The homecoming!


Well,I now owned a yacht of sorts.
The next stage was to get her back to drying mooring I had arranged. I intended sailing her back although the time of year wasn’t ideal,early February and cold and windy.I had managed to get a brief stay of execution for the mooring she was on,but before long I was going to have to start paying,and the £50 a week short term fees were going to hurt!
The penultimate weekend in February came and I was out of time. The weather on the Saturday was lovely,sunny with a gentle breeze. I couldn’t get out of the canal and into the Blackwater until high tide at 4pm,so spent the day preparing the boat.
I had managed to borrow a nearly new outboard from a guy at work( huge thankyou to James!) so that needed mounting. I also checked all the rigging,lines,anchor etc to try and ensure a hassle free trip.
Did I mention I also drank large amounts of tea?
4pm came and I was off! Bit nervous but very excited about being sailing.Got onto the Blackwater proper and hoisted the working jib(no mainsail,remember?) and before I knew it was making 5 knots. Combination of jib,slow running outboard and a falling tide. I was happy!
Carried on downriver in the fast approaching dark until Bradwell power station came in sight and decided that was a good place to overnight.
Engine off(ah,peace!) Jib down and let go the anchor. Not too sure how deep it was(no working depth sounder yet) but I let about 25m of chain out. Seemed to be holding ok so got busy with the kettle!
During the evening the wind got up and it got a bit choppy! I decided to forget sleeping and busied myself around the boat.Made a good start removing rotting carpets etc,drank tea and checked gps every 15 minutes in case the anchor broke free.Needn’t have worried on that score,held position all night.
Sunday morning,wind had eased and it was time to go.Brightlingsea here we come!
First job,after tea,was getting the anchor up. Not easy. Took about 30 mins of back breaking heaving and left me absolutely shattered.(memo to self:add anchor windlass to wish list!)
Finally I was away,and again making good speed downriver.All plain sailing until I made the turn into the Brightlingsea channel. By this time the wind had picked up again and I was going in against the tide,as was the wind.
Had to switch engine off,with the state of the sea,the prop was out of the water more than in it,so progress under jib alone was slow.
Then,disaster struck. Don’t quite know how or why but an almighty crack was followed by me holding the detached remains of the tiller.
It had sheared where it was bolted to rudder stock. The air was blue and I didn’t even have time to make tea!
In vain,I fired up the outboard to try and gain some steerage but to no avail. Anything gained was lost by the rudder flapping about in the current.
A decision was soon reached and I put a call through to the coastguards. They in turn summoned a lifeboat to my aid and very soon I was under tow and getting to Brightlingsea that way. Not a good start!
Big thankyous to coastguard and the volunteers of the RNLI!
Needless ro say,whenever I see one of their collection pots I am duty bound to make a
donation. They do a fantastic job out there.
I left seal on a visitors berth and made my way home very dejectedly. Must have been a quiet day for news,my rescue made the hourly news bulletins on local radio. Next day at work I was teased relentlessly about my exploits,but not unexpectedly!
A week later I returned to seal with a repaired tiller assembly,and finally got her to my mooring at St Osyth. And I only ran aground twice…..


First impressions

The day ‘seal’ and I first met was a bitterly cold and windy one.I was so keen I got there early and had a wander up the canal towpath and a sneak preview. She didn’t look too bad. Lots of fallen leaves all over and a fair bit of flaky paint. No signs of any real damage and very little in the way of gel coat crazing,although that could be hiding beneath the copious amount of what looked to be masonry paint adorning her decks and coachroof.
She was floating level though with no listing,but overall looking vety sorry for herself.
The owner turned up and opened her up to reveal the inside.gulp!
Untold rubbish and owners personal effects half filled the cabins which made a full inspection somewhat of a challenge!
The cabins held a horror story,50 years of modifications and”improvements”.
Most of the interior surfaces were covered in a patchwork quilt effect of horrible brown corded carpet.what had escaped was either painted in masonry paint or panelled over in rotting plywood. The original vinyl headlining was a saggy mouldy mess.
The electrics consisted of random lengths of reclaimed fridge cables and numerous junction boxes and miles of insulating tape. The light fittings and a switch panel looked ok though.
There was a seafarer3 depth sounder(condition unknown).
The berth cushions were just lumps of foam,they looked as if they had been gnawed to shape by a hungry rabid gerbil!
Various bits of old wardrobes had been used to make fold down upholstered doors on the side shelves.quite a good idea but poorly executed!
I’m no perfectionist,but I like things to be right.clearly the cabins would have to be gutted,and improved to my standard.
On the plus side,the sliding heads compartment doors were in good order.
There were also 2 sails(working jib,storm jib ) in good mainsail though.pity.

I could see enough of the inside to know it was sound,most of the lockers were dry,and i was pretty sure what water was laying about was rainwater from leaky deck fittings rather than anything more sinister.
I could see the potential and also a lot of hard work!
Back on deck things were probably a bit better. Other than needing a full repaint the main issue was that the outboard well had been closed off and the lid was missing. One stanchion base was broken and the hatch runners were rotten. The cabin windows were crazed and tbe rubbers(along with most of the deck fittings) were leakjng.
The vast transom locker was full of more rubbish and rainwater and there was a good cantilever outboard bracket bolted on the stern.
Overall I didn’t think she was bad value at £300,so I took tbe plunge and paid the money.
Cue the drive home complete with big grin and a headful of planning! Bring it on.

The project (pt2)

I didn’t just ignore the rule book when I bought ‘seal’,I tore it up,shredded it,incinerated it and flushed the remains down the loo!
I didn’t have a survey done(obviously on a project boat of £300 it was hardly worthwhile), I had virtually decided to buy it just on the seller’s description and two poor quality pics, she was afloat so I had no real idea what the hull was like (could have been a keel missing for all I knew!) And I was wearing a rose tinted welding mask! It was love at first sight,I was hooked,smitten and a probably a mug punter to boot! But hey,you only live once.
I know i’m in for a lot of hard work getting her back in good order,but am confident I can achieve it. Hard work has never bothered me,and hopefully the end result will be worth it.
I’ve set myself a budget of £1000,including purchase price but without mooring charges and the cost of a second hand outboard. This maybe optimistic,who knows? Time (and my bank balance will tell!

The project boat

I wanted a good solid boat,cosmetic problems weren’t a problem as long as she was basically sound. I wanted a boat for cruising my local estuaries,rivers and creeks,small enough to easily sail single handed but big enough for two to spend up to a week on in reasonable comfort.
Twin keels were a must,for a cheaper drying mooring and the shallower draft.

I spent ages on ebay,gumtree and preloved etc looking for a suitable boat. There were a lot of potential boats that were within budget (cheap!) but none locally.The logistics and cost of getting a boat back from say,Portsmouth,made finding a local boat essential.As it happens,even the one I eventually bought was 40 miles away,
I came across the boat I bought on ebay,therw was only a couple of poor quality,grainy pics and not a great deal of info,but enough to get my interest going. The advertised boat was a kingfisher 20 yacht,bilge keels and afloat. I submitted a few bids but got cold feet at around £185,and she sold( I thought) for a fiver more.
Fast forward a week or so,and still hadn’t found another boat,so I put a wanted ad on gumtree. Only got one reply,from the guy with the ebay kingfisher! Apparently it hadn’t sold ( I have my suspicions that he had been bidding it up,and the final bid was his own.whoops!)  Anyway,he wanted £375 for her,after some hasty negotiating we agreed on £300,subject to viewing.
Went and had a look a week later and done the deal on the spot. I did a lot of research into kingfishers beforehand and was impressed with what I learnt. They are a very strongly built boat,probably over-engineered and have a few transatlantic crossings to their credit. The clever design means cabin space is a lot more generous than would normally be found on a boat of that size.
Mine is an early model from 1963,sail no 50,called ‘seal’ although the name will probably be changed in the near future.


Hi all and welcome to my first venture into the world of blogs!
My name’s Glenn and I live on the east coast of the UK.
I’m in my early 50’s and have always dreamed of owning my own boat,but somehow never got round to it.That’s all changed now though. I decided if I didn’t do it now,I never would.
I’ve done a bit of boating in the past,but not much sailing.
Originally I was looking at cabin cruisers,but fuel costs scared me off. The wind is free!
I’m doing this blog to keep a record of my work and efforts to get afloat on a ridiculously small budget,and to share my experiences with others.
I know i’m not the first to do it,but everyone has a tale to tell,and this is mine!
All advice,hints,tips and offers of help will be greatly appreciated.
I hope to make this blog as entertaining as I can,hopefully my audience will keep coming back to it,and participate with comments.
In my next post(coming soon) i’ll give an overview of the boat and get some pics this space.