Better buying

Heading along to the local chandlery? Chandlery assistant Kerry Ashwin has some tips.

The very nature of boats means they have a myriad of parts and those parts inevitably need repair at some point. You don't need to be an expert, but arming yourself with the right information before you head off to buy that replacement part will make life a lot easier.

Here are a few tips.


The placement of anodes is a science. But what worked previously is usually the rule of thumb. The trick is to get anodes with the same holes for the bolts. Anodes come in all sorts of configurations and can even be made to measure. Basically they are with or without straps, in which you drill your own hole. Some have holes pre-drilled with a metal collar inserted. This metal is not 316 but being totally immersed the rust action is retarded. Anodes should conform to a standard – otherwise they will not do the job intended. And that job is to degrade so your boat doesn't. Again the metal noble table shows that magnesium is the lowest, so it will go first then a little further up is zinc – the material most used. Magnesium anodes are mainly for fresh water.

Anodes are not just for the hull, but the engine, propshaft, bow-thrusters and more. There are teardrop, square, round, oval, rectangle, nut, engine – with or without brass plug, condenser etc and in differing weights, usually in kilograms.

A 2.2 teardrop with strap sounds quite plausible. And remember that a teardrop anode goes on bulb end to the bow.

Another point to remember is not to paint the bolts or fixings in the hull. There has to be a contact point somewhere for the science to work. If you can save one of your old anodes and match it up, then buying new ones is easy.


• Record the brand, impeller size and type (i.e. neoprene/nitrile), clutch-belt type (A or B) and whether it is 12 or 24V.

• Keep the box if it was new, or find a number on the pump. Any number is better than none.

• Know how big the outlet/inlets are. Usually imperial sizes – 3/4 inch etc. If you are not sure, get a screw-in fitting and try it for size. The measurement is on the inside where the pump tapers to the impeller and not on the thread.(1 inch outside is usually 3/4 inside.)

• If you manage to identify the pump, ask for a photocopy of the relevant numbers in the catalogue for future reference.

Nuts and bolts

This one seems easy. But what is a S/SM/T XR RH 316 3/16 X 1? Knowing your fixings and what suits it is half the job done.

Most fixings are 316 stainless. This is less likely to rust or to look rusty.

304 is another grade of stainless that is stronger but more likely to rust.

Monel is a strong, rust-resistant metal alloy composed of nickel, copper, iron and manganese, commonly used for fastenings, propellers and parts of metal instruments.

Bolts have a thread on part of the shaft with a hex head (for sockets, spanners etc).

Set-screws have thread all the way with a hex head.

Machine threads have thread all the way but with the choice of head.

Self-tappers look like a screw that will drill its own hole and have a choice of head. Round heads are often called pan-head and sit proud.

Counter-sunk heads are conically shaped to sit flat in a fixing or in a hole that has been drilled out with a countersunk tool.

Cross-recess is for phillips-head screwdrivers.

Wire and rigging hardware

Wire comes in all shapes and sizes.

Again there is 316 and 304 and galvanised. These are the most common three. 7 X 19 means there are seven strands that make one and there are 19 of these.1 X 19 means there is only one strand and there are 19 of these. Other configurations exist, but this is the standard. 7 X 19 is flexible – it will be good for swaging with a thimble, especially small ones.

1 X 19 is stiff and good for shrouds and rigging and is much harder to swage in a thimble because it doesn't bend, but it is good in a terminal end for rigging.

Knowing what the application will be takes the guesswork out of what to buy. You can find the breaking strain in the catalogues.

Wire comes in imperial and metric sizes and with a millimetre either way, of say 3/32, it all depends on the swage you will buy. Also don't get caught with differing thread sizes on your hardware. Most Ronstan fittings are UNF and the other brands are UNC. Again, what works for one brand doesn't necessarily work for another. And then there are left-hand and right-hand threads (a trap for young players!).

If you can get a sample to match up the nut/terminal end/turnbuckle, it might just save an extra trip and a nine on the annoy-o-meter. And, be aware that survey boats need others are price-driven, and others are for the latest and greatest.



Painting is an art (pun intended). Some people are fans of a particular brand, The very nature of boats means they have a myriad of parts and those parts inevitably need repair at some point. You don't need to be an expert, but arming yourself with the right information before you head off to buy that replacement part will make life a lot easier, both for you and the chandlery assistant. Here are a few tips to help avoid most of the most common hassles shoppers experience.

Whatever your motivation, the system – and that is what it's called – must be totally compatible. All companies have a technical helpline and data sheets that answer almost every conceivable question, including what thinners to use, drying time, how long to a re-coat, what undercoat, whether to roll, spray, or brush etc. If you know what was on before, then what system to choose is a lot easier. Try to keep a record of the types of paints used. Some paints will not bond to others, some are not for total immersion, some are re-coatable,some are not.

Topcoat paint is for above the waterline on the outside of the hull and can be tinted. It can be re-coatable (easily touched up or repainted a few years later with light sanding) or hard (a chip will have to be feathered back with sanding and blended in, and major sanding for a re-coat later).

Antifoul comes in hard – often used for props because it will not slew off easily, self-polishing – semi-hard and will withstand the water action and ablative – which will rub off with the water action over time. You can also get antifoul made specifically for aluminium. This has low copper content.

Antifoul comes in black, red, blue and sometimes white. Generally you buy it in 4L, 10L, or 20L tins. The amount is calculated on the application (spray or roll), hull size and two or three coats.

If you do order too much, then it will last a year in the tin if you seal it tight.

Deck paint is usually hard, but recoatable for touch-ups and can be tinted.

Glass beads can be added for texture, or some paints come with an aggregate mixed in. But some companies have a high-build deckpaint that is thick so has a slight stippling effect when rolled or brushed.

Epoxy system means a two-pack. That is a part A and part B. These have to be mixed in a ratio, ie 4:1. Single pack is self-explanatory. The rule is you can put a single over a two but not the other way around.

Your substrate (or what the boat is made of) will dictate what you use. There are etch-primers, single-pack primers, wood primers and the same for undercoats. Get some advice if you want to start from scratch. If you do it right the first time, then the next time it will be twice as easy, with less prep work. If you do have a problem, it is usually what's underneath that is the problem. A paint blister is just the sign of what lies beneath. It might seem like you are spending a fortune on paint, but it is the only thing between the water and your boat. It's like walking around without skin.

Getting the right advice is half the battle, but once you know the ins and outs of your particular system, then the steep learning curve becomes a stroll in the park.


Like pumps, these are branded. If you know what you have, then getting the specified wire sizes for lifelines so make sure you are getting the right one.


This is a serious business. Tape is designed with a life. Before you buy ask yourself a few questions:

• How long will the tape be on?

• What do I want it to do (eg mask, create a line, hold paper or plastic in place)?

• Be waterproof, withstand sanding?

And lastly:

• Will it remove easily?

Some tape is designed to stick for up to two weeks or more – another will fall off the minute you turn your back. The old adage “you get only what you pay for” is true. Save yourself a lot of frustration and turps or solvent and get the right one for the job. Manufacturers make tape for just about anything – from sealing windows, to sticking to itself, to withstanding sand-blasting – so there is sure to be a tape out there for you.

Safety equipment

And don't forget the safety equipment: masks for dust, paint mist, filters, safety goggles, overalls, and gloves.

Maximise your time

If you think about the job you want to do and get prepared, then the time spent running to the chandlery could be spent doing the job.

It helps to keep a little notebook of what you have, what you use, sizes and brands. Then when it comes time for a haul out you will be ready. Most importantly of all, don't hesitate to ask if you are unsure. If the chandlery assistant doesn't know, he or she will usually be able to find out.

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