Under Pressure

March 12, 2016 at 9:25 am

After a bit of trial and error, and psyching myself up to be brave, I did finally get to grips with the pressure cooker last season.

I’d bought it for £8 at Beaulieu Boat Jumble the year before and been a bit scared of it.  It is quite like cooking a bomb, and the first few times I used it I went and sat outside in the cockpit while it cooked, rather than sit in the confines of the cabin with it’s 5 foot/sitting only headroom watching it hiss angrily like a thing possessed.

If you spend any time aboard I definitely recommend getting one as they just save on so much cooking fuel, and time. There is a great article here about how they work and it also has a handy reference table so you have a better chance of not turning your food to mush so I won’t go into that. But I would just add that if you’re making something with spices, use half as much as the recipe says as all the flavours stay in the pot rather than escape as steam as they do in normal cooking and they can be really strong tasting. The first thing I ever made was a lamb and apricot tagine from a Jamie Oliver recipe and it was lovely and tender, but very nearly disgusting.

I also upgraded to a properly gimballed Origo spirit stove last year so was actually able to cook at sea for the first time too.  Here’s the recipe for my favourite stew in the pressure cooker.  I make no excuses, it’s not a very sophisticated supper, but it is incredibly tasty. So tasty in fact I make this ashore too…

Pressure cooking at sea

Alot tastier than it looks here tbh…

Force 4 Mince 
(You can probably make this up to about Force 4 upwind on my boat, after which chopping the veg might become a bit of a risk …Unless you’re in the Solent when you could probably rustle this up in a storm.)

Serves 2 big hungry sailors (or dinner, breakfast and lunch for 1)

1 big or 2 medium onions cut into half inch squares
Half a cabbage finely shredded
Half a bag of washed new potatoes cut in half (optional)
1 pack of fresh beef mince. Go on, treat yourself to the nice steak mince.
1 Rich Beef Knorr Stock Pot stock cube.  Needs to be the Rich Beef one, it makes a massive difference. Haven’t tried Oxo.
1 cup/half a mug of water
Black Pepper to taste.
Oil of your choice

NB It’s quite important to cut the veg so they cook uniformly. I cut the onions quite big so they don’t dissolve.

Boil the kettle and make yourself a cup of tea to drink while you’re cooking. Keep back a cup of hot water though, for the stew.
While the kettle’s boiling chop the onion and cut the potatoes in half (if using).
Throw the onions in the pan with a drizzle of oil and put over a medium heat until it starts to sizzle.
Stab it a bit to start to break up the onions.
Throw in the mince, breaking into chunks as you add it to the pan.
Keep it all moving so it doesn’t stick to the pan and to continue to break up the onions some more. I don’t bother to brown the mince properly, you just want to get the pan warm and start the cooking…
Add the hot water, and the stock cube. Make sure the stock cube is submerged.
If you’re having potatoes, you need to cook them a bit before adding the cabbage so add them to the pan and stir so they get to say hello to the gravy. Put the lid on and tighten it up. Bring to temperature and cook for 4 minutes to parboil them before letting the steam out and opening the pan up again.
Then add the chopped cabbage, close the pan up again, bring to temperature and cook for 3 minutes.
Let the pan sit and cool down naturally for 10-15 minutes, if you can be that patient.
Open up the bomb and add the pepper, to taste, at the end.

Serve in dog bowls with crusty bread, or eat straight from the pan.
Braahn sauce optional.
Nom, nom.

Duet’s Mast Refurbishment 2014

March 12, 2015 at 12:12 pm

If you’ve been with us a while you might remember that my re-launch last summer was delayed due to some issues with the mast and rig .  I documented all this starting here, but basically the rigging was a bit of a mess as there had been corrosion on the bottom of the mast so the previous owner had had the bottom 2 inches cut off the mast, and then rather than re-adjust the rigging, a professional(!) yard shortened the chainplates, except they couldn’t do the forestay due to the roller reefing so she was left with dreadful mast rake.  I stepped the mast myself, and then found that the yard didn’t have a crane or any means of re-stepping the mast, so I spoke to a local rigger who took one look at my rig and condemned the lot (even though, unbeknown to him, the standing rigging was 5 years old and had barely been to sea) …So to cut a long story medium length, although at one stage it had looked like I might be able to procure a second hand 1 year old mast from a salvaged Newbridge Navigator, in the end the rigger was too busy to be able to fit in my work in a time frame that I was happy with so I have ended up doing Duet’s mast work myself, and re-stepping the original mast myself using an A frame.

But do you know what? It wasn’t actually that difficult in the end… And I know I saved myself a lot of money.

1) After lowering the mast from the deck to the ground (with help from some other boat owners in the yard!) I took off all the standing rigging and removed the brittle plastic sheathing before washing it all in a solution of oxalic acid, and then I rinsed it clean so that I could take a close look at it and make sure that there was no corrosion or broken strands.

2) To start with, after checking all the rigging over for loose strands, I decided to have some new cap shrouds made up with proper swaged fittings and new bottle screws.  The bottle screws on Duet are of unknown vintage as I know they were not replaced last time the rigging wire was replaced (in 2009).  The cap shrouds are pretty vital for the integrity of the mast and were only talurit spliced, and I wasn’t happy with the quality of the splice on one side, so in a rationalisation of peace of mind versus finances I decided to replace the caps this year with a swage fitting, with a view to perhaps replacing more next year. These were given to Bussells who made up some new ones to their length.

Old Cap Shroud, and dodgy looking crimp on the talurit splice.  See the gap in the wire?

Old Cap Shroud, and dodgy looking crimp on the talurit splice. See the gap in the wire?

3) With the mast on the ground I discovered that the mast cap was rather disconcertingly wobbly.  I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be like that and so a made a video and posted it to the Hurley Owner’s Association Yahoo Group to get some advice. Here it is:

As I hoped, I got some great advice…  No it wasn’t supposed to be that wobbly… It was recommended that I remove the bolt, replace it if it looked at all suspect, clean up the corrosion around the hole and have some steel plates made if the hole was cracked. They also recommended that I replaced the mast head light with an LED tricolour to save power, which was a great idea.

Now I could have a close look, it turned out that the mast cap was wobbly because a wind vane had been bolted on the cap, preventing it from sitting squarely.  Once that was off it all fitted back together securely and the wobble was gone!

Hurley 22 Mast Head

The offending nut on the windvane. The rivets have been drilled out and the mast cap is on its way off.

4) I fitted a new NASA LED Tricolour bracket, rivetting it on and using sikaflex to seal between.  Both the mast cap and the bracket for the light are made from aluminium so there should be no issues with corrosion like you get with aluminium and stainless steel. But I used some sikaflex to create a barrier anyway.

Hurley 22 Mast Head Light

5) Now to the shroud (the wires that run each side of the boat to the top of the mast) fittings.  On a Hurley 22 original mast like mine, the fastenings are held by a bolt that passes through the mast. This bolt, and the fastenings are made from stainless steel, where as the mast is made from aluminium and you get a problem called ‘galvanic corrosion’ between the 2 metals where they touch, assisted by the salty nature of their environment. Galvanic corrosion causes problems with the aluminium as it is softer. In this picture below you can see the white powderyness around the hole that the bolt goes through.  The picture on the right shows it after I’ve cleaned it off with a brillo pad and some water.  The gold anodised finish had corroded through and the aluminium mast is pitted.  But it was not cracked and I was confident it didn’t need patching, as the forces of the shrouds are across the bolt.

Cap Shroud Fastenings

However, I did replace the bolt, and also added some big penny washers. There are 2 grades of stainless steel found in bolts:  A2 (or 304 grade), and then A4 (or 318 grade) which is stronger and is more resistant to corrosion so is better in a marine environment (and is more expensive).  I made sure that the new bolt was A4 as it’s going to be at the top of the mast and I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on it. I also bedded both sides to the mast with a good pad of Sikaflex to insulate the stainless steel and create a barrier to hopefully prevent any more galvanic corrosion.

Cap Shroud Fastenings

6) Turning to the foot of the mast, which had been shortened but wasn’t in the shoe squarely and was also only secured by two A2 bolts, with no nuts on the back (as a note I actually have the receipt from a professional yard for over £300 for this bodge!). It was a fairly straightforward task to undo the bolts, jimmy the shoe off, clean up the corrosion and make the cut straighter with the help of a dremmel so it would sit better on the shoe. As I was in the middle of epoxy coating the hull, I had some epoxy paint left over and used that to paint around where there was a little corrosion, again to prevent any further contact between the metals and therefore any further corrosion.  I used aluminium rivets to refasten the shoe (after a great deal of consideration on where to position them… there’s getting to be alot of holes at the bottom of my mast.) Again it is better to use rivets than stainless steel bolts or self-tappers on a mast as they are made from aluminium alloy and are less corrosive as the metals are the same.

Mast Foot Repairs

7) Then the spreaders, made from simple aluminium tubing were very corroded, especially at the ends.  I have been told that the spreaders are very important in the stability of the rig. Their purpose is to increase the angle of the cap shrouds to the top of the mast, increasing its stability.  They clearly needed replacing as they’d obviously been weakened by corrosion, especially at the ends where the stainless steel wires are in contact with the aluminium tubing. Luckily they are a standard gauge aluminium tubing and I found a local fabricator to make some new ones for me (they cost  £36!)

Spreader Corrosion

However I’d been hoping to be able to use the old plastic cap ends to secure the shrouds in the end, but they disintegrated. I have done a bodge with some cable ties but I want to check that in particular before the start of this season. (The yellow stuff is Duralac, a compound that is supposed to help prevent corrosion)

Spreader Shroud Fittings

I also had some plastic ‘over caps’ to help hold it all in position.

New Spreader

8) Lastly, I rewired the mast with a new power cable for the light, as the old one was un-tinned and very black looking.  While I was at it I replaced the VHF cable too… Pretty straightforward to do with a mousing line:

Mousing the Mast Cables

Mousing the Mast Cables

So there we have it… one much tidier mast! And all for about £250 (the biggest outlay were the shrouds which were £120, then the NASA LED light which was £52, then some cable, and some rivets and a new bolt for the shrouds).  I dread to think what it would have cost in a yard…

Before and After

Before and After

Now it’s 2015 though, I do want to get it down and look it over before I head out into the Western Approaches… And I’ll put new bottle screws on the remaining lowers and the back stay as well.  I don’t know how old they are but I have see that some of the nuts are broken.

5 Things that Worked Well (and 5 that Didn’t…)

October 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

So, after a summer of cruising, here are 5 things that worked very well…

#1 Cheapie Battery Monitor off eBay

Hopefully you’ve seen my previous post on what this is, but I was rather pleased how well this worked! I used my multimeter a couple of times to compare results, and the multimeter always showed a couple of points above the plug in, which I’m OK with as I would rather it under reported than over reported… When the solar panel is charging it can over-read, but they do say that you should leave a battery half an hour to settle after charging before taking a reading.

Cost: £4

12v Voltage Meter hurley 22 duet

#2 Barton Winchers

Once I’d got these on, they were great.  They worked really well with 3 turns of my sheets round them (without even trying to get the sheet into the groove on the top).  The only time they slipped was when I clearly needed to reef.

Cost: £60 odd… But worth it I think!

Barton Winchers Hurley 22


#3 Oilie Stowage

After a few weeks of cruising I realised that what with the vaguaries of the British Summer I needed to have my oilies to hand from the cockpit. If I left them on the quarter berth they would without fail end up on the floor and out of reach from the tiller.  So I put this together from a piece of decking teak bought at Beaulieu that I just varnished, and then added some brass hooks from the Pound Shop.  I stuck it on with some 2 part epoxy glue and it was pretty life changing to be honest.  Funny the little things…. Pretty proud of the mitre too. It fits nicely and looks good.

Cost: £1 for wood, £2 for hooks, £6 for glue

Coat Rack Hurley 22

#4 Cider Jug

I’m not going go into detail but hopefully you can guess its use?  Much safer than dangling over the stern, use a cider jug in the cockpit and then tie a sheet to the handle and just lob the lot over the side (downwind). Perhaps more useful to the singlehander, as with crew where a modicum more privacy might be appreciated?  Don’t forget to bring it back aboard after 5 minutes or so… It will slow you down 0.3 of a knot (I know this for a fact).

I also found that initiating its use was generally likely to invite a search and rescue helicopter flypast. Maybe it was a question on my CG66? I must amend that…

Cost: Free

Cider Jug Hurley 22

#5 Galley Storage

I wasn’t sure if these would be secure enough.  They were.  Even though the compass on a few occasions became unfastened from its stowage and ended up on the floor, the cutlery and salt and pepper never did! Thank you IKEA.

Cost: 60p for cutlery holder, £3 for salt and pepper holders

Galley Stowage Hurley 22

#5 Galley Storage


And now 5 things that were a bit disappointing…

#1 The Tender

I bought a secondhand inflatable from Bussell’s before I left Weymouth, as every cruising yacht needs a dinghy, right? Well, er no I don’t think so.  I towed it about for a couple of weeks and then stowed it behind the mast before I left Portland to go round The Bill. 400 miles and 14 harbours later it hadn’t moved.  At 2.3m it is over 1/3 of the length of Duet and it is a small tender! In all the harbours I have been to I either had a walk ashore mooring, was on a buoy and there was a water taxi service, or I was at anchor and probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable going ashore and leaving Duet on her own anyway.  Admittedly the water taxi’s weren’t *that* cheap (from £3 to £5 per person return) which can quickly add up if you are crewed, or want lots of trips ashore.  But if you have crew, then presumably you would also have assistance to get the thing blown up and launched. Not sure it works for a singlehander.

Okay, so it could also be deployed as a liferaft in the event of a sinking, but I’m not even sure I could have done it on my own, and I don’t think the cockpit is big enough!  Blowing it up from the water doesn’t even bear thinking about. Besides, I have not so far been that offshore.  And I have a PLB on my lifejacket…  The dinghy’s going on eBay.

Cost: £150

Dinghy Stowage Hurley 22

#2 Bungee Self Steering

So I got this working twice, when the wind was forward of the beam.  All the other times, either the sea state or the wind was too high and I had to hand helm. I need better power and a tiller pilot, or a wind vane.

Cost: £5

#3 My phone.

I got my smartphone wet rounding The Bill and fried it. I bought a cheapie replacement phone in Bridport, but I then had no easy internet access for the weather etc.  Annoying as I actually have an Aquapac Stormproof cover, but wasn’t using it. Lesson learnt.

Cost: £hundreds…

#4 The Rigging Tuning

I messed about all summer with the rigging tension, and it’s still not right. There’s too much pre-bend now, and I think I need to slacken it all off and start again! The mast’s coming down for the winter anyway… There will be more on this I’m sure.

Cost: FREE

Hurley 22

#5 The Compass

Duet came with a big bracket mounted compass that is fixed just below the companionway in the cockpit on a removable bracket.  It looks retro and cool. However, it makes getting in and out of the companionway in anything other than a flat calm more tricky.  It’s also showing nearly 20 degrees deviation, and is invisible in the dark (no backlight or glow in the dark markings).  Sadly it has to be replaced (but I actually have a plastimo bulkhead compass on my day boat so I might just swap them.)

Cost: FREE (came with boat)

Would love to hear what you found this summer…

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