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  • 305. All You Need To Ask About Deck Fittings

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    As I write this we are all forbidden to visit pubs, restaurants etc and we find out that our sailing club and the marina coffee bar have closed their doors for the foreseeable future and the talk on the car radio as I drove home from work was that by tonight we may well be in full lockdown. In anticipation of this my wife Jenny made a list last Saturday and insisted on me starting it Sunday! You never know it may well be finished before the lockdown is lifted. Having said that the fairies seem to have added to the list whilst I was sound asleep last night! However on a more positive note methinks that it’s only fair that we can ‘self isolate’ on our boat and pay attention to all that’s written down in the Weems & Plath Maintenance Log Book. Certainly Andy's past Saturday trade was good, mainly antifoulingsales it must be said, if push comes to shove let's hope that if a lock down does occur we will be allowed to drive to the boatyard compound!

    GUARD RAILS AND STANCHIONS

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    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, degrease the fitting and deck using acetone or similar and, if the hole for the thru bolt 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 around 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!

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    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. However if you do like the comfort factor of a PVC cover, we do sell 'split tube' for this purpose and of course it's other advantage is that it can be 'popped off'' to inspect  the wire below!

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    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 sprayBoeshield 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 ie once every two years. 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 blogged about on TTT.193. Speaking of rings I personally don't like them have seen to many instances where the ring has opened up jeopardising in a worst case scenarios the rig or a man overboard!

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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 of a knotted construction.

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    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 pushpit showing signs of chafe?

    JACKSTAYS

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    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.

    DECK FITTINGS

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    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 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 blob 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, TRACK AND CARS

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    Blocks, especially ball or roller types, assuming in good condition running freely and not missing any ball bearings, they, 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 (HALYARDS & SHEETS)

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    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 the 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 (started his marine career as our 'Saturday lad' but now 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.

    HEADSAIL FURLING/REEFING SYSTEMS

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    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 circlips 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 or OneDrop Ball Bearing Conditioner. 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)

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    WINDLASS

    Last but not least don’t forget the windlass, out of sight out of mind 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, then when everything is back in place, spray with Boeshield T9. Test the voltage drop at the terminals.

    D. Replace all gaskets.

    E. Once the anchor windlass has been removed from the deck clean all salt deposits and the like from under the base and re. seal with polysulphide again.

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  • 297. Top Tips Tuesday - We Plough The Fields And Scatter

    Having upset one of our readers the other week with my blog entitled David Rose, (I have personally emailed to apologise), in my defence I did run the subject matter past my good lady and a couple of female staff members as well as my boss before pressing the send button! So I hope the title of this week's blog doesn't offend! It is surprisingly hard to think up a subject never mind a title that might catch your attention week after week, especially since I have been trying to limit my alcohol consumption whilst pounding the keyboard. I can still remember as a ten year old being made to sit through the Sunday service with my big brother before we were allowed to cycle down to our local sailing club. I did enjoy the singing (not sure if the other members of our family did appreciate mine) but preferred dinghy sailing to the Sunday sermon. My favourite hymn is still, and not as per the title might suggest, 'Eternal Father Strong To Save' written in 1860 by William Whiting who was inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107.

    As far as we small boat sailors are concerned, what are our fears? For Jenny & I who keep our Mystery in the Ionian, dragging the anchor was our number one worry as neither of us was used to anchoring. Having said that, our Vulcan, the stablemate to the Rocna, has inspired confidence from the very first time that we used it. A year later we survived the 'Medicane' in Sept 2018, our Vulcan did the business and kept us safe and sound whilst all around us folks were dragging their anchors. We followed the advice given in 'Happy Hooking' by Alex & Daria Blackwell and didn't budge an inch, loads of chain out, long snubber to negate the shock loading and whilst we didn't sleep, (stayed up on deck all that night cos we were forever shining our spotlight or blowing our fog horn at drifting boats) we did feel confident that we would not drag!

    For a stern anchor or kedge we use the excellent Fortress, not only has that superb holding power, it is light enough to put into the dinghy if say you want to deploy an anchor using your dinghy in a crowded anchorage or, heaven forbid, you end up on the putty and need to pull yourself off! In the anchor comparison report Fortress and Rocna performed best but the former is 1/2 the weight of the Rocna. To achieve this light weight its manufactured from aluminium magnesium alloy; as strong as steel but half the weight. Features include, it's easy to manage weight, rustproof, sharper points than heavy, dull edged anchors and will set faster and will penetrate deep into common sea bottoms for incredible holding power. My mate Pete proud owner of a 24 ton Oyster has used his in anger and thinks it's brilliant! Similar in design and construction to the Fortress is the ‘home grown’ Lewmar LFX anchor. Constructed from high grade anodised aluminium, the large flukes perform superbly under high loads, whilst being extremely lightweight it makes the anchor easy to handle and deploy either from a boat or tender and of course it can be disassembled for stowage in a locker. As yet we have had no feed back as to its performance but we are told it performs superbly in sand and mud. Price wise its approx. 1/3rd cheaper than the Fortress, pity it wasn’t available when kitting out Hindsight some four years ago I would have been tempted!

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

    Christmas Gift Guide 2019 - Issue 1

  • 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!

  • 240. Top Tips Tuesday - Whodunnit?

    The other month, August the 7th to be precise, I was called down to our local boatyard on the river Tyne to have a look at a furling system that a customer had an issue with, I signed in, grabbed a key fob for the security gate and entered the yard. Once in the yard some three or four hundred yards away I thought I could see a hi-tech racing yacht minus its keel sheltering under a temporary structure . Being a nosey sort of guy I decided that a closer inspection was the order of the day and lets forget about inspecting the suspect furling system for the time being. Well, as I got closer, it became apparent that this 'state of the art flying machine' had never set sail nor was ever likely to be launched, on closer inspection it quickly became apparent that it was a mock up of a hull and lying next to it were a couple of shafts and plastic propellers!

    After my initial interest faded I did the necessary inspection on the furling system(condemned it!) exited the boatyard, handed my key fob back to the office and asked the question,” What is it?” Apparently it was a prop for the TV detective Vera series and, if you are like me not a telly watcher, let me enlighten you. Vera is a British crime drama series based on novels of the same name, written by crime writer Ann Cleeves. It was first broadcast on ITV on 1 May 2011, and up till then I have missed all eight series! I have read that it stars Brenda Blethyn as the principal character, Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. Vera is a middle-aged employee of the fictional Northumberland & City Police, who is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. She plods along in a constantly dishevelled state, but has a calculating mind and, despite her irascible personality, she cares deeply about her work and comrades. Bit like me I hear Jenny say!

    Since that sighting of the 'boat' I have managed to watch an episode of Vera, enjoyed spotting local landmarks in some of the more obscure locations, but as my boss Andy says and he is a great fan of the series, “some of the accents need a little bit of polish.” However not the kind you put on the topsides! As I wrote above, Andy is a great fan of Vera and if there had been a Christmas special of this program no doubt he would be (assuming his two girls are tucked up in bed) sprawled out in front of the telly with a tumbler of Jack Daniels in his hand. Speaking of Christmas my boss sends his Christmas greetings and the compliments of the year as do I and all the members of staff. Thanks for supporting us through an uncertain year and we look forward to being of service in 2019. As for Vera’s racing machine apparently we will be seeing it on our screens in 2019.

  • 238. Stocking Filler Ideas from the Top Tips Tuesday Team

    This year we have pulled together our  'Top Tips Tuesday's Top Christmas Picks' to create a series packed full of Christmas gift inspiration. Just follow the links below to see what we have on our 'Christmas List' this year...

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 1

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 2

    Stocking Fillers

    More Nautical Gift Ideas

     

  • 222. Top Tips Tuesday - Toilet Tips

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    Alliteration, apparently it's when the first letter of every word in the sentence is the same, according to my retired school teacher wife! However let's get back to the subject in question. Most sailors would agree that it's in or around the heads, be it a yacht or powerboat, that more often or not we end up with an issue. In our years of owning a boat and having sailed with friends on their yachts,  touch wood it's always been in the headscompartment that we have come to a 'sticky end' and not at the seacock! However if the problem is down below where the discharge pipe exits the hull, its not usually a costly lift and a couple of days lost as that excellent device the Seabung could save your wallet as no expensive lift out nor time on the water lost!

    A well known marine toilet manufacturer recommends that, after visiting the heads you should pump the waste away with the minimum of seven strokes (both up and down) per metre of discharge pipe, but having on occasions being awakened by the sound of a manual toilet pump being used in the middle of the night methinks not a lot of guys adhere to this guideline! As for me, and having in the past had to unblock the outlet on more than one occasion, the first image of the blog was taken on the pontoon at Graciosa a small island off the tip of Lanzarote, Jenny abandoned ship whilst I cursed and sweated buckets! Nowadays I usually pump through some more 'fresh' water to help prevent a build up of uric scale. However, I am also a great believer in a dose of LeeScale on a regular basis, not for me I hasten to add, but a 10%  mixture (20% if you have a large build up) flushed down the toilet to help clear build up on the inside of the outlet pipe. Incidentally, LeeScale can be left in the system overnight for maximum effect.

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    Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner & Lubricant, which we keep in our heads compartment, helps remove stains and water deposits from bowls easily and quickly. It can be used with confidence in all plastic and china bowls, and as it contains no harsh chemicals it will not damage seals or valves. Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner will not interfere with the action of most holding tank treatments and the product that I now use is Odourlos. It breaks down waste, is 100% organic and biodegradable and prevents unwanted odours!

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    When working on the interior of Hindsight and concentrating on the heads area, we fitted an Oceanair Brush & Stow Compact toilet brush. The Brush & Stow is wall mounted and has a lock-in lid which keeps shower water out and odours in! The brush head is the perfect size for all marine toilets and replaceable brush heads are available. From the same company we also flush mounted their DRYroll waterproof toilet roll dispenser. As its name implies, it's perfect for keeping the toilet paper dry and the clever design means that when you close the 'lid' it automatically rewinds any spare paper! The dispenser can also be surface mounted, all in all an excellent bit of kit!

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    The saying 'don't put anything down the toilet unless it's been eaten first' is a rule that should be strictly adhered to and for the crew of Hindsight that includes toilet paper! Yes you can get soluble paper but why increase the risk of a blockage and hours spent taking the plumbing apart? Been there, got the medal!

  • 202. Top Tips Tuesday - Preseason Prep - Topsides

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    WASH


    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.


    GELCOAT REPAIRS


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    For those annoying unsightly hairline cracks (often found round stanchion bases) MagicEzy Hairline fix is the business! It's great for stress cracks, crazing and scratches. For best results, 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.


    POLISHING


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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.

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    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.


    BRIGHTENING AND RESTORING YOUR TOPSIDES


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    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


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    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.

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    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.


    LAST BUT NOT LEAST


    Should you have halyards, webbing lifelines and other items that are resting on the deck and have turned green over the winter months don’t despair. Don’t get the pressure washer out (destroys stitching/fabrics etc) but spray Wet and Forget on these items and leave. The 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.

  • 200th 'Top Tips' Competition - Questions and T&C's

    *** SORRY, THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED ***

    To win one of the six prizes featured in our 200th anniversary blog you must answer all of the questions correctly. Send your answers to 200anniversary@storrarmarine.co.uk

    Q1. How long is the guarantee on Bynolyt Searanger II Binoculars?

    Q2. What weight is used to keep the danbuoy upright on the Seago 3 in 1 rescue & recovery system?

    Q3. What length is the sender cable on the Topargee water tank gauge.

    Q4. Name the award given to the Boarding Ring glasses in 2013.

    Q5. There are three natural ingredients found  in Vistal, what are they?

    Q6. What is the standard dilution ratio for Wet & Forget?
    The closing date for the competition is midnight Tuesday the 27th of March 2018 (UK time)
    The  names of the entrants who get all the correct answers will be put in Andy's lucky hat and the winners will be drawn in order.
     

    1st prize - Bynolyt Searanger II Binoculars

    2nd prize - Seago 3 in 1 rescue and recovery system

    3rd prize - Topargee surface mount water tank gauge

    4th prize - 1 pair Boarding Ring Glasses

    5th prize - 2 X Vistal hard surface natural cleaner

    6th prize - 1 X 5L Wet & Forget

    PLEASE NOTE:

    Prize winners on UK mainland will not be charged shipping, however  for Highlands, Islands and abroad we reserve the right to charge carriage at cost. We would notify and need payment before shipping.

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