A buyer's guide to yacht chandlers
Last updated: 30/05/2018
Whether buying online or in store when in port, a yacht chandler is the one-stop shop for your marine needs. Yachting Pages spoke to some leading yacht chandlers to bring you the top tips to follow when buying from a chandlery store.
Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask – Chandleries are experts in all things yacht related
If you’re a new crew member getting started in the superyacht industry, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you visit a yacht chandlery, whether that’s just requesting a product or asking for advice on how to use it. Jose from Barcelona’s Pinmar Supply receives all kinds of requests from people, some as matter-of-fact as, “I have a boat, and I want to paint it”!
While the most common questions Pinmar Supply receives are for paint systems, product compatibility and technical advice, confusion around chandleries can prompt some incredibly unusual requests, as Jose points out. “One particularly unusual request was a customer who asked for seven different colours of gel coat to paint stripes on his boat to match his t-shirt. I’ve also been asked for golden paint to paint a toilet, for nail polish, cigarettes, and food. One person even asked me to order him a pizza!”
Nail polish and pizza questions aside, it’s essential for crew to ask questions, particularly if they are working on a new, larger yacht than one they were previously based on. The main reason for this is that products change according to the size of the yacht, and what’s right for a 15m yacht may not be suitable for a 60m.
Push for a discount if you’re buying in bulk…
Products usually have a set price, but chandlers will always be on the look out to offer better prices to their customers and buying in bulk is the perfect argument for them to convince manufacturers to extend a lower price to the final customer.
Eli Cookson of Yacht Shopping explains, “Mechanic oil is the best example of this, a 20lt drum has a higher price than a 209lt container and the larger option has more than one chance of being sold at a preferential rate.”
Expect lower prices from online chandleries…
Due to a lower need for manpower and no rental charges, purely online-based chandleries will extend savings on to their customers.
It only requires one or two people to successfully operate a warehouse full of products and dispatch on request. It is the side of the chandlery market that cannot be beaten by companies who have a physical store, vans, offices and more employees.
Service may be more reliable in physical stores…
You can split chandleries into two categories. One category is the physical stores that specialise in yachting, whose staff visit the boats daily and have a real feel of the need and problems on board. The second category includes companies that supply a number of products worldwide, most of them online.
The difference between the two is price and service. Most of us have made the decision to purchase an item from an online retail giant like Amazon. Why? Because the price is probably cheaper and the product gets delivered straight to our doorstep. However, if the item is not fit for the job and needs to be returned there’s no specific salesman to go back to. If there was, they would have advised prior to buying.
An online chandler based in [Reykjavik] can sell a Garmin GPS, at possibly 15% cheaper than other retailers, but if the product is faulty, damaged or does not correspond to the specs, the return can cause more hassle than having spent a little more on the correct item in the first place. The customer is charged for delivery and in case of returns, the client sometimes ends up paying double for their item.
On the other hand, companies who are based in or near a port, have a direct link with the crew; can discuss their needs and better target their requirements. Returns are also easier and less costly.
Enquire about new and obsolete products…
If you’re struggling to find an item because it is obsolete, it is often very expensive to have it custom made. Instead speak to a chandler, they may be holding old stock, or know someone who is.
Chandlers are also some of the first people to hear about the latest products released into the market. When crews visit a shore, be sure to enquire as to the latest advancements and products released.
As Jose points out, “Products and techniques are changing all the time, as are the crew, and for them to be able to pick up the phone or go into our chandlery and ask almost anything about any product is a huge relief. While crew aren’t expected to know all the answers, they do have to find the solutions.”
Eli says, “We’ve just begun stocking an anchor that is an absolute innovative gem! It is the Ultra Marine anchor that turns itself upright and recovers itself to the original deployment position.”
Get a list of some the latest boat chandler products with our guide to some of the must-haves on the market.
If you’re not sure, go to a chandler
Eli comments, “I truly believe that nowadays, online shopping is a great advantage for us all, but the professional yachting world is built around service and understanding the priorities of its demands. To make a yacht work, everyone needs to go the extra mile.”
Jose also makes an excellent point about how the decision of buying online or visiting a boat chandlery is the same as any 21st century purchasing decision. “If you go to buy a TV, you want to talk to the expert in the shop who knows the answer to every question you ask; maybe you can buy the TV for a cheaper price online, but who is there to guide you through the decision making process? Also, mistakes on a yacht can be far more expensive than a TV!”