Posts Tagged ‘aft cabin’


Homemade helm seat

June 19, 2017

The cockpit on our Macwester Malin is deep compared to most centre cockpit yachts that we’ve seen, and as a result when you need to keep a close eye on things there’s really no substitute for standing behind the wheel.

On longer journeys we either stand, or sit on the raised, padded cockpit cushions. Having made good use of the helm seat on Ragdoll during our Irish Sea trip (here) earlier in the season, I decided that it was time for us to have a third option, and so set about making a helm seat from leftover material that I had stored away. As you can see from the photograph above, I didn’t have any suitable hardwood for the seat top and given that the seat is detachable, I used softwood instead. If that becomes a problem, then I can always make V2 from hardwood.

I didn’t faff around with anything too complicated. I just took some measurements and then cut, shaped, and joined pieces of wood until they were robustly constructed, finally fine-tuning the aggregated item to be a snug fit over the lower washboard from our aft cabin. I purchased some waterproof-backed canvas-like material for about £7.00 from eBay, and my step-daughter crafted a simple cover for the leftover foam that I previously cut to shape with a sharp Stanley knife. I used velcro to attach the cushion to the wooden base. Total spend less than £10.

The finished helm seat doesn’t look entirely out-of-place. Yes it’s fair to say that the new navy blue cover isn’t a precise match for the existing blue canvas wheel cover, but the wood staining and varnishing isn’t too far away.

I tested the new seat over the weekend and it worked well, with no movement in any direction whatsoever. So I’m pleased with the fit, even if the finish could be a little better.


Crane-out 2016

October 20, 2016


Day one of crane-out was wet, windy and cold. Most of my wet weather gear was onboard, so I had to cobble together an eclectic array of clothing that should have kept me substantially dry.

Like many others, I still got thoroughly soaked.


By mid-morning I felt something snap on my right hand. My finger didn’t feel broken so I carried on, stopping to check my limp finger tip every now and then. Eventually, I accepted that something wasn’t quite right and went in search of a second opinion. The second opinion I found suggested that I needed to pop over to A&E, and following an X-Ray the diagnosis was something called ‘Mallet Finger’, which means that my tendon had snapped. Treatment was a small finger splint to be worn 24/7 until the end of the year, and then a further month wearing the splint at night. Zang!


My injury did nothing to prevent the unrelenting approach of the season’s low point.

When the tide arrived the following day, we brought our Macwester Malin over to the harbour ready for crane-out. We had a short 15 minute wait before the dreaded event was upon us.


The wind had dropped, and the lift went reasonably well. I say ‘reasonably’, because there was some contact between the crane lifting gear, and some delicate equipment at the top of our main mast. At this stage I’m not sure if any remedial action is required.


Moments later our twin-keel yacht was heading for what will become her home for the next six months. This year we have a slightly different spot, roughly twenty feet away from last year, on more even ground.


Once our Macwester Malin was safely deposited on her wooden blocks, we stowed some items and checked that everything was present and correct before turning our attention to other outstanding tasks. Above; muddy antifoul paint power-washed a few days after crane-out – it’s a task that’s easier before the mud and paint dry out.


One of the traditions the crew and I have is rowing our dinghy over to the club one last time, however that was going to be more complicated than normal given the damage to my finger. Hoping to avoid being labelled a finger-malingerer, I was keen to row the tender round as usual …but I was overruled. Instead the club boat did the job for us in a matter of moments.


As crane-out weekend drew to a close, just prior to heading up to the club patio for a consolation beer, I noticed the view through our sprayhood from our new spot on the hard-standing. In that instance, I knew that it wouldn’t be long until I find myself staring out at that view, gently rocking back and forwards on the balls of my feet.

The long wait for crane-in 2017 begins.


Winterisation 2015

October 27, 2015

Wash me

As I have a large upgrade planned over the coming closed season, I decided to get all of the winterisation tasks completed within a week of our Macwester Malin being craned-out. Thanks to my chum Sandy for the hand-written reminder of my first job (above).

Macwester Malin hull cleaned

As usual, one of the first tasks was to pressure-wash the hull to remove the season’s accumulated grime and fouling, as tackling that job after it all dries out and hardens would take much longer than a half-day hose-down.

Mooring tools

A couple of days later I picked a mild, dry autumn day to remove the mooring tackle. This year I made sure that I had a full set of suitable tools, including a new 24 inch monkey wrench. That alone made a huge difference.

Misty Ghauts at low tide

There have been times when it’s taken me more than one session down in the putty, however with the right tools none of the shackles took more than a few minutes to loosen off. Above: view to the Ghauts with the east coast haar threatening to engulf our mooring.

Hippo buoy and strops

Fortunately the sun kept the haar at bay, and I managed to get our Hippo bouy and the rest of the tackle loaded into a wheel barrow without much drama, although I certainly needed a shower afterwards.

Vandalised dinghy

After the mooring tackle was power-washed and stored for the winter, a day or two later my attention turned to getting our dinghy off it’s mooring. Unfortunately some dim-witted twit (I may have erroneously typed in an extra ‘w’ there) had vandalised the dinghy in the intervening days. There was a bottle and bits of wood in her, and damage to the seat at the stern. Nothing that can’t be fixed, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Dingy parked

This year we parked the dinghy under the bow of our Macwester Malin, and I had to tie the dinghy bow to an old sinker to make sure that the dinghy doesn’t get blown away during the winter storms.

Engine exhaust

As usual, I swapped out the impeller, ran fresh water through the engine using a make-shift reservoir, and then followed that up by running anti-freeze through the system for the winter. Popping a small rag into the exhaust signalled the end of my winterisation tasks. If you want further details, there are links to previous winterisation posts on the right hand side of this page including this one (click here).

Which leaves me the next five months to work on further maintenance and upgrades. Yay!


Scottish Boat Show reflections [subtitle: a rambling monologue]

October 14, 2015

Scottish Boatshow wideshot

We made it along to the 2015 Scottish Boat Show despite being too busy to be there. As usual there was a gauntlet of luxury cars to push past, including all types of Astons and Rollers, before reaching the yachts. Nonetheless we didn’t break a stride on our way to the pontoons; we were on a tight schedule as we were planning to be in Largs for lunch.

Jetski stunt show

Having looked at a couple of 45ft Beneteaus (should the plural of Beneteau be Beneteaux?) and the new Hanse range of yachts on show, we decided to view a used centre-cockpit Moody 346, and were impressed with not just her condition but the addition of a bow thruster. Following that, we looked at another couple of similar sized yachts (a Westerly Seahawk and a Hunter Legend 36), but neither compared well with the Moody.

Of course, the danger is that you attend a boat show casually viewing a couple of boats and before you know it you’ve signed a contract and have a for sale sign hanging up on your pulpit. Talking of which, we spotted ‘Freebird’ a Colvic Atlanta ketch which was for sale at the show at £25,000 (she sold before we arrived). We know the owner and the boat, which is pictured below alongside our Macwester Malin at Port Edgar back in May 2013. More here.

Macwester Malin, Colvic Atlanta, Colvic Watson

We paused, and decided to view a Moody 28 for comparison as neither of us were sure we wanted a bigger boat than we already have. After no more than two or three seconds inside the 28, we realised that internal space is important to us. It was diminutive – easily half the space that we’re used to on-board our Macwester Malin.

While the Moody 346 at Inverkip was in good condition, unfortunately it was the fin-keel version and that didn’t go in its favour (against our requirements). Aft cabins that are in reality cupboards hidden under the cockpit aren’t to our taste; we much prefer proper aft cabins. Having ruled-out any move away from the centre cockpit and aft cabin format, we then considered the options for centre cockpit boats in the 30-40ft range with bilge keels. Westerly produced quite a few twin-keel centre cockpit models over the years, but having seen examples of most of them including some at this year’s boat show, we prefer the Moody offerings which started with the 346 and grew over time through the 35 to the 36. There was also the 376 which I understand was effectively a stretched 346 with an en-suite in the aft cabin, whereas the 35 and 36 both have a Jack & Jill heads that serve the aft cabin. Oh and there’s a more modern 34 centre cockpit somewhere in there too.

Nardini icecream Largs

We left Inverkip and headed down to Largs for a bite to eat followed by a visit to Largs Yacht Haven, where there was another Moody 346. It wasn’t as good an example as the one at Inverkip. At Largs and later at James Watt Docks, we also viewed another Westerly Seahawk and more variations of the Moody centre cockpit including a 35, and 36 and a 376.

Objectively, it seems to us that the centre cockpit Moodys mentioned above are more modern looking, better made, and should sail better than our Macwester Malin. So we should sell our Macwester Malin and buy one right?

Not quite. Our Macwester Malin has had epoxy treatment to the hull, it has a replacement engine, a bow thruster, a well-made cockpit tent, stainless steel shoes, etc, etc. While I’m no broker, if you could find a Moody 346 with a replacement engine, bow thruster, and high-quality cockpit tent then the asking price would likely be approaching £50k. That could be nearer £60k for a Moody 35, and £80k for a Moody 36.


As the crew and I talked things through, the next logical step in the process was to value our Macwester Malin. That’s a mixture of objectivity and subjectivity. Objectively, as mentioned above, our Malin has a replacement engine, bow thruster, a well-made cockpit tent, stainless steel shoes, etc, etc. Subjectively, having seen loads of examples of centre cockpit makes and models, we think she’s worth more than the wider market might see her at (as you might expect).

She’s certainly the best example of a 32ft Macwester that we’ve seen over the years. That’s not to say she’s perfect, because she’s not; older yachts are always a work-in-progress. We have invested in our Macwester Malin year on year, and most comparable examples just haven’t had the same investment. We have seen quite a few Macwester Wights and Malins advertised north of the £30,000 mark (here, herehere, and here), so for argument’s sake, lets say we managed to realise £30,000. If we then want to buy a similarly specced Moody 346 to replace our Macwester Malin, we’re going to have to splash out an additional £20,000. That’s approaching double the money.

As the trees in our back yard grow leaves rather than tenners, the question that then springs to my mind is why? Is a Moody 346 going to mean that we can achieve more during the season? Is the 346 going to provide us with more berths? Is the additional two and a half feet in length going to provide a major increase in space? Are we going to sleep better knowing we have a more modern-looking yacht cocooning us?

Small fish

The answer to those questions (for us) is no.

Getting back to the theoretical sale price of £30,000 for our Macwester Malin, many would argue that’s too expensive for a 32ft Macwester. They are of course entitled to their opinion, however we don’t agree. We don’t agree because if we sold our Macwester Malin for £30,000, and then tried to replace it with another 30ft plus centre cockpit with a proper aft cabin we wouldn’t be able to find anything that meets our requirements (which at the very least would be matching the boat that we already own) without spending more than the £30,000 we have just hypothetically received for our Malin. We’ve looked. We’ve compared. We haven’t found anything that comes close. Sure you can probably pick up a tired Westerly Seahawk or similar, but over time the bills will mount up as you have to replace the engine along with other key components, and before you know it you’ve not bought cheaply …you’ve done precisely the opposite.

Where does that leave us then? Exactly where we were before we visited this year’s boat show, with the exception that we now realise that; should we consider changing our yacht, the first question we need to ask ourselves is …why? What are we going to achieve? How will any new yacht improve our experience, and what will the additional cost be to achieve that improvement?

If the answer to those questions is something like …half a knot, half a metre, and an additional sink, then it doesn’t make sense to sell our Macwester Malin and fork-out an additional £20,000 in my book.


No sleeps til crane-in

April 20, 2015


Although at some points during the depths of winter it felt as though the day would never come, the countdown to the new season finally ended on Saturday. All of our pre-season checks and processes went smoothly, including running the engine on the hard-standing, checking the seacocks, antifouling the hull etc …and before long our Macwester Malin was ready to get her hull wet.

Re-installing the mooring tackle is always an energy-sapping task which I always leave until the very last minute, as the longer the strops are submerged in the mud, the grubbier they become. This year’s installation was made easier by a mild spring day. With favourable weather just at the right time we also managed to get the sails, anchor, and cockpit tent fitted without any problems.


As the big day approached, we were rather childishly counting the sleeps until the start of the new season. The weather forecast was exceptionally good, and we had sunshine with very little wind forecast for the day our Macwester Malin was lifted back in. With over sixty yachts to lift, crane-in takes place over two days; our slot was just after lunch on the first day, and we were lifted straight into the water, unlike earlier yachts that were craned-in before the tide came in.

Macwester Malin crane-in

Thankfully there were no problems with the lift and we were soon in the water and on our way to our mooring. We noticed straight away that our temperamental depth and speed log wasn’t working properly. This is an issue that has been a real pain. We’ve replaced the depth log, and had the elderly display unit back to the manufacturer for repair two or three times over the last two or three seasons, so I decided there and then that it was time to replace the display unit.


Unfortunately we had to sail around in circles for about twenty minutes on reaching our destination, as the stern of the yacht that’s moored next to us was (for some unknown reason) parked precisely where we were headed. Eventually, the coast was clear and we headed in to pick up our mooring. This proved problematic as the link line that runs from our front strop to the rear strops was wrapped around our Hippo buoy. We subsequently were told that the yacht next to us had unintentionally picked up our mooring, so this could have been the cause.

Macwester Malin ketch

Fortunately a couple of friends were close to hand in a dinghy and they helped us rectify the issue without too much of a drama. Once our Macwester Malin was securely moored, we performed all of our usual checks and then set off back to the club to help craning-in the rest of the yachts.


A couple of days later we nipped over to our yacht on two wonderful spring nights for dinner and an hour or two organising things on board. We unfurled our brand new red ensign which we decided should replace the Dutch flag we’ve flown ever since we bought our yacht over in the Netherlands in 2011. For more info see here.

To sign off this post, I want to share the panoramic wide shot that I took (our Macwester Malin looking aft on the left and bow on the right) below in an attempt to capture the latent promise of the coming season. Click for a closer look.



Scottish Boat Show 2014

October 13, 2014


As usual we made the trip over to the west coast of Scotland to Inverkip for the Scottish Boat Show. The event seems to be growing, and that obviously translates into congestion in one form or another.

We made our way through various sports cars including a gaudy green McLaren 650S. I like McLarens, and I’ve even been to the deeply impressive McLaren Technology Centre, but to my eyes you might as well have stapled together a thousand wart-covered toad skins, and hastily sellotaped those to the McLaren’s bodywork.

It was just too …green.


We looked at a couple of yachts, but there was nothing that stood out on the list of boats available to view at this year’s show. When I say nothing, obviously there were plenty of £250,000+ dream boats, but we’re typically interested in looking at yachts around the 30-35ft with a five-figure price ticket. After a bite to eat and a couple of minutes watching the flyboarding, we popped on board Old Pulteney (see below). It was interesting to see the cramped and spartan conditions below the decks, and with a brief glance at each other we unanimously agreed that racing a 70ft Clipper around the world wasn’t for us.

Old Pulteney clipper 70

A couple of hours after arriving at the show we decided that we had endured enough of the crowds and we nipped over to James Watt Dock Marina, where we looked at a couple of yachts for sale including a nice centre cockpit Moody 35. It was good to see a proper aft cabin like the one in our Macwester Malin, rather than a padded storage hidey-hole under the cockpit.

Later we met up with old friends and had dinner in Glasgow’s west end.

sun setting in west from dinghy

The following day we headed to our club to start the post-season chores. We got our mooring tackle up from the mud, power-washed it, and put it into storage. Next we took the sails off, checking for damage. There’s a small tear about the size of a five pence coin on the genoa, so that’s something we’re going to have to get fixed. Finally, as the sun was beating a retreat over to the west, we brought our tender round from our mooring and lifted her out for winter storage. We were in no hurry whatsoever, as it was warm and the river was calm (see above & below).

Dinghy nears destination

Of the two days we achieved more on day two, and although we were tired after completing our chores, I reckon that we both had a better time on the Sunday too.

While the boat show offers an alternative day out for the masses, I’m not convinced that the crowds, the helicopter rides, and the burger stalls actually equate to an enhanced boat-focussed experience.

So that begs the question; will we go next year?

A …probably.


May the Forth be with you

May 4, 2014

Forth Bridge

We managed to hit the waves for the first three weekends in a row, which must be some sort of personal best record for the start of the season. This time we made it past all two and a half of the Forth bridges and on to Aberdour (shown in the circle below, from on-board in Mortimer’s Deep). We were heading straight into an easterly, and as it was getting late in the day our sails stayed under wraps.

Approaching Aberdour from Mortimers Deep

Getting there was good fun, but the temperature noticeably dropped from six through to our arrival at seven on Friday night. The highlight of the journey was spotting our first puffin of 2014. As usual with puffins, it scampered beneath the waves before my camera powered up.

Aberdour Breakfast view

We spent a couple of nights alongside in Aberdour’s cosy harbour, where we were the first visiting yacht of the new season (according to the ABC visitor book at least). We caught up with our Aberdour-based friends and went for walks around the village and along the coast. It was more relaxing than exciting.

Macwester Malin Aberdour

Reluctantly we decided to head back to our mooring on the Sunday, as we had a few things that we wanted to achieve and we wouldn’t achieve them relaxing in Aberdour. Of course, by then the wind had veered round to the west (right on our bow) and we took the lazy/quick option of motoring back home.

Leaving Aberdour harbour

Although there had been some rain on Sunday, the weather was more settled again on the bank holiday Monday, and we ticked-off a few more items on our to-do list. It was a good weekend that was over all too soon.

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