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  • 202. Top Tips Tuesday - Preseason Prep - Topsides

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    It's a well known fact that all GRP gelcoat surfaces will benefit from at least one application per year (or preferably 2) of a good quality wax such as Meguiar's Flagship Premium 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. I always use and recommend Yachticon GRP supercleaner. 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.


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    For those annoying unsightly hairline cracks (often found round stanchion bases) MagicEzy Hairline fix is the business! It's great for stress cracks, crazing and scratches. For best results, first scrape out any dirt/wax/grime with a sharp needle/pin. In our experience, simply washing the area is not as effective. It's worthwhile also flushing the surface to be treated with acetone. 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 tacky. 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 and then to seal the surface a good quality wax polish such as 3M marine ultra performance wax.



    After the wash down we recommend that you use a mild cleaner such as Meguiar's Colour Restorer 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. If there is no power available, the OrbiPro Cordless Orbital Tool is a useful investment, particularly as you can rent it to your neighbours when they see the fabulous finish you have achieved.


    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 coarse 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 rub down 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 other metal surfaces and of course fenders.



    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.

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    Anyway following their instructions, use Starbrite Magic Scrub and, for the awkward corners, a stainless bristled Detailing Brush or a Shurhold Scrubbing 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.


    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 and Forget on these items and leave. The 5:1 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 of the same solution. Once the green has gone (may take a few weeks depending on the weather) wash with fresh water, allow to dry and then proof with Graingers Gold, not only will the water bead and run off instead of soaking in but it will help repel surface contamination.

  • 200th 'Top Tips' Competition - Questions and T&C's


    To win one of the six prizes featured in our 200th anniversary blog you must answer all of the questions correctly. Send your answers to

    Q1. How long is the guarantee on Bynolyt Searanger II Binoculars?

    Q2. What weight is used to keep the danbuoy upright on the Seago 3 in 1 rescue & recovery system?

    Q3. What length is the sender cable on the Topargee water tank gauge.

    Q4. Name the award given to the Boarding Ring glasses in 2013.

    Q5. There are three natural ingredients found  in Vistal, what are they?

    Q6. What is the standard dilution ratio for Wet & Forget?
    The closing date for the competition is midnight Tuesday the 27th of March 2018 (UK time)
    The  names of the entrants who get all the correct answers will be put in Andy's lucky hat and the winners will be drawn in order.

    1st prize - Bynolyt Searanger II Binoculars

    2nd prize - Seago 3 in 1 rescue and recovery system

    3rd prize - Topargee surface mount water tank gauge

    4th prize - 1 pair Boarding Ring Glasses

    5th prize - 2 X Vistal hard surface natural cleaner

    6th prize - 1 X 5L Wet & Forget


    Prize winners on UK mainland will not be charged shipping, however  for Highlands, Islands and abroad we reserve the right to charge carriage at cost. We would notify and need payment before shipping.

  • 61. Top Tips Tuesday - Let There Be Light - Cockpit Lighting

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    As the days get warmer and the nights shorter we sailors tend to migrate from the cabin to the cockpit after a day’s sailing. For me nothing beats the company of fellow boating enthusiasts whilst enjoying at least a couple of G&T’s and some nibbles (including Aldi’s peanuts’ at ½ the price of KP and just as good). Having said that I have, over the years, also enjoyed quiet evenings in the cockpit catching up on my reading when the temperature has been suitable and there has been sufficient light to see the page! However help is at hand as this spring we have seen a number of new products which I think will make your cockpit time more enjoyable, certainly mine. The first is an excellent  flexible LED strip, for either ‘permanent’ fixing to the sprayhood bar using say cable ties or alternatively velcro if you want to just attach when the mood takes you. For mounting under the boom or bimini use self adhesive velcro. Being LED, the current draw on your battery is minimal; there is also the option of a dimmer switch which gives you four levels of illumination.

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    Davis Instruments fully marinised LED rail lights, two sizes available which come complete with clamp or screw mounted options, are also worth considering. Both are solar powered so once again no worries about battery drain. New also on the market is a rather nifty inflatable solar lantern. Originally developed for remote communities in Africa, this technology is now available for boaters. It features either low or high settings as well as a ‘flashing’ mode! This coming Bank holiday weekend, yes ‘let there be light’ but let there also be no rain nor strong winds to allow us some evening cockpit time.


    Cockpit Lighting.

  • 59. Top Tips Tuesday - Pimp Your Wheel - Leather Wheel Cover Kit


    Had a brilliant sail Sunday night and the bonus? We just made the pub before last orders! Cast off from City Marina Newcastle 6-50pm waited five minutes for the Millennium bridge to open and then motored down the Tyne past the  old Lloyds hailing station where we went head to wind, hoisted full main, bore off, unfurled genoa and settled down to a close reach to Schuuper’s home berth at the RNYC Blyth, perfect sailing conditions with 15 gusting 20, flat sea and a cloudless sky. No lobster pots were seen (makes a pleasant change) our only incident was being ‘targeted’ by some idiot shining a green laser beam over our sails off St Marys Lighthouse! I was glad that Pete’s wheel has been recovered with one of our Leather Wheel Cover Kits as in my haste to help Pete ‘escape’ the bridge I had forgotten my warm gloves!

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    If you want to 'pimp' your wheel cover, the Leather Wheel Cover Kit is supplied with all you need to complete the job:

    • Leather strip, pre-punched holes for easy sewing
    • Strong needle and waxed thread
    • Step by step instructions
    • Colour fast and resistant to mould

    Having now ‘sorted’ the wheel why not now consider covering your guard rail/pulpit/pushpit connection with leather as well? It will help eliminate chafe, stops split pins snagging clothes or hands.

  • 51. Top Tips Tuesday - Preparing Deck & Running Gear - Your Step By Step Guide By PBO Columnist Mike Coates



    Even though they are ‘staring us in the face’ throughout the season, stanchions and guard rail wires are often items that are overlooked during pre season checks. Stanchions should be checked for security; make sure the base is fastened securely to the deck and/or toe rail, there is no movement and ALL fastenings are in place. An unstable base is not only dangerous - it could possibly lead to a man overboard situation and the mechanical fastening(s) could be the source of a leak into the interior. If the base is found to be loose, remove, clean and re-fit using the appropriate sealant, my recommendation is to go for a polysulphide as against a silicon sealant. Before refastening a stanchion or any other deck fitting make sure you remove any old sealant using Debond Marine Formula, degrease the fitting and deck using acetone or similar and if the hole is not countersunk to accept the sealant do so. Finally, mask both the deck and the base so any excess sealant that is squeezed out as you tighten down can easily be cleaned up. However when bolting down make sure that you don’t squeeze ALL the sealant out, tighten, allow the sealant to set then go for a final turn on the spanner. Check stainless tubular type stanchions where they are drilled (for mid height guard wire to pass through) for signs of stress cracks round the hole. Make sure the stanchion is well secured into its base either by lock nut and bolt or by split pin, however if an alloy stanchion is being secured  with a stainless fastening you must use a barrier to prevent an electrolytic reaction, same if you are using stainless stanchions in aluminium bases isolate between the 2 dissimilar metals. Split pins can be very sharp, likewise the end of a stainless bolt, they should be covered in self amalgamating tape or a blob of clear sealant applied to prevent snagging on footwear, foulies and of course skin!



    Guard rail wires should be carefully examined for broken strands especially where the wire exits the swage or Talurit termination and where they pass through stanchions. You will have to slacken each wire and draw it through the stanchion to fully inspect. Flex the wire gently at the start of a termination or where the wire has passed thru a stanchion, If any broken or worn strands are found they MUST be replaced, it’s certainly not recommended & highly dangerous to just tape over them! PVC covered stainless steel guard rail wires (banned some years ago for use on offshore race boats) can hide broken or corroded strands especially where the PVC cover butts up against swage or Talurit terminations. Moisture and a lack of oxygen provide the ideal scenario for crevice corrosion to go unnoticed, any signs of rust in these areas can be a pointer to wire failure thru weakening of the internal wire strands – if rust stains are in evidence  replace without question, preferably with uncovered 1 x 19 strand stainless wire. Ensure all pelican hooks in gates assemblies are free to operate preferably single handed, and that the piston fully engages when closed, lubricate same with a dry film spray or similar. If your method of tensioning the guard rail(s) is a cord lashing by the pushpit we would suggest that this is replaced on a regular basis. Check that all the clevis pinsrings or split pins in the assembly are secure and either tape over to avoid snagging or cover with those rather nice chrome leather boots. If small people or dogs etc are going to be found on board this season and netting is already fitted, examine for signs of degrading through UV exposure and check its secured to both guard rail wires and toe rail, there’s no point in fitting it if your precious cargo can roll under the lower edge!

    Once you have finished your inspection of guardrails and stanchions check the security of your bolt on accessories such as the liferaft cradlehorseshoe bracket and while you are in that area, are any electrical cables passing through the pushpit showing signs of chafe.


    Whether wire or webbing they should be inspected. Check wire termination, especially PVC covered as per guard rail wires, for corrosion. Webbing jackstays should have their stitching checked for integrity, if any nicks or cuts are found in the webbing or if more than 3-4 years old they should be replaced owing to UV degrading of the material. If replacing wire jackstays consider changing to webbing as an alternative, it is kinder to decks and doesn’t roll under foot!



    Deck fittings

    Mooring cleats, Fairleads, bollardseye bolts or u-bolts, like stanchions, should be checked thoroughly for movement. Should you suspect a deck fitting as a source of a leak, the application of a bead of mastic round the edge is only a short term solution! Any shackles securing a block or similar should all be checked for wear and moused with either monel seizing wire or cable ties for added security. However, if using ties and they have been snipped, watch out for razor sharp edges, use a drop of sealant to cover.

    Blocks, Track and Cars

    Blocks, especially ball or roller types, should be given a good rinse with fresh water from a hose to remove all traces of grit.  Lubricate ball bearing blocks using Harken's OneDrop Ball Bearing Conditioner or if plain bearing McLube. Don’t use grease as it will attract and hold grit which makes a very effective cutting compound causing wear. DO NOT oil or grease any Tufnol based block or fitting as it causes the material to swell and will seize sheaves onto pins. Any sheaves that are found to have wear between axle and the sheave (either sideways or vertical play) or nicks in the edges of sheaves which will cause damage to sheets or halyards should be replaced. Check all cam jammers on mainsheet block systems if the teeth are worn or the springs have lost their power replace.

    Rinse all mainsheet and headsail cars especially those using ball systems with a hose, inspect for wear and lubricate as per blocks. If fitted with plunger stops ensure these are free, lubricate with WD40 or light oil and make sure they locate correctly in the track system. Check all track fastenings for integrity and make sure all track end stops are securely fastened, any rubber pads within the stops should be replaced if worn.

    Winches (Halyards & Sheets)

    Winches should be stripped and cleaned of all grease, if the grease is hardened it may be necessary to use paraffin and a de-greasing agent. Inspect for wear especially pawls (rounding of the edges and cracking), check for play in all bearings and especially those bearings between drum and the gearbox, if drum can be rocked excessively the caged roller (or plain) bearing is most likely worn. Re assemble using winch grease, don’t use the white stern tube grease as it isn’t suitable for the purpose, and don’t smother parts heavily, a light coating will suffice. Keep grease away from pawls as it will make them stick, only apply a light pawl oil. Replace all pawl springs as a matter of course, a pawl that doesn’t engage through a broken or worn spring subjects the other pawls to overloading which can lead to damage. On self tailing winches check the rope gripper on the top of the winch for signs of wear, if worn replace. A manufacturer’s service kit is recommended as it usually contains most parts that are required for a full service together with an exploded diagram and instructions for stripping and rebuilding the winch. Rope clutches, often neglected, should be washed thoroughly & checked for holding power, service kitsare certainly available for Spinlock, Easy Marine & Barton, other makes no doubt also please check with our staff.


    Headsail furling/reefing systems

    A good hosing out of both the upper swivel and the lower drum unit will remove grit and salt deposits, check both items revolve freely on their bearings, if not rinse again, DO NOT attempt  to strip swivels or drum units especially older Furlex units as you will almost certainly lose some of the bearings and possibly damage the retaining circlip(s) during stripping, you may also find it impossible to re assemble the unit without the use of a special press, seek advice regarding this. Only grease systems according to the manufacturers recommendations, some systems use grease others recommend a dry type lubricant. Check the integrity of the furling line especially the knot that secures it to the drum and most importantly are the stanchion leads, if of the sheave type, running freely!


    Last but not least don’t forget the windlass, out of sight out of mind and you certainly don’t want it to fail if you have to up anchor in a hurry! Despite having a great bunch of guys with a shed load of expert knowledge windlass servicing is not our forte so I make no apologies for reproducing the following maintenance schedule courtesy of Lofrans.

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    A. Clean all external surfaces and hidden points with fresh water and remove all salt layers. B. Grease the rotating parts, particularly, the main shaft threads and clutch cones. Check for evidence of corrosion and mechanical stresses. A coat of Boeshield T9 is recommended. C. Remove and clean the terminals of the electric motor. Coat terminals with Vaseline before re-assembly, then when everything is back in place, spray with Boeshield T9. Test the voltage drop at the terminals. D. Replace all gaskets. E. Remove the anchor windlass from the deck with a little help from Debond, clean all salt deposits and the like from under the base and seal again.

  • 44. Top Tips Tuesday With Ann Summers (Mooring Compensators)

    Back in the summer of 2014, now seems a long time ago, Jenny and I were enjoying an idyllic couple of weeks in September on board Nimrod Peter and Anita’s ketch rigged Oyster, which is ‘based’ around Lefkas. As usual excellent company, super sailing, loads of sunshine and the occasional G&T. Half way through the first week, after an excellent breezy sail to another island in glorious sunshine, we had no alternative but to moor up alongside the disused ferry landing on the ‘new’ town quay (Peter’s first choice was bursting at the seams) Fore and aft lines were attached as were the springs when the skipper said  "I think we need the snubbers, with the forecast that we have it may get a little lumpy later, can you fetch them? They are in the lazarette", I trotted to the stern where Jenny and Anita were just pulling out the sail covers when convent educated Anita and now a happily retired school teacher said "Rob the 'Ann Summers' are in the port side of the lazarette". Well I must confess I had never heard snubbers or mooring compensators called by that name, but obviously I have lead a very very sheltered life! Anyway I pulled the Summers out and attached them to the bow and stern lines. The beauty of the Kingflex mooring compensator, which they had purchased some four years ago from our chandlery, is that it can be attached once your lines are in position unlike the majority of other makes that have to be threaded through. No they are not the cheapest on the market but in my opinion they are the best!

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  • 41. Top Tips Tuesday - Protect Fresh Water Systems With Freezeban

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    According to the guys in the know we are in for a very cold winter whether that materializes or its ‘just a load of cold air’ who knows what will happen, however with the arctic weather the North East has experienced these last few days sales of Freezeban through our retail outlet have certainly started to climb!

    So you have drained the fresh water system down you think, the water tank is empty and no water is running out the taps however you can bet your bottom dollar that there remains in the water pressure pump, water filter, sink or shower head a small quantity of water. If the temperature inside the boat drops sufficiently (always more likely if she is out on the hard as against laid up in the water) you can end up with a large repair bill if, for instance, there is a small amount of water remaining in the water pressure pump, it expands and breaks the pump! Freezeban is a non-toxic antifreeze suitable for your boat’s water system. If you mix five litres of Freezeban concentrate with 5 litres of water it will fill an average fresh water system installation consisting of water pump, water heater, two hand basins, sink and shower. Incidentally, Freezeban will protect the system down to minus 15 degrees centigrade.

    When recommissioning at the end of the winter ready for the start of the season simply flush out with fresh water. Keep flushing until clear. Ensure no freeze ban is visible at any of the outlets before use.

    If you have not already got one, it may be worth also considering a tube heater to pop (if space allows) under the sump or in the engine bay. If unsure how to protect the engine block from frost damage you can check out our blog on winterisation.

  • 15. Top Tips Tuesday - Water In Your MOB Light & Other Quick Checks That Could Save Your life!

    You would be staggered by the number of boats that I work on that, after a cursory glance over, I can often pick up potential life threatening issues like MOB lights that are full of water and don’t work! Split rings that secure guard rail terminations to the pullpit/pushpit that are on their last legs, genoa reefing line lead blocks that are seized etc etc. When boarding your boat for a day’s boating its always worth carrying out a quick check of the deck, five mins max is all you need to set aside. MOB lights of the variety that are sold on a lot of  horseshoe and traditional lifebuoys are susceptible to water ingress round the rubber O ring seal. At the start of the season after changing bulbs or batteries it is worth using some Lanocote on the rubber and threads, it makes an excellent seal and, very importantly, also helps preserve the rubber. However my preferred MOB light is the Jotron SL-300. It’s fully sealed so no danger of water ingress, yes a little more expensive but a great bit of kit. Genoa furling line lead blocks can end up with flats on them as a result of the sheave binding, with the potential of the reefing line cutting into & jamming. The result, perhaps a sail that cannot be reefed as the squall hits. Lead blocks to consider if you want to upgrade include the excellent Clear Step by Schaefer which keeps the line free from the deck. Guard rails, I positively hate plastic coated guard rails, water can sit behind the coating, and as its stagnant (no oxygen) the stainless can rust, you lean against the rail and the wire gives way! Aside from that, I always use split pins as against split rings to secure the clevis pin, so many times I have seen rings that are opened up and hanging on by a wing and a prayer. Worried about them snagging? Use self amalgamating tape or those rather nice leather chafe protectors.



  • Thinking of a new Imray chart? Buy now!

    Imray chart prices are going up on 1st May. So get your planning hat on and order now to beat the price hike.

  • Charts in time for Easter?

    Please note the Easter holiday cut-off for orders for paper charts, Admiralty, Imray, Dutch or books is Noon Wednesday 16th April.

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