Monthly Archives: April 2017

  • My First Attempt at Paint Removal

    Painting a 26ft boat is no small task, and as any wooden boat owners out there will know, the thought of sanding it back to the bare wood every season or two is just too tedious to face sometimes. So I wasn’t completely surprised to find I was scraping off almost half centimetre thick flakes of paint from my hull (I use the word ‘flakes’ loosely here, as most of my ‘flakes’ were more than 2 inches across and impressive structurally sound).

    I decided to start with the deck trim/toe rail as I want to take that back to the bare wood and varnish it. So far I have identified three entirely different colours in multiple layers. You can imagine my elation.

    Needless to say, I gave up on my attempts to scrape and sand it back fairly quickly, and decided instead to turn to my more chemically based friends, paint strippers!

    Below are images of the results I got using Owatarol’s Dilunett paint stripper, recently been re-released as Marine Strip, and I have to say, I was impressed. It liquefied the many, many layers of paint on the toe rails and with just a scraper (as I am currently lacking in electricity, so it is all elbow grease for now) I was able to get most of the trim back to bare wood!



    Mid Removal


    I won’t lie to you, this was still a slow and painstaking job, but at least I was seeing results. The bottle recommends using a pressure washer, which I did not have. But having seen how well the Dilunett liquefied the many, many layers of old paint, I can see how a pressure washer would make it a very quick and easy job.

    I have a friend, who is skilled in removing paint with a gas torch, coming down next week to have a look and see can he help with the hull, because as impressive and effective the Dilunett was on the toe rails and trim, I’m not sure my arms and hands could take a whole 26ft hull of it without a pressure washer to rid it of the liquefied paint.

    With sore arms and tired hands,


  • Two Candians and a Tempest run the River Suir

    This year I got the opportunity to paddle the River Suir from Golden in Co.Tipperary to Waterford city with 4 friends. The plan was to make the 120km trip in 3 days, camping by the river at night. I was in a Tempest Sea Kayak, and the lads were in 2 Canadian Canoes.

    We started early on a Tuesday morning in late September at Golden. There is a car-park behind the local pub with access to the river. The general plan was to try to make it to Waterford by Friday morning all going well.

    The river is probably only 15m wide at this point and full of bends and twists. There is plenty of wildlife to see along the stretch of river from Golden to Cahir, including otters and kingfishers.

    First stop was Athassel Abbey a few miles from Golden. It dates from the 12th Century and covers a huge site. Amazingly there is no signage or info about it at the site, so might be worth reading up on before you set off. The man who founded it, William de Burgh, was buried there 800 years ago. (There are quite a few bulls on the farmland surrounding it so keep an eye out!)

    Next we were off to Cahir. On the run into Cahir there is a weir possibly 8ft high, while it does slope, there is a concrete shelve below the water line. I found this out to my detriment when the tail of the sea kayak and the nose got suspended between the top of the weir and the shelf causing me to capsize. The water is deep here and there is no easy get off here to empty the boat. The only way is back onto that step below the weir and empty the boat up there (I would like to thank Derek from Bansha for helping me do this!). We paddled on to Cahir and pulled up for some light refreshment before the next weir at the town.

    It was decided to lift the boats over the town weir on the port side and make for Ardfinnan and make camp there. There were a few small weirs and rapids along the way, all easily negotiable. We were lucky that there was a good flow on the river and did not encounter any dry spots on day one.

    When we got to Ardfinnan it was about 6.30pm. Ardfinnan is a fine spot to stay. We pulled up just before the first weir at the town and camped beside the village green. I was using a three man tent but the lads prefer to use a shelter and tarp. It works well and cuts down on weight in the canoes. You would get 4 to 5 people under it. We set up the Kelly Kettle and a small fire to heat a big pot of pasta.

    We hit the Green View pub that night where our presence had not gone unnoticed! Nora, the land-lady, was 5th generation at this establishment. She was a wealth of knowledge on the area and its stories, the stout was not bad either. We slept well that night and proceeded to rise early on Wednesday morning. I cooked up some sausages and eggs on the stove and prepared to run the two weirs above and below Ardfinnan.

    The first one is gentle enough but important to stay upright as again no immediate get out spot here. The 2nd drop is perhaps 2ft just below the bridge. Canadian no.1 managed it grand with a bit of bracing. I went next and proceeded to capsize again in shallow water as the back end of the kayak caught on the ledge. Luckily there was a dry spot in the middle of the river to haul up and empty out. Canadian no.2 is built from marine plywood and epoxy. She made the run but scraped her backside off the ledge. She was leaking now and it was decided to pull her in and do a repair job. The lads managed to find a local who drove them to 3 garages in order to find some epoxy putty (body filler). The group split and we agreed to meet at Knocklofty Bridge later that day.

    The wind had picked up now and a bit of rain started to fall. We made good progress and stopped at a small village called Newcastle. We called into a local shop where they were thrilled to meet us and allowed us to use the facilities. We also got some sandwiches made for 3 euro a pop, not bad going!

    After the bridge here the river is noticeably downhill. It does however widen substantially and with wind from the south we were eager to turn east toward Knocklofty. You pass under an old steel bridge which serves an old mansion on the south bank. The stone bridge at Knocklofty is about a mile further downriver. We broke for a rest here and met the lads with the repaired canoe.

    On to Clonmel next. We knew the weir at Clonmel was not runnable. It’s at least a 9ft 90 degree drop with a bridge to negotiate after that. There is also a right turn which brings you through the soon to be finished slalom course in the town. We chose to lower the boats down to a ledge just to the right of the main weir and then negotiate some small rapids below the bridge.

    Grand so far. We passed through the town and tied up about a kilometre downstream. Time for tea. The rain started to pour down torrentially and a decision was made to go hell for leather to a village called Kilsheelan about 10km away.

    This stretch of river just has one spot, below a stone bridge, about halfway down where there are some rapids. These did not present any problems. We got to Kilsheelan at about 7pm. We went into Pat O Sullivan’s pub for a bit of light refreshment. Pat was kind enough to let us dry out our gear in the back lounge and so we decided to come back here after we made camp down by the river. Pat told us about the artist living in the big castle over the river.

    Gottfried Helnwein has been living at Castle Gurteen for the past 20 years. Many famous people have stayed at the castle. Gottfried was away the night we passed for Pat assured us he would have been in for a pint was he home. We headed back to camp at about 12 and slept well until 7am.

    So our next mission was to get to Carrick-on-Suir by 10am as the river becomes tidal here and we reasoned being there at high tide would be a good start in getting to Waterford City that day. The stretch of water from Kilsheelan to Carrick was excellent on a cracker of a morning. We took our time and stopped for brunch at the marina there.

    Onwards to Waterford with the tide. We left Carrick at about 11.30. It all looked so easy, or so we thought, with the tide running out. The river basically becomes a lot of long estuaries with wind head on. My Tempest sea kayak was now coming into its own and enjoying the waves created by wind over tide.

    The rest of the group in the Canadian canoes were finding it a bit more challenging. We broke for lunch and realised we had only covered 10km after 2hours! It was a strong southerly wind and when we finally caught sight of Waterford’s new tall white bridge we were convinced we were home and dry. That last estuary must be 5 miles long. This section was tough going even though the wind was now at our backs. We passed under the big bridge about two hours later! About 2 more to go now.

    We pulled up at Waterford city marina at tea time. We had underestimated the distance and conditions and were fairly shattered! Luckily we were allowed to keep our boats on the marina that night and retired to the Keg bar for a few well deserved pints having completed our trip in 3 days.

    The whole trip was approximately 120km in length. The final day was a bit of a stretch but with a good flow 3 days should be sufficient. The advantage of paddling in late September was that we had plenty of water on the river. However temperatures were quite low at night, so a warm sleeping bag is essential. Lower temperatures also ensured we didn’t encounter any midges.

    One more thing about boats: The Tempest sea kayak was a little bit long coming into some of the turns on the river. It does however have plenty of speed and also plenty of gear storage space. Perhaps a 15 ft kayak might be a better option as it might cruise at the same speed as the canoes. Alternatively just use Canadian canoes and have a relaxing trip.

  • Winter Wet Gear

    As the weather starts to get worse, we thought we would give you a quick overview of foul weather gear for autumn and winter sailing.

    The type of boat you are sailing on will hugely influence the type of gear you wear, you aren’t going to wear the same gear on a 1720 and a half tonner. That said there are a few steps you can take to ensure you stay warm and dry as we move into the colder, wetter winter months no matter what boat you sail on.

    The best way to stay warm, is to stay dry. The first thing to invest in will always be a good set of waterproof outers. Whether you prefer wearing salopettes, jacket, cag, keeping your gear in good condition and ensuring it isnt leaking is the first step in staying warm as the weather gets colder and wetter. Your lighter summer gear will more than suffice coming into the winter so long as it is keeping you dry.

    Layering under your gear is the next step. Cotton will not keep you warm, fleece, technical fabrics and wool are the only fabrics worth looking at when buying gear for under your oilys. Helly Hansen make a great range of merino wool base layers which will keep you toasty well into the shorter days. Wool socks are also a must have, wool stays warm when wet unlike other fabrics, and as such is the perfect underlayer for any sailor. If you are particularly cold, a light down jacket under your sailing jacket will keep even the coldest sailors toasty.

    The final stage is your extremities, here were talking hats, gloves and boots. If you loose feeling in your hands and feet you are going to be useless to the rest of your crew, and a couple of upwind legs on the rail can have you really feeling the cold. We recommend a hat with 2 layers, this cuts down on wind getting through the fabric. As a sailor, you know there is no hope of keeping your hands dry, but keeping the wind off them can greatly reduce how much to feel the cold. A pair of long fingered gloves can be a god send on blustery days.

    Personally, my sailing boots are my most important piece of kit. I spend my life permanently cold, and the best investment I ever made was my Dubarry Ultimas. Most of the sailors I know swear by Dubarry’s sailing boots for both warmth and waterproofness. I wore mine as a Junior Section instructor and regularly had to walk into the water when launching boats and they never leaked. Mine are now 6 years old and still going strong. Really any pair of properly waterproof boots will see you through the winter, but for longevity, warmth and comfort I have yet to find anything that beats the Dubarry range.

    We stock all of the above gear and our shop staff would be more than happy to help you over the phone (021) 4554334 or in store.

    The final piece of advice we can offer you is keep the blood sugar up. If your blood sugar starts to drop your body looses the fuel it needs to heat itself. So there really is no substitute for something sweet onboard!

  • Once upon a time in Galicia..

    Last September I had a great experience sea-kayaking in the northwestern part of Spain called Galicia. Some people would know it for hillwalking. Particularly as the ‘Camino do Santiago’ passes through it and finishes in either Santiago proper or on the coast at Finistere. For anyone who wishes to escape the usual high-rise apartment holiday this is the place to go.

    I booked a small house on the coast across the bay from the city of Vigo. This area is called Nerga and is close to a town called Cangas. I had made contact with a guy called Jaime at NordES Kayaks over the internet and booked a kayak with him for the trip. At this point I should say that while my French is good my Spanish is a work in progress! I would advise learning some Spanish for this part of the country, as English is not spoken here.

    The Ria de Vigo is sheltered from the big Atlantic storms by the Islas Cies. These are 3 islands with the most spectacular scenery ! To paddle out here is about a mile and a half at the shortest point but the sound between the islands and headland can have a fair bit of swell ! There are plenty of beaches and hidden coves to visit if one heads west. If rock-hopping is your thing then turn to port from the beach at Nerga and there are lots of opportunities along the coast to Cangas.

    I was paddling alone but met a few people each day on the ocean. I would bring a vhf if possible as I believe the laws of paddling offshore are not as generous as Ireland. Jaime warned me that the Spanish Coastguard are not that keen on paddlers from outside of Spain without all their paperwork. I did not meet any of these guys on my travels but maybe I was lucky. I could go on but will let the pictures tell the story. Brevity shall be my m.o. for this first instalment.

    How to get there : Flights Dublin to Santiago do Compostella (2.5hrs)and train to Vigo (1hr). Ferry to Cangas (0.5hr)

    Or this year Ryanair have started flights from Dublin to Vigo.

    Rental of a P&H Capella sea-kayak was €100 for 10 days. This included a nice Gola carbon split paddle.

    I brought my own spraydeck and buoyancy aid.

    Water temperature was warm in September so I just brought shorts or neoprene ¾ leggings. I’ve been further up the coast in June and it has been positively Baltic. So the trick is to let the water warm up over the summer and head over in September.

    So to sum up if I had the opportunity to go here again this year I would be there in a heartbeat !

    Next year hopefully,


    Useful contacts:

  • Meet The Team

    Hi guys!

    We here at Union Chandlery wanted to help you, our customers, with all those small boat jobs, on the water issues and keep you up to date on new developments both on and off the water. So we’ve started a blog!

    Each week a different member of our team will share some of their knowledge with you.

    We are lucky to have a very diverse team here in Union Chandlery, covering a number of water sports.

    Garrett, whom many of you will recognise, is our resident kayaker and shop manager. He is here to help you with any query you may have, especially all you paddlers.

    Toni, another familiar face in the shop, is our electronics whizz. If you’re having problems with your electronics or are looking for some advice on changing or upgrading, Toni is your girl.

    And finally, a new face in the line up, Evie has recently joined us from Western Marine in Dublin and loves all things sailing. She can help you with everything from Oppies to Mirrors, Lasers to yachts. You’ll see her out and about at events so don’t hesitate to say hello and ask her for any bits and pieces you need.

    Each of our team will be sharing what caught their eye, issues customers in the shop have encountered and topical issues in their area of interest each month to help keep you all up to date and as informed as possible!

    If there is something in particular you need help with or would like advice on, do not hesitate to call into us in store, 4-5 Penrose Quay, Cory City, or call us on (021)4554334.

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