Tag Archives: repair

A nasty hack on the shin

In the summer of 2015, while departing for the Netherlands, I hit the concrete footing outside Fort Blockhouse in the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. There’s no excuse for it — I was cutting a corner inside the channel marker, confusing it with the next one out.

This Google Maps image shows the footing quite clearly, but not the channel marker. In reality, this concrete is hidden under water, but you can see how nasty it is.

It was a big knock for Tammy, but I didn’t get to see the damage until I hauled her out in early 2016.


Oh dear. That’s the forward edge of the starbard keel, about half-way down.


And that’s a bit further up on the inside.

I ground away the damaged fibreglass. The hole went right through the skin, revealing a black wet fibrous substance behind. I’m still not exactly sure what it is, but I suspect it is some kind of resin encapsulating the keel ballast.


The material stayed wet, so I decided to investigate by digging a small hole into it.


The hole wept a black fluid, which kept flowing for two days, gradually slowing down. Once it stopped flowing, I stuffed tissue paper into the hole to encourage the moisture to wick out of the material, and eventually it dried up.


What was left was slightly fibrous and crystalline.


I decided not to worry about it any further at the moment. The next time Tammy is ashore for the winter, I may drill holes into the bottoms of the keels to drain them and then re-seal them in the spring, possibly with some kind of shoes attached. The undersides of the keels are looking worn, as you can see in this picture taken while she was on a crane later that year.


Here are both the holes, cleaned up and dry. Some of the fibreglass along the forward seam was looking a bit dodgy, so I decide to patch that as well while I was working. You can see where I’ve cut a groove between the holes.


With that done, I started to lay up glass to repair the hull. As I’ve seen recommended in several videos, I laid down a large patch first, then added smaller patches until I’d built up a repair.



I then ground away the excess to restore the keel shape.



With hindsight I could’ve added another layer of glass.

Finally, I applied clear gelcoat, then sanded the result smooth. I somehow forgot to take a picture of the smooth result!



You might wonder why I chose to use clear gelcoat. Well, these repairs are below the waterline, and will be covered by antifouling, and I didn’t see any cosmetic reason to hide them. I’d rather be able to see clearly where my repairs are and perhaps see into the top layers of layup for problems. I also have no motivation to hide my mistakes and repairs, as you can tell by this blog!

This year I dried out Tammy at Portchester Sailing Club, to inspect and clean her bottom, and that gave me a chance to look at my repairs.



There’s no sign of any problems, and I’m happy that Tammy is seaworthy. I plan to make a more thorough investigation of both keels when she comes out this winter. In particular, I think I’ll make some small inspection holes from inside the boat and send in my dad’s endoscope to see what’s there. I’ve read articles from Corribee owners saying there are quite large voids above the ballast, and even one suggesting they might be a good place for water tanks.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, or ideas about what’s inside my keels, I would be very interested to hear.

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Filed under hull, Repairs and Modifications

Rotten to the core



Some time ago I read an excellent article by David Pascoe called “Attaching Hardware to your Boat”. I highly recommend it, and all his other maintenance articles too.

To summarize: bolts and screws through your deck core will eventually make it rot away.

Now I have proof!

I’ve been sitting aboard Tammy Norie in the rain for several days recently. That gives me a good chance to look around for leaks. I noticed some drips in the heads compartment, and traced them to a nut on the ceiling. It was a bolt from the boom gallows attachment.


I remembered David Pascoe’s article, and decided it was time to grit my teeth and investigate the deck core. So on the next dry day I dismantled the boom gallows and used my 20mm hole saw to cut out the inner fibreglass layer and core (but of course not the deck).



What came out was not pretty. Instead of crisp balsa, I got brown mush.


You can see here how the balsa wood has lost its integrity.


And here are the damp sweepings from drilling out the other three holes.


Looking in to the cut out I could see the dark brown discoloured wood. I can only hope that now that it’s exposed to the air it will get a chance to dry out. It won’t regain structure, but at least I will have stopped the rot.


Out of the four bolt holes, only one looked good. You can see the contrast in the colour and texture. Note that only one of the bolts showed any evidence of leaking. That means two of them were secretly leaking into the core.


I re-fitted the gallows using new bolts backed with washers through just the deck layer, all sealed with butyl tape.  These stayed dry on the next rainy day.  Even if they do leak a little, the water should drip off the bolt and not touch the wood.

David Pascoe recommends sealing the exposed wood. I will do this once it has had a chance to dry out.

So take heed! If you have bolts through your deck core, get them out before it’s too late. Don’t delay!

I’m now looking at all the other fixings with suspicion, and will be working my way around them all.


Filed under Repairs and Modifications

Stern locker hinge repair

Climbing all over the stern lockers to mount/unmount and control my Hebridean wind vane self-steering eventually broke the weak locker hinges, mainly because the lockers didn’t fit very well. Here’s a video showing the fix I made in Harlingen. There’s more work to do, but the lockers are much more stable.

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2015-09-05 · 16:21

Engine starter fixed

When Tammy Norie’s original engine broke, I bought a second hand Honda BF5 from Seamark Nunn in Felixstowe. Unfortunately, its recoil starter broke almost immediately, stripping the teeth from the starter sprocket.


I bought a new sprocket, but that jammed during my messing around in strong winds off The Naze and I had to dismantle it and use the emergency starting cord.


I’ve been using the starting cord ever since, and the engine has been fine in all other ways. But I don’t like running it with the cover off. There’s a chance of a rope or clothing getting snagged in the flywheel.

Seamark Nunn offered to take a look at the engine under guarantee, and I finally had a chance to take the engine to them yesterday (2014-09-10). Josh, their engineer, immediately helped me diagnose the problem by pulling out a similar engine and finding a diagram from the service manual.


I thought perhaps something was bent out of shape, because my sprocket teeth didn’t engage very deeply with those on the flywheel, but Josh pointed out that my fixed cap (part 9 on the diagram) and split pin (part 7) weren’t locked together in the same way as on the other engine, and that this would mean that the sprocket wouldn’t drop out of the way of the flywheel when the engine started. That would account for the teeth getting stripped: when the engine fired up it would push very hard on the sprocket.

I looked at the other engine and noticed that I had a piece missing.


There’s a large plastic washer (part 11) that spaces out the sprocket (part 4) from the recoil assembly (part 3). I’m certain that my engine never had one of these, and I did notice some home-made plastic spacers that I found suspicious. I reckon that the original owner lost his washer and then attempted a bodge. The result is that the split pin is too low and falls out of position beneath the cap. You can see it escaping in this video.

Josh found a spare washer and a spare sprocket. We put everything together and things worked much better. I might also bend the split pin slightly to make double sure that it can’t escape.

I recommend Seamark Nunn, who have been friendly, helpful, efficient, and professional.

I also had a great chat with Josh, who is restoring a Cornish gaff ketch and has plans for a six-year circumnavigation. If he starts a blog himself I’ll link it from here. She looks lovely.

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Filed under engine, Repairs and Modifications

Digging for nuts

This one’s for boat nuts only, or possibly fellow Coromandel or Corribee owners who might want to know what they’re in for.

While weatherbound and on a sandbank at Wells-next-the-sea last weekend I repaired a loose and leaky stanchion. The biggest problem was getting the thing apart, as you will see in this video.

I must stress that the arrangement with the backing plate isn’t final. I learned a lot doing this and it’s given me ideas about attaching many of these deck fittings much more solidly. The plate might end up being an L-shaped bracket with tapped holes for the bolts, leaving no protruding bolts.


2014-08-21 · 14:20

Tiller pilot mounting repair

I broke the tiller pilot off its mount while attempting to beat into a short sea and force 7 winds a few weeks ago. The pilot has a small steel leg that fits into a post attached to the boat, and allows it to tilt and swivel while it pushes and pulls the tiller. I was standing next to the tiller pilot when a wave made me lean against it, breaking the leg out of its socket.

I kept all the pieces and attempted a repair with epoxy resin the next day, but it didn’t hold. It took me a little while to think of how to repair it properly. In the meantime, I’ve been lashing it to its mount. It works OK that way, but it takes too long to get it out of the way when you want to take over steering yourself.

While wind-bound in Wells-next-the-Sea I visited one of the excellent hardware shops and bought a large washer and a bag of tiny self-tapping screws. I managed to drill holes in the washer using my little hand drill.


I then re-glued the socket back together using Bostik glue for hard plastics. I placed the washer over the top, drilled tiny pilot holes for the screws into undamaged parts of the socket, and screwed the washer down.

That should hold it!



Filed under autopilot, Repairs and Modifications

Boat dentistry

I wrote earlier about how I managed to break Tammy Norie’s nose by sweating on a line between it and the mast head. We’re not only repairing the damage but making the whole fitting much stronger.

Here’s a picture of the damage, with me pushing upwards on the anchor fitting.


It took us a little while to understand what was wrong. The deck isn’t secured to the hull at the stem head except by a thin line of sealant. The deck joint has fixings behind the rubbing strake (which you can see at the bottom right) and seems pretty secure in general, but there’s nothing holding the deck down at the nose except general stiffness of the fibreglass.

At this point we could have squirted a load of epoxy into the gap, squashed down the deck, re-sealed the joint, and hoped for the best. But my principle for Tammy Norie is to fix any damage stronger than before. So I planned to replace the machine screws that hold down the anchor fitting with longer ones that go right through into the anchor locker, and through a reinforcing backing plate.

The original machine screws only go through the deck. Here’s a picture of the inside of the anchor locker looking forward. You might just be able to make out some bumps in the fibreglass at the top.


After bolting down the anchor fitting, Newbridge made a reinforced fibreglass bubble for the anchor locker, glassing over the nuts! This makes the anchor fitting very hard to remove, as the nuts just rotate and you can’t get a spanner onto them without grinding through the anchor locker. This part of the locker is very small and hard to reach. It’s a terrible bit of unmaintainable design.

Dad and I discussed what to do. Even if we drilled out the stainless-steel machine screws (an awful job) the nuts would still be floating around. Since the damage had partially cracked the deck along a line behind the anchor fitting, I thought perhaps we should just cut right through it, remove the section of deck, then attempt to make the whole thing good after bolting it down. That would have been another big job and difficult to get right.

A week or so later I realised that when I’d ripped up the fitting I saw it rise to an angle of about 40 degrees. Given that the alternative was making a cut, I should just try prying it open to see if I could reach the nuts. There wasn’t much to lose. So I rigged up a rope from the fitting and pulled it tight.

Open wide, Tammy Norie!


What lovely shiny teeth you have!


The “tongue” you can see is the top of the anchor locker bubble.

We were able to get a spanner onto the nuts and undo the machine screws, removing the fitting. To get the last couple of screws out I used a wedge to keep her mouth open.




With this done we were able to drill the holes through to the anchor locker. I started making a template for a backing plate from cardboard. Dad took over most of the work from here as I was busy making the new mast hinge.


Here’s the finished template and the aluminium plate he cut.



I had a lot of fun drilling the perforations. These are intended to capture resin and fibreglass to increase the strength of the bond between the plate and the hull. At this point I tried to bend the plate in the right place, but it was incredibly hard to get a good fold because of the awkward shape. Dad made a jig from some hardwood, annealed the plate, and did some hammering. The result: one rare specimen of the anchor backing plate moth!


You have to imagine this turned upside-down and inside the anchor locker, pressed to the ceiling. The machine screws come down through the anchor fitting, the deck, and the ceiling, then through the plate and onto their nuts. We haven’t decided whether it’s worth keeping the hardwood block as well. It’s already a tight fit and it took quite a lot of work to get the plate into position.

Edit: Here’s a photo taken later of the moth in position.


So far that’s as far as we’ve got. The fitting is bolted down and already more secure than before. We could, at this stage, re-seal the deck joint, seal the machine screws, and call the job done. But that’s not good enough. At the next opportunity we will add a layer of fibreglass over the plate, and especially over the perforated “wings” so that the anchor fitting is connected firmly to the hull as well as the deck. It should then be able to take a reasonable amount of upward load, allowing us to experiment with headsails without worry.

I’ll post pictures when the job is done.

For comparison, here’s a modification made by Declan McKinney for Galway Girl. He didn’t suffer damage like I did, but writes:

I must say I was nervous about the deck lifting just from the boat bouncing on its mooring, hence the upgrade.

Declan has gone for an external reinforcement with his anchor fitting on top. You can find more details, including a CAD drawing, at the Corribee & Coromandel Discussion Group on Yahoo.


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Filed under anchor-fitting, Repairs and Modifications