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.

About the author: Steve Freedman
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