SOHVI: Living with SOHVI – first impressions

Guess what? – it turned out OK!

Despite having owned SOHVI for slightly over two years,  I have not had the opportunity to sail her in ideal conditions – until now!    Our original delivery trip back to Guernsey in 2015 included a lot of motorsailing against contrary headwinds.   So this summer’s launch was always going to be interesting.

First and most importantly the Vetus appointed engineer signed off my engine installation with some complimentary remarks – which was hugely gratifying.  I now have a fully functioning and warranted engine installation.  Based on that we took off on a short one week shake-down cruise with a 30 mile jaunt to our neighbouring island of Jersey (main picture above) and pleasingly almost everything worked as it should.   Last week we set off for a few days in Brittany and had a glorious sail for the 55 miles or so with the wind just astern of the beam.   I always had a slight worry that perhaps we’d bought a boat that was not going to be as rewarding to sail as our last boat – and although not as fast,  I was delighted to find we have a nicely balanced proper sailboat in SOHVI.  Here’s us heading for Ile Hébihens just west of St Malo:

Wouldn’t it be great if every sail could be as relaxed and as rewarding?!

Capturing the ambiance.

There’s something about sitting aboard late at night,  with the lights dimmed,  that makes everything look so cosy.  I tried a few arty photos,  but failed miserably to capture that certain ambiance.  These convey just a hint of that:


One of the things I came to hate most during the first few weeks of ownership was the ventilator fan above the galley – I invariably ended up hitting my head on it.

This combined fan and downlighter is sooo much kinder on the head – and more useful as a light too.


There’s still a long list of things to do, not least of which is rigging the asymmetric spinnaker, adjusting the pitch (finer) on the propeller and sourcing some beaching legs,  but we are getting there.   The intention is to take off somewhere for much of August and see where the wind takes us.  If the weather for the rest of August is like the beginning,  then there’s not much hope of that.   Fingers crossed for some better weather soon!

More pictures soon 🙂

Posted in All the posts, General Improvements, Journeys, The Boat Details | 2 Comments

Hope for Daphne

The wooden 36′ MS Daphne has been derelict in a sorry state the last years. There seems to be hope. She’s been sighted on a wharf at Killingen, Oslo, seemingly there for repairs 😀


Posted in Finding the Fleet, MS33 sightings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

SOHVI: Back on the water!

SOHVI is back on the water.  Hooray!    However,  don’t confuse that with the assumption that this project is finished – it’s not,  as there is still much to do,  but it’s a huge step forward psychologically 🙂

Any boat owner will know that there never seems to be enough time to complete the long list of ‘to do’ items before launch.  And so it was with SOHVI – the boat was barely ready.  Last minute jobs included adjusting the pitch of the propeller and polishing the hull – the deck is still filthy (recommendation: never ever renovate anything under a tree!).

The propeller is a 22″ diameter 4-blade feathering Variprop made by SPW in Germany,  supplied some time ago for our last boat (approx 38′).   The shaft diameter (1.5″), taper (1:15) and rotation (RH) are all the same as the MS33 and so I asked the lovely lady at SPW to run some calculations for me.  “It is perfect” she said;  “You need a 22″ diameter propeller and 14″ pitch”  which is well within the range of adjustment.  Excellent!  That means we can experiment with a feathering propeller rather than being stuck with the fixed 3-blade originally installed.  Personally I think the pitch should be more like 13″,  but we’ll try it and see.

An unseasonable gale blew through which caused us to delay the lift by 24 hours,  but we finally launched on 7 June.  Here’s the sequence of events:


I’m particularly pleased with the mast support built into the radar pole – that has proved very useful for transporting the mast on top of the boat.

48 hours after launching we finally got the rig up: suddenly the boat becomes a yacht once more and somehow just looks so much better for it:

(I think I need to rake the mast back a few degrees to look better)

If you look closely you will notice the SOHVI is missing lifelines and bow roller – these weren’t ready for launch day.   Geoff Brown has performed artistry in stainless steel by creating a new double-roller stemhead fitting which carries the chain rode and nylon rode either side of the forestay.   The new lifelines should be here within the next week.


The new Vetus diesel starts superbly.  I am awaiting an inspection by their nominated engineers to confirm that my installation is acceptable,  allowing the warranty to come into effect.  One glitch I discovered immediately after launching is the cockpit gearshift connection is reversed:  pushing the lever forward engages reverse gear.   Oops – I’ll sort that next week before the engineer comes 🙂

We have still to load all of the stuff that turns a boat into a floating home: crockery, cutlery, bedding,  etc etc,  but suddenly it feels much more real!  All we need now is for some proper summer weather… 😎

Posted in All the posts, General Improvements | 5 Comments

SOHVI: Holding tank

You may recall my earlier post detailing the installation of a holding tank – well that is another job I have finally finished.  The tank just fitted inside of the old panel line, which made matters simpler.  Here’s the sequence of events:


I’m not a fan of using wood stain on plywood,  and I seriously considered fitting the new panel in white, but on the basis I can always paint it white later,  I thought I’d firstly try to match the colour.   In the end I used one coat of rosewood stain (teak stain was too dark) followed by 6 coats of satin varnish, which came pretty close to the colour of the original timber.

In terms of serviceability,  all of the top connections are accessible by removing a panel above the top shelf…









… and the bottom connection (which is only hand tight) can be reached through the white inspection hatch.






That’s an extractor fan mounted under the deck vent.  Just to make life a little more acceptable,  you understand 😷!

Posted in All the posts, General Improvements, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

SOHVI: Tidying up the rubbing strake

“Was the hull damaged?”…


… that is a question I have been asked more than once during my ownership of SOHVI.  No – definitely not!  She had a good survey report when we bought her and the hull is fine.



The reason for that question is that the timber rubbing strake on the starboard side had developed a kink.  It seems unlikely given all the fastenings,  but the strake had developed a bend across the width of the board – something that would be impossible to achieve if you tried to bend it deliberately that way.  Anyway,  it spoilt the smooth lines and snagged the eye whenever one looked at it.  So off it came :-).


Having taken the front section off,  it seemed logical to do the same to the aft section.  I’m not sure whether at some time in the past the boat was consistently moored with the starboard side exposed to the weather &/or sun,  but interestingly the port side is fine – so I have left that alone.  Here’s the boat ‘naked’ and with a quick colour change from brown to navy blue:



Once removed,  it was easy to see the pronounced kink.  I had originally thought that the timber was iroko – which is notorious for warping – but compared to my iroko caprail,  this is darker,  which suggests it really is teak (but see comments below).


Now – the dilemma was whether to replace the timber entirely,  or refit the original once repaired.   Given that the port side was fine,  replacing the starboard side with new timber would look obviously different.   The timber was basically sound – other than a small area near the stern post,  and it would save a considerable amount of work if it could be re-used.  Drastic though it seems,  the solution was three saw cuts,  through approximately two-thirds of the board, which allowed the board to be bent back into shape –  like so:


I drilled out the holes in the timber to accept No 12 screws and countersunk the holes (Fjord seem to have always used pan-headed screws even when hidden under wood plugs). I used Sikaflex to seal the heads of the deck/hull bolts and also around the shanks of the screws before refastening the boards.  I also took the opportunity the rout a small rebate on the underside to accept a bead of Sikaflex. (I’m sure I must have earned some shares in that company by now considering how much I’ve used in the last year).  Incidentally – that double screw-hole is down to Fjord,  not me!  It seems their first screw ended up directly on top of the chainplate bolt,  so the hole was capped and another one drilled just to the left 🙂


Here’s the timber plugged and masked ready for the 291 DC caulking sealant:





Here’s the repair I made at the aft end with a small graving piece inserted:




The end result is a significant improvement.  There are still some slight irregularities,  but the rubbing strake is once again easy on the eye …

There are still a million and one small jobs left to do,  but the water beckons – I reckon I have a couple of weeks work or so before we launch.  Yippee! 🙂

Posted in All the posts, General Improvements, Teak Deck Care | 6 Comments

SOHVI: Replacing the wheelhouse bulkhead

Remember this end of season blog?  Specifically the bit at the end about replacing the wheelhouse bulkhead with something other than plywood?   Well – forget all that,  things turned out a little different!

It turns out that the uPVC panels I had in mind are no longer made with the reasonably dense foam core,  but instead use polystyrene as the core material,  which of course has little or no compressive strength.  Added to which the additional thickness of 28mm was going to cause complications with the door fitting.   So – 18mm marine plywood   was ultimately the material of choice.

Lifting the Lid

Firstly it was necessary to raise the wheelhouse by a couple of inches or so. Having removed the fastening screws,  I used a series of wooden wedges to carefully lift the wheelhouse by approximately 6cm.  This is tricky only in so far as the headlining is tucked under the join and is covered in glue and care is needed to separate this without tearing it.


As for the bulkheads,  there is really not that much retaining them in position,  other than the few wooden cleats screwed to the exterior.   Most of the strength is the black adhesive mastic,  used to seal the  bulkhead to the GRP cockpit moulding.  Once this is cut through with a sharp knife,  it is relatively easy to remove the bulkheads – having firstly removed the doors and door frame.  Here’s the result:


That space is great!  It would be nice to keep for sunny days 🙂   The rot in the starboard bulkhead extends even further than the photo suggests.

A History of Repairs

All that time watching TV forensic dramas has not been wasted: using my acquired sleuthing abilities it was easy to see a history of repairs to the bulkhead over the years!   The starboard bulkhead is original.  I already knew that a 3mm sheet of ply had been added to the inside,  but it is clear that a 3mm section was also added to the exterior – just the bit exposed in the cockpit (i.e. the white bit in the righthand photo).  That meant the total thickness of the starboard bulkhead was approximately 23mm,  which required the previous owner to modify the window frame and has left me with a few gaps to fill!


The port bulkhead had been replaced at some stage with a sandwich of 15mm ply and 3mm ply – this thin ply being teak-faced.

How to keep the water out

As you will have gathered from my previous post,  I was determined that my new bulkhead should be more rot-proof than the old one.  That meant doing a really good paint job on the new one before it was fitted – added to which it is so much easier to paint surfaces when they are horizontal,  not vertical.   The exterior side had an International Perfection two-part epoxy treatment:  three primers, three undercoats,  and three top coats, being careful all the time to seal the end grain of the ply.  The interior side had one coat of woodstain plus six coats of satin varnish.


I had often wondered why the old bulkhead was so rotten.  I think most of the water had leaked past the hardwood cleats on the exterior,  but I also think some had reached the back of the bulkhead through the sandwich construction of the cockpit moulding.  You may remember my previous post about the extent of rot in the balsa core here.  Well interestingly, the core is exposed where the cockpit moulding is cut to accept the bulkhead, and it is only a short distance from the forward most coaming locker:


The bottom few cm’s were soft and wet – I think this is a perfect conduit to deliver any water that gets into the core from the coaming hatches directly to the rear of the bulkhead, hidden from view.  I replicated my earlier treatment of the coaming locker edges by raking out the loose balsa,  applying liberal amounts of wet-rot/wood hardener and then sealing with Sikaflex 291i:

Fitting the new bulkhead

With the wheelhouse roof raised,  this was actually fairly easy.  My starboard bulkhead fitted exactly (hooray!) although the port bulkhead needed sanding by just a few mm here and there – possibly because this was a copy of a previous copy of the original.  Anyway – here’s the progress:


It was not necessary to remove the longitudinal panel and lockers outboard of the interior helm position:  the new bulkhead slid between this and the cockpit moulding.

I widened the channel in the old door frame sections with a router,  by just a couple of mm as all that paint meant the ply no longer fitted!

Refastening the wheelhouse

The original hard rubber seal between wheelhouse and coachroof was brittle and missing in places and I had long suspected that it no longer provided a waterproof seal.  The old glue was hard, dirty and no longer doing anything useful.  I removed all of the old stuff and cleaned up the mating surfaces.

To ensure a good seal I adopted a slightly experimental solution:  15mm x 3mm butyl rubber tape immediately outboard of the screws and a substantial bead of Sikaflex 291i inside of that, along all of the screw holes.  Butyl tape is really useful stuff,  but it is difficult to move an object after initial positioning – you have to bring the surfaces together in just the right way:

On the positive side,  it is easy to trim off the excess immediately after fitting using a sharp knife (definitely sharp),  which leaves a very neat finish,  almost impossible to see at first glance:

(You can just see that I also used plastic sealing washers under the screw heads)





The task is not quite finished – I need to finish replacing the wooden cleats to secure and seal the bulkhead in position, and complete the section below the companionway steps,  but with the glorious weather we have enjoyed over the last two weeks,  I have been preoccupied with varnishing (and varnishing and more varnishing):


     Next:   Tidying up the exterior 🙂

Posted in All the posts, General Improvements | 3 Comments

SOHVI: Spring activity!

In true British spring fashion,  the weather has been hugely variable from wet & windy winter to gorgeous sunny days with the promise of summer to follow.   This in turn has influenced whether I have been working on external or internal projects.  It’s also been a good time,  as it finally feels as if I’m putting the boat back together again,  with an end to the project in sight.

Solar (PV) panels:

Our last boat had 2 x 70 watt PV panels plus a Marlec 914 wind generator.   When we fitted these I had expected that the wind generator would probably be the main contributor, as it functions 24/7,  but it quickly became clear that the PV panels were contributing on average more than twice the power of the wind generator.  Consider also that the price of PV panels has fallen remarkably during the last few years and it became an easy decision to go solely with PV panels on SOHVI.   So – I decided to install 3 x 50 watt panels from Photonic Universe,  arranged so:

Now – with this configuration,  it is likely that at least one panel will always be in the shade of the boom at any point in time.  To help counteract that, I followed the advice of the suppliers and wired the two long panels in series,  paralleled with the single square panel.  Even with one panel in the shade, (or on a very gloomy day) that should still give me comfortably more than 12v,  thus ensuring a constant trickle charge.

You may have noticed that the long panels overlap the standard cabin top ventilators.  Given the huge ventilation gap above the wheelhouse doors,  I decided the ventilators were superfluous.   I capped them with 1mm thick stainless discs,  set in Sikaflex 291.  These are of sufficiently low profile to sit comfortably under the PV panels,  but stiff enough to bear the occasional standing on.

During the course of this exercise I discovered that much of the balsa core in the wheelhouse deck is saturated.  Whenever it rains there is a new puddle in the floor of the wheelhouse as water has leaked out of the various screw fittings in the deckhead.  Despite checking that all the fastenings are well sealed, so far I have been unable to locate the source of the water ingress – it’s proving frustrating in the extreme!

Radar Pole:

As I had replaced the original Sparlight mast with a Z-Spar in-mast furling section,  approximately one metre taller than the original,  I was keen to avoid adding any additional weight or windage aloft.  So – a radar pole was  required,  which would also allow other equipment to be mounted on it.   Fortunately my brother-in-law is a stainless steel fabricator (very handy) and he knocked up the following:

Now – this pole is designed so that the top of the radome is just over 3m above the waterline.   That’s low enough to pass under most canal bridges if we ever wanted to take SOHVI back into the European canal system.  It means taking the mast down is relatively easy, with only a few under-deck electric connections (lights + TV & primary VHF antennae) as the radar, GPS, and secondary VHF antenna – all mounted on the aft pole – do not need to be disturbed (well – the VHF antenna has to be folded flat!).  The radar pole incorporates a support for the mast when laid horizontally (on the starboard side) and an outboard motor hoist on the port side.  It also carries the radar reflector and incorporates a kedge anchor roller at the base.   The 3″ diameter tube is welded to the pushpit and is stiff enough not to require additional diagonal stays (which in my experience always get in the way).

Steering Pedestal:

Although I quite envy the uncluttered cockpit that Peter has achieved on Zoot Allures by converting to tiller steering,  I wanted to keep the wheel steering on SOHVI for various reasons.  I also wanted to plug in a small plotter at the external helm position, so we designed a simple grab handle that incorporated a mount just ahead of the compass.


At the same time I repositioned the old Robertson Dataline display and installed the Vetus bow thruster control on  the rear of the pedestal  That meant feeding a total of four new cables up into the pedestal, which proved, shall we say,  challenging!

Now – the Vetus panel should ideally fall conveniently to hand to control the bow thruster,  but that was not so easy.  My preferred solution was to mount it under the wheel,  within easy reach to activate the system,  but I patched it in to the two redundant push switches on top of the pedestal (previously engine start and horn).  These now provide port or starboard thrust direction and are superbly placed for easy use.  Very satisfying!


Anchor windlass:

Although SOHVI had a recent Quick windlass installed,  I find it hard to forgive the previous owner for installing it exactly on the centreline,  thus perpetuating one of the original criticisms of the MS33 – that the single bow roller interfered with the forestay.

Most boats have since fitted double rollers,  allowing the anchor rode to pass to one side of the forestay.   It was time to re-position the windlass about 5cm to port – which also meant replacing the teak plank (I’ll call it the king-plank,  even though that technically is not quite what it is).  This is what greeted me after removing the old king-plank:


That’s an awful lot of old holes to fill!   I made up a new,  slightly wider king plank which would a). cover up all the old holes and b) allow me to install the windlass offset to port.





That’s about it so far on the external work.  Those of you who’ve read the earlier posts will note that I still haven’t replaced the rear plywood bulkhead in the wheelhouse.  It’s a job that’s looming every closer – but I’m waiting for more than the odd few hours of sunshine!

More news soon 🙂


Posted in All the posts, Electrical Stuff, General Improvements | 5 Comments