Monthly Archives: March 2022

marine electricals

marine electricals

marine electricals

Hello to the wonderful world of the inland boat ways! We are very new to the world of canal boating. Being based in Plymouth we have always dealt with the ocean-going variety of boats, but we realised that there is much more to boating than life on the ocean waves.

Marine Electricals is the online relative of our parent company Western Electrical Marine. Legend has it that we were born from one product query from Princess Yachts here in the city, and from that one enquiry we have grown to the stage that we now do circa 4 million pounds yearly business with Princess, alongside our rapidly growing Trade Counter customer base. We wanted to expand that same great service our local customers receive, alongside the great prices they pay, a little further afield from Plymouth, and to do that we needed an online presence, which is when Marine Electricals was born. We are now owned by Edmundson Electrical.

So I am here to persuade you to have a look at our website and what we have to offer.  Of course there are many Marine goods outlets both locally to wherever you might be and of course on line, so why should you want to come and shop with us here? Well firstly we have been operating within the Marine world for 25 years, so we know what we are doing, and during those 25 years we have cultivated great relationships with our suppliers meaning we are able to pass on to our customers the great prices these relationships allow us to utilise. We regularly compare our prices to the other online Marine suppliers to ensure that we always remain competitively priced.

But it’s not all about the price, there is no point in being the cheapest if you cannot match the bottom line with your customer service levels, and here at Marine Electricals we pride ourselves on our customer services. Our team are dedicated to making everything as easy as possible for our customers, nothing is too much trouble for us and we always go the extra mile to ensure you will get what you need. We have a good range of products on our website, but if you cannot find what you need, please do get in touch and one of our team would be delighted to help find you exactly what you are looking for. We use Parcelforce for our national deliveries, we have found them to be the most reliable service so you will be assured you will have what you need for when you need it.

acoustic insulation

acoustic insulation for boats

Now you know who we are, and where you can find us, I am going to highlight a product we sell that doesn’t quite fit in the Marine Electrical bracket, Acoustic Insulation. Life on board can get noisy at times, the engine or generator running can be distracting, or you can hear noises at night from adjoining cabins and from outside. The easy way to alleviate these annoying sounds is by using Acoustic Insulation, and we have two very good examples that you can use for many applications on your boat, from the engine compartment to the wheelhouse, to basically anywhere you need to dampen noise. It comes in a Black or a silver and white finish, one of its key benefits is the fact that its very lightweight, a key factor to consider on a boat. It is also compressible, it's not solid construction - meaning it can easily be stuffed into any gaps or spaces where noise is an issue. Not only is it very adaptable in its uses, its also a very good sound absorber. Both are easily bonded to most surfaces, and both are a very good sound proofing solution for Marine purposes. They are both manufactured by 3M which I’m sure you have all heard of, which highlights the quality of the product.
The silver version is linked here
The Black version is found here

We are called Marine Electricals, so I guess I had better highlight at least a few of our actual electrical products! As good a place as any to start would be our Marine Cables.

marine cables

For anyone new to the world of Marine Electricals, there are two options for cables on your boat. Firstly there is the Tinned variety. Tinned Copper cable is an ideal solution for wiring on a boat, as it is coated in a thin layer of Tin which protects the copper from the sort of corrosion that exposure to humidity and moisture can lead to. Although Tinned cable is the more expensive option, it is in the long run the best option for Marine applications due to the constant proximity of moisture. Of course for internal applications this should not normally be an issue, in which case non-Tinned cable would be just fine.

We have a great range of both Tinned and Non-Tinned cable always in stock. We only buy British made Oceanflex cables, made by Automarine, so you can always be assured of its quality. Here are links which will take you directly to our cable sections on the website firstly non-Tinned and here is the Tinned Cable section.

Luckily, we always have a great selection of all Marine Cables for you choose from, and if you are not sure exactly what you require one of our knowledgeable sales team will be happy to help. We also stock cable accessories such as Crimps, Lugs and Heatshrink and flexible conduit to complement your cable choice.

marine cables

electrical marine cables

trade or non-trade welcome

If you are a trade customer, you can log onto our website and create an account, at which point we would be able to unlock our trade prices for you. Alternatively we would be delighted to offer you a trade credit account from our parent company Western Electrical Marine, where you can simply phone, text or email your orders directly to us and we will get them sent straight out to you.

For all you non-trade customers, we would like to offer a complimentary discount from your orders if you use the code canal10 when you checkout.

We do hope that you will check out our website and we can help with your Marine supply needs, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

new narrowboat design for black prince

Black Prince Holidays are to launch a new design of narrowboat following two summers of record bookings. The new layout features a larger kitchen area with more worktop space, multiple USB sockets and wireless charging pads, plus black-out blinds and bespoke mattresses for comfortable nights.
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new narrowboat design for black prince

black prince launch new narrowboat design

One of Britain’s best known canal holiday operators has unveiled a brand revamp and a new range of hand-built boats to reflect soaring levels of interest from families in narrowboat breaks.

Black Prince Holidays, which operates canal breaks from nine bases across the UK, will be investing more than one million pounds over the next year on the new Signature range of narrowboats, as well as developing a new website and updating its signage and team uniforms with a sleek, modern look.

black prince holidays

black prince holidays - new boat design interior

Following two summers of record bookings, Black Prince’s boat-building team has crafted a narrowboat to appeal specifically to modern families. The new layout features a larger kitchen area with more worktop space, multiple USB sockets and wireless charging pads, plus black-out blinds and bespoke mattresses for comfortable nights.

Black Prince worked with Devon-based interior design agency PHI Concepts to develop a fresh take on narrowboat interiors and transform the traditional style into something fresh and modern.

The new boat launches first at Black Prince’s Stoke Prior base in Worcestershire, and Napton in Warwickshire, and will be immediately recognisable with its sleek royal blue exterior and clean lines.

The design style has been used across the company’s website, signage, livery and team uniforms, which can be seen on waterways across the UK.

Leighton Jones, operations manager at Black Prince says the developments have been inspired by feedback from guests: “Narrowboats have a very traditional image, but over the past two years we’ve attracted a new generation of families and we felt it was right to develop a boat that appeals directly to them.

“Our new brand reflects all this, without losing the links to history and quality that people associate with Black Prince.”

For more information and to book, visit: Black Prince

ev charging facilities at aqueduct marina

Ev charging facilities are now available for visitors to Aqueduct Marina

Facilities to allow electric vehicle users to recharge their cars are appearing in many locations across the country. To help meet the demand, Aqueduct Marina have recently had four charging stations installed at their Cheshire location.

These new Rolec charging units, operated by VendElectric, provide Electric Vehicle users with an opportunity to recharge at 22kW via a type 2 connector. As with many other charging stations, visitors need to download the VendElectric app to allow them to use the charger that will be accessible to the general public seven days a week, 9.00am - 5.00pm, and to marina, caravan and boat customers 24hrs day. Anyone visiting their boat or simply calling in to enjoy a coffee or meal in the marina’s café can use these new chargers.

electric car charging at Aqueduct Marina

electric car charging at Aqueduct Marina

The installation of the new chargers is part of Aqueduct’s aim of becoming more environmentally friendly, with plans underway to reduce their carbon footprint even further. Robert Parton, MD of Aqueduct Marina, said, “electric car charging points feel like Wi-Fi connectivity 15 years ago, which at that time was not an essential requirement, but rapidly became the primary requirement of all customers to the marina. I expect electric car charging will soon become a must-have.”

do you paint or polish?

do you paint or polish?

Most boat owners ask themselves the question at one time in their ownership of a boat. “Do I polish the boat or do I repaint?”

The reason for this question is the dreaded oxidized or stained paintwork possibly with a few scratches thrown in.

What is oxidation?

And to answer that without getting hugely technical I have an illustration here.

effects of light on gloss and oxidised paint surfaces

bullet polish specular reflection

bullet polish diffused reflection on oxidised paint surfaces

So dull or oxidized paintwork diffuses sunlight in all directions instead of reflecting it in one direction as polished paintwork or surfaces do.

Depending on how severe the oxidation is determines whether you try and polish or “cut” it out or go for the re-paint.

The picture below looks horrendously oxidized; possibly beyond colour restoration however you will be pleased to know that this paintwork was recovered by just a hand applied Colour restorer.

Bullet Polish - boat with oxidised paint being restored

On the left hand side of the boat we see how dull this vessel had become and the owner thought that it was going to cost a fortune for a re-paint.

However, with two applications of colour restorer, you can see that on the right hand side of the boat we were able to recover the paint surface to a beautiful gloss again. This was the same for the whole boat - all 75ft of it!

Wax build up and airborne contaminates mixed with bird lime can also make paint surfaces dull or “milky” over time. One client solved this by first using Panel Wipe, a mild form of paint thinners (Halfords) and by applying this with cloths removed the buildup of old waxes from the surface, then went over again with a colour restorer and finally used a spray Carnauba Wax to seal the surface and bring it back to its glossy former self thus saving him several thousand pounds on a re-paint.

once recovered then comes the task of keeping it shiny

what to consider and what to consider avoiding:

  • A great number of polishes, paste waxes & spray wax products contain Silicone. This is death to paintwork surfaces. Yes it makes them super shiny very quickly, however if one has to go back to the “Body shop” for major or minor work then the silicone covered paintwork has to be taken back to bare metal again as paint will not stick to silicone and the same goes for products containing PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which will make the project cost more.
  • Most “waterless wash” spray waxes contain Silicone and yes it’s great for onsite/on the water instant shine but in the long term it is a false fix.
  • Avoid Silicones & PTFE enhanced products.

consider using:

  • Carnauba (Car-noo-ba) Wax is the world’s hardest known natural wax and comes from the leaves of the Carnauba palm of northern Brazil.
    It only takes a small quantity of this wax to achieve a superb deep shine on most hard/semi hard surfaces. This can come in paste wax format, creams & spray wax formats too. The amount of “Elbow grease” you wish to use will determine your choice of product.

points to consider:

  • Choose a good quality colour restorer, one that removes oxidation but also seals & shines at the same time.
  • Consider a good quality cream wax or spray wax for the finishing coat & preferably one enhanced by Carnauba Wax. Again avoid silicone based products.
  • Micro fibre Cloths for these types of products and the overall project are crucial. “T” shirts & yellow dusters are not going to do it nor will the old “Scrim cloth”. A good quality Microfibre will set you back about £1.50 each however there are ebay sellers who will sell you packs of 10 for less. The finish you expect will only happen with Microfibre cloths
  • Application sponges, again ebay for these as they make application of colour restorer, cream & paste waxes easier and are cheap to buy.
  • Set aside good quality time to clean the boat surfaces, to colour restore and to finish polish. We recommend a weekend should be enough time to completely restore & polish a 75 foot narrowboat but that time will have been well spent for the coming months of sunny or harsh weather as the surfaces will now be, in effect, “Armour plated”.

Once you have the colour restored and the finish wax is applied then sit back and watch the neighbours on the canal marvel at how good your boat looks now.

Please note: If you have tried a small area of colour restoration and it is not removing the dullness in the paint then you may have to consider a re-paint.

For products and information about boat oxidation click the link to this short video we made in 2013

Please go to Bullet Polish for information & to read the testimonials from happy boat owners.

Bullet Polish LogoBullet Polish Europe Ltd is a family owned & run business which was set up in December 2010 following a road trip through America by my wife Stella & I in our 35ft RV named GUS. 26 States & 13,000 miles later we returned home to England with Bullet Polish.

01299 896117

John Skull, author

John Skull and his wife Biene lived on their narrowboat ‘Speakeasy’ for two years. During this time John kept an illustrated journal which he has published and is now available on Amazon. John has had an adventurous life, from a childhood in Belfast, to a long naval career and a continuing thirst for travel. ‘Narrowboating…It’ll be fun, they said’ is John’s second book.
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john skull

featured author - spring 2022

john skull

narrowboating - it'll be fun, they said...

I love boats. From every warship I served on during a 21-year Royal Navy career, a flybridge cruiser we owned in Sydney and our 42-foot sailing yacht, which carried us all the way up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne to the Coral Sea off Far North Queensland. I loved them all.

During my naval career, I travelled all over the world and the lust for travel stayed with me even after I left the Navy over twenty years ago. I’ve lived in Germany, Cyprus, the United States, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand, and in all these places, I managed to find myself on the water or under it – I am a scuba diving instructor, too.

I retired in 2017 and Biene, my German wife, and I returned to Europe to live in Germany. In 2018, during a short trip to England to visit friends and relatives, we went to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see the birthplace of Shakespeare and Biene spotted a narrowboat. She reminded me that I had always fancied a spell on the canals, so we decided to think about it.

john and biene skull with sunset

John Skull - beautiful canal scene

Buying a boat is generally a long process involving numerous trips to marinas and boatyards, drawing up lists of wants, must-haves, likes, don’t-wants and hates. How long? Narrow or wide beam? Traditional or cruiser stern? These are all questions to be carefully considered. Then there are the surveys and negotiations/haggling with owners and brokers. This can take months.

Bearing all this in mind, within five days of deciding to ‘think about it’, we took command of the first and only boat we viewed. Clearly, this could be an article called, “How Not to Buy a Narrowboat!”, but as it happens, we got lucky and the good ship Speakeasy became our home for almost two years. Two years of adventure, fun and misadventure.

car being driven down canal

john skull, author

As well as boats, I love to write, so I kept an illustrated daily journal of our first seven months on the cut. It was originally meant as a tool to keep friends and family informed of our travels, but it developed into much more. For example, I never thought that I’d ever write so much about toilets! I had previously written a memoir of my childhood in Belfast during the height of the Troubles and how I managed to find myself in the Royal Navy, which received great reviews on Amazon (It’s called, ‘If You Can’t Take a Joke….’ and you can find it on Amazon).

if you can't take a joke, by John Skull

Narrowboating - It'll be fun, they said

I decided to self-publish my narrowboat journal, as it gives a light-hearted, but realistic account of everyday life on the canals, including the successes, failures and simply stupid mistakes, like this extract from the book:

Cast off the mooring lines and off we went - eastwards once more. As we passed under Henley Bridge, a gorgeous wooden boat fully dressed with flags and bunting wanted to cross our bow and head downstream. Given our average speed of 3mph, I happily waved him through and slotted in behind him and followed him downstream. It was at this juncture that Biene tapped me on the shoulder and with a nod of her head suggested I should take a look behind me. I did. As well as the lovely boats ahead of us, there was a line of these wonderful boats following us. We had inadvertently joined the parade of historic wooden and Dunkirk boats, during the Henley Regatta! At this point, it was impossible for us to move out of the parade, so Biene and I joined in the spirit of the event and treated all the spectators to our ‘royal’ wave. Most waved back!

Henley Regatta

Like every other boat I’ve had the good fortune to sail on, Speakeasy was loved. She provided us with shelter, warmth and a sea-chest full of stories for our grandchildren as they grow up. It is available on Amazon under the title, ‘Narrowboating......It’ll Be Fun, They Said’.

hidden marks and messages in our canal network

hidden marks and messages

in our canal network

masons' marks

Whilst travelling around the inland waterways network I have been interested to see dates, inscriptions and shapes cut into the stones that form the canals, especially around the lock chambers. The smaller hand chiselled inscriptions are Masons’ marks, more specifically, Banker marks. Banker marks are made by the skilled stone masons who cut the quarry stones into the regularly squared blocks or more complex sections of a structure. These people were almost always paid more than the stone worker who built with the stone. Documental evidence describes the way that masons were paid. With piece-work frequently the norm and it is this that accounts for the use of banker masons’ marks. Masons’ marked their stones to let the paymaster know how much work they had done. They would have undergone lengthy training before they were able to achieve the accuracy that was needed to do their work.

stonemason's mark canalside

stonemason's mark, canalside

There is little evidence to suggest the way in which masons’ marks were allocated. They may have chosen their own marks or been given one when they joined a site. Later masons sometimes based their mark on the master that trained them. 20th Century masons often used their initials joined in a pattern. Marks sometimes form groups and this may indicate that they belonged to a team of masons who worked together. An example of this is a mark like a capital letter ‘W’ which can be found in that form or with extra strokes across the ends of one or more lines. The marks are mostly drawn freehand although compasses are sometimes used for marks based on circles and consist of lines that meet or cross in a pattern. The marks are made with a chisel or a punch and a point is sometimes used to drill the ends of the lines. Although it was important that marks were not easy to confuse it is clear that masons did not spend a long time cutting elaborate marks made up of a large number of lines. Most marks consist of between four to six lines and marks of more than seven or eight are rare.

date inscriptions

Many of the locks that I have passed through have stone plaques at their entrances showing the date that the lock was completed. Two of the most notable examples that I saw were displayed on Grand Union Leicester Line flight between Loughborough and Leicester and on The Leeds Liverpool canal as it passes through Wigan. The latter depicts the date as Roman numerals. The inscriptions ranged from very detailed, precise carvings on selected stones to more prosaic and simple legends.

stonemason's date mark

date inscription Leeds and Liverpool Canal

stonemason's date inscription

stonemason's date inscription

John Tasker lock inscription

This plaque commemorating John Tasker can be seen in lock 6 on the Ashton canal just outside of Manchester: I wonder who he was?

secrets of running a successful boating business

secrets of running a successful boating business

boats on the river Thames

Are you tired of the office jobs and boring life? If the inland waterways have always been your passion, consider opening up a boating business. Sadly, things aren't as simple as seen in movies. There are numerous challenges you’ll face along the way, but that shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing your dreams!

Be the captain of your career, start your boating business and make it successful with these 5 tips. That's how you'll be able to spend every day on the water and get paid for it! So, if you want to make office employees envious of you, here's how to start a boating business.

Business plan and finances

No matter how experienced you are in business, having a plan you’ll follow throughout your journey is essential. Take regular planning on another level. Outline some of the main objectives which will help you achieve the wanted success. This business plan differs from regular plans as it includes expenses you need to cover.

Even though each business comes with investments, boating business requires a list of expenses, such as maintenance, boat payment, insurance, gas, and equipment. According to that, you need to calculate how much you need to charge to make a profit. However, be careful as you can't predict how many customers you'll have!

river boat

Legal issues and licenses

Just like any other organization, you need to get your boating business registered. However, what makes the boating business different is the sole type of business you're starting. You'll need to obtain numerous licences and take care of any legal issues before you head with your passengers to the open waters. So, what kinds of licences do you need?

Firstly, you need to be a licenced captain to sail a boat. Also, your vessel needs to be registered for commercial use. Be careful about the water jurisdictions you plan on travelling to. Depending on the type of boating activities you opt for, you’ll need various licenses as well. For instance, you’ll need a fishing license in case you want to take your customers fishing in the open waters.

Target market and customers

The previous two steps aren't enough if you plan on running a boating business. Customers don't just appear out of nowhere, you need to attract them and spark their interest in your services. So, is there a better way to do so than by researching the target market and your customers?

This part may seem boring, too entrepreneurial, or unnecessary, however, if you want to succeed, you'll need to know your target market and audience extremely well. What moves them? What makes them stop and say wow? Your business needs to induce all kinds of feelings to gain profit. So, promote your business, research the market, your competition, and your customers to create a marketing strategy that will make your business a true success!

narrowboat on canal

Suitable employees and organization

One of the main differences between a successful business and a miserable failure is the quality crew. Finding employees who have the same passion for boats, inland waterways, and wind as you do is quite rare. Therefore, once you find the perfect crew for your boat, treat them well as they are a hidden treasure berried deep beneath the sea.

Even though you may have experienced crew, they still need to keep your businesses organized. So, assign them clear tasks and provide them with distinct guidelines to follow. You can use various apps and platforms that will keep them informed and in touch. Find out more here about such tools to help your business succeed.

Location and docking

Location can be crucial when it comes to boating business success. Who would want to go far away to a boat ride, when there’s a perfectly fine boat right here? When it comes to docking, don’t try to be original. Pick a place where tourists flock. That’s the best way to become profitable and keep your business running!

Think about the finances here as well. Most docks will offer a discount for long-term leasing contacts. So, instead of renting month by month, choose a long-term plan. Also, don't change your location too often. Once tourists and customers get used to your location, finding you in another dock may become a burden!

Wrapping up

As a boat lover, opening up your business is a dream come true. Even though you'll face certain challenges along the way, you'll easily overcome them by following these steps and tips. Now you can merrily enjoy your boat while sailing into the sunset!