust smoke, increased fuel consumption, rough running, poor cold starting, dirty injectors and blocked filters are primarily caused by contamination inside the engine or the existence of bacteria within the diesel fuel.

    With the introduction of biodiesel and Ultra-Low-Sulfur diesel things can only get worse, especially with regards to diesel bug and lubrication. Marine 16's Diesel Fuel Complete treatment is a highly sophisticated package designed to quickly, thoroughly and safely clean all marine diesel engine fuel systems turning carbons, fats, acids and other contaminants into a harmless liquid form which is then burnt through the normal combustion process. It releases combustion rings, frees injectors and valves and dissolves contaminants completely.

    The important benefits from using this product are:
    ✓ Stops diesel bug
    ✓ Cleans injectors and filters
    ✓ Protects fuel pumps
    ✓ Contains antifoam
    ✓ Demulsifies water from fuel
    ✓ Increases cetane rating
    ✓ Gives easier starting
    ✓ Improves fuel consumption
    ✓ Reduces smoking
    Speaking of smoking, however, Marine 16's Diesel Injector Cleaner is a "one shot" single treatment to remove harmful deposits in the fuel pump and injectors of diesel engines.

    Diesel Injector Cleaner (DIC) is a once only treatment to remove harmful deposits in the fuel pump and injectors of diesel engines. DIC cleans fuel lines and injector deposits providing a cleaner, easier starting engine. DIC reduces emissions, improves fuel consumption and prevents smoke from exhausts.

    If your engine is smoking, we recommend you use DIC before calling an engineer to remove injectors etc. Smoking is often due to gumming and lacquering of fuel components which develops over time or from using degraded fuel and will be a lot more cost effective than removing injectors unnecessarily.

    Kill-Clean-Protect sounds like one of those Public Health England utterances but in reality, using all 3 treatments will ensure your engine and fuel are fully protected. Add Diesel Bug Treatment and Diesel Injector Cleaner together then add Diesel Fuel Complete as an after
    treatment to use at a preventative level.
  • 351. Top Tip Tuesday - Were you caught short? We were!


    Despite carrying more stock than Andy's accountant and his bank manager think sensible, it has been hard to keep certain products in sufficient quantity to satisfy demand as the country wakes up! Was this caused by the hold up in the Suez Canal the other week, maybe it was all this ‘home working'. International Paints had a major setback with a fire in their Felling factory! We are still waiting for their Watertite epoxy filler however we have stocks of both the Hempel & Epifanes (incidentaly the Epifanes is superb value for money). Other items are now slowly starting to trickling through. Our sailmaking side of the business is currently struggling to get hold of 25mm stainless tube end fittings, YKK zips and certain threads are proving hard to come by. On the chandlery side, apart from scarcity of certain International paint items which are currently O.O.S. inflatable dinghies are getting as rare as hen's teeth and even though the 'boss' had some inside information and doubled up on his stock certain models are already sold out! Lagun cockpit table frames we now have back in stock after a shortage. In the last two months we have sold more than in the last three years, which hasn’t helped! Not only are they a favourite with yachties but it seems that these new motor home proud owners are also snapping them up, mind you our offer of a free storage bag worth £50 does help!


    Magma Marine Kettle BBQ's are also selling like hot cakes and are no longer, as I write, subject to delay. Once again the offer of a free breathable cover (worth £70-00) and manufactured in a colour to match one's boats spray hood, stack pack or some other item of canvas work is proving irresistible! If, however, you are a traditionalist you may decide the charcoal fuelled Magma kettle grill is for you as against the gas powered one. This model also comes with that superb free breathable cover.


    A hundred and counting! Probably because we have sold so many of these Bynolyt binoculars (as used by the RNLI and a PBO Best Buy product) in the last three months the importer of these superb optical instruments ran out, however the good news is that we should have fresh stock imminently, please form an orderly queue.


    Oops I forget to mention, what else is in short supply? Another eight day ‘week’ for Andy!

  • 350. Top Tips Tuesday - That Clunk In The Night


    My first ever encounter with a lobster pot ‘marker’ was off the Northumberland coast many years ago, early eighties if my memory serves me correctly, and it was to be my baptism at competing in an offshore race. The Bass Rock race is organised by the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club and if all goes to plan it's ‘only’ two nights at sea! Our ride for the weekend was the works J24 and the boat's first ‘long’ distance race. Incidentally later that year we found out if you have a bad broach you can sink a J so from there on it was only round the cans races! However, I digress. We were close hauled, four crew on the windward rail and yours truly on the helm, boat speed and VMG were good according to the Stowe cockpit display with a good sea state. However, with cloud cover and no moon, visibility (is that the correct word) was poor! We did however have at the time a ‘state of the art navigation’ new to the marine market a hand held GPS, methinks in those days retailing at over £600-00!  Suddenly my thoughts or dreams of maybe winning the coveted Bass Rock race at our first attempt were rudely shattered as there was a thud and we literally stopped dead in the water! Run aground? Not according to our GPS, no we were now firmly moored to a lobster pot float with, on close inspection, a slimy floating line 16mm or so round our transom hung rudder!  Well, we eventually freed ourself from our jailer, missed the tidal gate through the Farne islands and with it our chances of ending up in the chocolates!  Since that first encounter I have kept a close look out for them but have wondered what is the chance of spotting one at night, zilch methinks. However, if you had a Sionyx Aurora Sport on board? Not only good for spotting floating hazards but yachts and powerboats at anchor, navigation buoys etc etc.


    Perhaps the Sionyx Aurora Sport which is a digital coloured night vision monocular is the answer to picking out objects in the water, unlike a thermal imaging device it does not rely on a heat source. Whilst I haven’t had the chance to use one on the water, only dry land so far, it has won awards in the US within the marine sector and has proven to be a great help when sailing or motoring in the dark. Boss man Andy and I took our demo model out onto Whitley Bay beach one night last month and whilst it wasn’t a pitch-black night it's performance was impressive. See the below clip of yours truly walking alongside the sea wall at Whitley Bay!


    Aurora can be used as a hand held device or mounted on the pulpit or say the cabin roof. It features near moonless starlight night vision, it's water resistant to IP67 and can be wirelessly streamed to a smart device via the Sionyx app. Below are a couple of videos of the device in action, impressive or what!



    The Aurora Sport is a colour night vision camera, capable of day-time, low-light and night-time recording in colour or greyscale through SiOnyx's own patented Ultra Low-Light Sensor Technology. This technology transforms the viewing experience.

    The Aurora Sport is designed for fast setting changes, featuring an intuitive switch and dial set-up. The scene ring allows for a custom viewing experience for different times of day and the settings dial allows for fast operating mode changes. Users can also adjust the lens focus and diopter.

    The camera has on-board recording, with up to 60 frames a second for video in HD and still photos with shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second. The Aurora Sport also features Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) which helps to minimise blur and compensates for camera shake.

    The device includes a variety of camera recording modes, including: burst mode, time-lapse, panoramic view, self-timer, loop mode, slo-mo (shutter control) and HDR (High Dynamic Range).

    The device features on-board WiFi, meaning the Aurora Sport can be remote-controlled, live-viewed and can share captured images & videos with the SiOnyx App via a smartphone or tablet.

    The Aurora Sport's compact size and robust bodyshell make it the best tool for outdoor action and weighing in at less than 227 grams (under 8 ounces) make it even easier to carry. Perfect for outdoor sports and activities, with a built-in lens protector, 6000j shock-resistance and IP67 rating for dust-resistance, splash-proof and water-resistance of up to 3 feet for 30 minutes.


  • 349. Top Tips Tuesday - Does What It Says On The Tin


    Even though I ‘retired’ some years ago from the day to day running of Storrar Marine and the online presence and am no longer a director of this fine emporium, boss man Andy Burgess allows me to keep a weather eye on incoming emails. His reasoning is that with an awful lot of manufacturers these days not producing hard copies of their new catalogue it means that I can read and inwardly digest and possibly blog about a new product that is being introduced to the market and if the item takes my fancy possibly write some ‘words of wisdom or 'summat’ for a Top Tips Tuesday blog! This weekend, however, I read that once again we should be receiving this coming week another substantial shipment of DeBond Corps Marine Formula.

    imageAs it says on the container ‘This Stuff Really Works.” Not only does it break the bond of America’s favourite marine adhesive 3M 5200 but will do the same to Europe's (and I class the UK as being ‘in’ Europe for the purpose of this blog!) favourite marine adhesive Sikaflex 291i! Marine Formula DeBonds and cleans most cured and uncured polyurethane and polysulphide adhesives, decal and tape film, gaskets, seals, caulks, silicone rubber and even chewing gum on carpets!

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.54.56


    IT WORKS! We had two underwater lights on our boat that we had to remover... they were not only screwed into the fibreglass hull but had 5200.We heard about DEBOND and bought it. The lights came out. THANK YOU for having this product. MS,Annapolis, MD

    How many different ways can one sat, "AN AMAZING PRODUCT!!" Having owned boats, repaired boats, and used "5200" for bedding items exposed to the weather, Marine DeBond removes "5200" in minutes! RT, New York, NY

    I used the DeBond Marine to clean the deck that had some residue from building the boat. It worked great. Thanks! RK, San Diego, CA

    Marine Formular, great product! Just ordered a second can! JV Vonore, TN

    I can't begin to tell you how well it worked. I needed to remove a hawse pipe from my deck. No fuss, no muss. What a great product. Thank you. BT, Wilmington, NC

  • 348. Top Tips Tuesday - Spars, Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind


    As an old salt or (as Jen pointed out when proof reading) a very, very ancient and grumpy old salt who remembers the days when every yacht was lifted out each autumn at the local yacht club, laid up ashore on a mixture of pit props and 45 gallon oil drums, this was of course after the rigging had been disconnected, boom removed and then the mast lifted out! These days with the majority of boats marina berthed and hard standing often somewhat limited, it's a case of out for a short period of time for annual wash and brush inc antifoul/change anodes and if it's on hard standing for six months or so on a steel boatyard cradle, the mast stays in situ! If you are fortunate enough to have the mast at ground level and not ‘tangled’ up on a boatyard mast rack its easy peasy to give it a thorough check over, however if your spar is still reaching for the stars please do not neglect because it’s out of sight and out of mind, incidentally more on the subject of a mast inspection from a bosuns chair later! Thanks to the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club for their permission to use the above photo. If you are cruising the North East coast the RNYC sailing directionsare an invaluable source of information.


    Start at the tip of the mast with the masthead light. Check it’s secure and the lens isn’t suffering from UV damage, check cables for chafe where they exit the light and enter the mast. Remove the lens, then bulbs and make sure all the contacts are clean by using the excellent specialist fast drying contact cleaner. If they are the filament type bulb our recommendation is to replace regardless (keep old as a spare) or seriously consider going for replacement LED bulbs, a lot less current drain and almost bullet proof in a heavy beat to windward!  However, remember you shouldn’t put a white LED behind a coloured lens, only use a coloured LED bulb. After replacing the bulbs, spray all electrical connections with Boeshield and then clean the lens both inside and out. Before replacing the now clean lens, you must of course check the lights are working (our Top Tip is to use an old redundant small 12 volt alarm battery and connect to the wires where they exit at the bottom of the mast, it’s much easier than lugging round a big heavy 110 amp hour beast). Once satisfied, reassemble. If the light has suffered from water ingress last season and you are happy that it's still up to the job, make sure that any seals are intact however a smear of Lanocote will help keep moisture out.

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.49.10

    Check the condition and security of the mast head VHF aerial or combined VHF/wind indicator (if the Windex is becoming brittle through UV damage consider replacing). Incidentally there is a new Windex on the market with a ‘seagull striker’ fitted to warn birds away from landing! See image above. Examine carefully any other antennas like the AIS or Active radar target enhancer and of course don’t forget the condition of any cablesespecially where they enter or exit the mast. Assuming mast head wind speed and direction are stored below deck whilst the mast is down, check manufacturer's handbook for information on lubrication and maintenance. Clean contacts as above and once again spray with Boeshield after refitting. As for me, I prefer to leave the mast head transducer off when the mast is being refitted as often the ‘small print’ of a boatyard’s terms and conditions does not cover you for accidental damage, yes it's a mast climb to fit however replacement transducers can set you back over £400-00! Satisfied with your mast head gear? Now turn your attention to the mast head and check main and topping lift sheavesfor damage or wear.image

    Incidentally alloy sheaves running on stainless axles are notorious for seizing up through corrosion. On some masts, especially older Selden (Kemp), it’s impossible to replace the sheave without taking the masthead fitting out of the spar. Clean and then lubricate with a ‘dry’ lubricant don’t use grease or light oil as both attract grit and can damage sheaves especially those made from Tufnol (recognised by it’s brown colour/fabric weave) Next check the condition of the forestay and backstay attachments, draw the clevis pins out, examine them for wear and at the same time check that the ‘hole’ that they pass through has not elongated. If OK, replace and secure with new split pins, not rings, and make sure that they are properly opened out!image

    If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered a halyard wrap last season, pay particular attention to where the wire strands exit the swaged terminal/talurit splice. Flex the wire gently to check for any sign of broken strands, even if it’s only one broken strand replace. If the forestay shows signs of birdcaging (wire opening up) you should also replace the forestay without question. Your spinnaker/asymmetric halyard block can take a hammering lack of articulation can cause issues such as damaged or buckled side plates on sheaves which can lead to halyards jamming.


    Working your way down the mast, if an older rig stainless tangs were used for the attaching of standing rigging and if there are signs of corrosion behind the fitting (white ‘crust’ around or bubbling from the fitting) we would suggest  drilling out the old rivets, inspection of the mast wall behind and, if satisfied, replacing with new monel ones after you have used a barrier such as Duralac or Tef-Gel between the two dissimilar metals. However make sure you drift the ferrous metal mandril head out so it drops down inside the mast! If a fractional or similar rig, remove the combined genoa and spinnaker halyard box, check for stress cracks, worn sheaves and then clean and lubricate as above. Then check the security of the cast alloy spreader brackets, paying particular attention to all rivets. Inspect the casting for any signs of damage such as fracture of the alloy. Turning to the spreader tips, if the rigging is still attached to the spreaders release the spreader end clamp and then check for a broken strand that may be hidden behind the plastic or leather spreader boot. Once the clamp has been slackened move the tip up or down and flex the wire gently. If not fitted, to protect your head sail perhaps fit a pair of leather spreader boots to prevent chafe once you have satisfied yourself that everything is OK. Steaming and deck flood lights are often neglected, check and service as per your masthead lights. If there is a Blipper or similar reflector check all fastenings, like wise if there is a radar dome.


    Check the gooseneck and base of mast kicker bracket for wear, replace if badly worn, replace any worn nylon spacer washers. Look out for any horizontal cracks around halyard exit slots, this is especially important on fractional rigs set up with high amounts of pre-bend, consult your rigger if any are found. Keel stepped spars should have their deck coats/seals checked as it’s impossible to replace them without lifting the mast out again. If a keel stepped mast, Spartite is an excellent product for sealing the mast/deck not cheap but the best on the market. Make sure that the mast track on a keel stepped mast has a foam or silicon rubber gate to prevent water running below deck. At this stage don’t forget to run  your eye over the rest of the rigging, examine all turnbuckles for damage, if the threaded lower stud is bent replace and pay particular attention to any rigging screw that is not toggled as they do not articulate and are liable to more stress. Make sure the threads on your adjusters are not showing any sign of stretching or galling!

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.50.31

    Wash out and lubricate (as per manufacturer’s instructions) halyard swivels and drum bearings on headsail reefing gear. The Selden Furlex unit should be lubricated with their grease. Pay particular attention to the joints in the headsail foil, if slight movement there is a danger of mis-alignement. Consequences; the sail jamming whilst hoisting and you may run the risk of tearing the luff tape. You may also end up with some rather nasty stains on the sail opposite the suspect joints caused by fretting of the alloy. If you have movement it may be a loose rivet or fastening that’s missing or a worn jointing piece. Consult the manufacturer’s manual for details on how to remove and replace. Foils may be cleaned by washing with soap and water. A scrap of luff tape may be run up the foil to scrub inside the grooves. If lubrication is required, spray a thin coat of McLube SailKote on sail luff tapes away from boat deck. Check the end stop at the top of the foil is secure and that the bearing (just inside the top of the foil is still round) if its oval replace!

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.50.50

    If you haven’t already removed and washed your halyards do so. Do not wash at a high temperature or use a biological washing powder as it can damage some polyester ropes, preferably leave to soak in water for a couple of days prior to washing. Don’t tumble dry as the heat will damage most synthetic ropes, instead hang out to dry then leave in the airing cupboard for a few days. If using a washing machine place any shackles inside a pair of socks to prevent damage to the drum on the machine and keep the other half happy! Check all eye splices, worn or damaged halyards as shown below should be replaced. Wire halyards that are found to have spikes (once again see below) are fatigued and should be replaced as they are on the point of failure, consider replacing with Dyneema, Spectra or similar ultra low stretch materials as it is cost effective and usually has a longer life span.

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.51.20

    When re-stepping your mast replace all split pins that secure clevis pins or lock turnbuckles, mouse shackles with Monel seizing wire, lightly grease all turnbuckle threads with Lanocote. Consider fitting turnbuckle covers adding shroud or guard rail rollers or at the very least tape over the split pins in the turnbuckles with self amalgamating tape after setting up your rig which all help to reduce chafe on sails and prevent damage to crews clothing and boots. Do not under any circumstances tape the complete body of the turnbuckle, water can be so easily trapped see below!

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.51.42

    Mast still up? Climbing a mast using the power of an Ewincher to get you aloft is now a joy however you must read and inwardly digest Spinlock's excellent article on ‘Going Aloft’. Remember always climb on two halyards that you have thoroughly inspected. Spar and rigging inspection with the mast still up will take a lot longer as it has to be carried out from a bosuns chair but it shouldn’t be neglected. If, for whatever reason, you have not removed the rig this year, inspect whilst swinging from halyards and if necessary, budget for its removal next year. If I am climbing, and I still do so on a regular basis even at my advanced age, their Mast Harness isn’t the most comfortable but without a doubt the one that I feel most secure in! Incidentally, if I ever have to go aloft alone, then I use the Topclimber mast climbing kit. All the above still applies however it will take a lot longer and obviously it’s more weather dependent!

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 13.52.02

    Now for the boom, check the inboard end of the boom casting for wear, check rivets are sound and if any jammers/pulleys are part of the assembly, that any sheaves are free running and not chipped and when the cam lever is rotated they will hold the load from reef and outhaul lines! Check the kicking strap slide (if alloy) for wear from the stainless shackle/attachment point on the strut/strap assembly. Make sure any fastenings are man enough for the job and that the slide is not creeping towards the mast. Examine the boom in this area for any stress cracks and corrosion from stainless fastenings if used to secure. Next check the reefing lines take off attachment eyes are secure and then pull through the lines for signs of chafe. Make sure that when you come to fit the main back on the boom, you reeve the reef line under the boom first to ease the load on the fitting! If the main sheet pulley blocks are secured mid boom as against attached to the end casting examine as per kicking strap slide. Next the outboard boom casting, check the condition of the pulleys then check (if end boom sheeting) that the shackle securing the mainsheet block still has plenty of alloy left on the attachment casting. If you still have a wire outhaul check for spiking in the lay of the wire and if any are found replace. Reef lines, especially in single line systems, can be a source of friction. If fluffed up, consider changing as the difference when putting a reef in can be the difference between chalk and cheese.

    Finally if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to give the mast and boom a wipe over with Yachticon's Aluminium Polish and Wax, it’s a mixture of polymers, waxes and polishing agents for cleaning and protecting alloy spars!

  • 347. Top Tips Tuesday - Check Those Deck Fittings Out!



    How often do we grab guard rails without a moments thought, even though they are ‘staring us in the face’ throughout the season, stanchions and guard rail wires are often items that are overlooked during pre-season checks. Stanchions should be checked for security; make sure the base is fastened securely to the deck and/or toe rail, and of course there is no movement and ALL fastenings are in place. An unstable base is not only dangerous (it could possibly lead to a man overboard situation) but the mechanical fastenings could be that elusive  source of a leak into the interior and often the ‘damp patch’ is some distance away! If  the stanchion is secure but there is evidence of water leaking into the interior of the boat, as a stop gap you could apply sealant round the base however the correct sure fire way to sort is to remove the stanchion and re-fix as per our suggestions below. If the base is found to be loose, remove, clean and re-fit using the appropriate sealant, my recommendation is to go for a polysulphide, such as Arbokol 1000 or Geocel 201 as against a silicone sealant.


    Before refastening a stanchion or any other deck fitting, make sure you remove any old sealant using Debond Marine Formula. Degrease the fitting and deck using acetone or similar and, if the hole is not countersunk to accept the sealant do so. Finally, mask both the deck and the base so any excess sealant that is squeezed out as you tighten down can easily be cleaned up. However, when bolting down make sure that you don’t squeeze ALL the sealant out, tighten, allow the sealant to set then go for a final turn on the spanner next day!


    Should there be an issue with the integrity of the deck click here for further guidance.

    Check stainless tubular type stanchions where they are drilled (for mid height guard wire to pass through) for signs of stress cracks round the hole. Make sure the stanchion is well secured into its base either by bolt and lock nut or by split pin, however if an alloy stanchion is being secured with a stainless fastening you must use a barrier such as Duralac or TefGel to prevent an electrolytic reaction, same if you are using stainless stanchions in aluminium bases isolate between the two dissimilar metals. Terminating guard rails at the pull or push pit, I prefer not to use split rings but beware split pins can be very sharp. They should be covered in self amalgamating tape or have a blob of clear sealant applied to prevent snagging on footwear, foulies, sails etc and of course skin!


    Guard rail wires should be carefully examined for broken strands, especially where the wire exits the swage or Talurit termination and where they pass through stanchions. You will have to slacken each wire and draw it through the stanchion to fully inspect. Flex the wire gently at the start of a termination or where the wire has passed through a stanchion, if any broken or worn strands are found they MUST be replaced. It’s certainly not recommended and highly dangerous to just tape over them! PVC covered stainless steel guard rail wires (banned some years ago for use on offshore race boats) can hide broken or corroded strands, especially where the PVC cover butts up against swage or Talurit terminations. Moisture and a lack of oxygen provide the ideal scenario for crevice corrosion to go unnoticed. Any signs of rust in these areas can be a pointer to wire failure through weakening of the internal wire strands – if rust stains are in evidence, replace without question, preferably with uncovered stainless wire.


    Ensure pelican hooks in gate assemblies are free to operate, preferably single handed (leather pulls are worth fitting, saves you fumbling with cold wet hands) and that the piston fully engages when closed.


    Lubricate same with a dry film sprayBoeshield T9 or similar. Incidentally, if your method of tensioning the guard rails is a cord lashing (which is our recommendation as should you need to 'drop the wire' it's an awful lot quicker cutting the cord) by the pushpit, we would suggest that this is replaced on a regular basis. However I believe current thinking is to leave the guard rail intact and bring the man overboard over the guard rails! Check that all the clevis pinsrings or split pins in the assembly are secure and either tape over using self amalgamating tape to avoid snagging, or cover with those rather nice leather boots as shown below.


    If small people or dogs etc are going to be found on board this season and netting is already fitted, examine for signs of degrading through UV exposure and check it is secured to both guard rail wires and toe rail. There’s no point in fitting it if your precious cargo can roll under the lower edge! Remember that saying 'there is no such thing as a free lunch'. Cheaper netting is welded whilst the stronger and, of course, more expensive netting is knotted!


    Once you have finished your inspection of guardrails and stanchions, check the security of your bolt on accessories such as the liferaft cradlehorseshoe bracket and while you are in that area, are any electrical cables passing through the pull or pushpit showing signs of chafe?



    Whether wire or webbing they should be inspected. Check wire termination, especially PVC covered as per guard rail wires, for corrosion. Webbing jackstays should have their stitching checked for integrity, if any nicks or cuts are found in the webbing or if more than 3-4 years old they should be replaced owing to UV degradation of the material and the stitching. If replacing wire jackstays, consider changing to webbing as an alternative, it is kinder to decks and doesn’t roll under ones foot.


    Mooring cleats, Fairleads, bollardseye bolts or u-bolts, like stanchions, should be checked thoroughly for movement. Should you suspect a deck fitting as a source of a leak, as we said before the application of a bead of mastic round the edge is only a short term solution! Any shackles securing a block or similar should all be checked for wear and crevice corrosion then moused with either monel seizing wire or cable ties for added security. However, if using ties and they have been snipped, watch out for razor sharp edges, use a drop of silicone sealant to cover. Water in the fuel last season, was it a 'dodgy' refill or is the fuel filler cap nitrile seal past its sell by date? Spare seals are available for the Easy filler caps and some other makes, however if sourcing a seal don't forget diesel rots neoprene in double quick time.



    Blocks, especially ball or roller types, should be given a good rinse with fresh water from a hose to remove all traces of grit. Lubricate ball bearing blocks using Harken’s OneDrop Ball Bearing Conditioner or if plain bearing McLube. Don’t use grease as it will attract and hold grit which makes a very effective cutting compound causing wear. DO NOT oil or grease any Tufnol based block or fitting as it causes the material to swell and will seize sheaves onto pins. Any sheaves that are found to have wear between axle and the sheave (either sideways or vertical play) or nicks in the edges of sheaves which will cause damage to sheets or halyards should be replaced. Check all cam jammers on mainsheet block systems if the teeth are worn or the springs have lost their power replace. Rinse all mainsheet and headsail cars especially those using ball systems using fresh water, inspect for wear and lubricate as per blocks. If fitted with plunger stops ensure these are free, lubricate with light oil and make sure they locate correctly in the track system. Check all track fastenings for integrity and make sure all track end stops are securely fastened, any rubber pads within the stops should be replaced if worn.



    Winches should be stripped and cleaned of all grease. If the grease is hardened it may be necessary to use paraffin and a de-greasing agent. Inspect for wear, especially pawls (rounding of the edges and cracking), check for play in all bearings and especially those bearings between drum and the gearbox, if drum can be rocked excessively the caged roller (or plain) bearing is most likely worn. Re-assemble using winch grease, don’t use the white stern tube grease as it isn’t suitable for the purpose, and don’t smother parts heavily, a light coating will suffice. Keep grease away from pawls as it will make them stick, only apply a drop of light pawl oil. Replace all pawl springs as a matter of course, a pawl that doesn’t engage through a broken or worn spring subjects the other pawls to overloading which can lead to damage. On self tailing winches check the rope gripper on the top of the winch for signs of wear, if worn replace. A manufacturer’s service kit is recommended as it usually contains most parts that are required for a full service together with an exploded diagram and instructions for stripping and rebuilding the winch. Ex-Geordie Mark Gardiner who works for Harken often jetting off round the world to service Volvo RTW winches and the like some years ago kindly wrote an excellent article on winch servicing, click here to access. Rope clutches, often neglected, should also be washed thoroughly and checked for holding power, service kits are certainly available for Spinlock, Easy Marine and Barton, cams and base plates are a source of wear. Other makes of clutches please check with our staff for availability of service kits/spare parts.



    A good hosing out of both the upper swivel and the lower drum unit will remove grit and salt deposits, check both items revolve freely on their bearings, if not rinse again, DO NOT attempt to strip swivels or drum units especially older Furlex units as you will almost certainly lose some of the bearings and possibly damage the retaining circlip(s) during stripping, you may also find it impossible to re assemble the unit without the use of a special press, seek advice regarding this. Only grease systems according to the manufacturers recommendations, some systems use grease, others recommend a dry type lubricant such as McLube. Check the integrity of the furling line especially the knot that secures it to the drum and most importantly are the stanchion leads, if of the sheave type, running freely and check for flats on the sheave. If you haven't introduced some 'friction' when unfurling the genoa to prevent a riding turn on the drum why not consider a Harken or similar make of ratchet block complete with becket (elastic tied to becket/guardrail to avoid it damage deck or itself).


    Last but not least don’t forget the windlass, out of sight out of mind and you certainly don’t want it to fail if you have to up anchor in a hurry! Despite having a great bunch of guys with a shed-load of expert knowledge windlass servicing is not our forte so I make no apologies for reproducing the following maintenance schedule courtesy of Lofrans. A. Clean all external surfaces and hidden points with fresh water and remove all salt layers. B. Grease the rotating parts, particularly, the main shaft threads and clutch cones. Check for evidence of corrosion and mechanical stresses. A coat of Boeshield T9 is recommended. C. Remove and clean the terminals of the electric motor. Coat terminals with Vaseline before re-assembly, then when everything is back in place, spray with Boeshield T9. Test the voltage drop at the terminals. D. Replace all gaskets. E. Remove the anchor windlass from the deck with a little help from Debond, clean all salt deposits and the like from under the base and seal with polysulphide again.image

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