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.


Yesterday was an early start followed by a detour through Norwich and lots of painting!

I’ve finally done it!

  • Antifouling primer done
  • Fire extinguishers fitted
  • Carbonmonoxide alarm fitted
  • Antifouling done
  • Batteries in
  • Tiller attached
  • Fenders on the boat
  • Mooring ropes ready
  • Junk and work rubbish disposed of

Rosie Free is ready for the dip!

I didn’t have quite enough primer to do the full boat at full strength so diluted a little (5%) with some thinners and it still covered nicely. The half way stage with all grey colour actually looked quite nice. I might consider grey finishing colour next time.

Splash Plan!

This is as much an update as a list of things I need to remember to put in the car!

I’m aiming to have everything done so that Rosie can be put in the water sometime next week. Stuff I need to take with me are:

  • Antifoul
  • Thinners
  • Brushes, tray, roller
  • Fenders
  • Mooring lines
  • Tiller!!!!
  • keys!!
  • re-attach life lines
  • Polishing machine thingy
  • Polishing compound bottle
  • New fire-extinguishers
  • New CO alarm
  • Put the clock back (keep forgetting)
  • Take the old gearbox home (need to remember the trolley, it’s flipping heavy)

Also bring home things that really don’t need to be there (Henry vac, big box of paint and glue, random tools, perhaps consolidate the many boxes of tools and random bits into one box)

The plan at the moment is to get the hull primed and painted Saturday, doing any other odd cleaning/rubbing jobs between the primer and antifoul coats. Have the yard lift her in next week sometime, step the mast and re-attach the standing rigging (can’t help do this myself as it’s mid-week and we have work/school). Then the following weekend bring the sails up and any other things I’ve forgotten this week and potter round to our long-term mooring.

I’m excited to say the least!

I’m being a bit over ambitious I think about what I can get fully done well in one day, but I am reasonably confident I can get the antifoul done and the fenders and tiller put back.

I must also remember to put the boom in the cabin rather than leave it on deck. Everything after that is a bonus if I get it done.

To summarise the big list of stuff that we have ticked off since being lifted out a million years ago, we have:

  • Engine
    • New Injectors
    • New impellers and filters
    • New(ish) gearbox
  • Deck
    • Pulpit foot welded back on! solid as a rock now
    • Made and fitted new washboards
  • Inside
    • Repair failed bonding around the keels and replace one of the strengthening webs (will maybe do the other next year)
    • Repair and reinforce hull under engine compartment
    • Painted engine compartment
    • Painted interior bilges
    • Restored and lacquered the brass ships clock

Not long now!

Pre-launch Update

The big day is getting nearer! I can feel it! The main jobs list is shortening each day! Interior lockers are now all painted and the keels have had a dose of fertan. The next few jobs I might even get done in one day if I’m extra lucky.

  • antifoul primer
  • antifoul
  • fit new fire extinguishers (bought already)
  • polish gelcoat (if I have time)
  • tidy up remaining woodwork (maybe do this after launch)
  • re-attach stanchion lines

I’ve also started bringing home tools that I don’t need at the yard now, and brought back the fenders for a good scrub. Unfortunately 2 of them have got punctures so those need to be replaced.

There isn’t very much in the way of prep jobs I can do away from the yard. I think next winter I will take MUCH more home, it’s just a question of finding space for it.

Cleaning, painting and thinking

Getting ever closer to launch day now. All fibreglass strengthening work is done and yesterday I was able to tick off two things on my TODO list!

  1. Re-paint inside bilges
  2. Teak oil rubbing strake

Which were actually quite enjoyable jobs and didn’t take too long.

I had also planned to put a coat of antifoul primer on but decided to liberally apply fertan to the keels more than I did last year (I only had half a bottle spare) so this time I aimed at covering all the slightly rusty spots. Perhaps when Rosie next comes out of the water i’ll strip all the paint of the keels and go back to metal and epoxy them. Not a job for this year though.

The BSS is coming due too. I’ve contacted the examiner used by the last owner and should be able to get that done so I’ve treated Rosie to some new things:

  • 2x new 1Kg 8A fire extinguishers
  • 1x new Carbon-monoxide alarm

The BSS includes an item about fixed bilge pumps to prevent oil/fuel being discharged. The Centaur came with a big fixed whale pump. Ours still works but I’ve never had cause to use it. but it does reach right under the engine into the “oil safe” area. According to the BSS this means the pump outlet should use a anti-hydrocarbon 5PPM filter, so I think I’ll have to get that added-in.

In the same area. And I can’t believe I never noticed before, perhaps I was confused from seeing all the facebook photos of other Centaurs. Ours doesn’t have a waterlock on the engine exhaust.

Rosie’s MD11C is VERY noisy, especially compared to all the other broads boats. It’s slightly embarrassing that even in idle it is too loud to be relaxing. So, once she’s in the water I will strongly consider adding a Vetus waterlock after saving up a little.

Faraway History

Googling things randomly today I happened to discover this little gem about the boat I well and truly caught the sailing bug on.

Faraway II, Westerly Longbow 31,

More than a decade before I set foot on deck, Faraway II was the boat sailed by Gerry Hughes and Matthew Jackson on the first ever unaided circumnavigation of the British Isles in 1981 by a deaf crew.

You learn something new every day!

The worst is done!

The last lot of fibreglass work inside is now done! Our keel strengthening webs on the starboard side have been replaced.

Most of the things left to do now are cleaning, painting and having the yard finish re-commissioning our engine!

Jobs left before launch:

  • Teak oil rubbing strake, deak hand holds and companionway
  • Fertan keels
  • Antifoul primer
  • Antifoul
  • Polish topsides
  • Reinstall batteries
  • Engine

Next jobs after launch

  • Sails back on
  • Mini shakedown cruise Martham-Horsey
  • Re-certify BSS

Jobs once in the water and we have time

  • Re-fit navigation lights – we have some nice new side-mounted lights that I might fit instead of re-installing the red/green on the pulpit