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  • 217. Top Tips Tuesday - Small But Perfectly Formed

    The new Standard Horizon HX40E compact handheld VHF radio

    Yes I know I have, at times, rambled on or gone off at a tangent when 'blogging away.' I always blame it on the alcohol that seems to lubricate the creative juices! However, to get to the point quickly, this Saturday past I was on the front line, working in the bricks-and-mortar chandlery when a customer  started questioning me about the range of hand held VHF radios we carried. Little did I realise that in the display cabinet under the counter I was standing behind held a little gem, the new Standard Horizon Ultra Compact HX40Ehandheld vhf. Reading off my script I told him about the HX300E, at just over £100.00 with 5 watts of output probably our best-selling handheld, I then mentioned the top of the range HX870E with its 6 watt output it has the advantage of built in DSC and GPS, great as an onboard backup or chuck into the grab bag if the s..t hits the fan. At that moment my boss butted in (obviously wanting to deny me my commission) saying "hot off the press is this little beauty, the new ultra compact HX40E" and cutting me out completely he ran through all it's features!

    The new Standard Horizon HX40E compact handheld VHF radio

    The new HX40E is only 52mm wide by 95mm high by 33 mm deep making it the smallest marine handheld Standard Horizon have ever produced. Despite its small size, it still offers 6W of output power and delivers a loud 600mW of audio output.

    Other valuable features of the new HX40E are; Submersible (IPX7 – 1m for 30 minutes), FM Broadcast Receive, ATIS setting for inland Waterways, Preset key used to recall up to 10 favorite channels, Easy-to-Operate Menu System, Scanning operation and Multi-Watch (Dual Watch and Triple Watch), CH16/S Quick Access. The built-in Lithium Polymer battery is 1850mAh which delivers exceptional battery life as well as 3 hour quick charging with the supplied charger.

    Mind you I had the last laugh as just after Andy finished his sales pitch, the phone rang. It was an urgent call for him; I made the sale, hopefully I'll be getting the commission but don't hold your breath!

  • 159. Top Tips Tuesday - If All Goes To Plan - Electronic Nautical Charts and Updates


    If all goes to plan (never seems to in the Storrar household) we load the Mystery onto a low loader and truck her down to Port St Louis near Marseille and then sail her round to Corfu in mid May. If it had all been plain sailing from the time we purchased the hull and deck, Hindsight would have been in the water completed by  the spring of 2015. We would have then taken our time and sailed her down the East Coast through the Channel, across the Bay of Biscay and into the Med, however it was not to be. Why? Difficulty selling our last boat, family ill health etc etc! However feeling slightly optimistic this weekend, not sure why cos Jenny’s wrist which she broke some two weeks ago is not looking good and on top of that her car still has not passed it's MOT test, not that she could drive it in her present state, I sat onboard and ‘played’ with my Raymarine plotter after inserting the Navionics Platinum+ electronic chart 33P+. Maybe my ‘sunny’ mood was due to the fact that there is a special offer on them at present and Andy (now my boss and me a part time worker) suggested delaying my purchase till last week! Platinum+ gives you all the bells and whistles:

     *   3 Dimensional Views  *   Satellite overlays  *   Dock to Dock Autorouting  *   Plus of course HD Sonar, freshest data and community edits.

    Until the end of May we have a special offer on Navionics Platinum+ XL3 charts now at only £219.95 (RRP £299.95)

    If you are not starting from afresh why not take advantage of the fact that Garmin have just released their Bluechart update for the 2017 season, likewise C-Map, so if you want to be bang up to date send it back post haste (make sure you send it signed for) and we will upgrade it by return! If you're currently using Navionics, update your electronic chart at a discounted price against a new one and benefit from free updates for the next 12 months. Simply order an update card and you can do the update yourself online.

  • 153. Top Tips Tuesday - Sea-Tag MOB Alarm For Under £80.00!

    Sea-Tag Man Overboard Wristband

    Hopefully by late May we will be onboard Hindsight, sailing  from Port Saint Louis to Corfu via the Straits of Messina. Let’s hope the sun is shining and the winds, for once,  not on the nose!  As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs to maintain the classic looks of the Mystery our Raymarine chart plotter is mounted below deck, for navigation on  deck we will be using an iPad in a Gooper waterproof case (power for the iPad supplied via one of those superb waterproof Scanstrut sockets which is mounted on the instrument pod above the sliding hatch). As a sail maker and chandler of ill repute for almost fifty years my worst ever nightmare would be to see front page headlines in our daily paper which might read ‘local chandler didn’t practise what he preached and due to circumstances ‘beyond his control’ there was a major incident’! The sailing club bar gossip is bad enough when for once in the lead we sail over the spinnaker on a Wednesday night race or set the grass on the nature reserve sand dunes on fire during a flare demo!

    Sea-Tag Man Overboard Wristband and App

    Last week I wrote about lowering the ‘trip factor’ and with that in mind I thought that this week it would be a good to follow on with some words about a rather nifty bit of personal kit called  Sea-Tag, which comes into its own should you have the misfortune to part company with your boat. Sea-Tag is worn as a wrist band and in crew mode, no mobile network (GSM) coverage is necessary. Monitor your crew and let your crew monitor you by connecting wristbands to all apple or android devices on board using the free Sea-Tags app. The wristbands transmit a continuous signal to all the paired smart phones and tablets. If the signal is interrupted (by immersion or being out of range) the alarm on the phones/tablets go off. The Sea-Tags application displays the MOB’s position, the real-time position of the boat, and provides real-time updates of the heading and distance to retrieve the MOB.

    If you are a single handed sailor and there is mobile network coverage, in the event of a man overboard, your phone (left onboard) will send a text message (SMS) with the position and time of the event. The person on land can contact the authorities and communicate the last known GPS position of the MOB.

    Sea-Tags can be used on boats up to 15mtrs long, however they are not suitable on steel hulls or an exotic racer made from carbon! Batteries are good for 600 hours operation and user-replaceable.

  • 126. Top Tips Tuesday - Banish Fiddly Drybags - Gooper Automatic Self Sealing Drybags


    Hopefully, if all goes to plan and the weather plays ball, Jenny & I will be launching Hindsight our ‘home’ completed Mystery 35 this Thursday. If you don’t know the Mystery, she was designed by Stephen Jones, has a traditional look to her 35ft overall length but is only 24ft 9inches on the waterline with a 9ft 11 beam, a lead keel and they sail like a dream!

    Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century we have been talked into installing a Raymarine chart plotter, however to keep the ‘traditional look’ its tucked away below deck. Above deck we are using our trusty iPad which we will (with a little help from techy Andy) use to repeat the navigational information. During rough weather, or on a rainy day, the iPad will be snug as a bug in a rug in a gooper AUTOMATIC SELF SEALING BAG.

    The seal is a foolproof and fumble-free automatic closure which ensures a waterproof seal every time, so no need to take gloves off to insert your device. The gooper is as I said before automatic self sealing, its waterproof to 30 metres, and of course keypad and touch screen usable. gooper  is also credit card safe, video & camera usable. Phones are fully functional through the bag allowing for voice and audio without the need for a headphone or audio jack. gooper comes in two sizes, the smartphone case has internal dimensions of 10.5 x 15.5cm and the tablet version is 22.6 x 30cm.

    Please note that you should keep at least 7cm away from pacemakers and/or a standard compass.


  • 112. Top Tips Tuesday - Waterproof USB Charger Socket - Dragged Into The 21st Century

    Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 14.06.27

    Your blogger has been trying (but failing miserably) to complete his ‘retirement’ project and sail off into the sunset, she should have been finished some three years ago but that’s another story! We decided to call her Hindsight some two years ago, rather apt methinks considering the various setbacks along the way! Anyway at long last with the majority of the woodwork done apart from a bit more varnishing and more than half of the electrics complete we do see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. As Hindsight is of a traditional look we wanted to keep the cockpit area in keeping with the character of the yacht. So our Raymarine plotter is down below at the nav station but as a concession to easier navigation we are going to duplicate the information on deck via our iPad. It just so happens that Scanstrut has just brought out an excellent waterproof USB charger socket, that will be our power source on deck and to protect our iPad from the weather it will be safely ensconsed in a Lifedge waterproof iPad case which surprise surprise is another excellent Scanstrut product. Below deck on the chart table we are in the process of fitting a Blue Seas double USB port, all of this means that when Jenny and my dream finally turns into reality your blogs will be written whilst hopefully merrily sailing along!


  • 109. Top Tips Tuesday - Time To Update Electronic Charts


    It’s not very often that I am lost for words, or unable to sit down and jot down a few Top Tips lines on a Sunday night , however without the benefit of a glass or two of port on an evening it does become just a little bit harder and sadly Sunday night was taken up by applying 3 coats of SP Gurit Eposeal to my new cabin table! The subject matter for Tuesday’s Top Tips was, however, solved for me this Monday morning when first thing I had to sign for seven registered envelopes, the contents when opened..... electronic charts requiring updating!

    As far as I am aware, there is no hard and fast rule on updating electronic charts, but just out of curiosity I brought up on my computer (see image above) the recently releasd (March 2016 to be precise) latest electronic Cmap of the UK & Ireland and in particular, the area just south of Tees Bay where there is, I know, a new wind farm development which is displayed. Right click on the cartographic information box and you will see that the date of this particular navigation hazard is 22 December 2015.



    By updating your electronic chart you are, of course, being kept up to date on any changes and you are saving approximately 50% on the cost of new. If you were looking for a change of scenery i.e. different cruising area you can have your chart updated to that area at a similar saving.

    If however you are after a new Navionics Platinum Plus chart there is a very attractive offer on at the moment, but hurry the offer closes 28th of April 2016.

    Unsure of what update or chart you need? Use our compatibility guides or call us on +44(0)191 646 1000, we're always happy to help. Below are a couple of images to help you identify the type of card you have and also the date it was last updated.

  • 89. Top Tips Tuesday - Gadget Saver - Saves Your Electronics From A Watery Death!

    Gadget Saver Contents

    After, dare I say it, over forty odd years in the marine trade perhaps I can be forgiven for at times being more than a little cynical when the sales manager of a major marine wholesaler runs through his sales pitch! However, when introduced to the Gadget Saver the other day and then having watched the video and read the independent review on I think, like flares, every boat that goes to sea should have at least one if not two (small/ 45g for mobile phones, car keys and other devices up to 10x15cm, the larger/75g for electronic tablets etc up to 18x24cm). The Gadget Saver does what is says on the packet ‘dries out wet electronics-rapidly' Not only will I be putting a couple on our boat but each of my lovely daughters will be getting one as a stocking filler this Christmas as both have a habit of dropping iPhones in the bath!

    Ps. Izzy our efficient young Saturday girl is also getting one as part of her Storrar Marine ‘Christmas Box’ told me the other day that two of her phones have ended up in the toilet

  • 87. Top Tips Tuesday - Sooner Rather Than Later - Electronic Chart Updates


    So the clocks have gone back and for a lot of us the season is drawing to an end, not for co-director Andy, he starts his Sports Boat winter series campaign early November (missed Sundays race ‘cos he says he wants to give the other competitors a fighting chance). Speaking of a fighting chance, maybe now is the time to get your C-Map updated as againstat the start of next seasons activities when there is so much else to think about!

    This week we see the new release by C-Map of all electronic charts, they as you probably know are used in the majority of plotters including Standard Horizon, Furuno, RaymarineLowrance & Humminbird. The price of an update can be as low as £50-00 and as for the turnaround... if we receive it on a Tuesday morning you would get back Wednesday but please send your chart to us tracked and signed for and enclose a copy of our update form!



  • 54. Top Tips Tuesday - Electrical and Electronic Checks and Preparations - Expert advice from the team at

    IMG_1652   IMG_1657

    Now at last you're on the home straight with the launch in sight so what have we still got to do? Check out our electrics and anything electronic. If your batteries have been stored at home, kept fully charged (incidentally lots of folks are now using one of the excellent C-Tek 8-stage battery chargers to do this) you probably don't have much to worry about however you should always check their condition before reinstalling (this can be done by using a battery analyzer). If they are not of the sealed variety, check that the cells are fully topped up, however at this stage don't connect.  Assuming securing straps are fitted, make sure that they are secure and hold the batteries both fore and aft as well as athwartships. If no straps, 25mm webbing, webbing plates and sensible sized fastenings are strongly recommended. If over the winter a battery has failed for whatever reason, do not be tempted to purchase an automotive battery you should go for a good quality deep cycle one for domestics, or a dedicated starting battery for engine starting. Now check your shore side power source; first check the cable for any damage to the outer casing then take both plug and socket apart, clean contacts with that excellent specialist fast drying contact cleaner, reassemble then spray with Boeshield and finally check that you are obtaining power to your RCD. Remove your external power source and make sure that the RCD is clean and that the trips are working. If you haven't got one perhaps consider purchasing a Metermaid, it gives you the opportunity to monitor your shoreside power consumption! Finally check out your 240 volt sockets assuming they are fitted. Incidentally, if you have a trailer sailor or similar. Why not consider investing in a mobile mains power unit, comes complete with its own built in RCD.

    metermaid21_1   P1060794

    Now check the condition of the battery isolator switches. Are the contacts clean? If not, clean them and reattach the terminals ensuring they are secured firmly and free from corrosion, finally connect the battery leads to the battery posts after smearing a little Vaseline/petroleum jelly on both post and the internal bearing surface of the terminal, connect the positive first and then the negative. Don't forget the posts are of a different diameter to prevent connecting the wrong way round. Turn your battery isolator switch on, then with the stop control pulled out (assuming a diesel engine), turn the engine over a couple of times, turn off the engine isolator switch and push the stop control home. Now turn your attention to the house battery's isolator, are terminals clean and corrosion free? If any electrical items have been added since you last checked, is the main supply cable to your distribution board still suitable for the increased load? Making sure the house batteries are not turned on, open up the distribution panel, check for any signs of corrosion and ensure contacts are clean. Any push on connectors (bullet, spades etc) should be pulled apart and checked for dirt or corrosion and treated accordingly, finally spray all surfaces with Boeshield and replace panel. Turn on batteries then turn on all electrics one by one to check everything works and all components that should be interfaced are still communicating. Check all interior lights, including the reading light in the aft cabin, the neon tube in the engine bay, forward cabin light, and don't forget the 12 volt DC socket at the nav table, often used in conjunction with the Dual USB Charger Plug due to our ever increasing dependance on portable electronics such as iPads and tablets. To "tidy" things up perhaps consider fitting a Dual USB Charger Socket.

    Often neglected and hard to find at a lot of chandlers is the tiny compass bulb, make sure it’s working and, for what they cost, always carry a spare. Consider perhaps substituting existing filament or halogen bulbs with LED's to cut your power consumption down if shore power is not available. It goes without saying that you should of course check that your fixed VHF is transmitting/receiving clearly, if not check antenna connections ie deck plug and socket. Check, if its a DSC/VHF, (most are these days) that its getting position data from your GPS/plotter. If the boat is new to you, don't forget to contact the relevant authority (OFCOM) and get your details added and the previous owners removed.


    Speaking of plotters, is the electronic chart card up to date and relevant for the area you are going to be using the boat in?

    Wind speed and direction, do they need calibrating? Remember to write it in your log book as you cannot do it on dry land! If, like my co director, you are not that confident with the boats electronics, make sure you have a fall back reference book should you need to seek advice, Rob swears by Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual.

    Happy boating and we look forward to seeing you on the water.

  • 43. Top Tips Tuesday - At Last, An Antifouling For Transducers - Echo Antifouling

    If you fit transducers for a living or have a yacht or powerboat that has a through hull transducer, you are always faced with a quandary when it comes down to antifouling. If you read the Airmar (they supply transducers for Raymarine, Garmin, Simrad etc) installation leaflet they state, "you should only use a water based antifouling and never use one which is ketone based". By using any solvent based antifouling on the transducer you risk damaging it, the metallics impede the acoustic signal and traditional ‘thick’ antifouling reduces the signal strength! Until now, as far as we know, there has never been a product available that can be used with complete confidence however new to the market Echo Antifouling is water based,  it contains no copper and is a ‘thin film’ coating. Just what we have all been waiting for!

    Echo Antifoul

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