Top Tips Tuesdays

  • 262. Top Tips Tuesday - Embarrassment!


    Last week's blog was entitled 'Things can only get better', I'm composing this latest one sitting in Petrinos taverna in Vathi harbour on the island of Meganisi with an ice cold 'Fix' beer, things are looking up. Perhaps the weather had finally settled down, today started off as the first occasion that I wasn't wearing my Dubarry deck shoes on my feet as with a lack of wind we motored and consequently, as the sun rose higher, I ended up dancing like a cat on a hot tin roof. According to all the taverna owners they have never had a May like this one, lots of rain, low temperatures with cold nights. Last few days we have been slightly blessed; yes sun, no rain which makes a welcome change! However, it's still with a cold wind, in fact eating out at night in the open fronted taverna's it's been a t-shirt, Musto fleece and a Gill Hydrophobe Gilet and still it's not that comfortable, must be all that alcohol consumption diluting the blood!


    Well we had a cracking sail from Sivota on the island of N. Levkas to Sami on Cephalonia. Last Wednesday it was snubber off, switch on the Quick windlass, lift and stow the Vulcanafter cleaning the chain of some strange looking ribbons of translucent matter (jelly fish or similar we think) using the deck wash pump. We motored to the entrance of the inlet, hoisted the mainsail and bore onto a beam reach and with the engine ticking over in neutral it was a magnificent 1 knot of forward motion, so it was a 'step on the gas moment.' Out went the Selden bowsprit, our code zero hoisted to the mast head after attaching the tack to the base of the Ronstan furler, unfurl and yes, boatspeed built up to 4 knots in 4 knots of windspeed and that was with us towing the dinghy! Two hours later the wind shifted and rose to 15 knots. It was then a case of furl and drop the lightweight headsail and unfurl the 110% jib. A beat to windward, then bear away round the corner of the island and a run down to Sami, headsail furled and asymmetric spinnaker hoisted (it's hard work this cruising lark) was an almost down hill ride with boat speed of 6.5, 7 & 8 knots at times.


    1/2 a mile from our destination it was engine on, asymmetric snuffed, mainsail lowered, sail ties round the main, fenders on and stern lines at the ready. We motored into the harbour, found a gap between two larger yachts, dropped the Vulcan and with crew member John paying out the chain we went astern and ended up neatly (as I thought at the time) between these two yachts and tied up. Three minutes later, whilst I was adjusting my fenders, the skipper of the starboard hand yacht said, "are you Rob Storrar?" to which I replied, "Yes and you are whom?" to which he replied, "Your business partner for the first twenty years!"


    Well, I had thought that I had got a good memory for faces but this was a spectacular fail, however in fairness to myself when I messaged the above photo (I am the one with a lack of hair) to our then  mutual circle of friends back home including my wife they didn't recognise Alan either, nor did an ex flat mate of his and let's face it was a long long time ago that the partnership of Storrar & Bax was dissolved! That night we went out for a meal and 'chewing the cud', caught up on how our respective offspring are doing and other things, followed by the polishing off a bottle of Ouzo on board his Dufour! The next night, it was pre dinner G&T's on board the Mystery with me bringing out our cockpit Lagun table to 'hold the drinks and olives' and then again a meal with them, but this time no after dinner drinks onboard!


    Further embarrassment was to follow when the time came for us to leave, as we motored off the quay a crossed anchor chain courtesy of yours truly, fortunately Alan and his crew had gone sightseeing and were not around to see our predicament. Our trusty grapnel, however, came to the rescue. Dropped it over, lifted his chain slightly and the Vulcanswung free. Off we motored, after leaving instructions with the Greek skipper of the Bavaria moored now next to Alan that he ought to check his anchor on his return, certainly we didn't think there would be an issue! However, if he does happens to read this blog, sorry again for not recognising you and sorry again for crossing your anchor chain!


  • 261. Top Tips Tuesday - Things can only get better


    I was lead to believe that once we moved our yacht down to the Ionian from the North East coast we would be blessed with flat sea, warm winds and loads of sunshine. Well on our sail from Platarias to Lakka on the island of Paxos we certainly did have a fabulous beam reach, flat seas and sunshine, clocking over seven knots at times, however, it was accompanied with a cold wind, a bit like a 'warm' North Sea breeze in the middle of summer! Having said that it was considerably better than the week before where we 'enjoyed' an awful lot of rain so must not complain! However, my woes weren't finished. They started late last year with the grey waste tank emptying its contents into the bilge (only discovered the morning of the day we were catching the ferry that  departed  Corfu at  6pm).

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    After much sucking of cheeks and muttering under our breath we discovered earlier this week that a non-return valve had been factory assembled the wrong way round. I had never checked it out when installing and as a result it wasn't doing the job it was supposed to do!  The last time I had spent 'quality' time in the lazzarete was some six years ago when I was a little bit more supple. Thank goodness for my Freebag, it made an uncomfortable job a lot more bearable. Am not sure if Jenny would be impressed with my use of the Freebag in that environment (I did clean the surface it was being used against first).


    They are, of course, a superb way of getting comfortable when leaning against halyard bags or other immovable objects when it's time to relax after a bout of housework or when reading up about our next destination using Rod Heikell's Greek Water pilot and its companion publication the Ionian. We spent yesterday at anchor in Tranquil Bay opposite the town of Nidri. Rod, in his excellent book Ionian, does write 'the bottom is good holding once your anchor is properly dug in, but it may take several attempts before it is holding to your satisfaction'. Interesting to read what Alex Blackwell, co author of Happy Hooking - the art of anchoring has written:

    "In fact, we're so convinced that we are intending to help re-write many of the cruising guides. Where anchorages are rated as having poor holding, we believe they may have been rated with inferior anchors, as we have often found the holding to be good. So if your anchor is not holding as well as you might like, consider your options. The insurance of having a good modern anchor may just let you sleep peacefully through the night secure in your chosen anchorage".


    Our Vulcan anchor, designed by Peter Smith designer of the Rocna set first time in Tranquil, and of course held well last year in Vliho (just round the corner) when the Medicane blew through!


    Anchoring in Tranquil Bay gave us the opportunity to lift the floorboards, check the grey waste tank was performing as it should do and investigate why the shower drain pump was not functioning. We discovered that yes the filter needed cleaning, should have done it more frequently, but even after cleaning this the circuit breaker on the switch panel kept tripping when operating the switch. 'Dismantle the Flojet' was the order given. First we checked out the 'diaphram end,' no blockage or sign of failure, then it was a case of let's take the back end off and as we started to remove the casing rusty water started to trickle out. So casing off, peered inside and the conclusion drawn... It's terminal. Local chandler had a Chinese copy of the Flojet at a similar cost to the discounted price Andy sells them for back in the UK. I think it's a UPS from Andy then to the Vliho yacht club for collection back end of this week. Today we up anchor and set off for Sivota. Will be interesting to hear what crew member John's thoughts are on the village as it was some twelve years ago when he had his first experience of a Mediterranean charter! I've just signed the blog off, the sun has broken through, we are about to haul the anchor and yes things can only get better'. Let's hope our grey water issue of last year is now finally over!


  • 260. Top Tips Tuesday - Sun? sailing and a soaking

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    Well, after enduring snow and a ferry strike on our drive down from the UK to Greece, I was hoping for some pleasant sailing conditions once we had got the boatyard 'business' out of the way. Yes it was great to get Hindsight back in the water however now we have moved on we do miss the fish taverna across the road from the Corfu boatyard. One starter of anchovies, Greek salad both shared, two main course of sardines and four beers.

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    After that feast, which we didn't finish, (doggie bag requested) John my driving companion/crew went looking for the Liverpool/Barcelona football match. I went back to the boat being more of a rugby person but next morning he advised me that whilst looking for a taverna to view the match he stumbled across, in a backstreet opposite the Corfu ferry port, an establishment that cooked on the charcoal grill meat that you personally selected. As we were both 'fished out' next day John advised me that it would be a meat night, eat and then watch the Tottenham/Ajax match on the screen. So that evening off we trotted to a night of food and footie. Interesting place, at first I thought (if it were not for a few tables) we were in a butchers shop as the counter had probably at least six different cuts of beef on display in the chilled counter display, pork, lamb, chicken etc. Two very very large meals, one Greek salad and four beers between the two of us all for 30 euros. Our only complaint... no sound whilst watching Tottenham Hotspur sorting out Ajax on the screen!


    Before we battened down the hatches last October I serviced the engine (using the Yanmar service kit package) plus a replacement Delphi primary filter. The oil change is so easy these days using a vacuum extractor. I am using a Pela which was kindly given to me by an old friend, took pity on me when my grey water tank overflowed, due to my cock up. It was perfect for getting the waste water out of the Mystery's deep bilge! As for the engine oil change, easy peasy with no chance of an oil spill. For those on a limited budget the Seago vacuum oil extractor works well and is excellent value for money.


    As you can imagine after six months on the hard standing, the cockpit and deck gets a little grubby, and by the time I have replaced bedding, brought on board provisions etc it's even dirtier! Starbrite deck cleaner gets the nod from me. Have tried a few others (purely for research of course) but always come back to this one. The Shurhold telescopic brush handle complete with the interchangeable brush gives me the option to use a soft, med or hard head. Or if I want to clean the topsides whilst on deck a head is available with a different angle. You can also adjust the length of the handle if necessary.

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    I was disappointed to find water in one of the cockpit lockers, had thought it fairly watertight! The cover for the folding bucket was stained with mildew however an application of Yachticom's mould and mildew remover soon put paid to that! Same treatment was successful on the various ropes stored in the locker over the winter! Don't forget, however, to wash thoroughly with fresh water once desired effect had been achieved.

  • 259. Top Tips Tuesday - Searching for the sunshine (and some sailing)

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    As was mentioned in last week’s ‘I have failed’ blog, being too busy clearing the sail-loft floor to contemplate putting pen to paper before my search for sun and some sailing out of Corfu. Leaving behind a cold North East we embarked on the Newcastle to Ijmuiden ferry, our estate car loaded to the gunwales with antifouling, roller trays, Shurhold Orbital Polisher, Yanmar engine and gear box oil etc etc along with a Gul Cross inflatable SUP for a customer of ours who keeps his yacht in Gouvia.

    It was looking promising weather wise once we had disembarked on Saturday morning. However as we drove thru Holland then Germany the outside temperature kept falling and by the time we entered the Swiss road system we were greeted with sleet and snow and zero degrees! With darkness came poor driving conditions, the glare of the unlit road surface from the headlights and to boot no cats eyes to keep us on the straight and narrow! Just before we pulled over in Italy for a few hours shut-eye we observed the outside temperature climb from zero to fifteen degrees in a matter of twenty minutes! Arriving in Ancona ferry port Sunday morning we were greeted with a spectacular lightning display and torrential rain which left the terminal car park flooded. Methinks the English registered camper van with the lifebuoy on its stern knew what we were about to receive!

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    Booked in only to be told that the ferry which runs from Ancona in Italy to Igoumenitsa in Greece was running 4 hours late! Then learnt  that when we arrived at Igoumenitsa the ferries that run from there to Corfu would be on strike tomorrow! Looks like our proposed launch day of next Saturday may have to be put back till Monday!


    As I mentioned above we are transporting a Gul Cross SUP (inflatable stand up paddle board) for one of Andy’s mail order customers; wish they had been available when I bought mine some two years ago, as it’s much better value for money, and of a superior construction!  They are great for exploring the various inlets/coastline and they do give both Jenny and I a chance to keep slightly fitter!


    I use a 12volt high speed inflator to inflate/deflate it, also my trusty dinghy, the one I have sadly has been discontinued however the new SUP 12v Air Pump does the business.


    Jenny worries that when I disappear on one of my paddle board explorations that I am not wearing a life jacket, however this year I have purchased a couple of the new Spinlock Alto life jackets. Worn as a belt they are perfect for paddle board safety and if we are going ashore in the dinghy at night, much more convenient than a life jacket as you wear them round your middle like a ‘bum bag’ so no more worries of facing lifejackets pinched from the Avon!

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  • 258. Top Tips Tuesday - Sorry He Failed


    It's always the same when it's a late Easter, you just about recover and then before you have started breathing normally it’s the May bank holiday, the result is we all end up running around like headless chickens! And just to put the icing on the cake 'semi retired' Rob Storrar disappears off to Corfu at the beginning of May to antifoul, polish then launch his and Jenny's Mystery 35. With the two bank holidays being so close together my staff end up working even longer hours and this year I even roped Rob in for a few extra hours, hence the lack of a blog. Yes it’s true he cannot multi task! The good news is that for the first time since we started to send out our Tuesday Top Tips some six years ago (how time flies when you are enjoying yourself) readers of 'Robs rubbish' as he calls it are going to be spared. However the bad news is that next weeks words of wisdom are apparently already bubbling away! Have a great May Bank holiday and spare a thought for Rob, driving from Newcastle to Corfu (with a little help from three ferries).


  • 257. Top Tips Tuesday - Pre-season Prep - Above Deck



    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, 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 the source of a leak into the interior. 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 fix 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.

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    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 lock nut and bolt 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. Split pins can be very sharp, likewise the end of a stainless bolt. They should be covered in self amalgamating tape or have a blob of clear sealant applied to prevent snagging on footwear, foulies 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, and that the piston fully engages when closed. Lubricate same with a dry film spray, Boeshield T9 or similar. Incidentally, Wichard have just brought out an automatic locking pelican hook that has been designed for single handed use and the piston engages in a different manner to traditional types. If your method of tensioning the guard rails is a cord lashing (strongly recommended 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. Check that all the clevis pins, rings 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 blogged about on TTT.193

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    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 cradle, horseshoe bracket and while you are in that area, are any electrical cables passing through the 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. If replacing wire jackstays, consider changing to webbing as an alternative, it is kinder to decks and doesn’t roll under foot.



    Mooring cleats, Fairleads, bollards, eye 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 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 their 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 with a hose, 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 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 be washed thoroughly and checked for holding power, service kits are certainly available for Spinlock, Easy Marine and Barton, other makes no doubt also please check with our staff.



    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 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.


  • 256. Top Tips Tuesday - Pre-season Prep - Topsides



    It's a well known fact that all GRP gelcoat surfaces will benefit from at least one application per year (or preferably 2) of a good quality wax such as Meguiar's Flagship Premium Waxwhich not only seals the surface from ingress of dirt but also protects against UV degradation. To get the best result and protect your investment, we recommend that you first wash the surface down to remove any surface contaminants. I always use and recommend Yachticon GRP supercleaner. 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.


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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, first scrape out any dirt/wax/grime with a sharp needle/pin. In our experience, simply washing the area is not as effective. It's worthwhile also flushing the surface to be treated with acetone. 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 and then to seal the surface a good quality wax polish such as 3M marine ultra performance wax.


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    After the wash down we recommend that you use a mild cleaner such as Meguiar's Colour Restorer 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. If there is no power available, the OrbiPro Cordless Orbital Tool is a useful investment, particularly as you can rent it to your neighbours when they see the fabulous finish you have achieved.


    An oxidation remover will bring life back into a hull, 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.



    Don’t try to polish or wet/dry rub down 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 other metal surfaces and of course fenders.



    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, a 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.

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    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 5:1 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 of the same solution. Once the green has gone (may take a few weeks depending on the weather) wash with fresh water, allow to dry and then proof with Graingers Gold, not only will the water bead and run off instead of soaking in but it will help repel surface contamination.

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  • 255. Top Tips Tuesday - From Prep to Painting - Your Step by Step Guide to Antifouling



    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 Cleaner however make sure you wear gloves and eye protection when using this product as it is quite aggressive.


    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.

    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 International Primocon 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 International Gelshield 200 to give protection against osmosis, however you must abide by the manufacturer’s instructions regarding temperature, mixing, application and over-coating materials.

    Steel Keels: 

    Steel 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.

    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 International Watertite.

    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.


    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.


    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 such as Echo, it is water as against solvent based so 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.

    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!

  • 254. Top Tips Tuesday - Beware the rollover on April 6th


    Back in the early seventies whilst working for Musto & Hyde as a trainee sailmaker I was asked by a sailing school friend of mine if I fancied helping him sail his dad's 36 foot steel yacht back from Esbjerg in Southern Denmark to Blyth Northumberland. As a dinghy racer I jumped at the chance of ‘broadening my horizon’ and so four of us set off on Pete’s dads yacht, three International 14 racers and one more experienced cruiser. For navigation we were relying on a Walker trailing log and an RDF radio direction finder. Well to cut a long story short the ‘string’ on the trailing log snapped ten miles out and as for the RDF, well we ended up at Flamborough Head some distance South! Nowadays with advances in electronics life aboard is a lot easier and, dare I say it, less stressful but please be aware of April 6th 2019 if your electronics are more than 10 years old!


    As I said above, with the likes of GPS and chart plotters, navigating can be a lot easier but beware as from what I understand if you have a GPS which is getting on in life (over ten years) and has not been subject to a firmware update, this rollover could cause stand-alone GPS receivers and systems using GPS chips to change by 19.7 years either in the past or future, thus generating errors in both the GPS position and time. However if onboard equipment has been installed after August 1999 or has regular firmware updates from the manufacturers , there will be minimal risk of an error occurring! Please note that not all products will rollover on April 6th 2019, some may rollover on a different date due to the implementation in the manufacturer’s firmware. The full text of Safety Bulletin 13 - GPS  Week Number Rollover can be obtained by clicking here.


    If, like me, you have a wash and a wear (and elderly back up hand held) onboard and it’s showing its age, rather like me, why not treat yourself to the Garmin GPS73 for what it costs at £140.95 it's a relatively cheap back up and should you decide maybe to go ‘off piste’ when out walking in say the Lake District it will help keep you on the straight and narrow and maybe lead you to your favourite pub!


  • 253. Top Tips Tuesday - Practical Prezzies For Mum


    If you're like me and impossible to buy presents for, just imagine how hard it must be for your kids to buy their sailing mums a really really useful Mothers Day present. Yes we know she has the tea towel, now well past its sell by date, of sail boats or that newer one of sea birds, the pinny (apron) with a nautical theme. Port and Starboard socks seemed like a good idea at the time as did the old fashioned Sou'wester but seeing the expression on her face....... I don't think so! Kids, this year just give her a really useful present that won't be tucked away in the port locker along with the out of date flares, a half a tin of Brasso a 'useful' ball of string which in an earlier life was the action part of a lead line and three tins of extra strong lager!


    Skippers, sometimes you just have to give your kids a gentle nudge in the right direction to give their mum that really useful gift. Ok it may break the bank but as parents all over the world will know, you can always 'lend on an interest free loan' safe in the knowledge that it will never be repaid!


    Bring a smile to mum's face with a Freebag. It's great for keeping her comfortable in the cockpit when motor sailing to windward in a force six with wind against the tide or, having endured that 'exhilarating  sail', it can be loaded into the dinghy and taken ashore for ones 'creature comfort'  on a rocky beach. However, if mum's sick of being cold and wet and has finally taken up an alternative hobby such as gardening, maybe some archaeology, the little sister of the Freebag, the Freebag Pro, will no doubt bring  another smile to her face!


    We skippers tolerate seasickness, most times it comes with the job description. However, when it's mum, who can be described as fair weather sailor at the best of times, a pair of our brilliant Boarding Ring Glasses may help prevent the mutiny on the Bounty or whatever your pride and joy may be called! They are also very useful if eldest son decides that his road racing or rallying skills are to be practised whilst giving his mum a lift to the supermarket.


    Mum may be like the skipper, both his and her eyesight failing (in my case rapidly) and as we all know, nowt is worse than a damp, tired slightly tetchy man hugging the helm cos he's feeling a little green and wanting to know in double quick time if the faint smudge off the port bow is a lobster pot or the start of the buoyed channel. It's times like this when mum wishes she was not chief bottle washer, galley slave and the lookout boy! However with a little bit of help from the skippers deep pocket, the brilliant Bynolyt binoculars may, in the future, help prevent a cross word or two from being spoken when searching the horizon! Used and recommended by the RNLI for the last 15 years, these binos are fully waterproof and they float. They feature a shockproof case, are nitrogen filled, 7 x50 magnification and of course the built in compass is back lit! Oh, by the way, they are guaranteed for 25 years!


    Kids are you feeling flush? Your latest Youtube offering has just gone viral, fancy being paid to post a video or two on house cleaning and earning squilions for endorsing a fancy toilet cleaner or a tip on using shaving foam  to remove red wine stains!  Guys are you one of these lucky teenagers that have hit that jackpot? (if so, please share your thoughts with me) Why not spend some of your hard earned dosh on an Ewincher. Mum will love you for it and, just as importantly, so will dad. This little beauty takes all the pain out of pitting muscle against that imovable object. Not only can she who must be obeyed at all times now hoist the main with no effort, she can also get the skipper to the top of the mast. Incidentally if he becomes too much of a pain why not leave him there or she could use it to hoist the dinghy aboard whilst leaving him ashore. It can also be used to raise the anchor if the the dedicated windlass battery or the motor has failed. As for sheeting in the genoa, easy peasy! Need convincing? Why not read the report?


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