Tips and Advice

  • 218. Top Tips Tuesday - Three Times As Fast


    My old iPhone and iPad are a bit like me, long past their sell by date; the phone was one of my bosses cast offs from some four years ago and as for the iPad, well it was won in a competition run by International Paints many many years ago, both still working (just) and both held together with West's G-flex epoxy! Like me their endurance or battery life is not that great and, when on our Mystery during May and June of this year, it seems like they both needed charging constantly. The iPad was in the cockpit repeating our Raymarine plotter information, as for the phone, we used it to keep us up to date on the weather, the Windy and Foreca apps being our preferred source of information. Both devices are protected from the elements in those excellent, easy to use, Gooper waterproof to 30 metre cases!


    Our waterproof Scanstrut USB port, as shown installed on our Mystery 35, has been excellent in giving us an 'on deck' source of power, but the two units have a very short battery life so the new Scanstrut Rokk Charge+ which charges at three times the rate and costs only £36.95 would have a vital role to play onboard Hindsight.


    • The socket will work with any USB Type-A connector to charge up to 2 devices at a time.
    • Compatible with phones, tablets, fish finders and chartplotters.


    • Tested and approved IPX4 waterproof rating with the cover closed and waterproof with 1, 2 or even 0 cables plugged.


    • Designed for use in all marine environments, whatever the conditions. Anti-corrosion coating on circuit board combines with a UV resistant shell and 316 stainless hinge and spring.


    • Easy to install with a low profile and small mounting footprint, the socket can be both opened and closed with ease; even with gloves on.


    • Standard barrel size also fits existing USB sockets.


    • Input Voltage: 6-30V
    • Output Voltage: 5V =/-5%
    • Cut out Dimensions: 29mm (1 1⁄8'') dia.
    Scanstrut Rokk Charger+
  • 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

  • 50. Top Tips Tuesday - A Definitive Guide To Topsides & Brightwork - From Prep To Polishing by PBO Columnist Mike Coates



    Its a well known fact that all GRP gelcoat surfaces will benefit from at least a coat of a good quality waxwhich not only seals the surface from ingress of dirt but also protects against UV degradation. To get the best result and protect your investment, we recommend that you first wash the surface down to remove any surface contaminants. If, after carrying out that task, you then discover you have some minor gelcoat damage that requires attention, now is the time to tackle this.

    Gelcoat Repairs:

    For those annoying unsightly hairline cracks (often found round stanchion bases) MagicEzy hairline fix is the business! Its great for stress cracks, crazing and scratches. Use MagicEzy 9 second Chip Fix for ‘sorting’ nicks, chips and gouges. This excellent product is available in 11 colours (inc five shades of white). For larger dings that you may want to tackle, we suggest you clean the immediate area with 1200 wet/dry paper, this will remove any oxidised gelcoat still remaining, without doing this your repair will end up having a miscoloured ring round it. Getting the correct coloured gelcoat can be a pain, however we always recommend in the first instance you contact the original boatbuilder or importer of the boat whilst armed with the hull build number to see if they can supply. Once you have ascertained the correct match and prepared the surface to accept 'catalysed' gelcoat, apply with a soft brush leaving the material slightly proud. Carefully apply a piece of clear Sellotape or cling film over the gelcoat, this will prevent the gelcoat drying sticky. When set remove the tape and carefully sand to shape using a sanding block with 400 then 600 and finally 1200 wet/dry paper and plenty of water, do this carefully so as not to damage or rub through the surrounding gelcoat. The repair can then be polished to a mirror finish using Farecla or a similar compound.


    After the wash down we recommend that you use a mild cleaner which will safely remove light oxidation and most stains from the gelcoat either by hand or machine. By using a machine to do the hard work the task will be completed quicker than buffing by hand using a 100% cotton polishing cloth. If using a machine we recommend a variable speed machine like the Shurhold Dual Action polisher with either a microfibre or foam polishing bonnet, keep the speed slow and don’t stay in one area as it is all too easy to overheat and damage gelcoat. Don’t be tempted to use an electric drill with a polishing bonnet, they are usually too high a speed and can result in burn damage to the gelcoat. An oxidation remover will bring life back into a hull, however, if the topsides are very chalky and dull (dark green & blue gelcoat are particularly susceptible) you can start with a course paper 200-300 working up to 800 or 1000 grade, or after using the more aggressive grades spread compound evenly onto the hull in areas of about a square metre so it doesn’t dry. Work with the polisher in lines. While working, don’t place your polishing mop on the ground or on the plank you are working on; one speck of grit on its surface can have disastrous results on your topsides! When applying cleaner or oxidation remover always work on a cool surface in the shade.


    Don’t try to polish or wet/dry rust or black berry bird droppings marks from your decks or hull, the stains can be deep into the gelcoat. Instead try using a stain remover based around oxalic acid such as Y10 or Davis FSR either should bleach out the stain. After thoroughly cleaning with either the mild cleaner or the oxidation remover the surface must then be sealed using a good quality uv resistant wax, for best results apply at least 2 coats with a day between each coat to allow the wax to harden, applying the second coat too soon will only remove the first!For GRP cabin sides and other smooth gelcoat surfaces the technique is the same, however for cleaning and removing oxidation on moulded in nonslip I always use Vistal Hard Surface Cleaner. Vistal can also be used to help bring a sparkle back to dull painted or varnished surfaces; its also great for brightening your stainless pull/pushpit, alloy stanchions and other metal surfaces. Teak Decks:Teak decks can suffer badly in our damp climate growing algae and moss during the winter months and I have no doubt that boats in other locations suffer similarly. Whatever you do don’t be tempted to clean them with a pressure washer, they will certainly be clean but the pressure of the water jet will tear out the soft grain leaving them like a ploughed field. It is best to clean them with one of the proprietary teak cleaners my choice being Teak Wonder cleaner, however we all tend to have our favourites, anyway following their instructions, use Starbrite Magic Scrub and, for the awkward corners, their stainless bristled Detailing Brush or a Scotchbrite pad and ONLY scrub across the grain. After cleaning, the decks should be given a wash with Teak Wonder brightener, this will restore their colour. When dry, spray with ‘Wet and Forget’ which will stop any moss or algae growth.

    Last But Not Least:

    Should you have halyards, webbing lifelines and other items that are resting on the deck and have ‘turned’ green over the winter months don’t despair. Don’t get the pressure washer out (destroys stitching/fabrics etc) but spray Wet & Forget on these items and leave, the diluted solution will do all the hard work and prevent re-growth. If any covers, dodgers or spray hoods are also looking ‘green’ they will also benefit from a spray.

  • 33. Top Tips Tuesday - Laying Up For Winter



    Laying Up For Winter

    Read on for top tips and advice on jobs for the winter. If you are going to use your boat during the winter months not ALL of the following will apply, however moisture and the danger of very low temperatures can and do cause problems If you are not using your boat...

    Sails, Canvas and Furlers

    Canvas Work

    If it’s a yacht we suggest that your remove ALL sails if you have already stopped sailing. You would be surprised at the number of furling head sails we get in for washing just after the start of the sailing season all with a ‘lovely’ green stripe down the inside of the sacrificial strip! Be aware that a lot of insurance companies will NOT cover you for the loss or damage to a furling genoa if it comes adrift and flogs itself to death whilst either on the water or on dry land. Once you take the genoa off the foil we strongly recommend you run a foil saver up the furling system track and tension using a 6mm pre-stretched line. By using one it will save the foil from shaking itself silly on a windy day.

    For both powerboats and yachts with canvas work, be it canopies, spray hood, bimini, dodgers, winter gales and chafe are enemy no 1. They can shorten the lifespan of a canopy etc by at least 50%. Enemy no 2 is bird droppings (seagulls and of course starlings eating berries at this time of the year leave purple poop stains) so remove these fabric items asap after you have stopped using your craft. The exception to the rule? Only if the canvas work’s sole purpose is protecting bright work, instrumentation or seats and you cannot protect by the use of a tough tarpaulin. However if using one do make sure you create a ‘ridge pole’ effect so that rain runs off and secure it well! If you have a tailor made winter cover, brilliant, they are not cheap but worth their weight in gold. If your budget allows, send your sails and canvas work to us and we can wash (remove the salt crystals that damage the stitching and fabric, grime etc ) dry them and if applicable reproof, check over and store till the start of the new season. If you would rather D.I.Y, our Yachticon ail and Canvas Cleaner is great, as is Starbrite Mildew Stain Remover should you have some black spots! Granger’s Fabsil is the industry standard when it comes to re proofing, if you have washed your spray hood or canopy its worth using. DO NOT, under any circumstance, use a high pressure washer to remove bird droppings or green mould this can knock the stuffing out of the fabric and stitching in five seconds flat. The ‘softly softly’ approach of soaking and use of a sponge/soft brush is the only way.

    Foil Saver

    Halyards and Mooring Lines

    Halyards and reefing lines; It’s worth purchasing some thin strong line, attaching to the tail and carefully pulling them through (make sure you use a tough string label to identify them). Also remove jackstays and at the same time don’t forget your danbuoy, man overboard horseshoe etc. To keep the ropes in good condition when not in use, hand wash them in warm water only to remove salt and dirt deposits. If your boat winters afloat check the condition of your mooring lines, especially where they goes through a fairlead or are made of on a cleat. If you haven’t already done so consider purchasing some mooring compensators. When fitted they take the snatch away preserving lines, fairleads and cleats. Last but not least, any lines taken of the boat should be coiled when dry, avoiding kinks and finally do not store in direct sunlight.

    The Galley

    Make sure you disconnect the gas cylinder at the end of the season. After that I would suggest you check the date printed on the rubber flexible hose.  One of my favourite  galley cleaning products is Vistal (almost the same as Universal Stone which we used to sell however Vistal is made in the UK) its great for hobs and work surfaces including Corian. Check for perishable foodstuffs and remove, likewise out of date ‘emergency’ supplies. Take all the alcoholic drinks home and drink whilst planning next year’s on the water activities. Make sure fridge and freezer lids are left propped open, likewise, lockers and cupboards.

    The Heads

    The Heads
    Heads I win, tails you lose. Cleaning and winterising the heads is a job that I just love (to avoid). If you have holding tanks fitted, discharge them and add to the tank some Clean & Green (which helps to break down the waste) and fresh water. Then flush through and empty again. To ensure that you keep the uric scale build up to a minimum I always tell my guests to pump at least 20 times to clear the lines. However at the end of the season I am a great believer in using LeeScale fast marine de-scaler, suggest you leave in the system overnite for maximum effect then flush system thoroughly. For cleaning the toilet bowl I use and recommend Starbrite’s toilet bowl cleaner, its specially formulated not to damage seals or valves.

    Water Systems

    Don’t forget to drain down your fresh water systems and run non toxic Freezeban through the system to protect water pressure pumps, pipe work, taps and calorifier. With the cold snaps a few years ago we have had quite a few boat owners coming in late Feb/early March reporting damaged water pressure pumps, water filters, impellers, taps and shower heads. Even though systems had been drained down, sufficient water had been trapped to expand the appliance and cause in, some cases, an expensive repair.

    Soft Furnishings

    Soft Furnishings - By Storrar Marine Chandlery
    Down below, remove as much/many of your soft furnishings as you can, however be careful where you store them. Mice do so like to make their nests out of fabric and foam! So if they are going in the attic or garage or wherever, worth loading up a couple of traps with some rind from that rather nice Stilton that you have just polished off. For cleaning vinyl we would suggest either Starbrite’s Vinyl cleaner and Shampoo or their Vinyl Cleaner and Polish. For woven fabric, Sunbrella fabric/vinyl cleaner is an excellent product that we have used with success. Peek Spray Away is a superb spot cleaner (saved our skin on a couple of occasions when our fitter has walked muck thru the shop)


    Make sure you wash down all hard surfaces in the saloon and cabins with something like a very mild solution of Bilgex, remember a little goes a long way and its harmless to paintwork and fittings when diluted. When added to bilge water it will remove grease, scum, floating oil and keep the bilges smelling sweetly. Don’t forget to wash and dry the underneath of the floorboards if possible leave ‘up’ so air can circulate. Stubborn stains on most surfaces including those that are painted or varnished can be cleaned with Vistal. As it’s 100% natural, it’s safe for use when there are children present, allergy sufferers or pets.

    Foulies, Lifejackets and Clothing


    Remove all foulies, lifejackets, clothing and take them home. For foul weather gear we recommend that you wash them with Granger’s 2 in 1 which is a combined cleaner and proofer it can be used with confidence on Gortex and other breathable fabrics (to maximise water repellency tumble dry after on a med heat setting)

    Lifejackets; If auto, remove the activation unit and gas bottle wash the jacket by hand in warm water and dry naturally. Check your jackets for chafe and before reassembling/repacking check the expiry date on the activation unit and if bottle is rusty or has rust spots, discard. For further advice on the care of your lifejackets if you go onto either the Crewsaver or Baltic sites you can get some first class tips. We do carry rearm kits in stock for the majority of popular life jackets and for the few that we don’t, they can be obtained within a few days.

    Fighting Off The Damp


    If you have the luxury of a 240 volt supply its worth investing in a tube heater. They are available in a variety of sizes, with thermostats, and prices start as low as £29-95. These low power consumption heaters create air circulation in enclosed spaces and help to prevent condensation, dampness, mould and mildew. If you can leave hatches a tiny bit open it will also help.

    A 240 volt dehumidifier is worth considering. If you do decide to take the plunge go for one which has the facility to drain directly into the sink outlet. The Meaco DD8L Junior (best on test according to operates using the ‘desiccant principle’ and will work at a lower temperature than those using a refrigerated coil. No power supply? Then the Starbrite No Damp Dehumidifier is great for removing moisture and of course refill packs are also available.


    Wet & Forget is superb at keeping the green algae which tends to form on boats in the winter (especially the side that does not see so much sun), you dilute, spray it on decks be they teak, grp or painted. If you decide to leave halyards, covers or canopies on (sailing throughout the winter?) Wet & Forget will keep the algae at bay with NO HARD LABOUR NEEDED!

    If you are ever worried about your electricity consumption whilst using either a dehumidifier or tube heater you can check your consumption with a Metermaid, just add the ‘maid’ to you shore supply cable and you can keep a close eye on your outgoings!

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  • 31. Top Tips Tuesday - McLube - Lubricate and Condition Those Balls

    Hoisting the mainsail on our friends Ketch rigged Oyster is still a pleasure, even in my advanced years, as the fully battened main/mast has been fitted with Harken track and ball bearing cars. When we flew out two weeks ago I decided that in my luggage I would pack a tube of McLube One Drop ball bearing lubricant and conditioner as the skipper ALWAYS gets me to hoist the main! Because I have a suspicious mind I thought I would do a ‘before and after’ comparison. Peter's mainsail is full battened so there is a lot of compression from the battens onto the mast track. Before applying McLube One Drop I could hoist the sail ½ way by hand  (jumping the halyard) at the mast. After an application of One Drop I was able to hoist it  three quarters of a way up before resorting to the winch which is located on the mast, avid readers please note I am not 17 stone, at the start of the two weeks I was just under 12 stone (not saying what I weighed in after the two weeks were up!) What was also encouraging was that when hoisting the remainder of the sail I did not have to change down to the lower speed on the winch.

    The mizzen sail is, of course, a lot smaller and as the second image shows is fitted with conventional flat slides which as you know do create quite a lot of friction. If I had thought ahead I could have made the task of hoisting this sail easier by remembering to pack some McLube Sailcoat dry lubricant, great for this and other uses around the boat like squeaking hatch hinges.

  • Prevent Galvanic Corrosion With Tefgel

    Successfully Mix Your Metals With Tef-Gel :

    They say you should never mix your drinks and I usually do follow that rule, however, what you should never ever do (and yes I know I keep banging the drum) is mix your metals without putting a barrier between the two surfaces! If you have an alloy stanchion/fairlead or genoa sheet track and you need to fasten it down by all means use stainless steel fixings however you must put a barrier between the two dissimilar metals otherwise you can end up with a very expensive failure. Take this image of the ventilator base plate on a fifty four footer completely and utterly cream crackered. If only the boat builder had used Tefgel or zinc chromate paste as a barrier none of this would have happened.

    Enter Our Competition and WIN a tube of Tefgel worth £17.95!

    Guess the age of the boat! The first correct answer pulled out of Andy’s lucky hat wins a tube of Tefgel worth £17-95. E-mail  your answers to or visit our Facebook Page and leave your answer as a message on the image -

    Galvanic Corrosion

  • Sunshine, Sailing & The Pork Pie Predicament - Boarding Ring Glasses

    Last Saturday I was asked to crew 'January First', a Beneteau 35.7, which races out of Amble marina. It seemed a ideal opportunity to sail, for once, in blazing hot sunshine (North East this year has not been blessed with too much of the yellow stuff). It also gave me the chance to check out the new genoa we had built for Peter. I arrived at Amble to find a light breeze and yes it was red hot. The start of the race was postponed for an hour which gave me the chance to speak to a couple of customers so time well spent. When we cast off I, made sure I had my sunglasses on my head and for comfort was wearing my Spinlock Lite lifejacket. Once we cleared the harbour entrance we were met by a two metre swell and no wind, and after half an hour the race was abandoned and the pork pies and sausages handed round. For some strange reason I declined even though I am your original trencherman!... Why hadn’t I taken a pair of those excellent Boarding Ring Glasses with me?

  • 11. Top Tips Tuesday - Protecting Your Topsides

    Picture 7

    Protecting Your Topsides

    Living and working on the North East coast we seem to get more than our fair share of bad weather (having said that we were let off lightly last winter with almost no flooding), however, early spring its often strong Easterly winds and with it airborne sand, grit and then there is the deposits of salt! As a result it can mean higher than normal topside wear and tear through fender scuff. Fenders and the vertical surface(s) should be washed regularly with clean water to get rid of contaminants. To protect the topsides however we do recommend the use of a fender skirt, fender socks or better still both.

    Of the fender skirts we sell 'off the shelf' some have a foam padding with an outer covering in an acrylic fabric, any colour you like as long as its blue, available in the one size of 2m x 0.7m. The acrylic skirts manufactured with no foam padding are available in two sizes and are limited to the colour grey, however, if you want to 'customise' or 'pimp' your boat our in-house loft will manufacture a skirt to your specification, padded or plain and as for colour anything goes... we can supply in literally hundreds of different colours from pink to black, lilac to burgundy and every shade between.

    Close fitting knitted fender socks are available in navy or royal blue (other colours are available to special order) and two shapes either sausage or 'round' (again other sizes available to special order). Alternatively, if your fenders are an unusual size the Fender Roll covers, which come in a long tube, would be the ones for you. Simply cut to fit the length of your fenders and slide on. There is no need to hem this material, it will not fray or unravel. Don't forget however that both skirts and socks pick up and hold dirt which can over a period of time abrade the surface it is designed to protect, so regular washing with fresh water is to be recommended.

    With very little effort fenders that look scruffy can, with surprisingly little effort, be restored to an almost new look. Universal Stone is the product that gets my nod to get them back to their former glory however on fenders that Andy uses to keep his sports boat topsides in good condition he prefers to  use Polymarine Inflatable Boat Cleaner.

    Picture 8
  • Boarding Ring Glasses For Kids - Now In Stock!

    It has been over six months since Andy saw the junior version of the very popular and successful Boarding Ring Anti Motion Sickness Glasses (they are great for relieving the symptoms of motion sickness whether on a boat, car, ferry, train) at METS and placed the initial order for them. Well, the good news is that at long, long last they are in stock, but folks at the moment only available in blue. The children’s Boarding Ring Glasses come with ‘built in’ sunglasses that are hinged and can be swung out of the way on a dull day, "All the time in the North East" I hear you cry! With youngsters heads varying so much in size the side arms can be ‘fine tuned’ to suit, cutting them with a pair of scissors ensures a good fit and means you don’t have to worry about the glasses falling overboard. Writing about losing them overboard... you will be please to know that the Boarding Ring Anti Motion Sickness Glasses are supplied with an excellent clam shell case c/w hook for clipping on to say a waist band (incidentally the adult version now come with this style of case). The adult glasses have been selling like hot cakes, we export them worldwide, no doubt once the season is in full swing the kids glasses will be smoking out the door too!

    P1050926 P1050932
  • Going North This Year? - Cruising Scotland and N.Ireland


    Going North This Year? - Cruising Scotland and N.Ireland

    If Scotland is your destination this year, why not pop in and collect the latest edition of WELCOME ANCHORAGES 2014, your FREE complete facilities guide for mooring and berthing. Locations include Scotland’s West Coast, North East Coast, Northern Isles & Ireland’s Northern Coast. Don’t forget we also stock the complete range of Imray, Clyde and Irish Cruising Club pilots as well as the excellent RNYC sailing directions that covers the area Humber to Rattray Head. For charts, the Admiralty leisure chart folios have proved very popular as an economical way of covering a relatively large area and are recognised by the MCA as meeting UK national chart carriage requirements for either fishing or MCA coded vessels under 24m. Imray Charts are however printed on water resistant paper and are approved by the MCA for use on small vessels.

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