Thursday, 26 December 2013

Where to start?

Big Al once described yachting as "standing under a cold shower tearing up £10 notes". That's probably close to the truth as having digested the endless list of things to do, it's starting to dawn on me that this is going to be a daunting (and expensive) project! At least we will be standing under a pressurised warm shower tearing up £10 notes.

Given the lousy weather is made sense to start on something inside the boat but some sort of heating was going to be required to make it bearable. One of the items on the survey snag list is the 230V ring main, so I thought I'd start with that and kill two birds with one stone, fix that and use an oil radiator heater to warm things up a bit. 

The original 230V system had a shore power socket which fed a domestic consumer unit in the rear cabin. The consumer unit had a RCD and single MCB for the sockets. The socket/s seem to have disappeared in the mists of time and the cable feeding them terminated (not very safely) under the cooker (see photo in the post about the survey).Link:  Making an Offer

The plan was to replace the consumer unit with a larger unit to house a few more MCBs to cover the 230V power requirements. These would be limited to the sockets, the immersion heater in the calorifier and a battery charger.

I've also mounted the consumer unit and battery charger inside the rear hanging locker to get it out the way.

230V Brass twin socket

Battery charger & consumer unit

The cables in the photo will be tidied away once the cable for the immersion heater is installed.

The battery charger is a 30A smart charger. I didn't realise just how complicated batteries and battery charging is when you have more than one battery! More on that later........ 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Growing List

To help keep our minds focused, we are drawing up a list of things that need to be done before Genesis goes in the water. The list is proving to be rather extensive and unfortunately, before any of it can be done, there is quite a bit of research to do.

Survey snag list

 See 'Making an Offer'


  • Replace vinyl headlining
  • Source closed cell foam sheets to install behind Vinyl Headlining
  • Recover mattresses and get some memory foam for mattresses
  • Replace carpeting on the hull
  • New bedding: duvet, make fitted sheets, flat sheets, pillows, etc
  • Paint horrible orange wood with Polyvine White varnish to open up the space
  • Sand down any decent wood an re-varnish
  • Trim down the fold up table in the fore cabin
  • Install wine rack
  • New scatter cushions for seating
  • Install DAB radio
  • Replace door handles
  • Re-work the doors by making them slightly bigger and flush fitting


  • Gut the heads and clad with new panelling
  • Replace manual toilet with electric toilet
  • Find new smaller more modern basin and counter
  • Pressurise the water
  • Install hand-shower in the heads
  • Install water heater
  • Install holding tank

Power & Utilities

  • Install separate battery for domestic power (leaving a dedicated starter battery)
  • Find battery charger
  • Replace wiring with correct gauge wire & clean up birds-nest of wiring behind navigation station
  • Upgrade 230V ring-main and install extra sockets
  • Install heating system
  • Upgrade the gas bottle locker
  • Create pushpit frame for Weber Gas BBQ
  • Gin pole for raising/lowering mast
  • Upgrade interior lighting


  • Recover cushions
  • Find folding table to mount on deck
  • Price up new spray cover in blue


  • New coat of anti-fouling 
  • Paint hull navy blue
  • Install rope cutter (recommended by Big Al)


  • Install wind instrument
  • Change navigation lights to LED bulbs
  • Rework navigation station
  • Install fuel tank sender & gauge

Monday, 16 December 2013

Parking Genesis

We had finally managed to get Genesis home but we still needed to get her parked out of the way. This presented its own unique challenges. To start, we had to manage to fit her in-between the pole barn and the stables and then we had to turn her and reverse her between the stables and the greenhouse.

John decided the easiest way to do this would be with the tractor...hmmmm.... it didn't quite turn out that way. We now have to replace one of the tractor lights and a mirror that John managed to rip off along the side of the stable roof. The stable roof also requires a new section of roof drain, as that has also been damaged. He finally gave up with the tractor and resorted to the Landcruiser. This turned out to be a much better idea. John then towed the boat into the field and reversed it up the hill with the tractor.

Genesis is now sitting between the greenhouse and the stable. Her stern is facing the bank, which allows us easy climbing access onto her without having to resort to a ladder.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Friday the 13th

If we thought the first trip to view Genesis was the trip from hell, we were very much mistaken. It was a complete doddle in comparison to this trip! I think you could actually base a horror film on our experiences.

The plan was to leave by lunchtime on Thursday the 12th of December and to arrive at the Angel Inn round about 6pm. The following day would be spent getting the boat ready to go. Making certain the mast was down and everything had been tied down or stowed aways as it should be. Checking the lights and brakes on the trailer were working, etc. We would then leave early on Saturday, after a monumentally good breakfast at the Angel Inn and hopefully be home by about 4pm before it starts getting too dark.

The trip started off benignly enough. We had managed to stick to our plan and leave at the appropriate time and we got to the Angel Inn by 6pm. We had a lovely shower and decided to have a quick look at the weather. I think it was a this point that it all unravelled and started going wrong. The bad weather that had been predicted for Sunday had been moved forward to Saturday. The prediction was basically for 50 to 60 mile an hour gusts of wind plus of course the usual rain. Neither John or I liked the idea of trying to transport a 26 ft boat in those sort of conditions so we ended up having to mover our plans forward to the Friday.

After finally managing to get hold of the chap at the Marina that deals with taking masts down on boats, we were told that they were much to busy too busy to assist us and could not possibly set aside the 5 minutes it would have taken them to get our mast down. This was probably the last thing we needed to be told but as they were unwilling to help us, we had no option but to do it ourselves. 

After fortifying ourselves with another delicious Angel Inn breakfast, we informed the Inn that we would unfortunately have to cancel our reservation for the Friday night. They were kind enough to allow us to only pay 50% of the booking fee for the Friday night. We then packed up and got ready to make our way down to the Marina. 

Once at the rain driven Suffolk Harbour Marina, we met the lovely couple selling Genesis and took possession of the keys. They were quite surprised that the Marina were being so unhelpful about the mast but there was not much that could be done about it. We assured them that where there is a will there is a way and besides, we really had very little option but to get the mast down on our own. We decided the best route forward would be to try and create a frame with uni-strut channel, so we could slowly lower the mast onto the frame. Whilst it was not the easiest thing to accomplish, we managed to get some uni-strut and support the mast sufficiently to lower it down without causing any damage to the boat or to ourselves. As a result, we have also come to the conclusion, that we will be building a slightly better frame and lowering and raising the mast by ourselves in the future as there is absolutely no need to pay a Marina to do it. I would also add that considering Suffolk Harbour Marina claimed to be too busy to lower our mast for us - I was quite surprised at how very little they actually did the whole day. I counted at least 4 hours where they were doing absolutely nothing. Obviously, times are a little too good if you can't take 5 minutes to earn a couple of hundred quid taking a mast down.

Once the mast was down and strapped in place, we focused on getting everything else tied down and secure. By the time we had finished, we were both soaked through and absolutely frozen. I was so cold that I had to warm my fingers up in front of the heater before I could actually change out of my wet clothing. My fingers simply could no undo my buttons or the zip on my jeans! Once we had both changed out of our wet clothing and checked that the lights and brakes were working, we set off to try and get our lovely boat home. Little did we know, that there was more drama to come.

As you can imagine, we ended up setting off for home pretty late (3 pm) from the marina but with the impending weather, the focus had to be to get home. The first thing we discovered is that towing a 26 ft boat is somewhat terrifying. Anything above 40 mph and it gets a seriously scary sway on. This might have had a lot to do with the fact that the weight was not very well distributed. Perfect hindsight, would have told us to fill the water tank at the front of the boat in order to help redistribute the weight better. We would also have been better off if the towing point was a bit higher. We will certainly remedy these issues before trying to tow Genesis anywhere again.

Sparks are Flying

When I say sparks are flying, I do mean it in a very literal sense in that, sparks were flying from the underside of the boat as we were driving along. It was obviously somewhat perturbing so we were forced to make an impromptu stop on Orwell Bridge to find out what on earth was happening. Whilst traffic was backing up behind us, we discovered that one of the support struts on the trailer had worked its way loose and was dragging on the floor. I suspect it had something to do with us not tightening it enough and the awful rutted road one travels along when leaving the marina. John managed to tighten the strut and we set off again.

If we thought that was to be the end of the drama, we were very much mistaken because shortly afterward, we had a chap pulling up beside the passenger window. I duly lowered the window to be told that there were sparks coming from under the boat! Thankfully, there are still some good Samaritans out there because we could not see the sparks from the car. 

We took the next off-ramp in the hope of finding a Services to pull into. We did find a Services but unfortunately, it was a fairly small one and we could not make the turn with the boat,so we ended up stopping on the kerb just after the Services. As it turns out, the brake lines were dragging on the floor. It must have happened when the strut came loose, it probably unhooked itself. Anyway, John managed to rectify the problem and we set off again. 

Brentwood High Street

We needed to get back onto the motorway but we couldn't find anywhere to turn around. There are always 101 traffic circles when you don't need one and none when you do! As a result we ended up driving down Brentwood High Street in peak traffic towing a 26 ft boat. To add to the experience, we had some absolute plonker decide that pulling out in front of us without much warning was a good idea. He was duly hooted at and I don't mind admitting that I called him a few choice names. After taking a few wrong turns and negotiating Brentwood High Street twice, we finally managed to get back onto the motorway.

The Final Stretch Home

I know this seems a bit like the Never-ending Story but I assure you this trip does eventually come to an end. We were a bit worried about whether we would actually make the turn to our property or not but fortunately, it was actually fairly simple, even at 11.15 pm in the dark. To celebrate, we had a nice warm shower and drank a bottle of Champagne.... yes at that time of night. Our nerves certainly needed it.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Why a trailer-sailor?

There are inevitably a number of factors to consider when choosing a boat. Generally it's a trade off between budget, space, practicality and of course mooring fees!

We live in South East Wales and the closest marina is Cardiff. Cardiff bay has a reasonably sized fresh water lake separating it from the Bristol channel, but for more interesting sailing, one would need to venture further afield e.g. the Gower peninsula and the coast around Pembrokeshire. Unfortunately, that's where marinas and moorings start to become scarce. Couple that with the large tidal range in the Bristol Channel (45 feet+ at springs) and it becomes more of a challenge. We quickly realised that a boat we could move down to the south coast (and further afield if necessary) would be more practical and likely to get more use.

We are both more of the "gin and tonic" type sailors, so the ability to move the boat relatively easily (and economically) ranked fairly high on the agenda. No kids also helps!

This is where trailer-sailors first got onto our radar. This is where compromise begins of course! Most are 20-22ft long, which doesn't give you much of a boat if you wish to spend a weekend on it. We narrowed things down quite quickly to the Beneteau First 26 or the Jeanneau Fantasia. These are about the biggest yachts you can get and still fit on a trailer that a decent SUV can tow. Both have a modern open plan layout and fairly wide beam which makes them fairly practical and spacious.

Having a boat on a trailer helps of course in the winter as we can bring the boat back home for essential maintenance/re-fits. 

Genesis won the day because of the lifting keel and the fact that she came with a trailer!

Edited on the 16/03/2016 to add:

Having had a trailer sailor for 2 seasons, we would say that what we initially thought was so important, actually wasn't for us. 

Moving the Boat:

Being able to bring the boat home was useful from a maintenance and upgrade point of view but it is quickly outweighed by the hassle of pulling he mast down and having it stepped, not to mention the cost. In Cardiff, we stepped our own mast but in Swansea (with a council run marina), we were forced to hire a rigger. What a complete pain in the derriere! He took 4 hours to do what we did in less than half an hour and as you guessed, he charged by the hour! This quickly put us off the idea of towing the boat around to new sailing grounds. Much easier to sail there! Having said all of that, if you went for a smaller trailer-sailor, you would be able to do the mast without a crane.


We bought the biggest trailer-sailor we could, but space is still an issue. The head room inside, does mean frequent knocks on the head and the cockpit can be difficult with more than 2 people in it. I enjoy a large personal space parameter!

Storage space is also at a premium, especially when you enjoy things like cooking. I have had to be somewhat ingenious with the storage of pots, pans, roasting tins, pestle & mortar (yes we do have one on the boat), stick blender, glasses (yes they are glass and not horrible plastic), etc!

In hindsight, the 26ft Beneteau has been an excellent learning experience  but our next boat will be a lot bigger! Who knows, with George Osborne screwing every sector of the population he humanly possible can, we might end up living on a bigger boat!

Speaking of that loathsome cretin Osborne, this amused me:

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Making an Offer

After long and hard deliberation, John and I decided to put in an offer subject to a survey being done. John engaged J Kerhsaw Yacht and Small Crafts Surveys (no affiliation) to perform the survey on Genesis. We received a very comprehensive 16 page survey basically saying that the boat is sound but also detailing a few issues that need dealing with. If we ever needed to have another survey done, we would certainly want to use Joe Kershaw again. He was thorough and detailed.

The conclusion of the Survey was: "Conclusions: Genesis was built to an approved standard by one of the world’s most prolific builders and her hull and structure remain in sound condition. As far as can be ascertained given the limitations of this survey, her rig and engine are also in good condition. On the completion of the recommendations listed she should be fit for her designed purpose."

A very brief summary of the recommendations:

"List of Recommendations:

The Recommendations made in the report are listed below with their respective section numbers. The Recommendations should be carried out before use. 

Recommendation 10: Repair delamination to rudder 

Recommendation 11: Replace cutlass bearing and renew fairing around P bracket. 

Recommendation 13: Service or replace heads valves. 

Recommendation 16: Replace life lines 

Recommendation 26: Service or replace fire extinguishers: 

Recommendation 31: The flexible hoses and regulator should be replaced. Consider upgrading to current standards 

Recommendation 34: Remove loose cable and check mains system before use."

The survey really just confirmed our opinion about the condition Genesis is in.Having reviewed the survey, we have decided to go ahead with the purchase of Genesis. It seems quite apt that she was named Genesis because this really is a new chapter of our lives.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Viewing the Boat

After a magnificent breakfast of poached eggs, bacon, yummy sausage, delicious black pudding, fried tomatoes, mushrooms and toast, we felt fortified enough to go and view the boat and to make the return journey home. I really should have taken a photo of the breakfast for the blog. It was as good as dinner the night before. Anyway, I digress, the main point is that we viewed the boat and what a fabulous boat it appears to be!

Quite often, when you view photos online, they lie or give you a somewhat more positive outlook than is really warranted. This certainly was not the case with Genesis (the name of the Beneteau First 26). From what we could see, without having the benefit of a current survey, she seemed to be in fairly good nick. We couldn't see any sign of blistering or delamination. The inside was fairly clean and the trailer also appeared to be fairly sturdy and in reasonable visual condition.

En route home, we decided to take the rest of the weekend to have a think about it to make certain we had a list of all the questions we needed answered and to make certain our initial excitement was not over-ruling our sense of logic and proportion. We are very fortunate to have a very good friend who conveniently happens to be a Master Yachtsman & John's Golfing Partner. Big Al, as we affectionately call him, has given us loads of good advice and told us what to be wary of. It always helps to have someone in the know to keep you on the straight and narrow or in this case at an even keel! 

PS Big Al is tall, with a big personality... not wide...

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Trip from Hell

The Beneteau First 26, that we had arranged to go and see was based at Suffolk Harbour Marina near Ipswich. Unfortunately, Ipswich is a bit of a pain in the backside to get to from South East Wales. There is simply no direct route to get there. It didn't help that John's car had an invasion of fruit flies, thanks to him leaving apple pomace in there overnight.

The trip to Ipswich was supposed to be a 4 hour trip, in reality it took nearly 6 and a half hours. The last half hour was spent fruitlessly driving around dark farm lanes whilst the Satnav tried to tell us our destination was in the middle of a field. Eventually, we managed to negotiate with the Satnav and find our way to the Angel Inn in Stoke-by-Nailand. What a relief it was to finally get out of the car and away from the fruit flies and to have a nice warm shower and get served a lovely cold glass of wine.

Hopefully the boat lives up to expectations, I would hate to think this trip has been wasted. Although, to be fair, the Angel Inn has been such a lovely experience that it would be worth making the trip simply to stay here.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Was it Possible?

 My husband John and I had dreamt of owning a boat for quite a long time. Originally, we had hoped to build our own boat. In anticipation of making this happen, we had purchased the cutting plans for a Bruce Roberts 46 ft motorboat. After much consideration and scrutinising of the bank balance, we decided the project was not practical. The costs would have been enormous and time was the major limiting factor. Aside from which, the price of fuel is only ever going to go up. This doesn't even start to take into account the ongoing outlay of mooring something that size.

I would say that we had pretty much shelved the idea of owning a boat until we retired somewhere cheap! Fortunately, hope never really completely goes away and a holiday in Croatia completely revived our interest in owning a boat.

We had gone on holiday in Croatia and we ended up hiring a 10 ft long 5hp boat with a Bimini. We used this to tour some of the islands off Hvar and despite it being so small and having so little power, we had a fabulous time. We spent a good 3 days on this tiny little boat in what could only be called somewhat uncomfortable conditions and we were thrilled to be on it. The following year, we did the same thing and toured the islands off Korcula. Again, we had an absolutely fantastic time. Whilst pottering about the islands, we passed quite a few people on their sailboats and came to the conclusion, that whilst we might never be able to afford a 40 or 50 ft motorboat or sailboat, we could afford something considerably smaller and with our combined skills, we could make it quite comfortable. It certainly wouldn't be hard to make it more comfortable than the 10 ft boat we had been hiring.

John in sunny Croatia

Once we had returned to grey and gloomy Britain from sunny and warm Croatia, depression set in! We comforted ourselves by looking at property for sale online in sunny destinations. This progressed to looking at sailboats online. We spotted a lovely little Beneteau First 26 for sale, that seemed to be in relatively good condition but it was out of our budget. Less than a year later, the boat had decreased considerably in price. In fact it was suddenly within our budget although it was being stored, quite a distance from where we live. After much hemming and hawing we decided to go and have a look at the boat.