All Quiet in the Sun

Weather has been brilliant the last couple of weeks, shame we’ve not spent it on the water, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been thinking about it.

I’ve been considering how to keep an eye on our boat while we’re far away, on and off I’ve thought about building my own monitoring system using a Raspberry Pi, some basic sensors and maybe an old phone or mifi for comms. That would be a fun project, but may well take a long time to get going. And before that I need to solve the power source, so I’ve been thinking about solar.

I am planning to mount one or two panels on the deck, possibly 2x35W panels either side of the forehatch, or maybe just one similar shape panel behind the hatch.

Possible solar panel positions

From asking around, googling and watching videos online I think I’m going to need ETFE coated semi-flexible panels.

Getting this fitted will help keep our batteries topped up and then open up the option of extra electronics, perhaps even remote monitoring.

I’ve been seriously considering VirCru, even with it’s annual subscription cost, it does look very good value for money, especially if I compare it to the running cost of a homebrew system (VirCru is about £10/month where I’d probably need to get a data-sim, account and a mifi, which would come out at probably more than £10/month. The initial hardware costs are fairly low, admittedly not as low as digging a pi out of my desk drawer and attaching stuff to it, but definately more reliable!


She’s Back!

After slightly longer than intended Rosie is back at her usual summer home port. Engine is running well and I even managed a few minutes of single-handed sailing on the genoa before getting into Horsey.

The tidy inside of a B-Layout Centaur looking aft

Anyway, once underway I met a number of well turned out classic broads sailing boats, they really do well in these light airs compared to a big old Westerly.

The “jobs” list doesn’t seem to get much shorter, but has been OK so far. I never found the time to do the electrical work I’d planned nor fit the vetus waterlock. Both of which will be rainy-day jobs at some stage. What I would like to get done before winter is install 60W of solar and run some kind of remote sensing, perhaps a Pi+GSM mobile to text me if it detects water in bad places.

My provisional plan for winter 2022 was to keep Rosie at Hickling as she used to be, for one thing it costs less than getting lifted out and it’s a little nearer home (only by 5 mins) but I think I really would like to replace or re-seat the cockpit drain thru-hulls (only did the valves).

Splash and Dash

Rosie is in the water, the fine folks at Martham de-winterised the engine and just as I was getting some last minute sanding done thier crane driver appeared and mast raising fun began!

Engine all working well too!

Ran out of time to get everything squared away so the short trip to our usual mooring will be next week.

Countdown to Splashdown

Final lot of jobs are done, Rosie is ready to take to the water again. Last two things are putting batteries back and recomissioning the engine.

Once afloat I have some minor jobs that can be done as and when over the season:

  • Repaint non slip deck
  • Refit bow nav lights
  • Fit 60W solar system

There are a few other things I was thinking about, one of them being to Fit my Vetus waterlock. I’ve had it for over a year ready to fit but just never found the time.

Nearly in the water

Rosie has been resting in the shed since my last post, cockpit drain valves are replaced and some other essential jobs and repairs are complete.

Today has been a bit of fertan treatment on the keels and some antifouling primer here and there, next will be remaining antifouling, vacuuming of yard dust from everywhere topside and into the water!

A couple of weeks ago I took a chance and attached some old spreader boots but in the time since then they have disintegrated so some new ones are now on order

Won’t be long now, I also have some plans for over summer which should include a 60W solar panel to keep the batteries topped up and maybe run some remote monitoring raspberry pi stuff.

Hope we can get some nice days out this summer around Horsey and Hickling. Fingers crossed!

Ready for winter

Rosie Free is now about ready for her winter snooze. Had a great final sail of the season with some friends. Wind was pretty much perfect and we had the old Centaur heeled nicely as we clocked up nearly 5 kts in Horsey Mere.

I only thought to dig my phone out for some pics right at the start so missed capturing all the fun.

Sailing Horsey Mere

We sailed for a good three hours before making our way to Martham. It was getting a little gusty by the time we arrived and had to potter up and down before we eventually found a gap.

Helped to tie up by a couple of friendly anglers we set about the task of taking sails down and removing her boom. Somehow the genoa halyard found its way inside the furler foil so I’ll need to do some creative wiggling to sort that out once the mast is down.

Waiting for the crane

Hopefully I will get one or two of the winter jobs done before Xmas. Top of the list is replacing the cockpit drain sea cocks as one as jammed shut and they both look a bit overdue for replacement. This will be by far the biggest task. But I’m strongly considering routing the drain out of stern instead of out the bottom. I will have to think about this alot.

How many people can you fit in a Centaur?

I’ve seen this question asked recently. At the time, I quickly said “not really more than 4 adults if you want to sail”. Which I mostly stand by.

Sailing on the Norfolk Broads is different to bigger, tidal waters. Mostly, the landscape is forgiving. It is common for even 26ft traditional sailing boats to not have an engine at all and for a crew to take a break by sailing into the bank and getting wedged in the reeds (I’m not going to attempt that in a Centaur, we’d probably get stuck) In the confines of Horsey mere there are no shoals to think about and only a couple of yellow marks to ward you off the remains of the submerged island.

This last weekend we were joined by our friends to make a grand total of 8. 7 people plus dog (4 adults, 3 teens).

You don’t have to really plan far ahead at all. But the waters can be very busy especially on a good day for sailing. The day went very well with some good sailing and no hiccups at all. Everything worked, nothing broke!

Tacking on Horsey Mere by the North East bank.

Horsey was not too busy this day, probably because the skies were slightly cloudy. But it was still warm and the wind was no more than a force 3 with the very occasional gust at 4. There were 4 other boats including the magnificent traditional gaff you see in the video above.

You can just about manage on a totally perfect day with this many people on as long as one person stays inside and the dog behaves. Most of the time we had 2 adults and 3 kids in the cockpit. It was snug and you had to take care not to step on fingers but it worked.

The lazy jacks worked well, no sticking sliders today, didn’t need to put a reef in. Next season I plan on properly re-instating the slab reefing and running the lines for the first reef back, that will require some careful holes being added to the stack pack. I will also try again running the main halyard back and perhaps a downhaul as the main doesn’t drop easily with the friction from the halyard.

All in all, a nice day out. Hopefully we will get one more sail before the Mere closes to navigation.

Ready About

It’s been a good few weeks since my last post. But, don’t worry. We’re properly back on the water now having had three good trips out!

Engine, gearbox, sails all working well. We’ve had a few nights aboard over the holidays and a handful of trips out with friends, sharing the water with our family friends has been one of my longest goals for our little Centaur.

The jobs list has not grown hugely and Boat Safety Scheme exam passed. But I have decided to fit a Vetus waterlock/muffler when time allows (purchased and ready to fit when I get a moment). Also have firmly decided to replace the two cockpit drain gate valves as one has developed a very slow leak while open (so I’ve now closed it for the foreseeable) and the other is now seized open but thankfully no sign of any drips.. I Will leave the electrics for the winter.


Westerly Centaur "Rosie Free" on her mooring on the Norfolk Broads amongst the tall grass and reeds.

As of a couple of weeks ago Rosie Free is finally back in the wet wobbly stuff!

Still a little dusty from being in the shed for ages but all major work done and mast up! The kettle was also dusted off and put into action as a handy tool to get the halyards and topping lift down the right side of the spreaders.

The yard put Rosie in the water for me during the week while I was at work, so eagerly I drove down to Norfolk the first chance I could and got started fitting the boom and checking the rig. There was still some final engine work to be done (easier in the water) so this first day wasn’t the shakedown cruise but was a huge milestone.

The following week I got the fantastic phone call with the news that the engine was now wired back in fully and everything worked. It was finally time to schedule the move round to Horsey.

We seemed to have had all the luck with the sun and timing, we had a long standing camping trip arranged with friends and the first day saw us put the sails on after pitching our tents.

Over the long time away from the water I had totally forgotten how the lazy jacks were rigged up. More truthfully that I could remember what it looked like but not how that translated to the bundle of odd lengths of black cord that I’d stuffed in a bag. So the main went on in it’s zippy stack pack bag looking a little floppy.

The schools in Norfolk were still mostly in session so things were pretty quiet most places we went. On the water there were one or two other boats. The weather and company were brilliant.

We arrived at Horsey and moored up easily. I must say, having an engine that works properly in reverse when you want it to really takes the stress out of mooring up.