Our History

You are looking for the best equipment for your ship? For a classic or a modern yacht? Then you came to the right place. We know from decades of experience exactly, what ships need. Good materials, sturdy, durable, reliable. And at best, even pretty. Have a glimpse at the history of Toplicht. You will learn, how our knowledge grew, that helps us answer your questions today.

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The late 70s are the time for “projects“

Where do the fine ashwood blocks come from? Where can we get copper rivets? Do you have marineglue? The late 70s are the prime time for “projects”. Traditional ships are being rediscovered and restored with a lot of passion. Its all about the maritime heritage. Good materials are in high demand.

Michael Thönnessen, Co-Founder of the museum harbour Oevelgönne in Hamburg, is known to be a clever tinkerer. He supplies what the classic scene needs. First only for friends and enthusiastic people like him, but soon for a wider variety of customers. What started as a favour at the kitchen table soon turned 1980 into a proper business idea (or what would today be referred to as a “Start-Up”). Since 1981 this business is called “TOPLICHT ship chandler for traditional sailing”. Back in the 80s, there was no omniscient internet, which turned the hunt for the right manufacturers into a tricky task to say the least. Little by little sources were found that produced, what Toplicht needed.
All around the world. From the little blacksmith on the danish isle Fuenen to the brass foundry in New Zealand. Nails, shackles, ovens, lamps, lanterns, blocks, and rigging: All those unique things, that you won’t find elsewhere and that are so desperately needed by ship owners, handymen, and shipyards.

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TOPLICHT is growing, slowly but surely

Soon, the first employees are hired. All of them experienced in the sailing scene of course. A warehouse is opened in Hamburg-Altona in a historic factory building. The adjacent store is, already because of his very distinctive smell of tar and ropes, a real insider's tip. The crew is always present for the customers, with their experience and know-how.

Geschichte Bild 7The first TOPLICHT catalogue was published in 1985. Right from the beginning we kept it small and compact, perfect to keep on board at all time. Of course, it comes in its distinctive brown colour, which is why it is known as “Der kleine Braune” (the little Brownie).

The mail order business is expanding, packages are shipped, and cue cards are replaced by computers.

Since 1999 our online shop assists us in reaching more and more customers.

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More and more products

New products are added constantly, not only for traditional ships.

Visiting big international boat shows becomes standard.

Today TOPLICHT is not just a niche business any more, but rather a modern yacht supplier for everyone who is looking for high quality products for their ship.

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Moving Day

In 2013, store and warehouse move into a new building. Perfectly fitted for all the needs of the TOPLICHT crew and the needs of a powerful store with a worldwide presence: Wood based structure, ecologically thought through and still in Hamburg-Altona.

A big, spacious warehouse, open offices for the ever-growing crew.

Modern logistics, that are capable of shipping parcels and freight shipments all around the world every day.

And of course, a store, that still carries that traditional smell of tar.

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TOPLICHT a family business

As a medium-sized family business, TOPLICHT is heading for the future: Gesa Thönnessen, the founder's daughter, is part of the TOPLICHT management since 2017.

A relaunch of our website and the implementation of a new operating software are massively improving the infrastructure of the company.

So, what can you expect from us today? Fair and honest advice, excellent products, and fast delivery. That is what we can do for you. Today just like 40 years ago.

That is a matter of honour!