January 2020 – what’s a year anyway?

So its been a while but I am back working on Anne Marie at last. The converted bank is now a fully functioning office and so time is much more available for the boat.

What has happened to Anne-Marie in the last year? Well not a lot actually. She has gone up and down with the tides and every now and then I went along and got the engine going and reminded her, and me, that she is not forgotten and there is still a lot to do. She is however looking dirty and green. I have scrubbed the green coach roof! It is now white-ish again.

Shore Power

We are just about finished with the installation of shore power and 240v electrics although there is one more bit of work to do to finish that off. I have decided to put in 32 amp system rather than 16 amp to cater for large items of electrical equipment that I might add in the future.

I have used a Marinco socket and plug at the boat end as I thought they looked the most robust and watertight, which I think they probably are. Little did I know that they also have build problems. The ones I got just would not fit together however much I tried. Eventually I dismantled them both (male and female connectors), analysed the problem and then rebuilt them so they worked. At about £150 I was not very impressed especially when neither Marinco or the UK supplier answered emails and queries.

Needless to say the other shore power equipment will not be Marinco.

Steering gear

I removed the wheel, pedestal and connections to the rudder way back in the early days. It required a lot of work to make it look good. I have now got round to the internal workings of the rack and pinion gear which was very stiff. I was rather worried as the rudder was damaged back in 2010 or so and it might have bent the steering pedestal shaft.

I had to make a new bearing for the top of the pedestal. When I say I, I mean Chris the marine surveyor. I had hoped that YouTube or the interweb might have helped with identification and a diagram for maintenance, but no. Too old and unidentifiable. So I went in ‘blind’ and used my ingenuity.

Luckily the main cover bolts came out easily – someone had greased them in the past. I removed the rack and pinion steering gear and then cleaned it up, freed it a little and re-greased it. This is now ready to go back into that boat. The only bit I couldn’t get at was the top bearing which unfortunately was the main problem. Stainless fixings in an aluminium casing had done its usual trick and corroded over the years to such an extent that the fixings would not budge.

Engine stop solenoid

I have been relying on a piece of string to stop the engine which really isn’t very satisfactory and I have been looking for an electronic solenoid activated by a switch on the control pane. I eventually bought it from China (where else?) on eBay with a 1m long control wire. This I could mount in the engine compartment and align the wire through the engine so that it attaches to the engine stop lever. When I press the toggle switch on the control panel the solenoid activates and pulls the wire about 40mm which is enough to stop the engine. When I release the switch the wire extends back toi its default resting position allowing the engine to start/run.

Now this should be easy but as usual there was a twist. Having ordered a “pull on activation” solenoid I was sent an “extend on activation” version. This meant that the fail safe position was ‘engine stopped’ which is no use at all. Contacting the seller got a reassuring ‘yes I will send a replacement’ which never arrived so I decided to have a go and fix it. How difficult could it be?

It turned out to be more complicated than I thought but after a lot of puzzling I turned the circuit board 180° and swapped the power leads to the motor + to – and vice versa. Hey presto I now have a ‘pull on activation’ solenoid. I have just ordered a couple of wire clamps and then that will be fully operational.

I did have to add an extra wire to the loom from the control panel as there was only one spare but that’s no big deal.

The Stop Solenoid with easy to understand instructions

Launch anniversary

I can’t believe that we launched Anne Marie a year ago. What a great day that was.

I will be getting back to work on her fitting out in October. Since December I have been renovating our new offices which are now finished bar the snagging.

She is not quite as clean now but that’ll soon change.

We have already agreed our first cruise for June 2020 with friends in Port Solent so let’s get going.


I cannot believe yet again I have missed most of the best weather for getting Anne Marie ready and then sailing her. We have, at least, had the 240 V shore power system installed thanks to our friend Chris but that is about it.

Over the last eight months I have been renovating an old bank building to turn into offices for our business and we moved in about fortnight ago. Another two weeks will see the job pretty much finished so when September turns up I shall be back getting Anne Marie ready.

Hooray. Sorry for the delay.

Barometer and clock

Birthdays come and go and mine has just been and went. Anne-Marie received this beautiful clock and barometer set which I will mount on a piece of mahogany to go into the cabin. I received quite a number of cards and comments from friends thank you, some of them kind.

I have been doing quite a lot of things off-line although most of my time has been spent refurbishing our new office. I have muscles now I had forgotten.

I do have some conundrums to.

How do I plumb in the calorifier from the engine? Do I take a link from the thermostat housing back to the return after the heat exchanger? Do I have to buy a new thermostat housing with a T piece fixed to it and where might I get such a thing?

Why is the gearbox so noisy on tick over or low revs?

When will I hear the first cuckoo of the year?

The joys of the countryside

I dropped over to check on Anne Marie this afternoon as the weather in UK has been stormy yesterday and today. I spent some time sealing down two of the five access hatch covers to the fuel tank – three to go.

I can only find one water leak at the moment (from above) and that is stubbornly refusing to disappear. Mind you I haven’t actually tried to cure it yet.

Anyway on my way home across The Marsh (The Romney Marsh on the Kent/Sussex border in UK), alongside the Royal Military Canal, I had to stop. It was 5.45 and getting low light towards dusk. There was a lovely barn owl flying along the ditches looking for supper. It ignored me and flew within 5m of where I was stopped in my car. Why don’t I carry a proper camera with me when I need one? I watched it for five minutes or so. Lovely – I have only seen a few in my 65 years and this was one of the best.

A new propeller

I wrote this some time ago but realised I hadn’t published it so here goes. This is about how I selected my new propeller (last year).

Having bought the reconditioned engine (Perkins 4.108) with a TMP12000 reduction gearbox (2.1) from John in Benderloch (Scotland) I have discovered that it is fitted with left-hand output shaft. This is a problem as the propeller originally fitted to Anne Marie was for a right hand gear box. If I don’t change it I will be going backwards to go forwards and go forwards to go backwards. Not very intuitive and definitely bad for the gear box thrust bearings as they are not designed to work that way for long periods.

This is not a good idea.

n this concrete Endurance 35
, Scotland – what a place to live eh?

So I needed a new propeller and this requires me to know certain facts about the existing one.

  1. The DIAMETER of the ‘swept’ area. This is the distance from the tip of the blade to the centre of the shaft x 2.

2. The NUMBER OF BLADES. In this case there are three.

3. Because the propeller fits on a tapered shaft I need the SHAFT DIAMETER at the boat side and the shaft diameter at the rudder side. In this case the larger one is 30 mm and the smaller one 20 mm.

4. The THICKNESS of the propeller at its centre (hub size) along the shaft. In our case this is 3 inches.

5. Finally we need the PITCH. This is a strange concept (for me anyway). Imagine screwing a nut along a bole. As you turn the nut it moves along the bolt and the propeller is no different. The Pitch of the nut & bolt is the distance the nut travels along the bolt in one complete revolution. The pitch of the propeller is the distance the propeller would travel on one revolution if it were moving through the water with no resistance or drag. To measure this on a big propeller you really need to have the propeller off the boat and on a flat surface.

Now fortunately I have taken the propeller off the boat and removed it from the prop shaft. I have attached a short video of how I calculated the pitch because it is easier to see than to explain but effectively you do this.

Firstly the three blades of the propller are identical so it doesn’t matter which blade you use to do the measurements as they each give the same answer.

Lay the propeller flat on a sheet of paper. Mark the centre point and the point either side of one of the blades at its widest point. This should be the same distance for each measurement from the centre point.

Measure the height of each blade at its top-most point and its lower-most point when lying flight flat on a tabletop. The tells you how far that blade will move when rotated the width of that specific blade.

You need to know how far the blade will move between these two points and that’s a simple measurement from one side to the other on the flat surface. This is because you need to calculate the angle that each blade moves from one side of blade to the other when it is rotating.

In Anne-Marie’s case the propeller angle is 53°. Now circle is 360° therefore it’s a simple matter to know if you divide Trevor and 60 x 53 you get a little over six times. On the basis that you know this you can multiply that figure (six) by the height of the front and back element of the blade (40 Or 1 1/2 inches). This gives a figure of 10.

Therefore the dimensions of the propeller 18 diameter with a 10 pitch.

The fate of birds

I was given a little book by my daughter recently written by Ben Crawshaw entitled ‘Catalan Castaway’. It’s about a guy (Ben) who builds a small open boat and sails/rows it around the coast a few miles south of Barcelona in Spain. This is not about building a boat but using it and it makes good reading. He got me thinking about the stories I am telling about Anne Marie so I thought I’d do what my daughter told me to do sometime ago which is “to make the blog more interesting” (whatever that means) – well actually it means I have to make the blog more interesting – hence the title.

So today is February 17, 2019 and it is a lovely calm sunny morning with high tide about 0900 at Rye on the south coast of England. I shall go down shortly (10.30) and start Anne Marie‘s engine and see what happens.

I have been pottering away in the garage recently dealing with the engine control panel. I am adding an electronic push button solenoid to switch the engine off as at the moment we pull a piece of string. Over the past couple of weeks I have been manufacturing some brackets to support the engine control lines (Ultraflex gear change and the accelerator) and now I can start the engine, change gear and accelerate from the cockpit and all the instruments are there.

bracket for accelerator cable

accelerator bracket top view

gear change bracket side view

gear change bracket top view

I got a ‘stop solenoid’ (E-bay, China) about four weeks ago .
A WHAT I hear you ask? “A ‘stop-solenoid’.” I respond. “It’s used to switch the engine off by pushing a button in the cockpit. When you press the button it activates a motor which pulls a wire about 40mm (1 1/2 inches) and this stops the engine. When you release the button the wire relaxes and the engine can be restarted. At the moment I pull a piece of string.

The Stop Solenoid with easy to understand instructions

Anyway, I need a ‘pull wire when activated’ solenoid but unfortunately I was sent was the wrong one. This one pulls when switched off which means the engine would be ‘unstartable’. I am currently awaiting a replacement but it is being shipped by sea from China so I’m not holding my breath. The people selling it were very kind and very nice and did not quibble so I do have a spare solenoid if anybody needs one.

Having said that I have found a way (I think) of making this work but it means the solenoid will be powered up all the time and so if it fails I will not be able to run the engine – so on second thoughts I need the other one.

Apart from it being winter, the reason nothing much is happening on Anne Marie at the moment is because we are refurbishing an office for our business and I’m spending most of the week there. It is colder inside the office than it is outside so I’m not quite sure of the benefits. It is however putting Anne Marie on the back boiler for a few months.

So what have I been doing ….?

– I have been painting the steering pedestal which is getting better but still only has undercoat on it.
– My friend Alan is rebuilding all the cockpit seating, turning two planks of Iroko into slats and making a wonderful job of it. I have just received another batch of black Sika Flex 291i which Alan is going to use to create the black stripes beloved by boat owners. She will look lovely when done.

Iroko planks waiting for ripping into slats for the cockpit seats

– The most recent thing I have been doing of note is salvaging some iron ingots. Because we have changed the layout of Anne Marie and put the galley on the port side we have a slight, very slight, list to port due to the extra weight and the boat is not quite in balance. We have removed an old goods lift from the office (it used to be a bank) and I have salvaged three very heavy cast-iron counter-weights from it. I shall place these in Anne Marie on the starboard side to counter the list. It certainly can’t do any harm. I am encasing them in resin to protect them against the vagaries of seawater. I will then place them in the boat and if it works I will resin them in place so they can’t move about when we are bobbing about on the waves.
– Lastly you may have read about my slight error with the engine sea-cock recently. This has resulted in a dirty old bilge and I have a job to do to clean it up. I have started but it will take a deal of time as it is very awkward working upside down in a tight spot. Fortunately the boat is not moving about much. I have got a job to do to prevent siphoning of raw water into the engine and this will require some thought and research on the Vetus web-site.

Anyway the little birds are tweeting and the sky is blue. The wind is calm and all seems good with the world apart from The B word which seems to be dominating every waking thought (or not depending on whose side you are on).

One last thought in the last couple of weeks we have seen a marked decline in our wild bird population. We normally have a large contingent of blue tits, great tits, coal tits, sparrows, dunnocks, robins, blackbirds, chaffinches and goldfinches. However yesterday I saw a pair of sparrowhawks so I suspect they’ve been helping themselves. We also have about 15 magpies zooming around so they are probably helping themselves as well. Not a good time to be a little bird I suspect.