shoestringsailing.com

Sailing adventure on minimal outlay.

Month: May 2015

A Flock Of Seagulls

I’ve discovered that an old Seagull 40+ in decent condition will start first time whenever I need it, move Macavity around at two knots in an emergency as well as being very cheap to buy, run and maintain. Really I only use my little seagull if I have to get the dinghy across to my swing mooring against a strong tide, so the fact that it’s a bit of an oily old hippy enraging relic doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I much prefer to row or sail if at all possible. The fact that most of these, would be, environmental saviours who tut or whine at me about my illogical love of classic British machinery are happy to drive little Jeremy a million miles a year to school in their Audi Hypocritees, relieves me nicely of any pangs of conscience I might have had. There we go, nice to get that off my chest.

Fact is, a good seagull will run beautifully on a 25/1 mix, plus it’ll run on eco friendly bio oil (I’ve heard, but I’ve not tried it yet as I just don’t use it enough to be bothered). So it really doesn’t seem any worse than any other of the two strokes that we all see on our waterways at all times. It’s probably better really, as the really polluting bit of our stupidly consumeristic western lives is actually mining all the minerals, smelting them, carting them about the globe, beating them into metals, casting, machining, painting, carting again and selling them in big stupid power hungry showrooms to people who’ve driven there in massive Range Rovers…. probably.

DSCN0412

My new standby seagull even has the far more desirable Wipac ignition system for extra good reliable starting.

 

So I thought I should do my bit for the environment and ensure I would always have a good supply of old seagulls to use on my boats. Yes, I’ve bought another one….. well, two actually. One perfectly new looking 1970 40+ museum grade relic from a bloke in Poole, which has now been oiled up and hung from a beam in my workshop, and a pile of bits that used to be a beautiful little clutched 40+ of about the same age. Now, I didn’t mean to buy them both but I was a bit busy last month and wasn’t watching my ebay bids properly. Was quite surprised to have to eventually spend a day driving about collecting my winnings from irate sellers who clearly believed I’d got a bargain. I had.

Very clever system this seagull clutch. Incredibly tough.

Very clever system this seagull clutch. Incredibly tough.

My plan is to salvage the clutched leg from the pile of bits and fit it to my original 40+ that I use on the dinghy (only when absolutely necessary you understand). This will mean that I can start my little outboard out of gear before I get out of the sheltered calm of Cockwood harbour and be sure of not getting swept a mile downriver by the tide before I can sort myself out. An unmanly luxury I agree, but I’m often short of time and needing to get a wriggle on. Having stripped the leg down to it’s component parts, it too seems nearly new with no wear or damage of any sort. A quick call to John at www. saving -old-seagulls.co.uk should see the required gaskets and other hardware turning up in the post very soon. Just a shame that somebody has ruined what was probably a great little classic outboard motor through neglect and abuse.

This was a fairly unworn clutched seagull 40+ before some muppet destroyed it.

This was a fairly unworn clutched seagull 40+ before some muppet destroyed it.

The long and winding road (to the sea).

This week has been quite exciting all told. Having set aside a couple of days to drag a reluctant Macavity out of her cosy garden hideout, arranged to borrow my Dads massive 4×4 (thanks Dad), booked the crane at Retreat Boatyard, and got a bit of help sorted out to ensure things run smoothly (thanks Becks and Alex) the met office started issuing gale warning for the south west with a predicted f8 to 9 on the days we had planned to shift her. No point in backing out if the crane driver’s happy I figured, so we carried on. It is a rather long operation though.

 

Tight manoeuvres on slippery fields are no problem for the old Leyland.

Tight manoeuvres on slippery fields are no problem for the old Leyland.

  • First I had to blow up all the tyres on the trailer and check wheel bearings were still ok.  Yep, fine.
  • Next, jack up the trailer and remove the blocks placed there to get the weight off the suspension over winter. Done.
  • Get the old Leyland fired up and hitched on for the first tricky section out across the field to the road. No problems.
  • Get mast out and up on it’s transport frames on deck, lash the whole lot down….. tight. Easy.
  • Trundle the whole whacky races construction across to a neighbouring massive car park to hitch on big 4×4.  7am now.
  • Wiggle the short distance to the main road whilst hoping dearly that all bank holiday makers are not yet up to driving about in their cars. 7.30am.
  • Relax for a bit up 15 miles of the A30 until Exeter and its traffic lighted roundabouts cause a bit more angst.
  • Finally pull into Retreat as they are opening up for the day (yes, they work on bank holdays. Amazing place.)
  • Spend the next five hours erecting the mast, tensioning the rigging, loading tons of gear onboard, and then returning 4×4, trailer and helpers back to their homes.
Safely at the yard again.

Safely at the yard again. Mast up next, then transfer all of the stripped interior and equipment.

Yes I agree, it sounds like a huge amount of grief to go through every year and don’t forget, it’s all got to be done again at the end of September in reverse. I’d just about decided that I’d had enough of the stress involved with this job each time; so much (expensive) stuff could go wrong. How much, for example, would it cost me to clear the A30 of a 2 ton boat on a bank holiday monday if an axle snapped or a wheel bearing collapsed? How interested would the Police be in the whole, rather diy operation? This was the sort of thing I never used to worry about at all, but I now lose a nights sleep over it each time. Something must be done.

Winter yard storage is out of the question, as although Retreat are reasonable for the south coast, it’s more than I’ve got available for the cause. I don’t like the idea of a winter berth in Cockwood Harbour due to my already poor record of having stuff stolen from there. A boat haulage firm wouldn’t be interested or able to get Macavity down our narrow lanes and across the fields to our garden without a considerable cash incentive each time. So I’ve decided that the answer is to buy a more capable, super heavy duty trailer which should be less likely to have a catastrophic, law bothering failure on the A30 or in the middle of Exeter. I could then leave most of the interior weight in place for transport rather than having to strip the whole boat out to make her lighter each time.

This is going to have to be a cheap, elderly trailer in good nick with a 3ton payload capacity at least. My old 2 ton trailer can then be sold on to help fund the upgrade. This is my summer ebay quest. I will keep you posted.

Sitting on the yards trot mooring waiting patiently to be taken down river. Bless.

Sitting on the yards trot mooring waiting patiently to be taken down river. Bless.

DSCN0385

Now this is what it’s all about. Sparkly, breezy morning and the first sailing day off for the two of us. First test of this winters various improvements seems promising. Excellent.