I need a Plan B

As you may have realised I have stopped mithering about engine wells and started thinking about keels.

Centaurs are excellent boats but they were built with a fault - the keels sometimes get a bit wobbly because the bit at the top, where they are bolted to the hull, was not as strong as it could be.  Many of them have been strengthened.Some have not.

I am told that when they fail they tend to go slowly and progressively - although a couple have sunk on their moorings - but I assume it is slow weep over time during a period of neglect rather than a sudden falling away.

I am hoping to find a Centaur that has been put ashore because the engine is broken -

so there is a good chance that the keels will be reasonably well attached to the hull. Of course the keels could be wobbly and the engine broken, but I am hoping that no sailor would be that unlucky.

I expect that the centaur will be found lurking somewhere in the Solent - hopefully Chichester Harbour.   I will run a pressure washer over her, check the standing rigging and then get her lifted and put on the water.

I hope that when she is lifted the keels will not start to wobble. If they do I have lost whatever I paid for the boat  - £1500.

if the keels do not wobble then I will get her put on the water and hope that she does not leak. If it is a little leak I can live with it. If it is a big leak via the keels - then I will have to live with that and try to stop them from leaking.  I will not have the time or the money to remove them and re-fit them. If it is a really terrible leak then I will have lost whatever I paid for the boat.

I will then take her around to a yard where she can be put ashore where there is power. I can use a tender and the 6hp Tohatsu to get her around to somewhere like Thornham marina.

Then I can get her put ashore

Big day 1 removing the engine  - I need to cajole a couple of strong blokes to help remove the engine. It is possible to do this job in a day - so I am told.

I will then prefabricate the box for the well, the false transom and the structural cupboard where the old engine used to be

I will then be ready for Big day 2 - This involves cutting the hole in the cockpit floor (easy) and cutting the hole in the hull between the prop housing and the rudder (harder). I will dry bolt this and the cupboard into position.

Big Day 3 is when the man from Wessex resins will come to stick it all together


If I have a serious keel problem that shows itself the first time I lift the boat - or when I I launch her then I will fall back on plan B

the only trouble is... there is no plan B... How can I get rid of a Centaur with a jiggered negine and with jiggered keels - ebay I guess - reserve price - 99p

all suggestions gratefully received.

these are the keel heads on Roger's boat - as you can see he has exposed them - they are right buggers to get at when all the furniture is in place - particularly with the A layout with the dinette I understand.

|Mither, mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,mither, mither, mither,




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39 Responses to “I need a Plan B”

  1. 13 January, 2014 at 6:32 pm133bhp says:

    I had visions of helping sail the dutch boat across :), thought had you name on it?

    But Jeez, I dont have a keel boat so surprised thats all there is! lateral torque must be considerable. Looking at bottom pic, why didnt they bolt each keel to a common big thick plate? then they wont go anywhere/the whole hull can take the strain, seems theres room?

    before buying, Can you not dry out somewhere hard packed, dig in under a keel, wood base and with a trolley jack stress the keels, check for flex?

    Good luck

  2. 13 January, 2014 at 6:59 pmHenrik Scheel says:

    A strange boat if there is no easy acces to the keel bolts! I had pictures of keelbolts sent to me early on in the buying process. Mine is a Bavaria. Rusty keelbolts are a dealbreaker.

    You must be able to verify that the keel is properly attached before signing the deal. You offer to pay for the cranelift which will be common procedure. You only sign the deal if the keel do not’ wobble’.

  3. 13 January, 2014 at 7:43 pmDave Fisher says:

    A drying mooring is hard on any boat but a bilge keel one especially. Soft and muddy they sink in
    and are forced apart the deeper they go. A hard bottom just hammers away as she takes the ground.
    If you’re near a fairway with commercial traffic or loads of gin palaces going by or exposed to a swell,
    well need I say more.

    Most keel bolts are a pain in the neck, all you can do is give the ones you can get at a good tighten.
    Acquire a good socket and extension, hammer it on (if need) and give a good pull with a tee bar on top. If it shears off, well you know its no good. Wire brush any rust away and fibre glass them in to stop any leaks. Go sailing, remember you have 2 so if one falls of its not quite so bad as a single keel falling off. Don’t dry out anywhere tho!

  4. 13 January, 2014 at 8:13 pmjon sutton says:

    Cape Wrath and West Coast with a dodgy keel?
    MacWesters are cheap too, but don’t they have encapsulated ballast in moulded bilge keels?

  5. 13 January, 2014 at 8:23 pmRon says:

    I’ve got a wooden boat and don’t have all this trouble.
    Just replaced all the keel bolts, after 60 years. Made them and fitted them myself in a few weeks.
    What is this with Centaurs anyway?
    Yes, I have sailed one – a friend’s – Solent to Cherbourg – and it slammed all the way.
    There are many better boats around, and at similar prices, with WORKING engines.

    I DO wish you luck with your project, but please, please, please remember you are trusting your life, and the lives of your family, to this boat.

    All the VERY best.

  6. 13 January, 2014 at 8:27 pmdylan winter says:

    I had heard that a hard bottom is better than a deep muddy soft one

    I do not know what the mud is like around Thornham – how deep it is

    I always the reason for having a twin keeler was so that you could dry out

    it did not bother the slug any


  7. 13 January, 2014 at 8:28 pmdylan winter says:

    macwester do have encapsulated keels – if the water gets in the ballast rusts and swells and make it worse – apparently. Gotta be a Centaur>


  8. 13 January, 2014 at 10:25 pmdylan winter says:

    aha – but there is a small chance that you spend until mid June with sandpaper and unguents –

    I am hoping that I will not have keel probs – I am just mithering to placate the gods of keels and GRP

    if I do have probs then I am looking for a safe and cost effective bodge

    as for safety and keels falling off – I shall do some pretty extensive sea trials in the solent before heading off

    I am also going to sail it to scotland from the south all in one go with some KTLers aboard – they will all be farty, snoring, old blokes who have seen better days so it will not be much of a loss to humanity if we all drown.

    If we make it in one peice then I think there is an excellent chance that the boat will be safe enough for my precious dog and family

  9. 14 January, 2014 at 8:09 amLuis says:

    Plan B: sell the keels for metal recycling. You may get a couple 100 for them.

    Worrying if your keels are going to fall off does not make for relaxed sailing.


  10. 14 January, 2014 at 8:12 amdylan winter says:

    Each weighs 600kg

    so worth quite a bit

    and the mast is worth something

    as for worrying…. not worrying much –

    all boats have minor faults

    looking forward to it

    Daan emailed me to say that two people are looking at the dutch boat


  11. 14 January, 2014 at 8:21 amGiles says:

    I don’t see why there is such a worry about keel bolts on Centaurs – mine had its keels re-seated three years ago just before I bought it. While they were at it they did the reinforcing thing all along the bottom around the holes where the bolts go. The yard that did the job said it was not difficult with the right heavy lifting gear (not really diy).

    Now I don’t wish to anger old Neptune, but as far as I can see (and I do check regularly) the thing is as solid as a rock – no leaks… yet… dry as a bone in fact.

    She lives in a drying mooring (deep, unfathomable mud) and is the ‘A’ layout.

    It is not necessary to go down Roger’s path of removing keels, sandblasting, filling, faring, painting and encapsulating – although it does look very pretty. This is the bit you don’t see – you just want it to stay together.

  12. 14 January, 2014 at 8:26 amdylan winter says:

    I agree Giles – I am trying to establish if I can visually see if boat has a serious problem before she goes on the water. I thionk if yours did not leak after setting off on her voyage by herself then there is a good chance she will be fine. I am hoping that if the engine is jiggered then the keels will be fine.

  13. 14 January, 2014 at 9:42 amRon says:

    Hoping to be in the water by April – provided I can lay a mooring by then.
    At the moment though the weather is like …

  14. 14 January, 2014 at 9:53 amLuis says:

    Do you know the quote: “the bottom of the sea is covered with the bones of optimists”?

    For how long do you plan to have the whole family with you? For your budget you could charter a nearly new, spacious, safe sailing boat for two weeks. No worries, no hassle.
    Unless (like me) you wouldn’t be seen dead sailing a French plastic lozenge…

  15. 14 January, 2014 at 10:42 amdylan winter says:

    I have no qualifications – so chartering is not possible

    and…. they are coming with me for two summer months of July and August which flips the economics some-what

    and I would have to return the yacht to where it came from

    and much less exciting

    and miss the chance of owning a British icon

    if I fail… well it is better to have tried and failed than not tried at all

    the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

  16. 14 January, 2014 at 12:12 pmdylan winter says:

    That is what I love about wooden boat owners…. it is the way they manage to combine optimism with self delusion…. completely admirable

  17. 14 January, 2014 at 1:25 pmRon says:

    Much the same as decrepit Centaur owners then :)

  18. 14 January, 2014 at 1:29 pmdylan winter says:

    what is even worse?

    …… I reckon wishing to be a decrepit Centaur owner is almost certainly worse

  19. 14 January, 2014 at 1:49 pmjon sutton says:

    “safe enough for my precious dog and family”……………….. admirable priorities !!!

  20. 14 January, 2014 at 3:39 pmdylan winter says:

    there is logic here

    the family will be there as a result of their own free will

    the beloved labrador has no choice

    (although I am pleased that the little twist of humour was spotted – sadly I make little jokes all the time and so few people notice that they can hardly be considered jokes at all)

  21. 14 January, 2014 at 4:37 pmjulian fisk says:

    Well on that note, would you like to borrow a PDracer then haha

  22. 14 January, 2014 at 6:45 pmoldfatgit says:

    When you make your offer, instead of “subject to survey” buy it subject to the condition of the keels being confirmed with the boat lifted for the purpose. Of OK then fine, if not get the cost of reinforcing taken off the price. Get the reinforcing done by your Wessex mate when he comes to do the well.

  23. 14 January, 2014 at 7:19 pmrichard says:

    Centaurs are too expensive because they are so well known you will only get a wreck at our KTL budget.
    How is this for a plan B?
    A triple keel swin ranger Boatshed #165032 I have just spotted this on boatshed for £2000 – the yanmar may even work! Four berths, six foot headroom, shallow draft 2’6″ and it can take the ground and its half way to Scotland in Yorkshire.


  24. 14 January, 2014 at 7:25 pmdylan winter says:

    at this price level you buy as seen

    no survey

    re-enforcing will probably cost more than I pay for the boat

  25. 14 January, 2014 at 7:34 pmdylan winter says:

    Always liked Swin Rangers – Brightlingsea boat of course – nearly bought one

    but four and a lab in a swin ranger would be a wonderful challenge

    and I am reasonably certain that they are nowhere near the sea boat a Centaur is


    PS thanks for using the we word when referring to KTL

  26. 15 January, 2014 at 2:10 amDavid J says:

    Four and Lab in a 26- foot sloop–and breadfruit saplings on deck?

  27. 15 January, 2014 at 10:47 amRon says:

    Oh, I did spot it, and considered a response.
    But then reckoned I’d given you enough hassle already :)

  28. 15 January, 2014 at 10:50 amRon says:

    Yep… and my little joke was, is it the Centaur that’s decrepit or the owners?
    Or in this case, the ‘wishing to be’ owner?
    In my case it’s the wooden boat owner that’s more decrepit than the boat :(

  29. 15 January, 2014 at 10:53 amRon says:

    We once spent 2 weeks on a Corribee (Mk I ) – Three adults and two kids.
    And had a great time.
    Was south coast England not north coast Scotland though.

  30. 15 January, 2014 at 11:33 amTim says:

    Just thinking about your Plan B. Buying an old boat can give more questions than answers. How about persuading somebody with a well found Centaur to lend it to you for a couple of months. I wonder if your £1000 -£2000 might go a long way to “Repay” somebody for the trouble (and wear and trear). There would be some merit for an owner in saying there boat had gone through the Pentland Firth etc.

  31. 15 January, 2014 at 2:07 pmRob Hoffman says:

    I’m certainly no expert on keels or the bolts holding them on, but have been advised by many experienced Westerly owners “not to fix what isn’t broken”. Our Pageant’s keels were very pitted in places, but showed no signs of leaking or movement, so we just sandblasted them and did a rust treatment before fairing them out with epoxy resin and filler. Unless there is some really obvious bad condition, if they appear sound, they most likely are.

  32. 15 January, 2014 at 2:59 pmdylan winter says:

    four adults and a golden retriever in an eboat with no windows – two weeks – scotland

    tough but great fun

  33. 15 January, 2014 at 2:59 pmdylan winter says:

    I could swap for a year – let them have Katie L

    in fact I made just that offer to a bloke in Wales who wants to sell me his A layout old Centaur

    It could work if anyone is up for it

    obviously I would not be cutting a well in their boat

  34. 15 January, 2014 at 3:01 pmdylan winter says:

    that is what I am hoping – and I shall not touch them – I shall ignore slow weeps – although most Centaurs had the problem – in some ways it is the Pinto of old yachts – nearly killed the company. Pageants are immune apparently – smaller boat. Whatever the state of the keels I will just attack them with a wire brush on the drill to knock off the loose stuff and then apply hammerite followed by AF and pretend that they do not exist.

  35. 15 January, 2014 at 3:35 pmDavid J says:

    Maybe UK Pintos were unlike US Pintos, but the comparison, even as metaphor, is frightening.

  36. 15 January, 2014 at 4:32 pmdylan winter says:

    no pintos here… it was a reference for you yanks …. although no-one has been killed by a Centaur

  37. 16 January, 2014 at 9:02 amLuis says:

    In my experience, hammerite in sea water turns into a mushy paste in a matter of days. You should use a stuff called POR-15. It can be applied over rust, after you remove the big flaking-off bits, and it will make the keels outlast the rest of the boat and its owner.

  38. 16 January, 2014 at 10:39 amdylan winter says:

    shall have a look – although I am not that bothered about the longevity of the keels

  39. 16 January, 2014 at 10:23 pmroger says:

    Yep, i’ll second that motion for POR15, great drop of primer, shame you can only buy it in tiny tins in uk

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