Top Tips Tuesdays

  • 292. Top Tips Tuesday - Who Ate The Lion's Share

    Sad to say that last week I had already started 'snacking' on Aldi's mince pies and now we are already scraping the barrel. Let's hope they hadn't run out when the Christmas shop was completed yesterday. Speaking of shopping, many thanks to all our local and online customers who have supported us through a difficult year's trading what with the uncertainty over Brexit. On behalf of the staff at our bricks and mortar chandlery Storrar Marine and guys at www.marinechandlery.com we wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year and if you do get that sinking feeling, we do of course have an excellent range of products to help keep your heads above water.

    Best wishes Andy Burgess

  • 291. Top Tips Tuesday - Yule Be Glad To Read This

    Christmas Gift Guide 2019 - Issue 3

  • 290. Top Tips Tuesday - It's Not To Late

    Christmas Gift Guide 2019 - Issue 2

  • 289. Top Tips Tuesday - Panic Over, Diary Found

    Christmas Gift Guide 2019 - Issue 1

  • 288. Top Tips Tuesday - Disaster!

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    Well the last time I 'think' I saw my diary it was sitting in the boot space of my old car, along with my just repaired stainless boarding ladder before this 10 year old estate was to be part exchanged  for a newer second hand set of wheels last Friday.

    Why is it such a disaster? Because it has all my thoughts or ideas for future Top Tips, along with all sorts of vital information including the date of my wife's birthday penciled in by Jenny! It could be at work. I have searched but will try again tomorrow, perhaps it's still in the old car but why is the stern ladder now in my workshop but no sign of the diary? Or, perish the thought, it could be in one of our upstairs rooms. Two spare bedrooms are, at the moment, full to the brim with the contents of our attic which as I write is being converted into a spare 'bedroom' for when the grandchildren come to stay. Old sails, old toys, school reports, pewter mugs won at Bass week during the sixties, suitcases, model yachts and boxes of other junk that's never been sorted through since we last moved house some 12 years ago. Is the diary in there? Yes I know we downsized cos the two girls had flown the nest and now guess what we are upsizing! Funny old world, at least it would be if I could find that ruddy diary!

    As regular readers of my words of wisdom or 'ramblings of a predictable boring old git' as one reader observed the other day, I have been known to repeat myself, however I make no apologies to mention Wet & Forget again. But, and it's a big but, it's now newly available in a container which has a built in Sniper nozzle which will automatically mix the contents with water. The Sniper nozzle makes it perfect for treating roller reefing headsails whilst they are still on the rig as it will spray up to 8m high. No need to take the sail off and find a suitable clean space to treat. Just lower your unfurled headsail part way down, spray the top half then hoist fully and spray the remainder. By doing so the chances of getting a green speed stripe down the leech should you furl your headsail whilst it's still damp after sailing is almost zilch! Wet and Forget is safe to use on Dacron, Mylar, Kevlar and Carbon Fibre sails. It's also perfect for spraying onto sail covers, stack packs, canopies etc as it will keep the fabric free from that green mould which tends to 'grow' on the side which never sees the sun in the winter. You can also use Wet & Forget on your teak deck, all bright work, glass fibre, pontoon walk ways be they manufactured from wood, concrete or whatever!

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  • 287. Top Tips Tuesday - A Helping Hand

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    Many years ago, for my sins, I was talked into becoming the regional race training coordinator for the RYA North East region. My task was to coordinate, and occasionally run, training weekends for various classes of dinghies. However, the nature of the beast was that I was more often out on the water at the event, videoing and coaching, sometimes getting in the big name coaches courtesy of the RYA. Jim Saltonstall, a very very successful Olympic coach, was one such name I 'imported', with me driving the coach boat and getting right up close. I am still in awe of his words of wisdom! On my 'retirement' from the post, I got back into some serious dinghy racing on the open meeting circuit and quickly found that those weekends watching other folks practise mark rounding, tacking, starting technique, boat trim and of course sail setting helped me enormously. It is, I think, safe to say that if one has had a grounding in dinghy sailing, once you move over to cruising or racing keelboats the chances are you will be a better sailor as a result of it; your boat handling is better and you pay more attention to sail setting and boat trim. Passage making is more comfortable and you get to your destination faster, as for racing, enough said!

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    At my local club during the autumn/winter, every fortnight they run a 'fun race' for those guys who want to carry on sailing during the close season. The other weekend I offered to jump onto a yacht whose owner was relatively new to sailing and had, I am lead to believe, never raced before. A few pointers were called for, including 'be on the start line when the gun goes'. Well the start was downwind and with a strong tide pushing the fleet onto the line, unfortunately my 'words of wisdom' were completely wrong and we subsequently ended up downstream of the start mark! However not having the upper body strength of the Incredible Hulk and with the yacht having a 150% Genoa I wasn't looking forward to sheeting in this large sail, so speaking nicely to my boss Andy the day before I managed to persuade him to lend me our rigging shop's Ewincher.

    The above clip was taken by the owner of the yacht whilst he was helming (who says we men cannot multitask) On our Mystery it's Jenny who uses our own Ewincher to hoist the main, sheet the head sail in and get me up the mast, so this was my first real opportunity to use one in anger. My verdict, brilliant and if you are thinking of converting to electric winches or upgrading to electric, why bother? Or, on a festive note, perhaps you're looking for an expensive Christmas present for the crew member who has everything ! As for my boss, the demo Ewincher makes our rigger's job so much easier if a mast climb is called for as the majority of production yachts these days have halyards winches that will hoist the main or sheet the genoa in with some effort, but to get a man up the mast that needs even more grunt!

    • Genuine winch handle - 2.2kg
    • Brushless engine
    • Manual or assisted mode
    • 15 to 80 revolutions per minute
    • Torque of 80Nm: Ewincher is equipped with an adjustable torque from 10kg to 32kg of traction on the handle, it allows manoeuvring sailing boats up to 55 feet without damaging anything. As you hold it like a regular winch handle you will feel immediately if there is a blockage in the lines, any problem. This is something you don't have with electric winches: you press the button and if something is wrong and you are not careful enough, the electric winch will keep on working and can damage the sails or boat.
    • Waterproof and locking system
    • Long-lasting battery life: Ewincher offers a great autonomy thanks to its Lithium Ion battery: more than a day of sailing with only one charge. Charging time takes about 1½ hours and consumes 7Ah (1.7% of a 400Ah battery bank) It is a high efficiency Lithium-ion 25v battery 3000mA.On a 40ft boat that means you can in one day: Hoist the mainsail 3 times, put in 30 tacks and put an 85kg man up the mast (15m lift).
  • 286. Top Tips Tuesday - The Key To Long Life

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    They say the secret of a long life is to avoid smoking, drink moderately, a healthy diet and exercise! Well I don't smoke, as for my alcohol consumption, two pints on a Tuesday night in which we discuss in detail why we didn't win last Sunday's cruiser race! Friday it's a G&T and maybe a glass or two of wine, Saturday would probably be the same until Jen reminds me that I've a blog to write for next Tuesday. Sadly if I don't find inspiration and start the blog by Saturday night I then hit the bottle Sunday, seems that the more I consume the easier the words flow (usually rubbish). As for my diet, Jenny is an excellent cook however my downfall is the 'just one cheese and biscuit’.

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    As for exercise, brisk walking of our dog at the moment is out of the question. I am fully mobile from my replacement hip op two winters ago, so much so that I even rejoined my childhood dinghy club last Christmas and as a present to myself bought an RS400 dinghy for some Wednesday night racing. However before I had the opportunity to waggle the tiller, after some 45 odd years of crawling round loft floors sailmaking, my knee decided enough was enough so for Christmas this year Santa is buying me a replacement. My exercise at the moment consists of cycling down to the beach each day at 6-30 in the morning where I join three other hardy folks for a dip in the North Sea, all of us shunning the benefit of wetsuits. Jenny thinks that we are all mad as hatters, however, after we have thawed out, it does set you up for the day and you do, as a bonus, get the benefit of some spectacular sunrises!

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    Anyway enough of my rambling, back to the subject matter. Colin Fletcher, these days the Scottish and Northern rep for Wessex Resins (manufacturers and distributors of West System,) called in the other day unannounced. Andy was on his 1/2 term week and seeing the boss wasn't around, Colin collared me and asked if I was still writing a weekly blog, to which I replied, 'yes'. He then dropped his car key onto the table and proceeded to tell me that as a canny Scotsman he had saved himself a truck load of money by mending his VW camper van key using a little blob of West G/Flex.  Apparently the metal part of the key had snapped off in the lock, fortunately he managed to extract the business end. Priced a new key, which was not cheap so decided to put G/flex, one of his companies products, to the test. Colin admitted that he didn't practice what he preaches, proceeded to mix a tiny quantity of the two components and joined them together with no surface preparation! A few thousand miles down the road the key is holding up, he is a happy chappie, and perhaps seeing he has saved himself a few quid the next time he calls in to see Andy at short notice, to keep him sweet, he brings with him a packet of shortbread!

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    When fitting out the Mystery we eventually used G/flex to bond the Whale grey water tank, which is manufactured from hard to bond polyethylene, to the glass-fibre bilge. We had initially tried Sikaflex 291i but whilst it stuck to the abraded GRP it didn't to the tank. By passing a flame across the surface of the waste tank and then setting the tank down onto 4 blobs of the mixed resin/catalyst mix we ended up with a tremendously strong bond. We also used, with great success, the same epoxy to glue a thin stainless plate to the wooden cover for the cooker. It means as soon as we had stopped cooking we could safely put the 'lid down' over the hot cooker surface freeing up a valuable serving surface. G/flex's ability to absorb the stress of expansion and contraction was invaluable and three years down the line no sign of the wood metal join failing. As can be seen it can be used with success to bond dissimilar materials and most importantly damp and difficult to bond woods! Incidentally if you're having a bad day, or perhaps on a diet day like me and my blog hasn't cheered you up, try watching the G/flex Epoxy Kayak challenge. If Sinbad the sailor was still around I am sure it would bring a smile even to his face!

  • 285. Top Tips Tuesday - Salt! It's bad for your health (except with your fish and chips)

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    My better half, many years ago, forbade me from applying a liberal sprinkling or ‘dusting’ of salt on my food. However there is still one exception to the rule for both of us and that’s salt on fish and chips (not that we regularly participate in this most wonderful of British dishes) As for the fish, it has to be haddock, not cod. I am told by one of our regular customers who, apart from sailing his beautiful Rustler 36 on the West Coast of Scotland, owns and runs the ‘best fish & chip shop in Sunderland’ his words not mine! Apparently line caught Haddock is far superior to net, mind you when we did get our visas approved, stamped and ventured into 'Mackem' country to sample his wares Jenny and I did agree that with that sprinkling of salt they were superb! In the village of Tynemouth where we live, just North of the river Tyne, there are two chippies, Marshalls which we used to frequent many many years ago after our Wednesday evening racing (Jimmy Hendricks allegedly bought his fish supper from there after playing a gig at the old CLUB A'GOGO in Newcastle. There is even a plaque on the wall to prove it!) The new kid on the block is the Longsands fish restaurant eat in or take out, always good but my and Jenny's grouse is that they, like a lot of other establishments, serve this dish when its a take out meal in a cardboard box, not in good old fashioned paper. This does, from my vast gastronomic experience, keep them warmer and absorbs the surplus oil. Mind you this marvellous British Institution always tastes better if beef dripping is used in the frying process but of course, like salt, apparently it's bad for you!

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    However salt is bad for your engine, your rigging, sails, sprayhood/canopies and of course clothing! If you are lifting out/winterising your inboard or outboard and you click on either of those two words you will get Andy’s wise words of wisdom on how to go about it and very importantly keep everything’ tickety boo and salt free!’ Incidentally the image below shows that even though I had run my little 2.5 Yamaha in fresh water for over 30 minutes there was still salt in the cooling channels  when I dropped the bottom end off to check the condition of the impeller. Next year I will be leaving the outboard out in Greece having checked out the bottom end this year but will make sure I run through some diluted Salt Off (I will add some to the very large plastic container I use when I flush this small engine) For larger outboards one can, of course, use muffs and they can also be used to feed the water/Salt Off mixture through my yachts sail drive using the handy reservoir which is part of the Salt Off kit, attach between your hose and the muffs.

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    As for your rigging, try and keep the lower terminal salt free as much as possible, by regularly washing down with fresh water, and if you have a spare few minutes, read online, ‘How to Keep the Stainless Steel Stainless’, The subject matter appears on page 9 in the Blue Wave wire design catalogue which you can view it by clicking here. For cleaning stainless fittings, Spotless Stainless is brilliant if your carrying it out in the summer in the UK or in warm climates. Daveyshine cleans, polishes and protects, bronze, brass, alloy, chrome and of course stainless and temperature is not an issue. We also sell this product to a few museums and stately homes! Have used both and can recommend them. Starbrite Chrome & Metal polish is another we stock, personally, I have never used it however, if it's as good as their Non Slip Deck Cleaner it will be a winner.

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    Salt deposits on sails, canvas work and foulweather gear can and do create problems. Salt crystals are abrasive, damaging stitching and can eventually break it down. If you have the need for speed do remember that spinnakers and assymetrics don’t ‘float’ so well in light airs due to the weight of the salt so regular washing in fresh water is essential. As far as sails and canvas work goes we use a dedicated sail laundry to wash and proof if a customer wants us to send them away but if you want to DIY we do have an excellent range of sailcloth/canvas cleaners and proofing agents. For foul weather gear always follow the manufacturers washing instructions and note if your breathable foulie(s) are now leaking (and they are not manufactured with Gore-Tex) nine times out of ten it will need recoating with something like Gill proofing spray. You would be surprised at the number of sprayhoods, stackpacks etc we get in for repair where the zips have ‘frozen’ solid or rotted away due to the presence of salt! If they are beyond repair we can sew in new however a little zipper lubrication never goes amiss where the article has a zip, my favourite brand is Shurhold’s Snapstick Zipper Lubricant.

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    If your power-boating or sailing is carried out on the sea when you get back to the marina it pays to wash down the decks using Starbrite non-skid deck cleaner and the top sides with Meguiar's one-step cleaner/wax on a regular basis to help maintain that shiny look and protect your investment, and of course, if laying up at this time of year don’t forget to give it a polish!

  • 284. Top Tips Tuesday - Now You See It, Now You Don't

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    I lead a very sheltered life now that I am well past the usual retirement age, and have been ‘booted upstairs’ to idle a few hours away in the sail loft attached to the bricks and mortar chandlery emporium of www.storrarmarine.co.uk. Sadly, with me now being consigned to the loft, I don’t get the opportunity to listen to the shop counter scandal and never ever get the chance to flick through suppliers catalogues which I used to enjoy. However, even though I am only supposed to be working part time, I have been asked on occasion to man the pumps down on the shop floor whilst boss man Andy Burgess swans off on a very rare holiday or perhaps gets his hands dirty with onsite work. Just last week saw him working down in the smoke at the world famous Henley River and Rowing Museum. His task, changing the overhead displays, which included lowering the priceless 1948 Olympic medal winning Henley Pair down and moving it to a different location, then lifting the Sydney gold medal winning four up into the clouds and once again securing it with stainless wire, numerous swaged splices, and of course, set up to the correct tension using stainless rigging screws.

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    So, for a second week, I once again find myself indispensable. Why? Andy B is now enjoying quality time with his two daughters as it's half term week up in the North East, and I am in the firing line, meeting, greeting and hopefully serving customers, and of course giving my opinion, for what its worth, a tackle by tackle overview of the matches that took place over the weekend. What a marvellous game we enjoyed on Saturday! Yesterday lunchtime saw me eating what we in the sail loft call a ‘train drivers’ sandwich (tomato & hard boiled egg in a brown granary bun seasoned with a sensation of ground black pepper and don’t ask why we call them that!) down in the chandlery office and idly thumbing through an old 2018 Bartoncatalogue. My eye was caught by a picture of Andy Laurence’s daughter, Ruby, relaxing in the cockpit of his beautifully restored Alan Hill designed Cutlass 27, Andy whom, when he is at work, steers www.marinechandlery.com down the high tech seas, then when it's rest and recreation time, he can be found either working on further restoration of Nellie Dean or sailing her out on the North sea. As a postscript he painted the topsides in Epifanes yacht enamel some three odd years ago and she still looks a million dollars!

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    The old traveller on Nellie Dean which was mounted at the aft end of the companion way was in the way, a trip hazard and a hair catcher. However, Andy ain’t got much left, bit like me, but he does often sail with his wife and daughter. Also, if in light winds he pulled the traveller slightly up to windward to keep the boom on the centreline (with minimum leech tension to aid pointing ability,) the old mainsheet traveller position made it almost impossible to go down below! By removing the old one and fitting one of Barton’s brilliant removable mainsheet track systems, apart from freeing up the cockpit when not in use by removing it completely, with it being located further aft the sheeting on the boom become more efficient!

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    As for the Henley 'project', well done Andy and the team, must have taught him well now let’s see if his photos of the two boats which are shown below are as good as his wire work. My verdict, yes, but don’t yet give up the day job! Not that I can talk, my headline image of the sandwich…… spot the ‘deliberate’ mistake! The catalogue under was a Schaefer one and not Barton, how many of you spotted that? My boss certainly didn’t when he proof read it!

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  • 283. Top Tips Tuesday - The Vital Spark

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    THE 'VITAL SPARK' was the name given to a fictional Clyde Puffer created by Scottish writer Neil Munro. Short stories regarding the exploits of the crew, and of course, the boat first appeared in the Glasgow Evening News in 1905. These small steamboats were, in those days, providing a vital supply route round the West coast of Scotland and the Hebridean Islands.

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    The cargo they carried was varied to say the least; one day coal, the next day furniture, perhaps gravel and often livestock. The stories appearing in that newspaper over a period of 20 years were collected in book form, inspired a film and came out as three popular television series. The series also brought David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, one of his first acting roles. When we first launched Hindsight, in order to light the stove I used either matches or a refillable Turbostick gas lighter, although I must confess the latter was more often using for sealing rope ends than lighting the cooker! Matches, even though our yacht is based in Greece (normally a sunny dry climate in the summer) were never that satisfactory an option, the combustible head would fly off or crumble and the striking pad on the box often seemed to attract moisture. Earlier this year I dug deep into my pocket, (dislodging a few moths at the time) and purchased an 'Electric Arc Lighter'.

    The beauty of this little beast is that there is no fuel to purchase and store, it's flame less and wind proof and it's charged through a USB cable which is included in the package. For charging this and other devices onboard Hindsight we have a Blue Seas USB dual chargerfitted on the console next to the chart table, and up on deck on the coach roof 'garage' is a second waterproof twin socket manufactured by Scanstrut. This I often use in conjunction with my old iPad which is wirelessly connected to my below deck Raymarine plotter and protected from the elements by a Gooper, in an easy to open/seal waterproof case.

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    As always electronic/electrical technology moves on and since we fitted our Mystery out those clever guys at Scanstrut have come out with another charger unit called the Scanstrut Rokk which charges at three times the rate! With the speed that my mobile discharges maybe I am due for an upgrade if not a new dog and bone.

    Scanstrut Rokk USB Charger Unit

     

     

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