Author: woodchip_123

I name this ship…………………..

I name this ship…

Some time ago I bought a yacht with the most dreadful name. I can’t mention it for fear of
offending the owner or his descendants who gave her this name but suffice to say it is a spice I
really do not like – yet another good reason for changing it.
Changing the name of a vessel was always considered bad luck but I have never heard
any justification for this. Perhaps the myth stems from an attempt to deter a change which
could be seen as a deceitful if simplistic way of disguising a vessel which may have illegal
or unlucky associations. However myths are not gospel so if you really don’t like the name
go on, change it.
That official list of yachts, the Lloyds Register of Yachts was an annual publication
associated with the Lloyds insurance business and nothing to do with the Register of Ships
in Cardiff as commonly and mistakenly though t.As well as the marine insurance business
Lloyds was once a major source of information nautical. When making his famous crossing
of the Atlantic in the 25′ Laurent Giles Vertue 35, Humphrey Barton experienced a knockdown
with serious structural damage. He signalled a passing ship with the request to pass
a message to Lloyds, “Vertue 35. Some sea damage, crew all well.” A masterly
There was a time when every yacht had a copy of Lloyds on board so that you could look
up a passing yacht by name to find her designer, builder, dimensions and even her owner,
address and yacht clubs.
As the publication was annual up dating with change of name was not difficult and there is
even a section under the heading List of Late Names of Yachts. Sadly publication stopped
in the mid 1970’s. As brokers and with a whole shelf of Lloyds from the 1950’s to the
1970’s we often refer to them when researching a particular yacht which comes our way.
An earlier version, NorriesYacht List of which I have a 1935 edition also provides a
valuable source of information listed by yacht name.
Yacht names seem to fall into several distinct groups. There is the plethora of Greek and
Latin names although I often suspect that the owners seldom know the dubious deeds
done by dastardly dieties like Scylla and Medusa.
Then there are the subtle and often very clever names. A well-known yacht was called
Danegeld because she was built with money from the owner’s Danish wife – a romantic
gesture which will surely outlive the lady.
Another successful racing yacht of the 1950’s and 60’s, Uomi, only saved from the Silly
List by her race success obviously had keen associations for her first owner.
Stars are another plentiful source of names. When a good friend had a new yacht built to
replace his previous smaller yacht Silver Bear he called the new yacht Callisto, the
naughty nymph turned into the Great Bear by Artemis.
Here we go with myths again. I have often wondered why it is called the Great Bear or
even the Plough when it is patently if unromantically a Saucepan with 2 of its’ stars known
as the Pointers because they point almost directly to the Pole or North Star. That very
recognisable constellation has been the sailor’s friend since the dawn of seafaring so a
name reassuring to the owner of an expensive new yacht.
Then there are the names with associations personal to the owners or just plain nice. The
most famous yacht of all time, King George V’s Britannia is a classic example although you
probably have to be a king to name a yacht after your country.  The J-Class Velsheda was named using the first syllables of the owner’s daughters’
Ted Heath’s Morning Cloud is one of those really nice names recalling summer dawns of
the early morning watch.  The yacht Release, designed by 3 prisoners of war in Germany and built on their return home is an evocative name when you know the story.

In the West Country it is common to name a fishing boat with the prefix Girl or Boy or
sometimes Our. Thus we have the Girl Sybil, Boy Mark and Our Boys.  Scottish fishing boats have some lovely names, sometimes a girl’s name, often a plant.  The Flower of Caithness comes to mind – what a lovely innocent name that is – or Bluebell or The Lady Rose. Are these names reminiscent of home when tossing around on a dark November night off the Hebrides?
Lastly there is the Silly List with classic examples such as Dunpaying, Gophorit and
Tonzabunc. Many years ago we sold a boat called Quick Thinker which inevitably became
known in the office as Slow Sinker. When I last heard of her she was thankfully still afloat
and hopefully with a new name.
With marinas full of modern yachts with silly names and all looking exactly the same it is
no wonder changing a yacht’s name is no longer unlucky.
So what have I chosen? With fingers firmly crossed I have chosen the name Hope, that
lovely old name from before the days of satnavs when hope was a significant factor in
navigation. Not Hopeful or Hopeless both of which might be more appropriate but just plain
Hope. And secretly I hope Hope will remain Hope for many years.

So you want to buy a boat – 3

So you want to buy a boat – 3

Survey is the next major hurdle and absolutely essential.  Even for an experienced yachtsman, a time-served boat-builder and with money to spare we are all prone to an attack of starry-eyes. But get it all down in black and white by an independent observer, good points as well as bad, and hopefully your feet will come back on dry land and you will make the right purchase.

However the whole business of surveys has potential for controversy and is a subject for another time.

As well as confirming your hopes on the condition of the boat an insurer will require a recent survey report to encourage him to take on the risk. There is no legal requirement to insure a boat but most ports and inland waters have local bye-laws obliging at least Third Party and rather ominously, Removal of Wreck. Yes, it does happen as it did in Dartmouth last year when a much-travelled, well known boat sank on her mooring, quietly and all by herself one night and the cost of raising her from just 30’ was eye-watering.

I often think that too much emphasis is given to the condition of the boat and not enough to the skipper. Give a fool a good boat and he will sink it but give an experienced sailor a wreck and he will get it home in one piece.

Remember to have your insurance in place when you take possession. If you are going to have a problem it will probably be the first time you let go the mooring! However again, insurance is a subject for another discussion.

Wooden Ships commercial mooring

Wooden Ships Commercial mooring on the River Dart

We have recently had confirmation from Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority that our new commercial mooring on the river has been approved and will be in operation from 1st April 2016.

This mooring will be a 30m pontoon berth solely for the use of vessels being offered for sale by Wooden Ships.

This will enable us to bring yachts to Dartmouth which are currently lying in obscure parts of the world or which have owners who are not able to look after them. We will care for them, carry out any necessary refit work and present them to the market, enabling us to get clients aboard boats which otherwise might not be viewed.

We will be offering a full guardianage service of these yachts if necessary but there is also the option, as with one boat already signed up, for the owners to live aboard.

The pontoon is a mid river berth but there will be electricity by way of a generator.

We still have some spaces available if any of our clients think this might be a suitable option for them.

Charter Sailing on a Traditional Ship

Charter sailing on a wooden ship

We have recently launched another section of the web site focusing on traditional charter vessels.  Although not our core business, we have teamed up with good friend and owner of Bessie Ellen, Nikki Alford, to utilise our web site to promote not only Bessie Ellen but also Irene, another West Country trading ketch from the early part of the 20th Century.


Nikki has been running Bessie for many years now doing everything from carrying cargo to sail training with disadvantaged youths, however the majority of her time is spent taking people on sailing holidays and providing them with superb experiences and first hand knowledge of what it is like to sail a traditional vessel.


This is something that we are very passionate about and Richard has been involved with Bessie Ellen skippering her on quite a few occasions so if we can help bring in some more business through our web site then it can only be a good thing.


This year Nikki has taken over the management of Irene and will be offering berths aboard this magnificent gaff ketch throughout the year.  This will range from day sails to week long holidays, but for a more detailed look at the itinerary it is best to follow the links through to the boats web site, here you will details of costs, dates and locations to suit everyone.


Sailing one of these superb vessels is an experience everyone should enjoy.  Even for the seasoned sailor who is perhaps used to smaller yachts, there will be an enormous amount of knowledge and enjoyment gleaned from time aboard Bessie or Irene whether it is learning how to splice heavy 3 strand rope, handling the heavy gaff rig or simply learning the quirky art of helming a 150 ton ship, a week or so aboard one of these boats will never be forgotten!

2014 in brief

Wooden Ships 2014 in brief

With the end of the year in sight and all the boats laid up for the winter this is the time we reflect back on the season’s work.

We are regularly asked what the market is like for selling boats both by owners who currently have boats for sale and by owners considering putting their boats up for sale. The answer you will not be surprised to hear me say is never simple.


Our experience is that after the crash of 2008 our market did not change for a couple of seasons. It was not until 2010 that boats stopped selling as the effects of the crash penetrated from the bankers – who were already back at their desks – down to the yacht owner in the club bar.

This prompted a large number of calls instructing us to reduce prices as owners realised the doom and gloom in the media did actually affect them but nevertheless 2010 and 2011 were not good years for owner’s wishing to sell.

Of course the buyer’s money was still out there, money doesn’t just disappear but there was an understandable lack of confidence to spend it. However by 2012 many buyers realised there were some cheap boats to be had so boats began selling again.

These things always seem to go in waves of boom and bust despite the efforts of politicians of all hues.


2013 brought a shift in the economic wind. Buyers were more plentiful as confidence gradually increased while prices still remained relatively low.

By relatively low we mean that we were seeing boats selling at 12% – 15% below what we considered to be the correct value. If you then consider that most owners – and some brokers – will ask 10% above that value we were seeing sale prices of up to 25% below advertised prices.

(Advertised price as opposed to value is the subject of a separate commentary so watch this space.)

Of course we cannot apply this experience uniformly across the board and no doubt there will be some of you out there with a totally different individual experience but this is certainly the trend we experienced.


In this office 2014 has continued from strength to strength largely due to some useful international sales as a result of Richard’s travels. There are signs of this confidence penetrating down the scale but we continue to see resistance in the area which used to be a stock market for us – the £20k to £50k. This is the area the social science guys describe as Middle Income and these people are struggling to find the spare money for what can be quite an expensive sport.


On that point, it is not always the purchase price that makes us hesitate to buy a yacht but the running costs. The capital asset is still there give or take a bit depending on the market, condition and location but costs are spent money.

Costs can be divided into several headings – mooring, insurance, lift-out, winter storage and relaunch. Then there are the services like engineers to winterise and recommission the machinery, marine electricians to sort out the electrics that have gone wrong over the winter and the occasional boat builder’s cost of repairs which can crop up.

Of these, the most expensive by far are the mooring costs and one can only think that it is supply and demand that pushes these up. Compared with many French berths ours are astronomic but of course they have a bigger coast line than us and fewer boats, always ignoring much of the infamously wealthy Med coast, although even French prices are increasing now.

We find that insurance costs have if not actually reduced at least remained steady. We like to think the reason for this is that insurers have finally got around to realising that wooden boats are not just the preserve of the eccentric and not all wooden boats are festering old wrecks crewed by long haired drop-outs with consequent high risk.

Celebrity ownership, glamorous photos in the best magazines and huge, well publicised classic boat regattas have all contributed to this very welcome change.


Labour costs are always a source of contention. I often say to and about traditional boat builders that if they want to live in luxury and drive fast cars then take up banking – although equally I also hear from many bankers who claim they would sacrifice their bonuses to lead the life of a traditional boat builder, knee deep in wood shavings with the smell of pine resin and tar in their nostrils. Talk is easy!

However if traditional boat builders want to practise and enjoy a way of life which allows them to exercise their skills at a time and a pace they choose then they will inevitably have to accept that they will never be in the big bucks league.  I have often heard claims that boat building is an art not dissimilar to that of a painter or a sculptor and few of those died rich men.


Far be it from me to deprive a craftsman of a fair living but in return I want a fair job. We see some very skilled craftsmen doing wonderful work and these guys deserve to be paid accordingly but we also see the others who often don’t deserve to be paid at all yet still offer their services.

It is noticeable that the best boat builders are also frequently the fastest so they earn their money twice over. However I am not willing to pay for a young man just out of college taking an age to do what is often not even a decent job. We all yearn for a return to the time when boatyards were able to take on apprentices and skills and permissible commercial short-cuts were learnt on the job. I and many others we speak to are willing to pay for that.


The welcome change we are seeing is the number of students enrolling at the boat building schools but school learning does not make a professional. That only comes with experience.


On the subject of annual maintenance how many times do we hear that if there is a yacht on the tin then expect to pay double? One day someone will explain to me why anti-fouling paint has to be so expensive or why a tin of white paint with a yacht on it is twice the price of Dulux from the local builder’s merchant.

I welcome all explanations and will willingly publish them but I want evidence from the technicians, not from the marketing boys.


It is easy for yacht owners to moan about costs, no doubt they always have and they always will. I have read stories of the owner of a million dollar J-Class yacht complaining about the cost of sail needles.

The bigger the boat the bigger the costs, even if the big boats actually costs less to buy than the smaller boat.

I frequently say to people, before you buy look at the first owner. Take a guess at his disposable income that not only allowed him to build a new yacht but also to run it. Now, just because you are buying that yacht at a fraction of what he paid you will still have the running costs. Indeed you may well have greater running costs because the boat is probably 50 years older.


The real joy is that, provided we can run the yacht successfully we have the pleasure of sailing a boat which we could never have afforded when she was built.

And the extraordinary factor in all this is that we are still sailing boats of this age and sailing them just as hard as the first owner did.

What other material, what other craftsmanship and labour can or will ever be able to compete with the classic wooden yacht?

Half Price pilot Cutter?

Half price pilot cutter

There are many of us who have in the past, and still today, dream of owning an original Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter.  The history of these wonderful boats, the people who sailed them and the stories that are now told about them are all fascinating and awe inspiring, giving us a glimpse of a different world.  There are so many interesting stories entwined with the pilot cutters such as the development of design to cope with the rigours of the job, and the subtle differences between boats built in different areas, for example the West Country built Cornubia compared to the first Lancashire built boat, Alpha.

Not only did these boats do a superb job working in often very harsh conditions, but many of them went on to write their own individual stories after retiring from pilot duty.  The most famous of these are arguably the boats used by Tillman to carry him across the oceans in search of greater mountaineering challenges, but there are so many other untold stories of voyages and adventures carried out by these old boats and their owners, a testament to the superb evolution of design that brought about a breed of fantastic sea boats, in the right hands capable of taking their crews anywhere in the world.

Many of us unfortunately have to continue to dream about ownership of a pilot cutter because let’s face it, they are not at the cheap end of the market.  And rightly so, these are incredible boats and there are only a handful of them left, fortunately though the numbers are increasing because there are some people out there willing to take the plunge and rebuild the more run down boats and get them back sailing.  However, the possibility of owning a BCPC has just opened itself up to a lot more people.  We have been advertising Carlotta now for a little while, and although we have had a lot of interest, nobody has come along with enough imagination, desire and money to take over ownership and get her home.

She is currently on the west coast of Canada after sailing out there in the 1970’s.  This is again a fascinating story and largely untold, although the tales of Carlotta’s voyages have now been quite well documented.  Unfortunately the west coast is the wrong side of the continent as far as we here in the Uk are concerned, and the logistics of getting the boat back to UK have proved too tiresome for most buyers.  There is however now a rather good incentive as the price of the boat has been reduced to a very low figure of £145,000.  Bear in mind this is a rebuilt cutter from 1899, an absolute beauty of a boat, very fast and with a well documented history.  Yes, she needs a suit of sails and she is on the wrong side of Canada but so what, this is a half price Pilot Cutter which ever you look at it.

The point is that this is not setting a precedent for the value of original Pilot Cutters.  The true value of the boat is a lot higher and if circumstances allowed she would be advertised and sold at a lot higher price, however the two factors that are affecting this sale, and affect all sales, are location and the owners willingness to sell.  It is a great shame that after doing so much good work to the boat and putting so much into her, the owners find themselves in the position where they need to move her on, and because nobody here in the UK has been able to step up to the mark and buy her, they will be opening her up to the north American market.  Because the history and significance of Carlotta is not fully understood or appreciated over there, the asking price has to be significantly lower than it would be in UK, hence the reason for bringing it down to this low level.

To my mind it would be a real shame if somebody did not take this opportunity to bring Carlotta home.  It would be a fantastic adventure to sail her home, exploring the wilderness of western Canada and North America, then down to the Panama Canal, a season in the Caribbean and then home, or alternatively she could simply be loaded on to a ship as deck cargo and shipped back to Southampton.  The logistics are not too difficult and not prohibitively expensive so this should not be a barrier to someone thinking of buying her, and the other potential issue of VAT import duty could possibly be argued away because of her historic significance.

Hopefully somebody will come forward in the near future who has the necessary attributes to take on a boat like Carlotta and we can all then look forward to seeing another boat in the fleet racing at the Pilot Cutter Review in Cornwall and quite likely giving Mascotte a run for her money!

Click the following link to view Carlotta

Trophies in the sun!

Sailing trophies in the sun

After four superb days  of racing off the south coast of Antigua this week, we have managed to steer Spirit of Callisto to first place in class.  Lying in second place after day 3 we had it all to do, and with the course and conditions in our favour we managed to get the gun and the overall win.

The second day had brought very challenging conditions with winds up to 3o knots and a decent sea running, the heavier boats in our class came into their own with the exquisite gaff cutter Holly Mae, owned and sailed by Joff Rorke, powering around the course under a deluge of white water and deservedly taking the winning gun.

Day 3 was simply one of the best days sailing I have ever had.  We were beaten into second place behind the gaff ketch Old Bob after handicap by 21 seconds, but that did not matter.  The course is called The Cannon, two laps of a simple reach to the first mark 6 miles out to sea and a reach back in which meant the whole fleet were sailing back and fourth past each other all day giving us the most spectacular views.  This was the day for some boats to excel, especially the big 3 mast lugger Grayhound who had been struggling with the windward legs, but with day 3’s long reaches she stretched her legs and proved there is no substitute for massive quantities of canvas!  I will not forget when the big schooner Adventuress came charging past us under full sail a stones throw to windward with water streaming down the decks looking absolute magnificent.  Rainbow, the replica J-Class, was doing her magic and it was such a pleasure to be sailing alongside a boat like that in such perfect conditions.  Everyone I spoke with that evening no matter what boat they sailed with said the same thing, it was simply a pleasure to be out there on a day like that.

So the question is will Spirit of Callisto be back next year to defend her trophy?  I truly hope so!


Antigua Classics 2014 – “Yawl not ketch us!”

Antigua classic 2014

One of the benefits of working in this game is being able to mix business with pleasure, and that is exactly what I am doing this week after accepting an invitation to skipper a yacht for friends in the Antigua Classics regatta.

The boat is a gaff yawl designed and built by Spirit Yachts of Ipswich. true to Spirit form she has a spade rudder and fin & bulb keel which I think is a very interesting combination with the more traditional rig.

After a day out practising with our crew on Thursday, we lined up in the first start of the regatta on Friday with high hopes, and we were not disappointed.  It was a long reach to the first mark in a good F5 with typical Atlantic seas.  We found ourselves 3rd round the mark behind a big bermudan cutter built by Luke Bros. around 1905 called Lily Maid and Marcus Rowden’s 3 mast lugger Grayhound which ate up the distance on this free reach with her enormous sail area, flying along at 10 knots with the wind just aft of the beam.

We gained ground after the second mark on a hard beat back towards Falmouth Harbour, by which time the big boats of the fleet were storming through making a superb spectacle with all cameras on deck for a close quarters fly by of Rainbow, the new J-Class as she was close on the wind doing a good 15 knots.



We  were immensely pleased to pick up the gun on the finish line and found out later we were first on handicap as well, so it is all to play for in the next 3 days of racing……and partying.

More photos can be found on the Wooden Ships Facebook page.

The Wooden Ships Archives

Wooden Ships Archives

After more than 35 years of running the brokerage, we have built up a long list of boats and yachts we have either sold or inspected all over the world.  Up until last autumn, these archives were a slightly disorganised mess in the cellar below our office.  However, after wasting far too much time looking for past information on particular boats, it was decided that something had to be done.

This was not a job to be relished, however the task was given to Richards mother Pam Gregson who has spent many hours locked in the cellar going through mountains of paperwork and box loads of old photographs.

The result of four months hard work is a very well organised set of filing cabinets with details of over 5000 boats going back the last 35 years.  The paperwork is backed up with many thousands of photos, most of which were taken by Peter on his travels over the years.

To us this is a very useful resource that we regularly dive into when people approach us with new boats to sell, and often we can tell the owners more about the boats than they know themselves.  The next stage will be to digitise the whole archive to ensure its longevity, and possibly, if Peter ever finds the time, he might use the information to write ‘THE BOOK’ which he has talked of for many years!


Laying up time

Laying up time

As some of you know we purchased a lovely yacht called Zircon just over a year ago.  She is a 44’ Camper and Nicholson Bermudan sloop, built in 1960 as a Class 1 offshore boat.  As you might imagine this pedigree makes her an excellent sea boat, and it’s when the seas pick up and the wind starts to blow hard that she comes into her own, effortlessly powering through the water with an easy motion, light helm and good speed.  This year we came back from Paimpol, beating hard on starboard tack in a F6-7 with a good sea running and she was magical, even when we were pressing her too hard before the reef went in and she was shipping water over the leeward cockpit coamings, she still only needed one finger on the helm, and apart from the occasional odd wave slapping the forward topsides, we hardly got wet.  It’s times like these that having a big heavy and powerful boat is a real blessing.

However, come the winter and our minds turn to laying up and maintenance, the size of this boat starts to be a problem because as we all know the costs can increase disproportionately as the boat gets longer!  I have decided to write a series of short blogs throughout the winter following our programme of laying up, maintenance repairs and eventual commissioning in order to show people that boat ownership doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think, that there is a lot the average person can achieve themselves with a simple tool bag, and give owners a few ideas and tips that they may not otherwise have considered.  To many, this will be old news, but to a lot of our clients who are inexperienced or new to the wooden boat world, I hope this will be both informative, interesting and money saving!

We are lucky in Dartmouth in that we have a wide choice when it comes to winter laying up.  This winter I am planning to undertake some more in depth structural repairs to the boat that need to be carried out, so I don’t have the choice to leave her covered up on the mooring again as we did last year.  This is obviously the cheapest and easiest way to winter a boat.  You have already paid for 12 months of mooring fees so why pay the yard another 5-6 months storage.  This is how most owners pay for 18 months of storage in every 12!  As long as your mooring is secure and sheltered enough, this is the best way to save money.  Make sure your lines are in good condition and there is plenty of chaffing gear where it is needed, get some tarpaulins to keep the wet off the deck and superstructure and away you go.  Depending on the design of your boat, you can often get a cover that goes over the coachroof and ties to the toe rail, although this doesn’t keep the whole deck dry, it does allow you to leave some portholes open and keep the ventilation throughout the boat.  If you remove all the soft furnishings and sails, lift the sole boards and prop open all cupboards and seat backs, the boat should fare well throughout the winter months.  If you have a pontoon berth with electricity then get a greenhouse heater and a dehumidifier in the cabin to stop mould and mildew forming all over the cabin.

Leaving wooden boats in for the whole year is no problem, and although the type of construction and materials used will make a difference, a good rule of thumb to follow is two winters afloat, one winter ashore.

I eventually decided to lay the boat up in Old mill Creek, a quiet little backwater a little way up the river with several boat yards, lifting facilities, beach and mud moorings and workshops.  I have taken a berth leaning against the pilings where I have electricity, I can walk on and off the boat and most of all she is very sheltered.  The creek dries out completely at low water, so because of her 7’3” draft she only floats on a few tides a month, the rest of the time she stays neatly leaning on the piles.  This is an ideal situation because it is safe and terribly cheap compared to yard storage ashore which would include lifts, cradle hire and pressure washing, and although there is a little bit of hassle involved to get her in there, ballast her side decks to ensure a permanent heel and adjusting the ropes at the beginning to get them right, it is far more preferable than having to drive to Totnes or Galmpton every time I want to work on the boat.  This sort of winter berth may not have crossed many peoples minds because of the hassle factor and the worry, however if you moor her correctly most boats will sit very happily against a wall or piles for the whole winter.  If your boat has sheer legs then it is an even easier and more viable option.

My job list this winter is not inconsiderable!  The main work will involve removing the galvanised strap floors up forward, having them shot blasted, re-galvanised and replaced along with new bolts and some planking that has been damaged by the corroding floor bolts.  Most of the floors were done by a previous owner but the forward ones were not touched unfortunately, meaning we will have to pull apart the forecabin joinery to get at the hull.

It is not going to be possible to replace the planks in her current berth because of the rise and fall of tide, but I have the chance to get her on the slipway next door in the spring, so before then I will do as much of the preparation so the job will be completed as quickly as possible once she has been slipped.  I am planning to remove the interior joinery, and then at low tide I can cut off the nuts on the old floor bolts, knock them out, remove the floors and put wooden bungs in the bolt holes.  The floors can then go away for galvanising to ensure they are ready to fit back in once the boat is slipped.  We are fortunate that the ballast keel does not have to be removed to get at these particular floors, which enables me to do the whole job without having to pay expensive yard fees, and by doing the more straight forward leg work of removing joinery and pulling out the floors, the amount of work, and therefore cost, of hired professional help will be much less.

Other jobs needed include cleaning and painting the bilge, removing the engine to be able to remove the engine beds which will need either re-galvanising or possibly complete replacement depending on the condition once they are out, rebuilding the chart desk, changing the DC switch panels and moving the main battery isolator switches to a safer more sensible position.

The first stage of all this was to get the boat covered over.  I chose to build a polytunnel type tent using 32mm black alkythene water pipe for the hoops, with a 3”x2” timber ridge pole and some vertical supports onto the deck.  I removed the top guard wire from the stanchions and then pushed the pipe over the top of the stanchion, it’s a tight fit but that makes it nice and secure!  This gives you a nice evenly curved hoop with no sharp edges to chafe the cover, and its dirt cheap, the 25m roll of pipe was £30 inc. delivery on the internet.  Next the ridge pole went up with a short length of 3×2 at the bow from the pulpit to the first hoop.  This is the hardest bit when working on your own, holding the timber up with one hand while trying to bang in a screw with the other, where would we be without lightweight battery drills!  Once there is a couple of screws in to hold it, I could then get around to adding the rest of the verticals and lashing the ridge pole at each hoop to make the whole frame nice and rigid.  I finished by trimming up the ends of the timber and stapling on bits of carpet here and there to stop the cover rubbing through.


I bought my covers from a very good website called Tarpaflex who seem to be the best value on the internet.  I went for two separate ones which makes handling easier, especially when doing it alone, and allows for an access point to the boat just about amidships.  I stretched the covers over the frame pulling them from stem to stern and quickly got some lines round underneath to secure the whole thing before the wind got under it and took the whole lot in the river.  All in all, after fiddling around with the lines and tweaking everything I have got a very rigid and robust cover that took me a day to construct and cost about £180, not bad considering.