Choosing the Best Fixed VHF System

What is a VHF system?

VHF stands for Very High Frequency, for radio waves from 30 MHz to 300 MHz. VHF radios provide two-way communication and have a maximum range of up to 60 nautical miles. Owning a VHF radio is vital for marine safety. They are much more reliable than mobile phones and are the fastest link to rescuing agencies like the Coastguard, towing services or the harbourmaster. They can also be used to communicate with other boaters, listen to weather information and alerts, calling a race committee or communicating with a lock/bridge operator.

Channels & Frequencies

VHF Radios operate on Channels, which are international frequencies. Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) is the international calling and distress channel. Channel 10 is frequently used by HM Coastguard and Channel 9 is often used by pilots.

What is DSC?

DSC stands for Digital Selective Calling and it is the standard for sending distress alerts over terrestrial VHF marine radio systems. It is a big part of the GMDSS system (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), along with Navtex, SARTs and EPIRBs. The Coastguard strongly recommends that small craft used for leisure purposes have DSC radios, as all UK Coastguard stations are GMDSS DSC equipped.

Operating on Channel 70, DSC is a tone signalling system that sounds like the dialing tone on a phone, but relays other information, such as your vessel’s identification number, call purpose, position and the channel you want to speak on.

Learn more about DSC in this short video...

Operating Procedure

There are many internationally accepted conventions for how you should use a marine radio. These include listening for 30 seconds before transmitting, to not interrupt another station, using Procedure words (pro-words) such as “Over”, “Out” and “Received”, and using the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie etc). There are also inland shipping operating conventions, such as the Basel rules in Europe.

Fixed Marine VHFs

There are a large variety of Fixed Marine VHFs available on the market, so it is important to know what you need from one, so that you spend your money wisely. This marine radio buying guide will outline some of the different sets available, so you can make an informed decision.

Budget Fixed Marine VHFs

Cobra F80 VHF Radio

Also featuring Rewind-Say-Again, the F80 has Class D DSC capability. It has been built to survive for 30 minutes under water and is pre-programmed with all international channels.

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COBRA F57 Fixed VHF Radio

This is a powerful radio that has a large LCD display and is perfect for long or short range communication. It features Rewind-Say-Again, which replays missed VHF calls and automatically records the last 20 seconds with a digital voice recorder - ideal for noisy conditions. The F57 also has instant Channel 16 access for emergency situations.

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The F57 radio is available in a white version.

BUY F57 WHITE NOW

Middle Level Fixed Marine VHFs

Icom IC-M323 Fixed DSC VHF

With an easy-to-use Icom marine user interface, the M323 is a power marine transceiver that is reliable and great value for money. It features a high-def display, built-in DSC watch function and is waterproof to IPX7 standard.

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Cobra F77 Fixed VHF Marine Radio

Featuring Cobra's Rewind-Say-Again, the F77 also has a built-in GPS receiver, so you can simply connect the radio to power and it will know your location. It also has instant 24 hour access to national all hazards and weather information.

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High End Fixed Marine VHFs

Icom IC-M423G VHF/DSC Marine Transceiver

The M423G has a built-in GPS receiver that will show your current position and time and can be used for DSC calls. It also has active noise cancelling to reduce up to 90% of background noise. The user interface is very intuitive and it is supplied with a high grade speaker microphone.

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Standard Horizon VM3500E Fixed DSC VHF

With a huge alphanumeric LCD display and flush mount capability, the VM3500E is a popular choice. The custom channeling option allows you to change the channel name and the current position, date and time are displayed, once interfaced with a GPS receiver. The large 56mm internal speaker allows it to be heard over engine and background noise.

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For more guidance and information, you may like to check out our range of marine radio books. Keep a quality guide onboard for instant reference.

SHOP ALL MARINE RADIO BOOKS

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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father's Day is on 18th June 2017, so here’s our Father’s Day best gift ideas for the nautical-loving Dad in your life. Whatever your budget, our Sailing Gifts For Him will show that you really know him. For their first Father’s Day, for granddads, for the father figure in your life and more - we’ve everything you need to make it a day to remember.

White Rock Oasis Hat

Featuring the classic Bucket Hat styling, the Oasis Hat is stain and water resistant. Dads will love the passport/security pocket and the built-in insect repellent.

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Crewsaver Black & Red Crew Holdall

This heavy duty bag is the ideal choice for sailors and motor boaters. It is water resistant and comes in a choice of 3 sizes.

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Cadogan Crew Cufflinks

This stylish pair of cufflinks are ideal for the nautical father in your life. They feature a red and a green cufflink, with 'CREW' written in the middle.

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Musto Nautic Bay Deck Shoes

Men love these classic Deck Shoes with their moccasin construction. The supportive insole will treat his feet to luxurious comfort and the classic colours will ensure he looks the part!

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Gerber Essential Kit II

For the gadget-lover Dad, check out this Gerber essentials kit. It consists of a folding EVO knife, Tempo Flashlight and Mini Suspension Tool.

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Cadogan Crew Socks

Featuring a number of nautical positions, such as Captain, Cabin Boy, Skipper, Crew and First Mate, these cotton rich socks are an ideal add-on present for Dad.

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Nautical Books

For the bookworm Dad, we have a huge range of sailing books for him to enjoy. From guides to auto-biographies, there's a book for every budget.

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Gift Vouchers

Let Dad decide! With vouchers from £5 to £100, he can browse through our extensive range of marine products and pick out some gifts of his choosing.

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Looking for more Boating Gifts for Men ideas? Don't worry, we have loads! Have a browse through our range for more inspiration.

SHOP GIFTS FOR HIM

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Maintaining your marine toilet effectively

For any boat owners out there experiencing challenges with their marine toilet systems, we are here to help!

Jabsco Toilets & Water SystemsWe have teamed up with the worlds leading supplier of manual and electric toilets for marine use, Jabsco, to produce a simple guide explaining the common problems boat owners are facing when installing and attempting to maintain an on board toilet.

Odours

This is a very frequent complaint when it comes to marine toilet installation; the cause of these unwanted odours is very often misunderstood. The 'rotten egg smell' boat owners normally describe it as, is actually caused by anaerobic bacteria (marine life) within the water held inlet pipework, this bacteria is then broken down causing the sulfurous odour. This unpleasant smell occurs more regularly during the summer months when temperatures are higher accelerating the reaction. What happens is when the toilet is initially flushed the contaminated water is released into the air. To prevent this, you can install a strainer in the intake line. 

Another common odour source are leaking connections. Rub the connections with a damp, clean cloth, then sniff it, to locate the leak. You could also check the seal around the piston rod - see whether it needs tightening or replacing.

Yachticon Clean A Tank

Removes calcified deposits in your water tank and system, whilst improving taste and odour. Uses natural citric acid.

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Backflow

Another common complaint is associated with backflow, which is due to the column of water held within the discharge hose. What will often happen is that household bleaches or cleaners will be poured into the bowl in order to clean it, however the chemicals inside these products cause the rubber valves to soften, reducing their performance. It is recommended that you use a Marine Toilet Cleaner for routine cleaning instead.

Another contributing factor comes from the restrictions in pipe work. Acid and scale builds up and narrows the hose diameter, meaning that more pumping power is required in order to overcome this putting a large amount of strain on on the internal valve systems. This can be amended by changing the hose but also prevented by using an appropriate marine toilet cleaner to help reduce any build up. Another point to consider is that if you ensure that enough water is pumped through the system each time it is used, then the build-up within the hose will be minimised.

Anti-syphoning Protection

Another question that regularly arises is related to anti-syphoning protection using vented loops. The answer is pretty simple. When a marine toilet is installed below the water line containing no vented loop there is a high possibility that it could potentially flood, without a vented loop you are only relying on the valve within the toilet to protect it from any water damage. However by fixing a vented loop between the pump and the toilet bowl, the boat is then protected by an air lock system which does not permit any water to syphon through and fill up the bowl, when the pump is operated it breaks the airlock pulling water into the bowl as needed. One important factor to remember is that users should always remember to close their sea cocks when the heads compartments aren't in use.

Jabsco Vented Loop

Use a vented loop for any toilets installed below the waterline to prevent flooding. Essential for most installations.

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Upgrading from a manual to an electric flush

Many boat owners are keen to upgrade their manual heads with to electric ones instead. Here are a couple of our picks from our clearance Toilet Outlet...

RM69 Electric Sea Toilet - 12V

Suitable for above or below waterline installations, this toilet features an attractive compact white china bowl, tough white plastic base and pump body and seat.

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For the boat owners who have more space a preferred option may be the the Jabsco Designer Flush. This toilet does take up more room however, it provides the user with far more flexibility in regards to bowl size, household styling and water use control.

One good thing is that the base covers the markings left over from the original installation. The Pipework is pretty much exactly the same meaning that the only additional work required is to feed power from your battery to operate the new system. The bowl contains both the inlet and discharge pump making this self-contained unit perfect as an affordable upgrade to the original manual head.

Jabsco Designer Seawater Toilet - 12V

This designer model has an easy-to-clean base. All the pumping and the wiring is concealed in the base. There is a single button flush and water level control switch.

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Black tank storage and pump out

Another topic which is regularly asked about marine toilets, is the correct practice for black (holding) tank storage and pump out. Once installed, your head needs the discharge set up. You can pump directly into a holding tank, over board or have a 3-way valve which allows you to choose dependent on where the boat is located at the time. For marinas and inland water areas, pumping directly over-board is restricted, therefore it highly recommended and legally required to have a tank in certain areas where it can be filled up and emptied in the suitable places. In regards to tanks there are a variety of options you can go for; gravity feed discharge, this is where you simply open the sea cock and let the contents drain. However, with this blockages can be a problem and no one ever wants the job of clearing it!

The more common option is to install a macerator or diaphragm discharge pump. This type of pump is positioned near the tank and its primary role is to break up and pump the waste out. A key point when installing either the Jabsco 18590 macerator or the Jabsco 50890 diaphragm waste pump is that these units are designed to push fluid. They are both self-priming but the power is operated  from the discharge side not the inlet. This is why users should ensure they are installed as close to the tank as possible. It is advised that when emptying the tank the user should half fill it with water and pump this through to ensure the pump and pipes are free from any obstructions.

Jabsco Self-Priming Diaphragm Pump

A continously rated motor with thermal overload protection. This pump's multiple diaphragm design allows extended dry running.

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SeaSure Macerator Pump

Grinds toilet waste to a uniform slurry for easy transfer and discharge.

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Jabsco Diaphragm Waste Pump - 12V

A heavy-duty diaphragm pump that is ideal for emptying holding tanks. It features a straight through non-choke design.

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When it comes to purchasing holding tank additives, there are various ones available that help to break down waste to a even textured slurry and also reduces odour that can vent from the tank.

You can also buy special marine toilet paper which dissolves quickly and avoids blockage.

About Jabsco

Jabsco a wide variety of products which suit every type of installation ranging from manual to electric toilets, 3-way diverter valves, vented loops, holding waste pumps, low odour toilet hose and cleaning/treatment additives. They have a distribution network which runs globally ensuing that any necessity for spare parts should be easily accessible.

maintenance products for boatsJabsco have been supplying the World’s leading leisure boat builders with both manual and electric toilets for more than 50 years don't don't hesitate to ask if you have any queries. Products are available for vessels up to approx. 80ft in length.

Jabsco toilets are designed and manufactured especially for marine use. So over the years they have build up a large amount of understanding and knowledge when it comes to the requirements of the marine market. Jabsco are regularly assisting builders with installation advice and solving a lot of problems. Jabsco invest a large amount in research and development ensuring products meet both the functional and aesthetic requirements of the market. Jabsco have an established distribution network worldwide, ensuring local availability of spare parts and technical advice instantly.

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Marine Cooking Equipment – Our Top Picks

cooking-on-board

 

BBQ season is upon us, so we thought we would pick out some top equipment and accessories to help you to show off your marine cooking skills! In our Clearance Cooking Outlet, you will find huge discounts on quality cooking brands, such as Magma, Blakes, CF Parker and more. Upgrade your galley kitchen and save money too!

Thompson Rail Bracket For Disposable BBQ

A quick and simple solution to barbecuing on board, this bracket simply clamps onto the rail to hold your disposable BBQ.

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Great Cruising Cookbook

Featuring 350 recipes from around the world, this cookbook also includes guides to galley equipment, rough weather foods and a tropical food guide. Learn what kind of fruits and vegetables you should keep and for how long, how to catch fish, on board gardening and much more...

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Cobb Stainless Steel Premier BBQ

The Cobb Premier is the ultimate cooking system! The food is isolated from the charcoal, so it doesn't smoke. The BBQ remains cool to the touch on the outside, so it can be used on a table or wooden deck, without damage. Just 6 briquettes will cook for up to 6 hours. Cook pizza in just 15 minutes! It is super easy to clean, with most of the parts being dishwasher safe.

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Braising Pot + Lid

Made from a thick aluminium, this pot can be used with all heating types, including induction heaters. The aluminium has been coated with Teflon Platinum, so it is non-stick. Supplied with a glass lid, it has a 5 litre capacity and measures 25cm in diameter.

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Boaties Fry Pan Cookbook

Cook everything from a warm salad to a pasta dish, from a pancake to a souffle or even a cake! Featuring over 130 recipes, this is a superb collection of modern healthy recipes that uses the minimum of oils or fats and includes dry-frying, steaming, braising and stir-frying.

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What are Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)?

 

A Personal Locator Beacon is a personal safety device that will alert search and rescue services and allow them to locate you, in the event of a land or sea emergency.

PLBs are equipped with GPS receivers, allowing them to calculate and send an accurate location, via a coded message on the 406MHz distress frequency. This distress frequency is monitored by the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system, who relay the code to the nearest Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) on an earth station. The COSPAS-SARSAT system became operational in 1985. It has over 1 million units and has assisted tens of thousands of worldwide rescues. The internal GPS receiver will pinpoint your location to within 62 meters. Once the rescue team is in the area, they can then get to your precise location using an inbuilt homing transmitter.

An EPRIB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) is also used to alert search and rescue services using the COSPAS-SARSAT system, but they are registered to a boat, whereas a PLB is registered to a person.

PLBs are subscription-free, so there is no cost of ownership after the initial purchase. If not used, the PLB’s battery should last 5 to 6 years. You should register your PLB with the Marine Coastguard Agency and update your details regularly - including the 24hr Emergency Point of Contact (EPOC) Details.

EPOC

This is the most important person ‘back home’ who can assist the emergency services with information if contacted. When you are away, your EPOC should be aware of who is in your group, what equipment you have with you, your intended route, your experience, your transport details and your expected return time. Having an updated EPOC could be crucial to saving time in the search effort and keeping the search term better informed.

McMurdo Fast Find 220 PLB

Specifically designed for marine enthusiasts and adventurers, the 220 is easy to operate and has a high-brightness LED SOS light. It is waterproof to a depth of 10m and has a 6 year battery storage life. The Fast Find is easy to activate, with a safe stow antenna that automatically deploys once the unit is activated. It is supplied with a flotation pouch for easy retrieval.

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Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1

With fast and accurate positioning, the RescueMe is waterproof to 15m and has a 66 channel GPS receiver. It comes with a 7 year warranty and flotation pouch. There is a simple spring-loaded flap that covers the activation button, preventing inadvertent use. The PLB1 can be operated single-handedly in the most challenging of situations. 

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Kannad Safelink 48hr PLB Pro

This PLB has a 48 hour operational battery life at temperatures as low as -20°c. The battery has a 5 year storage life and is user replaceable. It is waterproof up to 10m and has a simple 3-stage activation. A carry pouch and lanyard are included.

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The PELA 6000 Oil Pump

The PELA 6000 Oil Extractor Pump is one of our best sellers here at Mailspeed Marine so we decided to take a closer look at what makes it so popular:PELA-pump-features

Simple, Sturdy Design

Changing engine oil isn't anyone's idea of fun. The PELA 6000 makes a potentially stressful job quick and easy. It's perfect for those hard to reach places and since you only have to pump enough to create a vacuum, it doesn't take a whole day of pumping to get the job done.

Small and compact

Unlike electric pumps, the PELA 6000 is easy to transport. Because of it's manual operation you can literally do the job wherever you like and you don't have to worry about plugs and extension cables. When you're done the top part of the pump can be removed so it doesn't take up much room.

Versatile

One of the main reasons it's so popular is because it's uses are not restricted to just the boat. Here are just a few other applications the Pela 6000 is used for:

At Home

  • Lawnmowers
  • Fish Tanks
  • Plumbing
  • Trapped water

Automotive

  • Cars
  • Motorbikes
  • Go-Karts, ATV's, Quad Bikes etc
  • Coolant, transmission fluid

Industrial

  • Farming equipment
  • Generators
  • Compressors
  • Pumps

How do I operate the PELA 6000?

The 6000's ease of operation also makes it a winner. Take a look below at PELA's instructions:

 

pela1

1.) Pre-run engine for about 5 minutes to warm the oil and to allow the sludge to mix and suspend in the oil. Remove the dipstick. Insert the extractor tube into the dipstick pipe until it reaches the bottom of the oil pan. Firmly place the tube cap onto the container.

2.) Attach the pump to the top of the container.

pela2.

pela3

3.) Pump 10 to 20 times in a row to create the vacuum. Always use 2 hands. The unit will automatically extract the old oil. Continuous pumping is not required.

4.) To stop extraction at any time, pull the tube out of the fluid.

pela4.

pela5

5.) After all the oil has been extracted, remove the tube cap from the container with a twisting motion. Remove the pump. Empty gently into a container. Bring the used oil to a recycling depot.

Want to make changing oil easy? The PELA 6000 Pump is available now for just £32.99!

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Want to WIN a £500 Marine Bundle?


This competition is now closed. To keep up to date with future competitions and promotions, please subscribe to our newsletter.


 

article-banner

We are giving away a whole bundle of amazing marine goodies worth £500. This includes a Musto BR2 Offshore Jacket, a Henri Lloyd Exceed Jacket and a Charter Lifejacket.

All you have to do to is enter your details on our Competition Page, to be automatically entered into the draw!

Hurry - the Competition will end on the 23rd April 2017.

ENTER COMPETITION NOW

 

Want to get ahead of the crowd?

Increase your chances of winning by earning extra entries for each of the following:

  • Visit Mailspeed Marine on Facebook
  • Visit mailspeed-marine on Instagram
  • Follow @mailspeedmarine on Twitter
  • Refer Friends

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The Ts & Cs

By entering this competition you affirm that you are happy to receive future emails from Mailspeed Marine.

1. There will only be one winner of this prize.

2. The winner will receive one of each item within the bundle.

3. Entrance is by completing all details on the competition form and no purchase is necessary.

4. Entry will open as of the 23rd March 2017 and close at 11:59 pm on 23rd April 2017.

5. Entry is open to all eligible attendees (being persons aged 18 or over).

6. No entrant can select an alternative prize.

7. Mailspeed Marine reserve the right to provide a substitute prize of equal value if an item becomes unavailable.

 

The best deck shoes for 2017

Dubarry Deck Shoes

It’s that time of year again! Time to ditch those winter shoes and look for something more suited for the hot weather. But what are the best deck shoes in 2017? A good deck shoe should be comfortable, practical and built using quality materials. They should also look good!

In this helpful guide, we will bring you our top picks to help you pick your next great pair of boating shoes.

BEST LADIES DECK SHOES

HENRI LLOYD SHORE LADIES DECK SHOE

HENRI LLOYD SHORE LADIES DECK SHOE

This stylish looking boat shoe is available in UK sizes 3 to 7. They have been hand crafted with full grain leathers. These moccasins are 2 eye with a full lace system. The non-marking, non-slip rubber outsole has excellent tread. Choose from Brown Nubuck or Sky Blue and White.

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Dubarry Hawaii Moccasins Deck Shoe

 

DUBARRY HAWAII WOMENS MOCCASINS DECK SHOE

These fashionable ladies’ moccasins are a versatile footwear staple. They are slip-on, hand sewed and water resistant. The saddle of the shoe has a unique folded leather design. Available in Blue or Denim & Red, these boat shoes are made from genuine leathers. Sizes are from UK 4 to 7.5. There is a full length EVA footbed that is covered with Dubarry’s signature Port and Starboard flash details.

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Dubarry Santorini Womens Deck Shoe

 

DUBARRY SANTORINI WOMENS DECK SHOE

The Santorini is a slip-on, loafer style deck shoe. Ideal for both on and off shore, this shoe is made from genuine dryfast, drysoft leather. There is classic Dubarry branding on the outsole and leather upper. The outsole is non-slip and non-marking - ideal for superior grip in wet conditions. Available in Coral, Mustard or Tan and in UK sizes 3.5 to 7.5.

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Dubarry Auckland Moccasins Womens Deck Shoe

 

DUBARRY AUCKLAND MOCCASINS WOMENS DECK SHOE

The Auckland combines traditional styling that is perfect for onshore wear, with practical features that are essential for offshore wear. They are extremely versatile and compliment all styles of women’s clothing. These deck shoes are made from a combination of water resistant leather and oiled nubuck and printed leathers. The eyelets are non-corrosive and there is Dubarry’s signature flash of detail port and starboard colours. These shoes are available in denim/tan colour and in sizes UK 3.5 to 8.

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BEST MEN'S DECK SHOES

HENRI LLOYD SOLENT DECK SHOE

HENRI LLOYD SOLENT DECK SHOE

 

This european produced shoe is a 3 eye design that is ideal for onboard and onshore life. The Solent also features a full tanned leather lace system with rustproof eyelets. There is a choice of colours and sizes.

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Dubarry Regatta Men’s Deck Shoe

 

DUBARRY REGATTA MEN’S DECK SHOE

Made from a combination of water resistant nubuck, leather and fabric, the Regatta provides superior traction, lateral stability, flexibility and durability. The modern construction reduces overall weight by 15%. There is Dubarry’s distinctive port and starboard coloured flash detail. Available in a choice of colours and sizes.

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Dubarry Commodore X LT Deck Shoes

 

DUBARRY COMMODORE X LT DECK SHOES

The Commodore features genuine Dubarry’s DryFast, DrySoft leather. They are extra lightweight and have a shock absorbing sole. The outsole is non-slip, non-marking with superior grip in wet conditions. The eyelets are non-corrosive and there is a 3 eye tie with full leather lace. Available in EU sizes 40-47 and in a choice of colours.

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Dubarry Sailmaker X LT Deck Shoes

 

DUBARRY SAILMAKER X LT DECK SHOES

These Sailmaker Deck Shoes boast soles that are 3 times lighter than normal. Featuring Extralight technology, you can be as light as a feather on your feet, whilst being ultra comfortable. They have a water resistant finish and combine traditional styling with practical features. With a choice of 4 colours and various sizes, these Sailmaker deck shoes are an ideal addition to your marine wardrobe.

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Choosing the right life jacket

crewsaver lifejacket

Choosing the right lifejacket is fundamental when it comes to keeping you alive and increasing your survival time in the unfortunate event of an accident. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency point out that accidents can happen at any time in any weather, but well-fitted and maintained life jackets can double your chance of survival. Lifejackets are also known as PFDs (personal flotation devices) or life vests and are the most important piece of safety equipment on any vessel.

You must have enough lifejackets on board to suit all shapes and sizes - including buoyancy aids for pets, baby lifejackets and ones for children. There may be penalties for vessel owners not carrying the appropriate amount of lifejackets on board. You should also consider how many newtons you may need and the type of inflation. We will explain these in more detail, further in this article.

If you are unsure when personal buoyancy should be warn, the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) recommends that it should always be worn if the user is a non-swimmer and there is possibility of entering the water, when the skipper deems it to be necessary, when abandoning ship or when the user feels they want to wear one.

Newtons (N)

A Newton is the unit of force and is how buoyancy is measured. 10 Newtons = 1KG of flotation. A person weighing 100KG will weigh 5KG in water, because the human body is made up of about 80% of water and 15% fat (which is lighter than water).

Generally, the less competent the swimmer, the higher the newton rating. Low newtons, such as 50N, is generally used by those undertaking kite surfing or canoeing, activities close to the shore, and those that are competent swimmers.

 

Newton Level

Ideal For

Not Ideal For

Applicable Standards

50

Competent swimmers

Near to bank or shore

Close potential rescue

Long water use

Keeping the user safe for a long period of time

EN 393

ISO 12402-5

100

Sheltered water

Swimmers

Rough conditions

EN 395

ISO 12402-4

150

General offshore

Rough weather

Non swimmers

Turning unconscious person into safe position

 

EN 396

ISO 12402-3

275

Offshore use

People carrying significant weight

Non-swimmers

People wearing clothing that traps air

Turning unconscious person into safe position

 

EN 399

ISO 12402-2

Types of Inflation

Manual inflation lifejackets work by pulling a string, which pushes a firing pin into the C02 canister, inflating the lifejacket.

Automatic inflation, on the other hand, involves a small pellet or bobbin, which houses a powerful spring. Once the bobbet makes contact with the water it dissolves quickly, releasing the spring, pushing the firing pin into the C02 canister. Automatic lifejackets also have a manual pull string as a backup.

Hydrostatic inflation (a.k.a Hammer) works the same way as automatic lifejackets, but the pellet is protected in a case, which only lets water in once it is a few cm below the surface.

The popular Crewsaver 3D Fusion 180N Crewfit provides automatic or manual options.

Looking for a Hammer Lifejacket? Check out the Crewsaver Crewfit 150N.

Types of Lifejackets

There are generally 3 types of lifejackets. Offshore, Nearshore and Flotation Aids.

Offshore - ideal for open, rough or remote water, where rescue might be slower. They can be bulky and will be the highest newton rating. With these, the victim will remain face up in the water in order to allow them to breathe even if they’re unconscious.

Nearshore Buoyant Vest - used for calm, inland water, where there is more chance of a quicker rescue. Less bulkier than Offshore, some will also allow the victim to remain face up in the water, depending on the newton rating.

Flotation Aid - ideal for conscious people in inland water, where there is a good chance of fast rescue. These are usually the most comfortable for continuous wear.

Boating on a Budget? The Crewsaver 3D Fusion Crewfit 165N Sport is perfect for you.

Paddling? Take a look at the Plastimo Stream Gilet.

Buoyancy Aids For Pets

When picking a buoyancy aid for your cat or dog, you should make sure it fits snugly so the animal cannot twist out of it. Once with easy release buckles and a handle for lifting out of the water is recommended.

Crewsaver Pet Floats

pet-float

  • Suitable for most cat and dog breeds
  • Easily adjustable and quick to fit
  • Integrated lifting handle
  • Plastic ring for lead attachment

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Lifejackets for Babies and Children

Drowning can occur in as little as 30 seconds, so making sure any children in your company are wearing appropriate buoyancy aids is absolutely vital.

It is important that the lifejacket fits correctly - you should not buy a jacket with the hope of the child ‘growing into it’. Sizes are usually supplied based on chest size and weight.

Spongebob ISO 100N

marinepool_spongebob_iso_100n_foam_lifejacket

  • 100N foam buoyancy
  • Flourescent yellow finish
  • Integrated leg strap
  • Seperate foam compartment

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Crewsaver Supersafe

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  • Built in safety harness
  • 100N permanent foam buoyancy
  • Crotch/thigh straps
  • Comfortable for long wear

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Accessories

A crotch strap is recommended with lifejackets, as this will keep the jacket from riding up on entry into the water. Essentially, this will keep the wearer’s head above the surface.

See this Official Coast Guard Video on wearing a crotch strap.

SeaGo Crotch Straps

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  • Designed to fit on any SeaGo lifejacket

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Some lifejackets will have attachment points for spray hoods. These are useful as they keep the wind-blown spray away from airways, reducing the risk of drowning. They are also a high-visibility aid to rescue and will stop heat escaping from the wearer’s head. Some have air vents at the sides.

Having a flashing light/strobe is recommended, so the user can be found easier at night or in poor visibility. Most jackets will have an attachment for light fittings.

Ocean Safety Apollo Lifejacket Light

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  • Low profile and single compact flashing unit
  • Manually activated by button
  • Automatically activated by water

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Flares will also increase chances of being found. They are waterproof and vary in colours and burn times. Learn more about flares in our helpful guide.

If your lifejacket has a harness, you can clip yourself to a strong point on the craft, for extra safety.These usually have heavier webbing and stainless steel fittings. Lifejackets with harnesses are often preferred by users who are not as exposed and do not need attachment to their vessel - such as motorboat users. These usually weigh less than those with harnesses.

Reflective tape is standard on all lifejackets, for hi-visibility when lit up by a rescue searchlight.

Lifejacket Upkeep

You should rinse your lifejacket after use, then leave it to dry naturally. Store in a clean and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Regularly check the webbing and stitching for any wear. Check the gas cylinder regularly, to make sure it is tightly screwed in and looks for any signs of corrosion. Replace any rusty cylinders. You should also carry spare re-arming kits on board.

Ocean Safety Re-Arming Packs

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  • Cylinders for manual inflation jackets

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To check for damage or leaks, you can manually inflate the lifejacket with a hand pump and leave it inflated for a day. When you are not using the lifejacket for a period of time, it should be partially inflated, to remove creases from the fabric and stored on a wooden or plastic coat hanger.

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5 secrets to restoring your boat

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Restoring a boat can be tough work, let alone expensive. Whether you’ve recently bought an old vessel that needs a bit of TLC, or your own boat is starting to look like it was found on the bottom of the ocean, we’ve shared 5 boat restoration secrets below that will save you both time and money.

1. You don’t need to use expensive rust removers!

Forget searching on Amazon for the latest craze of rust removers. Not only can they be expensive but also highly corrosive if used incorrectly. Instead, start searching in the back of your cupboards. A toothbrush coated in a little baking soda, salt or white vinegar will do just the trick and bring your stained fiberglass up to a sparkly finish. Don’t have a spare toothbrush lying around? Try using something of a similar texture. Anything harsher, such as steel wool will only damage the finish of the fiberglass and cause more problems than you set out to resolve.

If you don’t mind investing a bit on some new products, try a little Barkeepers friend for around £3.

2. Laundry detergent is your new best pal!

Believe it or not, laundry detergent not only cleans your clothes whilst out at sea, but also works wonders on cleaning your hull. It can help melt away the most stubborn oil rings and any nasty dark patches lurking around your boat, that are unavoidable when being submerged in water.

Simply lather it up and watch it work. Unlike soap, laundry detergent won’t dry out either whilst you’re cleaning, so it’s much easier to get the hull up to a standard that you’ll be proud to show off. As a tip, try to avoid those detergents that have a pearl gleam to them as these are more likely to contain ingredients that may affect your hull’s surface.

3. Sanding down your woodwork will instantly transform your boat

Using an electric sander to remove the old varnish on your vessel, ready to repaint with a top quality varnish, will work wonders for renewing your boat’s finish. Sanding the surface will also clean up any cracks, discoloration and stains too.

After sanding, simply wipe down the wood with a clean cloth, to remove any dust and use a wood appropriate varnish to make it gleam. Why not continue your sanding efforts into the interior of your boat too and finish up with a little lemon oil. Not only will it renew the look of your interior, but it will also fill your boat with a fresh aroma.

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4. The white vinegar in your cupboard will save you a fortune

Once you’ve cleaned up the hull, exterior and interior wood, it’s time to tackle the fabrics. Forget abrasive bleach, pricey fabric cleaners and toxic smelling carpet shampoos. All you need is a bottle of white vinegar.

Grab a soft brush and mix up some white vinegar with some water (don’t dilute it too much) and you’re ready to go. The vinegar will kill off any mould in fabrics, remove musty smells and after a short soak on the carpet and a vacuum, it will clean your flooring up perfectly.

As with most cleaning jobs, the white vinegar method works best if you tackle a manageable section at a time, rather than trying to clean up the entire carpet at once. Let the vinegar mixture sit for a few minutes (longer on those stubborn stains) before rinsing with clean water and letting the area dry completely.

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5. Think outside the box with your furniture

Furnishing on a budget? Try your local yard sales to pick up some bargains, or if you’d prefer to invest in some quirky DIY furnishings to go with your new, sparkly boat instead, then look no further than IKEA… yes IKEA!

Not only do they sell cheap, modern and easy to put together flat pack furnishings, but their products are also amazingly versatile. Among the many different things that can be repurposed for nautical use are:

● “LUROY” bed slats: Create a bed or seating area in the smallest of areas on board.
● “MONGSTAD” Mirror : hang on the wall and fold down to transform into a stowaway dining table
● “GRUNDTAL” stainless steel utensil rail; whether you need a towel rail, pot lid rack, rope holder or just somewhere to hang things.
● “BEKVAM” spice racks: use to store spices, jewellery, towels, or hang upside down to store books, clothes or keys.
● Hanging fruits and vegetable baskets for hats and gloves

After completing our five tips above, the rest is really up to you! Whatever you choose to do when spending a little time on restoration, we hope we’ve given you a great start on reviving your boat and getting it up to scratch, ready for an adventure on the water.

For even more tips on how to restore an aging boat, check out our article on 11 Amazing Boat Restoration Hacks over on Boats and Outboards.

Tips provided by Laura Roots at boatsandoutboards.co.uk