Top Tips Tuesdays

  • 11.Top Tips Tuesdays - What should I use to climb the mast?


    Some mast work is easier to access with the mast down. If dropping the mast is not an option, make sure you always use a harness or bosons chair for safety, even when climbing a ladder or mast steps.

    A Jacobs ladder is used by the ship's crew to get the river or estuary pilot on or off the vessel, this particular ladder set up was used by the skipper of a 10mtr yacht to enable him to work on the mast just below the spreaders. Don't forget if you are going to use a ladder on your yacht you must make sure that you use in conjunction with a Bainbridge riggers harness or the Spinlock mast pro and never ever be tempted if your yacht is fitted with mast steps to climb without the security of a harness.

    If you want more comfort when working aloft a hard base bosun's chair is often the answer, our Lalizas chair is great value for money, however my preference would be the Solent with the wood base option, beauty of this harness is that like the riggers you can walk around the deck with it on. For reaching those hard to reach wind instruments, aerials etc 'pimp' your harness with the Topclimber.

  • 10.Top Tips Tuesdays: Man Overboard!

    P1040903With the cruising season well into its swing if  you haven’t already done so, now is the time to check out your man overboard equipment. Is the light on your danbuoy working, new bulb/batteries, does the buoyant rope need replacing, is the drogue suffering from UV degradation? What about the throwing line or throwing strop still in  good condition, have you and your crew had a few practise throws? Speaking of practise when was the last time you had a simulated MOB and tried to recover from the water your favourite fender and do you have a procedure/equipment in place to recover from the water? Lifejacket have you checked the condition of the bottle and firing mechanism, if the jacket is not fitted with a crutch strap fit one, does it have a light and sprayhood, if light fitted have you tested it? Jackstays have they been inspected for wear/UV damage, lifelines, should be at least one for each crew member plus a spare, are the hooks all of the self locking type? Flares do you have sufficient on board for the cruise you are planning and are they in date, have you considered a laser flare?

  • 9.Top Tips Tuesdays: Crushed Balls Will Bring Tears To The Eyes...

    An awful lot of cruising boats, as well as almost all race boats, rely on ball bearing races to keep their blocks, traveller, furling systems running freely. Human nature being what it is, its more often than not 'fit n forget' However if you neglect to maintain the consequences can be disastrous. Roller reefing upper swivel bearing fails, the forestay then bird cages as you try and furl/unfurl your head sail and bang mast comes down as the wire snaps! The majority of ball bearing races or rollers are fitted with either hi Torlon or low load Delrin races, regular washing out with fresh water is essential to flush out debris and to ensure their free running. These fine specimens (I thought they were rat droppings) are way past their sell by date, no wonder putting the 2nd reef in was proving difficult! Team McLube One Drop Ball Bearing Conditioner is great for putting the bounce back in your traveller or battcar balls, as for the rest, keep washing regularly! Other great products (and I have and continue to use them) from McLube include their Sailkote High Performance Dry Lubricant and Hullkote High Performance Speed Polish. The latest offering from the company is the McLube Antifoul Alternative Polish  which I haven't tried however, co director Andy will no doubt be polishing his bottom this autumn in preparation for the local winter series!


  • 8.Top Tips Tuesdays - Keep Those Bilges Clean

    We received an e mail  ‘circular’ from our local marina the other day reminding guys of the importance of keeping their  bilges clean, especially if you have an automatic bilge pump that is active! If you do have a slight weep from your engine what’s worth doing (apart from investigating the cause and trying to  rectify it) is to invest in something like the Starbrite Bilge Oil Absorber, place in the bilge and it will absorb up to  2 quarts (American product so , 1.89 litres to be precise!) of a petroleum product i.e. diesel. It  means that you can pump oil free water overboard without incurring the wrath of fellow boaters, or worse, the marina operator.

    For keeping your Bilges in tip top condition I personally use and reccomend Bilgex, does what it say’s on the label and it keeps your boat smelling nice.



  • 7. Top Tip Tuesdays: Never The Twain Shall Meet

    Stainless meets alloy, it's no love match as it always ends in tears! You must always use a barrier between these two dissimilar metals or you could end up in serious trouble! Take a close look at the stanchion base, instead of using a loose fitting 3mm split pin to secure the base the skipper has bolted thru using an M5 machine screw, result is that over the years the reaction between the stainless and the alloy has caused corrosion and has eventually split the base (ringed in red)! Both the alloy bollard and the mooring cleat have been bolted or screwed thru using stainless fastenings, with no barrier between, once again corrosion has caused both fittings to fail, which could in certain circumstances end in the loss of the boat. Finally a classic bodge job, someone who shall remain nameless (but Andy and I know who) has tried to repair the joint on a Plastimo headsail foil by substituting the alloy joiner with a stainless sleeve, look carefully at the metal which has been ringed in red and you can see the bulge caused by corrosion. Worth keeping in your tool box is either Duralac or Tefgel both excellent products which act as barriers when applied correctly, incidentally we use the latter all the time when reassembling outboard bottom ends! Another product thats good for keeping corrosion at bay is Lanocote, it's a great product to keep onboard and has so many uses but I must admit I haven't tried cooking with it yet!

  • 6. Top Tip Tuesdays - Too Much Salt Is Bad For You


    How many of us regularly flush their aux outboard in fresh water after using it? As the image shows, it's certainly worth investing in a pair of muffs so can run the engine and clear any deposits out. If you have been a naughty boy and occasionally lapsed, Rydlyme Marine is a safe biodegradable marine descaler, which offers a simple, safe and effective way to remove marine growth from your water cooled marine equipment. Having said all that it would probably take more than Rydlyme to clear out these cooling channels!

  • 5. Top Tip Tuesdays: Socks and Skirts


    Are fender socks or skirts a good idea?

    Most skippers think they do provide a good level of protection against gelcoat/paint damage, however regardless if you do or don't what you must always do is keep both fenders and skirt clean especially if the environment is hostile! Situation we had at our local club early spring was very strong South Easterlies blowing sand off the beach and into the atmosphere, as can be seen from the image the damage done to the paint finish on the adjoining yacht is quite extensive.

    For keeping fenders in pristine condition regular washing is essential especially if the conditions are poor, then to bring them back to as-new Universal Stone gets my nod.

    Fender socks, I like the Fender Stocking material which is supplied in roll form and you just cut off in lengths to suit, they do say they are sand resistant, however I would still wash on a regular basis. Fender Fits are available for round as well as tubular fenders, they come in a choice of two blues, but other colours are available to order. The Blue Performance Hull protector is a smart way of helping protect your hull, it is available in two sizes however if neither size fits the bill, we can always make to measure.

  • 4. Top Tip Tuesdays: BBQ left overs or life-saving device?



    Looks like a barbecued sausage that fell through the grid, believe it or not it's supposed to be a vital part of a lifesaving device! The question is, when was the last time you checked your lifejacket?

    Read on for some invaluable advice from the RNLI or Click Here for more information on sea-safety:

    Caring for your lifejacket:

    As with all safety and emergency equipment, servicing your lifejacket is most important. Whatever type of lifejacket you use, it will need basic maintenance to keep it working properly.

    General inspection and maintenance:

    At least every six months, all lifejackets should be inflated orally or by hand pump to avoid moisture build up inside the jacket, and left inflated for 24 hours to ensure they hold their pressure and to see if there are any leaks or damage.You can also check straps,Velcro enclosures and folded corners for wear and tear and check that the retro-reflective tape is firmly attached to the jacket surface. At three monthly intervals, check webbing and stitching, all buckles, zips and D-rings and ensure the whistle is securely fastened. If the jacket is fitted with a light, check its operation and that the battery is in date – replace if necessary. Some lights are salt water activated and must be replaced after use. The lifejacket should be repacked correctly, as per the manufacturers folding instructions. When not in use, lifejackets should be stored in a dry, well-aired area. Out of season the lifejacket should be opened up, partially inflated (to remove folds) and stored on a non metal coat hanger.

    CO2 Cylinder maintenance:

    The CO2 cylinder should be checked for corrosion and tightness at least every three months as these cylinders may become loose and fail to operate and corrosion may cause the cylinder to leak. A monthly tightness check and a three-monthly bottle examination should be carried out. Remove the cylinder and check the operating head. Test the operation by pulling the lanyard and checking that the firing pin travels forward and returns freely and the pin is not worn or bent. Take care with the plastic safety clip, which is designed to break when operated, and may need to be replaced. If the cylinder thread is corroded with white powdery deposit, brush it off with a stiff nylon brush and blow out excess particles prior to spraying with a water-repellent lubricant. Also, wipe the cylinder surface with lubricant. Any part of the jacket that was in contact with a rusty cylinder should be checked for damage and may need to be repaired by the manufacturer. On lifejackets fitted with a hydrostatic trigger, the hydrostatic device must be replaced at the correct intervals and particular care must be taken to ensure that the gas cylinder is correctly tightened, as there have been reported instances of the cylinder becoming detached on this type of jacket.


    It is advisable to carry a spare re-arming kit onboard in case the lifejacket is accidentally activated. If you are at all unsure about maintaining your lifejacket, then it should be serviced annually by a qualified agent.

    For more invaluable advice I really do recommend you follow this link: CLICK HERE

  • 3. Top Tip Tuesdays: Can you be seen?!

    Not to many moons ago we had the job of re rigging a classic little sailboat, built in the sixties I believe. Looks wise she was a stunner, despite her old age (bit like me I muse). However once the mast was off the boat it was discovered that the masthead tri-colour and steaming light lens were in such bad condition that the theoretical ‘range’ of the lights was down by more than 50%, safety being seriously compromised? With a bit of simple mathematics, under ideal weather conditions and the navigation light lens in good condition the range is over two nautical miles. A ship traveling at 20 knots, North Sea ferry perhaps, has 6minutes until impact. However if the lens is in poor condition the contact time drops dramatically! As can be seen below the same watt bulb over the old and new lens provides a tremendous contrast. This is of course assuming the boat had not been picked up by the ferry’s radar but that’s another story! We hold Aqua signal navigation lights in stock but can get, the Lopolight and the Hella if you're feeling more adventurous!

    Nav Lights
  • 2. Top Tip Tuesdays - Staking Out

    We all know how annoying it is to be lying awake in your bunk at 3am and listening to the halyards slapping against the mast on your neighbours yacht, mind you, it’s even worse if it happens to be yours! Staking your halyards out is one way to overcome this, take your spinnaker, spare genoa halyard, if fitted  and topping lift assuming you have a solid kicker over to the guard rails forward of the mast (but not next to the forestay) and the main halyard to the guard rail say 2mtrs aft of the mast. As well as getting a good night’s sleep you then keep the halyards away from spreaders and other mast fittings where chafing of the rope cover in windy weather could be an issue. The other way to get rid of the slap is to purchase a Frapper, at under £10-00 its excellent value for a good night’s sleep!

    While you are ‘thinking’ running rigging, we strongly recommend that after a day’s sailing you slacken off both your genoa and in mast reefing mainsail halyards and of course ease your backstay!

    Stake it out P1040798

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