Top Products for Laying Up Your Boat

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. The clocks will soon be going back again, lulling us into a false sense of security with our ‘extra hour’ in bed… It must be that time of year again.

Time to lay up your boat.

But what is “Laying Up”?

Laying up or “winterisation” is the process of preparing your boat to withstand the winter weather. This is an important part of your boat maintenance in order to prevent damage and ensure a smooth, problem-free, and worry-free return to sailing come spring-time.

So, where should you start?

Here at Gael Force, we have a wide range of products for all your boating winterisation requirements but it can be time-consuming to find all the right products for this process.

To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for laying up your boat this year:

1. Tetrion Moisture Mate Absorber – £7.49

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The “Moisture Mate” absorber is a simple and safe way to help reduce moisture in the air on your boat. If moisture is left unattended, it can lead to serious problems such as condensation, damp and mildew. This is also a much cheaper alternative to buying a dehumidifier and most effective when placed in the harder to reach places and little nooks and crannies.

2. Polygon Eco Bilge Cleaner Sachets – £10.49

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This bilge wash is an eco-friendly way to clean out the bilges. The polymer powder-filled sachets are water-soluble so they can be pre-dissolved in water or simply added straight to disperse oil and disinfect the bilge.

Everything about it is biodegradable so using this product will reduce the need for the usual plastic containers, helping us do our bit for the environment while making this job easier too.

This product is really handy and versatile as you can also use it to clean the decks, superstructure and hulls. And while you’re doing this, you should also test out of the bilge pumps to ensure they are working as they should!

3. Starbrite Sail & Canvas Cleaner – £10.99

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This handy little product is specially formulated to get rid of dirt, grease, and stains from both natural and synthetic fabrics, including sails, boat covers and bimini tops.

It is easily applied once diluted and the solution does not weaken fabric or thread. It’s the perfect product for ensuring your sail and other fabric on your boat are spotless after a busy season.

You can also follow this up by applying Starbrite’s Waterproofing Treatment to make material watertight and resistant to future soiling, giving you less work to do in the future.

4. Polyform F-Series Fenders – from £16.49

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Fenders are important for taking the hit in bad weather so your boat doesn’t have to because they absorb the kinetic energy of your boat berthing against a jetty and prevent damage to vessels and berthing structures.

This is especially relevant with the stormy conditions we’ve been hit with recently and will stand you in good stead while your boat is unattended over the next 6 months for any other storms forecast.

These heavy-duty fenders come in a range of sizes to suit your vessel and have high abrasive resistance and energy absorption. They’re also tested in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees to +60 degrees Celsius so you know they’ll withstand all weathers.

5. Starbrite Non-Toxic Premium Anti-Freeze – £10.49

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Starbrite’s anti-freeze is the perfect solution to provide cold weather and corrosion protection for your water systems and engines, preventing them from freezing up while in storage.

It is safe and effective to use on aluminium, copper, brass, and all types of plastic without compromising rubber, seals, or hose materials. It is an incredibly versatile and useful product!

This anti-freeze provides burst protection to -46 degrees Celsius and freeze protection ranging from -11 degrees to -9 degrees Celsius. And even better, it’s ready to use immediately – no dilution required!

6. CT1 Unique Sealant & Construction Adhesive – From £12.99

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Be careful not to let any gradual gaps or flaking old sealant to fester over the winter period – some might say it’s cheaper to deal with the problem now rather than let it deteriorate.

You’re in luck though! CT1 Sealant is a unique all-purpose adhesive that can be used in most applications without the need for any additional fixings. It can successfully bond metal, glass, wood, polystyrene, mirrors, and almost any material, making it a must-have for this time of year for any boat maintenance needs.

It is resistant to chemicals, UV, and fungal growth while maintaining environmental compliance. It can be painted, does not shrink and is odourless. Most importantly, it works in wet or dry conditions.

7. OML Small Outboard Motor Slot Lock – £44.99

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Don’t leave your outboard open to theft over extended unattended periods of time! Made from brass, this slot lock contains a number of improvements learned from manufacturers work with Honda to create their Honda lock. The OML Small Slot Lock is a single unit using a seawater friendly Alko lock. It is suitable for Suzuki 2.5hp and Honda 2.3hp outboard engines only.

Other OML Engine Locks are available on the website.

8. Gael Force Mooring Compensator – from £10.99

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Also known as “rubber snubbers”, this mooring compensator is designed for use on small boats and can be used with up to 15mm rope. Rubber snubbers reduce boat movement at a mooring or on a marina berth.

It is sturdy, constructed from natural rubber, and resilient to sea-water, sunlight, and weather, meaning it’ll take the strain in bad weather conditions and you won’t have to worry about it when it’s docked for the winter, just like your fenders.

Also available in two other sizes.

9. Hylite Slimline Tube Heater with Thermostat – from £26.95

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Hylite’s Tube Heater is a great addition to your boat to ensure good air circulation in enclosed spaces and assists with preventing condensation and dampness. This choice is low power at 240v and slimline with an energy-saving thermostat which can be left on the boat.

It can be fitted using the brackets provided, either by mounting them on the wall or on the floor. It is fitted with a UK plug and IP44 rated for water resistance. Available in 3 sizes: 0.5m, 1.0m and 1.5m with a 1.5-metre long cable.

Protect your tube heater with Hylite’s Heater Guard.

10. Jabsco Twist N Lock Toilet (Compact Bowl) – £139.95

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Depending on when you prefer to kit out your boat, this might just be the perfect time to replace your toilet. The ‘Twist n Lock’ toilet from Jabsco is our best-selling toilet so it won’t leave you wanting for quality.

The white vitreous china bowl and enamelled wooden seat and cover lend themselves to the twist n lock function which is an action handle to seal down the toilet seat and protect against symphonic flooding and waste backflow.

It has also been designed for easy left or right-handed installation and with easy access for maintenance. So, if it’s time for you to upgrade, this is the toilet you want!


For a further list of products suitable for this process, visit our “Laying Up Your Boat” shop.

The DIY Restoration of a Small Yacht: Rudder Surgery (Part 2) & ‘Bringing Her Home’ (#5)

seb-profile-photo-ytSeb, originally from Portsmouth in Hampshire, is the Sales Supervisor for the Gael Force Marine Megastore in Inverness.

He has agreed to write a series of posts following him and the restoration of his 26 foot, 54-year-old fibreglass yacht.

This series of blog posts so far can be read here.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes.

BLOG POST #5: Rudder Surgery (Part 2) & ‘Bringing Her Home’

Before we get back to the rudder, there’s the small matter of transporting the boat overland to her new home – my driveway!

I moved house last month (hence the lack of an August blog entry) and before all the boxes were unpacked, I was organising transport for Sunfire to take her overland from Hopeman harbour to a nice little spot just outside my front door.

The Invicta 26 isn’t a particularly large or heavy yacht, but my nerves were still shot as I helplessly watched her suspended several metres in the air, cradle and all.

1.sunfire-lifted-lorry

Getting to this somewhat precarious point took a couple of hours – we had to shift her around in the cradle and adjust all the side supports before lifting her.

There were a couple of touch and go moments – at one point I think most of her weight was on the side supports – but ultimately we got her on the lorry without any damage other than some frayed nerves and I was delighted to see her arrive safely at the other end.

2.sunfire-lorry-transport

Sunfire weighs about two and a half metric tons, which incidentally is the limit of the lorry’s crane when fully extended.  The shape of the driveway meant that the boat had to be craned off the back of the lorry, as opposed to side-on, which required the crane to be… fully extended.

It was a cool and overcast day, so when I saw a bead of sweat appear on the crane operator’s brow I knew it was the ‘maximum load’ alarms and not the weather that was making him sweat.

In the end, the crane held strong and the boat was carefully positioned into the perfect spot. When I look out my bedroom window I can now see Sunfire lying comfortably in her new home!

3.sunfire-driveway-new-home

Now, back to the rudder.

Recapping quickly, in my last blog we saw how I cut out a huge section of the side of my yacht’s rudder with reckless abandon. The reasoning behind this was that I’d discovered that the entire thing was completely hollow and would fill up with water as soon as it was submerged.

I wanted to fill it with a rigid, closed cell polyurethane foam to add stiffness, strength and to reduce the volume of water that would ingress into it once back in the water. Making that first cut was one of those ‘no turning back now’ moments, but after discovering what lay inside, I’m confident it was the right thing to do.

4.open-rudder-damage

There were lumps of what appeared to be old, rotten core material inside and a thin layer of powdery stuff covering all the inner surfaces. It may sound strange, but these little lumps of crud actually made me very happy as they implied that many years ago there was indeed a foam core in this rudder.

There was also glassed-in plywood around where the pintles were, which would have been for re-enforcement but was now completely rotten.

 

As always before attempting any repair, the first thing was to remove all the rot and clean all the surfaces.

Removing that rotten plywood was no easy task. I tried using a rotary tool with a small grinding attachment to grind it out, but the wood was so saturated (even after two years ashore) that it didn’t work. In the end, a good old chisel was the most effective.

With the rotten wood removed and the surfaces cleaned up I was finally ready to start rebuilding. Roll out the epoxy!

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Epoxy is a very versatile substance and can be mixed/thickened with a variety of additives and powders in order to change its properties to suit any particular application.

West System has a range of epoxy products that will cover just about every kind of repair you can think of on a fibreglass boat. It’s also used for many bonding and re-enforcing applications on GRP or wooden boats.

I contemplated going into great detail about all the different epoxy products and how to use them, but that would itself span several blog posts and there are tons of helpful how-to manuals already available on West System’s website.

It’s important to note that whenever using epoxy, gloves and protective eyewear should be worn. You really don’t want this stuff on your skin!

Before I could think about putting in the new foam core, I needed to re-enforce the area where I’d removed the rotten plywood.

To do this, I wanted to fill the area with thickened epoxy and new plywood. I first cleaned the entire area with acetone and then coated it with a thin layer of un-thickened epoxy. The next batch of epoxy was thickened with 402 milled glass fibres and squeezed into all the nooks and crannies of the cavity.

 

I filled the entire void like this, adding in some plywood to bulk it out, and then glassed over the top to the repair with biaxial glass cloth to finish it off. I’m confident that it’s now stronger than it was and also that any points of water ingress around that area have been blocked up.

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After this, I applied a thin mix of epoxy and 404 high-density filler along all the inside seams of the rudder, where the two halves were originally bonded together, to seal up any potential leaks.

This probably wasn’t necessary, but with the innards of the rudder so exposed, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. The thinness of the mix allowed it to self-settle along the seams.

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With the epoxy all fully cured and any amine blush (a waxy substance that forms on the surface as part of the epoxy curing process) washed away, I was ready to start pouring in the new foam core.

The two-part polyurethane foam I used was designed for this purpose and is much more rigid than the ‘builders’ expanding foam you get in a spray can.

The two parts must be mixed together at exactly the correct ratio – I used some electronic weighing scales – and when combined you only have a few seconds before the reaction starts. If you don’t pour the mixture quickly enough you’ll soon have a foamy disaster on your hands, literally! Again – gloves and eyewear should definitely be worn.

I started by pouring the foam in all the edges of the rudder then set about building it up in the middle.

 

The great thing about this foam is that it’s easy to work after it has cured. It didn’t take me long to cut and then sand it to a profile I was happy with. I bevelled the edge around the cut-out to give a good surface area for the new sheets of glass to bond with.

West System recommend a bevel of twelve times the thickness of the laminate you’re working on. In my case, the laminate was 4mm thick so I made a bevel of 50mm.

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I was using a heavy tri-axial cloth for rebuilding the side of the rudder and I calculated that 4 sheets would give me the correct final laminate thickness.

The first sheet would be the largest – going slightly beyond the outside edge of the bevel and the last sheet would be the same size as the hole I cut out. I used the section that I cut out as a template to mark out the glass cloth.

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Before laying up the glass, I stabilized the surface of the foam core by spreading a thin layer of thickened epoxy over it. When laying the glass, I used a roller to spread the epoxy around and into the glass cloth as I lay each piece down. It’s important that the glass is fully impregnated with the resin and no air bubbles are trapped underneath it.

I’d not glassed an area this big before, but I think it went well overall. I might have underestimated how much epoxy this heavy cloth could soak up though so I may have ended up with a laminate that is a little heavy on glass and light on the resin.

Before the epoxy cured, I covered the whole thing with peel ply. Peel ply is a cotton weave cloth that epoxy doesn’t bond with. Once the epoxy has cured, the peel ply can be ‘peeled’ off, taking any amine blush with it. This process leaves the surface underneath perfect for the next step – fairing.

 

Fairing is the process of smoothing out any unevenness in your fibreglass layup and getting the surface ready for painting. In this case, I spread epoxy thickened with 410 microlight over the entire work area then sanded it down with my home-made flexible sanding board.

The sanding board is just a 3mm strip of plywood that I glued a couple of handles onto one side and then a sheet of cork and some sandpaper onto the other side. It’s great when you need to sand a curved surface as it conforms to the curve.

 

My initial mix of the fairing compound was a bit thin and sagged away from the centre, so after sanding it back there were quite a few low spots which needed more compound.

I mixed up some ‘peanut butter’ consistency epoxy, spread it on, waited for it to cure, washed off the amine blush and waited for that to dry. And that’s where I am at the moment. Sanding is thirsty work however and I’ll have to leave the next session of sanding bliss to the next blog!

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Coming Up Next Time: I’m hoping to wrap up the rudder next, I mean literally wrap it in glass fibre, so join me then!


If you have any questions for Seb regarding this post, please feel free to comment below.

The DIY Restoration of a Small Yacht: Getting in and about the wee engine (#2)

seb-profile-photo-ytSeb, originally from Portsmouth in Hampshire, is the Sales Supervisor for the Gael Force Marine Megastore in Inverness.

He has agreed to write a series of posts following him and the restoration of his 26 foot, 54-year-old fibreglass yacht.

Catch up with his first post if you haven’t read it already.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes.

BLOG POST #2: First look at the engine – a Yanmar 1GM10.

I must preface this post by stressing that I am no mechanic! Mistakes will inevitably be made and at times more knowledgeable readers will no doubt be left pulling their hair out at my incompetence!

The engine is among the most critical (and expensive) pieces of equipment on a boat, so it would, of course, be prudent to give it a full inspection and test run before any prospective purchase.

In my case the boat was priced very low and had not been on the market for long, so a quick visual inspection and making sure the engine turned over and had compression was enough to satisfy me that I should take the plunge and make an offer on the boat.

The engine in question is a Yanmar 1GM10: an 8hp, single cylinder, raw water-cooled diesel engine.

These small diesel engines are relatively simple beasts, so armed with the Yanmar workshop manual and the excellent ‘Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual’ (a book every boat should have on board), I felt confident enough to service the engine and carry out some basic fault diagnoses.

1.yanmar-engine-1

My aim was simply to get the engine started and give it a basic service including oil & oil filter change, primary and secondary fuel filter change and water pump impeller change.

I will be temporarily removing the engine at some point in the future so a full service will be carried out then. However, for now, I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a non-runner and also ensure it was properly laid up until I do remove it from the boat.

Fuel Line

Clean fuel is critical to the smooth running and longevity of any diesel engine, so before I even attempted to start the engine I wanted to get rid of the 2-year-old diesel and replace the primary and secondary fuel filters.

The fuel tank is fibre-glassed into the Lazarette and was about a quarter full of diesel. This was not a good sign given that a proper layup would require the tank to be left either full or empty.

2.fuel-tank

I managed to syphon off what I thought was most of the diesel into an old can. After I’d done that, I went down below to catch the ‘last little bit’ in a suitably sized container by taking the hose off the engine.

The fuel hoses were all rock solid with age so there was no chance of pulling it off the hose tail, but given that there was only a tiny remnant of fuel left in the tank, I decided to cut the hose and just go for it.

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My puny container was overflowing with fuel in seconds and the mild sense of surprise at the diesel’s rate of flow I experienced soon turned into all-out panic as I scrambled around trying to find more containers.

I tried clamping down on the hose, but it was too hard and it just wouldn’t close up! I jumped up into the cockpit and contorted myself into some unnatural position in the cockpit access hatch to reach the ridiculously inaccessible fuel shut-off valve at the bottom of the tank.

By the end of all of that, I struggled to find something on the boat or myself that wasn’t covered in diesel and there was about 5 litres of the stuff in the bilges.

I’m not sure how I so heavily underestimated the amount of diesel left in the tank, but either way, I still had to get rid of the last bits in the bottom before putting fresh fuel in.

Rather than go through the same nonsense with containers and spilt diesel, I decided to use a Pela Oil Extractor to suck out the remaining diesel from the bottom of the tank. As it got down to the last dregs, an alarming amount of black gungy sediment came up.

I didn’t really have time to give the tank a full flushing out so I just sucked out what I could, put 10 litres of new, clean diesel in and left it overnight for any sediment to settle back to the bottom.

While the fuel shut-off valve was closed, I drained the fuel line and changed the filter element in the Delphi water separator. This was straightforward enough, though it was obviously full of diesel and the entire assembly needed a thorough clean. I also replaced the old fuel hose that I’d cut with a new piece and fastened it with Jubilee clips.

4.new-filter-and-hose

Next up was the secondary fuel filter which is on the engine itself. To cut a long story short, I failed to undo the nut holding the fuel filter assembly in place.

It’s notoriously difficult on these engines and I didn’t want to waste time on it given that I only planned to run the engine for a short test period.  I didn’t want to risk damaging it by trying to undo it without the proper tool either.

5.fuel-filter-housing

The last thing to do on the fuel line was to purge all the air in it by ‘bleeding’ it. On the Yanmar 1GM10, there are three bleed points where you must sequentially open them and pump fuel through until pure diesel with no air bubbles comes out.

Lubrication System

To remove the old oil, I used the Pela Oil Extractor via the dipstick hole and then opened the sump drain nut to drain out the last of it. I poured in some new oil to try and flush out any crud that was sitting in the bottom of the sump.

Removing the oil filter was surprisingly easy – I was able to do it by hand with ease. I then put a little smear of engine oil on the o-ring of the new filter and screwed it on hand tight.

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When filling up with oil, a top tip from the Gael Force mechanics is to always fill it to the dipstick rather than putting in the amount specified in the engine’s manual. This is because there will always be some residual oil in the engine so putting in the specified amount will result in overfilling the engine.

I didn’t touch the gearbox oil as I won’t be running the engine in gear for this test. I will change the gear oil before she gets put to use again though.

Cooling System

The Yanmar 1GM10 is raw water cooled, which means that it pumps seawater directly around the engine rather than using it to cool coolant via a heat exchanger. It’s a simple system but it does have some major drawbacks.

Any build-up of deposits on the walls of the cooling system can greatly reduce its cooling efficiency. Additionally, having salt water in direct contact with the engine can result in serious galvanic corrosion if the anodes aren’t replaced regularly.

In a draw on the boat, I found several knackered impellers, which is an obvious clue that there’s some problem with the water pump. All I wanted to do for now was replace the water pump impeller, so I’ll have to monitor that going forward.

At some point in the past, someone had fitted a Speedseal water pump.

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As you can see, the water pump is conveniently situated behind the crankshaft v-pulley, so having the Speedseal is great as it means that it can be removed without tools and without the need for replacing a gasket each time.

If the previous owner was having a problem with going through impellers I can see that this would have been a priority upgrade (but not a solution to the problem)!

I took a photo of the old impeller before removing it to make sure I put the new one in with the ‘fins’ in the right direction.

8.old-impeller

The old Impeller came out with minimal coaxing from my pliers, but I was quite dismayed by the amount of crusty, salty gunk in the water pump. If the engine had been properly serviced that would have been cleaned out.

After doing a sub-standard, rushed job to clean out the water pump housing, the new impeller went in without any issues. I smeared in the glycerine lubrication that it was supplied with before popping it in with the fins bent the correct way. I’ll remove and clean up the water pump more thoroughly when I take the engine off the boat.

With the Speedseal cover plate replaced, it was finally time to get the old girl running.

The yard where the boat is currently lying has no water supply, so to get water to the engine for cooling I had to go to the nearest public amenities and fill up a bucket – far from ideal!

After my jaunt to the loo and with a fresh bucket of water on board, I disconnected the water inlet pipe from the seacock and poured as much water as I could into it to try to reduce the risk of getting an airlock in the cooling system.

The Yanmar 1GM10 has a hand crank and with just a single, tiny cylinder it would surely be no difficulty for me to hand start it… or so I thought.

No matter how much momentum I got spinning the crank handle, as soon as I released the decompression lever it bounced back from the cylinders’ compression. My machismo was severely dented until I read on forums that it is pretty much impossible to hand-start. That’s a disappointment as it means I’ll have to keep two batteries on the boat – one exclusively for starting the engine.

Thankfully the batteries already on the boat had some juice in them (there is no power available in the yard either) so I switched the key and pushed the button and… the engine turned over but made no attempt at firing.

It turns out I’d missed a critical step in the bleeding process. On the final ‘bleed’, between the high-pressure pump and the injector, the throttle must be in the fully open position when pumping fuel through. I did this and tried starting her again.

Amazingly, after two years without use, the little Yanmar spluttered reluctantly into action and quickly settled into a steady idle – she sounded great!

There wasn’t any water being pulled through, however, so I quickly pulled the stop switch and scratched my head. I whipped off the water pump cover and a reasonable amount of water poured out, so it was trying.

After a few more failed attempts at pouring water down the inlet hose to get rid of airlocks, I decided it would be far easier to sort this out when the boat was close to a source of water so I could get a hose onto the engine.

My main concern was that salty deposits had totally clogged up the cooling system but I just didn’t have time to test that theory as the sun was setting on a Sunday evening.

All in all, I’m really happy that I managed to get the engine started and that she sounded sweet without any concerning smoke coming out of the exhaust. The cooling water problem is frustrating but I’m not going to let myself worry about it until I’ve been able to have a more thorough inspection of it.

What have I learned? Try harder not to get diesel everywhere!

COMING UP NEXT TIME: 

My next priority is to get the mast down. If I can get access to the yard’s crane this month that’s what the next blog post will be on. If anyone thinks it can be done without a crane, please advise in the comments section!

If not, I’ll talk about the progress I’m making with gutting the boat – it’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ can be fitted onto a 26-foot boat!

The DIY Restoration of a Small Yacht: An Introduction (#1)

Given Gael Force’s position in the leisure marine industry, when a colleague mentioned that he had recently bought a small yacht and planned to restore it, I jumped at the opportunity to follow his progress and see the result of all his hard work!

seb-profile-photo-ytSeb, originally from Portsmouth in Hampshire, is the Sales Supervisor for the Gael Force Marine Megastore here in Inverness.

He has been with us for almost three years and has kindly agreed to write a series of posts following him and the restoration of his boat.

So without further ado, let’s hear from Seb!


BLOG POST #1: The Boat and I: An Introduction

On the 5th of February 2018, I purchased a 26 foot, 54-year-old fibreglass yacht in need of some serious TLC. My plans are to spend the next year or so (probably more like 2!) restoring the yacht and documenting its restoration in this blog post.

I have some experience working on boats, but I’m not a professional, so this blog will be from a DIYers point of view with lots of product testing and learning on the go.

In this first post, I’ll talk a little bit about my own sailing/boat repair experience and also introduce the yacht, giving a brief outline of the work that will eventually be completed.

I grew up sailing with my dad on the south coast of England on various boats, all mono-hull sloops from 18-36ft. We competed in club races in the Solent and took the occasional trip to France, the Scilly Isles and the Channel Islands. These multi-day sailing holidays are what inspired me to get my own boat and sail off into the distance.

My first boat, Maya, was a 25 foot GRP Folkboat variant – a Folksong 25.1.first-boat-maya-25ft-GRP-folksong25She was purchased for just £1000 but needed a lot of work and investment: a new mast (new to her at least); wind vane self-steering gear; a complete interior refit; push-pit; spray hood; new companionway hatch…the list could go on…

After 18 months of blood, sweat and tears she was ready to go. My first single-handed voyage was about to commence!

Over a period of 4 months, I took her from Portsmouth to Ibiza, which included knockdowns in the Bay of Biscay, trade wind sailing down the Portuguese coast and seemingly endless, scorching hot days of calms off the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.

She was a great boat – heavily canvassed so she was great in light airs, but she wasn’t set up for the still heat of the Mediterranean. No central hatch or wind-scoop meant that she turned into an oven on hot days and with no real shade outside, I was getting either baked or fried! She was eventually sold and last sighted in Malta:

My second boat was a much more comfortable affair. I inherited a High Tension 36, a 1980’s high volume cruiser racer. I had to collect her at short notice from a small island off of Rhodes and sail to a marina in Crete, where she was paid up for the winter.

6.second-boat-hightension36-high-volume-cruiser-racer

My wife and I then took time out of work and spent 18 months sailing her around the Med and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, where we had an amazing time sailing around the Lesser Antilles. The voyage was finished off with me sailing her back to England single-handed – an experience that I will never forget!

Compared to Maya she was a luxurious boat, equipped with a fridge, a shower, hot water, solar and wind power, etc. Having to maintain those relatively complex and diverse systems for 18 months of continuous sailing taught me a lot about boat maintenance.

Things tend to fail at the most inopportune moments and without the knowledge, tools and spares to fix them your dream voyage can easily become a nightmare.

Once safely back in the UK, the boat was sold and several years of landlubbing (plus baby) followed.

This leads us on to the next project – Sunfire – an Invicta 26.

9.new-boat-sunfire-invicta-26-110.new-boat-sunfire-invicta-26-2

She’s been on the hard for two years and is certainly showing it. I plan to strip her back and start again – inside and out – with the aim of taking her across the North Sea to Norway, up to Shetland and beyond.

She was designed by Van De Stadt in 1964 and was one of the early production boats built in GRP. Designed as a Folkboat variant, she has a long encapsulated keel, narrow lines and carries quite a lot of canvas. She’s actually very similar to Maya (the Folksong 25)…just a little longer, heavier and quite a bit older.

The list of work to be done will inevitably grow arms and legs, but this initial list will give an idea of the contents of future blog posts:

  • Gut the boat down below.
  • Recommission and service the inboard diesel engine.
  • Get the mast down.
  • Remove the engine.
  • Remove and restore the rudder.
  • Strip back and repaint the deck.
  • Strip back and repaint the hull.
  • Replace all ageing exterior wood, including washboards and toe rail.
  • Design, build and fit the new interior.
  • A full re-wire.

On top of this, I’m also seriously (and controversially) considering converting the rig to a junk rig. I’ve always been drawn to the simplicity of junk rigs and given that the current mast on Sunfire is of a dubious condition anyway, she could be the perfect guinea pig.

Till next time!

COMING UP NEXT TIME: Getting up close and personal with the inboard engine, a Yanmar 1GM10, for a service and to get it up and running!


If you have any questions for Seb regarding this post, please feel free to comment below.

Boat Power Consumption on 12v Systems

Before you begin reading, for an in-depth discourse on 12 volt electrics systems for boats, we would perhaps suggest obtaining a copy of “The 12 Volt Bible for Boats” which is generally lauded as a very good guide for using 12 volt power in a marine capacity, to fully understand what may be involved in setting up a 12v supply. You can purchase the book here.

GPS Chartplotters require a 12volt power supply, usually external and taken from the boat supply.

12 Volt Power Consumption and Amp Hours

As an idea of consumption vs battery capacity, it helps to  think of the following scenario:

Lets say you are running a 12volt Chartplotter and it draws 2amps.  Now if you had the plotter switched on for the full hour, it would have drawn 2amps in total for that hour, or 2 Amp Hours (2Ah), if you then leave the chartplotter running for a full day, or 24 hours, it would have drawn and consumed 48 Amp Hours in total (2ah x 24h = 48Ah)

For power supply: 12v batteries usually have an amp hour (Ah) rating which, on a simple level, can be thought of as the number of amps they will supply for an hour before being fully discharged. A typical small marine leisure battery of about the size of an average car battery is usually rated around 80Ah. This means the battery could supply an appliance drawing 80amps for about an hour before the battery would be discharged, or an appliance drawing 1 amp for 80 hours.

So to apply a typical 80ah battery to running the above Chartplotter example at it’s 2amp draw, The battery could run this Chartplotter for 40 hours before the battery was completely discharged and requiring charging (80ah divided by 2amp draw = 40hours). If you were likely to be running the battery to empty on a regular basis, you would have to ensure that it is a “deep cycle” battery, which is designed to take heavy discharging and re-charge – though you would also need to ensure the battery is getting a full charge as I mention in the next paragraph, to prevent the battery degrading over time.

Establishing Battery Bank requirement and Re-charging your battery bank from renewable sources (Wind or Solar)

If using Solar or Wind power to maintain the charge of a bank of batteries on a boat, you should identify what the draw on the electrical system will be, in amps, from all the electrical items you will be running, Eg : Lights, VHF, Plotter, Fridge, Heaters, Microwave and so on. Most appliances show their Amp draw and multiplying that by the number of hours run on each will give you an idea of the total amount of Amp Hours (Ah) being drawn from the battery bank. (Some appliances are only rated in Watts; to calculate the Amps draw, you take the Watts rating and divide it by voltage to get Amps)

To use another example of a larger boat to illustrate this – Let’s say that you’re:

  1. Still running the your chart plotter at 2amps, and this runs for the full hour.
  2. In addition you have a 12volt fridge rated at 8 amps when running, but it only runs for 15 minutes in an hour
  3. The combined total of your running lights draw 0.5amp and are left on over the hour, and
  4. Your VHF also uses 0.5amp in standby and receive mode and is left on over the hour
  5. You also run a 12v heater which draws 80amps but is only run for 15 minutes over the hour.  This means that in one hour, you are drawing:

A power consumption total of:

  1. Chartplotter – 1amps over the hour
  2. Fridge 8/4 = 2amps over the hour
  3. Running Lights 0.5amps over the hour
  4. VHF = 0.5amps over the hour
  5. Heater 80/4 = 20amps over the hour.

This adds up to 24ah of consumption in a typical hour. On identifying this figure you would then need to establish for how long you would normally be sailing and using all this electricity for before being able to charge the batteries at a shore power point, that would determine the size of your battery bank.

For example, if, in the above scenario, you regularly sail for 5 hours while using all this electricity, you would multiply 24amps x 5hours and identify a requirement for at least 120Ah capacity in your battery bank if you have no charging system between visits to shore to “hook up” to a battery charger. Which leads us on to onboard charging.

Most Solar Panels or Wind Turbines give an output in Watts – So to establish what wattage input you will require from your charging source, you can use the familiar (to those who work with electronics regularly!) equation of (Watts = Volts x Amps) – You know that you have 24amps being drawn from the calculation above, and you know that you have a 12 volt system on the vessel – so by multiplying 24 x 12, you establish that you will require 288 watts of input per hour to “keep up” with the electricity being consumed – a Fairly hefty bank of solar and a good sunny day, a good quality turbine and a decent breeze, or a combination of the two!  Obviously this amount of input would only be required if you wanted to keep the battery banks continuously topped up – If you were simply looking to extend the time you could spend at sea before requiring to return to shore power to fully recharge the battery bank, a lower Solar/Wind power input wattage could be used, and using the (Watts = Volts x Amps) equation you would be able to calculate how many amp hours you would be able to extend your power supply by.