Lucky Star

LUCKY STAR is now for sale - asking £4900

please contact me for further details and to contact the owner

the owner writes: Lucky Star is a Baden-Powell designed balance lug canoe yawl, built by Turks of Kingston in 1893. Reputed to be the last sailing police launch on the Thames.
Immaculate condition retaining many of her Victorian fittings. Cruised and raced on the East Coast but now in a barn ready for next season.
A good home more important than price, but let's say £4,900 including road trailer.

The Restoration story.....

I was prompted to put this up on the site (March 2011)through contact with Stephen Taylor, who bought a yawl rather like this through a sale at Turks Boatyard in 2010 (Lucky Star came from the same yard originally) (ref and He's kindly provided some extra photos - I have to apologise for the quality of some of mine below but they are there to add detail ........

I first came across "Lucky Star" in 1983 when she was owned by Roger Hadlee - inspired by sailing "Lucky Star" he was interested in producing a modern version of a canoe yawl and met Iain Oughtred and I at the Southampton Boat Show of that year. Iain drew up a prospective plan of a more traditional hull form (to be a clinker ply round hull) while I produced a design which, while having a traditional appearance, was actually a hull form with a "V" bottom and intended to use plywood effectively - this led to the "Blackwater Sailing Canoe" - details of which have yet to be published on this site...... but I digress........ At that time, "Lucky Star" had had quite a bit of work done by David Leather (son of John) in the 1970's, and was in reasonable condition, but long in the tooth and now gathering dust as Roger had moved on to a Salcombe Yawl. The boat passed into other hands.

By the time she came my way again, now owned by Ant Law, in 1996, she still looked lovely above the waterline, but the bottom had simply been folded up partly due to poor storage, possibly under a weight of other stuff, and partly because she was very lightly built, and the internal structure of keel and floors had simply become too weak to maintain her shape. Some of the bilge had been bodged up with patches and glass fibre, the centre board case visibly lifted out of the hog at the aft end if pressure was applied, and some of the floors had simply pulled their fastenings through the thin planking. The planking and ribs were actually not too badly deteriorated - possibly because Lucky Star had been kept dry for much of her life - but were damaged in places by fastenings etc. The hull materials were "a cedar" (I confess I have not yet managed to identify it - Steve Taylor has found references to a "Honduran Cedar" used by Turks (?though that may be another name for of "cigar box" (Brazilian) cedar?) for planking & case and deck (some replaced with "mahogany") with rock elm frames.

Old floor and fibreglass (1a)

Splitting away the bottom of the case to remove the top - note old wrought iron floors which attached to floors

Aft end of slot - floor split away prior to removal of fastenings

Another view of how to split away the bottom of a c/b case - in old boats, it is usually impossible to remove the old fastenings, be they screws or bolts/nails

To re-plank the bottom was going to be too expensive so I suggested how we might rescue the hull skin and re-inforce the boat's structure without adding too much more weight or spoiling her appearance. In this case the bottom planking (probably originally 5/16" (8mm) - now more like 1/4") was not going to provide much structural strength. The original keel and hog were very light and so simply replacing them would not give us the strength we wanted. We would need new and frequent floors to hold the shape of what is a rather flat bottom. At the aft end of the cockpit, there is a keel-to-deck bulkhead - however other transverse stiffening of the hull seemed almost absent - the boat was being held in shape by the deck, in practice. At the bow, the mast is in a tabernacle made as a box through the foredeck - this box was supported transversely at the bottom on 2 wide planks (approx 5" x 1") nailed to the planking (you can just make this out in photo 1b) - a rather weak arrangement.

(ed-The sketch drawing below needs some improvement - basically correct - however the hog does not have a "doubler" as drawn here AFT of c/b case - the hog is doubled with a pad inside each side of the slot to support the old wood and provide sufficient landing/fastening for the garboards. This also provides a better surface to fit the "logs" to. In some other craft a hog doubler the whole length has been employed)

So, to make a satisfactory internal structure, I decided we could (a) make a "bulkhead structure" at the mast box (actually a triangulated frame - see photo 2c) - this links the centreline to the deck and mast box (and is effectively hidden away under the foredeck); then (b) between that and the aft bulkhead make a deep keel/keelson structure like an "I" beam which would hold the bottom in shape and take the stresses of trailering etc; finally (c) in way of the thwart at the aft end of the centreboard case we could make another heavy frame which effectively stiffens up the middle of the boat and supports keel in relation to deck - this again is partially hidden by the thwart (photo 2e). This longitudinal structure allowed us to introduce effective transverse flooring under the sole through the middle of the boat. There has to be a slot for the centreboard of course, and in the event I was able to use the top of the old case on top of the "I" beam, which is a wide spruce plank at sole level which blends in well. Weakness at the ends of the centreboard case is, of course, eliminated.

2a-looking aft, post on aft bulkhead, "I" beam web notched over floor "bottom" and ribs with limber hole;

2b - "I"beam web in place - limber hole for rib will allow later replacement; notches at top to receive floor "tops";

2c - looking forward - new floors, bottom of forward reinforcing frame to mast box visible; also part of thwart frame in foreground;

2d - looking aft - top of "I" beam in place (spruce) - scarf for forward part visible; note floor "tops" over "bottoms" now in place;

2e - a view of the frame below thwart - the thwart links to deck via a web/knee on top;

2f - "I" beam web from aft has continuity with centreboard case "logs"; looking forward the hog/plank landing has been re-inforced and widened with fillets to the sides of the "logs";

2g - linking the "I" beam structure aft to the aft bulkhead via post & gussets.

The planking? well, while sheathing is generally frowned upon there seemed little choice in this case and she is sheathed with a very light cloth up to the waterline. If it is done carefully, it can last, and nothing is lost if the internal structure is sound - i.e planking can be replaced later if necessary. We simply didn't touch any of the ribs or fastenings, though cleaned out any dirt we could from behind them - nor did we try to rake out the seams - all too tight and fragile! In addition, we agreed that the boat should be kept as a "dry" boat, with no prolonged periods afloat. The planking was very dry and absorbent and after a thorough clean up inside it was well soaked with 3 applications of "Eposeal" penetrating epoxy. The lands outside were faired with a fillet of epoxy prior to the glass cloth going on. I think a light cloth will stretch a bit with any wood movement, and old wood does not exert the same pressures as new. Encapsulation without any cloth is sometimes carried out on traditional boats but that is NOT the best way. Anyway, writing this in 2011, so far so good!
Incidently - the stem and sternpost were painted white because the wood was very discoloured. It looks odder in the photos than in real life.
In 2001, I borrowed the boat from Ant to take part in the Great Glen Raid with friend & colleague George Rogers - this is when the rowing position made itself felt as the c/b case cut into my back! The boat proved very handy all round though not the fastest; she is quite cramped compared with most modern boats - best as a single-hander!

photos 3 & 4 show the mast box arrangement and spacers set in front of mast after raising - beautiful!

aft cockpit arrangement - note "I" beam top; case and thwart as original - not that good for rowing!

photo 7 shows the steering which works a lot better than it looks! - the tiller stock simply sits in a socket in a block in the deck - the weight of the helm's arm helps counterbalance the tension in the tiller ropes. I added a removable sculling rowlock.