Making the Most of a Minimal Budget. Contact me at: or on Twitter: @skintsailor

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Cut Price Chandlers

First off, let me explain where my idea is coming from. After you buy a car it needs maintaining. Now to maintain that car you have two options: You can buy parts from a dealer, or you can buy unbranded parts from a motor factor. The unbranded parts are of a decent standard, they do the job and they are safe. The paint finish may not be as good as the original (but that doesn't matter on a suspension arm, for example) and quite often come out of the same factory. Most people buy non-original shock absorbers. Some prefer to by branded aftermarket shocks, like Monroe, Koni or Spax and in some cases they can be of a better specification than standard.

Lets stick with the shock absorber analogy as we transfer to boats. You buy a Ford car, it will have Ford branded shock absorbers fitted. They are the original equipment, but the manufacturer may not make them, they may buy the shock absorbers in from a reputable manufacturer. When they wear out you may buy the Ford branded part from a dealer, but more likely you may buy a branded non-Ford part, or a completely unbranded part from a motor factor. All three types will do the job they are supposed to do safely. The Ford part and the unbranded part may even be made in the same factory, it's just cheaper because it doesn't have the brand stamped on it..

A boat may be supplied with Harken blocks for instance. When the blocks wear out you may fit the same Harken Block, or you may fit a Ronstan or Barton one instead. What you don't get in the boaty world is the budget equivalent part.

So there appears to be a niche in the market for decent, low cost parts supply, like a motor factors, but for a boat. A Primark of the seas, where low cost parts are sourced and sold. It's even easier than a motor factor because you don't have to stock parts for each model of boat. One cleat will fit many boats, for instance.

Somebody somewhere in the world must be making such parts, all it takes is someone to go out and source them.



  1. Mark, you really do make a very good point. The price of boat gear is absolutely ridiculous. I recently renovated a NZ Class Starling sailing dinghy. The little Harken cam cleats and the turning blocks for the sail controls cost me well over NZ$500, (more than I paid for the little yacht on TradeMe) and the cam cleats were only the budget ones. This is why I always go to 'Stanley Marine' which is a local second hand marine chandlery.

  2. Mark, you have a very good point as always!
    I do wonder how much of this is made the the far east and how long it will be before they start selling on ebay?
    But unfortunately I also suspect that the market size is much smaller that the knock off electronics market and that maintaining production quality of something like a cam cleat is quite difficult.
    However, there are bargains to be found, especially when it comes to things like LED's and Nav Lights, Solar panels etc.
    Loving your blog BTW!

  3. Alden, I work for a company that sells parts for MX-5 sports cars. We get a lot of orders from New Zealand, I assume because of high import duty on that kind of item.

    Boaty bits must attract similar duty if they are that expensive! A second hand chandlery seems a good idea. The chandlery barge in Southampton is supposed to have used bits. I really need to pay them a visit and have a look.

    David, I've used eBay for cheap Chinese bits like my voltage monitor, my solar charge controller and my LED cabin lights. But things like blocks, pulleys etc. don't seem to be available.

  4. Mark, I totally agree.
    Last year I was in a fishery co-op in Co. Donegal. They sold all the stuff for fishing trawlers, lobster fishermen etc. I was delighted to find stainless steel shackles for a € 1 each, when the same item was € 10 in a sailing chandlers in Dublin. Put the stamp of "Marine" on anything and you can multiply the price.
    I will search for an online equivalent.


  5. Jim, it just would be nice not to feel like a cash-cow for chandlers. I know they have to make some markup to compensate for the low volumes, but most of the time it feels like taking the biscuit. I just want kit that works, I don't need stuff that has been fitted to yachts that circle the globe.