Monthly Archives: May 2014

Seized seacock replacement

After over 25 years in a garden you’d expect a few things to have aged. Amazingly, most of Tammy Norie’s systems are in great condition, thanks to diligent care by Jack and Sheila Robbie, the original owners. However, one of the seacocks had seized: the big one in the port cockpit locker used for the heads (toilet) drain.

We sprayed it with various kinds of penetrating oils over several weeks — WD-40, PlusGas dismantling lubricant, cold shock — but no luck. Eventually the handle began to bend. Time to remove the whole thing and buy a new one.

The nuts came off after a quite of effort, but then the whole thing was glued down with ancient sealant. Here I am trying to pry the seacock from its plywood mounting pad without doing too much damage to anything.


Eventually, though, Dad suggested knocking the bolts through to the outside of the boat. I wasn’t sure about doing this, but with him watching carefully I put nuts on the ends of the bolts (to prevent thread damage), braced a block of wood against them, and hit the other end with a rubber mallet. And out they popped. It turned out they were coach bolts fed through a brass plate that was hidden under the antifouling.


Once the bolts were out I was able to twist the whole seacock right off the fibreglass by hand, reducing the old sealant under the wooden pad to powder. And then it wasn’t too hard to twist the pad off the seacock and clean it up for re-use.

Off to Force 4 in Swanwick to buy a replacement. A mere £150. Oh well, perhaps if we can unseize the old one we can get £50 for it on eBay.

This was no trouble to fit. There are a few improvements over the old model. Firstly, there’s a a grease nipple that should make it easier to keep lubricated without dismantling and might help if it ever sticks again. Second, the retaining plate is now held down by screw-head bolts. We think this might be to prevent over-tightening.


In the long run, though, I might remove the sea toilet altogether for solo long-distance sailing.

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Filed under Repairs and Modifications, seacocks

Launch weekend part 2: Breaking the boat

[Follows on from Launch weekend part 1: Keyhaven to Yarmouth.]

This is the day that I broke the boat.

We had a leisurely breakfast in Yarmouth and set out in glorious sunshine to sail to Newtown Creek.  We had no real purpose in going there other than to sail Tammy Norie.  Our destination for the day was the Junk Rig Association AGM at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club that afternoon.

This is the first day we could really sail and try out the rig.  The wind was a southerly breeze, making a pleasant reach for Newtown Creek.  We just sailed along and tried stuff out.

As we were sailing along I noticed the mast wobbling a little bit. I remembered the surveyor’s advice about the mast partners and thought I should have a look.  The survey mentioned that the mast needed wedges, and the boat had come with a bag of them, so I thought I could slip them in.

Tammy Norie’s mast is unstayed and sits on a substantial step at the bottom of the hull.  I won’t say “keel stepped” because she has twin keels and in any case the step would be well forward of any fin. The mast passes up through a stainless-steel disc about 25cm across and bolted to the coachroof ceiling, then through a cone moulded into the coach roof.

I undid the bolts holding this disc up in order to have a look at how the mast was resting on this cone.

Only it wasn’t.

As soon as I removed the disc the mast started pressing against the top of the cone.  The wedges I had were quite small and I imagined they were meant to go in the thin gap between the cone and the mast.  I pressed a couple in.  Almost immediately, the fibreglass cracked.  Fortunately, the wind was light and the main movement of the mast was from the chop and wakes in the Solent.  However, those caused the mast to wobble around and bash against the other side of the cone, creating more cracks.

Here’s the cone damage, photographed later with the mast boot off. Note the bolt head bottom right.


At this point I realised that these wedges couldn’t possibly be for this purpose (I still don’t know what they’re for.) The mast should be braced against the deck at deck level.  I called to Dad to heave-to to reduce wind pressure on the mast.  Then I grabbed a towel that was nearby and stuffed it tightly into the cone, hoping to press it firmly with the disc and brace the mast. I tried to get the disc back onto the bolts.  There was no chance of that.  The mast was no longer quite vertical and wouldn’t line up.

I asked Mum to keep trying while I went outside and hauled on the various lines we had rigged to the masthead.  Nearly.  Then I threaded a spare halyard through the anchor roller and started sweating it.  Success!  The disc went on to the bolt.

Then there was a horrible splitting noise as the anchor fitting lifted, levering up a small section of deck.  I’d broken Tammy Norie’s nose!

Here’s a photo of the damage when back ashore, with me pressing upwards on the anchor fitting.  That part of the deck isn’t fixed to the hull, and was only held down by the general stiffness of the deck and some sealant.  The repair, when I do it, will be bulletproof!


This was more inexperience on my part. Firstly, I’m used to larger boats and don’t expect to be able to break things with my bare hands. Secondly, I’m used to bermudan rigs where a line from the masthead to the bow (the forestay) can certainly take a great deal of load. But Tammy Norie’s bow fitting wasn’t designed for upward forces. It’s just an anchor roller on a plate bolted to the deck.

At least we were able to tighten the disc towards the coachroof ceiling, squashing the towel into a pretty firm but compliant bundle that held the mast tightly. No more wobble, no more creaking. No more cracks.

It’s a good job I knew where my towel was.

This is why we try out a boat in the Solent in good conditions. I’m very glad I didn’t try to sail Tammy Norie back from Inverness when I first bought her.

So, what I discovered was that the mast was resting on the disc, and that the forces on the mast were being transferred through those bolts to the deck.  Two 8mm stainless bolts, passing through simple holes in the deck without even a washer, their heads pressing straight onto the external gelcoat.  Unacceptable! You can read about the cone repair elsewhere in this blog.


After that we had a very nice but brief stop in Newtown Creek and a fairly fast broad reach to Lymington, where we arrived only 10 minutes late for the AGM. The committee were very nice about it, saying that anyone who arrived by sea had a dispensation to be late.


After lurking in the JRA for such a long time it was good to meet some members, and the next day we had a lovely junket and an amazing chance meeting. I’ll write about that later!


Filed under anchor-fitting, Logs, mast


Twenty five years under a tarpaulin left Tammy Norie’s hull looking quite dull. Though fundamentally sound and without serious scratches, a flapping tarp will gradually add millions of tiny scratches and turn a shiny surface matt.


We had a go at polishing her with T-cut and a buffing machine.  It did help a bit, but we couldn’t really get a shiny surface.


Tony Perridge, who surveyed Tammy Norie, suggested a product called Poliglow — a polyurethane lacquer.  It comes in two parts: an acid wash for preparing the surface (and also excellent at cleaning stuff!) and the milky lacquer itself. You apply the lacquer with a kind of artificial chamois-leather. It’s completely magical. Just wipe the boat with the applicator and it turns shiny. And stays that way.

For Tammy Norie it took just five minutes to apply one coat, and five minutes for it to dry.  I applied six coats over the course of a couple of hours.  The results were great.

Look at that shine!  A few hours with a buffing machine and six coats of lacquer and she's like new.

After a weekend in the water Tammy Norie was a bit grubby, but just wiped clean with a sponge and some soapy water.

The instructions say to apply a couple more coats each year. That’ll take about 15 minutes.

We’ll see how she looks after a season.

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Filed under hull, Repairs and Modifications

The mast hinge saga

Tammy Norie came with a hinged mast of dubious origin with a pin that has been lost.  The hinge is about 1m above the deck. Once the mast is upright on the pin, an outer sleeve about 1.5m long slides snugly over the join. In theory.


The papers I received with the boat don’t actually match the mast I have. The one that looks plausible says it’s “the Unique Sunbird hinged mast”, but when I asked Robin Blain of Sunbird Marine about it he said it wasn’t one of his. It has a small label saying “Proctor Masts”, but they don’t seem to exist any more. Proctor Masts USA has a link for Proctor UK that goes to Selden. I wrote to them both, but no reply.

One of the first things I did was cut away the badly corroded supporting tube and have a new tube and pin made for me (at very reasonable cost) in stainless steel by the excellent Mackay engineering in Cambridge.

The main problem is that the pin must fit within the sleeve, and so it can’t protrude beyond the holes in the lower section of the mast. This means it only has about 3mm of purchase on each side. We found that if you don’t handle the mast very carefully the pin pops out of the holes and the mast basically falls off.  This is very hazardous to anyone or anything nearby, and could potentially do serious damage to the boat and mast as well.

While Tammy Norie was in the driveway we rigged up a guying system using a ladder.


We later found that we could support the mast well enough with a person on each side of the boat, but I’m not happy with the hinge at all. I certainly wouldn’t attempt to raise or lower the mast alone while afloat. That’s a great shame, since there’s an obvious advantage to enabling her to duck under bridges.

So although we can get by for now, we are thinking about how to fabricate a better hinge. It must allow for single-handed raising and lowering of the mast on the water (on rivers etc.) and be stronger than the current arrangement.

The best hinge I’ve seen is one used on Marshall Marine’s catboats.

11 Tabernacle1a12 Tabernacle2a13 Tabernacle3a

I wrote to Marshall but they only make the hinge to fit their own smaller masts, and as you can see it doesn’t allow for any cabling in the mast.

So I need to come up with a design that will fit snugly inside the current mast tube and provide extra purchases on the pin. And I probably need to machine it out of aluminium alloy to match the mast.

I’d welcome any suggestions!


Filed under mast, Repairs and Modifications

Launch weekend part 1: Keyhaven to Yarmouth

Tammy Norie sailed again for the first time in nearly 30 years.

I decided that my goal would be to attend the Junk Rig Association AGM and junket on 2014-05-03.

After two long and intense weekends of restoration, we towed Tammy Norie to West Solent Boat Builders in Keyhaven on the morning of Friday 2014-05-02. In spite of the scary list of rules on their web site, they’re an extremely friendly and helpful bunch and I highly recommend them.


They craned Tammy Norie in without fuss just after lunch. I told them that she hadn’t been in the water for a long time, and they gave me some extra time to check all the skin fittings before they let her go. It was extremely exciting and pleasing after all the effort of the past few weeks.


The engine started easily, thanks to Dad’s heroic efforts the previous week, and we put-putted through the moorings at Keyhaven. (On the return journey I sailed almost up to the quay, but you have to understand this was my first outing as skipper of my own junk.)

Once we were in the Solent proper we made sail. It was easy. Too easy. It’s really quite strange to be sailing a junk rig after thousands of miles of Bermuda cruising.  Whatever I did with the sail Tammy Norie pressed on at a reasonable pace.  (At this stage I had no log fitted to fine tune the speed.)  There was no particularly bad position for the sail, but on the other hand there was no obvious sweet spot either.  I’m sure this is partly my inexperience, but I’m quite happy about it in any case.

Here’s Dad at the tiller under engine.


Unfortunately, because we had to leave Keyhaven at high water the tide was leaving the Solent at quite a pace, preventing us from getting to Yarmouth.  After a few tacks we started the engine again. Motoring against the Solent’s half-tide ebb just off Hurst Castle made it work hard, but 10hp is oversized for a Coromandel and it had no trouble pushing us along like a speedboat.

In fact, once we reached Yarmouth the problem was stopping!  The engine didn’t want to run slowly and I hadn’t got the knack of knocking it in and out of gear.  The birthing staff were very helpful and we managed to get onto a pontoon without too much difficulty. I did have to leap off and manhandle her a bit. It’s a good job she only weighs a ton. We figured out later that the throttle cable had a kink in it from all the years of storage, but a small adjustment sorted it out.


So there, we’d made our first tiny passage on the restored Tammy Norie. It’s really wonderful to do this on a boat you’ve restored yourself. Very satisfying.

Earlier I’d had a text from Sally Peake of the Junk Rig Association telling me that Anthony Cook kept his boat in Yarmouth. I texted him and he invited us to the Yarmouth Yacht Club, where we had a delightful time with him and several other JRA members, all planning to hop to Lymington with him the next day.

The day when I broke the boat.

[Leads on to Launch weekend part 2: Yarmouth to Lymington via Newtown Creek.]

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Filed under Logs

Plans for Tammy Norie

I bought Tammy Norie because to me she seemed like an excellent compromise. Her 0.6m draft will enable me to poke around in estuaries and rivers in the manner of Dylan Winter but at the same time Roger Taylor has proved that she can voyage across thousands of miles of ocean to some of the most remote places on earth. And I’ve been interested in the junk rig ever since I borrowed Annie Hill’s Voyaging on a Small Income from my parents. In the last 12 years I’ve sailed thousands of miles all over Europe with the Cambridge University Yacht Club and even have a share in Puffin.

So what are my plans?  Unusually for me, I’m thinking four years ahead.

In 2014 I’ll finish preparing Tammy Norie for sailing in Europe. I intend to do a lot of pottering around the UK coast, and possibly make a trip to the Netherlands.  If I get really ambitious I might take her to the Algarve for the winter.

In 2015 my main goal is the Jester Baltimore Challenge: a single-handed voyage from Plymouth to Baltimore (the original one in Ireland).  And of course, some sort of return journey.

In 2016 my goal is the Jester Azores Challenge: similar to the above but from Plymouth to the Azores. And again, I’ll have to get back.

In 2018 my goal is the Jester Challenge: single-handed across the Atlantic. And this time, perhaps I’ll be coming back the long way around.

Of course, it may turn out that I’m not cut out for single-handed ocean sailing, but I really want to find out.


Filed under Plans

Engine nose plugs

Tammy Norie came with a Honda BF100 outboard engine from sometime in the early 1980s.  Its serial number confuses Honda dealers and it’s difficult to get parts or information. I did manage to download a user manual and even found an on-line service manual.  On the first weekend we noticed that the cockpit was filling up with exhaust fumes while the engine was running.

The engine has mysterious “nostrils” half-way up the shaft.  When she’s in the water the top one of these breathes exhaust into the boat.


Although these nostrils appear on the diagram that came with the engine, they aren’t labelled, and the diagram shows the exhaust exiting with the cooling water by the propeller.


So Dad tapped threads into the nostrils and we made some nose-plugs. We’ll have to see if they cause the engine to choke, in which case we can just unscrew them and try plan B: some sort of improvised exhaust pipe!


Edit: The nose-plugs worked beautifully during the East Coast Launch Weekend. There were no engine fumes at all in the cockpit or elsewhere in the boat, and the engine was able to run happily with the locker lid closed, whereas before it would choke on its own fumes. Success! Unfortunately, we broke the engine in another way, but you can find out about that is you read the post.

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Filed under engine, Repairs and Modifications