Monthly Archives: January 2021

  • 339. Top Tips Tuesday - Sailors Take Warning


    The saying 'Red Sky in the morning sailors take warning' apparently has very old roots. In the bible (Matthew 16:2-3) the following quote is attributed to Jesus: 'And in the morning, foul weather today for the heaven is red and lowering' The above image was taken at 6.30am on my way down for my morning dip, however, I cannot remember how the weather panned out that day. Was it the foretaste of strong winds perhaps, or of a storm brewing? Anyway, I digress. With passing trade no longer allowed at the bricks and mortar chandlery, only click and collect and mail order at, boss man Andy was intrigued to receive an email enquiry the other day for almost 200 red hand flares which was then converted into a definite order when someone rang up to pay for them! Being the curious sort of guy that he is, Andy asked the voice on the other end of the phone what she was going to do with them, his question was only partly answered, apparently it was vague to say the least but my boss thinks it may be a comic book hero (in a soon to be released film) who is possibly on the receiving end of the flares! As to what time of day they are being discharged, or if there will be a red sky, who knows. It may be that the igniting of the flares and the subsequent filming will be shot in the 'Hobs of Hell'?

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 12.15.30

    Whilst Andy's chandlery does get through a surprising number of conventional flares during a season, last year being an exception of course, he is seeing a lot more take up for electronic flares. Of the two makes we sell, both for under £100-00, the slightly more expensive one at £94.95 is the Odeo Flare. Similar in size to a traditional flare but does not use an explosive charge. It's replaceable batteries last nine hours, and among its features are a built in SOS feature. At £89-95 is the Ocean Signal EDF1. According to their sales pitch, it's the most compact electronic flare on the market 40% smaller than similar devices, six hour operation life and ideal for a grab bag or liferaft!


    There is no problem with the shipping of electronic flares, they can even be taken on a plane with no restrictions, however the transport of conventional flares can be a nightmare. Believe it or not we once had a liferaft turned back by a ferry company in the Ionian because it contained 'dangerous goods', ie. flares, packed in the container. It seemed strange to us seeing as the ferries all carry life rafts and flares as part of their safety equipment! As for shipping out mail order in the UK, sadly there is a cost implication as the carriers that will ship these items do charge a premium! For shop click and collect we offer the Pains Wessex range and for delivery by carrier it's the Aurora range.


  • 338. Top Tips Tuesday - Marlin Strike


    Our 'old' Saturday boy Ant (see my blog posted Dec 29th) is, as I compose this, doing alright in his group of solo rowers competing in the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and, according to an email we received Monday morning, he's managed to almost seal the gash in his hull after he got 'torpedoed' by either a hungry or angry Marlin! Apparently the bill of the fish pierced the skin and the force of the impact fractured a watertight bulkhead. If you are considering an Altantic row in the future, say like the event Ant is participating in, or sailing wise maybe some coastal cruising, perhaps a Channel crossing or even a circumnavigation you must always be prepared for the day that the unexpected occurs! Collision damage from whatever source in our polluted seas is a real worry these days. Sadly Alex Thompson had to retire from the latest Vendee Globe when he lost his rudder after hitting, I assume, abandoned fishing gear and you may not know but the WSC (World Shipping Council) looked at shipping container losses over the period 2008 to 2019 and estimated on average 1382 of these steel boxes were lost at sea each year! We hope, of course, we will never be the unlucky one to be holed but it's always worth preparing for a worst case scenario.


    The following email was received early yesterday from Ant's, 'shore support crew' :

    "Just a quick update from Antigua (it's midnight here) Our Anthony has had his hands full tonight. He has taken a hit from a Marlin that has pierced the hull of his boat in his food locker and fractured the water tight bulkhead between the locker and the aft cabin. Sadly the Marlin managed to get free without breaking off its bill  so left nothing in the hole it made.

    He has been fighting with this for the last six hours, 1) to keep the water level in the aft cabin below the electrics which is all his kit from water maker to navigation lights and 2) to try and make a repair.

    For some reason the marine epoxy he has with him is not setting to seal the hole so with a bit of "outside the box" he has made a patch from his cutting board, seat and an eye bolt that he has removed from inside the aft cabin that holds some bags in place , pulled this through the hole in the hull from the outside and tightened in place with a Spanish windlass.

    The leak is down to a slight  trickle, so he has been able to remove the sea water from the aft cabin.

    He's going to grab a couple of hours sleep and try to seal the leak between the food locker and the aft cabin when dry. Luckily the food is in sealed bags.

    Hopefully after a rest he can complete the repairs (finger crossed) and get back to the task in hand Further update to follow."


    I carry on our Mystery 35 a selection of 'worst case scenario' hull repair materials, including a square metre of flexible PVC material, two sizes of Forespar emergency Sta-plug, a Seabung Through Hull/Seacock breach controller and a repair kit containing amongst other things some G-Flex epoxy which can be used to bond a wide variety of materials such as grp, wood, alloy, concrete and most plastics. For 'flexible' repair to sails, both laminate and woven, use Dr Sails and, of course, Tear Aid is brilliant. Speaking from my nearly fifty odd years as a sailmaker, for 'canvas work' ie acrylic there is nothing better on the market than Tear Aid type A and it's also great for inflatable dinghy repairs if the hull fabric is Hypalon; Tear Aid B is superb for PVC dinghies, paddle board repairs and vinyl windows.


    Ant's nominated charity for the Talisker Atlantic Rowing Race  is the Dogs Trust and any help to smash his target would be appreciated. The link to the Just Giving is as follows...

    Screenshot 2021-05-02 at 12.11.48

  • 337. Top Tips Tuesday - Power Crazy!


    No folks I am NOT going to mention what’s happening in the USA but I can image that the regimes such as North Korea, China etc are rubbing their hands with glee as to what is happening across the Atlantic in the democratic West! Speaking of power, however, I must confess that this past week the over-ride button on the central heating has been busy! Must be my advancing age or a slower recovery from my morning dip. This past Saturday morning we had an air temp of -4, add wind chill and there was talk amongst the other swimmers of -10 degrees on the Tynemouth beach. It did, however, feel quite ‘warm’ once in the briny with a sea temperature of around 5 degrees!


    If you are a live aboard or perhaps a sailor keeping a heater or dehumidifier running in these cold winter months, it can be a good idea to keep a weather eye on your power consumption. The Metermaid is an excellent piece of kit that will do such a thing.

    METERMAID™ is an in-line portable electricity meter that has been specifically designed to accurately measure individual electricity consumption - wherever it is needed.  It is a true kiloWatt hour meter and is the result of years of extensive research and development. METERMAID™ incorporates the latest in state-of-the-art technology and only the highest quality components are used in its manufacture.  As a simple and cost-effective metering system METERMAID™ offers many benefits:

    • It is designed to be ACCURATE.  As a Class 1 meter METERMAID™ is precision equipment so when it comes to charging (or paying) for the electricity recorded by METERMAID™ you may rest assured it only displays exactly what has been used.  With a non-resettable 6 digit counter and fully-encapsulated electronics METERMAID™ cannot be tampered with, slowed down or reversed.
    • It is built to be WATERPROOF so that it will cope with the vagaries of the British weather and will be a match for any situation where it is likely to come into contact with water.  The enclosure is rated IP673 within Europe and 4X in North America.
    • TOUGH so that it can withstand the harshest of environments around the world, everything about METERMAID™ is robust and the build-quality is plain to see the minute you hold it in your hand.
    • It is built to be USER-FRIENDLY.  It needs no maintenance, servicing or re-calibration - ever!   When you receive METERMAID™ you just plug in and go!  It could not be any simpler!
    • Total flexibility to meter boats or caravans wherever they are because it is PORTABLE
    • A solution to the problem of financing capital expenditure as it can easily be sold or rented to the end-user making it very COST-EFFECTIVE
    • Acceptance by end-users because it is FAIR and they only need to pay for the electricity they know they have used
    • Control over your expenditure on electricity and peace of mind with a 2 YEAR CONDITIONAL WARRANTY


    If you haven't already got one of our Shore Power Splitters it is a useful device to keep in your lazarette. I put one on board our Mystery after seeing the 'Greek spaghetti junction' on the quayside of a small harbour on the island of Meganisi. Since then our own personal splitter has been brought into use on a number of occasions by Jenny and I (especially when one of the charter flotillas turn up). I have, of course, felt tipped the yachts name on both sides of it so there is no Mystery as to whom it belongs to!


    Popular amongst some of our customers who don't have a 240 volt set up on board is the Outdoor Mobile Mains power unit with RCD & Breaker.
    • Plugs directly into marina  or boatyard power supply to bring safe 230V power to your appliances
    • Ideal for use in your yacht, camper van or motorhome
    • Built in RCD & circuit breaker for total protection
    • 3 UK 3pin power sockets suitable for large plugs & adaptors
    • Integral 20m orange connection cable & site plug
    • Indicator light shows power supply is connected
    • 10 Amp maximum total capacity
    • Splash-proof assembly (NOT waterproof)
  • 336. Top Tips Tuesday - Roller Coaster Ride


    As I start to write this blog whilst recovering from two and half hours of hard labour (down on my knees applying the first coat of Epifanes gloss varnish to our lounge floorboards) on Monday the 4th, Millie, our elderly cross Lurcher/Collie, seems to have recovered from what we think was something revolting that she had eaten whilst out on her daily exercise walk, completely off her food for two days and very very lethargic. Today has also seen the rollout of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab and by midday the FTSE was up 2.7% overall and the other bit of good and exiting news is that the new TeamO coastal backtow life jacket is now available in a choice of three colourways. Was feeling quite buoyant if you excuse the pun. However, by 8pm the bad news, of course, is that we are back into National Lockdown; mind you if the behaviour of a small number of selfish folks in our area is replicated elsewhere it was inevitable! Crowds drinking on our little beach during the day and round bonfires at night! A complete lack of social distancing on Tynemouth Village Front Street during the Christmas and New Year break and an absence of face coverings, must be a ‘shortage’ of face masks up North!

    Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 16.50.58

    When the TeamO Offshore backtow lifejacket was introduced to the market it attracted a lot of attention with its unique selling point, the towing of a casualty on their back to keep their mouth and nose above water. As a result we have sold not only into the UK but as far afield as the USA, Holland, Spain etc, however, from the feedback that was being received from customers turning up at our bricks and mortar chandlery and other outlets, that higher price was at times an inhibiting factor for those guys who wanted a lifejacket for coastal sailing with the occasional overnite passage thrown in.

    TeamO's patented Backtow life jacket technology functions in a man-over-board situation by turning the user in to a face up seated position as they are towed alongside the vessel. This keeps airways clear of the water and allows communication and immediate rescue by the crew. Backtow also reduces the risk of injury during recovery.

    • 170N lifejacket with integrated deckharness and TeamO's award-winning patented BackTow system.
    • ISO approved: suitable for Inshore and Offshore sailing (ISO12402 and ISO12403)
    • Automatic inflation system: features the UML Mark5i inflator and 38g CO2 cylinder.
    • Soft loop attachment point to clip on in rough weather or at night
    • SOLAS approved safety whistle
    • Adjustable double crotch straps with soft loop attachment point on back
    • Adjustable double buckles on back for perfect fit
    • Lightweight: lifejacket weighs 1.15kg

    Please note whilst the bricks and mortar chandlery is ‘closed’ under the latest government guidelines we are still allowed to offer click and collect however our opening hours are changing with immediate effect. Monday to Friday it's 9am till 4pm. Saturday regret we will be closed. For 'click and collect' you can either ring through on the usual number 0191 2661037 and place an order and pay by credit card or order on and select ‘collect in store’ as the delivery option.

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