Sailing (mostly) singlehanded around Britain – now in 2021

Another Year!

8 months since my last post at: and there is still so much uncertainty about the future. I am determined, however, that when we have beaten this virus into retreat my circumnavigation will happen in 2021. 

On 2nd November Thalmia was lifted out onto Topsham Quay by Trout’s Boatyard with their usual slick operations. I delayed the lift out until as late as possible in the hope that, being close to the front of the Quay, Thalmia might be one of the first boats lifted back in, at the start of April. Fingers crossed! 

But for now there are the usual winter jobs to look after & to improve this fine 40 year old lady. The only major project planned for this winter is the fitting of a motorised windlass to manage the anchor, which will play an important part in my circumnavigation. My wife Ruth was keen for me to get one to save my back from strain. Before the launch next year I will hit 70 and Thalmia and I both need a bit of TLC to keep us running smoothly!

The early hot spell in Spring was a blessing while we were in lockdown … but we couldn’t get to or use our boats! We eventually launched in late May, however, and in July I sailed via Portland and Studland Bay to the Solent. There, a circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight instead of Britain had to suffice. Ideal tides, fair winds and weather allowed me to sail ‘Round the Island’ (well very nearly – from Yarmouth anticlockwise and back to Newtown River) in just over 8 hours. Not the official race which didn’t happen this year! You can watch an abridged version at

Then in late August I sailed via Salcombe & Plymouth to Falmouth and was joined by Ruth for a pleasant week on calm inland waters.

Overall I covered 1071 nautical miles this year. That’s close to half the distance around Britain. At least it has kept me and Thalmia from getting rusty!

For now, stay safe, stay optimistic, and stay focused on a better year next year!

Previous posts:

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…..

When I quoted Robert Burns in my last post I never anticipated a storm quite like Covid19! Thalmia will not now be launching on the 8th April and I will not be starting my circumnavigation any time soon! Recreational boating is in lockdown and I am staying at home. The bikes have been cleaned, degreased and fine tuned and we will be cycling, walking, gardening etc. and keeping in touch with family and friends through the variety of technologies we have. Thank you all those keeping working in the NHS and helping in other ways during these difficult times. We will look at ways we can help as well.

With everyone else I am yearning for the time when we see the light at the end of this tunnel and ‘normal service’ is resumed. Speculation on dates is futile. I would like to hope I can start the voyage later this year but nothing is certain.

The Final Countdown!

I’m probably not the most patient man – as people close to me will attest – so waiting for the start of my voyage has not been easy. There has been a lot work over the winter months, on and off the boat, preparing for this singlehanded circumnavigation. Do I have any worries? Happily yes. Worries make you to anticipate and plan and prepare more thoroughly. I’m not taking this challenge too lightly and I think I have mitigated as many of the risks as possible. Also of course there is some excitement at the idea of this mega (for me!) voyage. Of course, with my professional background, I had to have a ‘programme of work’ (AKA a to-do list!) leading up to departure day. However, as Robert Burns said: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” I’m hoping this is just a bit of Scottish pessimism not a prediction of what’s to come!

The programme was to move from this:

to this:

Progress so far seems good! In recent weeks I have painted the boat’s bottom with anti-fouling (not an easy or pleasant job on a twin keel boat but positive because it’s a significant task leading up to re-launch!). Soon to come is some really positive stuff such as refitting running rigging and sails, loading cushions, carpets and curtains (what a posh boat!), galley and safety gear and umpteen little tweaks and safety checks. Boat owners will know that the list of possible jobs is endless but usually not everything gets done! The weather in March can be very unpredictable so I am trying to stay well ahead of schedule.

You will see from my previous posts that I would like to use this personal challenge to raise some money for Rainbow Living – a charity that provides accommodation to enable young adults with learning difficulties gain independence. Below is a link to a VirginGiving page and I would really appreciate any donation you can make however large or small in support of my solo circumnavigation:

So when does preparing for the circumnavigation become doing it?

Thalmia will dip her bottom in the (currently very muddy) Exe on 8th/9th April. A short trip is then called for – a “shakedown” cruise for a couple of days to make sure everything is properly secured and working well. The departure will then happen as soon after the 20th April as the weather allows. And if all is well we’ll head East towards Ramsgate via the Solent before heading north to Scotland, hoping to give the lie to Robbie Burns’ forebodings!

Next blog update at launch!

Voyages of Thalmia – Sailing around Britain in 2020

A Westerly Fulmar built in 1980 Thalmia is based in the Exe estuary. 2019 was a good year with trips East to several creeks in the Solent including Keyhaven, Newtown, Wooton and Beaulieu and our usual summer cruise from Exeter to the Isles of Scilly, visiting many of the islands and enjoying a very relaxed sojourn in Green Bay on Bryher.
Thalmia has now been lifted out onto Topsham Quay for storage over winter and preparations for our voyage next year. I have made many modifications over the last 3 winters since I bought her, and sailed her back from Hayling Island in November 2016. I think she is well set up for my most ambitious trip so far around the coast of Britain – but she will get more attention between now and launch date in April 2020. She will then be 40 years old and me – a mere 69! 

I shall be sailing mostly solo on this trip although I am hoping to have some company on at least a couple of short stages.

Laid-up but not laid back!

It’s Autumn and it’s lovely to see a murmuration of starlings …. except when they choose to roost en masse on a forest of masts with consequent droppings all over the decks! A yacht like mine is not intended to have poop deck!

On 17th October Thalmia was lifted out onto Topsham Quay by Trout’s Boatyard. Carefully handled by them and jet washed she was then stripped of sails, halyards, cushions and almost all loose items. She’s now ready for routine servicing and fettling. Last week for example I poured white vinegar into the pump that works the heads to break down the build up of limescale and prevent a blockage! Not something I want to have to sort out in a tranquil anchorage in a Scottish loch! Also been curing rust (nothing serious!) cleaning, waxing and varnishing. Topsham Quay has again become a regular weekly destination – my winter man shed!

Preparations for next year include fitting an AIS transponder (Automatic Identification System) which will broadcast my position to other vessels and anyone else who wants to know where I am (via an app). Also a diesel heater to warm my toes and dry my clothes! Thanks to Trout’s Boatyard who tackle the jobs beyond my DIY competence!

At home my planning for the trip proceeds with numerous charts and pilot books which currently cover the dining table. It takes some imagination to keep positive with the recent cold wet weather but my levels of enthusiasm grow as I anticipate cruising some of the superb coastline we are blessed with. I’ll post again in the new year to keep you informed of my progress – thank you for following Thalmia and me!

Anne Plummer Picture.

We have just received a picture we commissioned from of our Westerly Corsair passing the Nab tower done in ink and watercolour on a chart of the Eastern entrance to the Solent. We are over the moon with it
Like us I am sure there are many Westerly owners who would like a picture of their yacht.
the artist has a Facebook page “Anne Plummer Artist and I’m sure she would be happy if you contacted her from there

Servicing a winch – photos

Westerly Nimrod tabernacle/ mast foot

I have recently purchased a Westerly Nimrod and would really appreciate any advice about the firmer of the mast in the tabernacle. There is a gap either side of the mast foot as well as beneath it.

The mast is silver which I thought meant it wasn’t original but I would have thought there should be some spacers to ensure a snug fit which I imagine should be wooden. I have also wondered whether there should be a wedge under the mast foot itself.

Does anybody what the original setup would have been and what should I do to minimise any stresses whilst keeping the mast easy to raise and lower?

Any help would be greatly appreciated,


Navigators & General Insurance

Westerly owners’ Association “WOA” is an Introducer Appointed Representative “IAR” of Navigators & General, a trading name of Zurich Insurance plc, and registered as an Appointed Representative – Introducer with the FCA under reference number: 456246.

Navigators & General are a specialist marine insurer, based in Brighton, with nearly 100 years of experience insuring a wide variety of vessels and commercial marine businesses. Navigators & General have been working with the Westerly Owners’ Association for over 15 years and now insure over 1,000 members’ boats.

Please note, as an Appointed Representative, WOA can introduce members to Navigators & General, and in return they give us an annual introducer fee which benefits our members by reducing some of the Association’s annual administration costs. Please note that WOA is not able to offer any technical insurance advice and does not promote any other insurer.  Members should be aware that there are other insurance companies that could offer them cover and members should themselves obtain alternative quotes to compare the cost and cover.

As a WOA member, when you purchase boat insurance from Navigators & General you benefit from:

  • 10% discount on your policy
  • Free legal expenses cover
  • Westerly Emergency Assistance. N&G will reimburse you for the reasonable costs you incur if help is not available and you must obtain commercial assistance by towing to the nearest place where necessary repairs can be made or freeing of a fouled anchor or emergency delivery of fuel. The maximum amount payable for any one incident is £1,000
  • No Fault Collision Excess Waiver. In the event of a collision with another vessel where N&G agree it wasn’t your fault, no excess will apply to any resulting claim provided you can supply N&G with contact details of the responsible party.
  • Westerly Racing. Whilst the vessel is taking part in Rallies or Races organised by any club where you are participating as a guest (maximum 2 races in any 7-day period), your own club or the Westerly Owners Association, racing cover as printed in the policy will apply.
  • Furling Headsail Cover. You are covered for tearing and fraying of furled headsails whilst the Vessel is moored or at anchor, where the damage results from recorded wind speeds of 48 knots or above.


Depending on the size of your boat, Navigators & General may require you to have a survey for the purpose of your insurance cover:

  • .

Modifications to your vessel

The Navigators & General policy assumes that the vessel has not been modified in any material way such as changes to the cabin or hull, changes to the rig or additions such as an oven stove, generator, mains power and include installing a different engine to that supplied or extending the superstructure. Modifications from manufacturers specifications can have a big impact on a vessel and can change your insurance risk.

An element of common sense is required in interpretation. For example, if you were to undertake modifications as part of replacement of worn or tired rigging /sails with something similar then this would not be deemed to be an issue, however if modifications were performance changing such as enhancing engines then Navigators & General would need to be made aware of this.  Like with all forms of insurance if a risk changes then the insured has a duty to notify the insurer.

The Navigators & General policy wording which covers these points is there to remind the Insured that they have a responsibility to provide Navigators & General with full and valid risk information so an accurate underwriting assessment of the risk can be made, and the policy can be accurately priced for the risk.

Protecting your vessel with Navigators & General

The following section covers some general guidance provided by Navigators & General and is not a summary of specific policy conditions

Winter weather guidance

During the winter months, you should take steps to protect your vessel from storm damage.

  • Drain down water and heating systems.
  • Have engines professionally winterised or ensure that you carefully follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid frost damage.
  • Remove berth cushions to a dry environment.
  • Remove furled headsails, mainsails, covers, dodgers and spray hoods.
  • Take out halyards leaving a mouse line and thoroughly wash and check for wear. 
  • Check all backstays for wear at top batten point.
  • Check all standing rigging for broken strands and rigging screws for wear.
  • Ensure the yard use cross bracing if using wooden shores, for extra safety.
  • Ensure that whilst ashore the trim of the craft is correct, to allow cockpit drains to be effective and avoid rainwater building up on decks or within the craft.
  • Do not tie covers or tarpaulins to wooden shores or cross bracing.
  • Preferably use only close fitting covers to avoid additional windage.
  • Place tie-on labels on the wheel and engine controls to remind you to check all skin fittings, impellers, seacocks and transducers prior to launching/starting the engine.
  • Disconnect batteries and leave them fully charged.
  • Avoid running fuel tanks too low due to the risks of sucking dirt into filters or condensation in the tank.

Claims Statistics

Navigators & General claims data from 2008 to 2018, revealed the most common claims they handled were as follows:

  • A boat colliding with another vessel (31% of claims handled)
  • Storm damage (21%)
  • Grounding or collision with underwater obstacle (20%)
  • Ingress of water (15%)
  • Theft of equipment, fittings and personal effects (13%)

The costliest type of claim was storm damage, with an average cost per claim of £17,600. Ingress of water, including sinking, leads to typical claims worth £11,200; grounding or collision with underwater obstacle, £10,000; collision with another vessel, £3,000; and theft, £1,800.

CR1 The Firstborn Centaur Janina II

“We turned and twisted her all ways and she was a delight” ……”it is very hard to fault a cruiser of this calibre”…….”Westerly have not produced a dud boat yet and they certainly won’t spoil their record with Centaur” yachting monthly, July 1969.

Little did the author of those words 51 yrs ago know how true they would turn out to be! And no doubt little did the designer realise how great a boat he designed when at the drawing board, yes a drawing board! No Apple macs or Intel laptops with number crunching algorithms in those days, pure intelligence, skill, a sharp pencil and sliding rule! Genius!

I can tell you something else the designer knew little about too, whilst he was at his drawing board designing Centaur in 1967-68 a baby boy born in Cardiff would one day be writing about his boat 53yrs later; on a device with a glass screen called a tablet during a lock down of UK society during the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic! How life has twists and turns that are unforeseen hey!

For me one of those twists came about when after being caretaker of Centaur CR1 for 2yrs I was offered the proposition of buying her? But here is an ironic twist, I didn’t know until after I bought her she was the first Centaur built! The previous owner had bought her and due to illness never ever set foot on her in the water!

For me I’ve never been that familiar with the Centaur, I’ve always loved the LM27 and Nauticat 33 but although the Centaur had been below my radar I must say I’ve fallen in love with her and one reason is because I have a technical background in that I spent over 12yrs as a North Sea Saturation Diver and being very used to small confined spaces I can see how well designed she is, and designed to not only be spacious and extremely versatile but easily affordable and adaptable for thousands of owners. The accommodation and storage, the feeling of space despite many features, a deck easy to walk around, a dry deep cockpit, standing headroom, and once you spend a few hours in one to get a feel you cannot help but be very impressed that this vessel capable of crossing an Ocean only has a waterline of 21ft!!!! They are a masterclass in design!

So where has CR1 been all these years? Well among the documents I received after the previous owner deceased was a ‘Brief history of Janina II’ to paraphrase:

She was the pre production prototype boat show model and originally equipped with the Volvo MD1 and later upgraded to the MDII. The original owner was a BOAC pilot who sold her in 1977 to the Burns family. She was moored for a further 6yrs at Hythe Yacht Club and cruised the Solent, South West England, the Scillies, France and the Channel Islands. ‘She was a family sailing boat used by two generations from ages 1 to 60 yrs of age’. ‘She proved to be a capable sailing vessel sailing in wind strengths F1 to F8 and her shallow draught and bilge keels allowed access to many harbours and creeks with hours spent dried out with children digging sand castles around her’.

In 1983 she was brought around from Southampton in “a 3 week epic journey to Swansea”. Based out of South Wales she spent the next 15yrs there and cruised the Bristol Channel, West Coat of Devon, Cornwall and Ireland. (An experienced international sailor once said to me ‘if you can sail around Wales, Bristol Channel, Irish Sea, Lands End, The Scillies; with their variation of tidal heights, weather and strong currents ….you can sail anywhere in the world!!).

In the 1980s she was “stripped back and epoxied as a preventative measure”. In the mid 1990s Janina II featured in an article in the Practical Boat Owner (as anyone got a copy?). 1999 she was sold ‘to purchase a sail training vessel’.

In 2011 (maybe before) she went to Ilfracombe and had various electronic upgrades, new upholstery and in 2014 a new set of sails. Her keels were ‘professionally rebedded’ in 2015.

In 2017 she was bought by John Clarke and transported from Ilfracombe to Lower Town Harbour, Fishguard West Wales. She was moored up and occasionally motored during summer months and winter stored in the boat yard.

In 2019 current owners Ray and Sarah Loveless bought her and she is currently undergoing a full refit, comprising of Engine rebuild, new cutless bearing and stern gear overhaul, electrical rewire, rudder rebuild/protection modification. New upholstery and more. She will remain based out of Lower Town Fishguard for the foreseeable future and after the current refit she will embark on her next chapter of adventure, future destinations planned are the Islands off West Wales, The Scillies, West Coast of Ireland, St Kilda, Rockall and the Faroe Isles. In 2011 it was estimated she had done around 20,000 miles and now in 2020 she is 51 yrs and still going strong! ‘Jack’ Laurent Giles? well done that man! Thank you!

The Tyro Saga 13 – …and finally

April – May 2017

Two years have now passed since I bought the millstone boat and I’m arguably worse off than when I started.  Financially, certainly.  If I’d spent the same on chartering, or sailing with the GSA I’d hardly have been off the water.  But I have a shiny yellow new engine, which seems to work OK, new rigging, and a plan to get the mast up, which is the biggest remaining job.

Sat 22nd – Sun 23rd             Warm & sunny

Arriving on Saturday afternoon after a long but uneventful drive from Liverpool I was pleased to find Tyro still afloat, with very little water in the bilge and not much around the raw water intake. All good.   Once I’d had a chat with Amanda about her boat and its problems and unpacked – and had the obligatory cuppa – I spent much of the evening screwing and bonding the new companionway step (which I’d made and varnished at home) into place.  Good job, except for the mess made by the sealant: once it’s set I can scrape off much of the excess.

I also met Alex and his friend Adrian as they were bringing his new boat, Gemma Jo, in for the first time.

Then a shopping list for tomorrow’s boat jumble at Beaulieu:

  • 25lb CQR anchor
  • 6-way electrical distribution panel
  • Suitable anchor light for hanging in the rigging – or the components to make it
  • A new tube of Marineflex polyurethane sealant
  • Any other likely-looking bits and pieces.

Once I’d negotiated the about-to-be-closed-for-the-Southampton-Marathon roads and made it to Beaulieu, the reality turned out to be a little different:

  • Oil filter wrench                     50p (possibly the best buy of the day)
  • Four blocks, various                11
  • Sikaflex sealant (old)              £1
  • Shackles, various                     £2.40
  • 12” adjustable spanner           £5
  • Small crimp connectors          £4
  • Marineflex sealant                 £7
  • Fuel funnel                              50p

…plus a tenner or so to get in.  The observant reader will perceive the small overlap between these two lists.  Such is the way of boat jumbles.  And I had a look round the National Motor Museum as well.

And then, while putting away my purchases and waiting for the kettle to boil, Alex appeared again.  Over a cuppa, it transpired that he’d also been at the jumble and, more importantly, that he’s an engineer and can make things out of stainless steel or aluminium.  I suspect we might have further contact; I also expressed my willingness to wind him up the mast in his newly-purchased Bosun’s chair so he could fix his recalcitrant tricolour light.  Then Billy turned up, bearing his spoils from Beaulieu!  These included a mainsail for a Centaur which he’d bought as a spare for £15!  Too small, really, for his boat.  Did I want it?  Not at the moment, thank you, but possibly in the future.  Watch this space.  [Later investigation showed it to be very flat-cut and without reefing cringles, indicating that it had been used in a roller-furling rig.  Not suitable for my proper slab reefing system!]

We also, the three of us, discussed the mast, and decided that Drivers is the place to be.

Monday 24th

Accordingly, the following morning I called them, and Gareth was keen to do it on Wednesday, when the tide is admirably suitable.

The first job on the list was sorting out the raw water filter for the engine cooling system.  I’d noticed that the pipes were connected the wrong way round, and that one of them was bearing on the alternator casing and had started to chafe.  Removing both pipes, I caught all but a spoonful of the water in the funnel and bucket, and removed the rotten seaweed stuck in the filter.  In the process it became obvious that the filter itself was insecurely fixed to the bulkhead and on inspection it turned out that the bolts were only threaded for part of their length and had been inadequately packed with washers to try and make up the space.  Fortunately I had some spare bolts of the right size and type and was able, after a certain amount of fiddling about, to remount the filter, reconnect the pipes the right way round and refill it with water.  Having done the rest of the engine checks I was then able to start the engine and run it for an hour, during which it behaved impeccably, apart from being rather sensitive on the throttle.  I suspect that may be a function of having reused the old throttle cable.

While the engine was running I tried again to bleed out the air in the primary fuel filter.  No luck, again, and I also checked all the possible sites where air could be getting in, at the engineer’s suggestion.  No luck.  But it seems to work.  A few hose clips needed adjusting, so that was the next job, and then coffee.

The battery locker with the batteries secured. The wiring leaves a little to be desired…

After tidying away the tools (yes, really!) I then had a good look at the electrics.  I need to secure the batteries in place so we don’t have a hundredweight of lead and acid flying about the boat in a seaway and extend the cables to the autopilot and the fresh water pump as far as the battery – or, preferably, to the switch panel.  They’re both on the starboard side, near where the batteries used to be, and their cables now don’t reach.  It’s not as easy as it sounds because the whole wiring system is a complete and utter mess. It works, but there’s no proper layout, and it’s difficult to add more circuits – which is why I wanted a new switch panel yesterday.

Brain hurts.  Lunch.  Shower.  Library.  Shopping.

Tuesday 25th             Sunny.  Cold.  Showery.  British.

Made a start on the electrics today, despite not waking up till 0830 and then not feeling like doing anything much.  First off I opened up the locker where the engine battery used to be, in search of the securing strap and its fitting.  The strap was fixed to a wooden tray, fibreglassed into the hull.  I decided I didn’t need it there and proceeded to cut through the thin GRP holding it down and after scarcely half an hour of concentrated effort, out it came.  The strap and fittings were of limited use but it did uncover the layer of rotten wood at the bottom of the tray and enable me to clean out the locker properly.  And Billy later claimed it as firewood – although I recommended he remove the fibreglass first!  The locker, which contains a cockpit drain, now also contains a variety of light and fairly soft stuff such as spare plastic boxes, snorkelling gear and the cockpit tent.

Having failed to find useable straps there, I discovered both of them, with their fittings, in the battery boxes with which (I had forgotten) they were bought.  Four small holes drilled (one pair backed with a piece of marine ply which had to be cut to size and faired off; it’ll need varnishing in the fullness of time) and two straps fixed.  An hour or so.  The domestic battery on its home-made plinthy thing is pretty secure, the engine one less so, but it’ll do for the time being, in the calm of the Itchen and Southampton Water.

After lunch I took a walk up to the bar to find Steve, my putative crew for crossing the river.  He was keen, so we arranged that he’d come at 1030 tomorrow (an hour before HW) to give me a hand.  Good news – it looks like I might finally get the mast up!

The wiring, from the other end of the bosun’s locker. All that spaghetti is normlly concealed behind a plywood bulkhead – but still needs tidying up.

Then I stuck my head in the Bosun’s locker (it only just fits through the hole – maybe I should enlarge it – or get my head shrunk) to have a look at the back of the electricity switch and distribution panel.  Spaghetti. Possibly very confusing, but I’d looked at it before (the regular reader may recall) and all the wires were labelled.  Not enough room, though to add separate circuits for the autopilot, fresh water pump and a new one for the compass light which has to be separate now that I have a tricolour as well as the ordinary side and stern lights.  So I decided upon a new panel with a further six circuits, to allow for future expansion.  And I needed some flex as well, to allow the autopilot and FW pump to reach the panel, as they were on what had been the battery side.

The chandler was able to provide the switch panel (at a price, of course) but nowhere could I find the flex I needed (1.5mm2 two-core; ordinary domestic stuff pro tem until I eventually rewire all the below-the-waterline stuff with proper tinned flex) until I was directed to the electrical wholesaler.  He didn’t have it either!  But he sent me to a trade supplier close to the marina where, although it was ten minutes past closing time, I finally obtained it.

Tired and emotional after what turned out to be an active day, I decided that I’d done enough.  And then I leaned on the table and broke the socket.  Again.  The air was blue, and for a moment I feared that the bottom of the leg had gone through the bottom of the boat!  The thump I heard was the central part of the socket, which had become detached from the rest of it, hitting the bottom.  And the fibreglass down there is a lot thicker than it needs to be.   Cleared up the débris and had a sit down. Mentally designed a properly supported wooden table to make and fit…some time. Meanwhile I’ll have to manage without a table.    Some ideas, too, about modifying and increasing some of the stowage space.

First things first.  Mast tomorrow.

Wednesday 26th   Showery.  Sunny.  Breezy.  Cold.  Sleet later.

Up early, ready to roll before 8.  First of all I removed all the extraneous gear – boom, spinnaker pole, old foil etc. to the pontoon.  That was no simple task (as ever) because the old foil (what am I going to do with it?) was lashed alongside the new one and the mast, and all its ropes.  Once I’d sorted that out I thought I’d better do the engine checks, which were, of course, fine.  Still too much gearbox oil – must take a little out tomorrow.  Then I needed some tools for connecting the forestay(s) so out they came, also the clevis pins themselves and other bits and pieces likely to be needed.  I’d just reached the point of disconnecting and removing the big solar panels when Steve turned up, 20 minutes early.

Engine started correctly.  I explained my plan for the evolution and then worked out the method of getting out of the berth in the prevailing conditions of wind and tide.  Then we did it, and it worked, according to plan.  Could this last?

The hoist begins. Northam Bridge in the background

Across the river we arrived at the yard and were directed to moor alongside another boat while the crane was busy lifting one out.  This gave us the half-hour needed to get the lashings off the mast, move it into position and sort out all the wires and ropes to avoid tangles.  Then we warped Tyro under the crane and tied her up tightly to avoid her moving too much when the operation was in progress; fortunately the tide had just turned, so the stream was pretty slack. Gareth discussed with me the method to be used and we decided that not having the bolt through the step would be a good move – so we didn’t.  Hoist away, very gently, and continuously checking the alignment of the mast and the tension in the shrouds.  This latter proved somewhat excessive and we had to remove their pins for a time.  But then it was up.  Inner forestay on; shrouds back on, and then the forestay, which was the one I was worried about.

The forestay in place, artistically extended with pink string

Rightly, as it turned out.  It was six inches too short.  GRRRR!   Still, easy enough to extend it – certainly easier than having to cut it down and refit the swage.  I applied a length of cord, dinghy-style, to hold it in place and the mast was up and stable.  Using a gauge to measure the tension in the wires was child’s play (thank you, Roger) and I adjusted them to about 10% of breaking strain, just as a temporary measure.  They’ll eventually have to go to 15%, but that’ll do for now, especially as one of them incorporates a bit of string.

Finally we were able to have the cup of coffee which we’d been promising ourselves since 1030.  Steve poured this while I went and paid the man, and he declined my offer of lunch, so back we went to my berth.  A successful, if stressful, morning’s work.

After a sandwich and a relax I spent the afternoon tidying up the lines, only one of which turned out to have been led incorrectly.  And then even connected up the electrics, cleaning up the terminals too – and they all worked!

Tyro back on her mooring with the mast more conventionally oriented

All in all, the most successful and satisfying day I’ve had in the boat for some time!

Jobs for the next day or two (chiefly to concentrate my mind…)

  • Buy, or cause to be made, something to join the bottom of the forestay to the stemhead fitting, replacing the pink string
  • Fit same to the boat and correctly tension all the rigging
  • Adjust angle of spreaders and fix
  • Return rigging tension gauge to Roger
  • Dismantle A-frame; take home, renovate and store
  • Fit boom, kicking strap and mainsheet
  • Fit mainsail, trough, lazy jacks and reefing lines
  • Fit, hoist and furl jib; rig furling line (when rigging tensioned)
  • Fix and wire in new switch panel
  • Connect autopilot, FW pump & compass light
  • Wash out FW tank (how??) & test pump
  • Fill FW tank
  • Test all lights (best done after dark)
  • Go sailing?

Thursday 27th                      Cold & bright, clouding over later

Into Bitterne in the morning to use the library internet there and report on yesterday’s momentous events.  But first a birthday card to the Aged Parent – two fat ladies tomorrow!

The old bronze bottlescrew in place at the bottom of the forestay

Back on board, after lunch I spent some time puzzling over the forestay and how to extend the bottom end without requiring a mortgage. Research on line indicates that a toggle of the right size to extend the forestay would cost over £300, so I need to find another solution!  As luck would have it, Neil (from Meander of Mere) happened by and suggested using the old rigging screw underneath the new one.  It’s bronze (used to be chromed bronze!) rather than A4 stainless steel like the rest of the system, so it’s weaker, and can’t stay on there for ever, but it’ll do for now.  I can look out for a more suitable replacement at boat jumbles before I put it under any great stress.*

That took me some time to assemble – it was quite a fiddly job to get everything lined up properly, and I had to do it twice to allow me to adjust the new rigging screw (largely hidden inside the furler) to the right length.  Once done, I dug out Roger’s tension gauge and set about tuning the rig.  I wound up the forestay, backstay and cap shrouds to about 10% of breaking strain to start with, and the lowers and babystay to about 7%.  That’ll do till the wires and hull get used to the idea, and I’ll crank it up to working tension later.

The tension gauge in use on the backstay

Now the mast was stable it was time to get the boom on, which was an easy job – except that I discovered the bolts holding the gooseneck onto the mast were loose.  They can be turned easily enough, but don’t seem to be gripping anything.  Another puzzle to solve.

After dinner it was dark enough to test the lights, all of which worked.  Good news.  Not quite so impressive was the later discovery that the old VHF aerial lead runs through a built-in trunking and it will be impossible (because of the friction caused by the other wires in there) to draw the new one through the same route.  No matter: I can run it alongside, and leave the old one in place in case it turns out to be useful for anything – maybe an emergency aerial for when the mast falls down.

*Update: as of February 2020 the bronze bottlescrew is still there, and has supported the mast without the slightest sign of trouble through nearly 2000M of sailing, including some quite rough weather.

Friday 28th              Sunny and reasonably warm

A reply to my earlier text to the organiser of the Fo’c’sle Folk Club to the effect that it’s a singers’ night tonight, with a theme of ‘summer is coming in’, so I was to be heard warbling May Song and Hal An Tow for much of the day.  Amongst others.  Good job, as it turned out.

Easy job first: dismantle the A-frame that had been supporting the mast.  Screws out and lash the bits together to take home and renovate.  And then I dug out a line, tied a heaving-line knot in the end and sorted out the one recalcitrant line from up the mast.  Then it was time to ’phone Mum and wish her a happy birthday.

Measuring the mast rake. The adjustable spanner is there as a plumbob on the end of the main halyard, and the bucket of water is to damp its movement. 65mm over a mast height of 9m is … erm …. just a little bit of rake.

At this point I realised that the line I’d been using was ideal for use as the jib furling line, so setting that up, with a replacement leading block occupied a merry hour till coffee.  Slightly trickier was moving the spreaders up to the correct angle (bisecting the angle they make with the shrouds).  I lashed together two boathooks and lashed the boom amidships to stand on.  I could then reach – just – the spreaders, but they wouldn’t budge.  Accordingly I slacked off the shrouds again (and removed the signal halyards which hadn’t been helping) and tried again.  Success – at least partially.  I was able to shove them up half an inch or so at a time, walking along the pontoon after each adjustment to check (some things would be so much easier with an assistant!).  Eventually they looked about right: at least they were both the same, and above horizontal, so it was a definite improvement.  I tightened up the wires again, this time to 15%, and the shorter ones to 10%, which ought to be their working tension. And I adjusted the mast rake.

I felt I’d earned my lunch.

Then I grasped the nettle of the electrics.  The inside of the battery locker is a complete snakes’ nest but there’s not a lot I can do about that at this point.  So I concentrated on fitting the new switch panel, which necessitated a new hole in the joinery… well, the fibreglass bulkhead.  I made an accurate cardboard template, drew round it and drilled holes.  That was when I discovered that a hacksaw blade just doesn’t cut it.  Well, it does, but very slowly.   What I needed was a Dremel or similar, which I don’t possess.  So hacksaw blade it had to be, with frequent breaks to let my fingers recover.  After scarcely two hours of unremitting (well, all right, slightly remitting) toil, I had a hole of approximately the right shape and size, and was able to apply some of my plethora of files to tidy up the edges.

Enough.  Cuppa.  Tidy up.  Shower. Dinner.  Off to the folk club.  It’s generally been reasonably well attended before, but there were just five of us there.  And only three of us were singers.  Ten songs each as it turned out, which taxed my unrehearsed repertoire, before we called an early halt at quarter past ten.

Saturday 29th                      Cold/cloudy, then sunny/breezy

An indolent morning, not helped by the dismal weather.  After lunch, though, I re-routed the main supply cables from the domestic battery and its main switch to the switch panels, which necessitated drilling just the one more hole between lockers, and enabled the snakes’ nest to be tidied a little.  Then I moved some of the negative leads on the busbar to make room for the new circuits to be connected, by stacking those that ‘belong’ together, such as the side and stern lights and also those that would never be used together, such as the tricolour and steaming lights.

Amanda came by for a chat, declined tea but was pleased that I’d reported on Christmas Rose being safely in the water.  And then Alex, who knows about these things, provided a much needed idiot’s guide to the battery-charging control relay and offered some advice on tidying up the installation.  A removable board mounted at the back of the battery locker, with all the connections made thereupon, neatly organised and labelled for future reference.  And he lent me his little gas blowtorch (from Aldi) so that I could have a go at soldering an extension to the main positive feed to the switch panel to accommodate the new one.  And several boxes of crimp connectors.  Encouraged by this I made a start on this part of the circuitry, taking the irrevocable step of removing a couple of inches of insulation from this main lead.  High quality cable inside – probably 8mm2 braided tinned copper – which shed several bits as I opened it up.  It’s massively bigger than required though, so losing a few bits matters little. Holding that in my suction-attached vice (from Aldi) I applied the blowtorch and some solder, and by some miracle, managed to stick some to the wire.  I repeated the process with the smaller wire that was to form the branch to the new circuits and then tried to join them.  They did not want to know.  Several times.  Decided I needed my dinner, and some help, in that order.

Sunday 30th                                   v windy o/n. Cloudy. Rain later.

Having been kept awake half the night by wind-generated noise from the halyards, amongst other things, and it being Sunday, I was disinclined to work (or maybe I just don’t like mornings…). Eventually, however, I got going (to Aldi) and realised as I reached for a trolley pound that I’d left all my money in the boat. Back on board I decided to fortify and console myself with a cup of coffee and TWO buns but eventually got the foraging completed.

It wasn’t possible to continue with the soldering without Alex’s help and/or advice so I resolved to push on with the other electrical jobs as far as possible: extending the autopilot cable, giving the compass light its own circuit (to enable it to be used with any combination of nav lights) and reconnecting the sink’s fresh water pump.

Readers unfamiliar with the layout and organisation of small boats in general and Tyro in particular may not be aware of the disruption involved in this kind of work.  The batteries are in a locker under the settee on the port side, so the large cushion has to be removed from that, as does the wooden lid.  The wiring and switch panels are in the locker above and outboard of this (behind the settee back) and this has to be largely emptied of its contents (chiefly round, plastic chocolate ‘tins’ containing bits, pieces, odds, sods and all manner of interesting and useful items).  The tools are under the settee on the starboard side – another cushion and lid up – and many of the cables run through the engine compartment, so the steps that form the front of that also have to be removed, making it difficult to get in or out of the boat.  Of course, all this removed stuff has to be put somewhere, which means in the front half of the saloon, where it blocks off the fo’c’sle, heads and galley.  And the whole thing takes place in a space smaller than a single bedroom.

The compass light was relatively straightforward.  Having made space on the negative busbar by stacking on a couple of terminals (rules are made to be broken) I was able to crimp a ring terminal onto the wire and connect it…  once I’d recovered the screw from the bottom of the locker.  Oh yes – the locker.  To get at the electrical connections at the back of the locker I have to kneel on the seat (now deprived of its cushion and strewn with hard tools) and reach in with one hand to do the connections.  I can’t get the other hand in because the hole’s not big enough for my head and both shoulders.  So I either see what I’m doing one-handed, or use both hands and a lot of imagination.  It usually takes many attempts, several changes of position and upwards of half an hour to accomplish the simplest task which would take five minutes in ideal conditions.  And the position required of my aging body when doing this is such that I have to straighten up and move about every ten minutes as well.  This is why progress is so….. s…l…o…..w

Improving and extending the autopilot cable wasn’t a lot easier.  The cable from the deck socket is almost inaccessible inside the lazarette and it was hanging loose and flopping about everywhere.  It was only a matter of time before the kedge or the deck scrubber caught it and pulled it out entirely.  So that needed securing to the only available structure, the exhaust pipe, through whose hole into the engine room it runs.  Scarcely ideal, especially as it’s not heat-resistant cable, but the pipe doesn’t – well, shouldn’t – get too hot as it’s partly full of water by this stage, so it’ll have to do.  But running a cable tie round both pipe and cable using only one hand (I did say it was almost inaccessible) was almost impossible.  Until I had the bright idea of holding one end of the cable tie from outside in the other hand with a piece of stiff wire.  Then it only took about fourteen goes to get it right, but after that (it needed three ties) I started to get the hang of it.  Then it had to be run through the engine bay, with cable ties every foot or so, this time on sticky-backed pads, which stick on some of the time.  And then the new extension – a new length of 1.5mm2 cable from the switch panel locker, through a hole into the engine compartment and connected in the most awkward possible position, behind the water filter.  Bingo.

Break.  Lunch, which was due hours ago, and the galley’s inaccessible.  Orange squash.  Banana. Bun.

The engine’s solar charging circuit needed tidying up – not a difficult job except where it involved pushing a thin and floppy cable through a hole not quite big enough for it.  I eventually managed it (don’t ask me how!) and even got a bigger one through later to connect up the sink FW pump and another 12V socket nearby.

All of that lot was subject to the welcome interruptions of conversations with Billy and Alex, and a trip to Mouette Blanche, another Centaur whose owner, Jeremy, allowed me on board to measure the tension in the standing rigging to compare it with my own.  So by the time I got everything finished and put the boat back together again it was well past dinner time: I cooked myself a proper meal of fish and three veg.

And then the rain had abated somewhat so I ventured on deck to investigate the source of the godawful racket.  It turned out to be the spreaders rattling in their sockets, which vibration had been amplified by the hollow aluminium mast and transmitted to the supporting kingpost in the saloon.  Absolutely nothing I can do about that at the moment – maybe I’ll see if someone can winch me up the mast so I can pack the sockets with bits of hosepipe, or something a little more technical.  At least I know what it is and can stop worrying about it.

Monday 1st May                     cloud/sun

After the best night’s sleep so far (2300 – 0730, uninterrupted by noise or bladder) I thought the ship was now in commission, so I rigged a temporary becket on the backstay and performed Colours.  I’d just taken the boat apart again (see above) and fixed a few terminals, when Alex arrived, keen to do some soldering.  I’d like to say he helped me, but in truth he did it and I handed him the bits and held things still.  And made the coffee.  The positive feed from the switch now has a branch to the second distribution panel, everything is connected and (after eventually remembering to connect the negative lead back to the battery, works!  Even the autopilot, which I removed from its denim jacket, plugged in and hummed and flashed merrily.  Whether it will actually steer the boat remains to be seen….

Tidied up, had a sandwich and then it was time to get the sails out!  Bit of a sense of occasion here, after eighteen months or more in their bags.  Jib first, which necessitated the correct shackles being retrieved from the Bosun’s Box, but it went up fine.  Until the last couple of inches, when the head had got as high as I could get it but the tack was still that far below the shackle at the top of the furler.  Another effect of the forestay being too short.   The sheet blocks needed lubricating (of course) and with every turn of the furling drum, it clanked on the anchor, so that’ll have to be adjusted too.

Up with the jib…
…and the main

The main was more complicated but I did find the long-lost dodgers in the bag with it, along with the trough that the sail lowers into and the boot that covers the luff when furled.  And another piece of dark blue canvas which looks like the old sail cover, from the days before lazy jacks and troughs.  First the mainsheet and kicking strap had to go on, to control the boom, the latter requiring the emptying of the rope locker to find, and plenty of lubrication.  The construction of the trough requires it to be fed into the track on top of the boom together with the footrope of the sail from the front, while simultaneously pulling from the back.  This required more hands and longer arms than I possess so I rigged a spare block to the boom end to act as an outhaul, which at least solved the problem of reach.  The lazy jacks went on without a problem, as did the reefing pendants – although I later discovered that I’d rove them incorrectly.  The slides needed a quick clean (which could have been done over the winter) and a spray with silicone lubricant (which couldn’t).  Slides into the track – no problem.  Halyard on.  Up she went – no problem. Except that the sheave was complaining loudly.  I’d cleaned and lubricated as far as possible while the mast was down, but I clearly hadn’t done a good enough job.  Another job for when I go up the mast.  The last two inches, again, were reluctant.  No idea why.  It’s not the knot this time as I demonstrated by hauling the halyard up without the sail (but with the other end attached so I could retrieve it!).

I went ashore with a camera to photograph the masthead (the wind having fallen away to nil in the light rain) to see if I could spot the problems.  Then back on board to lower the sail (testing the lazyjacks) and insert the battens.  This I did, and by the time I’d hoisted it and lowered it again the rain was becoming spectacular and I decided it was time for a drink with jam and bread.  And a chocolate biscuit.  Examination of the photographic evidence showed that the knot in the end of the halyard had caught on the halyard deflector: it may be possible to use a racking seizing instead, or even sew the end back on itself, to allow the halyard to slide past.  Or maybe just jiggle it a bit, to quote the famous Arkwright.  No help on the main though.  Maybe it’s a slide sticking in the track – I shall have to have a close look at them.

Deciding against lowering the jib and sorting that out now, I also decided that it was, regrettably, too late to sail today as the ebb had begun and was only an hour of tide left to get out and in again.  Not long enough if I have a problem.  Everything pretty well ready for the morrow though.  VHF aerial tonight, FW tank tomorrow morning and sail in the afternoon, weather permitting.  I must go and see the AP soon too.  HW is at 1640 tomorrow, so I can be out from about 1500 till 1830.  Ish.  (Southampton has the dubious benefit of ‘double tides’ – effectively the tide stays ‘in’ for longer than normal, and then ebbs very quickly to catch up with itself).

Put the Queen to bed at sunset, for the first time, and myself not much later.

Tuesday 2nd May                          warm/sunny/cloudy.  Light ESE’ly

Slow start after a poor night’s sleep and in the end I had a shower and did last night’s washing up (tut tut) instead of connecting the VHF.  Then, tired of eating from a locker lid on my lap I removed the cockpit table socket to the saloon – maybe Alex’s welder friend can fix the broken one, but he says it’d cost as much as buying a new one.  Maybe I should make a properly designed new table with a proper wooden mount.  Then I finally connected the aerial (more insertion of cables through barely adequate holes) and (eventually) got through to Ocean Village for a radio check, which proved that it worked.

Sail drills next: worked out a method of lashing down the luff of the main when reefing.  Not very pretty or elegant, but effective enough pro tem.  Left one reef in as, despite the light wind, I didn’t want acres of canvas all over the deck.  The trough needed adjusting (difficult) to allow the leech cringles to be properly lashed down by their pendants, now correctly led. 

Then I secured the anchor to its roller, using the pink string again (easy) and tried unrolling the jib.  Pulled the starboard sheet: nothing.  The port one worked fine, but the starboard winch had jammed and required the greatest effort to turn it, so it clearly needs a proper service.  Reluctant to start taking it apart at this stage (well, at all, actually – I don’t understand winches yet and don’t want to lose all the small bits into the Itchen mud) I decided that I could manage without it in this very light wind.  Wrong again.

Actually, maybe I could find more modern replacements for both winches: Netley boat jumble is next weekend.

Lunch.  Tide continues its inexorable flood.

Bloody autopilot.  Not working.  Connected it up and tested it the other day.  Now no volts at the outlet.  Checking the circuit revealed the negative lead not connected to the busbar.  Easily (well, relatively easily – see Sunday’s entry, above) rectified, but how…..?

From the log….

1445 Engine checks     
1452 started engine
1452 & 10s opened engine seacock.   Secure for sea. LJ on
1506 slipped Kemps Quay
1510 in river. Manoeuvres under power. Autopilot test – successful
1520 main up (one reef) off Shamrock Quay
1525 opened half jib     
1530 engine off.  Sailing practice. Very little wind.
1540 resolve to go further afield. Engine on. Roll up jib Head down river
1600 sailing again. progress very slow – less than 2kn, beating, making little ground to windward
1610 off St Mary’s stadium (for some time). Engine off.  Still slow, but steady.
1650 Chapel SHM ß
1705 hove to just above Itchen Bridge to speak Emma Jayne, also from Kemps
1706 bore away for KQ.  Main down, full jib for sailing downwind.
1715 hopeless. Engine on, jib rolled. Then increase to F2-3 W’ly. Jib open. Sailing  
1730. jib rolled off Shamrock Quay.  Prep for coming a/s
1800 secure a/s Kemps Quay.  Engine off.

Engine 1hr 52 min. Fuel used apparently nil. Distance sailed unmeasurable owing to log being u/s.

…which boils down to a bit of pootling about just outside the marina to get the feel of the boat again make sure all the mechanicals worked.  Sails up to check that they behaved themselves, which they did, and then I considered calling it a day.  But since it was a nice afternoon and I’d come out to sail I set off on what turned out to be a very slow beat down the river.  At first I was unable to make any headway over the (still flooding) tide but as it slackened, and as my tacking improved, I managed the heady speed of 1.6 knots over the ground (from the GPS: log consistently reading zero).  VMG to windward was still almost nil, however, and I soon tired of the sight of Southampton FC’s stadium at St Mary’s.  Centaurs clearly aren’t built for beating, at least in light winds: she seemed to do all right nearly two years ago in a F5 out in Southampton water.  She wouldn’t lay nearer than about 55° to the apparent wind before the sails began to protest and leeway increased dramatically: even at that angle it was significant and I was doing about as well as a square-rigger of 150 years ago.  And short tacks were needed in the narrow bit by the pontoons between the stadium and Itchen Marine where there was a ship unloading at the wharf.

But eventually I reached Chapel beacon where the channel widens out just above the bridge, avoiding the tug pushing its very smelly barge of sewage sludge, and approached the bridge itself. After heaving-to (I was gratified to find I could do this almost without thinking) to say hello to an acquaintance from the marina in his little sports boat, Tyro was reluctant to continue to windward so I accepted her decision and bore away for home.  With the main lowered and now the full jib she steered very nicely before the wind, which had now increased to F2 and veered westerly, and I was able to let the autopilot earn its keep while I prepared lines and fenders for coming alongside.

Having taken less than a third of the time of the outward journey to return I got back into my (slightly awkward) berth with no trouble and a little help from a nearby mobo driver. A gentle but successful little exped then, and the first of many.

I turned the boat round (helped by Brian from Willow, astern of me) and tidied up.  After writing up my journal (on which this account is based) I decided I couldn’t face shopping and cooking, so decided I’d celebrate my success with a curry.  An excellent ‘Chef’s Special Biryani’ at the Gandhi in Portswood left me too full to consider doing anything else for the rest of the evening, so upon my return on board, I turned in, looking forward to another go tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd        Breezy. Chilly.

Turning out was a problem.  Pain.  Considerable.  Lower back, right side.  Probably, I ruefully deduced as I hauled myself out of my bunk, as a result of asymmetric hauling on the starboard jibsheet, whose winch was u/s, as you may recall.  After some breakfast I went in search of ibuprofen on the way to the library to write up some of what you have recently read.  It turned out that sitting is less painful than otherwise.  A visit to the Polish supermarket furnished the makings of two days’ lunches and the rest of the day was spent on the settee with a hot water bottle applied to the offending part.

As was much of the next, except for occasional and painful excursions on deck to reduce halyard noise in the rising wind.  By mid-afternoon I’d had enough, packed up and then retreated chez Aged Parent in London.  Netley boat jumble will have to do without me.


It’s now (at the time of writing in early May 2017) two years and thirty-eight days since I bought Tyro.  In that time she has travelled about thirty-five miles, mostly on the initial delivery from Langstone to the Itchen.  She has a new engine which seems to work fine with its new coupling, prop shaft, stern seal, Cutless bearing and prop, and new standing rigging which is approaching the correct tension.

The full list of jobs done in two years:

  • had the starboard keel root repaired
  • had the Cutless bearing replaced
  • had the heads skin fittings overhauled
  • employed engineer to service engine
  • cleaned the sacrificial anode
  • secured and modified the gas system
  • located the source of engine coolant leak
  • replaced the fire extinguishers
  • replaced the rusted clips on the heads pipes
  • checked the electrics
  • freed and serviced the opening windows
  • inspected the anchor cable
  • cleaned the mildew out of the lockers & elsewhere
  • tested the electronics
  • secured the gas bin
  • cleaned the engine
  • licensed the radio
  • bent on the sails (twice)
  • had the boat launched
  • had the boat recovered and fixed heads seacock
  • had the boat relaunched
  • motorsailed to Southampton
  • overhauled battery terminals
  • tested and overhauled the heads
  • cleaned lifebuoys
  • cleaned the decks
  • stowed all the boat’s and personal gear
  • made the sliding chart table slide
  • serviced the bolt cutters
  • cleaned the sink
  • cleaned and regreased main hatch slides
  • polished the brass
  • sailed towards Hamble
  • suffered engine failure
  • sailed back to the Itchen
  • had starter motor overhauled
  • reseated forehatch handle
  • replaced main halyard
  • bought and connected small solar panel
  • removed leaking FW foot pump
  • had the rigging inspected
  • tested and used dinghy
  • replaced the broken table socket
  • fixed small solar panel to board
  • fitted terminals for solar panel connection
  • bought  & fitted LED cabin light
  • drained tank and double-filtered fuel
  • removed, washed, had repaired & refitted dodgers
  • washed all old running rigging
  • scrubbed rubbing strakes
  • replaced leaking coolant pipe
  • got heads working properly
  • tried out autopilot
  • discovered major gearbox problem
  • cleaned out starboard quarter berth
  • bought fridge
  • had alternator repaired
  • had sprayhood repaired
  • discovered faulty injector pump
  • bought larger solar panels & heavier anchor chain
  • connected panels to domestic battery; small one to engine
  • discovered water in engine oil
  • connected up new anchor cable
  • decided to replace engine with a new one
  • removed all running rigging and boom
  • lowered mast
  • removed standing rigging
  • removed engine ancillaries
  • had boat lifted out and jet-washed
  • bought new engine
  • had new standing rigging made up
  • & bought s/h furling gear
  • pumped flood water out of engine bay
  • covered boat with tarpaulin
  • cleaned boat and removed mildew (again)
  • stripped mast
  • removed tarpaulin
  • removed woodwork around companionway
  • had old engine removed
  • repaired crack & drilled limber hole in engine bay bulkhead
  • cleaned, degreased and painted engine bay
  • applied compression seal to lazarette lid
  • bought electric bilge pump & float switch
  • bought bilge paint and tricolour light
  • removed rust from keels
  • removed old engine bearers
  • removed exhaust elbow & cleaned for sale
  • bought ropes, lights etc. at Netley boat jumble
  • bought hardwood for companionway step
  • bought painting gear
  • rust-treated and primed keels
  • cut access hole in cabin sole (under step)
  • bought new steaming, side & stern lights
  • bought reel of tinned cable
  • removed old anchor light from masthead
  • ditto VHF aerial
  • moved batteries across boat and reconnected
  • sold old anchor chain
  • had new jib luff rope fitted to fit new furler
  • borrowed rigging tension gauge
  • removed old steaming light
  • ran new cables in mast for lights & VHF
  • fitted new steaming light
  • cleaned & overhauled mast foot sockets
  • assessed and labelled wiring loom
  • improved wiring connections
  • bought clevis pins & rebuilt standing rigging
  • fabricated new masthead plate
  • sanded hull ready for anti-fouling
  • cleaned & lubricated masthead sheaves
  • cleaned out all through-hull fittings
  • greased & reassembled heads seacocks
  • made & fitted new gasket for cooling seacock
  • made insert for engine control panel mount
  • fitted new masthead plate
  • fitted new LED side & stern lights
  • inspected and marked cable
  • weighed anchors; decided bower too small
  • fitted new instrument panel
  • assembled new furling gear foil
  • cleaned up & primed angle iron for engine bearers
  • discovered they were too short
  • designed new hinges for opening portlights
  • sacked engineer & engaged new one
  • bought & painted new engine bearers
  • had new engine fitted & all ancillaries
  • reprimed keels
  • applied antifouling
  • damaged large solar panels
  • reinstalled log
  • installed electric bilge pump
  • had boat relaunched
  • engine commissioned & started
  • moved boat onto berth
  • lifted mast on board
  • ran the engine to charge the batteries (at intervals)
  • discovered fuel problem – air in 1° filter –bled
  • tried to straighten bow roller cheeks
  • overhauled mainsheet blocks & rove mainsheet
  • scrubbed cockpit sole boards & others
  • attempted repair to solar panels
  • replaced standing and running rigging on mast
  • filled fuel tank & bled filters again
  • fitted & wired new tricolour light
  • fitted new VHF aerial
  • motored round pontoon to attempt mast raising
  • motored back again with mast still horizontal
  • tested VHF set, GPS, echo sounder & compass
  • tested autopilot
  • ran engine – seems  fine
  • measured air draught
  • assembled forestay, foil & drum (with much help)
  • fitted new (& varnished) companionway step
  • bought various items at Beaulieu boat jumble
  • assembled handy billy
  • removed old battery mounting box
  • secured (partly) batteries in new position
  • bought new switch/distribution panel & cable
  • broke saloon table socket (again)
  • moved cockpit table socket to saloon
  • motored across river
  • had mast raised & motored back again
  • lashed too-short forestay with pink string
  • replaced pink string with old bottlescrew
  • tensioned rigging
  • rigged jib furling line
  • hoisted & furled jib (needs modification)
  • fixed boom, mainsheet & kicker
  • bent on mainsail & trough with all ancillaries
  • cleaned & lubricated mainsail slides
  • hoisted main; reefed etc.
  • adjusted spreader angle
  • fitted new electrical switch panel
  • extended various circuits
  • connected  & tested VHF
  • WENT SAILING (briefly)

And then, of course, there are the jobs still to do:

  • Adjust rigging tension and lock screws
  • Ensure spreaders are at the correct angle & fix
  • Get Bob to check engine alignment
  • Make & fit new gasket for coolant intake
  • Sort out leak from below there
  • Work out how & where to store solar panels
  • Connect old engine stop cable to fuel cut-off
  • Rig dodgers & second lifebuoy
  • Straighten cheeks & overhaul bow roller
  • Tidy up and clean whole boat!
  • Acquire & fit jackstays                         
  • Overhaul 12V wiring
  • Fit solar charging sockets for both batteries
  • Clean around exhaust outlet
  • Remove old stern gland greaser & pipe
  • Acquire/renovate & fit tacho & temp gauge
  • Touch up damaged areas of topside paint
  • Repaint whole topsides (eventually)
  • …and antifoul (annually or biennially)
  • Sell old propeller
  • Try again to sell old engine or parts thereof
  • Remove chipped/cracked/peeling non-slip paint
  • Repaint with non-slip paint
  • Repair all chips and cracks in gel coat
  • Renovate and polish gel coat
  • Ditto & oil teak grab handles & rubbing strake
  • Find and cure leaks through cockpit seats
  • Fix lifebuoy light
  • Install extra cleats on foredeck
  • Ditto amidships
  • Clean, repair, renovate & oil rubbing strakes
  • Make leadline
  • Terminate guardrails correctly & tension
  • Lead lines aft (needs blocks, winch(es) & cleats)
  • Replace galley, fo’c’sle & heads lights with LEDs
  • Fit bunk light for stbd quarter berth
  • Get manual for radio/CD player
  • Install shore power system inc. battery charger
  • Clean out FW tank & pipes
  • Refit (overhauled/new?) FW foot pump
  • Clean & paint all lockers
  • Ditto stbd quarter berth
  • Secure bookcase
  • Fill old holes to stbd of companionway
  • Rebuild cabin sole to reinforce & incl. hatches
  • Install calorifier
  • Install cabin heater
  • Replace gas bin with proper locker
  • Seal lazarette lid closure
  • Correct charts
  • Wash cushions and covers

After over two years of ownership I can consider Tyro more or less ready for sea, or at least for a little more local pootling.  The jobs continue to proliferate (see above) like Hydra’s heads but I suspect this is the way of things with boats.

Was buying her a good decision?  Well, I still think I bought the wrong boat – China Belle, the first one I saw, in Plymouth, was a better boat, but there were other considerations.  I hope I shall be able to sail her when and where I choose, restricted only by the tides and the weather and independently of the vicissitudes of potential crew.  Time will tell.

The Tyro Saga 12 – Afloat at last!

January 2017

Shortly before Christmas, I had an email from Sarah with the unwelcome news that they needed Tyro out of the yard and back in the water pronto. Apparently there were a lot more boats that needed to come out and nowhere to put them. They could let me stay out, but I’d have to pay the full fee of nearly £200 a month instead of the £80-odd a month that I didn’t know I’d been paying so far. Since hitting me in the wallet always hurts it took me about ten seconds to decide what to do.

Cover still intact, and rolled back, shortly after arriving back on board.
The stern seal under water

We negotiated Wednesday 4th January as the only mutually acceptable date and proceeded to check the availability of the engineer (to commission the engine), a friend (to help move the mast, the boat and what have you) and the weather (to allow me to get the antifouling on. All three seemed agreeable, so the date was fixed. HW was due at 1410, so that was the time to go for (as there’s negligible tidal stream then).
Thus it was that New Year’s morning saw me not recovering from the previous night’s celebrations – in fact suffering from an unpleasant cough and cold – but on the M3 heading boatwards. She was where I’d left her in October (not a foregone conclusion as shown by previous chapters) and with the tarpaulin covering her nearly intact. However there was a hole close to a puddle, just above the lazarette which you will remember, dear reader, has a leaky seal. Sure enough, once I’d found a ladder, bucketed out the puddle, folded back the tarpaulin and opened the engine hatch, I discovered six inches of water in the engine bay. Fortunately it hadn’t reached my shiny new engine, but only the new stern seal which is watertight anyway. Once I’d rearranged the bilge pump I was able to remove most of that (120 or so strokes of the handle) and pump out almost all the rest with the little portable one. No damage to the engine, fortunately, and even the cut and unpainted surfaces of the mild steel bearers seemed rust-free. The interior of the boat was also dry (apart from the water that had run forward into the bilge) with no sign of mildew growth. A narrow escape then, and one requiring installation of an automatic bilge pump to prevent its recurrence. Afloat, it shouldn’t be a problem, as the boat will be level and the water won’t run into the lazarette anyway.

The port keel after the winter’s depredations

So on to the main matter of the day, the preparation of the bottom for anti-fouling. Most of this had been done, you may recall: the whole of the bottom roughly sanded, the rust on the keels ground off and treated and the whole of the keels primed and anti-fouled. Months in the weather, however, had brought about the usual depredations and the keels needed a repeat treatment. So I plugged in my 50m extension lead and set to work with wire brush and flap wheel on my drill to grind out the new rust spots. Being disinclined to lie in the puddles beneath the boat with an electric drill in my hands, I fear the insides of the keels got short shrift but they’ll have to do. Rust treatment was painted on and in the half-hour that took to dry (and a good deal longer) I rearranged the tarpaulin as a (somewhat flappy) tent to shield the primer from the incipient rain.

The primer (or what was left of it) had thickened in the can and looked distinctly dodgy, but after a good stir seemed to be thin enough to daub on. So I did that, and discovered that I’d left all three of my bottles of white spirit at home. Fortunately I discovered a little in a jam jar, enough to clean the brush sufficiently.
As dusk and rain fell, I was cold, wet, tired and my cold wasn’t improving so I repaired to the very pleasant Air B & B for a hot cuppa, a tepid shower and an excellent Indian restaurant recommendation. Fast wifi, comfy bed, and a reasonably good night’s kip.

Monday 2nd January

The day dawned bright and clear with wall to wall sunshine forecast, and after scraping the frost off the windscreen I repaired back to the boat. Notwithstanding the overnight rain (of tropical intensity, if not temperature) the primer had dried. I applied some to the rudder (which I’d forgotten the day before) and, since the forecast was for sunshine all day and dry for the next couple, then set about removing and folding up the tarpaulin (eight metres by five). No mean feat, singlehanded, but with no wind it was accomplished.

The last patch to paint

After assembling the materials and masking off the boot-top line I started to apply the Oxford-blue anti-fouling. Start with the most difficult bits, I thought. Good idea. Except that under the boat were several large, cold, muddy puddles with sharp stones in them, so I needed to find a suitable board on which I could lie on my back and wield the roller. The folly of this was revealed when the spray started to descend upon my face and hair but needs must and I persevered, making a mental note to wear a protective suit next time. The paint covered exceedingly well; approaching the end I thought I was going to run out but there was just enough, as it turned out, with a little left over to dab on the bottoms of the keels once the boat gets airborne. Considerable quantities of the paint had managed to transfer themselves to my person, some of which was later removed with a scrubbing brush and coal-tar soap. And I needed a haircut anyway.

The finished job

After a very late lunch I tidied up and closed the boat up (I’ve lost the padlock, so if you’re reading this before I’ve replaced it, feel free to steal the boat: I’d rather have the insurance money) and repaired chez Aged Parent for a hot bath, fatted calf and bed, more or less managing to stay awake on the M3.

Tuesday 3rd Dry, cold & bright

A text from Bob (the engineer) indicated he was intending to arrive today. This would have been unfortunate, as I wasn’t. A return ‘phone call sorted it out, and warned him that I might not arrive before he does tomorrow. Sarah has confirmed we’re going ahead as planned. My cough is no better.
According to the (updated) list of jobs to do, Bob needs to fit the fuel return, sort out some wiring and fit the bilge pump. I’ve decided not to re-use the old tacho and temperature gauge, at least for the time being, as I don’t know how reliable they are, and they’re at home anyway. They can wait. I (or my helpers) need to polish up the sacrificial anode, refit the log and heads inlet pipe and check everything over.
Then we can launch, commission the engine, motor round to my berth, carry the mast and foil down to the pontoon ready to lift on, mount the A-frame on the transom to take the mast, lift it on board and rig the tarpaulin over it as a tent, down to the gunwales.
The electrical situation (and hence the new bilge-pump functioning) is somewhat compromised by damage to the solar panels. I left the two big ones that charge the domestic battery propped up in the cockpit on Sunday, and when the wind got up and I was busy with the tarpaulin, the whole unit blew over. It landed on the edge of the opposite cockpit seat causing a series of cracks right across both panels. They still seem to work, but that may only last until water permeates the electrics.

Wednesday 4th Bright, cold and calm; sunshine later.

After a very poor night’s sleep (apprehension, illness, inactivity) I managed to haul myself from my mother’s spare bed in time to be on the road at 0730. The traffic turned out to be less horrendous than expected, however, and by 0915 I was at Winchester services and stopped for a nap. Unsuccessfully, of course, but I did have half an hour’s rest with my eyes closed.

On the quayside, ready to lift in (this and the next three photos ny Steve Roberts)

By the time I arrived at the yard (1030 for a 1400 launch) I found that Alan had already performed his juggling act with the boats and Tyro was in the slings on the quay ready to go. By the time I’d borrowed a ladder and set it up, and collected some water to make coffee, Bob had arrived, and (as usual) he quickly got to work to connect the fuel return to the primary filter, as discussed. And by the time the kettle was on, Steve and Olly arrived.

Tyro airborne
…and in she goes

After coffee all round I connected up the one remaining pipe to its seacock and refitted the paddlewheel log in its hole. Then I went round to Force 4 to get the remaining bits for the bilge pump while Bob finished sorting out the engine electricals; when I got back Steve and Olly, with help from Lewis, had moved the mast to the brow ready to go down to the pontoons. Barely had we completed that job (and Bob fitted the skin fitting for the pump) when Alan decided that the time was right (an hour earlier than advertised, but he’s not a man to argue with) to lower her into the oggin. So I unlashed the ladder, exhorted the others to take photos and prepared all the seacocks for inspection. Up, across and down went the boat, all very smoothly (he does this nearly every day, with a boat hoist almost as old as I am) and he even asked if there were any leaks before removing the slings. There weren’t, so we manhandled the boat round the corner to make way for another boat coming out.

Bob tried the engine. It didn’t start. Then he opened the fuel cock. It still didn’t start. After several protracted attempts (I was impressed how well the battery stood up to this) interspersed with twiddling various settings, it ran! No cooling water came through, until we’d primed the pump; then there was a leak from the cooling water pipe, fortunately above the seacock. Then we couldn’t get it to stop – problem with the electronic solenoid switch. A couple of phone calls to the manufacturers and considerable fiddling later, that was working too (but I was shown the manual by-pass for this in case it failed again), and after attaching the gear-change cables to the lever the right way round, we were fit to motor round onto my berth.

A relieved skipper – afloat at last

Very relieved that all was (eventually) working, I was even more pleased when my well-thought-out but slightly unorthodox method of turning the boat round into her berth also worked well. We tied her up, fixed up the A-frame on the transom, lifted the mast on and lashed it down. Steve and Olly rigged the tent over the mast while Bob and I carried on with the bilge pump and then decided that they’d call it a day. Many thanks to them, and mutual offers of sailing.

Tyro back on her berth in the gloaming, with her temporary canopy

By the time I returned from a second shopping trip it was dark, and Bob had finished. I had a floating boat, a working engine and bilge pump – but a very untidy and messy saloon. However, I was pretty exhausted and did little more than gather up my tools and secure the boat before consigning her to the tender cares of Lewis, who lives on site and had volunteered to keep an eye on her. I’m now back chez Aged Parent after a better night’s sleep, and my cough and cold are slowly improving.

So, a successful launch, I should say. Even if I did forget to shine up the anode and wax the propeller. Thanks to all who have offered advice, and especially to Olly and Steve for turning up and helping.

The updated “to do” list looks like this, with jobs needed before we can sail asterisked:

*Assemble & fit new headsail furler & forestay (just the bottom bit to do)
*Clean & oil masthead sheaves (for halyards)
*Rig standing rigging (incl. new forestay)
*Rig running rigging (don’t forget the lazy jacks!)
*Fit new (LED) tricolour light } plug in & test
*Fit new VHF aerial } both of these
*Step mast and tension standing rigging
*Check engine alignment
*Fit boom & its rigging
*Bend on sails
*Secure batteries in new position

Tyro under way and making way towards her berth, for the first time in a year and a half

Work out how & where to store solar panels
Repair/bodge up cracked solar panels
*Reconnect autopilot (could wait if sailing with crew)
*Tidy up and clean whole boat!
*Reconnect starboard side light
Clean, repair, renovate & oil rubbing strakes
Touch up damaged areas of topside paint
Clean around exhaust outlet
Sell old propeller
Try again to sell old engine or parts thereof
Connect cable to fuel cut-off
Remove chipped/cracked/peeling non-slip paint
Repaint with non-slip paint
Repair all chips and cracks in gel coat
Renovate and polish gel coat
Ditto & oil teak grab handles
Find and cure leaks through cockpit seats
Straighten cheeks & overhaul bow roller
Fix lifebuoy light
Install extra cleats fwd & midships
Fit ensign beckets to backstay
Make leadline
*Rig dodgers
Acquire & fit jackstays
Terminate guardrails correctly & tension
Lead lines aft (needs blocks, winch(es) & cleats)
Tidy up wiring in battery compartment
Replace galley, fo’c’sle & heads lights with LEDs
Fit bunk light for stbd quarter berth
Tidy up all outstanding wiring
Fit solar charging sockets for both batteries
Get manual for radio/CD player
Wire compass light on own circuit
Install shore power system inc. battery charger
Clean out FW tank & pipes
Refit (overhauled/new?) FW foot pump
Clean & paint all lockers
Ditto stbd quarter berth
Secure bookcase
Fill old holes to stbd of companionway
*Re-hang curtains
*Bring cushions back on board
Rebuild cabin sole to reinforce & incl. hatches
Install calorifier
Install cabin heater
Replace gas bin with proper locker
Seal lazarette lid closure

February 2017

The list of jobs has got no shorter since launch. And I don’t think I took any photos….

Bit at a time then.  Heading back early in the month for a short stay, the target is to complete the following:

  • Check engine compartment and elsewhere for ingress of water; remove any found
  • Seal lazarette lid and holes in its base (around gas and bilge pump pipes)
  • Thoroughly dry and clean engine bay
  • Check position of boat wrt ‘hole’ and adjust as necessary
  • Replace temporary mooring warps with correct ones c/w spring
  • Sweep up all mess from drilling etc.
  • Repair solar panels – Transpaseal?
  • Straighten cheeks of bow roller
  • Get help to turn mast end for end ready for rigging
  • Old engine – remove saleable bits/ditch rest/ OR just ignore it and hope it’ll go away….?
  • Secure batteries in position & plan 12v electrical layout
  • Bring home Solent charts for correction

Arriving back at lunchtime at low water neaps on a cold and blustery day, I was happy to see Tyro sitting bolt upright, squarely in the mud.  The warps were as I had left them and the tarpaulin, although not quite intact, was at least no more damaged than when I had left it.  So far so good. 

Then I lifted the cockpit sole and engine hatch.  Not quite so good – a couple of inches of water in there.  Which means that the automatic bilge pump wasn’t working.  Still, it was the work of a minute to pump it out – I tried the electric one first, which worked, showing that the float switch hadn’t been doing its job.  What’s more, when it could pump no more there was still some water in there that the hand pump would remove – and that’s also above the bottom.  Some adjustment required, I fancy.  And the valve in the pipe from the new electric pump was leaking somewhat, so that’ll need fixing.  Later inspection (once I’d cleaned out all the oily water from underneath) reminded me that Bob had fixed the pump and switch to a little platform but hadn’t been able to find anything to fix that to, being unwilling to drill holes in the bottom of the hull.  Good point.  I shall have to do some fibreglassing/epoxying.  Or maybe use some polyurethane sealant.  Whatever I use, the surroundings will have to be clean and dry.

The battery clearly had some charge in it – the meter was reading 12.9V – so the cracked and plastic-bagged solar panels had been putting out some amps in my absence.  Lewis had suggested covering them with sticky-backed plastic, but a tour of the local hardware shops was unsuccessful. 

Newly-washed halyards brought back on board, along with the genoa with its new luff tape (which I must test tomorrow) and a single tool box containing all I thought I might need.

The following day, as forecast, was wall to wall sunshine. I stopped off in Portswood for a fry-up as I knew I had a long day ahead of me and then headed for the boat.   First off and since there was plenty of tide, I started the engine to charge the batteries properly – and because I could. I actually remembered to open the seacock first, and also assessed its leak, which turned out to be from the home-made replacement gasket below the cap.  I tightened the wing nuts, which reduced the trickle to a drip, and I shall have to make a new, thicker gasket, and/or replace the cork one with rubber.

With the engine running and in gear at about half-revs (no tachometer yet) and as the tide had started to ebb, I adjusted the lines to move the boat astern a yard or two.  This would ensure that she rested level or slightly bows down so that the rain wouldn’t run into the lazarette.  I hope.

Once the boat was in what I hoped was the right place I started the search for the correct mooring warps, as those we’d used on launch day were dug out in a bit of a rush.  By the time I’d got those sorted out and in full use (no easy task, of course, since there’s still only one cleat on the foredeck) the tide was receding rapidly (the ebb takes only four hours in Southampton) and I wanted to watch as she settled down.  Success: once the tide had gone I went so far as to test the cabin sole and sink with a spirit level and found that the boat was level athwartships and ever so slightly bows down, which was exactly what I wanted.  Whether it will still be there tomorrow remains to be seen.

After a fortifying cup of coffee I set to work below to clean and tidy.  I swept up the drilling débris from fitting the new Morse lever and the bilge pump controller; sponged out the remaining water and dirt from below the engine (I shall be interested to see how long it stays dry); got the heads working again by means of a few drops of vegetable oil down the shaft and some energetic pumping, and emptied out the lazarette in an attempt to find the route by which the water was getting into the engine bay.  This generated a lot of rubbish – jars of old diesel, bottles of old oil and other assorted grot.  Also, some damp ropes which I duly hung up to dry, with the exception of the mainsheet which I earmarked for a journey home and a wash.  By this time (despite my substantial breakfast at the Jackpot caff) I was ravenous, so broke for a mug of soup and a sandwich.  After ditching the gash and a tidy I took myself off to find the sticky-backed-plastic to repair bodge up the solar panels.  Lewis recommended a shop nearby which came up with the goods, but he also recommended applying it in the warm.  Since it’s still February and I have no heater in the boat I decided to defer this repair till at least my next visit.  The panels seem to be functioning adequately in their plastic bag and the engine is now available to charge the batteries as well. 

On the third day I determined to fix the lazarette seal and solve this major leak problem once and for all.  I also wanted to work through a few of the other jobs in section 2 & 3 below.

To start with I thought I’d run the engine again.  Once again it started first time.  That’s where the similarity ended.  On opening the throttle the engine didn’t always speed up, and when it did, slowed down again.  Air intake was OK – must be a fuel problem.  A text to Bob elicited a return ’phone call in which he suggested the same – dirt/diesel bug or air in the fuel.  But why had it run perfectly the previous day?  On inspection the primary filter had some small air bubbles in it which seemed reluctant to be bled out, so that might be the culprit.  Maybe one of the pipes is letting air in – or maybe it’s a problem caused by the unconventional connection of the fuel return pipe to the filter.  Whatever the cause, it’s unlikely to be major; Bob will have a look at it when, I hope, he comes to check the engine alignment when the mast’s up.

Attempts to straighten the bow roller cheeks were also unsuccessful – the stainless steel plates merely bounced back under the hammer blows and, fearful of work-hardening I desisted after a few attempts.  No idea how to do this, and fitting a new bit of kit would be a major and expensive job, perhaps best tackled when I get the headlining in the fo’c’sle off to fit the extra cleats.  In the meantime I shall have to put up with the roller not rolling very freely.  I also failed to find the split lengths of hose for protecting the mooring warps from chafe, so they’ll have to do without.  The (less hard-wearing) lines in use for the last month don’t seem to have suffered.

And then I resolved to attack the lazarette lid.  Assembling the materials (a roll of closed-cell foam (ex-Karrimat or similar), scissors, sealant (to use as glue) and sandpaper) I started to attack the potential site of the new seal with the last of these when Billy (on a day off from his new job) suggested that I was wasting my time.  He explained that it was only leaking in slowly anyway and to stem a small leak required perfect watertightness, impossible to achieve without perfect materials and large forces.  Ever willing to avoid a job I accepted his assessment – and, crucially, his offer of pumping the bilges regularly – which would achieve a similar result.  It should be OK once I get the boat level.

He also agreed with Bob’s assessment of the engine problem.

I was therefore able to call it a day.  After adjusting fenders, tidying up, packing and saying goodbyes I hit the road to return in March to get the mast up and start sailing.  Unfortunately I noticed as I was leaving that the boat was still a couple of yards too far forward.  It’ll have to wait.

It is my fervent hope that before the end of my next visit, next month, I shall actually go somewhere in Tyro.

The Tyro Saga 11 – In with the new

September 2016

Thursday 8th September        Warm & sunny

Arrived pm to find boats all over the place.  A new large concrete slab had been laid along the fence and all the boats that had been there (including mine) had been moved.  I eventually found it out in the middle of the yard among many others; nearer the tap and electricity but stern to wind (and sun) and again propped bows-up.  And the ladder was missing.  Again.

Mentioned this to Sarah, who explained that the slab was for the engineer’s new workshop (good!) and the ladder would be around somewhere (!)  It was, of course, with a little additional paint. Once I’d clambered on board I looked in the stern locker where I’d asked the engineer to put the key.  Not there, of course.  Had a purely speculative look under the cockpit for the engine – to be greeted by the usual empty space (and only a pint or two of water leaked in) so I went over to Alan for the spare key.  He told me that the engine was inside the boat – presumably put there to get it out of the way during the workshop reoranisation.

The unconventionally mounted engine

It was indeed, thoughtfully resting on a slab of wood to spread the weight. An unconventional place to mount the engine, I thought, and jolly inconvenient to have to live with.  I did consider turning round and heading straight back again, but that way no progress lies.  So I unloaded what I needed from the car – see chaos below – and settled in. Billy called me over as I was filling my water container – his boat had been out when I arrived and now (clearly) wasn’t so I congratulated him on having finally got it moving.  Turned out he’d been down the river (with Martin) to a disused slipway to dry out and put another coat of antifouling on the bottom.  Also chatted with Lewis, who’d bought a third boat dirt cheap; this one (unlike his other two) is more or less in sailing order and, as he’s no sailor, wanted me to go out and skipper it for him so he could learn how to do it.  We need a fine day, but I might actually get afloat this season!   I agreed, of course, in exchange for some practical help on my boat

Eventually I got away to the shops and on my return mopped the small volume of water out of the engine bay.  After dinner I finished shaping the instrument panel mount until the light went – this is now going to be a major consideration. 

Friday 9th        showers o/n; overcast

Slept badly, partly owing to numerous halyards banging.  Met a very nice chap called Nigel, whose Scandinavian Folkboat was the main culprit.  Made friends, made tea – and got him to lash his halyards.

Faffed about a lot, then put the radar reflector back together (having decided that cleaning off the aluminium oxide was pointless).  Then I drilled the instrument panel mount to take the bolts to hold it all together and roughened the necessary surfaces to take the adhesive/sealant too.

A job I’d been dreading was draining and cleaning the fuel tank as it had been sitting half-full for over a year and was bound to have water and probably copious bacteria and goodness knows what else growing in it.  After finding the correct ⅝” spanner to crack the union I ran off a cupful of fuel and, sure enough, it was cloudy.  The second and third cups were completely clear though, so it looks like it could be OK – I need to ask an expert.  I don’t really want to throw away half a tankful of good fuel – but on the other hand I don’t want to risk the new engine by using dirty stuff.  Finally I walked the mile or so round to Force 4 at Shamrock to get the right fixings for the instrument panel mount (which cost less than a pound!), and back again.

Pasta bol for dinner.

Saturday 10th               Rain

Baled out to the library to deal with email – and write this.

Later on I decided to attack the instrument panel and got it fixed in with sealant and bolts – but as I put the bits together in the wrong order I found it impossible to tighten both ends of the bolts at the same time.  Have to wait till I have some help.

Later that evening I happened upon the engineer and had a long chat during which I sympathised with his problems and suggested a modus operandi.  We agreed to meet on Monday morning to make a plan.

Sunday 11th   Cold o/n, then sunny & warm

The old (below) and ‘new’ furling gear. If only I’d known…

Resolved to tackle the furling gear.  I spent a merry couple of hours getting the bits together, re-reading the instructions and cleaning everything up.  Part-way through there was a ‘phone call from Steve asking if I wanted any help as he was on his way down.  Most opportune.  He arrived soon after lunch and I briefed him on the job over a cuppa.  I borrowed Nigel’s plastic trestles (with prior permission!) and we did a dry run.  Once we’d interpreted the instructions about the sections and bearings all went quite smoothly and by the time the next cuppa was due we’d done all we could.  I needed some advice about the bottom end and how the turnbuckle was to be fitted so sent a text to Paul at XW rigging.  Steve helped me tighten the instrument panel bolts then took himself off to his boat at Wicor, having made arrangements for me to go over in the morning to help him with some jobs – and to go sailing!

Monday 12th sunny & warm

Which we did.  After waiting in vain to speak to you-know-who, I drove over to Wicor and met Steve (who, I discovered later, is not merely an Oxford don, but a professor!).  We purred out to his boat in an electrically-powered dinghy and (after the obligatory cuppa) proceeded to change genoas and do one or two other jobs.  After lunch we slipped and proceeded under power down Fareham Creek, through Portsmouth Harbour (remarkably quiet and somewhat changed since the days when I sailed there frequently) and out into Spithead.  There we hoisted the sails in a light breeze and sailed around Spit Sand Fort – and back in again.  Not a lot of sailing, but my first time on the water for a year or more, so very welcome.

Stopped on the way back to pick up a takeaway, and back on board about 8.  A good day.

Tuesday 12th                 Hot; occasional showers

Resolved to get on today.  Spent all morning setting up and poring over furler/forestay.  Missing a turnbuckle, I think.  Eventually texted Paul for advice, which was of limited use.

During this, met the owners of Octeau who were changing the oil.  Provided coffee and chatted.  Continued puzzling and faffing over the forestay to no avail till lunch and then made a start on securing the gas pipe which had been rattling around since time immoral.  But this was thwarted as well by failure to find the sticky pads.  I know they’re somewhere on board but I’ve been through every locker and can’t find them.

Later in the afternoon Alan came over telling me he had a couple of bits of angle iron for the engine bearers and I could clean them up and paint them.  Assuming he meant new pieces that needed the rough edges taking off, I grabbed all my files and went to find them in the vice behind the container.  All I could find there were some grotty old pieces covered in old paint and rust – not what I wanted.  I queried this with him and he said they were fine……and desperate to get something done I accepted this slight setback and went for my extension lead and power tools.  An hour’s work with wire brush, flap wheel and 60-grit discs, and I had them bright and shining.  Just as the paint shop was shutting I realised that I needed some primer, sharpish, and the owner was kind enough to wait till the morning for payment.  So I had two clean, smooth engine bearers with two coats of etch primer applied ready to go into the boat.

…and after
The inadequate angle-irons, before…

Then I measured them.  Then I measured the engine mounts.  I don’t think they’re long enough!  Only by a millimetre or two, but that’s no good.  I had assumed, foolishly perhaps, that other people knew what they were doing.  Subsequent testing by direct comparison confirmed my initial measurements, so I’d wasted my time, and the cost of the primer.  No point complaining.  They’d make it my fault somehow.

The next two days I accomplished very little except a long conversation on the ‘phone with my best friend.  She advised me how to talk to the engineer…. I need to psych myself up to do so.  It’s not easy.

On Friday I spent the day at the Boat Show.   I had a free ticket through the RYA – just as well as the admission price was £27!  Lots of interesting things to see (it was my first visit), including a novel mast-climbing method and a number of large and expensive yachts to look round.  In the Oyster 675 (a cool £2.5M) a lady, obviously an experienced sailor, walked down one of the corridors (!) and bumped into a large pillar-like structure.  “Ooh!  What’s that?” she inquired.  Her husband, after a pause of exactly the right length replied, “It’s the mast, dear.”  We all dissolved in mirth.

One of the many boats I can’t afford

Significantly, I also visited the Vetus stand, where I had a long talk with one of the reps about my engine – and I also asked him to recommend an engineer who could fit it in the foreseeable future.  I got in touch and it transpired that he could do it fairly soon.  Now I need to talk to the current incumbent!

The original broken hinge (top) and an old replacement, also broken

Then I had a much-needed few days with the Aged Parent, relaxing, and with unrestricted internet access was able to do a bit of research.  Including my first encounter with design for 3-D printing.  The previous night I’d managed to break the (40-year-old) plastic hinges on the heads window.  An email to Trafalgar Yacht Services (who know about and can provide all things Westerly)* ascertained that they’re no longer available.  Someone on the WOA forum suggested 3-D printing them and gave a link to a program to design them.  That occupied a merry hour or three, and I was able to find a 3-D printing facility at Southampton University.  And, in ABS, they’d work out at a reasonable price, especially if I have a lot done – other people may want some.  However, the design is not quite right yet, so I need to refine that.  It would be good if the first attempt at printing worked.  Unusual, too, I suspect.

In the end I got a pair of prototypes printed by someone near home, quite cheaply.  They’re not pretty – and they’re also full of holes, which can’t do much for their strength.  Still they’ll do to try them out next time I go to the boat and then I can get them made elsewhere in a stronger, denser material.

As a result of all the delays and frustrations I decided (with the help of my good friend) to sack the old one and employ the engineer recommended by Vetus.  Bob starts in a couple of weeks.

October 2016

Finally, things are happening.  Bob and I agreed by email exactly what would have to be done.  The price was eye-watering but a boat is reputed to be ‘a hole in the water into which you pour money’.

Furthermore, we agreed a start date and by the middle of the month I’d paid him a 50% deposit so he could buy the stuff.  The only part I was able to take on was getting hold of the engine bearers at a third of the price he quoted, by buying two pieces of angle iron locally and painting them.  Of course they turned out to be the wrong size and also needed a corner cutting off, and a slot cutting out of them and ended up costing as much as they would have done if I’d left them to him. And the cuts didn’t get painted or even primed before they went in, so it’ll be difficult to stop them rusting…

Anyway, twenty minutes early on the morning of Monday 17th, Bob appeared as I was finishing the washing-up.  He refused the offered cup of coffee and started measuring and calculating.  We sorted out the bearers between us, and while he was busy I stripped the mast (again) of standing and running rigging as well as carrying out various other tasks.

By the time I got back from the library at tea-time, he’d finished and left; the bearers were in place and so was the engine, although not bolted down. The following day he was due to go to London, so I resolved to get a few other jobs done unless the weather proved good enough for me to have a decent walk in the New Forest.  And then on Wednesday, I’m going sailing with Steve.

Not much on Tuesday; Wednesday’s sailing was successful – a pleasant little pootle around Portsmouth harbour and an assessment of Osprey’s sailing ability.  Text from Bob saying he’d got on OK, and I returned on board to find the engine bolted down (although he’d had to cut a piece out of each of the engine bearers to accommodate the flywheel casing), the old prop & shaft replaced with the new ones and all connected up and the exhaust connected.  Plumbing and electrics to do, and the Cutless bearing is apparently non-standard and needs machining too.

The back end of the new engine, finally in place. The water in the bilge is rain. And the less-than-ideal arrangement of exhaust pipe, control cables and other pipework is unavoidable without major reconstructive surgery.

This was accomplished on Thursday morning and he then spent an instructive half-hour explaining to me how to overhaul the electrical system.  I took myself off to the library again and spent a frustrating hour or two on a poor internet connection before a text arrived from Bob saying there was nowhere on the fuel tank to connect the return line from the injector pump.  I hurried back to discuss this and learned that the options were (a) take out the tank, alter it and replace it or (b) fit a new tank.  Neither of these seemed cheap or quick, but he quickly came up with an option (c): connect it back to the primary fuel filter, which would be quick and easy.  A call to the manufacturers ascertained that this was not a good idea (because it would bring warm fuel into the pipe which for some unexplained reason was a Bad Thing) but they suggested connecting it instead to the filler pipe.  This is harder, but easier and much cheaper than modifying or replacing the tank. So that’s what he’ll do tomorrow.

Bob spent the rest of the day fitting the new control lever and sundry other items while I took myself off for a stroll on the Common.   It seems to me that this isn’t going to be finished by tomorrow evening.


Spoke too soon.  Despite not arriving till nearly eleven through having to wait for various bits (notably the new water filter), by three he’d connected the cooling system, the stern seal lubricator, the fuel pipe (barring the return pipe – it turned out that the filler pipe, although in two parts, was butt-jointed and drilling it would still get swarf in the tank), filled the fluids and tidied up, not to mention advising me on reorganising the electrics.  He’ll come back to commission and adjust everything when the boat goes in the water.  Which I’ve decided will be in the spring: I’ve had enough of this blasted boat for this year, so despite Alan’s slightly suspect advice that the boat would be better off in the water over the winter I’ve securely (I hope) lashed down the big tarpaulin over the whole boat and left it.  I need to arrange a launch date with Sarah, and we’re looking at 14th March or thereabouts as HW is in the middle of the day which will give plenty of time to get everything done and get the boat round onto her berth.

There are still some jobs to be done, despite my (somewhat desultory) efforts over the past weeks.  Let’s have another look at the list….

Grind remaining rust spots off keels
Rust-treat and prime metal so exposed
Prime bare patches on rudder & elsewhere
Anti-foul keels, rudder and bottom
Clean anode (again)
Clean, repair, renovate & oil rubbing strakes
Touch up damaged areas of topside paint
Clean around exhaust outlet
Clean/polish/paint all skin fittings/flanges
…will be painted with hull
Engine/propulsion system
Remove and clean old propeller & sell it
fit and align new engine & propeller (including fitting new bearers etc.)
Try again to sell old engine or parts thereof
Make insert to fit new instrument panel
Fit ditto and connect
Fit new ring anode to prop shaft if necessary
Fit emergency cut-off ball valve to fuel pipe
Clean out fuel tank          …unnecessary – fuel seems clean
?Move primary fuel filter to stbd side
Fit ball valve as emergency fuel cut-off
Connect cable to fuel cut-off
Work out how to connect fuel return pipe to tank & do so
Remove chipped/cracked/peeling non-slip paint
Repaint with non-slip paint
Repair all chips and cracks in gel coat
Renovate and polish gel coat
Ditto & oil teak grab handles
Find and cure leaks through cockpit seats
Straighten cheeks & overhaul bow roller
Fix lifebuoy light
Install extra cleats fwd & midships
Assemble & fit new headsail furler & forestay
Get jib luff adapted to fit new foil
Clean fwd masthead sheaves (for halyards)
Reeve jib halyard
Step mast and tension standing rigging
Fit ensign beckets to backstay
Clean & reassemble radar reflector
Make leadline
Fit boom
Rig all remaining running rigging
Bend on sails
Rig dodgers
Fit jackstays
Terminate guardrails correctly & tension
Lead lines aft (needs blocks, winches & cleats)
Remove all rigging for winter storage
Secure batteries in new position
Tidy up wiring in battery compartment
Connect new engine as required
Fit new (LED) \tricolour light
Fit new VHF aerial
Replace galley, fo’c’sle & heads lights with LEDs
Fit bunk light for stbd quarter berth
Tidy up all outstanding wiring
Fit solar charging sockets for both batteries
Work out how & where to store solar panels
Reconnect autopilot
Make/acquire portable anchor light
Fit bilge pump c/w float switch & controller
Get manual for radio/CD player
Work out how to wire compass light, and do so
Fit new engine instrument panel
Install shore power system inc. battery charger
In the cabin
Clean out FW tank & pipes
Refit (overhauled/new?) FW foot pump
Clean & paint all lockers
Ditto stbd quarter berth
Secure bookcase
Fill old holes to stbd of c/way
Re-hang curtains
Bring outstanding cushions back on board
Rebuild cabin sole to reinforce & incl. hatches
Install calorifier
Install cabin heater
Replace gas bin with proper locker
Secure gas supply pipe to bulkheads
Seal lazarette lid closure
Carry on & complete accounts
Correct charts

Hmmm.  Apart from the engine installation, which Bob’s done, there’s not a lot crossed off there. And writing this, over three years later, there are still things undone.

Tyro under her winter cover. The mast (and, by the look of it, a load of other stuff) is lying on the ground beneath.

*They have since more or less ceased trading and, at the time of writing (January 2020) the future of supplies of Westerly spares is uncertain.

The Tyro Saga 10 – Slow progress continues

June 2016

Wednesday 15th – mostly sunny                                        

After many attempts to communicate with the engineer, all of which elicited no response, I concluded that the only way to get anything done was to be there.  Accordingly I arrived one showery afternoon and found, to my complete lack of surprise, that he had done precisely nothing.  Furthermore, he was nowhere to be found, and didn’t come back to his boat overnight.  Sarah knows nothing of his whereabouts (nor is there any reason why she should!) and I haven’t yet had a chance to ask Alan.

So I tried my new impact driver on the seized bolts on the mast.  Nothing.  With or without penetrating/releasing oil.  So now I shall buy some Coca-Cola and try that.  Need to wash the oil off first with a solvent….  Very frustrated.

Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th – sunny with showers

The engineer eventually returned and explained that he’d been all over the country (as far afield as Falmouth, Liverpool and Newark) working on people’s boats (Newark?).  Why he can’t respond to texts etc. is beyond me.  Far too busy at the moment.  I’m ‘on the list’, apparently, and ‘not at the bottom’.  I should think not – I’ve been waiting for months!  Anyway, he reckons he could do something next week (this’ll just be putting a mock-up in place and working out how to cut the bearers and so forth; then I can put the bilge pumps (new, electric and old, manual) in underneath.  Then (eventually) he’ll get the engine in, line it up, bolt it down and connect it to the (new) prop shaft.  Then I can start connecting fuel, exhaust etc. and he can do the clever technical stuff with the sensors and controls.  (That’s not as technical as it sounds – the sensors will be the old temperature gauge and tacho; the controls will be the key switch and new Morse lever.  But they need to be done properly).

Anchor light holder – broken but not yet removed…

Meanwhile I tried applying Coke to the recalcitrant bolts.  I suppose it’s the phosphoric acid that does the trick. I used a small paintbrush – which seemed to get it into the cracks.  After several applications and hours’ waiting I tried the impact driver again.  On the large bolts holding the mast foot in place there was the suspicion of some movement, so I applied more Coke and waited.  At the masthead, two of the three bolts holding the old anchor light on moved!  With continued use of phosphoric acid and violent angular momentum I eventually got one of them out intact and one sheared off. The third refused to budge and its slot started to get rather chewed up but if necessary I could clout the fitting with a big hammer now and get it off – although I prefer a little more finesse. One of the bolts at the bottom gave up, and its head sheared off, so I’m looking for another idea.

Someone suggested repeatedly heating the bolts and surrounding area and then applying releasing oil, letting it cool (presumably to let the oil penetrate) and repeating.  He’ll lend me his little gas blowtorch next week. Others have suggested this so I’ll definitely give it a try.

I’d managed to dismantle the lamp itself and found that the bulb was blown (which just might be related to me having dropped it) and the internal fitting (a size smaller than but otherwise identical to that in a domestic table lamp) was damaged, rendering it unreusable.  So do I buy a new combined anchor and tricolour light (permanent, reliable, expensive, more delay) and return the tricolour I bought or cobble together some other solution?

What I have achieved in the last couple of days is moving the engine battery from starboard to port, to match the starter and alternator on the new engine.  This will shorten the cable runs, especially for the big starter and alternator cables and also free up some space on the starboard side, near the galley, for the eventual installation of a calorifier.   The domestic battery will also need to be moved across – for the same reasons; all the instruments (except the battery meter) are on the port side and it fits in with my plan to use the port quarter berth as a gear store in the absence of a large cockpit locker.  The starboard one will become a pleasant and roomy single berth.  Eventually.

£25-worth of seconhand anchor cable: 25m of 6mm chain and two short rusty lengths of 8mm.

Disheartened and fed up by lack of progress I retreated to the Aged Parent in London for a few days, the better to do some research and to recuperate a little.  En route I delivered the old anchor chain to the people in Guildford who’d bought it on eBay. Back on Tuesday, possibly via Roger, a WOA member who’s offered some help and will be in Portsmouth for a few days.

The current list of jobs to do:

  • Cut out the old angle irons that held the engine, then cut the bearers to fit the new one
  • Remove the old exhaust system as necessary
  • Fit electric bilge pump and float switch under where engine will go; wire up and test
  • Fit the new engine, secure it in place, connect all the pipes, electrics, controls, sensors etc. (a week’s work, he reckons but I can do some of it)
  • Fit new propeller and prop shaft ?with new Cutless bearing?; connect it up, checking alignment very, very carefully
  • Test engine, as far as possible while ashore
  • Find and buy appropriate new anchor light; remove old lights; fit, connect and test new ones, including threading the cable along 10m of mast.  Heel and cap need removing first and that means freeing the bolts.
  • Replace side and stern lights
  • Attach new rigging wires to mast and adjust length as necessary
  • Assemble (and cut to length where necessary) new roller-furling mechanism and attach to forestay
  • Possibly get jib altered to fit new roller-furler
  • Buy and attach extra blocks to masthead to take spare/spinnaker halyard and topping lift;
  • Reeve new spare/spinnaker halyard and topping lift
  • Reattach lazy-jack lines
  • Hoist mast back onto boat
  • Raise mast and coarsely adjust rigging temporarily.  Re-check engine alignment.
  • Connect new lights and test them
  • Sand the paintwork on the bottom and rudder and prepare for anti-fouling
  • Lightly rub down paintwork on topsides and touch up/recoat where necessary
  • Paint keels, bottom and rudder with antifouling.  Two coats if poss, esp. on keels.
  • Paint propeller, if considered necessary
  • Thoroughly scrub deck & superstructure; repair gel coat where necessary
  • Repaint non-slip areas on deck
  • Buy & fit jackstays
  • Refit heads valves
  • Fit new sacrificial anode(s) if necessary
  • Launch
  • Check for leaks and hope we don’t have to come out again
  • Re-check engine alignment
  • Test engine and propeller; run to charge batteries
  • Find and cure leaks in deck, lockers etc.
  • Refit dodgers, mainsail trough, mainsail & jib with all lines
  • Secure everything for sea
  • Dragoon someone into crewing and carry out initial sea trials
  • Repeat until satisfied
  • Motor gently round to Gosport to get rigger to do fine adjustments to rigging or borrow gauge and learn how to do it myself.
  • Re-check engine alignment
  • Clean
  • Go sailing

The next few days were occupied by attempting some of the simpler jobs on the above list and even completing one or two of them.  In particular I managed to get the angle irons out – every one of the twenty bolts holding them in succumbed to WD-40, my new(ish) socket set and plenty of torque.  Pleased with that.

I am reminded of a notice displayed in a workshop into which I sometimes poked my head:

Careless torque costs money

I also had an awayday to Gunwharf in Portsmouth where the WOA 50th anniversary rally was taking place.  Roger Clark was there with his extensively renovated Fulmar, Concerto, and had offered advice.  Once I’d managed to park and found the boat (I hadn’t been to Gunwharf for years) he welcomed me on board with a cuppa and proceeded to answer all of my questions (bar an electronics one) fully and with copious interesting digressions.  He also lent me a rigging tension gauge which will be very useful if I ever get the mast up again.  Well worth the money spent on fuel, parking, lunch and a bottle of wine for Roger.


Saturday 9th

Arrived at the yard to find that, once again precisely nothing had been done to the boat in my absence.  This despite an exchange of emails with the engineer in which he acknowledged that ‘this is the week’ – last week.  His van was parked in his usual slot but he was nowhere to be seen.

As was the ladder that I’d left propped up on and securely lashed to my stern.  A brief search, however, revealed it propped up on Rosie, astern.  Nice of him to return it.  Another boat had appeared close alongside to starboard and the owner, on board (Tony), suggested that ‘those lads’ had borrowed it, but it turned out that they’d borrowed a different one.  However, they proved to be Martin and Anton (owners of Floating Exception) whom I hadn’t seen since last summer, so we had a bit of a chat and exchanged ’phone numbers.  I subsequently noticed that their new halyards were rove incorrectly and they won’t be able to hoist the sails – or each other to sort it out – until it’s corrected. But they’ll be at the barbecue next weekend so I can point it out then.

As usual, I found it difficult to get going, and spent the rest of the day shopping, making lists, faffing about and doing puzzles.

Sunday 11th

The following morning, however, I was galvanised into action by a ’phone call.  Steve Roberts, a WOA member, had volunteered to give me a hand, and said he’d be arriving early afternoon.  I sorted out the inside of the boat (which had already become a bit of a tip) and readied the tools and materials we’d need to run the new cables in the mast.  Then I removed the old steaming light (I had to drill out the rivets), laid out the new cables alongside the mast and took the drastic and irrevocable step of cutting them to (generous) length.

The new tricolour and VHF cables emerging from the masthead

Steve arrived, and after a cuppa and a chat we set to work.  Many trials and tribulations ensued – these things never go smoothly – but eventually the task was accomplished.  We used the old wires (anchor & VHF to the top and steaming light halfway up) to pull through two strings (more of the 2mm polypropylene from Aldi J).  Then we cable-tied together the three cables (in the bottom half and two in the top) with triplets of ties and left the ends long.  This is supposed to stop them banging about inside the mast and keeping me awake.  I hope it works – it was quite difficult to get them inside.  Indeed it took us till evening to get the loom fed in and drawn through, and the two top ones out of the hole. (I’d also managed to get the top plate off that morning) and enlarged the hole to allow the VHF fitting through the ‘wrong’ way.

The steaming light cable, though, refused to come out of its hole.  I thought it was the right-angle turn into the hole in the mast trapping the join; Steve came up with various theories about the loom (or part of it) being looped round the intermediate shroud bolt, which we even went as far as trying to loosen and remove but abandoned the idea when it turned out we needed two 13.75mm or 17/32” spanners – which, unsurprisingly, I don’t possess.  It would have been a bad idea anyway.

Food was required. The chippie being closed, we settled for Chinese, and tried to avoid talking or thinking about the problem while we wolfed it down in the saloon.  Then back to work.  I hopefully gave the relevant bit of string a steady pull, and with a little persuasion the cable followed it out through the hole!  Either the rest did it (or us) some good or special fried rice has some hitherto unsuspected qualities.

We discussed provision of a new and larger masthead plate to carry all the gubbins thereupon and Steve said he’d have a look in his lab.  He’s a materials scientist at Oxford and they use aluminium sheet all the time.  With that, and pursued by my copious thanks, he took himself off to his own boat at Fareham.

The next day, (Monday) sadly, was less successful.  I seem to be incapable of – or unwilling to? – work for more than one day at a time.  I did rouse out the new standing rigging and started to fit it, but the old clevis pins turned out to be somewhat worn.  So, rather than spoil the ship for what I imagined to be a ha’p’orth of gear I decided to replace them.  So away went the wires again.

However, the new steaming light had arrived in the morning post.  On inspection it turned out to need holes drilling in different places in the stainless steel mounting plate and none of my bits were up to the job. (Now – there’s the benefit of experience.  Earlier I’d’ve tried to do it with HSS bits and broken them.)  Wonderful thing, experience.  So I now needed clevis pins, bolts, nuts & washers to fit the lamp and its mounting and some good quality hard bits.  By now, due to my general lassitude, the shops were shut, so that would have to wait till the morrow.

The new steaming light during fitting. I decided to stick with an incasdescent bulb as it would only be used with the engine (and therefore alternator) running – and I couldn’t find the right sized LED to fit.

On the morrow, (Tuesday) then, I repaired to The Rig Shop who supplied the necessary bolts (free of charge!), tried to sell me super-duper expensive blocks for my spinnaker halyard and didn’t have the clevis pins in stock but ordered them for me.  Force 4, for once, were able to supply the block at a more reasonable price and also a new plug for one of the lights to plug into the deck socket and a new 12V utility socket for the saloon.  Then a trip to Tool Station furnished the bits, a crimping tool and a few other …er…bits and pieces.  After a late lunch I set to work on the steaming lamp, and breaking only one of the new bits I got the holes drilled.  Getting the nuts in position behind them required a pair of tweezers, little bits of gaffer tape and considerable ingenuity, but eventually it was secured in place.  (I can see why the old one was riveted).  The new crimper was put into use and the lamp was soon connected, tested – and even proved to work.  It’ll need some sealant to guarantee it’s waterproof, but I’ll do all those little sealing jobs together.

Popped out for food and when I got back there was a sizeable piece of aluminium sheet on the cockpit seat.  Steve had obviously been and deposited some of the contents of his lab’s scrap bin.  I ’phoned him to thank him and then wondered how to get it cut to size.

Work on the new mast electrics is now complete apart from fitting the tricolour and aerial, which will have to wait till the new masthead plate is cut, drilled, finished and mounted.  I don’t really want to fit them until just before the mast goes up, for fear of damage, anyway.  There’s a spare ‘mousing’ line left in the mast, just in case I decide to add another cable at some time; the two lights both have nice shiny and watertight plugs at the bottom (one brand new, t’other reconditioned) and the sockets in the deck have also had a clean, and the tricolour one registers the full battery voltage when tested.  On the other hand the socket for the new steaming light plug is completely dead, so there’s some fault tracing to be done.  The new VHF aerial lead, at 20m, is long enough to reach all the way to the set, without a joint, so that is what I shall do.  There’s already a serviceable gland in the deck, although, in common with all the other fittings, it’ll get a strategically placed blob of sealant at the appropriate moment as an extra line of defence against the dreaded water ingress.

I’ve even cleaned the mast step and its bolt, adjacent to these sockets!

Then I thought I’d better have a look at the wiring.  The lack of volts at the steaming light socket turned out to be due to a loose spade terminal on the back of the switch, so that was easily fixed.  I proceeded to label what I could work out, for future reference, and untangle some of the snakes’ wedding that had clearly formed over the years.  I was handicapped in this by being able to get only two of my head and arms into the hole, so seeing what I was doing with both hands was somewhat problematical.

 The surveyor had said that,

“The wiring around the boat was haphazard and untidy having been added to over forty years by well-meaning DIY boaters and no warranty can be given as to the correctness of wirings type or size or if these have been correctly fused.”

…the main mess is in the battery locker… Unfortunately it still is, as I have neither the expertise or the money to get it tidied up.

…so that will need sorting out.  Much in common with many boats, I suspect.  The main mess is in the battery locker, and will need some proper busbars and cable leads to get it sorted out.  The loom running forward to cabin and nav lights is actually quite tidy, although not properly supported through the lockers.  But I have sticky pads and lots of small cable ties which will rectify that.  However, I removed the trunking cover in the heads compartment and traced the wires therein.  This enabled me to sort out one or two little conundrums (conundra?), such as why the port nav light had two wires: one was an extension to the starboard light, with a connection made inside the trunking with – you guessed it – ‘chocolate block’ connectors with rusty steel screws!  Easily rectified, provided there’s enough cable there.  A couple of other wires in there have had the same treatment, and these might not have enough extra length.

There’s also a wire connected to the port/starboard/stern light switch, which, on removal, seems to have no effect.  That needs following.  And then finally I fitted the new 12v socket and, in the subsequent sunshine, put it to good use in running the fridge.  The old one, whose fixing flanges have broken off, will be put to use as a ‘rover’ but will need a fuse.

The tricolour (cleaned up) and steaming light (new) plugs all ready to commect at the mast step, with a not-very-neat extension to the hole. The third cable is from the VHF aerial and will reach all the way to the set with no join.

The next couple of days were somewhat disjointed.  I had to find a temporary doctor to prescribe me my regular medication, of which I was about to run out – that took longer than it needed to because of the lack of cooperation from my own surgery.  A trip to the library for email and research became extended, and by the time I’d called at various emporia to pick up equally various bits and pieces the day was nearly over.  The Rig Shop called me back – they had the clevis pins in, total cost £33 for the seven of them.  All right, they’re A4 stainless steel and crucial bits of the rigging, but nearly a fiver each for bits of metal is a bit steep.  At least I had plenty of split pins.

Anyway, I bit that particular bullet (no wonder my teeth are so awful) and picked them up, and was then able to put the rigging together.  Cap and lower shrouds, backstay and babystay all connected up with shiny new fittings.  The forestay is still coiled up as it needs its lower terminal fitting fitting, and this has to go on after it’s been threaded through the new foil.  I’m also a bit doubtful about putting that all together, as the terminal is absolutely crucial to the safety of the mast and I’ve never done it before.  So I want someone who knows how to do it.   And on top of all that, the jib luff rope doesn’t fit into the groove in the foil, so that will need replacing.  And a sailmaker will tell me that the sail’s so old it’s not worth it…..

I rove the new spinnaker halyard and topping lift on their new blocks, too, but decided to leave the jib halyard till its masthead sheave had been cleaned and lubricated – which I should, of course have done before putting any new ropes up there.  But I wasn’t going to take them out again and, anyway, that was a job for the next day.  I did try writing up these notes on the laptop powered by the boat’s battery via my new inverter (Aldi again).  It worked, without running the battery down too much even in the dark, so when the solar panels are pumping in the amps it should be fine.  Still a bit worried in case the jib can’t be fixed….

On Friday I decided to buy a day’s mains electricity (at £3) and do all the things that needed it.  These would be…

  • Cut and drill the new masthead plate
  • Sand down the bottom prior to anti-fouling
  • Wire-brush out the new rust spots on the keel (and prime them)
  • Charge the small drill
  • Vacuum out the boat, especially the bottoms of the lockers
  • Use the electric kettle instead of the gas (This aim was somewhat compromised by my failure to find it in the car.  I must have left it at home.  Maybe I should buy a small one to use in the boat).
  • Plug in and use the laptop (whose battery has had it)
  • Have my radio on ‘sleep’ when I go to sleep

What’s more, I actually achieved nearly all of those.  I decided to leave the rust spots pro tem and do everything involving painting in one go.  I can do that with the battery drill anyway.  Not a bad three quid’s worth, I should say.

Saturday 16th           Hot

Too hot to work (well, that was my excuse) and, satisfied with yesterday’s progress I decided upon a day off.   Bit of a lie-in, shower, leisurely breakfast and a stroll to the library to get on line, catch up with emails and see what advice the members of the WOA had come up with.  Back home, a bite of lunch and then Graham from the Moody 33 (whose electricity I’d shared on a previous trip) came by and we got chatting, first about my solar panels.  I went down to his boat and he delighted in showing me his (enormous) progress – immaculate new teak joinery; neat and tidy, well thought out wiring etc. etc. He also lent me his copy of the Boat Owner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Nigel Calder’s 800+ page tome which Steve had mentioned last weekend, and I spent the rest of the day (apart from a brief shopping expedition to Bitterne) reading that.

Sunday 17th              Hotter

Another gentle day today, not feeling 100%.  However, I did remove, clean, polish, replace and lubricate the two sheaves in the masthead that I could get at – the other two on the forward side have had to make do with a squirt or three of silicone lubricant.  And popped round to Shamrock to get a new split pin for their axle (of course, it’s not possible to buy just one), and some bolts to fix the tricolour bracket to the new masthead plate.  On fitting them, they turned out to be a few millimetres too short – they don’t engage the lock part of the Nyloc® nuts – so I’ll have to get some more tomorrow. (But they’re a good tight fit in the holes and have actually tapped their own threads.)   A good chat with Julian though, and some advice about what else to do with the mast down and the boat ashore.  I never wanted to be a boat mechanic, but by the time this boat is ready to sail, as I’m repeatedly told, I shall know it inside out and be able to fix any further problems at the drop of a sou’wester.

Had a go at cleaning out the underwater skin fittings – cooling water intake and both heads valves – with partial success, and met Amanda for the first time for a few months.  She’d been in a serious car accident on the motorway and escaped almost uninjured, apart from her confidence, never enormous.  However, we discussed her proposed modifications to her Hunter Freedom and looked forward to meeting next week.

Bright early evening sunshine as I type this, and the solar panels are putting out enough amps to enable me to run the laptop on the inverter.  It’d be better still if I could be bothered to turn the panels round another 50° to face the sun at right angles.

Time to tidy up the boat, then a shower and shave, then into town for a takeaway, traditional on the last night (and to complete a day of junk food!).  Then tomorrow, retreat to see the Aged Parent in London for a day or three, and back before next weekend’s barbecue.

No sign of engineer all weekend.

Friday 22nd   very hot

Came down yesterday and the only useful thing I did was write a list of the jobs remaining.  It filled an A4 sheet.  So this morning I made a start by cleaning out the engine cooling water intake and begging a thin sheet of cork to make a new gasket for it.  I continued by withdrawing and cleaning the heads inlet seacock, which was caked with crunchy deposits, chiefly, I suspect, of ex-barnacles and similar.  Both this and the outlet seacock (previously cleaned) were then slathered with white marine grease and reassembled.  These are among the small number of fittings whose failure could sink the boat, so took care to get it right.  I just hope they’re OK when she’s finally launched.

Better news: I found the engineer, who told me that he’d do the preliminary work on Sunday morning!  I shan’t be holding my breath, but it sounds hopeful.  And Steve’s coming at some point over the weekend and I shall dragoon him into helping with the furling gear.

Saturday 23rd                       v hot

Slept badly (unusual in the boat – probably the temperature) then (after a much-needed shower and shave) set to work to trace the wiring.  By the time the marina barbecue got under way at lunchtime I’d identified and labelled all the wires, replaced most of the choc block joints with in-line crimps (must buy some more of these) and tidied up again.  The unidentified cable turned out to be (as suspected) the compass light, wired to come on with the side & stern lights.  That’s fine but I now also need it to work with the tricolour, so some clever wiring will be needed.

Sunday 24th              cloud/sun/light rain later

The engineer was due at nine to start on the engine bay.  I was ready at half-past; he arrived at ten, at which point (he wanting me out of the way) I took myself off to buy bolts, crimps and food.  While I was out Steve ’phoned to tell me that he was in too much pain to drive (he’d fallen over in the bath!) so he wouldn’t be coming after all.

When I got back on board at 1130, the good news was that the engine beds wouldn’t need to be cut (saving time, money and mess) and that the engine would go into the bay without having to remove all the woodwork around the companionway.  It might even be possible to use the same prop shaft, if a spacer could be incorporated in the new coupling.  He’s going to order the angle-iron for the bearers and will fit the engine over the next couple of weeks.

I spent the afternoon removing the old exhaust hose and instrument panel.  The panel mount will need an insert to take the new, smaller, panel so when I was rained off in the evening I spent the time making a paper template for this.  I’ll try and find a piece of laminate or GRP to cut it from – or maybe the joinery shop can do it for me?

Monday 25th             Warm & sunny

Very lethargic and dispirited for no obvious reason, other than the ever-extending list of jobs to be done.  Ended up having a day off by default, and stuffing myself with junk/comfort food finishing with fish & chips and banana & custard.

Tuesday 27th             Cloudy & warm

Started on all the sealing jobs – masthead plate and all the holes therein, mast foot plugs & deck sockets etc.  Permanently fixing the masthead plate took much longer than expected, even after I’d found the relevant nuts, screws, washers & bolts which I’d put away ‘somewhere safe’; it wasn’t helped by me then knocking over the dish containing them onto the gravel.   Eventually completed that (not as prettily as I’d’ve liked, but who’s going to see it at the masthead?), sealed round all the new lights, since I didn’t trust their allegedly waterproof seals filled (temporarily I suppose) a few old screw holes and finished repairing the portable bilge pump whose handle I’d broken off weeks earlier.

Satisfied with that and after another late lunch, I started on the ground tackle.  First job was to hoik out the bower and all its cable, which presented few problems, but I discovered in the process that the bow roller was reluctant to turn owing to one cheek of the stemhead fitting being slightly bent.  As it’s not a structurally crucial piece I’ll have a little go at persuading it back into shape with one of my hammers at some point.  The roller runs on a bolt across the two cheeks so it should be possible to remove it (standing by to catch any bearings as I do so!) for repair and lubrication.  I laid out the cable (now 8mm chain in good condition, the attentive reader may recall) in 5m fakes and marked it at 10, 20 & 30m with pieces of string with one, two and three knots in them; the intervening 5m marks are stout pieces of black gaffer tape.  Time will tell how durable and useful these are.  Total length is 37m which will be plenty for anchoring in shallow, sheltered bays overnight.

Less impressive, however, was the weight of the anchor.  It’s a Danforth type (although not stamped with that name; good in soft mud, in which the Solent abounds) but once I’d tracked down a spring balance (courtesy of Duncan in Custos) it weighed in at only 16lb (7.3kg).  That would do as a lunch hook, but I’d be disinclined to trust it overnight in anything but a flat calm.  Eric Hiscock (in Cruising Under Sail) recommends a minimum bower weight of 30lb, even for the smallest boat, and he should know.  The new cable is pretty chunky though, and it’s well known that ‘the anchor holds the cable and the cable holds the ship’ so maybe I’ll test it thoroughly and then give it a whirl.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Oh yes – shipwreck and total loss of the boat and all its contents, including me.

The kedge, once I’d disentangled it from the other contents of the lazarette, was also not entirely satisfactory: a 15lb CQR type (again, no authenticating stamp) with 5m of 6mm chain is fine, but the 23m of rope appears to be polypropylene rather than the stretchier (and more expensive) nylon.  It’ll do for now.  I put on a seizing to stop the end back to the standing part at the business end of the rope, and wired the shackle pin.

What I think I’d like is a 25 – 30lb CQR as the bower and the existing 15lb Danforth as the kedge but I suspect they’re quite pricy.  However, a quick interweb search reveals a 20lb CQR-type in reasonable nick, on Gumtree in Southampton for only £15, which looks like a bargain.  Then I can use the Danforth as the kedge and keep the smaller plough in reserve – or sell it, possibly for more than £15!

Finally, I took the castellated propeller-retaining nut off the shaft, along with its washer and cleaned them both up with my fine files and some sandpaper.  The nut appears to be stainless steel and the washer copper, or possibly an alloy thereof, which is somewhat surprising. The prop will have to come off as well, of course, but that needs a puller which I don’t possess (although I could make one I suppose) but I’m sure someone does.

Wednesday 28th                   rain at first; brighter later

Up early; cleaned the soot from around the exhaust baffle and cleaned the engine bay.  Then gave it another coat of Danboline, having first reinforced the biro marks with a black Sharpie so they could be seen through the (white) paint.  All done by 9.  He’s busy moving engines and other gear around the yard (and Alan’s moving boats for some reason) but will get over to the steel merchants to pick up the bearers tomorrow.  He says.

I’ve developed over the years the habit of peering into skips to see if there’s anything interesting therein. I was rewarded on this occasion by finding three fenders of the right size which as far as I could tell, had bee thrown away because it was easier than cleaning them. I hoiked them out, took them away and attacked them with bleach, detergent and elbow grease. £45-worth of fenders for nothing 🙂

One of the fenders I found in the skip – before cleaning…
…and after.

Not a lot more I can do at the moment, and I’ve had enough of this for the time being, and there’s a lot to do at home.  Elevenses, wash up. Tidy the boat. Pack clothes. Load car.  Hit the road.

Thursday 29th

At the Aged Parent’s in London; my copy of Nigel Calder’s excellent Boat Owner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual arrives.  Fourth edition, published last year; 944 pages of pure usefulness.  Will head home tomorrow with plenty to read!

I thought, after a year of working on the boat (since she last sailed) it might be an idea to assess what I’ve actually achieved and what jobs are still left to do.

Jobs done Jobs to do
Have stbd keel joint repaired Grind remaining rust spots off keels
Have heads seacocks refurbished Rust-treat and prime metal so exposed
Bare patches of antifouling retouched Prime bare patches on rudder & elsewhere
Clean anode Anti-foul keels, rudder and bottom
Regrind heads outlet valve Clean anode (again)
Grind rust off keels Clean, repair, renovate & oil rubbing strakes
Rust treat and prime keels Touch up damaged areas of topside paint
Anti-foul keels Clean around exhaust outlet
Scrape hard marine growth off hull Clean/polish/paint all skin fittings/flanges
Sand down old anti-fouling …will be painted with hull
Clean out holes through skin fittings  
Engine/propulsion system
Have new stuffing box fitted Remove and clean old propeller & sell it
Have starter motor overhauled (inc. remove & replace) Engineer to fit and align new engine & propeller (including fitting new bearers etc.)
Alternator ditto Try again to sell old engine or parts thereof
Attempt to clean rust off engine Make insert to fit new instrument panel
Coolant leak detected & hose/clips replaced Fit ditto and connect
Discover lack of oil in gearbox. Rectify Fit new ring anode to prop shaft if necessary
Bleed fuel system (three times) Fit emergency cut-off ball valve to fuel pipe
Try & fail to solve engine running problems  
Clean manual bilge pump strum box Clean out fuel tank
Fuel & tank cleaned by repeated filtering …unnecessary – fuel seems clean
Pump several gallons of rain out of engine bay  
Disconnect all pipes & wires from old engine ?Move primary fuel filter to stbd side
Remove companionway woodwork Fit ball valve as emergency fuel cut-off
Tom remove old engine  
Photograph & attempt to sell ditto  
Remove old engine bearers  
Clean & degrease engine bay  
Drill limber hole between main & engine bilges  
Repair crack in this bulkhead  
Paint engine bay  
Second coat ditto  
Remove old exhaust hose & clean area  
Hatch slides cleaned & regreased Remove chipped/cracked/peeling non-slip paint
Deck scrubbed Repaint with non-slip paint
Lifebuoys cleaned Repair all chips and cracks in gel coat
Dinghy tested and used Renovate and polish gel coat
Forehatch handle removed & reseated Ditto & oil teak grab handles
Compression seal applied to lazarette hatch Find and cure leaks through cockpit seats
Buy and rig tarpaulin to keep rain out Straighten cheeks & overhaul bow roller
  Fix lifebuoy light
  Install extra cleats fwd & midships
Sails bent on Assemble & fit new headsail furler & forestay
Existing anchor cable inspected & marked Get jib luff adapted to fit new foil
Standing rigging inspected & condemned Clean fwd masthead sheaves (for halyards)
Main halyard replaced Reeve jib halyard
Cable replaced with longer & heavier one Step mast and tension standing rigging
Mast lowered Fit ensign beckets to backstay
Standing rigging removed & replaced Clean & reassemble radar reflector
Running rigging removed & washed Make leadline
Spare jib assessed; hanks serviced; measured Fit boom
Anchor & cable tested by use Rig all remaining running rigging
Mast lowered to ground & supported Bend on sails
Measure & mark bower cable Rig dodgers
New standing rigging fitted Fit jackstays
Fit new blocks for topping lift & spare halyard Terminate guardrails correctly & tension
Clean & lubricate masthead sheaves Lead lines aft
Reeve new running rigging on mast  
Assemble furling gear & forestay  
Solve problem of disconnected domestic batt. Secure batteries in new position
Buy small solar panel to charge domestic batt. Tidy up wiring in battery compartment
Try & fail to calibrate autopilot Connect new engine as required
Buy larger solar panels; use these for domestic battery via new regulator Fit new (LED) \tricolour light
Fit new VHF aerial
Transfer small panel to engine battery Replace galley, fo’c’sle & heads lights with LEDs
Fit socket for domestic battery charger Fit bunk light for stbd quarter berth
Move batteries & associated wiring Tidy up all outstanding wiring
Run new wiring in the mast Fit solar charging sockets for both batteries
Fit plate for new tricolour light Work out how & where to store solar panels
Fit new steaming light Reconnect autopilot
Ditto side lights (LEDs) Make/acquire portable anchor light
Replace saloon light with LED Fit bilge pump c/w float switch & controller
Replace choc block connectors with crimps Get manual for radio/CD player
Buy and adapt 50m mains extension lead Work out how to wire compass light, and do so
  Fit new engine instrument panel
  Install shore power system inc. battery charger
  Overhaul/buy & fit tacho & temp gauge
In the cabin
Window hinges serviced & seals cleaned Clean out FW tank & pipes
Lockers cleaned & mildew removed Refit (overhauled/new?) FW foot pump
Chart table made to slide freely Clean & paint all lockers
Gear restowed (several times!) Ditto stbd quarter berth
Table socket replaced Secure bookcase
Galley cleaned (several times) Fill old holes to stbd of c/way
Investigate leak; remove leaking FW foot pump Re-hang curtains
Cut hole in sole (under step) & clean beneath Bring cushions & curtains back on board
  Rebuild cabin sole to reinforce & incl. hatches
  Install calorifier
  Install cabin heater
Repair leaking gas pipe Replace gas bin with proper locker
Secure gas bin in position Secure gas supply pipe to bulkheads
Fire extinguishers serviced Seal lazarette lid closure
Hose clips on heads pipes replaced  
Heads pump & valves overhauled  
Bolt cutters serviced  
Gas cylinder replaced  
Complete purchase paperwork  
Arrange insurance  
Arrange berthing  
Transfer Small Ship Registration  
Set up accounts spreadsheet & start using Carry on & complete accounts
License radio  
Buy charts Correct charts

And that’s where I got to at the end of that summer. Still no sailing 🙁