Back in the water: relaunch of the Lady J

May 13, 2016

This is a quick update on the good yacht Lady J. Having worked on her on and off for most of February, March and April the time finally arrived when she was fit to go back into the water. Jobs done were:


New grab rail on the port side of the cabin roof.

Remove old grab rails. When we hoisted the mast back at the tail end of last year, we managed between us to get one of the stays wrapped round the end of one of the grab rails on the coach house roof, breaking it off. I bought some hardwood timber from eBay and, despite managing to buy timber half the size I’d thought it was, made two new rails. They’ve been treated with teak oil and now look pretty good as replacements. They just need to weather for 40 years or so, then they’ll really blend in with the toe rails.


New upholstery and carpeting on hull.

Remove and replace foam-backed carpet on the inside of the hull. I used polypropylene backed carpet tiles as replacements, as they’re hard wearing and cheap (less than £2 per 50×50 tile). The original carpet had been fixed in place with some breed of contact adhesive, so I used a tiling adhesive for the first couple of tiles. It quickly became apparent that this was less than ideal as the initial bond was not strong, so I bought some of B&Qs own brand instant grab adhesive (their version of No More Nails). Worked a treat and much less mess than the ‘proper’ stuff.

Remove expanded polystyrene tiles from cabin deckhead, remove loose masonry paint and repaint. This was not funny. The tiles came away fine but the remnants of the adhesive were a nightmare, as was the paint. Why anyone would want to use this sort of paint on the inside of a boat is beyond me: cheap replacement for non slip on a deck OK but inside? Took me a long time to shift the stuff and I went through grinding wheels quickly.

Repaint interior. I put a coat of flowcoat through out the boat. This is thickened polyester resin which goes on in a thick coat. You mix a catalyst into the paint, which then hardens in about half an hour, so small quantities are made up at a time. In addition, the fumes are truly nasty, so respirator and goggles are required. All that meant that the maximum I could safely do in a day was about and hour or so, so it took me several days to finish the job.

Repaint interior. Once the flowcoat had cured it became obvious that where there was still masonry paint underneath it, something in the paint has coloured the flowcoat yellowish…. So the quick fix was to use standard gloss paint over the top of the flowcoat in the cabin. Worked well and as a contrast to the slow progress of the flowcoat, it was done in a morning.


Galley area.  A work in progress.  Next winter I’ll more or less start over in this area to produce a chart table come work top.

Remove old cooker, tidy galley area. The old cooker came out and has been junked, along with the Calor Gas bottle and the water pump. The replacement cooker (must have something to make coffee on) is a cheap camping cooker, held in place by a bungee cord since it’ll only ever be used at anchor/in a marina/on the mooring. A new kettle was also required, as the one that came with the boat turned out to be full of holes…. Mugs, cutlery (Asda finest at £1.99 for a 4 place setting!), coffee, hot chocolate and a frying pan complete the culinary arrangements just now; a trip to Trago Mills for cheapo melamine crockery finished the task.

Reupholster cushions. The foam inside the vinyl covered cushions was OK but the covers were shot, so I junked them and got some 6mm plywood and 5 metres of fabric (turned out not quite the colour I thought I’d ordered but hey). The plywood was cut to the shape of the cushions and check fitted on board. Then the foam was stuck to the ply with double sided tape and the fabric stretched over this and fixed to the ply with staples. Took about three days in total to complete and the result look fine. And its easy to replace if the fabric colour really offends….


New upholstery and shed curtain.  I know it looks kind of blue in the picture but it really is sort of purplish.

Curtain for shed. The boat has a quarter berth running under the starboard cockpit seat. This has been designated the shed and is now full of sails. To shield it from view, I made up a curtain from the remains of the upholstery fabric and this now provides a neat appearance of order where none exists.

Electrics. I bought a second hand depth and log off eBay to replace the existing prehistoric one. The depth sensor fits neatly into the existing hull fitting; the log paddle wheel can wait until the future. I’ve also fitted a compass and cigar lighter socket for iPad/iPhone charging (not only for comms but also for navigation using the Navionics app). To power this lot I’ve fitted a small battery charged by a tiny solar panel.


The smallest solar panel I’ve ever fitted!  Charges the battery in the cockpit locker.  At 30AH, its a third the size of one of the 5 batteries that we have on Rampage.

Antifoul. There are more layers of antifoul on the hull than I thought possible; the removal of that lot will await another winter. For now, I simply removed the stuff that was flaking off and slapped a coat of fresh stuff on over the top. My intention is to remove all the old antifoul, key the gel coat and apply Coppercoat (CC) either this year or next. I know it sounds a bit OTT for a boat costing £400 but CC is so simple and effective once its on. Given that Lady J can cheerfully take the ground, I’d like to be in a position to replace lifting out with a simple pressure wash every year or so.

Hull and deck. Not much to do here but a day or so with a pressure washer has sorted her out. Yes, the hull round the water line is still a bit yellowed but I can live with that.

Lady J the slings of the boat lift being returned to her element 28 April 2016.

And that’s about it, apart from a few gel coat repairs which will probably wait until next winter. Lady J went back into the water on 28 April and Julia and I took her straight round to her mooring just outside Mylor Yacht Harbour. I’ve joined Restronguet Sailing Club and have been allocated one of their moorings. I keep the tender in the club racks and row out to the boat whenever time permits and there’s wind enough to make it worthwhile. Lady J sails well and is small enough to be fairly easily single handed despite not having any of the modern conveniences like a roller furling foresail or lines led back to the cockpit.

Having a genoa that can be tucked under one arm for bending on brings home to you just how small she is in comparison with Rampage: her genoa is a struggle for two people to lift, let alone hoisting it!

There’s a few things left to do before we head to Greece. She has beaching legs: two stout wooden struts that bolt on sticking straight down on each side. They reach down to the same level as the bottom of the keel and mean that Lady J can sit upright on the ground, so I can take her in to shore on a rising tide, let her ground, anchor her in position and then let her dry out as the tide goes down. The legs are in the garden just now being rubbed down and repainted. And I need to make up some proper seals for the bolt holes for the leg mountings: at the moment they’ve just got bolts through them, not very water tight and I’ve already had her healed over far enough to get water coming in through the holes…….

We plan to get away to the Helford River in next week or so if the weather behaves and Julia can get her final essay submitted. Then Lady J will likely sit in splendid isolation until we get back from Greece in September. Unless there are any readers who fancy having a trip out in her. Please contact me if you’d like to keep her working whilst we’re away; she does deserve to be used.



  1. You’ve done such an amazing job. She looks like a new boat!

  2. Good morning! We love your continuing adventures as we are here in rainy Washington, DC. She’s beautiful, just like her namesake. We wish you fair winds, following seas and lots of fun! Ruth and David

    • Glad you’re still following the blog! We return to Rampage in about a month, so we hope to start blogs again once we’re in Greece.

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