The ideal Centaur – the ideal location – moon on a stick

Having seen Chichester Harbour I am determined to explore it by duck punt.

Outside of the confines of the Essex and Suffolk salt marshes I have never seen such perfect punting territory and I am determined to explore it in the winter before it becomes clogged with boats.

I have never seen so many Centaurs in one place - six in one boatyard was the maximum number. I now know that I want an A layout Centaur ashore in Chichester Harbour.

I want one with a decent inside but a recently jiggered engine. If it is the right boat I can go to £2,000.

I want to buy the boat on the harbour, move it to one of the marinas - Thornham Marina , looks perfect.

For starters the staff were lovely to this weird bloke asking about old Centaurs who strolled in out of the blue on Saturday morning. They have acres of good yard space, electricity in the yard, some great drying pontoons

- and I love a drying pontoon.

For starters they are cheaper than all tide pontoons, you can get to the boat at any time so night time arrivals by car means that you can safely get aboard and doss down until the water arrives. Also while e aboard waiting for the weather to change you also have the pleasure of watching the tide come and go.

I love the difference between high and low tide.

I love lying in the boat and feeling the tide come back. I really love it when it is blowing a hoolie and the boat has her keels firmly embedded in the mud. So chaps -

I want to buy one of those fifteen or twenty A layout early production run, spade ruddered abandonned old Centaurs that are in those yards around that lovely harbour.

Once she comes to me and I am working on her I shall have the duck punt with me - between coats of paint I shall go for some splendid low tide sails around Chichester Harbour.

Then once the conversion has been done I shall sail the Centaur into every nook and cranny at high tide. I really want to do this while the flocks of winter migrants are still around. So chaps.... please help me to find the perfect boat.

I am not asking much, she is not pretty, she does not have a functioning engine, her electrics are shot, the berth cushions have seen their best days, her sails were dry stored.

She is there, in that harbour where all her sisters were born.

I want to give at least one of those early boats a second chance at life - as opposed to thier otherwise ineviatble meeting with a JCB and a skip.

Here are the snaps and the keel images - three possible boats  - none of them are on the market.... yet.

Chichester Harbour

low tide creek and boats


empty creek 2


Centaur 1


langstone dandy pup


langstone 1 langstone keel 1 langstone rudder  dandy pup 2

Centaur 2

centaur 4mariamarias keels

Centaur 3


back of yard 1back of yhard 2seasuasioncockpitkeels 2


other boats and good centaurs



eboat west wight centaurs everywhere centaurs everywhere 2 cat yard 1 big cat 3 yard 3   tiki stern tiki bow yard 4  yard 5 micra trhree centaurs  wooden boat


Centaur wheeel


no good


wheelo covered Capture   cats 1 cats 2 cenaturs 2 centaurs 3 centaur 7


two old Mirrors

two mirrors


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22 Responses to “The ideal Centaur – the ideal location – moon on a stick”

  1. 13 January, 2014 at 2:02 amPaul Mullings says:

    Gasp! All those lonely craft, how can they be so unloved?

  2. 13 January, 2014 at 8:06 amMark the Skint Sailor says:

    I choose number 2.

    If you do come and explore the area, don’t forget to slip under Hayling Island bridge and come and see Langstone Harbour as well.

    You can if you’re feeling adventurous slip into Portsmouth harbour the back way too, but there are a few low bridges so you’d have to paddle. I’ve done it in a kayak so a duck punt should be fine. Just don’t do it at high water springs as you’d need a submarine. lol.

    Three huge interconnected harbours to explore and modifying a Centaur should see you through the winter.

  3. 13 January, 2014 at 8:24 amdylan winter says:

    of course… none of them may be for sale

    I really hope I can organise a boat so that I can do some punting

    it would be great to do that back route

    I assume I drove alongside one section going from southampton to Hayling

  4. 13 January, 2014 at 9:45 amPaddington Bear says:

    Hello Dylan
    As you are going to be based not far from me, well an hours drive, and I have some skills and tools and no money, I am willing to be a donkey for the Centaur Project. I am sure that you will have lots of willing helpers, the problem will be fighting them off.

  5. 13 January, 2014 at 1:15 pmoldfatgit says:

    I second that, I have a few useful skills and tools and would happily give you a few days help and am familiar with Westerlies (the boat and the winds). Just let me know in plenty of time.

  6. 13 January, 2014 at 1:20 pmSteve says:

    Centaur #1 is in my club (LSC) – need me to ask about for the owner???

  7. 13 January, 2014 at 1:40 pmdylan winter says:

    please please do… I understand it has stood there for several seasons – if you can ask any other Centaur owners if they are ready to re-home their yachts.

  8. 13 January, 2014 at 1:41 pmdylan winter says:

    jolly good Stephen

  9. 13 January, 2014 at 1:43 pmdylan winter says:

    very good indeed – I am hoping that the job of removing the old engine, cutting the hole and bonding in the well can be done by three enthusiastic blokes in three days – optimistic or what!

  10. 13 January, 2014 at 3:34 pmdylan winter says:

    has anyone on here ever pulled an old diesel out of an old boat?


  11. 13 January, 2014 at 6:45 pmMark the Skint Sailor says:

    Yes coming from Southampton once you pass the M275 turnoff, Portsea creek runs just at the side of the A27 for a short while before joining Langstone harbour. A bit noisy but its a lot easier in a small boat than crossing the seafront. On the opposite side of the creek from the A27 are the moat and battlements of Portsmouth’s shore-facing defences which prevented Napoleon or whoever else outflanking the city and invading from landward.

    A century or two ago the back passages (ooer missus) were a route for the Portsmouth to London Canal: The canal started in Central Portsmouth and then via the back routes to Chichester’s canal and on to provide an inland route to London. Not very successful as it limited the size of boats and was killed off by the Railways.

  12. 13 January, 2014 at 8:05 pmDave Fisher says:

    If you’re not refurbing the engine I would think about an hour to disconnect.
    Cut the exhaust hose, you’ll never get it to pull off the manifold. The shaft
    coupling will be the most difficult bit unless there’s a hole in a quarter berth.
    Cut your hole in the cockpit sole first thinking about it, may make things easier.
    if the engine bolts don’t undo you can often remove the mounts from the engine.

    What are you going to do with the stern tube?

  13. 13 January, 2014 at 8:25 pmdylan winter says:

    Thanks Dave

    I have no idea what I will find. I assume I can free the coupling either with the keyway or remove the gear box

    it cannot be harder than the slug can it?

    – I shall remove the cooling water valves, and the drive shaft – I might have to trim a bit off the housing if the engine has to shuffle forwards, the the Wessex Resins man will fill up all the holes and the boat watertight.

  14. 14 January, 2014 at 12:18 pmSteve says:

    I am advised that Centaur #1 should more correctly be described as Pageant #1… she also has a new engine….

  15. 14 January, 2014 at 12:28 pmdylan winter says:

    thank you Steve….I can drop that one from the list of possibles then…. one step forwards … two steps backwards.

  16. 14 January, 2014 at 5:53 pmJeanette Critchell says:


    Is Maria your 2 choice. She was with us for many years and only left Thornham last year.

  17. 14 January, 2014 at 6:30 pmdylan winter says:

    she has been re-engined

    the first one is a Pageant

    so that only leaves the third in this batch

  18. 14 January, 2014 at 10:26 pmjeremy johnson says:

    Hi Dylan,
    Bizarrely we went for a walk on Sunday through Thornham marina on Sunday – just a day after you. We’re within an hour of Emsowrth area so could also lend you a hand for a day or two when needed – just let me know when. Many, many (about 35) years ago my father, brothers and I removed a completely siezed and utterly jiggered 1500cc BMC diesel engine from the port hanging locker opposite the sea loo in a Kingfisher 20. What it was doing there in the first place is a story in itself. (TO give you an idea of size -there was a sad looking example of a Kingfisher 20 in the film at the Dell Quay yard at the back near the Cantaur). The biggest problem wasn’t disconnecting the drive : it gave in to a lot of WD40, time and the appliction of heat to bolts – courtesy of an acetlyne torch – plus the use of long leavers and pursuasion with a hammer. The main problem was actually lifting the engine in the confines of the boat because the cabin roof (or in your case the cockpit floor) prevent any direct upward lift from whatever can be mustered. In the end It did take as many of us that could squeeze into the cabin to lift it. I think the Centaur will have more manoevering room and the engine slightly lighter – but you’ll still need as many hands as possible to lift it out with ropes and leavers.

    Cutting the holes will be the easiest bit I think – for which I recommend an angle grinder with a cutting disk – fibreglass seems to blunt jig saw baldes in a trice.

    I think the 3 days could be a tad optimistic…..


  19. 14 January, 2014 at 11:30 pmdylan winter says:

    Cheers J,

    very good of you. If you see any candidate boats please let me know… any people I should contact. As for removing the engine my neighbour used to do boat engines for a living – he said that if you do not have to put anything back then three blokes with a gantry could do it in an easy day.

    Cutting the hole and prefabbing the woodwork should also take a day – although I can do that by myself – should only take a day

    then the Wessex man to stick it together in a day – provided we can get the temperatures right.

    three days… of course it is a stupidly optimistic target…

    but it is better to travel in hope than not travel at all


  20. 15 January, 2014 at 7:47 pmjeremy johnson says:

    Quite agree on travel.

    Was thinking that a gantry would be great – but maybe not available or difficult/ additional cost to arrange on the day and can only provide a vertical lift where there’s nothing blocking the way above the future piece of scrap metal. On the other hand a small crowd armed with some determination is more flexible and mobile.

    I found getting sufficient temperature last winter when epoxy coating my keel was most troublesome – hope the weather is more favourable for you.

    I don’t know of any Centaurs but if you want someone to go and check one out and take more pictures on a weekend day then may be able to help.



  21. 15 January, 2014 at 8:17 pmdylan winter says:

    thanks J,

    Wessex Resins are doing the epoxy work and they can work at almost any temperature as they know how to tweak the hardener. They said 500watt lights and local heating will work. I spoke to Mike the engine remover neighbour – he says he has done Centaurs. I asked how many blokes – he said any more than three and you start to fall over each other. Thornham has a telescopic lift on a four wheel drive jobby.

  22. 16 January, 2014 at 10:35 pmjeremy johnson says:

    I would have thought that three blokes and a four wheeled telescopic lift should put the fear of recycling deep into that engine block….

    Yes – I think Wessex Resins are right – I should have bought a pot of a faster hardner. But if I recall rightly I think the only choice on offer by Wessex to a mere punter like me was fast or slow, and reading thier own blurb (its on their website) seem to imply that you couldn’t work below 8 degrees C (I think) – even with the fast hardner. But of course they know a lot more than just their own blurb and have an arsenal of chemicals to play with. I think using 500 watt holgen work lights will work well because not only will it keep the temperature up a bit but also the little bit of additional temperature will keep the moisture at bay too – especially later in the day with the onset of evening near the water you know how damp things get. You’ll need place quite a few around mind because of th awkward shape. A nice sunny morning with temperature on the rise with a light breeze would be just right – makes it all so much easier.

    In fact when you sit down and think about it, the best conditions for doing any work on ones boat are the best conditions to go sailing…..’twas ever thus.


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