Monthly Archives: February 2020

  • 301. Straight From The Horses Mouth


    Maybe it's in my Scottish blood, mum was a Kilmarnock girl, dad from a small village near Perth and they met in London! As for yours truly, I was born in Iraq (father was by then the resident civil engineer supervising the building of a rail bridge over the river Tigris near Baghdad). With my Scottish/Arab 'ancestry’ I do like value for money,  quality and with anything technical or electrical it must be  easy to use. The Merlin Smart Gauge Battery Monitor now with a two year warranty can be fitted almost 'straight out of the box' so  easy to fit and simple to operate!


    One of our customers, who operates a 40 odd ft yacht for charter on the West Coast of Scotland, has the following to say about the Smart Gauge...

    "Rob, I fitted the Merlin Smartgauge to my boat earlier this season after several charter clients experienced trouble keeping the service batteries charged.

    After several week's use, I have to say that I find it to be an excellent piece of kit. Its main benefit is that it provides clients with what amounts to a "fuel gauge" of the service battery bank's remaining useful capacity. You can see at a glance when the battery bank is fully charged, and what capacity remains when it's not fully charged. Much more meaningful to the average sailor than looking at a voltage reading (although it does also give a voltage reading!). It's now easy to keep the batteries in good shape - when the Smartgauge shows only 50% capacity left, charge the batteries!"


    It's also very easy to fit. Unlike shunt-based battery meters, the Smartgauge has just three wires - to be connected directly to the battery terminals, via small fuses. There's no disturbance to existing cabling. It really couldn't be easier. I gather that its other key benefit is that it is self-calibrating, so it still gives meaningful data as the battery bank ages over the years. We'll see how that goes. All in all, it's a great addition to the boat's instrumentation, and it looks neat and tidy mounted at the nav station".

    To sum up... The SmartGauge battery monitor, super simple installation, highly accurate state of charge meter.
    • Battery state of charge (percentage) for main auxiliary battery bank.
    • Battery voltage for 2 battery banks.
    • Ultra low power consumption.
    • User programmable alarms for low voltage, high voltage, low status etc.
    • "Shuntless" design for super quick installation.


  • 300. Charge it to the household budget!


    It can be hard to justify spending money on the boat when there are important calls on a family's disposable income, be it the mortgage, car leasing payments, utilities bills, insurance, perhaps even school fees! The shelling out of hard earned income seems endless so when it come to a 'luxury' item for use on the yacht how do you justify it? Maybe by charging it to the household account? If, for example, the item is a Freebag Pro, not only can it be used to help ease the load on your knees when decorating or laying a laminate floor in the  house but comes in jolly useful in the greenhouse or potting shed when you are down on your knees, in the garage or shed when mending the lawn mower or cleaning your offspring's mountain bike. Wet & Forget is another excellent product that be used at home or on the boat for keeping green mould at bay, its great for spraying on paths, greenhouse roofs etc and patio furniture, for the boats its sprayed on sails, awnings sail covers and of course on decks.

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    Having personally used my original Freebag for over 15 years as a brilliant 'mouldable' cushion, backrest and pillow on my Hunter Channel 31 never mind when on 'shore leave' as a comfy seat on a stoney beach. A few years ago we took the plunge, importing a hundred, and started selling them on through our mail order site They went so well that on Andy's subsequent order for more stock he decided some 18 months ago to take a punt and include a batch of Freebag Pro'swhich are the perfect answer to protecting ones knee's at home be it when rubbing down skirting boards in prep for painting, laying laminate flooring or when gardening. At work we use them to protect our knees when repairing sails and canopies sailmakers and of course the other Rob uses them in the boatyard when he's knees down on the hardstanding or concrete!


    So charge to the household account and don't feel guilty, and if that doesn't go down well blame it all on my boss!


  • 299. Love is in the air (and on the water!)


    Who said romance and quality time on the water don't go together? With Valentine’s day fast approaching, the person who should be obeyed at all times, no not Jenny but my boss Andy, decided along with input from the lovely Claire who adds images, links etc to my blogs and then posts them out, that I should 'do' a Valentine’s themed blog for Tuesday the 11th, in other words a boring old hard sell. And as Andy told me this morning that it needed to be done and dusted before the weekend as Claire ain't going to be around after Friday, no pressure then! Twas a case of thinking cap on then, ‘Storrar, quaff some alcohol and wait for inspiration.’ That came when Mrs Storrar handed me the tea towel after supper and said 'just wipe dry those two glasses' and let's have a glass of port each. Just so happened the tea towel that she handed me was one of a batch sold to by Elaine the blushing bride in the above image. The shot was taken whilst the mayor of Nidri on Lefkas was reading Elaine and her husband to be their wedding vows. The poem featured on the tea towel was written by the handsome groom, Jan. Not sure if the towel is the most romantic present one might receive but it sure is practical!

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    Another item that many sailors may well appreciate on Valentine's Day would be a Freebag. Unfortunately for me Jenny has already got a couple onboard Hindsight so it's back to the drawing board for her gift. Boarding Ring glasses would certainly be appreciated by those who suffer like my good lady from seasickness but damn it, she already has a pair and thinks they are brilliant in so much as they actually work! However me thinks to keep your relationship on an even keel why not push the boat out and buy her or him one of those amazing Hook & Moor boathooks, pricey but so is a divorce settlement. Mmmm, we don't have one on Hindsight perhaps it's time I bought Jen one?

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    So what does the first mate, or maybe Master Bates buy Roger the cabin boy, methinks a folding plate and cutlery rack it should be; like the tea towel not that romantic but very very practical. However a flash of inspiration, as your dearly beloved is always going on about saving battery power by turning the majority of the cabin lights off etc, why not treat them to a Merlin Smart gauge? This excellent bit of kit which is very very easy to install might just give skipper something to whinge about seeing how the amps  are draining out of the battery.

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    Back in the romantic mood, why not consider treating your beloved to an intimate candle lit supper in that remote riverside pub you have never gone to as its down a poorly lit lane. You can, of course, be guided there and back by our  rechargeable spotlight.


    As for our happily married couple Jan & Elaine, their first 'date’ was on Jan's Westerly Storm in what turned out to be a nightmare of a passage across the North Sea from Newcastle to Norway some twenty years ago, they survived the North Sea crossing and on 6th of Sept 2013 tied the knot onboard their Moody in the Ionian. As for the Grumpy old codger, me, if I don’t go for the Hook & Moor as my Valentine’s offering to my long suffering wife, it may be that I will look for a suitable sweetener under Andy’s nautical gift section on the website.

  • 298. Pole Position®


    The other week I waxed lyrical about the Hook & Moor boathook. What I didn't mention in that blog is that it has turned out to be (apart from a great bit of kit) a means of keeping many a sailing couples' marriages or relationships intact! The only down side (if you can call it that) of the Hook & Moor is the price, it's not cheap at £167.95 inc UK delivery (terms & conditions apply). Having said that there are now out on the water a growing number of foredeck crew, both male and female, who no longer fear the bark of the helm when it comes to picking up a mooring buoy, entering a lock or securing a line to pontoon cleatswhen it's blowing old boots! As for the feedback: "despite the price it's excellent value for money, superbly engineered to the highest standard from top quality materials and, of course, it is so versatile." This very clever boathook will effortlessly pass a line through a mooring ring to secure the boat, feeding a mooring warp through a pontoon mooring cleat is easy peasy and of course it can be used on a wide variety of varying diameter ropes should you so wish!

    Having said that if you are one of those folks who simply wants to take a line over a cleat or a bollard, be it in a lock or on a pontoon, perhaps the Pole Position, a patented rope handling device, is the one for you? It's less than half the price of the Hook & Moor at £69.95 but not as versatile, as you cannot pass it through a ring or the centre of a cleat just round one. And you can only use it on a 'specially adapted rope' for each application! As a keen sailor, Wade Marine's boss man, Colin Wade, saw a need for a rope handling devicethat would make mooring a simple stress free task that can be performed by all levels of sailors, from the novice to the keen yachts person.

    Pole position is a rope handling device that allows a length of rope to be manipulated and accurately placed at a distance from the user. When mooring a boat, for example a pleasure boat, at a mooring or dock it is often difficult or unsuitably timed to jump ashore and secure the boat to the mooring bollard. This could be because the boat is being operated singlehandedly, so it would be unsuitable for the Skipper to leave the helm or it could be that it is not possible to get close enough to the dock to jump ashore.

    This leaves the only option of throwing the loop of rope over the bollard, rarely achieved at a first attempt and subsequently see’s the boat drifting away from the dock or mooring.

    Pole position will address this primary mooring issue, but can, as will be described, be used in many other applications.

    The rope manipulation is completed by means of a receiving part attached to the rope in a permanent secure fixing, at a suitable position from any end of rope feature, such as a loop or another device. The manipulation device can then be used at any point by sliding on and down the rope to meet with the receiver and subsequently securing the rope end, the pole attached can be extended telescopically if required to allow accurate placement of the rope end and easily released when the manoeuvre is completed.

    Primarily designed for use as a mooring device the Pole Position unit can also be used with a number of items of safety equipment such as rescue devices allowing them to be passed accurately out to the person in distress. For example a person in the water is often thrown a life ring which then free floats, and on occasion it could be that the individual has been in distress for some time and is suffering fatigue and can struggle to receive or swim to the life ring, Pole Position can be applied in the same way as when mooring, the life ringrope would have the receiver attached and the pole would then be used to position the ring close or even over the person in distress, allowing an easy return to safety. This would be the same for man overboard slings, allowing over the head placement or even catchment of an unconscious person.

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