There’s a certain truth to the notion that owning a boat is like standing fully clothed under a cold shower, tearing up banknotes. These days, the internet has given us more options than ever to edge closer to bankruptcy. There’s no helping it – but is it best to get a damp and empty wallet online, or go to the chandlery in person? The answer rather depends on what you’re buying.
When we bought Amneris, it was clear that we’d need to do some shopping for “basic supplies”. We needed some new mooring lines and fenders, an up to date copy of Reed’s, a fire extinguisher we could trust, a couple of power banks, and so on. This could all be got very cheaply and easily online, with the added bonus that we could have it all delivered to the marina.
Time soon came, though, when repairs were required. And this was where the knowledge shared by friends in Falmouth and the experts at local outlets and workshops became invaluable.
For example, we needed to replace a split fuel pipe in the engine. This was obsolete, and while it was possible to source one on Ebay it was going to be a) second hand and b) GBP 150. We were advised instead to contact Armada in Falmouth, who specialise in all manner of marine pipework. It didn’t seem to matter that our request was very small; I took the pipe in, and within a couple of hours I had a new hose fitted professionally between the existing connections, all for just GBP 10.
Fitting new batteries in Amneris meant buying terminal screws and both positive and negative wires. This kind of stuff is very easy to find online, but I wasn’t quite sure what I needed. That’s where Macsalvors in Penryn came to the rescue. I was able to go there in person, explain (with the help of a couple of sketches) what I wanted to do, and benefit from decent prices, high-grade materials and personal advice. Another great place for the personal touch is Bosun’s Locker in Falmouth. They know everything, can get what you want if they don’t already have it stock, and don’t mind you rooting through their box of odds and ends in search of that perfect screw.
A new ignition switch was also needed. As in the case of the battery installation, the required part could be found online – but what exactly did I need to buy? The answer to this question lay in Plymouth, where the assistant at Marine Bazaar asked a couple of questions, went rummaging through a few plastic boxes, and quickly came up with something near perfect for the job.
And it’s not only parts and supplies that might be better purchased locally than online. When Amneris needed a tow up the river to her home berth, the initial quotes we were getting ranged in the hundreds of pounds and that didn’t guarantee swift action. So we were relieved to hear from a neighbour that Falmouth Water Taxi did this kind of work – for the extremely reasonable price of GBP 60.
One word of warning, though: you need a lot of willpower to walk into any kind of chandlery and buy only what you need. We visited Force4 in Plymouth looking for something or other (I forget what it was now). They didn’t have it, but Aleksandra left with a pair of navigation socks (red for the left foot and green for the right) and I with a nicely produced collection of glossy porn – also known as the chandlery catalogue.
*We don’t have any connections with any of the companies mentioned in this article. They probably don’t even know we’ve written about them. We only include them because we are genuinely impressed by their service.