Sail bet­ter with th­ese top tips

SAIL - - Contents - with Tom Cun­liffe


I’ll bet your elec­tri­cal panel doesn’t open to re­veal a thing of beauty like this. None of mine ever have. All the same, as we add more and more elec­tri­cal gis­mos to our boats, most of us are guilty of just find­ing a spare ter­mi­nal, shov­ing the power line on and hop­ing for the best. Time taken once a year to tidy up the snake’s nest be­hind the panel will pay off when a vi­tal light starts flick­er­ing in mid-chan­nel, or the radar goes down with what looks like the USS Mis­souri on a steady bear­ing in the fog.


The best hour to lay on a coat of var­nish in any but the hottest, dri­est weather is usu­ally to­ward lunchtime. That way you can mop off the morn­ing dew after break- fast, rub down at your leisure and en­joy your 1300 cock­tail with a clear con­science, leav­ing the var­nish all af­ter­noon to go off. Be warned, though, that if you get greedy and try one last coat at 1700, the evening damp can set you back be­hind square one. Th­ese days, I make a point of dump­ing last year’s var­nish and start­ing the sea­son with a fresh can. Those old half-cans thicken up and ski­nover in win­ter so that the stuff never flows quite the same. The cost of var­nish com­pared with the price of our time is next to noth­ing, even if we use the best, so don’t be mean. Shell out and have a nice day!


There are a num­ber of el­e­ments we don’t want creep­ing around in our bilges, but two stand out as hor­rors. One is propane, with its ten­dency to shorten crew lives vi­o­lently when al­lowed off the leash. (That’s why we keep the LPG in a ded­i­cated, air-tight, self-drain­ing locker.) Apart from gaso­line, the other is sol­vents. I can live with a mi­nor spill of tra­di­tional var­nish in my paint locker. In fact, I quite like the smell, and it doesn’t last long any­way. Mod­ern high-tech prod­ucts, how­ever, are a dif­fer­ent story. Some of to­day’s thin­ners will take the skin off your hands be­fore set­tling in to eat the mem­branes of your lungs. So why not stow all the nasty stuff in the LPG locker? The com­part­ment is gen­er­ally so ef­fec­tive that if a can of thin­ners rusts out, the first we know about it is when we open the lid and find it empty.


Pulling up the out­board ev­ery time it’s not in use to keep the prop clear of foul­ing is a knee­jerk re­ac­tion for many of us. In an ideal world, we’d all do it ev­ery time. How­ever, noth­ing is as ef­fec­tive at ru­in­ing a smart yacht’s top­sides as an out­board pro­pel­ler, and when it comes to other dinghies, a sharp prop can munch its way through an in­flat­able in an af­ter­noon. Heave the prop out of the wa­ter at a dinghy dock with a var­nished wooden ten­der along­side and the owner will likely dis­em­bowel you if he gets back from the pub in time to catch you. So take a look around, and think be­fore you lift! s

There are some tricks to keep­ing var­nish look­ing good

Don’t be that guy...

Would that all our electrics looked like this...

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