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Home > News4Stews > From Ship To Shore With David Gentleman (Ship Shop Dave)

From Ship To Shore With David Gentleman (Ship Shop Dave)

When did you join the Royal Navy?

I was a boy entrant into HMS Ganges when I was 15 years old.

Can you tell me about your Navy career – highlights, low points?

The high points were lots of travel, many Atlantic crossings, and lots of sea time. Admittedly my geography is terrible as I spent most my time in the engine room and had no idea where we were, and I couldn’t show you on a map where I’ve been, but I did spend time in South America, the Caribbean, and the Baltic.

I crossed the Artic, and was serving in the last Cod Wars between Iceland and the UK in the North Atlantic.

The low point was being away at sea for long periods of time, and missing my children growing up.


How did you know it was time for you to make the move to land?

I was medically discharged after smashing both of my kneecaps, which happened while not holding onto a ladder I was descending when the ship changed course.


What was the most difficult thing about the transition?

I’d say it was adjusting to civilian life, and missing the comradery. As a service man you are very looked after, and back in the real world you have to quickly learn to adapt and to take care of yourself.


What was the best thing about it?

It gave me the opportunity to train in sales, when I joined Bovril and Marmite. I also trained in the fire service, with Surrey Fire and Rescue, as a retained firefighter. This meant I had to be in uniform and on the pump within three minutes of a call. I enjoyed being back in the action and part of a close working team.


Did you ever get back on the water?

Yes, I joined the NRA (National River Authority) in 1989, which later became the Environment Agency. I was an Inspector of the Royal River Thames as a Warrant Officer.


With my Boatman I patrolled the River Thames between Richmond and Penton Hook locks. As well as recruiting seven full time lock keepers and an additional 7 full time summer staff, I oversaw the management of each lock and weir system. This meant managing tidal water flow, and providing navigable water depths during times of drought and when the river was in flood.


I enforced the law, checking vessels had the correct licence and that they were complying with safety requirements, and I enforced speed restrictions. My other responsibility was looking after crown property.


What do you do now?

Since moving to Mallorca 12 years ago I have worked in sales, delivering spare parts to yacht engineers. In 2011 I set up my own company, Ship Shop, where I source and deliver all manner of parts and products mainly relating to the engine room, but I have been known to find things for the deck and interior departments to help out my clients in any way possible.


Although I work on my own (with admin assistance from my wife), I enjoy the thrill of the chase in trying to get things sourced and delivered to the island on time, and always trying to find a plan B. Every day is different, and this provides variety and often a daily challenge.

Do you have any advice for fellow sailors about going land-based?

Think about it carefully, and try to find a niche as land based salaries do not match yacht salaries.


David Gentleman