Category Archives: The Sailing Log

Life on the Water!
Below are posts relating to Louise and my experiences “on the water” in learning to sail and steam!!!

One Year since Launch!

Well we are probably due an update….


We just spent a week camping on the boat in the company of the SBA (Steam Boat Association of the UK) on Windermere.

A curate’s egg of a week! We did get a very fine trip down to Fell Foot (at the south of the lake) and had some nice pictures taken of us on the way 🙂

However, the trip came with it’s challenges. We were plagued with a number of burner failures and faults. These basically involved two failures:

  • A control box failure – it was a new one, so we had a spare, it lasted a couple of hours.
  • A mystery ignition problem where the boiler partially lit, but produced clouds of unburnt fuel.

Our conclusion was the the burner was getting too hot, and the ignition transformer was failing, but the hot insulation inside the firebox was partially lighting the flame. These episodes lead to being towed home twice – we REALLY need to fit this sail and mast!

The temporary fix was a large “asbestos” blanket which we installed to shield the burner from some of the heat radiated from the boiler casing, and secondly, I am attempting to build some ducting to use the intake air to cool the burner electrical components.

Thanks go to the posse of SBA members who assisted with ideas, and the blanket material.


A lucky escape really. The drive belt to the propshaft appears from the deck next to the engine, it’s only an inch or so, and I thought “too small a run to be any trouble”. Well, I was wrong, and one of our crew managed to put their boot on it, and the belt jumped off the pullies, removed the flanges on the ends and wrapped itself around the engine bearers – an abrupt halt, but fortunately with no injuries.

So, the girls did a grand job of steering us over a couple of miles, (fortunately, the wind was from astern, so we “sailed” up the lake). The boys took to unsnarling the drive, but when we came to restart the boiler 30 minutes later it was “no-go”.

This all happened the week before Windermere, and I now think that the problem was another symptom of overheating, which in this case resulted in the failure of the fuel solenoid coil…. either way we limped to within a couple of hundred yards of the marina, and were towed in by Will from the Yard.

Here’s a (very) short clip of the first trip of the year!


A new generation of steam boater?

Another nice day on the lake, recorded by Daughter Kathy and MadMut Marine GPS Navigation Android ap….

Click on the waypoints in on the track displayed by the link below to see performance data.

As you can see we had 3 generations on this trip…Good Friday Trip

A Good Friday Trip

Lou and I had a nice trip in fine weather, moving Befur to her swinging mooring for the season, and travelling south on the lake – our longest trip to date ~4.67Nmiles, mostly cruising at about 3-4kts, with a sprint of about 5.5kts and an apparent fastest speed of 6.2kts.

No obvious problems, and the seagull started on the first pull going home!!!!!Good Friday Trip

End of Season Work and a Blowy Day

Just a note to say that Befur is out on the hard now, so we can commence the over-winter work.

We made about 5 or 6 trips on the lake in the season, and spend quite a few days on the mooring spannering the various issues we had into submission.

However, just before we fetched her out the first named Storm of the year “Ali” produced some impressive weather, with gusts of over 70mph on Ullswater. We stopped by to see how she was doing on her mooring – here is a video…

Work List

The main task is to find the source of all the knocking and rumbling (which I still think is most likely a fractured crank) and then tackle some other outstanding issues. This list is to remind me what is to be done:

  • Inspect/fix/remake the Crank
  • Cure the leaks between HP cylinder and Valve Chest
  • Make some Gauge Cocks (to damp the pressure surges in the gauges)
  • Tidy up the fittings for the stern-tube cooling feed
  • Re-paint antifouling (as quite a lot fell off!)
  • Inspect/test all the vacuum side for leaks as it’s still quite low (~10-15 inches hg)
  • Make a new ball-cock valve for hotwell (plug-cock type)
  • Maybe make some drawers for the galley
  • Fit a stern light
  • Think about remaking the cockpit sole to improve access to stern-gland etc.
  • Fit a seacock to the blow-down line (to allow the flexible hose to be removed when afloat)
  • Install a skin-fitting for the bilge ejector…
  • Make a whistle that whistles!
  • Attend a VHF course, to get my license 🙂

Yesterday I stripped down the plant ready to have the engine lifted out next week. I also took some pictures to remind us how it all goes back together!

Rebuilding picture

Rebuilding Pictures

Onwards…. 🙂

Time to take stock

Well, as we approach the end of the 2018 season, we have decided to fetch Befur back onto dry land a little earlier than planned. This is principally because I can’t tolerate the racket the machinery is making underway, and it seems cruel to run it further pending the noise turning into a real “issue”.

…and it floats level!

We did have a nice steam this week about 2 1/2 hrs round the northern reach of the lake in a “fresh” breeze.  We were towing the inflatable (still nervous about our reliability) and this very nearly became airborne as we opened Befur up into the headwind – she goes quite well. Continue reading

Are we having fun yet?

As Lou explained (as I sat in the land-rover feeling quite defeated) “It’s like when you built the racing bikes/cars – you can’t expect to show up at the circuit and have it all work perfectly the first time you race it. There is always going to be development work.

…and I guess she is right!

This post firstly relates the trips we have made so far, and secondly attempts to provide a balanced view of the successes and failures to date – to help other builders.

Trials (and tribulations)

Continue reading