25 years old and never been sailed

I have been stung into action. We have just received our first newsletter as new members, and read a really warm welcome to us from the Association -Thank you. But it said we had no boat. Well its half true - we have a Seal 22 - but it’s only half built. It’s a long story, but an interesting one, in which the Association has already played an important part.

Our second boat, years ago, when the children were smallies, was a Seal 22. It was great. We then had a Seal 26, followed by a Westerly Fulmar 32. The latter we have just sold as we want to return to trailer sailing, the simpler aspects of sailing and the ability to sail new waters. Hence the search for a second-hand Seal 22.

Brand New Seal For Sale Built in 1977

The Association kindly sent us details of members’ boats for sale. One advert read "Brand new Seal 22 for sale - built in 1977". Well it had to tickle one’s imagination didn’t it? The owner phoned, and "no" she was not the other end of the country, but lived only six miles away, and knew us from our childrens’ school days. Her husband, an aeronautical engineer, had bought the boat in 1977 finished about three-quarters of the home completion to a very high standard, lost interest and unfortunately died last year. To walk into his workshop was like walking into an Aladdin’s cave. To call it a garage just doesn’t do it justice. There were lathes, milling machines, band saws and tools of every description, all beautifully oiled as if they had been used yesterday and there in the middle was Annie, for that is our new name for her.

Her Gel Coat is as Good as the Day She Left Starcross

Underneath the layer of dust, her blue and white gel coat is just as good as the day she left John Bakers at Starcross. The teak work hasn’t even faded, and her pulpit and pushpit stand above her hull, shiny and proud. She lightly rests on the bilge supports to her purpose built trolley, with no delamination to the hull. On the rafters are all the spars; even the ends to her mast are protected from the elements, as they protrude through the gable ends. The Watermola petrol engine sits on its jig with its stern tube and phosphorus bronze reversible propeller, just as it must have been delivered from the manufacturer. The winches remain wrapped in their polythene bags, as if delivered yesterday. The interior cushions are all present in bright blue woven fabric, looking as good as new. A full set of new sails are present, again as delivered from Bruce Bank Sails. I wonder what effect of being folded and rolled in one position for 24 years will have on them? The boat is truly all there, except for the canopy and the steel rudder blade. Outside is the purpose built road trailer under a carport (more on that later), carefully stored under canvas, but of course with the tyres having long ago perished.

Age will have taken her toll

Age will have taken a toll on some of the components no doubt, and there will be more modern equivalents available today, like roller furling headsails and fully battened mains. BUT what a fortunate find, and what delightful people to be acquiring Annie from. She will be staying in her present location until next March, for I have promised the Anne of Annie that I will finish refurbishing the outside of our house before starting the completion job. You’ve never seen a house painted so fast in your life!

We were hoping to move Annie to her new home this summer, but as I say the house takes precedence until it is finished. However there are some interesting things to ponder. We used to trail our old Seal 22 from Hertfordshire to the river Helford each summer holiday, and the family always moaned about the return journey, for one never knew when it might end. If it wasn’t bearings going, then it would be tyres blowing out, or a burned out clutch on the car. One time it took over a fortnight to get the boat home. So—no more of that! A visit to RM Trailers near Southampton gave us what I hope will be the final solution to towing and launching boats. They still had their trailer designs for the Seal 22, and they have built for us a purpose designed combination trailer, consisting of a three wheel launching trolley with Bow post, riding on a four wheel road trailer, all galvanized. I know the arguments of two against four-wheel trailers, but chose four wheels, as overall I feel it is the safer option, when covering long distances on motorways.

The next challenge will be to get Annie to her new home, and for that the planning has already started. In front of her present home is a large carport, the roof of which is lower than the height needed for Annie. However this carport was constructed by an aeronautical engineer, and sure enough, its designed to be lifted vertically by the 5O cms needed to extricate Annie, but "How" exactly is still to be puzzled out. Then too we have to transfer Annie from her old to her new trolley. Not quite so desperate, as the old trolley will fit on to the new road trailer (I think/calculate).

I thought I might write an occasional article to share the project with other members. I am sure that I am going to need other members’ help in finding solutions to the problems I am bound to come across. The obvious one is what shape and size of rudder should I have, and where is there a template?

Enough of that for now, I am being pulled by the ear, back to the outside of the house, but not before we both thank those in the Association who have already so willingly helped us.

From two new members, with gratitude (and half a Seal)

Anne and Andy Chinneck
Seal 22, Annie
From the 2002/01 SSA Newsletter