Ever since I bought the boat in Oct 2016 she’s had a really weedy bottom. The Yanmar 1GM 8hp engine has struggled to push her along at any more than 4Kts and any attempt to go faster has resulted in clouds of black smoke as the engine is put under too much load.
After all the work on the bottom I was keen to get out and see what difference all the work had made.
Unfortunately there was no wind, but I did have a lovely motor over to the river Yealm. On the way back into the Plym I touched 6Kts under motor alone and she was really happy chugging along at 5 to 5.5kts.
Refit may be bit of a strong word, but Floreasca my Halcyon 23 based in Plymouth definitely needed some attention. She had a very weedy and fouled bottom and needed lifting and antifouling, and as it turned out a ton of scraping, sanding and gelcoat treatments too. Chroist.
I had her lifted out by Yacht Haven Quay in Plymouth a week or so before Easter and they pressure washed her to get rid of the worst of the week/barnacles/mussels etc.
When I found her sat in the yard she was looking like this;
Preparing the Keels
The keels were really heavily pitted and rough. I gave them a once over with a wire brush attachment on my drill, then used rust converter to go back to a nice black surface. It was mucky, but at least it was a fairly quick job.
Preparing the Bottom Side
I started sanding the bottom ready to apply the antifouling paint. The more I sanded, the more I became unhappy with what I was finding.
There were lots of different coats and getting it smooth was difficult. I tried really hard to ignore it, but a nagging urge overtook me and I decided that I should remove all the old crap layers of antifoul, primer and what ever else was on there first.
I used Interstrip AF which softens the old paint and makes it easier to scrape off. It’s nasty stuff though so I needed a protective suit, mask and googles. It was tough going. I took a day each side of the boat.
I was left with a fairly smooth surface, but it had lots of different layers showing through, including some exposed glass fibre. The chandlers at Yacht Haven Quay suggested that I put a good layer of epoxy Gel Shield on to seal the bottom before antifoulding, which seemed like a great idea. It was great to finally start painting rather than prepping…
Finally the Anti Fouling Paint
After days of hard work it was finally time to put the barnacle repelling, weed busting, mussel strangling anti-fouling paint on! Yay!
Just One More Thing
… as Columbo used to say. A boot topping line. To my mind boats just don’t look right without them…
So after six days of hard work I’m really happy with what I achieved, and with how Floreasca is now looking! I can’t wait to get out for a sail and see how she goes!
I’ve been tinkering with my Halcyon 23 again recently. I’ve started putting some insulation into the forepeak behind the panels next to the v-birth. I’m hoping this will help make the boat a nicer place to be on cold days and nights. I’ve used the silvered bubble wrap sold by most DIY stores. I have used PVC glue to stick it to the fibreglass sides of the boat, as I don’t want to use a glue that’s going to be a nightmare to remove should I decide to replace it all at a later date.
I’m not sure how or if I’m going to try to insulate the curving underside of the deck/forepeak ceiling as it’s a very fluid moulding and I think it will be difficult to end up with a neat finish.
After all the tinkering I thought both myself and Floreasca (Flora for short) deserved a sail, so I struck out on Boxing Day. Remarkably I had Plymouth sound to myself for the first few hours. Only late in the afternoon did I spot two sails way over near Picklecombe. There wasn’t a lot of wind, and I seemed to be permanently against the tide, but it was a very pleasant day. The sun was warm and the great visibility and nice rolling swell outside the breakwater meant I really enjoyed the sail. I saw Gannets diving, cormorants diving and seagulls a plenty.
I did however notice another issue that needs fixing on the boat. I’ve been reading a lot about sail trim recently, and it became obvious to me that the way the genoa has been set up I can’t achieve a good sail set. Flora has roller reefing and a pretty sizeable genoa. I’m not sure what percentage the genoa is, but it overlaps the main significantly. I have found that the jib sheet angle is too steep, meaning that the sheet pulls down the leach of the sail and pulls the top of the jib too tight relative to the foot. This means that when the genoa is fully unrolled and I’m close hauled the jib is touching the spreaders up the mast.
This is a bad thing as to get the maximum drive from a sail, with minimum healing and drag you want the sail to ‘twist’ away from the wind as you go up the sail. This is because the wind is slowed down and it’s direction is changed by its passage over the sea, meaning the wind will be faster, and from a more favourable direction at the top of the mast. Sails are designed to twist towards the top to make use of this and achieve more forward force when they twist.
My sails, with their lack of twist are producing more drag and sideways force than they could be, meaning reduced speed and more heeling. The badly setting genoa also affects the main, as the air passing down the ‘slot’ between the genoa and the main can result in backwinding if the main is twisting but the genoa isn’t.
As I said earlier, the lack of twist my genoa is showing is due to the jib sheet angle. The force exerted on the sail is from too low down meaning more tension is being applied down the leach of the sail than along the foot. I can fix this in one of several ways.
Lower the Sail
Perhaps the best fix would be for me to lower the whole sail. The furling gear is mounted quite high off the deck as you can see in the picture below;
Lowering the entire furling gear so that the tack of the sail is closer to the deck will do two beneficial things; lower the clew of the genoa reducing the angle between the deck and the jib sheet, and move the centre of effort of the genoa lower. The reduced angle will allow more sail twist, and reduced heeling, and the lower centre of effort will also reduce heeling. On the downside currently I have great visibility from the cockpit as I can easily see under the genoa! Further more, when running before the wind the genoa will foul on the pulpit.
Attach a Strop to the Jib Sheet Runner
The angle between the deck and the jib sheet could be reduced by lifting the point at which the jib sheet is attached to the traveller by adding a strop. This would mean more tension along the foot of the sail and less along the leach of the sail which would allow more twist of the sail. It would also help decrease the angle at which the jib sheet meets the winches, which is also too steep at the moment. The jib sheet has a tendency to roll off the bottom of the winch. This wouldn’t have the benefit of reducing the centre of effort of the sail, but I would maintain the visibility under the sail and I wouldn’t have to mess with the furling gear and genoa halliard. The jib wouldn’t foul the pulpit when running before the wind either.
Move the Traveller track Aft
This would be a difficult job, and would also necessitate moving the winches back. I don’t like this option for those reasons.
So, what to do? I think I’m going to go for the second option. It seems like the least work, and it fixes the winch problem as well as the sail trim problem. I will still have good visibility under the genoa, and I don’t have to mess with the furling system, which is working well for me at the moment. I’ll probably experiment a little with some rope and a block to find the right length of strop that is required, and then get some wire strops made up.
Some footage showing my sail trim issues, my silly hat, and the lovely conditions out on Plymouth Sound on boxing day!
Hope everyone had a happy Christmas and you have a great New Year! – Jamie
It’s fair to say it was with some trepidation that I drove down to visit Flora last weekend. Storm Angus had barreled through the south west during the previous weekend and he had wrought havoc. The wind and rain had been incredible and much of Devon and Somerset was affected by flooding.
At the time the storm hit all I could do was lie in my warm bed and wonder how poor old Flora was fairing in the tempest outside. Did I tie mooring ropes well enough? How much water would she take on? Then I remembered the state of the sail cover. Flora’s previous owner, Dennis, is married to an incredibly patient and talented seamstress who had kept the sail cover going long after most would have given up.
Incredible work right? But it struck me that the fabric itself must be pretty weak if it had needed that much repair and stitching to begin with. As I remembered a velcro under tie coming off in my hands when last securing the cover, I imagined Angus fingering away at it until prising it loose. With nothing left to protect the mainsail, I imagined it flogging away in the wind, driving Flora off her mooring and taking down the mast!
So as I approached in the dingy I was greatly relieved to see Flora bobbing away merrily on her mooring with her sail cover in tact. Apart from one jib sheet trailing in the water it looked like Angus hadn’t so much as ruffled her feathers. I climbed on board and lifted the hatch in the cockpit fearful of how much water I would find. The locker lids don’t look all that waterproof and Dennis had mentioned that he recently made modifications to the cockpit sole hatch as it had leaked. For those reasons I expected to see the water up around the prop shaft. But, Dennis’ hatch fix had withstood Angus’ battering and I happily removed the paltry three or four sponges full of water I found there.
When Barbara – the met office names storms in advance here – comes flailing across the UK I don’t want to be plagued by the same worries that Angus caused me, so I set about measuring up for a new sail cover, which I brought and fitted later that afternoon.
And here’s Flora wearing her new cover proudly.
The other cause of concern during the storm had been the mooring lines. As you can see in the picture below the run of the lines on the front of the boat isn’t very good. There are no handed fairleads to guide them, so the last time I tied them off I ran them around the outside of the pulpit bars and onto the samson post.
Inspection of the ropes showed that they had indeed been rubbing on the pulpit and had started to show wear. I couldn’t leave them like this. I picked up some off cut tubing at the chandlery while I was picking up the new sail cover and ran the mooring lines through that. I took the anchor off the anchor bow roller temporarily and ran the tube and lines through that. At some point I will need to add some handed fairleads to run these lines through. I put the stern lines through tubing too.
With those jobs now done, when Barbara inevitably shows up I hope I shall be able to rest easier in my bed and that Flora will rest better too!
I didn’t have time left for a sail, so I sat and enjoyed a cuppa, then set to taking the covers off the birth cushions and packed them ready to go home for a wash. Heading back to shore I saw a number of boats on the moorings around Flora were missing. As it was a pleasant sailing day I had assumed that they were out in the sound or beyond, but later spotted them lined up ashore for the winter.
I know I’m going to have to have Flora taken out of the water before next spring but I’m going to leave it as late as possible for a number of reasons. Firstly I’m sure to find more jobs that can only be done when she’s out the water. Secondly, being ashore is expensive, and finally I want to get a few more sailing in before she has to come out!
After getting the engine running nicely and having had a good first sail on the new boat last weekend, it was time to let my kids loose on board. They have grand schemes of making it look super cosy inside, and making the interior a nicer and more comfortable place to be.
We set off for Plymouth on Saturday afternoon and arrived just in time to watch the Guy Fawkes night fireworks on Plymouth Hoe from Jennycliff on the Turnchapel side of the sound. It was a fantastic display, and the fairground on the Hoe looked incredible.
It was a cold evening, and we had plenty of sleeping bags and blankets to get onto the boat. It took us two trips in the dingy to get everything onto the boat, where the kids immediately started organising the boat and setting up their beds.
Knowing it would be cold on board I had bought a Origo Heatpal bio-ethanol heater and a carbon monoxide alarm.
They’re advertised as being suitable for marine use so I was hopeful of a snug night on the boat. The thing with burning stuff on a boat is that you have to ensure that there’s enough oxygen to feed the fire, or your little ray of joy will start throwing off carbon monoxide and you may get a better sleep that you bargained for! With that in mind I had all the air vents open, and a good draft through the boat, to the point where I’m not sure the boat was any warmer than if I’d kept the vents closed and not lit the heater! Anyway, the carbon monoxide meter showed zero, and my kids got a great night’s sleep. I didn’t sleep too well up in the V-birth, with my head close to a damp underside of the foredeck, and being a bit paranoid about the CO thing. This meant I spent the night checking the CO meter every 30 mins although it has an alarm that would wake me up should the levels rise to a concerning level.
Eventually morning came, and it was beautiful. The sun illuminated a rippling alto stratus cloud layer, reflecting on the oily calm water of the Plym. You could see your breath and feel the sharpness of the air in your lungs
Meanwhile, the girls were still warm, cosy and fast asleep.
When they woke up we tidied away all our bedding, got dressed in our warm clothes and rustled up some breakfast. Bacon sandwiches for the girls and an egg sandwich for me. Then we dropped our mooring and sailed across the sound. Compared to the previous weekend there were hardly any boats out. It was like someone had declared the sailing season over. I was struck by the huge number of masts poking up out of the marinas we passed. Hundred and hundreds of boats all tied up going nowhere. Yes, it was a bit chilly, but the sun was out, and there was a good northerly breeze and we hoisted the sails and took turns at the tiller. All those boats were missing a glorious day, but it was all to our gain, as it was lovely to have the sound almost to ourselves!
I was hoping to get up the Tamar and into the River Lynher, but it wasn’t to be. We had dropped the mooring later than I’d planned and the tide running down the river was too strong to fight so we didn’t get as far as I’d hoped. We ended up picking up a mooring just off Royal William Yard, Stonehouse, where we ate salad boxes and crisps for lunch.
We needed to get home at a reasonable time to get ready for school the next day, finish homework and all that stuff so we dropped our mooring and headed back across the sound. Tilly took a turn on the tiller.
The breeze was strengthening, gusty and disturbed due to it having ruffled the city’s hair as it travelled southward. We sailed on genoa alone and with the tide with us we fairly flew along. Before we knew it we were back on the mooring and decamping all our stuff again. All in all we did seven nautical miles, and spent around three and a half hours off the moorings. By the time we got back the girls had made the cockpit into a day bed and looked very cosy! It was a great day!
Video Footage of the day and a wildlife encounter!
So, in the last instalment I bought a boat, had it fail to start, bought a new alternator and worked out that the old alternator had been wrongly fitted. I refitted the new alternator and proceeded to run the engine with the diesel tap closed until it stopped. Not clever.
So on the Saturday morning on my new boat I awoke with the job of bleeding the diesel through to the injectors to get the engine started again. I had also been disappointed when the engine had been running the previous evening to note that the bloody charging light and alarm had still been sounding, leading me to believe that the alternator still wasn’t quite wired correctly. Booo.
So, I bled the engine through, and poured over more internet pages with schematics of Hitachi alternators. I came to the conclusion that the connection on the wire on the alternator marked ‘P’ for phase simply wasn’t required in my set up. P is used to power rev counters and such like, which my boat doesn’t have. So I connected live to the lug that the chap in the shop had indicated, and connected the boat wiring’s neutral cables onto a nut and bolt on the alternator body marked ‘E’. Earth right?
I then got a new battery for good measure and fired everything up. It all worked beautifully. No alarm from the Yanmar starter panel, no charging warning light, and a good 14V+ across my batteries! Yay! Finally success. Time to get out for a sail before high tailing it back to Somerset. Maybe a pasty first…
I grabbed a pasty from Dizzy’s in Oreston, where I was very pleased to see, they were making the pasties right there in the shop. And very nice my pasty was too!
Then I got back to the boat, dropped the mooring and headed out of the Plym for the sound. Once I rounded Mount Batten breakwater it was time to put some rag up and get the noisy old engine shut down. I took a good look around for approaching vessels and then pulled out the genoa. Took another quick look around and a hydrofoil sailing dingy had sliced its way out of nowhere and was flying past! What a sight!
I pulled up the canvas and found Dennis and I had left a reef in the day before. Still, I had canvas up and was goose winging across the sound.
With the reef shaken out and all canvas up I had a good sail. I’d left the dingy on the mooring, and the transom mounted outboard was up and not dragging and consequently the boat behaved much better, tacking happily and although you wouldn’t call her quick she was OK. I’m sure she’ll be like a new boat when all that weed comes off!
Later the wind picked up and the sun came out briefly. It was a beautiful autumn sail, with moody skies, dancing sunbeams and fickle winds.
So, I’ve bought a boat! I found a Halcyon 23 in Plymouth that was advertised on BoatsAndOutboards.com. It’s a 37 year old GRP boat, with an old Yanmar 1 GM 7HP diesel in it. It also has a Tohatsu 5hp outboard for back up. I has 4 births, a sea toilet, a grill/hob, a sink with pumped cold water and mast and sails.
I spend three days in Plymouth with the boat. On Thursday 27th of October I met with Dennis the owner. He’s a really nice bloke and I liked him immediately. We went out for a sail together in Plymouth Sound before I bought her. It was a bit breezy out, maybe a force 4 to 5, and we had a couple of turns on the roller main reefing, and another couple of turns on the genoa. We had a fun sail in the breeze and wind chop and swell.
My initial feeling was that the boat was sound and in good order, although a couple of times we struggled to tack. We were towing a dingy and the transom mounted outboard was down and dragging. There seems to be quite a bit of weed on the bottom too, which probably wasn’t helping. Halcyon’s have a weird triple keel set up. Here’s Floresca’s keels some time ago;
Here’s the starboard bilge plate as it is now, submerged and weedy…
Boat’s can be stubborn sometimes though. My first boat, a plywood 20ft ketch with a scaffold poll mizzen mast, was impossible to tack through the wind initially. However, a bit of experimentation and learning the boat’s feel got me to a point where I could tack it out of Porthleven harbour with no engine on. So, I’m trusting that I will learn this yacht’s foibles and overcome them in the same way.
Anyway, after a nice sail, and a good chat (Dennis and I have some history in common) I bought the boat.
The Boat Piskies
Piskies are a part of Cornish folklore. They are said to be mischievous but ultimately helpful. I spent the late afternoon and evening buying provisions for the boat, and toing and froing in the dingy brining stuff from shore to the boat, and settled down to a cosy evening with a lovely meal of kippered mackerel and salad washed down with some Thatcher’s Haze. All was well with the world in my cozy boat…
I had a pretty good night’s sleep and awoke about 8am. I had breakfast and other morning necessities while I pondered how best to spend my Friday; go sailing or see if I can get some weed off the bottom? There really wasn’t much wind, and it was an hour before high tides, so I thought maybe I could get aground and scrub for a while.
So I turned on the engine inlet seacock, put the key in the ignition and turned. Whistle… click. Nothing. Engine wouldn’t turn over. The battery was flat. Damn! “The day needn’t be wasted though”, I thought. The boat is registered with Sea Start. I gave them a ring, thinking I must have discharged the engine battery over night and probably just needed a jump start. The engineer arrived really quickly, came out and gave it a jump start and it went.
However, he had concerns over the alternator and charging circuits. The Yanmar charging buzzer and lights didn’t go out, and he was confused by the wiring on the alternator. He found a connection that was hanging loose from the back of the alternator and thought that the alternator had probably not been charging the battery for a while, and that the rectifier on the alternator had probably fried. Reconnecting the loose wiring caused the engine to labour and the revs to drop. He didn’t think the battery was charging though.
So, off I went to get a new alternator. Dennis the previous owner felt awful, and was really helpful all day, messaging me to see how things were going and paying for the replacement alternator. He’s a genuinely nice guy.
The chap had a replacement, but needed to make a couple of changes to the connectors for me so I had an hour to wait before picking up the alternator.
I popped over the Queen Anne’s Battery and bought some charts from a lovely lady in Sea Chest. By mid afternoon I was back at the boat with the new alternator. However, there was a problem. It would seem that the ‘lug’ connector on the old alternator (bottom left terminal withe the red wire connected on the new alternator) had been connected to a negative, and the ‘phase’ terminal (top of both alternators as shown in the photo above) had been connected to a positive feed. Weird. How had that been working? Had it ever been working? Who knows!
I rang Gary at Starters and Alternators to make sure that the BATT terminal should have a live on it, and used a multi meter to make sure that all the cables were what their colour indicated, i.e. red – live, black – neutral and they were. So I can only assume that this has always been wired wrongly. The upshot of this was that I needed another trip into town, at rush hour, to go to Halfords for a wire stripping an crimping tool and some crimps so that I could put lugs on the positive wires and a spade connector on the neutral.
Finally I got all the wiring sorted and the alternator re-connected. However, the main engine battery was dead, so I took the terminals off that battery and put them on the leisure batter and the engine started. I think the battery was charging too although the Yanmar panel red light was still on, and the engine charge warning buzzer. I left it all running for about 20 mins and then the engine died. IDIOT. I’d forgotten to open the diesel tap, so the engine needed diesel bleeding through! A really nice chap on the boat behind mine came over and helped me bleed it through, however my leisure battery is too dead to turn it over quick enough to get it running.
And that’s where I was on Friday evening. No sailing, but learning lots about my inboard engine.
Choice of boat is a huge subject. The first thing to do is to have a long hard look at what you will do with your boat. N0t what you want to do, but what you are likely to actually do. Sure, I’d love to spend three months sailing down the to med and cruising around Greek Islands, but I have a job and I have kids. My wife and I are separated and me being around for the kids allows her to work, which is important to her. I love being around my kids and it’s important to me to be a big and constant part of their lives. This means I’m likely to spend the maximum of a couple of weeks at a time on the boat. That still gives me a large cruising area, with opportunities to cross the channel, head over to Wales and up to the solent and beyond. I’d like to be able to take the kids cruising too. They’re pretty excited at the prospect of staying on a boat. So I’m looking at something capable of a channel crossing, with at least three births that I can live on for a week or two at a time.
Boat Length Choice
One complication for me is that while at university I did an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore shore based course. I’d love to start accruing the 2500 miles at sea pre-requisite for the YM Offshore practical exam. Half of the 2500 miles must be done on a boat with a waterline over 7 metres. So initially I was thinking of getting a 28ft boat which should have a lwl of 7m.
Then I listened to Tom Cunliffe’s ‘Sailing, Yachts and Yarns’. Tom has observed that sailing is very much about adventure and a feeling of freedom. That feeling can’t be achieved if the cost of sailing is likely to restrict your ability to sail, or mean you’re shackled financially for the rest of the year. So, he postulates, enjoyment and satisfaction from a boat in inversely proportional to length.
I thought about that a little while.
Bigger boats require more routine maintenance which eats into your sailing time. Costs are not proportional to length. They are more like a square of the length. Think about your sails for example. Cost are relative to their area, which is roughly that of half a rectangle. As length of the boat increases, area increases by a factor of roughly .
Wetted area again increases disproportionally. So new sails, rigging, antifouling and many other costs increase exponentially rather than proportionally as length increases. So the difference in yearly costs between a 22ft boat and a 28 ft boat won’t be 27% more (the percentage length increase), they could increase by as much as 60%. An 80% increase in length to 40ft might mean an as much as a 230% increase in costs!
So I’ve decided to look for a 22-24ft boat and start eating into those 1250 <7m RYA miles. This way I can see if the urge to do that Yachtmaster Offshore exam grows or subsides. If I’m still keen after 1250 miles then I’ll look for a > 7M LWL boat then.
Will a 22-24 ft boat suit my needs? Well yes. There are plenty of 22-24 ft boats that have crossed the channel, can sleep three and have sufficient space and comfort to live on for a couple of weeks. Having spent more time than is sensible looking at what might suit the following list, while not exhaustive for complete gives and idea of the kind of boats that might fall into this category;
I once had a disposable boat that was the epitome of freedom. I bought it for £400. It was a 20ft plywood boat with a jib, sliding gunter main and a scaffold pole mizzen. It had a cabin with two births and a cooker on board. I had some amazing times on that boat. I sailed it from the Helford, round the Lizard to Porthleven using an Ordinance Survey map to navigate with. Yeah… I know. But I was skint, and it was that or nothing. I hit the tidal race of the Lizard and spent half an hour wondering if the old plywood hull would stand up to the slamming as I motored into the headwind and short steep waves. Then the seagull outboard ran out of petrol….
I sailed that boat all summer then went back to University. It lasted the next summer too and I spent nothing on it. It then went off to a life as a chicken shed. That was cheap boating.