Saturday, 5 May 2012

The story of the TBA, by Colin Davies

The Traditional Boat Association, or as we normally call it, just the TBA, has come and gone. My place is not to suggest why but to tell you of a fine new publiction on the history of the TBA which we founded here in Cape Town in 1991.

This is a photograph of Colins proof copy front cover.

Colins story is packed with pictures of the cartoons and people that made the newsletters so popular.

The book is as much about people as their boats, there are pages and pages of interesting interviews and reviews.

Colin Davies, the author of the book. Colin knows lots about our yachts and also lots about sailing, as he single handed his steel Dix Design Hout Bay 33 named Solvesta  around the world!

At this time some 100 copies only are being placed on order, I believe they will be numbered and signed, any second run will not be.  Please contact me soonest to reserve your copy.

Contact me at


British Seagull Petrol Tank details

The Seagull petrol tanks seem to have changed a few times but settled on the style seen on both the 1961 and also the 1973 units we have now.

Note the original transfer, its still in place after 39 years! we have a new  one on order, it will be used on the 3.5hp 1961 engine.

This Seagull outboard is now being serviced, when serviced, we can offer it as is, or as a restoration program to the buyers program.

Even the original Seagull sparkplug cap is still in place.

the  engine has had an easy life, the propellor is near new, plus the fact that we suspect the use was in fresh water only and on the Vaal Dam, there is no corrosion to talk of. This motor is rtaed at 4.5hp whiich is said to mean very little on a Seagull as its all about what size propellor the engine will push.
You can expect this Seagull to easily push a 20 to 26ft boat?

The motor is in the Cape Town area and for sale.

Contact me at to discuss pricing and  your requirements.

Delivery by courier is not a problem


Friday, 4 May 2012

Dustbin engineering

Not really but after a session on the bench and your British Seagull has been serviced and needs a good run in some clean water, what else is there aroound the place that will hold enough water to do the job.

Cartoon supplied from the SOS site in Kent,England,UK.

Section pictures like this were to be found on the Save Our Seagulls web site, while I am waiting for the workshop manual and parts I placed an order for, I found these detail pictures to be very helpfull.


Three Anchor Bay Lighthouse,near Cape Town

Living near hear on a misty or foggy night was unforgetable!

Picture by R McBride using a Canon FT film camera, a 50mm lens and a tele converter, not recomended!

Sleep had to contend with the bursts of sound from a very very loud fog horn, with modern aids to naigation the horn has been switched off but I think the light will burn as bright as ever?


Thursday, 3 May 2012

The SA Agulhas 2 arrived today (may 3rd 2012)

Hand-over of the SA Agulhas II for the Department of Environmental Affairs, 04 April 2012

On 04 April 2012, following successful ice and sea trials and finishing of outfitting details, the SA
Agulhas II, South Africa newest and modern research and supply ship, was officially handed-over to the Department of Environmental Affairs during a commissioning ceremony on board the ship at STX shipyard, Rauma Finland.
After the Finnish flag was lowered and the South African flag raised, signalling change of ownership of the vessel, the Director-General of DEA, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba said: "While it is sad that this ceremony also marks the end of an era of service in research and supply in Antarctica and the Southern Islands by the old SA Agulhas, we are proud to receive SA Agulhas II, a new and modern research and supply vessel to carry forward our mandate.
SA Agulhas
"Also present at the hand-over was Lumumba Lee, the grandson of the late Miriam Makeba. The SA Agulhas II is dedicated to the life and works of Makeba.
The vessel will leave for South Africa on Friday, 06 April and will arrive in Cape Town on 03 May 2012. This will be followed by training and equipment testing cruises. Its maiden expedition voyage will be to Gough Island in September 2012 and will go to Antarctica in December 2012.
"Both the Department of Environmental Affairs and STX are very proud of the vessel which is being delivered on budget and on time. This attests to professionalism with which the build programme has been approached by DEA, STX and other stakeholders," said Ngcaba.
"The SA Agulhas II will enable to attract international scientists thus creating the potential for us to increase the pool and expertise of the generation of deep sea researchers to unlock the secrets of the planet - Southern Oceans," Ngcaba said.
This ship is a one-of-a-kind in the world because of its multi-purpose application. It is in essence a cargo and dry bulk carrier (taking supplies to the 3 remote stations); a fuel tanker (taking bulk fuel for the Bases and vehicles and aviation fuel for helicopters); a passenger ship, a helicopter carrier and above all a scientific research platform.
This is the first ship built in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) latest Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Safety Regulations for passenger ships. What this means is that even if the ship encounters difficulties at sea, it will always be able to get home. She has 8 permanent laboratories and 6 containerised laboratories.
The latter can be removed when not required, for example, during a logistics cruise. She is particularly suitable for Oceanography, Meteorology, Climate Change, Biodiversity, Marine Geoscience and Marine Engineering research.
"All of South Africa should join us being very proud of this new ship, a wise and worthy investment of our government, that will create opportunities for our young scientists, but more importantly carry out research that will improve our country's ability to predict climate change impacts," said Dr Monde Mayekiso, Deputy-Director General: Oceans & Coasts in the Department of Environmental Affairs.
For further details and images of the new vessel contact:
Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483

TBA news, as good as it gets

We had a lot of support from the magazine SA Yachting, in fact it was their insertion of the local build of some classic boats in steel that satrted the whole thing off.

With the help of Colin Davies, who is writing a history of the TBA, we are trying to find the links which started the association. One is the first insertion of the Paul Johnson Venus design, it was being built in rented space at the Ankon Boats factory.

Below is a mail to Richard Crocket of Sailing magazine, as it is he who owns the copyright to the now defunct SA Yachting magazine.

It was the October '91 issue of SA Yachting, in the
"Cutting a wake" editorial where the formation of the TBA was
proposed. It was probably therefore either the August or September
issue that had the article on the Paul Johnson 'Venus' design. If I
could have a copy of that editorial and the article I'd be really

Colin Davies


Servicing the Yanmar GM10 marine diesel engine

Not to run an engine will be bad for it, not to service it will be even worse!  Running the engine allows the oil to heat up and rid itself of any moisture that may have collected in the cranckcase, the same with the motor in general, a hot engine cleans itself of many of the problems that can cause sludge and rust inside an engine. Run your engine under load, not just on tick over or a fast idle, that will do little good for the engine and its liable to start using oil, blue smoke from the exhaust may be the first warning?

You should see this amount of raw cooling water escape from the exhaust pipe, it will wax and wane some. Note the lack of blue smoke, the engine is running at around 3000 rpm and is powering a 220 volt generator, the load on it is around 16 amps 220v and 20amps 12 v, enough to see that the load makes the engine work well.

Note: spots of black oil on the water as the exhaust exits can just be the black foam air strainer in the air box breaking down. the result is it is then going into the engine combustion chamber and then part burning, when it hit's the water outside it looks just like oil!

With an assumption that both the pump and injector is in good condition, what else is there to do after changing the oil and oil filter? Well even to do the oil change your in with a bit of a problem, most boat engines have their oil sumps so low that the oil drain plug can not be accessed? In this case we need a suction pump, the ones with the solid brass bodies seem to leak less than the plastic ones? Heat the engine right up by running it, then using the suction tube, it will reach the oil sump through the plastic oil filler screw on cap, remove the hot oil. Beware its messy stuff and the use of rubber gloves may be a good idea? You will need an empty container to take the old oil away in, dispose of that and the old filter in a responsable manner please.

Next remove the filter, the new one should be inspected to see it matches the one that came off it, is the canister the same diameter, does the thread hole match? then smear clean oil onto the rubber O ring seal, it will be flat, fit the new filter so that it is hand tight, there is no need for more than that if you ever want to remove it again.

Read the link for some inforamtion on filters.;postID=4108350423016376000

 The oil filter is the grey canister seen low down and on the left side of the picture.

 There is also a tiny thermostadt, thats to be found where that yellowing braided clear hose is. Remove the fitting, its bronze and check that the thermostadt is clean with no silt or salt stopping it from working. Test it by lowering it into some hot water from a kettle.

Oil? not all oils are the same, simply put, a standard engine oil will probably have a life of 50 hours or one year before it has to be changed, which ever is the sooner, check the owners User Manual. Check also to see if it gives the optional running time with Diesel Grade oils, it will probably say 100 hours or one year, which ever is the sooner. Yes thats double the hours you can run the engine, so assuming we use the engine enough in a year, its a simple cost  and labour saving job to buy the better oil each time.

See below on a blog I did on oils some while back.

All companies will have a name for this grade of engine diesel oil, Shell calls theirs Rotella, thats a fine oil. Castrol call theirs GTX Diesel, which is simple enough to remember.

Valvoline imported diesel oil, you can see what we paid here around one year ago, plus the tax!
Setting the engine Tappets is quite easy on this motor, as the engine has both a decompression lever and a hand start handle, so by using both we can turn the engine over untill the valve in question is closed and the tappet gap can be set to the manufacturers setting, which my manual states as 0.20mm . This is important, that gap affects the engines timing, plus if its too tight we can maybe burn a valve, too loose and we have a very noisy engine. The cork gasket under the tappet cover should be reusable, try a little clear silicone if you feel the need, wipe any excess off with a clean cloth so things stay neat and clean.

The tappets can be found under the silver dome cover on the top of the engine.

The engine has a small anode on the side of the block and on the alternator side, its is held captive on a small plate with two M10 bolts, that anode protects the cast iron block, they are not expensive, get a new paper gasket when you buy one, try the clear silicone again, its cheap, cleans up easiliy and works well. Turn off the sea water supply before you remove the anode plate!

This is the correct Yanmar anode part number, the small stainless parts are what an anode was connected to, in this case the zinc has vanished!

This is what the Yanmar 1GM10 looks like when new, best to replace it when its half gone, as they will last a shorter time from then on.

The owners manual says the anode must be changed every 500 hours, thats assuming we run the engine a lot I assume? The anode above has done about 135 hours and was last fitted 28 months back, as we can see its finished, so  I think it needs changing every 15 to 18 months?

The parts ready to refit, note the black rubber washer, that is the seal to the raw sea water, apply jointing paste. I used clear silicone, then make it into a good joint by screwing into the stainless mount plate, its threaded. Do not over tighten, as the rubber will deform, once the rubber is making a decent seal, lock the stub thread off on the outside of the mount plate with the lock nut. In this case I made my own cork mount gasket with an offcut of thin gasket cork, I had used the correct Flexoid paper gasket in the past.

The anode and mount plate back where it belongs, I have sprayed the area with Fluid Film to prevent surface rust, click on any picture for a larger view. Later I will wash off the engine with water soluable degreasing fluid, then apply two coats of Hammerite smooth silver rust convertor paint.

Note, the space here to emove the two 10mm bolts holding the mount plate is very tight, some recomend you remove the starter motor and I agree!  You will need a short 10mm ring spanner here, an open ended one can be used but its very difficult to work with.

The fan belt to the Alternator is really good on this motor as the belt really does wrap itself around the alloy pully and I have noticed no wear worth its mention, check it anyway, not too tight and not too loose.

The fan belt tension is given as 10mm play either way when you push it with one finger, if you make it too tight, its possible a bearing can go in the Alternator.

The cooling system is run from a lower sea water pump, its driven off the inside of the engine, at least once a year the rubber impellor needs an inspection, keep a spare on the boat just in case yours breaks. To remove the impellor on its own is asking for tears, the screws or bolts holding the inspection plate are behind ( unbelievable) the lower main crank pully, who thought of that bright idea?

I find the easy way is to remove the entire water pump as one unit, then on a bench or table we can inspect the pump more closely, check to see is salt has built up under the lower end of the rubber impellor? This can happen due to a lack of use, another very good reason for running the engine more often. Your hoping to find the rubber impellor all in one piece, re using a faulty one just makes no sense given the work involved, you may need a new paper gasket and again the use of clear silicone works well in this application.

WARNING: Do not turn the motor over or move the pumps impellor shaft while you have the water pump off the motor, there may be a problem in relocating the drive peg when you refit it. I have done this job many times and have never had any problems.

Check all the hose and fuel line clamps, look for tell tale leaks, the exhaust header may have started to corrode, they are not easy to re weld, so if that is the case buy a new one.

Finally, wash the engine down with water soluable cleaner, then rinse with fresh water, next clean the bilge!

How hard can this be?


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dragon Boat class paddles

We have made hundreds of class legal paddles for the local Dragon Boat Class, we used the standard drawing as supplied from the class asscociation in the UK.

We still have a few left and for sale, re manufactured and with one or two battle scars, at R250 each they are a snip!


Navstar B&G GPS and the curse of the year 2000

I have some old GPS units, even a Walker 412 satnav, that will never work as the satelites were turned off many years ago but what of a quality unit like the B&G they sold and named Navstar GPS? it was also named the XR4-G GPS receiver and the B&G 4000 GPS.

The manual, very well put together and easy to follow each step.

The start of the matter, explained as an amplifier antenna, the co-ax is said to be quite special and only available from Navstar themselves.

This was the Rolls Royce of GPS once, so what happened to it?  hooked up to the original B&G stick GPS antenna and a 12 volt power source, the functions still work fine.

The set has a lable on it, who it was supplied by and the year, its dated 1980 and thats the problem.

The sets position was entered manually by me, so was the time, the height of the antenna but its the date thats the issue? It takes the date in three groups of two numbers, so this is what I entered  01.05.12  but the almanac is thinking its the year 1912 and knows nothing at all about the year 2012!

How sad is that.

The set is functional excepting it can not find a satelite, its doing all the searches, the sets program runs a test on the computer, antenna, it just can not work due to the date?


An hour or so later, I have left the set switched on and the searches across the sky are continuing, the antenna is under a cement tile roof, that will not help the situation?

(incorrect position entry)

 The set has found a satelite! not only that but the angles to others are now being shown to me.

The set is finding the satelites and I assume storing the information in what will be a very dead memory, I guess the answer is to leave it on 24 hours and see what happens?

Each satelite is checked, even if slowly, it is working things out?

The next day I ran the stick antenna outside and in clear air, the result was similar, it would find satelite signals but the set just does not work, end of May Day holiday idea!


Will Your GPS Work In the Year 2000?

by Charlie Courtney

Published in the December, 1996, GOFC Newsletter

Some GPS receivers may no longer operate correctly after 21 August, 1999 unless returned to the factory for an upgrade. Affected units will think that 22 August 1999 is actually 6 January, 1980. Since GPS receivers use the current date and time to calculate their position, accuracy of the affected units will be destroyed.

This has nothing to do with the infamous "year 2000 problem" looming over the computer industry, although the situation is similar. Many business-related computer programs, especially those written years ago for big mainframe computers, cannot deal with dates later than 31 December, 1999. These programs think that the next day is 1 January, 1900 because the leading "19" in the year is understood to be present, and the computer only stores the last two digits of the year. As a result, a mortgage payment received and posted on 31 December, 1999, one day ahead of a due date of 1 January, 2000, is viewed by affected programs as arriving 100 years too late -- the computer thinks the payment was due on 1 January, 1900!

The GPS problem occurs because, among other things, GPS satellites broadcast the current date and time to your GPS receiver. Your receiver then uses this information to calculate its position from the location of the satellites it can "see." Unfortunately, the date information broadcasted by a GPS satellite is given as the number of weeks elapsed since 6 January, 1980 -- the official "birthday" of the GPS system -- and the amount of computer space allocated in the GPS system for storing the week number only can hold 1023 weeks. (It's a 10-bit value for all you computer nerds that may be interested.)

On 22 August, 1999, the GPS week number will reset to zero, since the previous week was GPS week number 1023. Some older GPS units were not programmed to handle rollover of the GPS week back to zero. An affected unit will become totally lost on 22 August, 1999. It will not "see" the location of GPS satellites correctly, because it will look for them where they were supposed to be on 6 January, 1980, instead of 22 August, 1999.

Garmin, manufacturer of the best selling marine GPS units, has stated that all its units will handle the rollover correctly. Most likely recent units from other reputable manufacturers will do so as well. However, those of you with older, non-Garmin units should check with the manufacturer. Also, be sure to check for this problem before buying a used GPS unit or a bargain-priced new unit from a no-name manufacturer.

This page last updated 3 November, 1996

Charles H. Courtney (

My thanks to Charles on the words in his artical.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Shaped by Wind and Wave

Dudley Dix has a book out, recently published and on He sent a few copies to his friends and those who helped with some local weather condition type pictures of Cape Town.

I have yet to read my book but Justin Phillps just has and below is his report, read on!


 As you may gather, boats and boat-design have fascinated me (obsessed may be more accurate) - for quite some time. There simply is no more interesting mix of art and science in existence. Nothing more likely to generate a good discussion about form and function, all mixed up with adventure, adrenalin, tradition and good living!

As with any noble pursuit, be it a sport, fine wine, an oil painting, or the design of a classic yacht - the enjoyment of the product is enabled an appreciation of the approach used, what the designer/maker was trying so hard to achieve, and how he/she got there. In the case of a yacht - it is a fascinating experience just to see the design - before the boat is even built or sailed - to see the how the designer has creatively faced and met the multitude of challenges inherent in every boat design. Every case is a complex mix of priorities including considerations for cost, seaworthiness, comfort, manageability, type of build, performance, looks and many others. Just the shape of the hull underbody is an adventure story on its own! (Ch. 5)

Isn't it all done by computer these days? Err- no. When a yacht designer finishes at Westlawn or University or similar, they are able to use all kinds of techniques to predict how their design will float and balance, and not break, plus a good few examples of best practise, but the philosophy and style of their designs is very much a product of personal creativity and personal values . . .

This is what Dudley's book is essentially about - in matters of yachts and boats - what are his values and priorities on yachts and boats, and what are the sensible design techniques for meeting them? All this is underpinned from the perspective of an ordinary man working on a budget, maybe home-building. Much of it is related to his personal experience of growing up and sailing in the very challenging waters off the Cape of Good Hope, of dinghy sailing in the fresh winds of Zeekoevlie as a kid, his passion for surfing, and the experience of building his own keelboats. Then it goes on to how his career as a designer took off following the success of his first design "Concept Won" - which gained him a major international award, and gave him a basis for many of the very successful designs that followed.

As someone who has good experience of some Dudley's boats (ref the rest of this blog!), and has sailed in the same waters, I was able to relate directly to all of it, and read the whole book from start to finish in just two days!

As a reference book, the content is simple and very easy to read, ideal for the ordinary yachtsman or boatowner. It is not full of mathematics, rather it explains the elements of yacht design at a practical and concept level. It won't make you a designer, but it will give give you a very good insight into the elements of yacht design, including hulls, rigs and most inbetween. For prospective and amateur boat builders, it is a must - with great chapters on choice of material, building techniques, even options for turning the hull. For anyone sailing around the south tip of Africa (common these days), Chapter 18 is a must. This is a fine piece of reality, concise but sobering, and for some folk will justify the book on its own.

There is also a chapter on Ant Steward, the only man to who sailed around the world on an open boat one of Dudley's designs - a modified TLC19. Certainly Dudley cannot be blamed for this idea - Ant was on his own with this umm - amazing - endeavour - but Dudley is uniquely placed to describe this feat, which must rate as possibly the most daring sailing challenge ever undertaken, along with the strengths and limitations of the boat used. In my opinion, there is nothing quite like this for bringing out the real priorities and needs of a sailing boat on rough waters . . . . its not called "Shaped by Wind and Wave" by accident!

At USD 30 its very reasonable - copies are available from - details on Dudley's website at An e-reader version is also available now.

Posted by Justin Phillips at 3:28 PM

British Seagull outboard for sale

We will soon be offering a British Seagull outboard for sale, either as it is or restored to the buyers requirements.The model is a 1973 and is a 4.5hp motor with a gear shift option, sold as is or restored to the buyers requirements.

The motor is complete, showing its thirty nine (39) classic years rather well, once serviced,cleaned, painted and polished it will look close to new.

Even the tank looks to be in good condition, major dings and dents can be removed if we heat and remove the tank ends.

Note the gear shift (clutch) handle, really a desirable option when coming along side your boat or the dock.

Contact me via


Note, we will soon be stocking British Seagull spares, you can contact me when you need parts, if we do not have them we can bring them in with our next shipment.

The same engine after cleaning with water soluable cleaners, the bead blasting process and service. The service includes, draining of the gearbox and refilling with EP90 Castrol gear oil. The removal of the petrol tank, fuel lines, carburetor, throttle control, electric cable and spark plug. All are checked,rinsed with clean petrol, the gap to the plug checked, the spark to the plug was checked and with a full clean up, the British Seagull is now ready to return to service!

The option exists to have the motor stripped to its main parts, a full repolish, plating and repaint to bring the motor close to concours finish.


Monday, 30 April 2012

Argie 15 concept boat with a British Seagull outboard

We have the boat and we have the ability to supply restored British Seagull outboards, either your own or one we can supply.

A fine example of a restored British Seagull outboard by Peter Knolls, we would offer a similar high standard of finish.

Alan Armsrongs own build of the Argie 15, he did it in quite a short period of time too, he used one of our CNC kits, we supplied the paints also.

From the Dix Design web site:

Alan Armstrong buit his Argie 15 in our home town of Hout Bay, South Africa. He started from a hull kit supplied by CKD Boats" and did a beautiful job.

The concept is one of classic tradition, we have other designs which can also be offered in place of the stitch and glue chine method. We have a similar sized  boat in Clinker construction ply and epoxy too.

This is our 4.5hp British Seagull on offer, it was made in October 1973, so is just thirty nine years (39) old, well will be this October. This model came out with the upgraded Wipac ignition system, it also has a gear shift option! The engine will be fully serviced, painted,polished  and made to look as new as it is possible.

British Seagull, the motor for the world.

Restored British seagull engines can have the optional transfer too, they are special imports from England. 
Argie 15 kits or fully built to your order, British  Seagull outboards on request,used motors needed for restoration.