Saturday, 28 April 2012

Brat of Dunkirk

Brat was a Royal Cape Yacht Club boat for many years, she was well restored and I think also had a Lloyds 100A certificate?

Seen here in a near windless day in Table Bay at one of the TBA Easter Regattas, around 1999?

Picture by Roy McBride using a Canon FT film camera and a 1.4 lens.

Brat was one of the boats who did the cross channel trip to take the men off the beaches at Dunkirk.

Owned for a long time by Tony Fox? where is he now, he sold the boat, where is Brat now?

News came in within days from two sources, so we now know where Brat is!

Andrew emailed and said he used to sail on Brat each weekend when he lived in Port Elizabeth.

I read with interest your post on Brat. I sailed on Brat in Port Elizabeth every weekend before moving to Cape Town 11 years ago. At the time she was owned by Captain Harry Freaker who I think had bought her from Tony Fox. Harry was over seventy at the time and unfortunately I lost touch with him when I moved to Cape Town. You could possibly find out some more information as to what happened to Harry and Brat from Algoa Bay Yacht Club. I have some photographs of her at home and will scan and send them to you later.

The second mail came in just yesterday (03/05/2012)
The other day you referred to BRAT.
The boat is on the hard in Port Elizabeth. 

From Frans.

Please update as you can,


Hi Roy,

It was I who sailed "BRAT" from the U.K. to South Africa arriving here October 1968.

If my recollection is right, the yacht will be 100 years old this year (possibly next). Do you have any up to date information on who owns her and where she is now ?

Best regards,

Tony France

News in today, dated 22nd October 2012, I have informed Tony where to m\find the boat.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Uffa Fox, his greatest design

I am not at all sure this if fact but as the tomb stone on his grave shows a parachute and a small boat floating down through the air to the sea, its clear the family thought this way.

Uffa Fox’s great and lasting memorial – the Airborne Lifeboat

Uffa Fox’s Airborne Lifeboat rigged for sailing

from Wikipedia Commons via Ian Dunster

Keith Muscott recently wrote this entertaining short history of Uffa Fox’s Airborne Lifeboat for members of the excellent Yahoogroup Openboat, and has been kind enough to give me permission to publish it here. Many thanks Keith!

‘Uffa Fox became obsessed with the notion of a ‘droppable’ lifeboat following the capture of his stepson Bobbie Sach after a ditching. His first idea was a folding boat that could be dropped straight from a low-flying aircraft. He soon realized the impracticality of this, and moved on to consider parachuting it into the oggin. It was to be made of small panels of plywood, which would be opened up by the parachutes as the whole parcel descended. Legend has it that he dropped the first model from a top floor window and converted the drinkers in the Duke of York to teetotalism when they saw it float down. Folding plywood panels were soon discarded in the light of experience.

‘That idea was dropped in favour of carrying the complete craft in the belly of a plane, which was to be an American Hudson (already in use for air-sea rescue). Subsequently they discovered that the bomb door jacks took up too much room for the boat to be carried in the bomb bay, so it was back to the drawing board to design a boat which was streamlined enough to hang outside like a torpedo without completely ruining the air flow. Uffa secured the go-ahead from Lord Brabazon, who subsequently got a rocket from those above for allowing himself to cave in so quickly under the influence of Fox’s silver tongue.
‘Uffa designed the final version one-eighth full-size, 1.5 ins to the foot, and ran off dozens of copies so that many draughtsmen could work on it simultaneously. The lines were lofted then the builders set to work: three weeks in all from pencil lines to waterlines. The hull was built with traditional diagonal planking – two layers of opposing diagonals, one straight planks fore and aft separating them, if I remember correctly. There would probably have been oiled silk or some such material between layers.

‘The test pilot in the Hudson would only fly the first test with the boat attached if Uffa went along too – which he did, including during the final stall tests. The streamlined boat hardly affected the airspeed at all and the plane kept up easily with another Hudson carrying RAF photographers. A secondhand Britannia Middy engine was reconned by the manufacturers for the tests and proved to be exactly right, delivering six knots and good endurance – but it was no longer in production. This led to a call going out to pleasure boat operators up and down the land, including many municipal boating lakes, to strip out engines and return them to the manufacturers (the British Motor Boat Manufacturing Company). June Dixon, Uffa’s neice, describes this bizarre situation beautifully:

“These valiant little engines, cast aside by the exigencies of war and no longer responding to the peacetime call of ‘Come in number twelve, your time is up’, were destined to find themselves chugging gaily along, homeward bound, offering new hope to men whose time but for them might well also have been up.’”

‘The air-sea trial took place during an air raid, with Uffa, and others, bobbing up and down in the Solent in a rubber dinghy. The pilot had been instructed to drop the boat from 600 feet at 110 mph, aimed right at the dinghy, whose occupants were duly soaked by the splash. It descended as the designer intended, nose down under several chutes at a thirty degree angle. The chutes were blown away by a charge when the boat hit and floating lines were fired outwards by two rockets.

‘The boat – a world’s first – was equally as successful in practice and Uffa was eventually presented with a certificate saying as much by members of the Goldfish Club when he became the subject of the television programme This is Your Life many years later.
‘It has been suggested that if the old rogue ever did get into heaven before the Devil knew he was dead, then this design above all others would have been the one that tipped the balance in his favour.

‘Keith Muscott
The Airborne Lifeboats were used in as many as 600 rescues, but after WWII was over, many were converted for use by yachtsmen and dinghy sailors, and I’ve heard reports of a racing class being created around them. They would certainly have made good, big cruising boats for sailing schools and so on.

My thanks to those who wrote about this amazing design and thanks also to Wikipedia.


How to service a British Seagull outboard motor

British Seagulls date to 1931, they made around 2000 a month at one time, so we may have about 100,000 out there now, does anyone know this?
Note: one web site suggests a million made due to the war effort?

In my case I have been gifted a not so old one, the one in question is the LLS model and dates to 1961, they have an engine number on them, find that then search the web to find out its age.

I was ready to start after a degrease with water soluable cleaner, then a wire brush session to remove dirt and old salt deposits, a second water soluable clean up and wash down with the hose pipe again has the motor looking quite smart. In my case I was able to use an air line to blow the water off, you may find just using a clean cloth and spare paint brush does much the same.

Any service must start with the spark plug, they are made by Champion and marked D16 the gap needs to be set at 0.020" thousands of an inch, this one was closer to 0.040 thous, this will change the timing and change the way the motor runs. If you have no spark you may find the points are dirty, or if the engine has not been run for a very long time, the magnets in the flywheel need a recharge, check out at the SOS web site for information on how to attend to both the points and a recharge of the magnets. 

The same spark plug after it was bead blasted and the gap set to 0.020"

These parts were in a bad state, years of none use had seen them age and become more or less jammed up, in the case of the gear box pinion, it was seized solid and I had to ask the advice of John from SOS In Essex, England on how to free it up.

SOS and the contacts for John in the UK are in the link above.

Johns phone number in the UK.

The gearbox house and gear wheel, with the shaft came out after a bit of carefull  work, once cleaned up, it was clear to see that they were still in fine condition and still able to do the job they were made for.

Most of the parts taken off the engine were cleaned in the blasting cabinet, I did not do the Villiers carb due to the fact that the small glass beads may do more harm than good.

The seized pinion, Johns advice was to add lots of thin oil and use a battery powered drill turn the square drive that is in the house, in my case I needed a 220v drill but I used minimum power. The shaft freed off just as John had predicted, I then added 20W/50 engine oil once the shaft was free and moving. Any friction here will stop the engine from turning as it should.

A moment of triumph when the British Seagull Century starts as it should and on the second pull of the rope, there after it would start on the first pull every time.

How hard can this be!


I spent more than a little time reading up on what needs to be checked on a Seagull motor to ensure it will work, there seemed to be no doubt it would work, even though my motor is fifty one years old.

The list and excepting the seized gear box pinion.

Clean the fuel tank, fuel stop fitting, there is a filter in the original ones., also one will be found in the banjo union fitting to carburetor. Clean the tank filler knob and fuel line, my fuel line was thick with a dry black sludge. Strip the carburetor and ensure its clean and the needle is straight and slides easily, in my case I need a new throttle cable, as the slide will not close, you may need a new spring that fits the slide also?

Adjust the spark plug, make sure its the correct one, test the spark by spinning the flywheel, use a 4mm line and only three turns around it, I made up a pull handle from some 22mm dowel with a 6mm hole through it.

The details are what makes the difference? this Champion spark plug cap is from the right period, its from a Jaguar 3.8S type. It is not wateproof, you could use the one the NGK make for motor bikes, part number LB10F 8358 (black) it is also a resistor type, which may be a good idea.

The gear box needs to be clean, it also needs some 140EP grade oil in it
in my case I have yet to find that grade and have used Castrols 90EP grade made for outboard gear boxes, it will see very light use for a while so should do the job for now.

Mix the correct petrol (gas) to marine outboard grade two stroke oil, thats 10:1 and should be done with unleaded petrol. Do not use fuel older than three months old, the modern stuff can go off after that time, you will notice a foul smell when its gone off.

Starting, open the petrol tank vent screw a half turn, check the tank and unions have no leaks, mine did, I fitted new fibre washers, I could then close off the choke on the carburetor, apply full throttle, make three turns of the pull line around the flywheel and see if the Seagull Century would fire?

Pull one and nothing happened, do the rope thing again and give it another pull, the motor fired and was a runner! Now open the choke and close the throttle as required.

Note, the two breather holes in the large stainless steel tube should face backwards, I have put the tube back side on and  incorrectly!

One last item and this is very important, as soon as your Seagull is running, check the cooling water escape hole has a steady stream of water running as can be seen in this picture. If there is no water, stop the engine and find out why? To stop the engine, close the throttle and the fuel supply tap and put your hand over the carburetor intake.

All photos by R McBride using a Canon G11 camera.

New tank transfers are available from SOS.

We have a British Seagull for sale, its a 1973 model and has a gear shift. Available as is, or fully restored to your order. contact me via

Roy  @

Some updates have happened since this Seagull repair page was posted, find them below:

The Traditional Boat scene in Cape Town

What makes a traditional boat was a subject of discussion for some months while the TBA was being started here in the Cape, in the end we just forgot about it and named our events for both classic and traditional boats, sail or power (we had a steamer turn up at one event) and just waited to see who would turn up?

 Click on the picture for a larger view, the place is Cape Towns V&A Waterfront and around 1999. Picture by R McBride using a Canon FT film camera.

The class of yachts we had turn out was across the board, small to large and all sizes in between, each as important as tghe other, the events were well attended for years and years. It was a decline in the committee comitment, not the membership that was the end of the TBA.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Austin 7 spanners

I was recently gifted some old motor car spanners, two were Jaguar and two were Austin 7, part of a four set tool kit I believe?

Bead blasted they cleaned up really well but I supect they should be a black metal finish?

Seen here recently and on Ebay UK, I now need the larger two too complete my set, those and an Austin Seven!


Wharram Tiki 38, she floats!

The expected news in from the Simonstown Naval Dockyard came in today.
Wow! what a boat, we now need the name?

Well done to Captain Dan and his crew.


So.... she floats. (and how)

The launch went smoothly. We sprayed some Cap Classique on the bows and toasted fair weather, quick passages and sun in the cockpit. Then we were lowered slowly into the water by the syncro lift. Check seacocks , and then check again. No leaks. Motors warm and running smoothly, we motored out of the basin and around to False Bay Yacht Club in great autumn weather.

She felt very good on the water, and the best surprise was the waterline was parallel to the anti foul. So we could have done a boot top stripe after all.

Naturally there is still plenty work still to do (In fact the only bit complete is the part that is wet! ), but while walking away at the end of the day, one cannot help but have a second glance for that 'feel good factor'. And it feels good to be on the water.

Thank you to all who have helped along the way particularly in the final stages. Adrian and Nigel who's experience has been invaluable from the beginning. John, who just kept going in those weeks when there was just white dust and sandpaper. Sarah for everything from listening to me nattering on about twisted lower hull panels, to modifying my lunch box contents for optimum work efficiency and of coarse for being there.

We look forward to sailing with all of you in the future.


Tiki 30 and 38 are available as kit sets,   Roy

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fuel and oils for Justin Seagull

Now then, we have an old Seagull outboard motor up and running, its said they are not that fussy but reading the piles of info on the internet via Google, I find some advice that comes up again and again and that is which oils should be used.

Read here

The Seagull in question is now 51 years old, yes its a 1961 model! with patience I discovered that this older model should still run on the original fuel (gas/petrol) mix it came out with, this model should not be run on any mix other than 10:1. Thats 100ml petrol to 10ml oil.

 The Mobil outboard oil data list.

What oil? well not a normal two stroke oil, this is due to the fact the Seagull motor runs quite cool, so it needs proper marine grade two stroke outboard oil. By chance I have some thats made by Mobil, I have had it for years and one of the engines it says it can be used for on the packing lable is Seagull, thats fine by me.

Mixed in a 10:1 ratio of fuel to oil and with unleaded fuel the mix should look like this.

The Seagull should have a gearbox oil in 140 grade, where I may find that I have no idea but reading whats being said on the web, I find that a single grade 90 EP will also suit. I happened to have Castrol Oils outboard gear oil in stock. For some reason it says nothing about what grade it is but again the web says it is a 90 EP grade.

Note, not SAE 80W-90 like Shell Oils Spirax, not sure why but I know someone will tell me. 

Use the right fuel and oils and they will save you a stack of money later.

How hard can that be?

News in from John at SOS, which is now telling me I do need the correct 140 grade of oil, that I hope to find tommorrow.


 Hello Roy,

I use Smith and Allan here, or Morris's but they are just a local names, Castrol used to sell it here, still do in 20 litre drums! I have old Castrol 140 cans here, Penrite sold in the States but any 140 oil will do the job as it is not in there long!




Justin Seagull rebuilt and we have a runner!

This is not an all finished event just yet, first I needed to read all of the stacks of really helpfull info on the various web sites, I have no preference at this stage but I can tell you that John at S.O.S was more than helpfull and I ended up by buying the required list of spares from John. In the post today he told me yesterday.

Save our Seagulls can be found at the link below.

There are some really helpfull cut out section photos available, with me not having the required workshop manual (on order) I had to make do with the pictures.

Some data:

  • Type of Motor : Single cyclinder, 3 port, 2-stroke, water cooled
  • Bore: 57mm.
  • Stroke: 40mm.
  • H.P. Category: 3-4
  • Approx. R.P.M., Max: 3800
  • Lubrication
    • Power Unit: Gasoline and oil mixture, pressure fed from crankcase
    • Gearbox: Gear Oil (NOT Grease), No gun required for replenishment
  • Exhaust System: Straight through expansion chambers. Underwater outlet.
  • Reduction Gear Ratio: 10/35
  • Clutch: Not Available
  • Propeller: 4 blade, 9" dia. Compound Pitch
  • Steering: Pivoting motor, adjustable tenstion, folding and tilting tiller, friction mounted.
  • Ignition: Seagull "Instarter Magnition" system. A very high voltage spark from a flywheel magneto fires the charge in a cylinder head of exceptionally quick-starting characteristics.

My job was first to find out why this LLS type Seagull Century would not turn over, I could tell that the piston was moving a little, so assumed that the engine was not seized. I decided to read what I could and start as advised by removing one section at a time, thats good advice!

The first thing I did was to empty the petrol tank, the smell was really bad, this mix had long since stopped being petrol and oil mix?

When the gear box was opened it was easy to see why the motor would not turn over, click on the picture for a larger view.

The oil had long since left this gearbox, then again the engine had not been used for many years, I was told four, was it longer?

Note, the gearbox will run quite happily with a mixture of oil and water, make sure there is more oil than water,use an EP90 grade gearbox oil and check every ten hours. NEVER USE GREASE!

Century 100 (LLS)

(Based on a 1960's brochure)

This all-purpose engine has plenty of guts, is light in weight, quiet, very economical, docile enough for a 10-ft. dinghy, yet quite capable of towing half a dozen dinghies home against the ebb, plus any more that can get a line aboard!!

As an auxiliary it's quite unmatched, and like all Seagulls it is designed for real work, all day and day after day, with the minimum of attention and service.

Drive displacement hulls to 21', excellent towing power, large inflatables. Sailboat kicker for: Flying Scot, Lighting, Rhodes 19, Celebrity, Ford 20, Highlander, Tempest, Star, Rainbow, Mariner, Cal 20, Alacrity, Vivacity, Ensign, Islander 21, Plastrend-Mustang, Grampion 22, Imperial 23, Golif, Columbia 22, Hurley 17-20-22, Mouette, Flamingo, Nomad, Kittiwake 23, Sailmaster 22, South Coast 23, Santana 20, Kestrel, Orion, Raven, Phoenix, Signet 20.

Starting, Johns S.O.S site says that with three turns on the rope and with the choke on and a fully open throttle, the Seagull Century should start on the second try on the rope, guess what, Johns correct it did!
To be continued, this may be a long tale.

How hard can that be, easy!


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Captain Dan to launch his Wharram Tiki 38 soon

Words supplied by the boats builder, Dan.

Hi All,

 Had a busy week, battling the elements and finishing up as much as possible. We have had our summer SE winds which have been hammering us on the hard in Simon's Town for the past week making progress slow, rarely dropping below 20 kts.

 Dan did the work while CKD Boats supplied much of the plys,wood and epoxy. We now have a great deal of the boat as a kit ready CNC file so we can supply Tki 38 kits, plans must be bought from the deigner first though.

We got a break in the wind on Saturday, and nine of us stepped both masts in what can only be describes as a very successful exercise using only what was on the boat. It could have gone very wrong! Thanks to all involved. The comments this morning was ' How did you do it?'  The Armscor dockworkers cannot believe what is evolving in front of their eyes. The clanging of halyards never sounded so good that evening..

 For sure this is one of the better Tki 38 builds, some use less than perfect plys and timber to save on cost, that saves money but adds weight. Dan bought the right products and it shows.

Naturally we did not get many pictures of the action. Before and after is about it. I did see Sarah at one stage holding the camera, but looking down at the ground so as not to upset the partially hoisted mast with her eyes. One of her most stressful days ever!

 A birds eye view, Dan bought the alloy mast sections in the USA, the cost saving was better than to be found locally?

Arrived very early today to final fit through hull fittings and prepare for launch, only to find out the Syncrolift is out of action. Though there was work to attend to, the rest of the day was like going back to school after a fire drill. Your concentration has gone. To top it off the SE started to blow. A naval worker, walking past,  questioned the interior and its 'Mess', I was about to hurl something at him when I remembered where I was.

So although there is still much to do, we are ready to float. Tomorrow could be an option as the weather is good and the wind backing.

Well done Dan, the job looks really well done.

How hard can this be (ask Dan)


Monday, 23 April 2012

Introducing Justin Seagull

Justin arrived as a gift, and what a gift, actually older than the bringer of the gift, as by my count Justin Seagull will now be all of fifty one years (51) old!

Justin Seagull has a brand name its a Century 40, thats a 4hp job with a 100cc two stroke motor.
its SLL stamp on the engine places it in the years 1960 to 1961 and seems to be number 94 of that series.

Justin Seagull is quite rare in that he seems to be complete, he is not a runner, in fact the pinion in the ger box was seized, now removed the engine can be turned over by hand,sounds like it has decent compression too!

Justin Seagull will be my next restoration.

How hard will that be, watch this space to find out!