This is Katie L from pick-up day to first launch
The Minstrel at her owners house in Blandford Forum. It was a bit of a tight squeeze to extract the boat with a big van but the boat and trailer had been very well looked after. The price....£7,500
I had hired the van with a tow bar from Northgate van hire in Milton Keynes the cost was £40 a day and I used about £90 worth of petrol for the journey. The boat towed brilliantly.
The Minstrel safely parked at home - time to assess exactly what I have got for my £7,500
A set of alumium steps and fender to protect the gel coat. Having the boat at home is wonderful. I live two hours from the sea so being able to work on the boat just a few yards from my workshop was wonderful.
The cast iron stub keels on the Minstrel sit snugly in the channels on the break back trailer. They also keep the bottom of the hull clear of the ground when ashore. The boat draws 38cm inches with the pivot centre plate up. With it down it draws just under over 1m..
The cockpit has plastic teak on the benches and cockpit floor. At the back end of the canoe stern is the outboard well - one of the main reasons for choosing the Minstrel.
The deep anchor well on the Minstrel is really a hang-over from her sister yacht the cat ketch rigged Liberty. However, the well gives you a wonderful sense of security when handling the anchor and is a great place from which to film. It has turned out to be one of her best features. David Thomas is the designer.
The cabin looking forward. The open plan makes the boat feel quite large down below. It is comfortable for two. Three is a aqueeze. Four is impossible.
Looking towards the stern as the boat arrived home. The loo is on the port side and to stb is diminutive chart table and quarter berth dissapearing under the cockpit. The spars can be stored in the boat by poking them down through the fore-hatch.
The quarter berth is plenty long enough even for my 6 foot 4 son.... but I doubt that anyone will ever sleep in there while I own the boat. However, it is a wonderful storage space and means that the cabin does not need to get cluttered up with sleeping bags, pillows and sail bags. I have great plans for making the most of this space.
The heads. It is large for a 23 footer and doubles as a wet locker. I feel bad about it being a sea toilet... but it wil always be the loo of last resort. I make sure that everything that goes down it is bio-degradable. Loo paper is designed to fall apart quickly so that the microbes and sunlight can get to it. The other stuff is great for the crabs and worms and therefore good for the bird-life.
The Minstrel came with a double ring burner over the end of the port berth. Having the galley on the port side is very traditional. It is always best to use the stove when the galley is on the leeward/downhill side of the boat. That means that the boat is sailing on starboard tack and therefore has right of way while brewing tea of whipping up a souffle.
Bed under the galley area. It is asking for trouble and I cannot think what David Thomas was thinking about.
This locker is hard up against the hull and is always cool making it ideal for beer, cheese and butter.
These are brilliant. Camping mats are really cheap from ebay - £3.99. They keep the light out of the cabin and in the winter they cut condensation. Curtains on small boats never work very well. These are much better. Choice of colours too.
On the slug the galley was under the companionway hatch anf offers full standing headroom when cooking. It is also a wonderful place to stand watching the birds while crumpets are being toasted. So creating a new galley is one of my priority jobs.
I knocked up a prototype galley box using quarter inch ply and some strips of 1 x 1. The little drop down doors are held on with string hinges - "stringes". The other piece of rope stops them from dropping down. The origo fits on top. The idea is that the top box stays on the boat - the bottom box is taken home each time along with the crockery, cutlery and food consumables. That avoids ending up with jars of manky marmalade and solid salt on the boat. One glance in the box at home will remind me if I have fogotten anything. All cutlery and crockery is run through the dishwasher between sailing trips.
The prototype galley boxes in place. I had to add a slot in wind break to stop the stove from blowing out with the draft from the hatchway. The stove is mounted on gimbals which lasted for one voyage before being discarded as a complete waste of space.
The mark two galley box in use.I have to add some chains for the drop down front. The top has deep fiddles on both sides and doubles as a tray. I can also move the galley box out into the cockpit for a bit of al-fresco cuisine. The mark two is made from quarter inch exterior ply and some moldings from the builders merchant. I used Cascamite from ebay and self driving stainless steel screws from Screwfix. The only tools you need are a saw and a mitre-box.
The Minstrel was born as a gunter rigged yacht but the first owner got fed up with all the string and had her converted to a Bermudan.
The old wooden spars had been languishing in a nice dry garage for over 15 years. The mast had developed a bit of a curve but apart from that were all in great nick.
The spars go up onto the workmates for inspection. The standing rigging was shot. The side-stays were fraying and the fore-stay had been canibalised for the other rig.
it took a while working out what went where.
The sails were also in great condition. There was some UV damage on the genoa and a few wear patches on the main.
There are a couple of odd grooves worn out by the topper. I need to find a way of stopping these from getting worse.
several thn layers of varnish are better than a couple of thick ones. I find that diluting the varnish with 10 per cent white spirit helps to reduce the drips. if you time it right you can get away with coat on coat without sanding - but your timing has to be impeccable.
The engine well with the 2.3 hp short shaft Honda in place. The well was one of the main reasons for buying the Minstrel. The Honda is going to be my back-up engine.
The Minstrel has an outboard tunnel like a life-boat. The idea is that you can use a short shaft outboard as well as a long shaft. The system works pretty well. The short shaft propellor is kept well clear of the ground and it is ideal for creek crawling. It works much better than it should do.
The boat came with a 5 hp Yamaha two stroke with a charging coil. No idea how old it is or how many hours it has run. It sounds smooth. However, I feel that the use of two strokes in confined waters is unethical. This one runs at 50 to one but all traditional two strokes discharge oil and unburned petrol into the water through the exhaust.
I bought a brand new Tohatsu 6hp 4 stroke Sailpro with charging coil. It cost me just under £1100. It comes with a five year guarantee. However, it is only valid if the engine is serviced by a main dealer. The first service is due at 20 hours and only requires an oil change in the leg and in the sump. I was quoted £99 plus vat for the first service. At that rate keeping the five year guarantee valid will cost more than the engine.
The Tohatsu in the well. You can see the cockpit l drain under the engine. The cockpit does fill with water if there are too many people in the cockpit. I need to buy a big bung.
The long shaft sticks down below the hull line and is in clean water flow but is still above the level of the bilge keels. The long shaft can be vectored which is a tremendous help when moving around harbours or coming into a pontoon.
The outboard has some room to kick up - but only if the rudder is raised. One of the main reasons for wanting to go over to an outboard is that three times so far on the journey I have got fishing gear caught around the prop. On an inboard it is a frightening experience. With an outboard it is nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
I needed a new roller reefing kit - Plastimo has always been reliable and that was what was fitted before so I bought the same - £299.
Instructions tranlated from the French by some-one who knows little about engineering -IMHO
Fitting the roller reefing involved a zillion trips up and down the ladder and onto the foredeck - all good excercise.
The Minstrel was called George Gunn after an English cricketer caught up in the body line scandal of the early thirties. I am generally against changing boat names but I really could not bare the ideal of having to explain to everyone I met why the boat was called George. I am no great cricket fan and I knew that one day I would be sitting on the boat and some hairy man would come down striding down the pontoon clutching a copy of Wisdens and expecting a long conversation about cricket. I also find boys names for boats slightly unsettling. So it was a gentle application of heat from a hair dryer or paint stripper and judicuous use of the thumbnail. The ghost of George Gunn will be visible on the boat stern for years to come.
Wet the surface with water with a tiny amount of washing up liquid in it. Then use a credit card to get the graphics to leave the backing paper.
Katie L. The name was suggested by a sailor called Max. People refer to KeepTurningLeft as KTL. It works for me anyway.
Katie L heading for North Norfolk. The shorter mast only just sticks over the stern of the boat so the mast can be left more or less rigged.
The break back trailer in operation. As long as the slip is the right slope launching is fairly easy.
First touch of the North Sea at Wells.
The first sail in a new boat is always a magical experience. I have waited a long time for this.
The stub keels help to maintain directional stability even when thecentre plate b and the rudder are both raised so sailing in 18 inches of water is entirely possible.
The cockpit is very comfortable and the plastic teak is warm to sit on. The outboard is incredibly noisy because it is right at the apex of a parabolic reflector.
Echo sounders are next to useless at these shallow depths - which is when the peastick comes in handy.