Monday, 5 October 2020

Back in the water

The time finally came to get Robinetta back into her natural element. She was booked to go in on Friday, then I got a phonecall..... Friday was off due to bad weather, but there was a better chance on Saturday.

Saturday came, she was lifted off the cradle and into the slings after the rain turned into drizzle. Julian cleaned off the patches where the cradle had been, then dried them with an old tea-towel so I could slap some antifoul on and Robinetta was ready for salt water again.

She went into the water an hour before high tide, and rested in the slings while we checked the bilges. The bad news was that for the first time since we have owned her she started taking up. Water was trickling in at bow and stern, but only on the side that had been facing the sun while she was out of the water. It was nothing that the automatic bilge pump could not cope with, so it was tide to turn the engine on. 

The starter motor worked fine, but the engine showed no signs of turning over no mater what we did. Barry, our diesel engineer was passing and came to have a look. He recommended a shot of ether, then once the engine was moving giving it a good hard run to thoroughly warm it up and let the cylinders reset themselves. Unfortunately no one around had any ether..... We tried one last time, and this time not even the started motor showed any signs of life.

In the end the marina work boat came round and towed us to our temporary berth there. I wanted Robinetta surrounded by water rather than being in a mud berth until she stopped taking up, and there are still plenty of things to do before she is ready to sail again. 

When I left her on Saturday the bilge pump was going 2 minutes in every 15, but today (Monday) it was 2 minutes every hour. The trickle had become a seep, but water is still coming in. Hopefully she will get drier soon.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Slow but steady progress


I have not been good at updating the blog recently. This does not mean that nothing has been happening!


I was told when I renewed the insurance for this year that I would need a survey before they would insure me for 2021. This was a much easier process that when Robinetta was wintering at Cairnbarn on the Crinan canal!

Luckily there was nothing major picked up on the survey, although it did find that the trim on the stern quarters was rotten. It was easy to remove, and will just mean a small repair.


I got advice on what to do with the hair line cracks that were opening up due to the wood drying out. These would close up when she went back in the water, but they needed something to stop the water tricking in too fast during the taking up process. The surveyor’s solution was linseed putty, mixed with linseed oil and a little metallic primer, until it was as sloppy as possible and still stay in the cracks. As the wood swells this will easily be squeezed out, and in the meantime the dry wood will absorb the oil. Painting linseed oil onto the hull during construction was common practice in the days when all boats were made of wood. We will be painting over the filled cracks, so time will tell if this treatment is a good idea appearance wise!

The engine also needed some TLC. It has not been run for several months due to not being able to get to Robinetta during lockdown; the throttle was stuck and the flexible fuel pipes needed replacing. This is being sorted, and hopefully the engine will start when we get her launched.

Alex has been in charge of painting the hull, as I have been suffering from skin problems on my hands that started with following government guidelines on hand washing. Palms that split open when they are flexed are not conducive to wood work or painting, so I have been acting as a chauffeur and overseer. Having only one of us working has slowed things down, but Robinetta is slowly coming back together, and I have my fingers crossed for an October relaunch.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

we have a rudder!

 I got a phone call from Paul Drake on Wednesday, to tell me that the rudder was now in place on the boat. I also get a set of pictures from Ian Rogers, who fabricated the fittings for us.

The rudder is solid douglas fir, with marine grade stainless steel fittings. The two bronze lower rudder mounts on Robinetta were still in good condition and remain in place, but the top was iron, and in very badly corroded. In addition the old mounts were not properly aligned, so there was unnecessary stress on the rudder. 

The sealing of the (non)self draining cockpit through hulls and the caulking is now complete too, so it it time to get out the paint brushes and prepare Robinetta to go back in the water for some Autumn sailing.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Yet more on the rudder

I went to Robinetta today to check on her, and met up with Paul Drake. He has finished making the rudder, so the next step is the fabrication of the new fixings. These are to be in stainless steel. He brought the old rudder stock for me to have a look at. It seems we were lucky the rudder broke when it did, the stock could have failed at any time.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Rudder update

decayed rudder fitting
Paul Drake let me know that while working on the rudder he found that all the fittings on it have decayed too much for reuse (although the ones on the boat itself are mostly okay). He will be getting new ones cast, but of course, that all adds to the time it will take.

It's looking like an autumn relaunch for Robinetta!

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Work begins

Now Robinetta is out of the water the "winter work" can begin. My first step was to remove any raised areas of paint, and there was a large bubble on the bulwarks, just where they become the cabin sides. This area is actually inside the hanging locker, and I have made no attempt to paint the hull inside that locker since we bought the boat as access is incredibly difficult. On removing the exterior paint I found an area of very soft wet wood, and after it dried out overnight it crumbled, rather than hardening up.

Julian likes doing bulwark replacement, but he is snowed under at work, so I called Paul Drake and asked his opinion. He came to have a look, and thinks that the rot was caused by this area being  regularly doused in fresh water as the run off from the cabin top flows down here. He will remove the rotten section and put in a new piece. He is also going to re-caulk and redo the stopping of the opened up hull planking, so there is no point even thinking about painting the exterior hull until that is done.

There was some damage on the foredeck where we did not lash the anchor down securely, and I have patched it with plastic padding before giving all the decks a fresh coat of masonry paint.

Cap rails in both foredeck and cockpit have been stripped back to bare wood and given coatings of Deks no.1, as has the new cockpit pin rail Julian made over the winter. The varnish on the cabin sides needs renewing, and I stripped off the loose stuff, but so far have only managed 1 coat of new, so there is still a lot to do on that.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Covid clear out treasure

Back in mid- April I read a comment on the blog from a gentleman who knew someone who had some Robinetta memorabilia. Today I got to collect it from Peter and Mary Young, a lovely couple in Chelmsford who had been looking after it since they helped clear Mr and Mrs Herriott's house after their deaths.

As well as the china they had some papers from when Nigel Heriott owned Robinetta, including her pre-sale survey from 1949. This includes a listing of her equipment, which seems to have included this china. The dinner plates have gone missing, but the rest of the china from that contents list are here. Oddly enough the survey mentions there was no cutlery on board....

I now feel a strong desire to have a boiled egg for breakfast, just so I can use an egg cup.

Any doubts about Robinetta's original sail colour can be laid to rest too. In 1949 they were tan, (except the trysail) and not new.

I will be updating the history page soon, to include dates when Robinetta was surveyed for a RORC rating. Not something I had ever thought our tubby little boat would possess!