Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cost of Building ‘Talitha’ and Satisfaction

'Talitha' at Burnham Yacht Marina

As I came near to finishing ‘Talitha’ I did a mental calculation as to how much she must have cost to build, and it amounted to £1,500 approximately. The actual figure, including miscellaneous items associated with the boat, was very nearly £1,600. This figure includes payment for the road trailer lighting board and associated wiring. I paid nothing for the trailer, as it was a gift.

I only worked with the best materials, as usual, because I do not find satisfaction in making a boat that does not meet my standards of acceptability. A vessel correctly constructed with marine ply, if lovingly maintained, should have a working life of perhaps thirty years.

Timber and plywood amounted to £466.19; the sail cost £285.00, and surprisingly, chandlery items, including rope and paint set me back £460.42. Adhesives and epoxy worked out at £93.87. They would have been more, but I had epoxy in hand from when I built ‘Faith’.

Was she worth it? Of course she was. I’m very pleased with her, and I am looking forward to enjoying what she offers me by way of adventures, because every outing is an adventure, whether it is sailing on my local river, or a distant venue. That’s an advantage a small portable vessel has over a larger one that can only reach new places by sailing the long way, or by special arrangement overland.

My heart goes out to those who bog themselves down with ownership of large boats that drain their pockets, steal their time, cause problems and often bring little satisfaction. Whenever I visit a marina, I observe these ‘poor’ people maintaining their possessions, labouring, polishing, painting and often struggling with fixing the ship’s engine.

Take it from, me; sell your monster; go small and enjoy.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

‘Talitha’s’ Fourth Sail

Very fast Powerboat

Fast Motor Yacht

Saturday on the Crouch during the summer holidays – I should have known what would happen. Sadly, over the years since I started sailing on the River Crouch in 1973, there has been a marked proliferation of power vessels. Today, there were a few water-ski boats, and a large number of motor yachts, some that moved at speed with disregard to other water users. Two vessels in particular made excessive washes that roared along the banks, no doubt causing erosion to the softer ones of Bridgemarsh Island.

I’m not a killjoy, and I’m not anti-motorboats, but I don’t understand the mentality of a few who ‘drive’ their boats at high speed past small craft. I could say derogatory remarks about such people, but that would be unbecoming and not at all helpful. I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever my views, theirs will not be changed. I therefore have to accept the situation if I choose to take my little sailing boat on the Crouch during the summer season on a Saturday.

GPS on new bracket

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed my fourth sail with ‘Talitha’. The wind was light and variable, which made the sailing very interesting. I was frozen in the morning on my way to Fambridge because the wind was pretty cold. From about mid-day onwards the sun peeped out, and the clouds thinned to reveal blue sky by mid-afternoon. There were quite a few large sailing yachts making up river in the morning, and I found that ‘Talitha’ could not keep up with them, but she overtook a few of the smaller ones. Taller rigs, larger sails and longer waterlines ensured that the good, big yachts sailed faster and arrived at Fambridge before my tiny boat.

Anchored Yacht

I dropped anchor close to the north bank, to the east of the moorings. In deeper water, anchored nearby, there was a stylish wooden yacht that had an almost straight sheer. She had an unusual mizzen mounted on an upright rudder stock, similar to those on Thames barges. Francis Chichester had a self-steering sail on one of his boats, almost identical in appearance to the one on the nearby yacht.

After lunch I made sail and headed down river for Burnham. The wind was fickle when I arrived off Bridgemarsh Creek as a Burnham scow was entering the river. At first I could not catch her, but with perseverance I overtook the dinghy, despite having weed wrapped around ‘Talitha’s’ keel. There was an excessive amount of egg wrack drifting in clumps on the surface which had me taking evasive action to avoid them.

Back at the Yacht Harbour, I brought the trailer and car down the slipway to save time when making the boat ready for the road. This meant that I did not have to haul the boat on her trolley to the top of the slipway, as I did before.

Apart from motorboat interference, the sailing was very good.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fambridge Riverside

'Moby Dick'

If I am looking for spiritual refreshment, peace and quiet, I can usually find them at South Fambridge beside the River Crouch. This Friday was one of those deadly dull, heavy motionless days when the sky is grey and there’s no hint of a ray of sunshine and very little colour. There was barely a ripple on the water and hardly any activity, at least when I took a walk along the path that runs beside the River, but my soul was lifted when I saw the amazing tangle of wild flowers, grasses and reeds that brushed my feet as I wandered along. Butterflies flitted here and there, and one couple of Large Whites were engaged in a mating dance, so touching to observe. Bees buzzed and hovered, alighted and took their fill of nectar, unknowingly pollinating in return.

Scanning the moorings for any vessel of interest, my eye alighted upon a small auxiliary clinker ketch named, ‘Moby Dick’. She looked rather homely with her jaunty doghouse, providing full standing headroom. With two foresails, a main and a mizzen, she had ample sail for a reasonable turn of speed. To me, she looked just right – possibly a genuine classic conversion of an old ship’s lifeboat, having an extra strake from amidships forward added to her gunnels. I liked her side decks and hand rails along her cabin top. She could so easily be reefed, simply by dropping her main, and when at anchor, her mizzen would keep her steady, headed into the wind. Generous topsides would make her a dry boat, and the doghouse would keep her crew snug and dry.

A Large White

A delightful tangle of weeds

The white plastic yachts surrounding her were not a bit interesting or attractive to me. Somehow, they did not have life; they lacked character, being deadly dull as the unwholesome weather. Despite these blemishes spoiling the scenery, I came away refreshed, recharged, re-energised, thankful for the flowers, the bees and butterflies and for the little clinker boat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

‘Talitha’s’ GPS

Etrex GPS


I have two GPS units, one of which is being borrowed by my daughter; the other is a Garmin Etrex Legend that I keep for immediate access to waypoints, boat’s heading and speed. My other GPS is a Lowrance Expedition c model that has colour charts that I use for pilotage. The older and cheaper of the two GPS units is the Etrex; I initially mounted it at the aft end of the keel box, but I could not see the display clearly there, and when I was using my cockpit spray cover I could not see it at all.

To improve the situation I have made a bracket for the GPS near the front of the cockpit on the starboard hand side where it will not get in the way of the sail when it is stowed. In that position the unit is a little more vulnerable than in the cockpit, but I think the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages. At least, that is what I believe. I’ll have to give it a go when working the boat to discover if it works okay.


Confessions of an Old Salt (Has more details of the two GPS Units)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Perfecting ‘Talitha’

Thicker rope for the handles

I hope this is the last time for doing the handles

There are several definitions for the word ‘perfect’ and one of them is, ‘having all the required elements, qualities, or characteristics’. In that sense, ‘Talitha’ is nearly perfect for the boat I thought she would be, i.e., an easily handled day boat for the single hander.

I have sailed her in various conditions, from very little wind up to at least Force 5, possibly more. She has behaved as expected, and I am very, very satisfied with her, but with use I have found that water comes through the holes in the deck for the rope handles. I take the blame, because I foolishly used rope that was too thin. To overcome the problem I inserted small lengths of plastic pipe into the holes, but they worked loose and slipped out. Today, I came to my senses and took the designer’s advice to replace the rope with a thicker section that matches the diameter of the holes. In addition to that, as an extra measure for keeping water out, I spread silicone sealant onto the rope where it passes through the holes. Maybe this remedy will do the trick?

Anti-chafe precaution

As I anticipated there would be, the mast, boom and yard show signs of wear where they come into contact with one another. To prevent further abrasion I have coiled rope around the mast and tacked both ends to keep the rope in place. Leather is the preferred material for protecting spars. In fact, I have a piece which I may exchange for the rope if it doesn’t perform well.

The weather forecast for the next two or three days is not looking too bad, which gives me hope that I may find an opportunity for testing the modifications to the handles and the mast.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

12 Foot Smacks Boat

I was recently contacted by Doug MacEwen who fitted out a GRP replica of a 12 foot Smacks Boat. He sent me two photos that are reproduced here under copyright to him. Currently, every time I open my computer, I’m presented with a photograph almost covering the full screen of Doug’s beautiful dinghy. I simply saved the photo to ‘wallpaper’, and there it is for me to enjoy. The mainsail for his boat was sewn by Jimmy Lawrence, the old barge skipper and sailmaker at Brightlingsea. Doug made the white jib himself.


Some thoughts on barge and smacks boats – a really good article by Gavin Atkin

A good thread on Smacks Boats

James Lawrence – Sailmakers Brightlingsea

Monday, July 25, 2011

‘Talitha’s’ Third Sail

Youngsters Racing

I had a sneaking suspicion I would return to Burnham for my afternoon snack that I left on the fisherman’s launch.

Kite for scaring gulls

‘Talitha’ was afloat at the Yacht Marina by mid morning, roughly two-and-a-half hours after high water. The mud was very slippery, and I nearly went for a Burton as I boarded the boat. Tragedy averted, I gladly took up my position for making sail. Shortly, the boat was running before a gentle north-westerly, then on a broad reach past the Royal Burnham Yacht Club. Beyond the Corinthian Yacht Club I could see a mass of colourful sails. Youngsters were out racing again in a miscellany of small craft: Lasers, Toppers, a Cadet and several RS dinghies.

Roach Buoy

Lovely Gaffer

Turning to starboard, after passing the Branklet Spit Buoy, I steered south, into the River Roach. On my port hand I passed the Roach Buoy. I must say, all these local buoys are kept in tiptop shape. Well ahead, where the Roach bends almost at a right angle, a lovely gaffer was on the wind coming my way. In fact, there wasn’t a great deal of wind, almost zilch at times. At least, I had a chance to try the boat in those conditions.

So as not to get trapped in the Roach, I had to be back in the Crouch by at least and hour before low water, which I did with a half-an-hour to spare. Better to be sure, than take a risk in those rather calm conditions, because I didn’t fancy paddling the boat against the incoming tide that would, without question be against me after low water.

The conditions were perfect for trying the anchor; therefore I paddled the boat closely to the north bank of the Crouch. Seeing it was neaps, and only an hour before low water, there was hardly any current. The anchoring went perfectly. There I had a snooze for an hour, and when I opened my eyes, I observed a small trawler was heading my way, but the lone fisherman was hauling his net and swung his boat round in a ‘U’ turn.

On my return to the Yacht Harbour I had no option, but to pass through a mass of dinghies with their crews having water fights. I guess it was the end of the racing, and it was their way of letting off steam. One dinghy very nearly collided with ‘Talitha’. I was grateful that I was not showered with water from their paddles and bailer as we passed within touching distance.

It seems that wherever I go with ‘Talitha’ there are people who say the loveliest things about her. As I was making her ready for the road at the top of the ramp, a yachtsman who had observed her sailing expressed his admiration of the boat. That was so typical of others who could not resist coming to look at her close-up. Well, that certainly gives me satisfaction, and her performance likewise pleases me no end. Yesterday, on the run, she topped over 6 knots - in truth, it would have been 5 knots without the ebb in her favour.

Yet again, I had been blessed, and the sailing was good.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

‘Talitha’s’ Second Sail

At Ferry Road slipway

Everything was just right: an early high water at Hullbridge and a pleasant Force 2 from the west, veering a little towards the north later in the day.

Launching went as planed at the Ferry Road slipway. There were no others using the ramp at 0700, apart from the swans that reluctantly moved aside for the creature with the big red wing.

Downwind from Hullbridge

I had an uneventful run to a point above Cliff Reach where I tried various manoeuvres, including having a go at putting in a reef. The wind picked up a little and the clouds thinned to provide blue spaces between them.

Burnham Yacht Harbour, tied to a fisherman's launch

Morning coffee time drew me into Burnham Yacht Harbour where I duly parted with £2.40 for a small Latte. The waitress was intent on killing a wasp that she had imprisoned in a beer glass on a newspaper. As she lifted the glass with her left hand, she held a rolled-up newspaper in the other, but the wasp would not oblige by making an exit. Running out of patience, she took the poor creature to an insect zapper that was hanging on the balcony nearby. I waited for the inevitable zipping sound. Satisfied and grinning, she triumphantly returned to her otherwise mundane duties.

Off for another sail, I drifted out of the Harbour and made my way east to Rice and Coles to have a look at ‘Ladybird’ and have a chat with the boatman. He always has wise words, particularly when it comes to watercraft. I wish I could manage a motorboat, as he does.

Soon it would be time for lunch, which I determined to have ashore at the Yacht Harbour. On the way there I had an interesting sail to windward through the moorings and the racing fleets. The Optimists are the ones to avoid, because some of the youngsters can be unpredictable. Quite a few of them are learners, but it’s great to see so many young people enjoying themselves.

I sat on a patch of grass beside the slipway, my eye glancing now and again at ‘Talitha’, to admire her lines.

It wasn’t until later when beating to Fambridge, that I realised I had I left my afternoon snack and a bottle of orange juice on the fisherman’s launch, and unless I return there tomorrow for more sailing, I think the gulls may take a liking to the salt and vinegar crisps and the Mr Kipling, exceedingly good Almond slices!

There were only three ski boats in action to the east of Fambridge, so there weren’t too many wakes to contend with.

Tacking between the moored yachts along the Hullbridge reach proved interesting, but not once did ‘Talitha’ fail to come about.

The Harbour Master’s launch was moored off the Ferry Road slipway, and I felt his piercing eyes watch my every move. Fortunately, things went reasonably well; the sail came down in a bit of a jumble, and the keel came up after I shoved the top of it from behind.

Within minutes I had the sail and mast off the boat, and shortly afterwards, her trolley was attached to her skeg. I couldn’t immediately trundle her up the slipway, because a ski boat was being launched.

At the car park it was a matter of following the rehearsed procedure of laying the boat on her side while on her road trailer and removing her keel; then we were off for a short road journey home.

It had been a splendid day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Checking ‘Ladybird’

'Ladybird' at her Burnham mooring

My daughter is sailing towards Holland, not aboard her Seawych 19 ‘Ladybird’, but as crew on a much larger yacht. She asked me to check out her boat, because she had not seen her for a while. There were two things that required attention: the mooring rope had jumped off the bow roller and her rudder had been forced off the transom fittings. The Rice and Cole boatman had kindly put the rudder in the cockpit and he explained that there had been a strong southerly wind that coincided with a big spring tide; the combination of wind and low water set the boat in shallows over a mud bank. That explained why I found caked mud on the rudder.


Everything else was fine. I enjoyed being aboard my old faithful little ship that had looked after me so very well when I sailed her to Falmouth and back from the River Crouch last year.

I was reminded of Dylan Winter of ‘Keep Turning Left’ fame when he looked at a similar Seawych laid up in a barn. She was in a neglected state, but with a bit of tender loving care it was possible she could be brought back to life. Dylan had been having a spot of trouble with the diesel engine in his Mirror Offshore 19; in fact it more or less gave up the ghost and came adrift from its mountings. For a fleeting moment he thought he would have to ditch his much loved boat and get hold of another at a rock bottom price – the Seawych was going for free! Guardian angels came along and repaired Dylan’s engine and he was as happy as a sand boy, but only a few weeks later the engine’s gear became stuck in forward. The last I heard was that he was looking at some old outboard motors that may help out.

Because my daughter is crewing on three other yachts, she has little time for sailing hers, and consequently she has advertised the boat at Apollo Duck. If you are looking for a cracking little sailing cruiser, she might be the answer. You could try making an offer.


‘Ladybird’ for Sale at Apollo Duck

‘Ladybird’s’ Summer Cruise Review

Dylan Winter – Keep Turning Left

Friday, July 22, 2011

Launching ‘Talitha’

Trolley attached

On her side

Ideally I would like to be able to launch ‘Talitha’ directly from her road trailer when her keel is in place. To do this I shall have to modify her trailer or buy a purpose-built one. Meanwhile I’ve come up with a system that I think will be satisfactory.

It goes like this: Firstly, on arriving at the top of a slipway, attach the trolley to her skeg and position the boat on her port side while she is still on the trailer. Do not unhitch the trailer from the car. Re-position the boat so that her keel box is slightly aft of the trailer’s rear support beam, and the port side of her transom rests on the ground, while being protected from damage with a soft pad. Slot home the keel and add the starboard weight; then lock them together and attach the keel haul wire to the pulley system, making sure it is taught. Set the boat upright before gently pushing her astern until more and more weight is taken by her trolley. Continue moving her astern until she is completely free of the road trailer. You are now ready to walk her down the slipway, but take care, because some slipways are very slippery! When the boat has been launched, remove her trolley and put it in a secure place, perhaps the boot of the car.

Weight being taken by her trolley

Ready for launching

I have found it is generally better to rig a boat before launching her. The alternative is to accept a fair amount of wading around the boat to get the job done. The rudder may need attaching after the boat has been launched.

I have carried out a ‘dry’ run of these proceedings on my driveway, but the acid test will come when I do it for real.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trolley for ‘Talitha’ Part 2

Trolley parts


I completed making wooden parts for ‘Talitha’s’ trolley and I assembled them, along with an axle and wheels salvaged from an old wheelie bin. I also painted the trolley with an undercoat, so that I’ll be able to apply the first upper coat tomorrow.

The trolley slots onto ‘Talitha’s’ skeg and it is held in place with a pin that passes through a hole in the skeg. I have yet to make a pin, preferably from a rod of a non-ferrous metal. I have an iron rod that would suffice, but in time, rusting could be a problem. The axle has been anodised.

Attached to the boat with an improvised rod passing through holes in the trolley and a hole in her skeg

I’m assuming the trolley will work, and until the paint has dried, I shall not know how good or bad it is. If there is a dry spell of weather tomorrow morning I’ll be able to give it a test run along my driveway.

In time I may make a frame that will slot onto the trolley for transporting ‘Talitha’s’ keel. Because it may not be always possible to take the car to the water’s edge, this device could be handy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Trolley for ‘Talitha’

Scrap wood being utilized for making the trolley

One thing I realised at the first launching of ‘Talitha’ was that I could not lift the boat when her keel was fitted. I knew the reality of it; therefore I did not attempt to carry or drag her to the water. I patiently waited for the water to come to her.

Slot into which the skeg is inserted

To eliminate waiting in the future, I am building a small trolley that will slot onto ‘Talitha’s’ skeg so that I’ll be able to ease her into the water. When she’s afloat I shall be able to remove her trolley, and ship her rudder prior to setting off for a sail or a paddle.

Trolley frame in place, minus its wheels which will fit either side of the frame

My trolley differs from Derek’s because he adapted a proprietary one designed specifically for Mirror dinghies. Unfortunately, the manufacturer no longer produces them. Therefore mine will be purpose-built to snugly fit ‘Talitha’s’ skeg. The wheels and axle are from an old wheelie bin and they are more than strong enough for bearing the weight. They will be suitable for use on hardstanding, but not on soft ground, sand or shingle.

I am in the process of making the wooden parts of the trolley. Shortening the axle is problematical, because the wheels lock onto grooves at either end, which means I shall have to remove a central portion of the axle and join the outer parts together. This would best be done by welding them. I have a friend who has volunteered to do the welding, but he will not available for a while. However, if I can make a replica groove identical to one on the axle, there would be no need for welding. When a wheel is pushed onto the end of the axle, an internal spring-loaded pin locks into the grove so that the wheel cannot easily be removed.

A long handle can be attached to Derek’s trolley so that it can carry the keel and the keel weights. Such an arrangement could be useful if they have to be transported a distance to a place of entry at the water. This duality of purpose is very practical.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Improving ‘Talitha’

Plugging handle holes with small plastic tubes that snugly fit around the rope

Handle in place

When I first sailed ‘Talitha’ I was amazed how much water came through the holes for her handles in the side decks – not that there were gallons - only a couple of cupfuls, but if the boat were sailing to windward in rough conditions for hours at a time, there would be a significant accumulation of water in her bilges.

Sometimes the boat heeled until water lapped the bottom edge of the leeward coaming, and it was then that it forced its way through the holes to the interior. I believe the solution is to insert small, snug-fitting plastic pipes into the holes, which in turn are within larger ones, with the rope handles passing through both of them. Well, I think that will do the job; I’ll know when ‘Talitha’ next sails through a rough patch to windward.

GPS held in place with a bungee

So that I can clearly see my GPS, I have decided to fix it to the aft end of the keel box with a bungee. There I can conveniently operate the gizmo. Unfortunately, if I’m wearing my cape spray deck, I cannot see it unless I pass it through one of the two openings with Velcro flaps at the front. Obviously, I can’t hold the GPS for ever in that position, but I can keep it there for quite a while, as I only need one hand for holding the sheet.

The cape spray deck should keep me dry when it rains - note that the boat is controlled from below deck, because she has foot steering and her sheet is led through a pipe to a pulley forward of the keel box

The cape spray deck will not be much use when I am paddling the boat with her one-bladed, Canadian style paddle, but it will keep my head and shoulders dry when it rains.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Small Modifications to ‘Talitha’

Milk carton mast sleeve

When I test-sailed ‘Talitha’ last Thursday she went through a few rough patches, as the flood tide on the river Crouch was running against a Force 4 or 5 westerly wind. At times the tops of breaking waves were blown onto ‘Talitha’s’ foredeck, resulting in water entering the housing where the mast passed through the collar. To temporarily prevent this happening I’ve devised a sleeve made from a plastic milk carton. In time, I shall make a more substantial sleeve, most probably from plywood.

New, thicker rudder downhaul bungee

I also exchanged the thin bungee that was used for holding the rudder down for a thicker one. I trust the new bungee will do the job, so that when the boat is running at speed, her rudder will remain fully immersed.

As far as I can tell, no water entered ‘Talitha’s’ forward buoyancy compartment during her first sail. As a security measure against water getting in through the keyhole attachment for her keel haul system, I redid the flexible sealant around the capping piece. Except for sealing holes through the side decks through which ropes for the deck handles pass, the boat is ready for another sail.

Ideally, I would like a variety of wind strengths for fully testing the boat. Light winds do not reveal weaknesses that may be found with the reefing system, rudder fittings or the keel. However, if the wind is no more than a Force 2, I’ll be able to try full sail.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ebay for Selling and Buying Boats

A Piccolo sailing canoe for auction at Ebay (Photo courtesy of

For me, sailing boats are irresistible, and Ebay is one of those places I can visit, not to buy a boat, but to dream and monitor the current market. There, a vessel can be found at her true monetary worth, i.e., what buyers are prepared, willing and able to pay.

A seller can advertise his boat in the form of a classified advertisement, or place her in a category where he can accept offers, or buy now, or he can auction her. By far, the most popular option is for the straight forward auction category. This last method can include a reserve price to ensure that the vessel does not go for a stupid giveaway price.

If you are putting your boat up for auction you have to decide whether you want to start the bidding at a low price to encourage bidding, or whether to kick-off at a price near the figure you would like for her. I quite often see sailing boats being advertised for auction at a value far higher than the market rate. Usually, these vessels are there for the week, fortnight, or whatever the length of the auction, without a single bid being placed. The advertiser is then left with a bill to pay to Ebay for an auction that never was! He would have far better researched the market and placed his boat for auction at a rate, perhaps a third of her true value, to get people bidding. If two or three people are really keen on a boat, the bidding can become intense, with a rapid increase in the bidding during the final five minutes.

Once in a while, a vessel will go to a bidder at a fraction of the true value, but this is not necessarily a blow to the seller, because he simply wants to get rid of his possession, as she is costing him a packet to keep. He has mooring fees, and other running costs, and maybe he is in a position where he is unable to use the boat through illness, change of location, or other circumstances.

In my experience, a reserve price can be off-putting and counterproductive to bidding. Quite often there will be pranksters, who have no intention of getting the boat, but they want the ‘thrill’ of placing a bid, so they make a ridiculous bid below the reserve price. They know full well that the owner will not let his boat go for the amount they are offering.

I think Ebay is an excellent window for advertising a vessel for sale, because it’s a very popular venue for those wanting to buy one. There are risks involved in buying from Ebay; therefore the buyer needs to satisfy himself that he will be getting what is advertised. He would do well to see the boat before making a bid or an offer. He would also be advised to seek out the seller’s Ebay history, to ascertain if his feedback score is acceptable. If he has a 100 percent positive score with more than 10 to 20 items, there need be no concern, but if he has several negative feedback comments, it would be worth looking more carefully before placing a bid.

I once became involved in making a bid for a boat, only to discover that the so-called owner could not prove ownership by way of a ‘Bill of Sale’ from the previous owner. That may not matter for a very cheap boat, but when the bidding is in the thousands of pounds, that little bit of paper is very important, especially for the bidder to know that there are no hidden outstanding bills to be paid on or in connection with the vessel, such as mooring fees or a marine mortgage etc. A legal Bill of Sale will include such a guarantee absolving a new owner.


Homepage of

Piccolo wooden canoe classic boat sailing canoe

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Camping with ‘Talitha’

Testing the tent

Cosy with the Insul-A-Matic griptec mattress.

I have been able to sleep aboard previous home-built boats, but that’s not possible with ‘Talitha’; therefore, if I’m to sail her elsewhere over a period of days, camping ashore would be the next best option. To that end, I’ve looked out camping gear that’s been stashed away in my loft for a number of years.

Most importantly, I found a small tent given to me by one of my daughters. She borrowed it one stormy weekend and was full of praise, because it did not let in a drop of water, neither did it get blown away! The easily erected igloo-style tent comes complete with a purpose-made groundsheet.

The Khyam Eiger tent and groundsheet when packed

I was pleased to find my well-tested, self-inflating mattress upon which I’ve slept so comfortably aboard ‘Micro’, ‘Caleb’ and ‘Faith’.

Likewise, I found a single burner camping stove - yet another present from one of my daughters.

My Euro GT camping stove

I also came across my book, ‘Where to Launch Around the Coast’, by Diana van der Klugt, printed in 1994 by ESP, Crowborough, East Sussex – ISBN 1 898574 02 2. Okay, it is 17 years out of date, but no doubt the slipways are still there, and perhaps some of the information is relevant.

My old pressure cooker that has served me well on previous boats will come in handy once again.

Well, those are the main items I shall require for camping beside the water, and the book will come in handy when deciding where to launch ‘Talitha’.

All I need is a spell of good weather, and a timeslot when I can go adventuring.

Friday, July 15, 2011

At a Loss

The beginning of a new relationship. (Photo copyright of Peter Howard)

There is almost a feeling of bereavement with the loss of building a boat. I no longer have a task to undertake; no more do I have to solve a new problem, or overcome a difficulty. There is nothing to satisfy my creative urge. I can only look at the new baby that has been born and wonder what sort of life she will have. Will she spend most of her time tucked away in the recesses of a garage or will she delight in frequently dancing upon sparkling waters? Will she have many owners or just a few before her inevitable demise; for all things that come to life must eventually die? Will she enjoy her days and be cherished by those who possess her?

She is now my responsibility. In the past I have been a flirt who has had several mistresses - just one at a time, you understand! I do have some principles, after all. Those to whom I have sold my fleeting possessions may have been more faithful and caring than me.

Shall I keep ‘Talitha’ until I leave this life, or shall I run true to form and part with her to the next highest bidder? Who knows? But one thing is for sure; I want to explore my new mistresses’ potential. How capable is she at coping with the East Coast Rivers? How would she handle on a short coastal passage? Can she carry enough gear for lightweight camping?

There are many things to discover about her, and it is these that will give me pleasure while making me forget my bereavement, until perhaps an urge for a new mistress makes itself felt with a desire to start all over again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sailing ‘Talitha’

Launching at Burnham Yacht Harbour

There was a good wind, but little sunshine - ‘White Cloud’ was the official description, according to the BBC forecast. Today was my only chance for sailing ‘Talitha’, because tomorrow, I shall be otherwise engaged, and the weekend looks pretty grim weather-wise.

High water at Burnham was 12.28 BST which was ideal for a test sail. The plan was to have a good beat up the river to Bridgemarsh Island with the flood; heave to there and have lunch; then run back to the Yacht Harbour on the first of the ebb.

Launching the boat was quite easy. I transferred her from the trailer to a piece of old carpet laid on the slipway; shipped the keel, fixed the rudder and rigged her. Meanwhile, as I parked the car and trailer, the water steadily crept up the slipway to float her off on my return.

This photo is copyright of Peter Howard - please respect it.

Underway, I paddled her towards the Yacht Harbour entrance and hoisted a reefed sail. She effortlessly glided out to the River where I brought her on the wind. On the more exposed parts of the River waves were breaking, causing spray to fly back over the boat. She leapt off the waves and heeled until her leeward deck was close to the surface of the water. Under those conditions, more often than not, she tacked, but once in a while she needed a nudge with the paddle to bring her round.

This photo is copyright of Peter Howard - please respect it.

There were no other small boats about, but there was the yacht ‘Grey Lady’, and on the run back to the Yacht Harbour, her skipper took photos of ‘Talitha’. He later met me at the slipway and kindly offered to send them to me by email. I am extremely grateful for his thoughtfulness and the time he spent sorting out the photos.

The only change I shall make to ‘Talitha’ is to exchange her thin rudder downhaul bungee for a thicker one, because there was a tendency for the rudder to rise when the boat was running at speed, at times almost planing.

I was pleased with the trailer, which does the job of transporting the boat well.

Back at home, I hosed the boat and sail to rid them of sea water. The test sail had gone well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Test Sail for ‘Talitha’

Fender in the making. A rope will pass through a central support tube made from plastic.

Paul left a message on the comments page enquiring when I might take ‘Talitha’ for her first sail. I replied that I hoped it would be on Thursday, 14th July, but tonight, the weather forecast looks pretty gloomy with drizzle and rain. So much for the long-range forecast! Well, I’ll have another look at the weather maps tomorrow morning, and make a decision to go or not to go.

Meanwhile, I’m sorting out loose ends and preparing for the event. The last thing I’m lacking is a small fender. A standard one is too large; even a mini one is a little on the large size - because I have to find stowage space for it. On the other hand, if the fender is too small, I might as well forget it, because in anything of a seaway, parts of the hull would come into contact with a pontoon or jetty to which the boat is moored.

Therefore I’m motivated to make my own fender, a bit smaller than the smallest available from the chandlers. I am making it out of spare foam padding, a plastic tube, and a piece of sailcloth held together with Marlow Whipping Twine stitched along the seam.

If the fender is ineffective, I’ve lost nothing, because all the items used in making it are buckshee from previous projects.

Apart from the fender, everything is ready for ‘Talitha’s’ test sail. I am dependent upon having suitable weather and a timeslot that fits with the tides for the River Crouch, Essex.