Call us on +44 (0)191 646 1000

Marine Chandlery

  • 170. Top Tips Tuesday - Up A Height . . . Use A Mast Harness

    Mast_pro_frontRegular readers of my blog (posted 27th June no 165) will possibly remember that when out in Corfu the other week I ended up climbing a friends mast to check it out and yes I did find a couple of ‘issues’. No doubt when we fly back out to Corfu end of August, sail down to Lefkas and then meet up at the Vliho yacht club for a couple of sherberts I will be once again coerced into climbing the mast(s) of my mate Pete’s Oyster. Conversation may go something like this ‘nice to see you again, have a beer and ‘oh by the way, if your not doing much tomorrow do you fancy taking a trip up aloft to ...’ No issues with that as long as he buys me another Mythos once I get back to the deck. If you, as a reader, haven't climbed a mast before and may need to for what ever reason, can I suggest you read and perhaps download these words of wisdom that the guys at Spinlock have allowed me to reproduce.

    As a professional mast climber of some forty odd years I agree wholeheartedly with their statement that a mast harness is inherently more safer for going aloft than a typical bosuns chair!

    Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 14.32.03

  • 169. Top Tips Tuesday - Ten Top Tips To Prevent A Man Overboard


    Schools have broken up and your summer cruise is looming. However, have you worked out the 10 best ways to prevent man overboard? Consider this quote from the Essentials of Sea Survival, F Golden & M. Tipton 2002 'There are no circumstances when you are better off in the water than out of it'. Food for thought, certainly made me think when I first switched from dinghies to bigger boats.

    My thanks must go to the guys at Spinlock for allowing me to reproduce their thoughts on preventing a man overboard however I must confess that I have ‘strayed’ from point no 4 out in Greece when sailing or motoring in predominately light winds around the Greek Isles. Instead of wearing our trusty Spinlock 5D Deckvest Lifejacket & Harness Jenny and your scribe have opted instead for a couple of Spinlock Deck Pro Harness. Lightweight and easy to wear when the going gets hot. The only complaint that Jen has? Her suntan is not that even!

    Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 11.14.20

  • 168. Top Tips Tuesday - Stormy Weather, StormBag


    One of the first storm jibs that we ever made (after Alan Bax and I left Musto & Hyde sailmakers) was back in the mid seventies. It was destined for a rather pretty Harrison Butler and was, of course, a hank-on sail; needless to say the owner never used it in anger for some considerable time! On Hindsight, our Mystery 35, on our delivery trip from Marseille to Corfu we carried a storm jib in the guise of a STORM-BAG and guess what, little wind for the six days and what little there was on the nose so no need to use it however if we hadn’t carried one no doubt we would have needed it.  The storm jib we fitted to Dshigit (the Mystery 35 that I first fell in love with and set Jenny and I down the self build route) was a conventional hank-on storm sail. But why didn't we, seven years later, go down the storm sail route? Apart from the lack of performance  ie once you start rolling or furling your Genoa  that vital ability to claw to windward disappears rapidly and I am not talking about a few degrees! If you go down what I consider to be the old fashioned route... the 'inner forestay with a hank on storm sail scenario' yes you get a better windward performance than that from a furled Genoa. However compared to a STORM-BAG the cost implication of fitting an inner forestay which includes modifying the mast, strengthening the deck etc to ensure a strong anchorage plus some method of tensioning the new inner forestay will probably set you back  £1500-00 at least for your average 35 footer plus of course there is the cost of the sail. Over that shock? Consider the weight and windage of the inner forestay and the tensioner (over centre lever) the stowing of the forestay and then there is the safety aspect. There is at least a 1/2 hour out on the foredeck possibly in horrendous conditions away from the safety of the cockpit... it is a 'trip' forward to rig the forestay and tension it, back to the cockpit to collect the jib and then there is the hanking on (one hand for the sail, one for the boat?) of the sail, sheets to be transferred (rolled genoa secured) and then led aft and then that jib is hoisted behind a bulky furled genoa which is in itself creating turbulence. Why didn’t we go down the Storm Bag route for Dshigit? Sadly they didn't exist back then!

    Fitting the StormBag

    The STORM-BAG storm sail was designed as a safe, efficient but economical way of flying a storm sail from a furled genoa, safe in so much as minimum time on the foredeck, no chance of furled genoa coming loose, efficient - no turbulence as set on the furled genoa and with a blunt leading edge so much easier to keep the sail drawing in confused seas, less weight and windage at all times. Economical as no deck or mast mods needed, no inner forestay required nor tensioning device, jib sheets are self contained. Plus and its a big one, your existing genoa will maintain its designed shape longer as its not being used in strong winds! The STORM-BAG is available in five different sizes suitable for boats 20 to 60 feet long (custom models are possible upon request) it comes complete fully equipped with sheets, tack strop, snap shackles; its very compact and takes up very little space on a yacht. With today's weather being so unpredictable who knows when you might need one!

  • 167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip!

    167. Top Tips Tuesday - Get A Grip

    In last week’s blog (or ramblings of a simple sailor as Jenny calls them when she is correcting my spelling and grammar at midnight) I waxed lyrically about Josephine, the very pretty and immaculate 37 footer that was moored alongside us in Mandraki ‘marina’ Corfu. As well as doing a superb job of varnishing with Epifanes, incidentally my favourite make of varnish, Adonis was applying International’s Interdeck non slip deck paint on the coach roof. Its an excellent low textured non slip paint that I have been using and recommending for more years that I care to remember. Many of the dinghies constructed of wood that I fitted out for customers and raced over the years such as International 14’s, Enterprises, Flying fifteens etc got the Interdeck treatment on the ‘floor’. The other benefit of using a coloured non slip is that it brings to life the varnish work by way of a contrast. Brent, the owner of Josephine's choice of colour was cream for the coach roof, however, there are four other colours to chose from. If their colour palette is not to your liking Hempel have a range of five colours including a Navy (not reccomended for the Med I hasten to add).

    Kiwi Grip Deck Coating Application

    As the construction of racing dinghies evolved and we were fitting out GRP boats and latterly ones constructed using epoxy resins, for surfaces that we wanted to be non slip we used instead of an ‘off the shelf’ paint a mixture of epoxy, base colour and colloidal silica rolled on using in those days what was an Artex roller. In certain classes, like the high performance twin trapeze International 14, a very aggressive non slip surface is called for by helm and crew and by varying the mixture this could be achieved. We all, however, want an excellent nonslip, but for most of us ‘amateurs’ the thought of mixing epoxy, then colour and an additive is a no no. KiwiGrip which is a non-skid deck system fits the bill and a big plus (apart from no measuring/mixing required) is that if you have in the past replaced fittings, moved them or whatever KiwiGrip can hide a multitude of sins. KiwiGrip is a single pack, water based acrylic coating for racing and cruising yachts, it can be applied directly over a wide variety of surfaces with MINIMUM of preparation, The level of grip can be varied according to preference using the supplied textured roller, however for seating areas a smoother texture can be achieved using a sponge roller.

    Customer testimonial:

    Hi, Please find a few photos (above) of work on our Enlish narrow boat lying on the Canal de Deux Mers in the S of France. Kiwi Grip was bought at marinechandlery. Had to be careful re temperature and rain! But all worked well and successfully covered some ‘irregularities’ ! Best wishes, Mike

    The New Lizard Sailing Boot - Waterproof, Breathable, Excellent Vibram Soles, Inner lacing system for ultimate stability

    Incidentally, blogging about getting a good grip reminded me that boss man Andy Burgess who races sports boats (spends most of his time wrestling with a spinnaker pole on the foredeck) has been, over the last few months, using a pair of the new Lizard waterproof, breathable and light weight boots and is raving about them! They are of a rugged but lightweight design and apart from being breathable, they offer excellent traction over a wide variety of surfaces and are priced at only £189-95!

    Product report in Classic Boat Magazine:

    'It's difficult to be sure, but we may have never worn a better boot.  Totally Waterproof but breathable with sticky Vibram soles, adjustable (so you can wear thin or thick socks) and extremely lightweight, these Lizard Sailing Boots would absolutely make Christmas for a lucky someone.  There's a clever tightening system in the form of an interior drawstring that pulls everything in yet leaves the ankle with 360 degree of rotation.  Our tester, once he'd sailed in them, wore them round the house for days afterwards, simply because he liked them so much.'

  • 166. Top Tips Tuesday - Now Is The Time, Go For It!

    Josephine, the very pretty and immaculate 37 footer that was moored alongside us in Mandraki ‘marina’

    The other week we were fortunate enough to end up moored alongside this rather pretty yacht in Mandraki harbour, Corfu. According to Brent, her American owner, she was built in the UK in 1956 at a boatyard owned by Percy M See in Fareham Hampshire and this 37 footer was constructed of mahogany on oak frames. Being a nosy so-and-so I did notice the chap, who was working from a rubber dinghy alongside and varnishing the gunwhales, was using my favourite make of varnish. Later, speaking to Adonis the Greek guy (or 'god' of varnishing) who looks after the yacht in the owner's absence and was applying the finishing touches, he told me that in his opinion, Epifanes is the only make that stands up to the ravages of the Mediterranean sun. With its double U.V. filter and its low V.O.C/high solid formulation it makes for an extremely flexible finish that will not crack on wood under stress (ideal for older boats where there is a bit of movement!) Josephine is a credit to Adonis' skill in the preparation and application of the varnish and looks a million dollars. If you have put off your varnishing earlier this year through a lack of time or poor conditions now is the time to go for it!

    Varnish work onboard Hindsight using my favourite Epifanes

    Hindsight, our Mystery 35, has no exterior varnish work however all the interior woodwork including the cabin sole has been varnished by Jenny and I with Epifanes two pack polyurethane. Likewise the  bulkheads and heads compartment glass work with their two pack paint. Why did we use two pack as against one pack? Hopefully no movement of joints and, as Millie the dog will be onboard when we next go out in early September, we wanted a bullet proof scratch resistant coating! Incidentally we didn't want a high gloss finish (better to hide my brush marks) and used their satin finish. For the painted bulkheads and glassfibre surfaces in the heads we added International's Perfection matting additive to take away the gloss.

    Nellie Dean mid repaint

    Andy Laurence (our website guru) who purchased an Alan Hill designed Cutlass 27 just over a year ago, waited until the start of this summer before tackling his hull repaint job. Last week he just finished painting Nellie Dean* with Epifanes Nautiforte before the weather turned. If he had been able to get his yacht 'indoors' no doubt his choice of paint would have been Epifanes two pack however as he was subject to the vagaries of the North East climate and wanted to go for white he chose Epifanes Nautiforte. It's a one pack formulation, high gloss with a rapid film drying with exceptional flowing properties. It's non yellowing with excellent colour stability and a long lasting gloss. Andy's preparation on a tired looking hull, rub down with 240 wet and dry, followed by a coat of Epifanes Multi Marine primer, rub down and then the top coat, both coats applied with a four inch foam roller. Some folks tip off with a dry brush, Andy didn't and is delighted with the result as the image shows! His next step the PSP Coveline stripe on the topsides molding.

    Nellie Dean port side after repaint

    *Nellie Dean was NOT Andy's choice of name but being a superstitious old sea dog he decided to live with the name! Google Nellie Dean and you will find out that it was a popular ballad sung during the first world war.

  • 165. Top Tips Tuesday - Climb It Now!

    Small tear on the casting of starboard spreader root. Clevis pin missing stainless ring; a piece of bent wire has been substituted.

    If you are one of the many who didn't lift your mast out at the end of the 2016 season and haven't, as yet, made a trip aloft to check your rig out, now is the time to climb that spar before you set off on your summer cruise. Why? Because you never know what issues you may find up there! The other week, whilst in Corfu, a member of my local club who is living the dream and keeps his yacht out in Greece met up with Jenny & I in Mandraki for just a couple of beers and a bite to eat. Conversation, as always amongst us blokes gathered round the table, inevitably got around to boats and after what I think was a 'couple' more beers (or was it more?) I found out next morning that I had apparently volunteered to climb his mast and check his rig out. When professionally climbing a mast back in the UK I always use a Spinlock Mast Pro "bosuns chair", as I think its the most secure of all the chairs on the market (and of course that's the make we have on our Mystery) along with a Solent Top Climber. This allows me to 'stand up' in the chair and get right to the very tip of the mast head gear. When climbing a mast for an inspection I always take a mobile phone with me, Leatherman, roll of pvc tape and white self amalgamating. Should my Leatherman multitool not provide me with the correct size screwdriver or pliers one can always be hoisted up. Two days later (not that I needed a full day to sober up) as it was bright sunshine, and as I am long sighted, I climbed his mast wearing my Gill bi-focal sunglasses. Yes I know I have said it before but what a brilliant item of kit this is!

    Gill Bifocal Sunglasses

    For safety reasons I always go up on two halyards and would strongly reccomend that you do also, this is after examining the halyard for strength (get your winch man to hoist you so that your toes are just touching the deck then bounce up and down as hard as you can) and any signs of chafe. Satisfied with the integrtity of the climbing halyard and the back up one, I was then winched up the mast, got to the lower set of spreaders and discovered that the casting on the starboard spreader root had a small tear and that the clevis pin was missing the stainless ring; a piece of bent wire had been substituted. Climbed further and found that the same had happened to the upper starboard spreader bracket, once again a small tear. As the owner of this boat is not happy aloft, this is where my mobile phone comes in useful, providing images that can be down loaded later onto a computer or in this case to my iPad so they can view from the comfort of the cockpit. No more issues until I got to the top of the mast and found that the inner forestay was badly stranded where the wire entered the rollswaged T-terminal! Inner forestay condemned and as for the tear in the spreader root(s) I suggested that he monitor the bracket(s) over the next few months.

     Upper and lower part of Tricolour full of water and lens badly crazed from UV

    Fast forward two weeks and now back in the Uk, with even the temperature on the North East coast as hot as Corfu, and this time the task was to fit a replacement TV antenna at the top of a mast. Climbed and once up there, before we fitted the Glomex antenna, noticed that his mast head tri was way past its sell by date. Upper and lower part of the light full of water and the lens badly crazed from exposure to sunlight! Not only that, the halyard diverter had seen better days. It was badly worn where it clamps on the forestay wire allowing it to tilt, making it as much use as a chocolate fire guard! My message, it's always a good idea to inspect your mast at least once a year. Click onto this link for our thoughts on mast inspection.

  • 164. Top Tips Tuesday - Sit Up And Take Notice of the new TeamO BackTow Lifejacket

    The new, revolutionary Team O Offshore Lifejacket

    I'm now just getting my feet under the table after our Mystery delivery trip (Marseille to Corfu with the majority of those 900 odd nautical miles under power) so after expecting a load of ripped sails and new orders for canopies etc I popped into work Sunday to check on the ‘state’ of the loft and run through old e-mails and came across a mail shot from one of our regular suppliers which certainly made me 'sit up and take notice'. So what got me all excited? It was a new take on lifejacket design. I first read about the TeamO concept some years ago, thought it was a good idea and heard nothing more until I opened the attachement!

    The inspiration for BackTow - Team O lifejacket

    The TeamO patented Backtow lifejacket functions in a man-overboard situation by turning the user into a face up seated position once they enter the water and are being towed towed alongside the vessel. This of course keeps the airways clear of the water and allows communication and immediate rescue by the crew. The TeamO Backtow lifejacket will turn an unconscious person into a SAFE position and requires no subsequent action by the user to maintain this position, the Backtow also reduces the risk of injury during recovery. Watch the video it will certainly make you sit up and take notice!

    Team O BackTow Lifejacket - How it works

  • 163. Top Tips Tuesday - Too Much Sun

    Living in the North East of England at the coast it can be said that we never suffer from too much sun, it can be a lovely sunny day 400 yards inland, however, due to the fact that we get rather more than our fair share of Harr or sea frets as the phenomenon is better known, the seaside can often be enveloped in a thick damp mist! However, now we have finally got Hindsight moored in the sunshine, only three years late, we do need a bit of shelter. Due to a number of factors I never got round to finishing the bimini on Hindsight before she was trucked down to Marseille and then motor sailed on to Corfu. Our bimini, complete with over long stainless frames and mounting brackets, is almost ready to install but sadly languishing in the sail loft back in Newcastle. A side issue to its shipping being that there was a distinct lack of space to store it down below as boss man Andy decided that we should ship a toilet out with us to Port St Louis to placate a 'desperate' customer as carriers had let him down badly. I hope the customer managed to "bucket and chuck-it" for a few days before we dropped it off at the boat hoist in the marina!

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.19.45

    As Jenny was flying out to Corfu after Hindsight had arrived, my cunning plan was for her to bring out a Blue Performance Sunshade in her hand luggage (along with all the other 'bits' that I had forgotten) as our means of obtaining shelter from the sun.

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.20.06

    It has been an essential asset and because it is so easily broken down, when the storm hit yesterday it only took a couple of minutes to dismantle, however, perhaps I should have left it up as some of the hailstones ricocheted down the companion way steps!

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.20.33

    What other bits did she bring out in her hand luggage? It included two hatch and a companion way mozzie net, some of those brilliant stainless steel clothes pegs and a ball and cone set. As for the bimini, it will be loaded into the car (bars tied to the roof rack) along with all the other things I have forgotten or not finished when we come back in early September with Millie the dog!

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.20.42

  • 162. Top Tips Tuesday - Good Job I Practise What I Preach


    Well Hindsight was finally launched at Port Napoleon near Marseille on Friday the 19th May, this was followed by three frantic days of even more 'boatbuilding.' Fortunately I had on board two experienced and very practical big boat sailors, Trevor & Martin, who managed to turn their hand to everything thrown at them on an incomplete boat, including leak solving on both heads and galley sinks, priming the calorifier, successfully reconnecting the mast wiring (all labelled but minus legible writing) coaxing the autopilot into life etc etc.

    Trevor, our navigator and my mentor, had suggested that I purchase extra fuel containers, however with a main tank of 115 litres capacity, a keel tank of 35 and a extra couple of 10 litre containers I felt that we probably had enough capacity to get us across to Corfu. Our navigator however decided that with a light wind forecast I should purchase a couple more 20 litre containers which we duly did, in hindsight thank goodness for that! The marina at Port Napoleon is huge and lift in/mast stepping is very efficient however there is no fuel berth, yes they will get diesel for you but 150 litres, you must be joking! Nowt less than 2000 litres gets you the fuel bowser. And don't ask for a beer at five to ten in the evening in the restaurant! So with only 20 litres in the main tank (the transport company who did an excellent job of trucking it from Newcastle to Port St Louis wanted as little as possible fuel on board) and 30 litres in the 'keel tank(s) we went looking for fuel. Found it at Port De Bouc, filled the main tank to the brim only to discover the fuel pouring into the bilge, leaking from an incorrectly assembled inspection hatch. Yes, another of my many 'build' blunders! Using Jenny's stainless teapot as a container we managed to transfer approximately 15 litres of contaminated fuel from the bilge to our two ten litre tanks. Sorted the leaking hatch out and filled the 20 litre cans and 'set sail' destination Corfu. Well we motored and motored and motored with a very small amount of sailing down to the island of Sardinia topping the main tank up on the way from the 20 litre containers using one of those wonderful ' shake your wrist' fuel transfer pumps and filtering it through our Mr Funnel fuel filter.


    Yes there was a little motor sailing but where was the breeze? We arrived La Caletta Marina but of course as it had just turned 11am the pumps were closed and fuel wasn't available till much later, however, we patiently waited and spent most of the time searching the port and surrounding area in vain for the rubbish bins! Tanks full, on we motored for another two days, I had hoped that we might get the main tank filled again before entering the Straits of Messina but it was not to be, the timing was all wrong. Sat night saw us motor through the straits of Messina with a lot of traffic and buzzed by the port authorities when we switched on the EchoMax. Early Sunday morning we exited the straights, turned to port and motored up the heel of Italy. At last the breeze filled in, on the nose of course, but hey at least we were sailing! Lasted a couple of hours and then on with the engine again. Later that day the wind returned and in anticipation of a great sail we hoisted the cruising chute, that lasted about 40 mins. So engine on once again and then the wind arrived and we actually sailed for eighteen hours close hauled at first, then two and finally three reefs, as the wind eased we tight reached till 1300 hours on the 28th, once again with the wind dropping. Again it was engine on again and with the end almost in sight it was a case of let's go for it and use the dregs of the contaminated fuel which we strained again through our brilliant Mr Funnel Portable Fuel Filter. Mr Funnel certainly lived up to its name as the fuel rescued from the bilge was found to contain at least a litre of water which it successfully filtered out. So running on fresh air we finally reached our destination, the marina at Mandraki Corfu. Engine running hours 128.4 hours, trip miles 900nm, 275 litres used, 3.2 miles/litre all figures courtesy of Martin.

  • 161. Top Tips Tuesday - Saved My Bacon

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.11.21Stress levels have been rising rapidly since Jenny broke her wrist and the date to ship our Mystery looms ever closer, there are so many ‘five minute’ jobs to do that somehow take at least an hour. That is apart from a sprayhood, which I have only just started to sew, a suncover to finish (started that one in Feb!), bimini to design, bend frames, fit them, pattern make and then sew it all together, and I almost forgot the simple task of applying the final coat of epoxy including the waterline to sort, then only a couple of coats of antifouling plus a final polish of the topsides.

    It was looking bad first thing last Friday morning, I had managed three coats of Awlgrip Hullgard on the hull area whilst Hindsight had been sitting in her build cradle some years ago however I did have what I thought would be a very long and time consuming job of removing eight months of 'underwater growth'. You may ask why one launches a yacht without any A/F protection to prevent fouling?  It's a long story, but slightly unhappy with the fore and aft trim of the last boat of this design that I had sailed with the owner I took it into my head that by moving a fuel tank forward etc etc we could overcome this little niggle. This we did, so I launched her without a waterline in place and lacking epoxy where she had sat in the cradle.  Once we had a waterline, ie a scum line round the hull, easy peasy lift her out and there is your answer! Circumstances however meant that she never came out of the water for just over half a year, issues with the supply of fuel from the new tanks to the engine, Jenny’s ill health etc

    Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.11.32

    Hindsight was lifted two weeks ago and it was a relatively easy job to dry sand the untreated gelcoat and apply the Awlgrip. However, when the dust had settled and the epoxy dried on the two 'cradle areas' I then had the task of removing this growth and prepare the complete underwater surfaces for a final coat followed by two coats of Blakes Ocean Performer. Pressure washing made no impression but mechanical sanding did work, sort of, however I was removing epoxy which was bad news and there were still traces of contamination on the surface (see second image, contamination on keel). Andy, my old partner and now MD of, proved once again that at times he is a little genius, as he told one of his staff (who was working on a powerboat in the marina yard) to give me a spray bottle of Starbrite Boat Bottom Cleaner, they use it for cleaning prop shafts and propellers!  A squirt of this applied to the encrusted surface and within seconds small encrustations start to fizz and within a very very short time a square metre of hull was clean and yes the boss certainly saved my bacon as I managed, with a lot of help from Mackem Jack, a friend and fellow sailor from Sunderland to get the hull clean rubbed down and epoxied before the freezing East Coast weather kicked in again last weekend!


Items 31 to 40 of 727 total

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. ...
  8. 73