Soft Shackles

April 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I made my first and second ever soft shackle last night! (If you’ve never heard of them, the are basically rope replacements for your common or garden metal shackles, particularly loved by racing sailors as they are lightweight and really strong)

Soft Shackles Hurley 22

My main aim was to make one to attach the sheets to the genoa as the current set up is always getting caught on the shrouds when we tack and this is supposed to help.

I bought 2m of 5mm Dyneema D-pro from Force 4 Chandlers (for £3.15 a meter) and I thought I’d try and get 3 out of it so I cut a length of 1/3 to start with.

Made the first shackle using a couple of the videos from YouTube, but I’ve just found a better piece on AnimatedKnots.  However,  it turned out with a 5cm eye so too small for the genoa (no doubt will be useful for something else though…)

Soft Shackles Hurley 22

I just used a double overhand as the stopper knot, and have added a piece of whipping twine so it opens easily. You just pull the string and it opens up.  Put the stopper through and work it back to closed.

Soft Shackles Hurley 22

The second shackle looks a bit more appropriate and has a 15cm eye, plenty big enough to get through the clew, and I shall splice some soft loops in the sheets to go on there.  I also did a proper lanyard knot on the bigger one, which is supposed to be stronger than the double overhand, but is quite complicated.

 Soft Shackles Hurley 22

I’m really pleased with them, and they cost 6 quid for both of them.  The fids are expensive though, they are about £10 each (I used a 5.5mm one for this).  But considering that the made up soft shackles are about £20 each in Force 4, I’m well pleased…

Not sure about my genoa though… The bigger one actually looks rather fabulous on the dog!

 Soft Shackles Hurley 22

Beautiful Beaulieu…

April 28, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Well, I actually traded at Beaulieu Boat Jumble this weekend… (With my clothing business, not with actual boat bits.)  I got there at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening to set up, and literally within 5 minutes of getting out the van I had bought a spinnaker pole with no ends for £6.  (I subsequently found one end to fit on another stall which I exchanged for one golden nugget (£1) – so it’s very nearly even useful!)

Boat Jumbles are like that; If you think they are busy when the first boiler suited and be-oilied public rampage through the gates then you should see the 2 hours before the gates actually open.  It builds up like a crescendo of Arthur Daley types all just running about swapping outboards and propellers from one stall to another if they think they can turn a profit.

Beaulieu Boat Jumble 2014

Little do they know, most of the propellers and outboards have already changed hands 3 times by now…
(Photo stolen from

Then of course there’s the poor trunk traders who generally are less accustomed to the ways of ‘The Hustle’.  By the time they arrive, the keenest traders have been round everywhere 3 times for the best ‘deals’ and are waiting ready to pounce on the gentle folk, who just want to get a few quid for their old bits and clear a bit of space in the garage, as they open their estate cars and set up their wobbly paste tables on the grass.

So, it pretty much rained all Saturday night, and was forecast to rain pretty much all Sunday morning!  Beaulieu is amazing for bargains though and I had a big list of stuff to buy (paint was a biggie, I need epoxy, and primer, and antifoul).  Except of course I went and left the list in the van, so there were a few deviations that I couldn’t help.

Also, I was kinda supposed to be on my stall, selling my stuff… Though I had bought a spare ticket to take a mate, in the end, what with the weather I decided to go alone…  And to open my stall up late after I’d been round for my bits and pieces. Amazingly though,  a lady from the Moody Owners Association who had bought from me last year, and follows my Facebook group, actually offered to man my stall while I went shopping!  I’m not sure she expected to be left so long, and with the dog, but thank you Annie!!

I got some cracking bargains, even after opening time…  (* denotes not on list but yet irresistible):

Brand new £350 (mrp)  Gill Ocean Jacket (like this) for £40, yes £40! (Gill were selling off samples – shows you their markup!)*
2 x 2.5 litres of Hempel Gel Protect SFE200 for £50 (would have been £150 full price)
2.5 litres Hempel Tiger Xtra Antifoul for £45 (£60 full price – if you shop around)
10l water carrier £3*
5l water carrier £2*
2 stainless steel hinges for the cooker lid I have yet to make £1
A harness (so I don’t always have to wear my lifejacket) £3*
A small pressure cooker (will fit on boat stove) £8*
Big Mainsheet shackle £3*
Yellow ‘Q’ flag and French courtesy flag £8
Irish courtesy flag £2
Set of softwood bungs £4*
Small pointy wire brush drill attachment for crevices £1
Bunch of galvanised shackles £1.50*
Brass bulkhead clock £2
Brass barometer (though it turns out it doesn’t work!) £2
Stainless steel collar which *might* do for the rudder £1.50*
Storage box for screws (or something) £1*
Bundle of teak strips (ex decking lengths) £5*
5m routed teak trim for hatch £9
North Brittany Pilot from late ’90s £2 (the rocks don’t move)*
Lundy and Irish Sea Pilot (current), and South and West Coast of Ireland Sailing Directions (2008) £10*
2 lengths of 8mm Dyneema (used but useful condition) £4*
1 length of 10mm Braid on Braid (used but useful condition) £2*
6ft? bare spinnaker pole (ie no ends) £6*
1 Spinnaker pole end £1*
and, a Proctor complete whisker pole  (6ft?) £10 (bargain!)*

(Also picked up a free copy of next month’s Practical Boat Owner :-)

So, I did spend £200.  But I got a lot for it I think.  And I did sell the old paraffin stove that came with Duet to my sharkey looking neighbour for £20.  He then promptly told me he would get 80 quid for it (from the right person) …but to be honest I just wanted something towards a new alcohol stove and to clear a bit of space in the garage (and I also think ‘the right person’ for a paraffin boat stove is a rare specimen).

Rain stopped play really, and by midday the site was a quagmire.  There were a lot of empty pitches, but still clearly bargains to be had.

Verdict: A grand day of fundamental economics (and mud).

Next weekend I will be back to the interior scraping over on Portland…

The Plan (Version 0.1)

April 18, 2014 at 10:16 am

So, I’m planning 3 months off work so I can go sailing.  I know I’m really lucky in that I’m freelance so can be flexible like this.  I have found a house sitter who is known, but not too close (he’s my Chiropractors brother) and is willing to stay 3 months for a contribution towards the bills.  The dog is all set to go to my Mum’s for the summer (and I think it will be nice for them both), and my good Mother is also willing to look after the order fulfillment side of my business while I’m gone.

I’m trying to figure out if I can possibly go cruising and carry on working 2 days a week.  All I need is a hookup for the laptop and WiFi. I can tether my phone (which has unlimited internet) and this has been tested well on land.  The problem is the hassle of trying to get to a Marina for electric hook up 2 days a week, and the impact of that on my sense of freedom.  Who knows what will happen with the weather this summer and I can imagine myself just worrying how I’m going to get to a marina berth for *next Tuesday* and whether the phone signal will be good enough.  I can see it being a bit of a nightmare to be honest, though of course the income would be nice.  I’m still deciding on that one…

However, my manager asked me the other day if I was going to be checking in with the Coastguard on each passage, to which I of course replied a confident, “Yes, of course!”.

Now, I hate using the radio. Probably something to do with growing up in the Solent and sniggering at all the posho’s asking Solent Coastguard if a F7 would make them spill their G&Ts.  “This is Yacht Elvira” said in Received Pronunciation was a very long running family joke…) and it is a few years (maybe 4?) since I did my VHF course so I admit I’m a bit rusty… So I’ve made up a prompt card which will fit nicely on the back of the Mayday card I’ve already done.   It’s more of an ‘aide memoire’ rather than a verbatim script though, and I’ve added the “Prowords” out of the Almanac for a bit more confidence/authority.

I have also registered with the CG66 scheme, a voluntary safety registration scheme where you record your details and a contact of someone ashore.  Details of this scheme are here

So. The (current) plan is to launch around the end of May, have a shakedown to Poole maybe with some stops at Worbarrow Bay and Studland (and I may go to Cherbourg from Weymouth if the weather is absolutely right. I think it would be good for confidence as I do know Cherbourg quite well), and then head out West across Lyme Bay to Brixham and hop down west all the way to the Isles of Scilly.  Then round and up across the Bristol Channel, definitely stopping at Lundy. I would like to get across to Ireland also if there is time.

There’s a great article in this month’s Yachting Monthly, “How to sail around the British Isles” with a great map.  The pink areas are what they call “Primary Cruising Zones” and the green areas are “Wilder Holiday Zones” (and I do like the sound of that….).

I have circled my hoped cruising area for this summer in red.  Fingers crossed for decent weather now.

The Plan

Scanned from the May 2014 Yachting Monthly Magazine


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