• Confined To Barracks Round 2 - Part 3


    Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 3, is a song and single by Ian Dury and the Blockheads on the 20 July 1979 (more of that later) however Andy Burgess boss man of www.marinechandlery.com is also feeling cheerful this weekend not because Black Friday is looming but because he has just discovered tucked away and wrongly labeled in the corner of the electronic store room, 4, yes 4, Ewinchers which include the free spare battery pack. How that happened he has no idea but maybe now is the time to invest in an EPOS stock control system? So folks if you were tempted, he has 2 of each colour at £1989-95 each c/w that free spare battery pack worth almost £300-00! So it’s a case of first come first served and judging by the take up last time they won't still be available on Black Friday!


    If, like me, you’re struggling with arthritis in your wrists, getting old (like me) or just want an easier life on board (like me) and were considering electric winches but the cost put you off, or maybe you need to climb the mast and the person on the winch doesn't have sufficient upper body strength why not consider investing in a Ewincher. This electric winch handle makes hoisting the dinghy back on board easy peasy and if your anchor windlassisn’t as reliable as it should be (thankfully not reached that stage yet) the Ewincher is the answer. With the Ewincher you don’t change anything about the way you sail and you can perform one task after another regardless of your physical condition, your age or your strength. Ewincher can be used straight away, without mounting anything, on all winches of a sailboat

    Well if that doesn't make you cheerful (its first come first served) you can always sing along with Ian Dury and the Blockheads if you click on the link below. As for me as I finish composing another 'master piece', get that fire lit, telly on and watch England & Ireland do battle at Twickenham!

  • 326. Top Tips Tuesday - Bad Luck Comes In Threes... Or Does It?


    They say bad things always come in threes (Triaphilia for the superstitious). Well, as usual, I am the one who breaks the trend! Am just back from seven weeks in the Ionian and certainly the above is often correct, but hey, let's just add a couple more on. Hindsight was successfully launched early September and as I was on my own, I motored on my autopilot for ten mins fitting and adjusting the height of the three fenders to port, three to starboard and a big ball fender tied to the boarding ladder as I was going to be stern onto the pontoon. Misjudged the speed of my approach and I managed to crease the vertical stainless tubes of the boarding ladder. Yup, a brilliant start to what was supposed to be seven weeks of rest and relaxation. Once I had recovered (a little) from 'operator error' the shore power was hooked up, but minutes later a strange, 'not quite right electrical smell,' made its presence known just as the battery charger power supply tripped! Over a week later after sailing Hindsight up to Lefkas marina I had a replacement British designed and made Sterling charger fitted and no, the original was not a 'Far East' product!


    Once the fumes from the charger had dissipated, I thought 'nowt more can go wrong'. Let's put a new Purytec cartridge into the salt water feed of my traditional looking German designed and built metal toilet, pump some water through from the toilet bowl along with some holding tank treatment, job done. No such luck, the piston was seized solid, eleven months of inactivity had taken their toll! Maybe I should have fitted a Jabsco plastic one, would have been an awful lot cheaper and probably a lot more reliable! Ten days later replacement parts turned up, tis strange that Andy back in Newcastle dispatched a parcel to Singapore on a Friday afternoon and the customer received it on the Monday but parts coming from Germany to Lefkas in Greece, express delivery by a well-known international carrier takes ten days! In between discovering the toilet was seized solid and awaiting the replacement cylinder, Hindsight was lashed by a 'rare' hurricane-force storm, christened Medicane Lanos, whilst at anchor in Vliho Bay. Our Vulcan anchor held, others weren't so fortunate, with boats aground one sunk further South there was a lot more damage. Notice I put inverted commas round the rare as this is the second time in three years of Med cruising that we have come through a Medicane!


    Oh, by the way, there was also a local earthquake during the second to last week I was out there! At anchor I felt a tremendous jolt as though another boat had run into Hindsight, went up on deck, nothing in sight! 'Strange', thought I. Was only when I took the dinghy ashore to do some shopping that another skipper told me of that morning's earthquake! Well, I had Hindsight lifted out a week later and then discovered the sail drive anode had turned white, tremendous fouling of the water intake on the drive etc and when I pointed this out to a boat electrician who had come down to check out the newly installed battery charger he told me that, 'according to the local fishermen these earthquakes work in mysterious ways'. I can assure you when I launched Hindsight some six weeks earlier the two anodes were in excellent condition, rope cutter and prop blades bright and shiny. And to cap it all, after this rest and recreation vacation, I landed at Manchester airport a week ago at 11-30 at night in driving rain, collected my car key from the guy who drops your car off, walked three hundred yards in the down pour, pressed the button on the fob, exterior and interior lights came on, doors unlocked, heaved my battered old Musto wheely hold-all into the boot, got into the car, closed the door and still clutching the fob in one hand (doesn't have an ignition key) I pressed the starter button and lockdown occurred. Car would not start, all the doors buttons went down, windows wouldn't open, trapped inside! Four hours later I was eventually on my way across the M62 with visibility of 100 yards! Andy, I need another holiday fast!

  • Confined To Barracks - Are You Being Served?!

    I had half written a blog Sunday night but as usual changed tack at the last minute thus heaping more pressure on Claire, who 'puts' my ramblings and images together and then when the pedantic me signs them off, posts them out. Thanks Claire for all the sterling work you do!


    Those of you who are old enough will remember 'Are You Being Served?’ It was a Sitcom which ran from 1972 to September 1985, based on a department store with the ladies and gentlemen's departments constantly at loggerheads with each other over various issues. We don't have too many issues between departments at either our bricks and mortar store www.storrarmarine.co.uk or our online site www.marinechandlery.com however at the moment the question we ask is, 'Are you being served?’.


    Running on a skeleton staff at present does sometimes mean it takes longer to answer the phone, respond to emails etc but in these strange times please bear with us. Boss man Andy is running round like a headless chicken, unloading delivery vans, packing orders for dispatch by UPS (incidentally they managed to collect a Blake’s Seacock in these strange times from our Newcastle store last Thursday and deliver to New York* some 32 hours later, well done guys!) Apart from that he is answering the phone, responding to emails and keeping up to speed with his 'click and collect' from the locked gates! If local, please ring or email your order through and when you turn up at the 'barrier,' ring, and your goods will be brought out for you to take away.

    *NB New York, The Big Apple, not the one 4 miles from Newcastle!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.54.13

    As well as the despatch of 'marine goodies’, Andy, seen above modelling our range of PPE items, has in stock plenty of shields, masks and gloves so get your orders in fast. Regrettably however, we do not have the Barmaster 2000 visors as seen below, but rest assured our buying department is working 24/7 to source!

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 12.55.00

  • 297. Top Tips Tuesday - We Plough The Fields And Scatter

    Having upset one of our readers the other week with my blog entitled David Rose, (I have personally emailed to apologise), in my defence I did run the subject matter past my good lady and a couple of female staff members as well as my boss before pressing the send button! So I hope the title of this week's blog doesn't offend! It is surprisingly hard to think up a subject never mind a title that might catch your attention week after week, especially since I have been trying to limit my alcohol consumption whilst pounding the keyboard. I can still remember as a ten year old being made to sit through the Sunday service with my big brother before we were allowed to cycle down to our local sailing club. I did enjoy the singing (not sure if the other members of our family did appreciate mine) but preferred dinghy sailing to the Sunday sermon. My favourite hymn is still, and not as per the title might suggest, 'Eternal Father Strong To Save' written in 1860 by William Whiting who was inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107.

    As far as we small boat sailors are concerned, what are our fears? For Jenny & I who keep our Mystery in the Ionian, dragging the anchor was our number one worry as neither of us was used to anchoring. Having said that, our Vulcan, the stablemate to the Rocna, has inspired confidence from the very first time that we used it. A year later we survived the 'Medicane' in Sept 2018, our Vulcan did the business and kept us safe and sound whilst all around us folks were dragging their anchors. We followed the advice given in 'Happy Hooking' by Alex & Daria Blackwell and didn't budge an inch, loads of chain out, long snubber to negate the shock loading and whilst we didn't sleep, (stayed up on deck all that night cos we were forever shining our spotlight or blowing our fog horn at drifting boats) we did feel confident that we would not drag!

    For a stern anchor or kedge we use the excellent Fortress, not only has that superb holding power, it is light enough to put into the dinghy if say you want to deploy an anchor using your dinghy in a crowded anchorage or, heaven forbid, you end up on the putty and need to pull yourself off! In the anchor comparison report Fortress and Rocna performed best but the former is 1/2 the weight of the Rocna. To achieve this light weight its manufactured from aluminium magnesium alloy; as strong as steel but half the weight. Features include, it's easy to manage weight, rustproof, sharper points than heavy, dull edged anchors and will set faster and will penetrate deep into common sea bottoms for incredible holding power. My mate Pete proud owner of a 24 ton Oyster has used his in anger and thinks it's brilliant! Similar in design and construction to the Fortress is the ‘home grown’ Lewmar LFX anchor. Constructed from high grade anodised aluminium, the large flukes perform superbly under high loads, whilst being extremely lightweight it makes the anchor easy to handle and deploy either from a boat or tender and of course it can be disassembled for stowage in a locker. As yet we have had no feed back as to its performance but we are told it performs superbly in sand and mud. Price wise its approx. 1/3rd cheaper than the Fortress, pity it wasn’t available when kitting out Hindsight some four years ago I would have been tempted!


  • 289. Top Tips Tuesday - Panic Over, Diary Found

    Christmas Gift Guide 2019 - Issue 1

  • 286. Top Tips Tuesday - The Key To Long Life


    They say the secret of a long life is to avoid smoking, drink moderately, a healthy diet and exercise! Well I don't smoke, as for my alcohol consumption, two pints on a Tuesday night in which we discuss in detail why we didn't win last Sunday's cruiser race! Friday it's a G&T and maybe a glass or two of wine, Saturday would probably be the same until Jen reminds me that I've a blog to write for next Tuesday. Sadly if I don't find inspiration and start the blog by Saturday night I then hit the bottle Sunday, seems that the more I consume the easier the words flow (usually rubbish). As for my diet, Jenny is an excellent cook however my downfall is the 'just one cheese and biscuit’.


    As for exercise, brisk walking of our dog at the moment is out of the question. I am fully mobile from my replacement hip op two winters ago, so much so that I even rejoined my childhood dinghy club last Christmas and as a present to myself bought an RS400 dinghy for some Wednesday night racing. However before I had the opportunity to waggle the tiller, after some 45 odd years of crawling round loft floors sailmaking, my knee decided enough was enough so for Christmas this year Santa is buying me a replacement. My exercise at the moment consists of cycling down to the beach each day at 6-30 in the morning where I join three other hardy folks for a dip in the North Sea, all of us shunning the benefit of wetsuits. Jenny thinks that we are all mad as hatters, however, after we have thawed out, it does set you up for the day and you do, as a bonus, get the benefit of some spectacular sunrises!


    Anyway enough of my rambling, back to the subject matter. Colin Fletcher, these days the Scottish and Northern rep for Wessex Resins (manufacturers and distributors of West System,) called in the other day unannounced. Andy was on his 1/2 term week and seeing the boss wasn't around, Colin collared me and asked if I was still writing a weekly blog, to which I replied, 'yes'. He then dropped his car key onto the table and proceeded to tell me that as a canny Scotsman he had saved himself a truck load of money by mending his VW camper van key using a little blob of West G/Flex.  Apparently the metal part of the key had snapped off in the lock, fortunately he managed to extract the business end. Priced a new key, which was not cheap so decided to put G/flex, one of his companies products, to the test. Colin admitted that he didn't practice what he preaches, proceeded to mix a tiny quantity of the two components and joined them together with no surface preparation! A few thousand miles down the road the key is holding up, he is a happy chappie, and perhaps seeing he has saved himself a few quid the next time he calls in to see Andy at short notice, to keep him sweet, he brings with him a packet of shortbread!


    When fitting out the Mystery we eventually used G/flex to bond the Whale grey water tank, which is manufactured from hard to bond polyethylene, to the glass-fibre bilge. We had initially tried Sikaflex 291i but whilst it stuck to the abraded GRP it didn't to the tank. By passing a flame across the surface of the waste tank and then setting the tank down onto 4 blobs of the mixed resin/catalyst mix we ended up with a tremendously strong bond. We also used, with great success, the same epoxy to glue a thin stainless plate to the wooden cover for the cooker. It means as soon as we had stopped cooking we could safely put the 'lid down' over the hot cooker surface freeing up a valuable serving surface. G/flex's ability to absorb the stress of expansion and contraction was invaluable and three years down the line no sign of the wood metal join failing. As can be seen it can be used with success to bond dissimilar materials and most importantly damp and difficult to bond woods! Incidentally if you're having a bad day, or perhaps on a diet day like me and my blog hasn't cheered you up, try watching the G/flex Epoxy Kayak challenge. If Sinbad the sailor was still around I am sure it would bring a smile even to his face!

  • 285. Top Tips Tuesday - Salt! It's bad for your health (except with your fish and chips)


    My better half, many years ago, forbade me from applying a liberal sprinkling or ‘dusting’ of salt on my food. However there is still one exception to the rule for both of us and that’s salt on fish and chips (not that we regularly participate in this most wonderful of British dishes) As for the fish, it has to be haddock, not cod. I am told by one of our regular customers who, apart from sailing his beautiful Rustler 36 on the West Coast of Scotland, owns and runs the ‘best fish & chip shop in Sunderland’ his words not mine! Apparently line caught Haddock is far superior to net, mind you when we did get our visas approved, stamped and ventured into 'Mackem' country to sample his wares Jenny and I did agree that with that sprinkling of salt they were superb! In the village of Tynemouth where we live, just North of the river Tyne, there are two chippies, Marshalls which we used to frequent many many years ago after our Wednesday evening racing (Jimmy Hendricks allegedly bought his fish supper from there after playing a gig at the old CLUB A'GOGO in Newcastle. There is even a plaque on the wall to prove it!) The new kid on the block is the Longsands fish restaurant eat in or take out, always good but my and Jenny's grouse is that they, like a lot of other establishments, serve this dish when its a take out meal in a cardboard box, not in good old fashioned paper. This does, from my vast gastronomic experience, keep them warmer and absorbs the surplus oil. Mind you this marvellous British Institution always tastes better if beef dripping is used in the frying process but of course, like salt, apparently it's bad for you!

    Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 10.24.18

    However salt is bad for your engine, your rigging, sails, sprayhood/canopies and of course clothing! If you are lifting out/winterising your inboard or outboard and you click on either of those two words you will get Andy’s wise words of wisdom on how to go about it and very importantly keep everything’ tickety boo and salt free!’ Incidentally the image below shows that even though I had run my little 2.5 Yamaha in fresh water for over 30 minutes there was still salt in the cooling channels  when I dropped the bottom end off to check the condition of the impeller. Next year I will be leaving the outboard out in Greece having checked out the bottom end this year but will make sure I run through some diluted Salt Off (I will add some to the very large plastic container I use when I flush this small engine) For larger outboards one can, of course, use muffs and they can also be used to feed the water/Salt Off mixture through my yachts sail drive using the handy reservoir which is part of the Salt Off kit, attach between your hose and the muffs.


    As for your rigging, try and keep the lower terminal salt free as much as possible, by regularly washing down with fresh water, and if you have a spare few minutes, read online, ‘How to Keep the Stainless Steel Stainless’, The subject matter appears on page 9 in the Blue Wave wire design catalogue which you can view it by clicking here. For cleaning stainless fittings, Spotless Stainless is brilliant if your carrying it out in the summer in the UK or in warm climates. Daveyshine cleans, polishes and protects, bronze, brass, alloy, chrome and of course stainless and temperature is not an issue. We also sell this product to a few museums and stately homes! Have used both and can recommend them. Starbrite Chrome & Metal polish is another we stock, personally, I have never used it however, if it's as good as their Non Slip Deck Cleaner it will be a winner.

    Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 10.24.30

    Salt deposits on sails, canvas work and foulweather gear can and do create problems. Salt crystals are abrasive, damaging stitching and can eventually break it down. If you have the need for speed do remember that spinnakers and assymetrics don’t ‘float’ so well in light airs due to the weight of the salt so regular washing in fresh water is essential. As far as sails and canvas work goes we use a dedicated sail laundry to wash and proof if a customer wants us to send them away but if you want to DIY we do have an excellent range of sailcloth/canvas cleaners and proofing agents. For foul weather gear always follow the manufacturers washing instructions and note if your breathable foulie(s) are now leaking (and they are not manufactured with Gore-Tex) nine times out of ten it will need recoating with something like Gill proofing spray. You would be surprised at the number of sprayhoods, stackpacks etc we get in for repair where the zips have ‘frozen’ solid or rotted away due to the presence of salt! If they are beyond repair we can sew in new however a little zipper lubrication never goes amiss where the article has a zip, my favourite brand is Shurhold’s Snapstick Zipper Lubricant.


    If your power-boating or sailing is carried out on the sea when you get back to the marina it pays to wash down the decks using Starbrite non-skid deck cleaner and the top sides with Meguiar's one-step cleaner/wax on a regular basis to help maintain that shiny look and protect your investment, and of course, if laying up at this time of year don’t forget to give it a polish!

  • 240. Top Tips Tuesday - Whodunnit?

    The other month, August the 7th to be precise, I was called down to our local boatyard on the river Tyne to have a look at a furling system that a customer had an issue with, I signed in, grabbed a key fob for the security gate and entered the yard. Once in the yard some three or four hundred yards away I thought I could see a hi-tech racing yacht minus its keel sheltering under a temporary structure . Being a nosey sort of guy I decided that a closer inspection was the order of the day and lets forget about inspecting the suspect furling system for the time being. Well, as I got closer, it became apparent that this 'state of the art flying machine' had never set sail nor was ever likely to be launched, on closer inspection it quickly became apparent that it was a mock up of a hull and lying next to it were a couple of shafts and plastic propellers!

    After my initial interest faded I did the necessary inspection on the furling system(condemned it!) exited the boatyard, handed my key fob back to the office and asked the question,” What is it?” Apparently it was a prop for the TV detective Vera series and, if you are like me not a telly watcher, let me enlighten you. Vera is a British crime drama series based on novels of the same name, written by crime writer Ann Cleeves. It was first broadcast on ITV on 1 May 2011, and up till then I have missed all eight series! I have read that it stars Brenda Blethyn as the principal character, Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. Vera is a middle-aged employee of the fictional Northumberland & City Police, who is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. She plods along in a constantly dishevelled state, but has a calculating mind and, despite her irascible personality, she cares deeply about her work and comrades. Bit like me I hear Jenny say!

    Since that sighting of the 'boat' I have managed to watch an episode of Vera, enjoyed spotting local landmarks in some of the more obscure locations, but as my boss Andy says and he is a great fan of the series, “some of the accents need a little bit of polish.” However not the kind you put on the topsides! As I wrote above, Andy is a great fan of Vera and if there had been a Christmas special of this program no doubt he would be (assuming his two girls are tucked up in bed) sprawled out in front of the telly with a tumbler of Jack Daniels in his hand. Speaking of Christmas my boss sends his Christmas greetings and the compliments of the year as do I and all the members of staff. Thanks for supporting us through an uncertain year and we look forward to being of service in 2019. As for Vera’s racing machine apparently we will be seeing it on our screens in 2019.

  • 238. Stocking Filler Ideas from the Top Tips Tuesday Team

    This year we have pulled together our  'Top Tips Tuesday's Top Christmas Picks' to create a series packed full of Christmas gift inspiration. Just follow the links below to see what we have on our 'Christmas List' this year...

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 1

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 2

    Stocking Fillers

    More Nautical Gift Ideas


  • 222. Top Tips Tuesday - Toilet Tips


    Alliteration, apparently it's when the first letter of every word in the sentence is the same, according to my retired school teacher wife! However let's get back to the subject in question. Most sailors would agree that it's in or around the heads, be it a yacht or powerboat, that more often or not we end up with an issue. In our years of owning a boat and having sailed with friends on their yachts,  touch wood it's always been in the headscompartment that we have come to a 'sticky end' and not at the seacock! However if the problem is down below where the discharge pipe exits the hull, its not usually a costly lift and a couple of days lost as that excellent device the Seabung could save your wallet as no expensive lift out nor time on the water lost!

    A well known marine toilet manufacturer recommends that, after visiting the heads you should pump the waste away with the minimum of seven strokes (both up and down) per metre of discharge pipe, but having on occasions being awakened by the sound of a manual toilet pump being used in the middle of the night methinks not a lot of guys adhere to this guideline! As for me, and having in the past had to unblock the outlet on more than one occasion, the first image of the blog was taken on the pontoon at Graciosa a small island off the tip of Lanzarote, Jenny abandoned ship whilst I cursed and sweated buckets! Nowadays I usually pump through some more 'fresh' water to help prevent a build up of uric scale. However, I am also a great believer in a dose of LeeScale on a regular basis, not for me I hasten to add, but a 10%  mixture (20% if you have a large build up) flushed down the toilet to help clear build up on the inside of the outlet pipe. Incidentally, LeeScale can be left in the system overnight for maximum effect.


    Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner & Lubricant, which we keep in our heads compartment, helps remove stains and water deposits from bowls easily and quickly. It can be used with confidence in all plastic and china bowls, and as it contains no harsh chemicals it will not damage seals or valves. Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner will not interfere with the action of most holding tank treatments and the product that I now use is Odourlos. It breaks down waste, is 100% organic and biodegradable and prevents unwanted odours!

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    When working on the interior of Hindsight and concentrating on the heads area, we fitted an Oceanair Brush & Stow Compact toilet brush. The Brush & Stow is wall mounted and has a lock-in lid which keeps shower water out and odours in! The brush head is the perfect size for all marine toilets and replaceable brush heads are available. From the same company we also flush mounted their DRYroll waterproof toilet roll dispenser. As its name implies, it's perfect for keeping the toilet paper dry and the clever design means that when you close the 'lid' it automatically rewinds any spare paper! The dispenser can also be surface mounted, all in all an excellent bit of kit!


    The saying 'don't put anything down the toilet unless it's been eaten first' is a rule that should be strictly adhered to and for the crew of Hindsight that includes toilet paper! Yes you can get soluble paper but why increase the risk of a blockage and hours spent taking the plumbing apart? Been there, got the medal!

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