A review of some of the suppliers that we’ve used. To keep things simple we’ve split them up into two categories, good and poor, based on our experiences dealing with each company.
Here’s an index categorized by the type of equipment supplied:
Sails and Canvas Work
Suppliers that we’re happy to recommend, in no particular order:
One Sails (formerly Quantum Sails)
We used One Sails ’ Suffolk, UK loft at Levington for new main and mizzen sails, stack-packs, a spray hood and winter cover. We found them helpful and friendly, returning calls as promised and working around delays due to yard and rigging overruns with no problems. All of the items were delivered and fitted on time, fit well and appear to be well made.
We had a small problem with one of the reef points in our mainsail but they sorted that out promptly and with no fuss.
After three season’s use we’re pleased with the performance of our sails.
Midsummer Energy are a solar power equipment supplier based in Cambridge. They supplied our solar panels and regulators and were helpful and friendly throughout. For the regulators I was intending to buy one model from them but they pointed out that this was probably over specified for our particular installation and found a lower cost alternative which was a better match for us.
CCL Components also trade as The Powerstore (not to be confused with Merlin Powerstore ) and supply electrical equipment from Balmar, Victron and others. They offer price matching if you can find the item cheaper elsewhere and were happy to match prices that we found. Delivery was prompt (less than a week on each of three occasions that we have used them) and they were able to offer technical support (our marine engineer needed advice on drive pulleys for the alternator that we bought from them).
At the time that we bought our alternator their price appeared to be very expensive but in fact they were quoting for an alternator and regulator at a good combination price but not making that clear on the web page (it looks like that’s been sorted out now) so it’s worth querying the prices.
Cactus Navigation & Communication
Cactus supply marine electronics. They offer price matching if you can find the item cheaper elsewhere. For a large order they came up with a combination price that was better than the best prices I could find from a range of other suppliers so if you’re planning on buying several pieces of equipment it’s worth getting them to quote for the complete set in one go.
Delivery was prompt, with the exception of a Raymarine coupler that they couldn’t get hold of quickly and for which they offered a refund.
Digital Yacht gave us a good deal on an ex-display AIS transponder and delivered it promptly.
Darglow Marine Engineers
Darglow are the UK agent for Maxprop. They were very helpful working out which anode was required for our prop and delivered an anode, grease and spares promptly.
Jimmy Green Marine
Jimmy Green Marine are an online chandlers with a large range of rope and chain. We found them very helpful advising on the correct gauge chain to buy to match with our anchor windlass. Prices were competitive and delivery was prompt.
Pipler's of Poole Among other things we purchased our Rocna anchor from Pipler's of Poole. Recently there has been some fuss in the yachting press (at least in the UK) concerning some Rocna's being manufactured using out of specification materials. We contacted Pipler's with details of our purchase and they were able to check the batch that our anchor came from (confirming that it pre-dated the effected anchors). The person we dealt with was helpful and courteous, given this good follow up service we're happy to recommend Pipler's.
Suppliers that we do not recommend and will try to avoid using in future:
Merlin Powerstore advertise a huge range of electrical equipment, some of which is difficult or impossible to source elsewhere in the UK. We placed quite a few orders with them, initially in hope and later under sufferance because we really couldn’t find alternative suppliers for some items.
Whilst they advertise a large range it appears that they don’t carry many items in stock so delivery times can run into months. This is not just for unusual items, I ended up canceling an order for some battery cable after waiting over a month for delivery. Even when I contacted them to check that they had what I wanted in stock that order was delayed because of lack of stock. On one occasion they delivered someone else’s order to me then sent a courier to pick that up and deliver my order who actually only took the mis-delievered items back. Some orders went on hold while waiting for a missing item to arrive, but when that arrived another part of the held order appeared to have been sold to someone else so the order then stalled on a different item.
Often when phoning to chase orders (which I found myself doing frequently) the particular person needed wasn’t available and no one else was able to help. Promises to call back were rarely followed through. Delivery dates often slipped, a set of batteries that were promised within 4 weeks took over 2 months to arrive, nearly delaying our departure for our summer cruise.
On the whole the goods that they supplied were good quality, although a ratchet crimp tool (described as high quality) broke the first time that I used it.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Merlin act as a wholesaler for some other chandlers. We thought we’d found an alternative supplier for marine grade cable but they were getting it from Merlin and suffered from exactly the same delivery problems that we did.
Diverse Yachts were recommended to us by B&G to supply their instruments, however they didn’t reply to any emails and if the sales department can’t be bothered I don’t feel confident dealing with the company.
Dolphin Sails made a mainsail and sprayhood for our previous boat. The mainsail was made with the 2 nd reef point too high which meant that the reefing line pulled tight before the sail was fully hoisted (the boat had single line reefing so it wasn’t possible to lengthen the line). Dolphin did re-measure the sail and altered the reefing point when we returned the sail to them at the end of the season for valeting, however the job seemed to drop down their priority list so we ended up having to delay re-launching at the start of the season, despite giving them the sail in plenty of time and making repeated calls asking about progress. On one occasion we were told that the sail hadn’t been done because they’d had some last minute rush jobs, they didn’t explain why these were more important than finishing off our work.
Dolphin get a poor rating from us for after sales service.