Wait­ing for the tide

The bat­tle of the bodge

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents - To re­ceive the editor’s monthly email news­let­ter, go to our web­site: www.pbo.co.uk Ben Meakins (David Pugh is away)

The editor’s wel­come

It’s funny how the idio­syn­cra­sies of your own boat be­come second na­ture. It’s only when you step onto some­one else’s boat that you re­alise your own bodges are per­haps not the best way to do things.

For years, to get my boat to go ahead you had to drop the en­gine briefly into astern be­fore en­gag­ing for­ward gear – a state of af­fairs that came to seem in the nat­u­ral or­der of things. It was only re­turn­ing from a spell sailing on other boats that prompted a few Morse con­trol tweaks – and she went for­wards when you pushed the lever that way. A rev­e­la­tion!

It’s rare that you step on any boat that doesn’t have its own pec­ca­dil­loes: I’ve sailed on boats where a special lone deck shoe has had to be wedged un­der the throt­tle lever to keep it at full power, another where there is a very pe­cu­liar sort of move­ment needed to shut the slid­ing hatch, and oth­ers where a se­cret se­ries of clicks and shakes are needed to ig­nite a re­luc­tant gas lighter that re­ally should have been binned years ago. I’ve also seen fore­peak lights that need a par­tic­u­lar thump to get them work­ing, and a clothes peg used to keep a dodgy en­gine stop cable ‘cal­i­brated’.

Step onto another boat with these kinds of bodges and you’ll be im­me­di­ately ir­ri­tated: but on your own boat use makes master, and you be­come blind to the in­con­ve­nience. There’s al­most a per­verse pride in know­ing the se­cret hand­shakes, as it were. Most of us live with these work­arounds for years, and it’s only a rainy day in a dreary port that gives us the time and in­cli­na­tion to fix them prop­erly. Of course, once mended you soon re­alise that you should have fixed them years ago!

Get­ting the fore­peak light to work is one thing, but some­times there are more press­ing is­sues. So it was with reader Alan Ward, whose smartly re­fit­ted Fisher North­easter ketch, North Star, was prov­ing re­luc­tant to tack without the aid of the iron top­sail. Frus­trated, he got in touch with PBO’s Sail Clinic to see if there was any­thing he could do to en­cour­age her through the eye of the wind.

To find David Harding’s tips and tweaks you’ll need to read the ar­ti­cle (page 66), but it’s safe to say that after a day on the wa­ter, he and Alan had worked out how to get North Star to go about smartly. Over the years David has helped mul­ti­ple ketches to tack, im­proved the wind­ward per­for­mance of a score of other boats, helped own­ers sail sin­gle-handed, thought out mas­ter­plans to get into tricky berths and cut the pas­sage times of many slug­gish craft. If there’s some­thing that has you stumped, get in touch!

Else­where this month we’ve fin­ished the hull skin of our Se­cret 20 project boat, David Parker shows how he re­moved and safely re­fit­ted his boat’s heater, David Pugh fits a new, Bri­tish-built roller-reef­ing sys­tem – and that’s just for starters. En­joy this issue: and if you’re gale bound, maybe it’s time to have a go at that dodgy switch!

You be­come blind to the in­con­ve­nience

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