Buying Bigger

We bought Elektra in November 2016

This is our new adventure having owned and sailed a Hurley 22 over 5000nm during the last eleven seasons, my wife Vicki and I (Bruce) decided to look for a bigger yacht back in August 2016 having spent a nice evening on a Sadler 34.

Then we began the search for our new yacht soon after, we put our H22 on the market in September. We looked at Hurley 27s first before moving on to Hurley 30s but it soon became clear we were not going to find a good one. we liked the size of the H30 but we needed to be able to over winter any yacht we bought up a creek. So in the end we searched the internet looking for bilge keel Westerly Konsort,s  and Sadler 29s. We looked at lots but it was when we got to Poole to see a S29 we knew we had found her, I made a silly low offer subject to survey thinking it might take all the winter to come to an agreement on price but to our suprise the offer was excepted three days later.

After three months of free storage ashore was offered by the broker we decided to leave Elektra in Poole and do the delivery passage in March have got all the winter jobs plus new standing rigging done before she goes in the water.

It was a five hour drive one way to Cobbs Quay in Poole from our home in Cornwall, we looked at Elektra in October and made an offer subject to survey, we visited her again in November for a week after the paperwork and payment had been made to arrange jobs. Again between Christmas and New Year for three days and again in February for final jobs and launch. For our last visit we hired a car one way picking up Bryan our friend and delivery skipper from Plymouth on the way in March 2017. In some ways it would have been far easier to have done the delivery passage at the end of 2016 but while she was in Cobbs Quay, Poole we had new standing rigging, new cabin heater and got Elektra ready for the passage home.

On the way to the sea

Holiday no 2

With more free time and good weather forecasted, we could have another week away, this time a little further away. The plan had been to sail to Fowey and from Fowey to Salcombe but the forecast was showing strong northerlies for Monday, where we normally anchor in Salcombe would be exposed to northerly wind, safe enough but we wouldn’t be able to get off Elektra safely.

So on Saturday 13th of May we sailed for Fowey, the tide was with us between 1000hrs and 1600hrs but by the time we were ready to leave it was already 1300hrs. Anyway we sailed out off Gillan under full sail with a forecast of NW force3-4. We were wondering why the wind seemed more like SE force3-4! Away still OK. We sailed on for 2hrs before the wind started to die off by which time we had logged 10.5nm. We had to start the engine before getting as far as the Dodman Point which we passed at 1600hrs. Having to continue to motor the rest of the way to Fowey, we picked up a mooring at 1730hrs having logged 24nm.

With the promised forecast, we decided to go to the Yealm River instead of Salcombe for a day and then on to Salcombe later. There wasn’t any need to get away early as the tide was with us between 1130hrs and 1730hrs. We dropped the mooring at 1100hrs and motored out of Fowey The forecast was again NW3-4. The wind started NW3 then NW2-3 then SE2-3 then Westerly 4-5, all of which made for difficult sailing. We sailed some, motorsailed some, motored some. Then later when the wind picked up from the west, l pulled down the main so we could go faster on just the genoa. We moored Elektra to the lower pontoon and 1615hrs having logged 24nm. We were very much alone as you can see from photo, not that we were worried but the harbour master seemed to be very worried that the season had started slowly.

Once there and settle, Vicki said “can we stay a few days, we can do Salcombe another time”. I was quite happy to do so, l have always liked the Yealm River, we had visited there almost every year from 2006 when we started cruising until 2018. In 2019 we went to the Avon River instead and then with the pandemic this was our first visit since 2018. So a few days holiday in the Yealm River followed. Lunch at the Ship Inn the following day after showers, a trip up to the top reaches of the Yealm River the following day. And a little shopping and a pint at another pub, you know holiday things 😀.

On Wednesday morning we left the Yealm River and headed over to Cawsands to anchor. Vicki cooked breakfast, sitting eating, it seemed Cawsands wasn’t as sheltered as we expected, so we decided to move on to our next destination earlier than planned.


Just after 1400hrs we left Cawsands for Polperro about 15nm to the west. With little or no wind we motored and motorsailed westward picking up a mooring in Polperro 3hrs later. We had visited Polperro before, around 2014, always said we would go back, but it had taken us longer than we thought. In Polperro you don’t want any Southerly swells, but good shelter we thought from the north. We were disappointed to find with strong northerly wind funnels down the valley, although safe was very blustery.

Polperro outer harbour
Polperro inner harbour

After 2 nights at Polperro we motored Elektra along the coast to Lantic Cove and and anchored, about 4nm to the west. This cove we had often looked at in passing by but never used. Having paid out money for moorings every night l was looking for a free night at anchor.

Looking east
Looking west
Looking north

After dropping anchor, we wondered why hadn’t we ever anchored here before, it was a lovely spot. We were alone but not for long, by nightfall three other yachts had joined us in Lantic Cove. One of which was our friends Robert and Mandy, later they came over for a drink and a chat.

In the morning Robert and Mandy motored off to Fowey to a yacht rally. We would be heading back to Gillan but the tide wasn’t with us until 1040hrs so we weren’t in any hurry. The forecast said NE3-4 which would have been nice. At 1100hrs l lifted and stowed the anchor and we sailed off towards the Dodman Point, the wind seemed more like southeast and very little of it after 3/4hr we had logged 2nm so we started the engine. We tried sailing again a few more times during the passage but always started the motor again. We picked up our mooring in Gillan at 1520hrs having logged 24nm. That brought to an end our 2nd sailing holiday, l say sailing but l think we motored most of it! Still a nice holiday.

Homeward bound

On Thursday afternoon the wind changed to southwest, we were no longer in good shelter so we decided to move at high water southwest back down the Precuil River to Place Manor, only 1/2 a mile away to re-anchor in much better shelter. Close enough now we could see St Mawes Harbour was very lumpy. Here anchored at Place, Elektra would dry completely 3hrs either side of low water. Our plan had changed to motoring back to Gillan Friday morning and get ashore before the tide went out completely.

Old photo of Elektra anchored at Place

After a very pleasant night at anchor on Friday morning after high water but before Elektra dried out at 0900hrs. I pulled up her anchor and Vicki motored Elektra out into St Mawes Harbour while l cleaned her anchor and fore deck. Then going back to the cockpit l took over the helm and set coarse for Gillan. It was a little lumpy in the entrance to the Carrick Roads with wind against tide but once out into Falmouth Bay it easied a lot. The easterly swells had completely gone, only a short southerly swell with the head wind remained. We could of sailed if we had left earlier but we needed to get Elektra onto her mooring and in via dinghy to St Anthony beach before 1000hrs, so no time to waist.

We made it in the nick of time, only having to pull the outboard out of the water a little on low revs just before the beach. Then it was home for breakfast.

Day 4 we thought would be good sailing

With the promise of northwesterly force 3-4 we thought it would be good for sailing but the wind was lighter than forecasted. We didn’t leave until afternoon and sailed slowly south down the Carrick Roads and eventually out into Falmouth Bay where we thought there maybe more wind, but not much change. So we turned around and sailed for St Mawes and then motored up the Precuil River. Dropping anchor close in to the cliff due to strong east winds forecast for Tuesday evening to Thursday morning.

Precuil River, the tree sided bank offers good shelter from easterlys

On Tuesday we went by dinghy to St Mawes Sailing Club for Showers and then on to St Mawes for lunch, shopping and ice cream. Then it was back aboard Elektra and hunker down for the easterly blow until Thursday.

At anchor that evening, the forecast for the rest of the week and weekend changed dramatically,  strong winds and rain to follow the easterly blow. The plan now was to get home as soon as possible after the easterly has passed on Thursday afternoon, we had a commitment which we were trying to get out of if we could. Elektra wouldn’t float until after 1330hrs, one of the joys of what is known as “ditch crawling” on the sailing game. But ditch crawling has a lot of advantages, now as l write this Wednesday afternoon, it’s  blowing force 6 gusting 7 from the east, we can hear the wind but we aren’t affected as we have great shelter in the shallows under a steep tree lined bank. Thursday afternoon was looking like a motor home (l know only 4nm of open water) but into a force 4 gusting 6 with a big underlying easterly swells, l wasn’t looking forward to it one bit!

Shake down cruise

Having semi retired from January this year, the plan had always been to use Elektra more. I have often heard from others in the past who had retired, l don’t know where l had the time to work. I must say it’s a very apt comment. I had been working hard to get Elektra ready for this season, not working less, just not working for money. Elektra had been launched earlier in April, then there was the riggers work. Also March and April had very poor weather and although only doing half of the grass cutting of other years, it took all the dry days available. Heading towards the end of April with the first week of May looking clear, l suggested to Vicki a week aboard, a shake down cruise to find out what else we needed. Vicki liked the idea, so it was arranged.

I had finished my grass cutting by the end of Wednesday as the forecast was giving strong winds and heavy rain for Thursday. I used Thursday to pick up my repaired outboard from Penryn and GRP products from St Day, for once the forecasters had got it right, with the drive to Penryn in heavy rain, from there the rain eased but there was a lot of flooding. It continued to rain the rest of the day, l would have tried the motor out but didn’t fancy going out in the rain.

Next day l was out early and took the motor along with some bags of stores, some cushions and the cockpit enclosure to St Anthony. First l changed the spare motor for the repaired outboard, then launched the dinghy. Took it out for a spin, just to make sure all was OK. The motor started 2nd pull and ran smoothly out and around St Anthony, l returned to the beach and loaded the bags of stores etc and then set off out to Elektra. Loaded them all onto Elektra and climbed aboard, unlocked and placed all in the cabin for stowing later. Then it was back in the dinghy to the pontoon and home for a coffee. Next l had groceries to pick up and pasties for lunch. Once back home it was loading more bags of stores into pick up and checking we had everything. We had lunch before leaving again for St Anthony, then in was carrying the stores from pick up to pontoon and from pontoon aboard the dinghy. Motoring slowly very heavy with stores out to Elektra, Vicki climbed aboard and l past up the stores to Vicki, once done  l climbed aboard to help with stowing. This stowing took a long time and l also lifted the motor off the dinghy onto Elektra’s pushpit and the dinghy onto it’s davits, by which time it was after 1500hrs.

Elektra on her swing mooring

It was 1555hrs before l pulled up the mainsail and cast off the swing mooring, Vicki took Elektra to sea while unfurled the genoa and set sails, Elektra was logging 2-3kts and with a little more adjustment from me she picked up to 3-4 kts until we got out into Falmouth Bay where the wind disappeared. So l started the engine and we motored towards Pendennis Point. Approaching Pendennis Point the wind filled in again, a Northwesterly force 3-4 and we were sailing again. We tacked North up the Carrick Roads until just south of Turnaware Buoy before starting the engine again and cabin heater, we motored into Channels Creek and dropped anchor at 1830hrs having logged 10nm.

Anchored in Channels Creek

That evening after the jobs were done, l fell fast asleep in the cosy cabin and it was dark when l woke. Vicki was playing a game on her ipad, l pulled the curtains and switched on the light and poured a rum for us both. That night l slept very well.

Shake down days 2 and 3

With almost no wind forecasted for the next 2 days we would be using as rest days. Sailing is only part of our enjoyment of cruising, we both like just living aboard and rest days are great. Vicki likes reading, sewing and playing games on ipad, l like reading sailing magazines, checking my phone emails and social media, rowing, walking and sleeping seems to happen more when aboard.

At anchor in Channels Creek

Normally l get out first and make a coffee for us both, then Vicki gets out and makes brunch, afterwards l wash up and Vicki drys, once the dishes have been put away the day is ours to do with as we want. Around 1830hrs Vicki puts on dinner and we eat at around 1930hrs. After dinner we normally play Supper Scrabble (twice the letters and bigger board) takes about 3hrs, we will listen to music and drink a bottle of red wine. We go to bed about 2300hrs. Some rest days are used for shopping and possibly a meal ashore, if we eat ashore we would only have cheese and biscuits in the evening.

Leaking window

We always had a a leaking window on the port side above the cooker, never enough to really worry about, a little puddle in a plate was about it. Over the winter the window had been leaking a little more but l had put in down to driving rain on that side. It was only the gales and heavy rain when Elektra was at the riggers that l really noticed how bad it had got. All the port side saloon cushions got very wet, something had to be done!

On Thursday last the weather was good to remove the window and investigate. My only problem was the tide would be out which meant carrying all the equipment, sealants and tools out across to Elektra on her gale proof mooring. The tide holds back and runs out slower than it does when coming in, which means wearing waders to walk through the stream.

I can park near enough but this involves carrying everything down over a steep bank to a 4ft stone retaining wall, down some rocks to the muddy creek banks, wade though the stream and then a 200 yard level walk out to Elektra over a mixture of gravel, sand and mud. With so much to carry l had to do 2 journeys.

Old photo of Elektra on her gale proof mooring

Once out to Elektra, l could start removing the screws around the window while standing on my telliscopic ladder, l must say that they came out easier than l expected and window was easily removed. The old mastic had gone brittle and was crazed in lots of places, no wonder it was leaking!

Old mastic after window had been removed

Then l cleaned both window rebate and window surround to remove old mastic. It was a lovely dry blowy day idea for the job, as l have learnt in the past, l didn’t want any damp areas before resealing back in. Finally sanding to key in the new sealant.

Then apply the new sealant and screw window back into place

A few days later after heavy rain, l went out to Elektra to see if my efforts had been successful. I was very pleased to find they had been, not a drop of water anywhere aboard.

First sailing of 2023

Saturday had been a lovely day on the water and when l got home l suggested a sail on Sunday to Vicki. But the next day wasn’t as nice and Vicki didn’t want to come. So l went alone, getting aboard at 1200hrs the weather forecast was for southerly force 3-4. Being alone and also as l was wanting to check stuff out, l just unfurled the genoa and set off in an easterly direction.

Better visibility forward

Elektra was logging between 3.5 – 4.5kts, she would have been a lot faster with the mainsail but l didn’t need to be going fast to check out the systems. The weather was misty, with visibility around 3 miles. The new 140% genoa was set nice and noticeably smaller than our old 150% sail, but l liked the cut proving better forward visibility. I continued to sail east for an hour before going about and heading back. I needed to get back to Gillan before 1530hrs so l could put Elektra on her gale proof mooring in Carne Creek.

The tiller pilot worked OK and the solar will run it even on this dull day.
The new solar frame gives the feeling of more space

I sailed right into Carr Crock buoy before starting the engine, rolled away the genoa and motored onto our swing mooring to pick up the dinghy. Then headed up river to Elektra’s gale proof mooring. With easterly force 5-6 forecasted from Tuesday to Friday Elektra will be much safer there. Also with work to do on her to get her into cruising ready mode, she would be in a calmer place for the work.

Launch and Riggers

Elektra’s relaunch date had been set for the 4th of April but on the 3rd the boss of the boat yard go in contact to say it was delayed by a day due to a problem with another boat which was now on their trailer. Most of the launch day was fine but rain started just before Elektra floated off the trailer and came down heavy as I was motoring her out to her swing mooring. I managed to hook the buoy first go and pulled the mooring strop aboard. Then the normal checks followed looking for leaks but hoping not to find any, all looked good and locked up and left in the dinghy back to shore.

The next day I had to work, but I planed to use Good Friday to clean some more and a few jobs aboard. This is what happened and on the evening tide I dropped her swing mooring and motored Elektra up river to her gale proof trot mooring in Carne Creek due to a forecast of east wind on Saturday (Elektra’s seasonal swing mooring is open to the full force on the English Channel when the wind is from the east). On Saturday I had to work again.

I had been in contact with Matt from “Allspars” of Penryn for work on Elektra’s mast before she had been launched. Matt had contacted me again earlier in the week to say they could have the mast craned on Tuesday 11th of April but had got back to me again just before the Easter holidays to say the weather wasn’t looking good for Tuesday and he would let me decide to come or not. As Easter holiday weekend passed I could see the only day which was possible was Sunday. I wasn’t able to contact Matt to ask if this was ok but decided to motor Elektra over anyway.

I contacted my sailing friend Robert who owns a Sadler 34 which is ashore in the boat yard next to “Allspars” to ask if he could take a photo of the fishing boat, so I knew what l was dealing with and would he be able to take my lines on arrival. Robert kindly took some photos and suggested it would be a good idea to look first.

So on Sunday early I moved Elektra from her gale proof mooring in Carne creek to her swing mooring in Gillan Harbour before returning home for breakfast. Then l drove the 16miles to Penryn in about 40mins to check out for myself, 2hrs had passed before l got home again. By which time l needed to get out to Elektra again to motor her the 7.5nm which would take 1.5hrs to Penryn. After mooring Elektra up to the fishing boat and setting some weights on the springs with the help of Robert, l could leave for home as Vicki was waiting to pick me up.

Matt contacted me early on Tuesday to say they had arranged mast lift for 0930hrs, l replied to say l was driving over and would be there around 0800hrs. When l arrived there wasn’t anywhere to park and an artic was waiting to load a yacht and needed to turn around first. Matt said they could do it all, so l handed over Elektra’s keys and left them to it.

I then drove down to the outboard repair shop and dropped off my outboard for punt which had developed a gearbox problem after only a few uses this season. I have a spare outboard but it hadn’t been started for 3.5 years, l didn’t know how good it was. I needn’t of worried as it started on the 3rd pull having been laid up properly after it’s last use.

Matt emailed later on Tuesday to say Elektra’s mast was down and they were getting on with the jobs. With updates over what can only be described as atrocious weather, heavy rain and gales. Matt then emailed me again on Thursday to say all was done and the mast was back on Elektra and she is ready to go. The jobs had been new top of mast sleeves, new steaming light, new dusk/dawn anchor light bulb, re-run topping lift, refit wind index, new back stay tensioner and wash under side of spreaders. On Saturday after another day of strong winds l motored Elektra back to her mooring in Gillan. There in the afternoon l bent on her new set of sails for the first time, Elektra was now ready to go sailing ⛵.

Ready to go sailing

Winter work 2

The 2nd hand water tank proved to have a leak when l filled it up for the first time, so in the end needed to be removed again. Which left me with a dilemma of finding a new replacement. In the end l ordered a new solid plastic one from TEKTANKS, not a cheap option but a long lasting solution. I ordered 2nd of February and it was delivered on 29th March, with Elektra’s relaunch set for 4th of April didn’t leave a lot of time for fitting, plumbing in, then cleaning and loading Elektra’s cruising gear.

The new solar frame and 2 new 80W solar panels had been fixed and the wires and cables run though the tubes, though the cockpit coping (l hate cutting holes in my boats) and on foreward to the chart table and switch panel. The wires and cables had been wired in and all was working. The AIS was working much better with the antenna moved from inside the cabin(as recommended by marine electronics guy in 2021) and outside onto the new solar frame.

Old deck inserts

Back in December l had bought from Mike Lucas new stanchion deck inserts, at the time l didn’t think l would have any spare time to fit this winter. But with the second half of January and all of February being so dry jobs had gone quicker than expected and l had some spare time.

Starting to chip out the old inserts

So l chose a dry day to chip out the starboard side inserts, it took about an hour per inserts, l found the best method was to use a hammer on a 1/2″ wood chisel. The problem came with the new inserts were a little oversized. Having made contact with Mike again for advice, l had the new inserts turned down on a metal lathe. The delayed the job by which time the rain had started. So it was a case of waiting for a dry day. After 10 days a dry day arrived and l got on with the job again. The new inserts went back in with plenty of sealant very quickly, so l started on the port side. I must have learnt something from the starboard side as the 4 port side inserts were chipped out cleaned up in 2.5hrs. I am pleased with the final result.

New inserts fitted

The normal winter jobs of antifouling, engine service etc had gone on in between the other work, Elektra is due to be relaunched on the 5th of April.

Winter work

Elektra had come ashore at the end of October for easy access by marine trades for work needed. But getting trades to do anything had proved difficult.

Bespoke black water tank

I had been busy working in November and December but had allowed myself the whole of January to get on with jobs aboard, first on the list was fit a bespoke black water tank which had been made in 2021. I would never have beleaved it would take so long to fit! But like all boats access proved difficult and some other jobs were added to the list. Our shower mixer tap had been broken since we owned Elektra, we hadn’t ever used, it seemed sensible to replace while l had the head out but if l knew it would take one whole day to remove, l don’t think l would have started! So it was the end of the second week before the job was completed and l could refit the head.

Black water tank fitted at last

Then came the turn of a replacement water tank. Our 50lt pillow water tank had proved to be on the small side for our off the grid cruising, only enough water for 5 days. We had been carrying 25lts in a can stowed in the wet locker giving us enough for 7 days. I had managed to buy a second hand bigger bespoke solid water tank which had come out of a Sadler 29 which had crossed the Atlantic. The first job was getting it into the fore cabin!

Replacement water tank

I had to remove the steps to get though the companion way hatch and then remove the doors to get into the fore cabin, once in place it didn’t look so big anymore! The plumbing in proved to be much easier, the only real problem came getting the new filler pipe run in, but done in the end.

Water tank in place

At the beginning of November l got onto the stainless manufacturing company having back earlier in the summer agree a price. Sandy the boss came over to St Anthony to measure up and told me the earliest would be Christmas for delivery. Christmas holidays came and went, l finally fitted the new frame this week gone. The solar panels had also arrived the weekend before, l am now in the process of making aluminium frames for the solar panels to connect onto the stainless frame.

New stainless steel solar frame

Work is on going, will post more info later.