Like a great many things in life, an improvement in one area can bring about some unexpected problems elsewhere. Take for example my recent change of sailing craft. The five years spent with “Macavity”, my dear old bilge keel Westerly 25, have been a great experience and have taught me many, many things in a boat that could happily be used around shallow estuaries without concern. The great thing about starting “big boat” sailing with this affordable project Westerly has been that, even with all the work I’ve had to do to her, after selling her on, five years sailing has cost me around £2000 all in. £400 per year. This compares pretty well against most other sports or outdoor pursuits….especially things like skiing! In fact, if I hadn’t wanted to expand my sailing horizons, this figure would have carried on decreasing with every extra year I’d have kept her. The most expensive period of ownership is the year you buy the boat and then have to spend money getting her right.
I have now of course spent the money I raised by selling “Macavity” on a new, slightly bigger and more comfortable project boat, “Idris” my Halcyon 27. I’m in the middle of my first summer with her and am having a great time finding out just what she’ll do and what she won’t. She won’t, for example, stand up if I’m stupid enough to run her aground on a falling tide. She won’t sail over some of the shallower areas I’ve strayed onto with “Macavity”. Much more importantly though, she won’t fit onto any kind of trailer I have or I can afford to buy.
This gives me a fast approaching Autumn dilemma. I have to get a good deal of repair/improvement work done on Idris over the coming winters, including replacement of the stern gland, some engine repairs plus some bulkhead to hull glasswork and other osmosis or damage repair. Ideally I want to do this at home near my workshop, I can’t afford yard storage anywhere so she simply must be brought back to our house somehow. I have two options then, either pay a haulage firm to bring her back and sit her in a cradle on the drive where she will be immobile until I pay them again to haul her back to the Exe, or to fabricate some kind of heavy duty trailer for her. The main problem with employing a haulage firm are that I would have to do this twice a year every year I owned Idris. I think the cost of this would eventually force me to part with her. The second problem is that she would have to be taken across a field in order to get here. I know from past experience, this is not always immediately possible due to rain, livestock or crops.
My heart skipped a beat then when, one evening in June, I spotted an old Royal Navy 3500kg galvanised boat trailer on ebay, sitting in a farmers field with seized brakes and an invisibility cloak of woven Somerset nettles. Surely this old thing could provide most, if not all, of the parts I need for my super trailer? It was built in typical military style, tough as old boots. If those brakes would free up, it could be the sale of the century. I put a speculative bid in of £375….it became mine for £350. Bargain.