Motoring On!

During the winter, I got a good deal on a Torqeedo 1103 electric outboard, which I planned to use on Boudicca and also the little Piccolina. Just after I bought it, my sister rocked up with my late father’s Seagull 40+, which seemed to be a more fitting and traditional companion to either craft.

Of course, it stayed on the floor of my garage, and regularly took chunks out of my shins as I tried to step over it, and with the recent report on climate change predicting the end of mankind, the electric option looked a better bet.

Yesterday, I found a new home for the Seagull, as my friend Chas has been renovating a beautiful old cold-moulded Albacore, and he was looking for some cruising propulsion. I shall miss the sound, which is always redolent of the sun going down over the saltings, and accompanies the call of curlews and the like.

But progress is progress.

I chose a nice sunny day on the harbour to give it a go, and Signora came along for the ride. It was all a bit gusty with the wind from the north, so I decided to ship the mast and leave the sails down for now.

The Torqeedo is a heavy beast (mostly battery), and I was concerned that the 1103 might be too heavy for a 12 footer. However, with Signora installed on the forward thwart, and me to one side on the bench, it balanced beautifully.

I had hoped to fix the motor, and use the rudder to steer, but on a sharp angle, the rudder fouls the propeller, so we unshipped the rudder and used the tiller on the motor.

With a full charge, I wondered how far we would get, so we set off at full throttle, and everything was beautifully smooth. It even has a reverse, which is something the Seagull never had!

When we got as far as Chichester marina, against the flood, I thought I’d check the remaining juice, and we’d already used 30%!

There was no way we could hope to get to East Head on this throttle setting. I made a mental note to check the manual when we got back. I throttled back to a more leisurely pace – we were still doing 3-4 knots – and it proved to be absolutely silent. Almost like sailing, with the ripple of the waves against the clinker lands, except, we didn’t have to do that zig-zagging against the wind which Signora gets a bit bored with.

We worked our way along the shore down to Itchenor, and threw out a hook near the Itchenor ferry landing on the Bosham side. Time for a nice picnic, while watching the activity in Itchenor Reach. The battery by this time was down to about 63%, so we’d used almost nothing since the marina. That’s more promising. The range anxiety was under control. I can see why that would spoil driving an electric vehicle though!

Once the tide had turned, we headed for home, and on the way explored a few little nooks and crannies in the harbour, which we probably would never have been able to do under sail. Even the birds don’t hear you coming.

Getting back to Dell Quay, we still had 30% left, so I clearly need to research consumption vs speed. The specification of the 1103 is as follows from the manual:

so I can see why we burnt the juice on the first leg. Half throttle at 3 knots is perfectly fine, and it looks like we could make quite a long trip before heading back. I can’t see us doing 18 miles ever, but it’s nice to have something in reserve. There’s always the sails!

The only downside I could see is that the tiller is quite short (which is why I wanted to use Boudicca’s rudder to steer) so when I’m solo, the stern will tend to drag (note to self – lose some weight!). So I’ve ordered an extended tiller for the motor, and let’s see if that fixes it.

Out of hibernation

Yay! At last, there are signs of life out there, as the first steps are taken out of lockdown. I should be sailing at Shoreham over Easter, with restricted facilities, but the beautiful weather over these days means getting the cover off Boudicca again.

I’ve just received my new sticker from Chi Harbour Conservancy, so I might brave the elements over the next few days. I can’t wait!

More Morbics!

Since our meeting in Chichester last year, PaulW, who built Proteus, has set up a forum for all Morbic builders/owners/dreamers, which can be found at

So far, he has tracked down 16 of the fabled 18 Morbic 12s that have been built in UK, so perhaps there is the bones of a Morbic association.

If you’re interested in building a Morbic 12, or just want more information or building tips, it’s worth signing up, and we’ll all be happy to help!

Maybe we’ll have a slightly bigger Morbic Massive this year, after we’ve all had our vaccinations of course……

The Mighty Morbic Massive

Early in 2020, before lockdown, I was visited by Paul and Robin to pick my brains before they took the plunge with their Morbic. Their resulting build is well described in Issue 144 of Watercraft Magazine, and they put it together in surprisingly quick time (well quick by my standards!).

Paul was in contact again, and told me he was hatching a cunning plan for a Morbic meet-up, and would I be interested. You bet! After some email ping-pong, the venue was chosen to be Cobnor Activities Centre, where Mike and Sarah are active sailors with Swefn. This was the ‘other’ Chichester Morbic 12 which had been rumoured by Adrian Donovan when I first met him at the boat show. I’ve never sailed from Cobnor, despite having taken the round-peninsula walk many times. With launching at any tide state, it’s an excellent starting point, if a little exclusive.

The inaugural Morbic Massive kitted up and ready to launch! Proteus, Swefn and Boudicca

Mid-October is starting to get a bit brave, but there was a spring tide and a fresh southwesterly awaiting, so a trip up to Chichester Yacht Club was agreed. We would be joined by an intriguing 1/2 length model of a Tancook Whaler, with schooner rig and clipper bow, called Lapwing. Would be nice to get hold of the plans for that.

After some admiring each other’s handiwork it was time to kit up and launch. Mike opted for a single reef down, and social distancing meant that Proteus would be going as Three Men in a Boat, with full sail. As I still haven’t reeved my reef points on Boudicca, full sail it was.

We needn’t have worried, the rising tide sluiced us up the Itchenor channel in no time, and before long, we were all moored alongside the new pontoon at CYC.

Lapwing, Swefn, Boudicca and Proteus tied up alongside CYC pontoon

Social distancing was to the fore at CYC, so we sat outside in the sun, and ordered from the menu. The fish and chips is to be recommended!

But today was not about eating, today was about sailing, so we set off with a following wind and ebb, with cameras at the ready. I had a huge advantage being one-up and a full sail, but we managed to get lined up for a few shots

Leaving CYC for the return trip

Proteus was well laden with three lunches, but with the wind up her skirts, she looked very impressive!

We all got back in no time, and all in all, it was a very successful first meet of Morbics, and it was a pleasure meeting all involved. Paul is already working on plans for a repeat next year, with the hope we can track down the other boats out there. Alec Jordan has apparently sold 11 kits in the UK, so there must be 8 or 9 others somewhere.

Maybe we should also invite the Bosham International 12s – that would be fun!

Here’s looking forward to the next Morbic Massive Meet!

One last gratuitous photo of Boudicca…..

Photo acknowledgements and copyright to Paul, Robin, Tom and Graham

OK, let’s try again

The next attempt at getting to East Head followed the same pattern – launch at Itchenor (don’t forget the face mask if you want to pay the dues in the harbour office – doh!)

This time, a northerly wind was forecast, swinging round to a SW breeze. By the time we got there, it was already filling in from the south-west, but in fits and starts.

While trying to reach the pontoon to pick up Signora, the beautiful Colchester smack Primrose passed by, on passage from Overy Staithe in Norfolk. I had a quick chat with those on board, and they recognised Boudicca as a Vivier design! Small world but I guess these old gaffers move in the same circles. It was good to see a smack from my neck of the woods.

It didn’t take us long to reach East Head this time, and it was absolutely beautiful. Many yachts were moored off the beach, and quite a few tenders had been dragged up. Someone had even set up a table and chairs for 6-8 people, who were woofing down their lunch with wine flowing. We left Boudicca to rest at the water’s edge, and settled down for lunch. What a glorious day!

The office tracked me down on the phone, but I sent them this photograph to say I couldn’t take their call right now.

Boudicca takes a well-earned rest

By the time we had finished our lunch, the wind had dropped to nothing, so it was time to think about getting back before the tide started to ebb. Time to break out the oars, and we set off, occasionally sailing when a zephyr appeared, but it was going to be a bit of a slog.

We got about half-way, when a huge Beneteau passed by and asked if we fancied a tow. They had seen us leave the beach and wondered how far we would get under oar.

The tow was gratefully accepted (thanks to Naivasha & crew), and as we approached Itchenor, a light breeze appeared, and we made the rest of the way under sail.

A lovely day, but note to self – maybe investigate buying an electric outboard motor for future use!

The first trek to East Head

One of the things that attracted me to Chichester Harbour was being able to explore the various inlets and beaches of which there are many. There’s Emsworth, Hayling, Nutbourne, Itchenor, Dell Quay, Bosham, Cobnor and the list goes on. But East Head on the east side of the entrance to the harbour is a lovely place – beautiful sandy beach, with dunes and wild birds (feathered and others) – normally only reachable by road, and then through a rather expensive toll. We go there off season, and it’s one of our walks on Christmas or New Year’s day. Bleak and chilly, but bracing.

The problem with East Head is that to reach it from Dell Quay, you have to launch, say, an hour after high water, and go down with the tide. The return has to be made with the flood, and in order to have enough tide for recovery, the day will be around 9-10 hours long, which is a real commitment. It also limits the morning tide times you can use, typically 0800.

It’s more convenient to use the launching at Itchenor, which can be done at all states of the tide. But the downside is that it costs 5 quid a time, and you also have to find paid parking, which in season, is always full.

Anyway, we decided to give it a go, and Signora came along for the ride. With a picnic loaded, we set off into a stiff breeze, beating across the channel against the strong spring tide. The channel was very busy with XODs and other keelboats beating out to their start lines, and it was gratifying to see one or two go aground on the mudflats.

It was quite tough going, and after an hour, we were barely up to Thorney channel, with yet another long tack to reach East Head. We could probably have done with a reef down, but I haven’t got round to rigging the reef points yet. We cut our losses (Signora was a little damp from spray!) and stopped at Pilsey Island instead, the other side of the harbour, where we sat on the beach with lunch, watching the dinghies and keelboats racing all around. There were a lot of boats out that day!

It’s a lovely spot, and we made a mental note to do one of the walks in that area in the future.

On the way back (which only took 20 minutes with the wind astern), I noticed the helm was a little wobbly, and resolved to check things when we got back. On inspection, I found that the rudder stock had split, allowing the blade to rock around quite loosely – not good for directional stability.

I was never particularly keen with the design of the stock and this confirmed it. The idea is that you can disassemble it for maintenance (which is nice) but the compromise is the strength, which I don’t think is enough.

After a good wash in fresh water and drying out, I fixed the problem by adding a bolt through the pivot as well as replacing two of the screws with bolts. If I were to make another stock, I would build it permanently – sod the maintenance, but I think my modification will see me out. Highly recommended from square one!

East Head would have to wait for another day…

A bit of racing!

Over the first few days after the opening of the harbour, I’ve been out many times, once with Signora, including a trip down to Bosham again. So much for social distancing there! The green at Bosham was heaving with picnickers, and I don’t think any were over 2 metres apart! Ah well.

One of the more recent sails was a test to see how long it would take to get to East Head. We’ve had a few Easterlies recently, which makes it easy to get down harbour in good time, but results in a windward slog on the way back.

Blowing a 2-3, it took only an hour to get within spitting distance of East Head, and on the way, I picked up some company from an International 12 creeping out of Bosham.

In principle, the Morbic 12 conforms to the Int 12 design, so this would be a good test, although their sail does seem to be quite a bit larger, and they use a stayed mast. However, I was pretty sure that would be offset by their greater weight, as they are built from solid wood planks

Boudicca acquitted herself very well, showing him a clean pair of heels downwind on the way to East Head. This was on a close reach – not exactly planing, but a good turn of speed. My competitor peeled off to sail up Thorney channel, so I continued to East Head, where about 25 yachts were anchored up and many people on the beach.

I was starting to worry about how long it would take me to get back to Dell Quay, so rather than landing, I turned for the long beat back.

The 12 reappeared and joined me on the sail back to Deep End, and once again, Boudicca had the better of it. In fact, I think the 12er was a bit miffed by her performance. A quick wave of acknowledgement and he was away up the Bosham channel.

I continued to beat up past Itchenor, and Boudicca really is a delight to sail – very well balanced, and you quickly learn how to tack with minimal loss of way. Take it slowly, let off the sail a bit and accelerate out of the tack before the centreboard stall, and then bring the sheet back in.

Against the falling tide, I had to hug the shore, but as we rounded the point opposite Birdham, I could crack off the sheet, and relax. I got back from East Head in 90 minutes. Good reference for future trips!

Escape from Lockdown

Chichester Harbour has been completely locked down since March, so we’ve had to take to the bikes to get around and social distancing has been the rule.

In May, it was announced that boating could resume, even though sailing clubs could not open, which ruled out any sailing at Shoreham for the foreseeable future.

The irony has been that the weather has been almost tropical, with incredibly blue skies and clear air. I wonder if it’s related to lack of traffic and no vapour trails in the sky? Well duh! (as my daughter used to say)

On 21st May, the time had come to get Boudicca back on the water, and with the help of a spring tide and perfect weather, it was irresistible.

A quick trip down to Bosham and back was easily achieved as the wind freshened, and we got back before the tide disappeared. The sad thing is that the Crown & Anhor is closed, so refreshment had to wait until I got home!

One of the nice things about Boudicca is that I get at least one compliment each time she goes on the water. She’s a good looking little boat, and appreciated by other sailors. I have had to explain what she is and who designed her several times.

A lovely day on the water

I suppose the first official sail was when Signora and I went down to Dell Quay for our first sail together. A glorious day, without too much wind, so we hooked up Boudicca to the Panda and set off. It’s only around 4 miles by road, and if you time it right, the parking is not too bad.

It can be a bit tricky launching a sailing dinghy at the quay, as, depending on the wind direction, the wind shadow of the sheds plays havoc. As Signora was going to be on board, I opted for a quick row to the pontoon, before hoisting, and letting the crew on board

The oars which Bill bequeathed me are a bit short for the aft rowing position, but at least they stay out of the way when stowed. I think I will revisit making a proper sized pair of oars at a later date

Our first voyage together went without incident, with a quick trip down to Itchenor, and the crew enjoyed it immensely. Good decision!