From the Drawing Board
More words from an interpreter of customers dreams
by John Welsford


I was talking to my friend Paul Groom about (among many other things) wet weather clothing suitable for voyaging in his Pathfinder sailing dinghy. He’d been off to the "Yot Shop" where they have all sorts of fancy clothing in every colour imaginable. Nice looking stuff, and if you believe the advertising it is the only way to keep yourself warm and dry when sailing. Wear these and you’ll not only stay comfortable but you’ll win all the races, and constantly have to use your free hand ( the other is steering a superyacht) to fend off all the lovely women who will flock around. Oddly enough those women seem to be quite comfortable in their bikinis or less while the ads have the lucky skipper encased in stuff that looks like congealed liquorice allsorts.

But the PRICES!!!!!!!!!!! I have trouble getting my head around some of the prices, there is enough money in a "Southern Ocean " offshore racers set of wetties to build a small boat. I kid you not, I priced a set the other day and am sure that I could build any one of half a dozen of my designs within that budget!

Anyway, Paul tells me that he went out feeling a bit stunned and went to a cheapo discount shop, bought a pair of PVC trou for less than an hours pay for a MacDonalds worker and went out sailing for his first cruising weekend. Those cheap and cheerful pants kept him dry in pretty brisk conditions, but with a plain elastic waist and slots for pocket access they would not be that good in serious conditions or for too long.

I ventured the opinion that I had bought good gear from an industrial safety shop, and that he should contact Lindsay Fenwick, a fellow small boat sailor and ask what would be suitable.

Now it happens that Lindsay works in a pretty senior position in a company called New Zealand Safety, this outfit has 25 outlets scattered around the country and cover a very wide range of protective and safety items for industrial application. He mentioned that they had a fancy new catalogue out, and that the range included Marine items for the first time.

My aim was to get away from the designated "Marine" items as it seems to me that the price goes up by a factor of two or three as soon as boating comes into its intended use, so it was with interest that I walked into the local branch and picked up one of these catalogues (your name carries a lot of weight Lindsay, the guys were very helpful as soon as I told them I knew you, I am not sure if that extends to a discount though).

Bingo, nice gear at seriously good prices, when you look at a roading contractor standing out in the rain, or a farmer bringing the cows in, or a forestry worker, you are often looking at people who won their own business, machinery and property worth millions and they can afford GOOD gear so the fact that they shop here instead of places like the "Yotshop" is the best reccommendation that you will get.

This wet weather gear included high waisted trou in nice soft PVC with good reinforcement in the stress areas, shoulder straps to keep it up and linings to make it nicer to wear, there were Jackets of several types, padded or plain lined, open front or smock types, and a whole selection of colours. All waterproof well designed and every bit as good as you would need.

From there I turned to other racks and found thermal underwear, pure wool sweaters as well as synthetic, seriously warm socks with the sort of reinforcement that wont wear out in rubber boots. And on footwear , they had freezing workers (abattoirs are mostly wet, slippery cement floors and below zero temperatures) gloves and a great pair of white non skid high rubber boots, perfect for yachting. The prices were a fraction of what we are used to and the durability as good as you’ll get.

I went to a couple of other suppliers of Industrial clothing, and found that they all carry interesting stuff for workshops, safety glasses that look like the latest style sunnies, polarised and UV filtered, a whole range of chemical resistant gloves and all the info on which to use and when, dust masks and breathing filters, first aid kits in nice soft stow pouches, fire extinguishers for all classes of fires ( and we can get any and all of them in out boatbuilding workshops, chemical, electrical, wood and woodwaste, you name it!)

I looked further, and found Linemens harnesses ( for the guys who work on Electric power lines) which would be great security in a small boat and make my name brand marine one look like a cheap imitation, ear muffs and plugs for when I am running the router, paper overalls for the big paint and epoxy coating jobs, even very cheap foam plastic cups perfect for mixing glue.

My past profession working in sawmills has had me in contact with these kind of shops before, and while I was well aware that they had a lot more to offer than just steel toecaps and leather aprons had not really thought of them in the context of the home boatbuilder and small boat sailer, but having switched my head around so I could see the applications ( and the very favourable difference in both price and quality) the place is a veritable Aladdins cave of treasures, all sorts of good stuff for our interests and activities including advice and information.

For those in NZ, is the place to look.

Their shops are usually in the industrial small factory and warehouse part of town so you’ll have to look them up and drive there, all countries with a manufacturing sector will have similar suppliers and carry similar gear, its worth a look and you could end up saving enough to buy the plywood for your next boat. They even have bulk coffee !