Vertue haul out!

After three seasons it was really was due time to have Virtue craned out to inspect and repaint the hull, I was also very intrigued to see if I had any under the water issues, as I had bought the boat four years earlier and she was already freshly antifouled which was great but you never know what was covered up before and whether enough priming coats were used on bare metal spots.

Crane poised ready to attack! ( max lifting weight 4 tons! Virtue 4.25 tons oops, hope it’s ok?)

no problem, just can’t extend very far.

Anyhow my fears were completely unfounded and after some perhaps over enthusiastic pressure cleaning revealing a few areas where the paint wasn’t well adhered the revealed metal work seemed very solid and rust free, and quite well impregnated with a tarry linseed oil surface of a remarkably well-preserved boat. Considering it had had three seasons there was really no shells and very little weed growth, next haul out I’ll certainly let it go for  four years.

Topsides was quite a task, the top layer of paint was really old maybe 20 yrs and had become quite porous, it had been patched countless times due to the crumbling oil based original filler layer on the bare metal, so a large number of tiny areas needed special treatment and about three had rust to be treated and re filled and primed a number of times, this was where most of the work was preparing the topsides and then re painting the entire above water with first pre-cote then full gloss, luckily we’ve had a good run of sustained sunny dry days which has been ideal!, so two weeks and 35 hours hard  work she’s ready to be re-launched in the coming week.


Name re-applied with vinyl stickers

It still amazes me how many hours are sucked up in maintaining this boat, it is a labour of love never the less,  I have a great respect for the evolution of yacht design and practicality of a low maintenance modern yacht, but I can’t say that many of them capture the imagination and romance of classic yacht all ready to put to sea.

Mast all ready very smart with the new crosstrees new halyards and varnish!

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Hitters Proost website

Had an email this week from Thijs Hitters to inform me that there is now a website over the yacht builders Hitters Proost full of lots of details over the history of their yacht building etc and it has also revealed a few photos what is very likely to be  my boat being built, which I’m delighted about.   ( it’s all in Dutch, Google translate)

Lightly built angle steel frames, ready to be plated up.

Clad with the  3mm steel plating, followed by sand blasting and hot galvanizing.

My boat was built-in steel by them in 1954 no 61  for a Doctor Huizinga followed by a second in 1955 no 64 built for Mr de Jong, there is also a photo taken of de Jong on his way back for Lymington having one a race, brilliant !!


So Fong with de Jong at the helm in 1955

No 64 former So Fong

This boat has had a chequered history having been used for drugs smuggling under a slightly less honourable ownership, it is currently lying in Amsterdam, has not been rigged for sailing for some time.

There is also believed to be a third steel Vertue built by a different yard the whereabouts of this boat are unknown, anybody shed any light on that ?

Also read an article that spoke of an eccentric Dutch singlehander who regularly fell asleep sailing back from Norway, and ended up on a sandbank North of Holland, would love to know which of the three steel Vertues this was, may well have been the smuggler, anybody know about that ?

I stumbled recently upon a sales brochure from the 80’s Vertue II with a price list, makes interesting reading you could buy the hull and deck with keel for home finishing or the total finished boat was 37,995,00, or 24,495,00  pounds without the engine,  from Bossoms.

Also here is an interesting fairly recent article about Laurent Giles designs and his well-earned fame, from the Practical Boat Owner.



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27 hrs blood sweat and tears!

Meet my good friend Spruce stick.


Just finished my mast, three coats of primer + 6 coats of varnish sanding lightly between coats, must say it’s been quite a job and kept me busy in my weekends for about a month! Luckily Ive got a good place in an old glass house to do the varnishing, at 20 minutes from my house, probably used more petrol than varnish I guess, but more importantly it’s a stick to be proud of now and gleams a lovely honey hue, in its traditional varnish which somehow quite enhances the colour due to the golden colour layer upon layer, I’ve used Altura from Boero which I’ve been quite impressed with so far.


I’ve re fastened the fittings to the mast using Vaseline around the screws to seal that so that the moisture can’t get in, when handling my wet mast it was useful to lift it on the winches, but now the varnish is sorted I’ve removed the winches for re-greasing, which was well overdue!

As far as the other maintenance is concerned most of the small repairs etc. have been completed and hopefully I’ll be able to have the boat craned out for the hull repaint soon when there is space in a boatyard due to other boats being launched.

very grungy!


Good for the forseeable future.

Other jobs have made a pair of weather cloth for attaching either side of the cockpit in adverse weather, was amused to recently read Eric Hiscock’s account of his voyage in Wanderer III, he would only put his weather cloths on in rough weather, but in really tough conditions he would remove them for fear of them breaking his guard rails with the weight of waves hitting them, he would then heave too and retire below and have a good meal, shall do likewise.

Sewing a border having first stapled it together.

brown polycotton canvas.


Have also made a canvas cover for my forehatch, not because it leaks but just to give it a little extra protection, especially when rigging the boat it’s very easy to drop winch handles or shackle on it messing up my immaculate finish!

My new forehatch cover


I thought I’d break down what the mast had cost in time and money to re-varnish:

stripping and sanding 9hrs

Priming 3 hrs

6 coats + sanding 12 hrs

Replacing fittings 3hrs

Total  27 hours blood sweat and tears!

Primer € 17.00

Varnish 1.5ltr  €45.00

Petrol € 25.00

Sanding disks€ 24.80

320 grit sandpaper €4.95

Total €116.75

So for 27hrs work and € 116.75 I’ve got a great looking mast, just imagine what that would cost if I hadn’t got two right hands, certainly there would be no change from € 1000,00 at a yard in labour costs.

Now just have to renew the halyards at a cost of € 400, it never ceases to amaze me how the cost keeps mounting up, a point worth considering when choosing a boat as an aluminium mast does kind of simplify the maintenance issues, although most of the stuff I’m renewing won’t need much attention for a considerable number of years now.

Above the completed wooden spacer under the gantry, a great improvement.

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The trials of a wooden mast.

A wooden mast should be a thing of great beauty, mine was a rather matt mars bar brown, in fact you might think it could be mahogany, instead of the lovely spruce or pine.

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With a full overhaul of the rig and sails planned for this winter, I thought I’d better take the bull by the horns and get started stripping my chocolate-brown mast down too bare wood for re-varnishing in its naturel colour, was also a little apprehensive as to what was hidden or disguised by the brown varnish, needn’t have worried it was lovely!



First giving an ample coat of paint stripper to a two mtr section of the mast I enthusiastically scrapped the worst of the varnish of with a sharpened triangular scraper before turning on the sander with 80 grit to remove the last traces of residue, lovely close-grained timber spruce I think although could well be Oregon pine, extremely well-built and high quality  spar, amazingly after more than sixty years the joints are still completely solid and in most case barely visible, no idea what kind of glue they used in the fifties ?


had to remove the fittings .


there is a joint there still strong after 60 years!


Was quite a marathon preparing this mast for re-varnishing but at the end of the second day after  a second sanding with 120 grit and then a further sanding by hand   I was ready to get the first thinned coat of primer onto it.


These are the worst black marks !!


marks under the boom fittings.


It is quite important when working with bare wood to re seal it as soon as pos as it will otherwise absorb a lot of moisture from the air which will need to escape by cracking the new varnish treatment when the weather warms up.


Thats gona look good!

Applying the first sealing coat it turns very orange which will mellow to a lovely golden hues when the light gets to it.

I’m planning on coating it with Altura varnish from Boero, but first three coats of biowood, then poly wood, and then a few coats of Altura gloss varnish.

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Sails and Bilges


Interesting Dutch poster celebrating Dutch Anglo Treaty of 1814, new revised version to follow?

With the uncertainty over our trade relation with the UK I thought it a good time to get a nice set of  sails made in the UK before the terms may be changed, not to mention the low pound. Having been reasonably happy with the old set, as it was very difficult to judge the shape of them from below, did notice I wasn’t  pointing high enough on the wind, and on closer examination from photos I discovered that although my mainsail appeared nice and flat in the lower panels the depth of the round in the top half was huge and the leech hung a long way out of line  when the sail was fully in!!

img-20160727-wa0009The shadow on the sail demonstrates my point

Note the shadow on the sail, it should be a nice shallow aerofoil curve


V 35 with narrow panel sails

After receiving 6 quotes from diverse sail lofts in the UK and NL decided on a well-known sail loft in Poole UK, I have had several sets of sails from them for previous boats, and have always been happy with both the price and the quality and it’s  tax free!

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The build quality and materials of new sails is vastly superior to the older cotton versions, but one of the big differences is in appearance is  the width of the panels being much wider at around 24 inch, however for not much extra you can have your sails built up out of narrow panels and in cream cloth which having studied countless pictures on the internet really does look stunning, although its ‘debatable whether it is actually better or not, to my mind if you spread the form of the rounding over more seams you are decreasing the stress’s in the sail, although the expected stretch is only in the diagonal direction, if you look at the classic racing yachts many have opted for this combination, don’t think I’ll be racing at Cannes though!


Cannes Royal Regatta

Decisions made and ordered one mainsail and two foresails staysail and working jib ( Genoa will have to wait), sails should last me 20+ years, guess the old set was at least 30 yrs old, looking forward to seeing the finished sails and fitting them .


Freshly painted chain box, 37mtr of chain checked and marked every 10mtr with cable ties.


Some extra primer applied to the orignal paint wher the water had collected under the chain box.



fully painted in Grey Danbolin bilge paint

Further despite some quite low temperatures here have been working on the bilges painting, and interior doors have been scraped clean of sixty yrs build-up of old varnish, ready for some fresh stuff.



Tricky painting out the main bilge.


few coats of primer over some concrete in the bottom.


Time consuming stripping these interiors doors!!


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Amateur footage of a Vertue sailing

After a few software and format issues I have finally managed to join a number of average to poor video clips together and make a distinctly homemade and slightly amateur  video complete with the rather typical accompaniment, the type of music that gets into head and won’t leave for a week or so, you’ve been warned! Tis probably my best attempt till now, and yes I did actually trim out all the worst bits, but consider it a learning curve, from here on things may get better, anyway it should hopefully enthuse maybe a few prospective Vertue owners to take the plunge?


I made an extra perspex ring to cover my rust holes.


The extra ring will be painted with deck paint to match the rest.

Further I’m still fixing some very minor issues on the boat such as the  double spreaders which had been collapsing due to some rather dodgy repairs by a previous owner, where they should have been real strong on the mast bracket there were several blocks of wood glued into them and then disguised by painting the whole area white.



The old spreader is left taped together weher it broke!!


Four new spreader’s shaped up and coated with ipregnating epoxy.

Anyway they are kind of important  spreaders they kind of stop the whole rig from collapsing and falling overboard, prefer to have no wood joints in that area so have chosen to rough out some new ones in oak, shaped up with a slight curve on the top so the water runs off them.


The outward end re enforced with fibreglass cloth and epoxy.

The end grain  is always the Achilles heel of these thing and you often get water ingress where the bolt pass through them so as an extra protection have added a layer of fibreglass cloth and epoxy to seal the ends.






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More lingering rust !!


Time to tackle my boom gallows, I had my suspicions that the splits and warped blocks of wood on the bottom posts of the boom gallows were hiding some nasty rust as the slight seeping rust stains had indicated on the stern deck every winter, so it was a little apprehensively that I took a chisel and mallet to split off the base  hardwood pads to expose the real issue.

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Not surprisingly the rust was in quite an advanced stage, no holes though just severe pitting in places luckily have caught it in time, was another very awkward job grinding the rust out of all the surfaces before treating with owatrol oil.


Now busy re making the blocks from two halves this time maintaining the possibility of removing to access the metal underneath.

It’s nice to sort these minor issues as after more than sixty years of corrosion it is certainly overdue, hopefully they’l be then good for the coming sixty years!


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Oh no more rust!!

Now turned cold here in NL and glad to have the boat tidied up and covered for the Winter, time to check off a few jobs that aren’t too urgent but still require tending to.

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There’s a couple of ventilators and a Sampson post that seem to produce a small rust stains on the deck after every season, so guess  I better lift them and seal and re-bed them.


Now that’s not exactly what I expected!!


Does explain the rust stains on deck!!


Shock horror the front bronze ventilator did sit a little high on one side, now I see why there’s a 3mm cake of rust under it, the stainless bollard is not much better, but the aft ventilator mushroom was the worst having removed it a lump of deck fell out revealing a very moth-eaten hole with thick encrusted rust all round it.


That is awful rust!!!



This black rust has to be completely ground out to get to good metal to re prime and paint, I used grinder a dremel and pneumatic de scalar to remove it , horrible job doing the aft deck with your head through the aft locker and the grinder directly above it, makes a huge mess with rust dust getting everywhere!

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Here endeth another sailing season


Down with the mast.

Been a great season, had quite a lot of meaningful trips  and experiences this summer and a great holiday in Zeeland, and It’s rather sad to be taking her all apart and returning to my winter berth, especially as it still so mild and on the water it is now so quiet and the harbour are all empty, maybe next winter I’ll keep going through but for now there are further upgrades and adjustments planned for my Vertue this Winter.One of the big tasks I’ve been putting off is the stripping of the awful mahogany varnish on the spruce mast, was hoping that after I had relinquished the mast of most of its standing rigging I’d be able to potentially lift it off the boat and get it into my garden to strip and re-varnish it, it was without the rigging still a huge weight and on further inspection have concluded that it’s not at all hollow but solid timber so that explained why I can’t lift it!!


30 kilos of rigging!!

Change of plan and I’ve left it in the mast storage at the boatyard where for 30 euro’s I could store and work on it in the dry without breaking my back!! After craning it down we discovered that the starboard lower crosstree had broken on an old repair which was a little surprising,  so I have in mind to replace all four as I don’t like any kind of joints in crosstrees I wouldn’t want that bloody heavy pole falling down !


A mastless Vertue.

This is an interesting boat we saw passing through Zeeland, a centre cockpit Hilyard on a cruise from the UK was built for famous author Arthur Ransome, who sailed her for a few seasons before progressing to his next boat.

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Here is some Zeeland locks, had been warned for busy locks but it was generally quickly passed, could take and hour though if it was really busy, two tips watch the prop wash of the larger ships that have the annoying habit of leaving the engine in gear with the helm over creating a strong side current at one brief moment we were caught and thrust into the wall sideways earlier and harder than planned!! Second tip you have these bubble curtains to keep the salt water from mixing with the fresh water, we inadvertently had to stop over one at one point and got the bubbles up our bottom! What I mean is the engine intake sucked up the air bubbles and created an airlock which made the engine alarm go off that the water was not circulating round the engine, was remedied by opening the water trap to let the air out, just the kind of additional excitement you don’t want in a lock!

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Episode 4 Virtue in Zeeland


Having enjoyed our stay in Veere we set sail once again at 9am to sail back down the Veerse meer and lock out back onto the Oosterschelde and cruise over to Zierikzee. Forecast was for rain and strong South Westerly, strengthening for 6+ later in the afternoon and light rain, at least the direction was favourable! We had till now had predominantly SW winds and as we were travelling roughly SW it was always against us.

We had an invigorating run wind behind and clocked 6 knots at times, moored up with a little difficulty and a lot of reverse to stop the boat before entering the lock, seeing the gusty and apparent strengthening of the wind we all decided to add a reef before sticking our noses out onto the tidal Oosterschelde.


We had the tide against us on the Oosterschelde and the rain made visibility restricted, ideally you would time the tides to take the tide down to Zierikzee but that would have meant waiting at least till 3pm and then the strengthening wind against tide could have turned out rather unpleasant chop, not to mention the lee shore arrival at Zierikzee, anyway was no big deal and the wind turned out to be a lot less strong than the predictions and only strengthened significantly after we had arrived at our destination.



Zeelands bridge is 5km long!

We sailed under the famed Zeeland bridge which at 14mtr was no concern, the tide does fairly rip through between the pillars under it, but once we were through it was easy to drop down to leeward and through a slight chop around the entrance to Zierikzee, there was a rather unfortunate mortorcruiser in the entrance on the starboard side, we did for a moment wonder whether to try and pass him on the starboard but in the end passed him to port, as it turned out he was anchored having had trouble with his engine and had called out the lifeboat to tow him back into port.


We had phoned ahead to reserve a place in the harbour and we had a spot immediately next to the facility’s, with directly behind the high bows of a couple of intimidating millionaires motor yachts, the wind was blowing directly down the harbour but we sat just behind the shower block and were remarkably sheltered.


5 berths en suite, in Zierikzee.

Zierikzee was another unexpected delight, we did the walk round all the monuments of interest, museum , pony and trap ride through the town, went up the Lieve monster tower, ( sweet monster), fantastic view from the top over the Oosterschelde, in the evening we walked back to the mouth of the harbour to watch the sunset. dsc01661


Next day we were planning to move on but the weather was predicted to bring still stronger winds and what was worse was the particularly strong nature of the gusts from time to time, on the same day in Friesland at the Sneek regatta a number of boat broke there masts, that’s pretty extreme, it’s also difficult to rig for because your either under canvassed for the standard strength or struggling with too much sail when the gusts come, I must add that the Vertue is a remarkably well-mannered boat in all conditions and her sail wardrobe has an answer for every wind strength, for example I have a working jib which I use in most conditions up to 25knts, the normal Genoa is best used up to only 15knts, for up to 10knts I have an oversize light weight genoa which works a treat, anywhere approaching 25knts and above the tiny foresail on the fractional forestay is a good combination with or without a reef, for above the 30knts you can first add a second reef, then later drop the main and use the trysail and maybe the storm foresail, I do tend to prefer to anticipate the stronger of the predicted winds and start off with the reef in as its easier to reef before it gets really windy, usually work on the basis that the wind peaks in strength around 3pm and before that is likely to be building up!!

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Historic boatyard.


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Next day Friday, we were rapidly approaching the end of our holiday as I planned to be back at work on the Monday and we still had to get all the way back to the Westeinde, the rest of the group had a few more days so planned to head off to Bruinisse and onto the Grevelingenmeer, for a little island hopping.


So with regret we had to take advantage of a little weather window of two days of yet more strong SW wind before it blew a real hoolie on the Sunday, 9 am we said our goodbyes and took off under a moderate strength wind behind back through under the Zeeland bridge, against the tide again! Still made good progress 3-4 knots and was at the Volkerak lock a couple of hours later, straight through and a swift sail wind behind no tide through to the next lock and after that around 3pm we took a right and back into Willemstad, a good run Zierikzee to Willemstad including two locks in around six hours!


Looking towards Rotterdam on the Nieuwe Maas.


Next morning we left at 9am again in order sail the Hollands Diep before the wind strengthened as the tide runs in one direction only towards the sea, coupled with the SW wind make a surprising lumpiness which builds up over the whole length of the water, hour and half later we turned into the Dordtse kil and took the tide at great speed wind behind up to and through the hourly opening of the large railway bridge, with a rather large ship bearing down on us, not sure exactly how we managed it but the tide was with us all the way to Gouda which we entered the small sailing club berths for the night, had a delightful meal in the historic central square to celebrate such a good run in one day!


Now shall I go through the bridge first or shall I wait for the green monster, na throttle down let’s go for it!


Next day it was as predicted pretty blustery but we had already done the open water stretches the day before so we tagged along on a chain of about 20 boats through the rail bridge at Gouda then later a succession of bridges through Alphen an de Rijn, was nesesarry to use nearly full throttle as the majority of the boats were motoring at just over 5knts at around 3000 revs that is just about ok on my boat but the Marieholm in the rear of the group on his slightly smaller powered engine was having great difficulty keeping up with the group can be a problem as the bridge keepers, can’t wait for you if your too far behind the rest.


Original Eskimo kayak 18th century!! in the museum in Zierikzee.


Early afternoon saw us pulling onto the Westeinde and back into her berth and an  adventure the richer!!

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