messing about in boats

Outboard Update

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on May 26, 2010

Well, my little Archimedes Penta 3.9hp is still running nicely, if with the tendancy to run away with itself occasionally. Might be gunk in the carb, might be bad fuel.

The 8hp Johnson has dried out nicely in the hot weather and is sparking again. So, we have a spark, we have fuel, we have… no combustion. Great. Let’s hope the fuel’s junk. New spark plugs on their way so I’ll get a new tankful to give it a proper test at the weekend.

She Lives!

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on May 15, 2010
Archimedes Penta 3.9hp Outboard

Archimedes Penta 3.9hp Outboard

Thoroughly productive afternoon getting my old Archimedes Penta 3.9hp outboard to run. A new spark plug and a fabulous polyester filler bodge on the fuel valve and she fired into life after half a dozen or so pulls of the cord. Blue smoke everywhere!

There’s not much out there about these engines other than they’re ridiculously simple and often compared to the British Seagull. The one huge bonus is that there’s no exposed flywheel to do yourself a mischief on and it seems ever so slightly quieter, though that might just be my wishful thinking…

Ahoy Landlubbers

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on May 13, 2010

Ahoy there!

Always great when you stumble across a great photo on your phone. This one’s of Al in fetching waders on the beach at Eastney Lake the other day.

Seriously though, I can’t stress how excellent waders are when you have to use a small dinghy to reach your boat!

Big Yellow Batteries

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on March 25, 2010

I’m going to be needing a battery for the boat sometime soon. Funds are tight so I’m hesistant to just spend the £100 or so on even a regular cheapo leisure battery. There might be a solution though, I remember some guys on the Talk Audio forums discussing “big yellow batteries” a few years ago. I think they were designed to be used in a backup bank or forklift truck, so they were rather large and a good 25% heavier than the usual brand name models. Still, they were going for £10 each at the time and even with the price of lead going up I think they’re still around for under £25. That makes them a seriously attractive alternative. I’m going to track down the supplier and see how I get on…

Johnson / Evinrude Repairs

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on March 16, 2010

I’ve got a 2-stroke 6hp Johnson outboard which needs a new impeller. There’s a fair few rambling forum posts about the job, most of them contradictory of each other. However, there are some good articles about johnson / evinrude outboard repair here.

Langstone Harbour In Spring

Posted in Everything Else, General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on March 3, 2010

Just a few snaps of Langstone Harbour taken recently. Excuse the phone camera, my proper camera was AWOL at the time and turned up in the car of all places, so I had it with me after all…

East ferry pontoon - with the tide running fast

East ferry pontoon - with the tide running fast

Langstone Harbour main channel and the east ferry pontoon

Langstone Harbour main channel and the east ferry pontoon

Langstone fairway with the tide rushing out

Langstone fairway with the tide rushing out

The Kench

The Kench

Langstone harbour and kench

Langstone harbour and kench

Langstone harbour looking towards sinah sands

Langstone harbour looking towards sinah sands


It’s a beautiful spot, very quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of Portsmouth just nearby. I guess the acres of mud and sand at low water and the strong tidal streams through the narrow fairway are enough to send most sailors on to Chichester.

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Wiley Nautical Almanac

Posted in General Boating Stuff, Sailing by Joseph Moore on February 23, 2010

I’d never heard of it before, but for a freebie it’s got some useful info in there so worth a download. The general consensus is it’s pretty handy especially if your book’s on the boat and you’re sat at home wondering where to venture to next…

Wiley Almanac Download

Wiley Almanac Download

Shiny New Gear

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on February 16, 2010

Went into the Musto shop in Bicester the other day where, bizarrely, they stock offshore gear. In the middle of the land, miles from the sea! Fancy that!

Figured I’d climb into some foul weather gear while I was there and see what fits for future reference. I really ought to buy a set as I always end up borrowing them when I go big boating. Can guarantee I’ll get caught out one day; probably the day that gets stormy… If it’s of any use to those of us who live nowhere near a chandler they seem to have most things in stock at about 50% off the rrp which seems pretty decent to me. It’s nice to look at the labels and think “Oh ok, bit expensive but fair enough” rather than just keel over at the price.

Boat Sketching

Posted in General Boating Stuff by Joseph Moore on October 29, 2009

I’ve been hanging out on the boat design forums a bit lately. I find how boats are made immensely interesting – always have done. When I was a kid I used to make sketch after sketch of boat plans on my mum’s endless supply of graph paper. Classic gaff-rigged smacks, freestyle kayaks, narrowboats, anything really. It usually depended where I’d been on holiday that summer as to which style of boats were inspiring me at the time. It’s a shame, I don’t think I’ve got any of them still. Not that they were any more than (very neatly drawn) rough sketches.

Maybe I missed my calling in life?

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Thoughts About Thinking About Small Multihulls

Posted in General Boating Stuff, Sailing by Joseph Moore on October 25, 2009

Or in other words – stuff to consider when doing things differently.

I’ve become a bit of a multihull convert this year. They’d always seemed a bit superfluous before now – after all, a boat will float just as well with one hull as it will with two or three. Yet after one ride on a catamaran I was utterly hooked. It was fast, stable, easy to handle and very comfortable.

It’s not always easy to get a sensible answer about boats though. Everybody has their own ideas about what constitutes a good boat and the internet forum battles will probably rage on until the end of the universe debating whether keelboats sink more often than multihulls capsize.

As a dinghy sailor with somewhat nonexistent cashflow and a desire to get afloat in something with a little more space, primarily to cruise with friends and have a few adventures, I’ve been doing an awful lot of “umming and arring” about the right path to take.

Multihulls vs. monohulls

I think this debate actually predates boats themselves, or at least it might as well do – it’s that boring. Both have their merits and it really depends what you want to get from your sailing. I’ve been fortunate enough to sail a fair few dinghies and yachts over the years from a Topper to a Rebel 41 and every single one has their place.

Monohulls sink? Sure, if you buy a badly built boat and don’t maintain it.

Multihulls capsize? Sure, if you push too hard and don’t put a reef in when the wind picks up.

My decision will largely be governed by my wallet and the empty cavern that lies within, but where there’s a will to go boating, there’s a way.

Start with the obvious

It’s usually advisable to start with the easy option before diving into the unknown, so I’ve been looking at small monohull keelboats. There are literally countless different models to consider here, but you can split them into roughly two categories easily enough:

Trailer Sailers are typically under 23 feet, often with bilge keels to allow drying out on the mud and berthing at cheaper marinas which is definitely a plus point. The trailerable aspect is great if you’ve got a suitable vehicle – you can bring it home for the winter or take it somewhere different for a change of scenery. The engine is usually an outboard as well, which can be a real plus point. New engines can be expensive if they go wrong, but small outboards are readily available and can be bolted on nice and quickly.

Popular choices include the Corribee and Pandora, both of which are very pretty boats, although something like a Hurley Silhouette is probably one of the cheapest ways to get afloat.

Small ‘Proper’ Yachts are exactly what the name implies. Usually too large or heavy to be easily trailerable, with a fin keel restricting them to deeper water and marina berthing. You start getting a lot more crammed into a boat as soon as you reach 24′ – separate heads, a proper dining table – real luxury.

There’s a huge choice in this section of the market, but you’re looking at about twice the price of a trailer sailer to buy, plus the inevitable increase in mooring fees. I quite like the look of the Eygthene 24 and Ecume De Mer but the list really could go on and on.

So, the verdict on that lot? Realistically I’d go for a Corribee. They’re pretty little boats with their long overhangs and underhung rudder. A proven, seaworthy boat which can be picked up easily for under £2000 in need of a tidy up. But is it the ideal solution?

The multihull alternative

For the price range I’ve got in mind, buying a multihull is never going to happen. They’re simply too rare, relatively speaking, to lose that much value. Building a boat is an option though. I’d never bother with a monohull – there are plenty available for little money second hand – but it could be the only way to make a multi a viable alternative.

For the length we’re talking about, trimarans are really the only viable option. Small catamarans are usually no more than a shed plonked on the bridgedeck which looks awful and gives a lot of unwanted windage. A tri’s cabin may be small, but at least it’s fairly aerodynamic which is important in a boat that should be doing 15kts routinely. Couple that with the ability to dissemble or fold the akas to trailer the boat it all seems a bit of a winner.

I think despite being an old design, the Buccaneer 24 is a superb boat offering a good mix of simple cheap construction, space and boat speed.

Pros and cons

So it really comes down to a small bilge keel monohull or a small trimaran suitable for shed building on a budget.

In favour of the monohull: Cheap to buy, no lengthy build process, more cabin space, narrow beam means easy to berth.

In favour of the multihull: Much faster boat speed increases cruising grounds, more space for sunbathing (I’ve been assured this is very important), shallow draft.

Both obviously have their merits, but personally I’m leaning towards the multihull – it all depends on the cost and practicality for berthing a 20′ wide boat in the average harbour. I guess at least she’d be happy on the mud and need very little water to go sailing. Given the fact that most of my boating will be weekend jaunts and inshore racing, if there’s serious offshore sailing to be done I’ll be enjoying the comfort of a much larger yacht.

I’m sure there will be more things that cross my mind over the coming weeks, but I’ll publish this now, else it’ll never get finished…