The battle of the bodge... the deputy editor's welcome to the September 2017 issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine

It’s funny how the idiosyncrasies of your own boat become second nature.

It’s only when you step onto someone else’s boat that you realise your own bodges are perhaps not the best way to do things.

For years, to get my boat to go ahead you had to drop the engine briefly into astern before engaging forward gear – a state of affairs that came to seem in the natural order of things.

It was only returning from a spell sailing on other boats that prompted a few Morse control tweaks – and she went forwards when you pushed the lever that way. A revelation!

It’s rare that you step on any boat that doesn’t have its own peccadilloes: I’ve sailed on boats where a special lone deck shoe has had to be wedged under the throttle lever to keep it at full power, another where there is a very peculiar sort of movement needed to shut the sliding hatch, and others where a secret series of clicks and shakes are needed to ignite a reluctant gas lighter that really should have been binned years ago.

I’ve also seen forepeak lights that need a particular thump to get them working, and a clothes peg used to keep a dodgy engine stop cable ‘calibrated’.

Step onto another boat with these kinds of bodges and you’ll be immediately irritated: but on your own boat use makes master, and you become blind to the inconvenience.

There’s almost a perverse pride in knowing the secret handshakes, as it were. Most of us live with these workarounds for years, and it’s only a rainy day in a dreary port that gives us the time and inclination to fix them properly.

Of course, once mended you soon realise that you should have fixed them years ago!

Getting the forepeak light to work is one thing, but sometimes there are more pressing issues. So it was with reader Alan Ward, whose smartly refitted Fisher Northeaster ketch, North Star, was proving reluctant to tack without the aid of the iron topsail.

Frustrated, he got in touch with PBO’s Sail Clinic to see if there was anything he could do to encourage her through the eye of the wind.

To find David Harding’s tips and tweaks you’ll need to read the article (page 66), but it’s safe to say that after a day on the water, he and Alan had worked out how to get North Star to go about smartly.

Over the years David has helped multiple ketches to tack, improved the windward performance of a score of other boats, helped owners sail single-handed, thought out masterplans to get into tricky berths and cut the passage times of many sluggish craft. If there’s something that has you stumped, get in touch!

Elsewhere this month we’ve finished the hull skin of our Secret 20 project boat, David Parker shows how he removed and safely refitted his boat’s heater, David Pugh fits a new, British-built roller-reefing system – and that’s just for starters.

Enjoy this issue: and if you’re gale bound, maybe it’s time to have a go at that dodgy switch!

Ben Meakins

(David Pugh is away)

Ben Meakins

PBO deputy editor Ben Meakins

A typical reefed sail plan on a cruising yacht – the leech pennant needs to be tighter and the headsail car is too far aft – but it’s better than many. Credit: SailingScenes.com

PBO Sail Clinic: How to reef

How do you ensure an efficient reef with a roller-reefing headsail and slab-reefing mainsail? David Harding explains

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A typical reefed sail plan on a cruising yacht – the leech pennant needs to be tighter and the headsail car is too far aft – but it’s better than many. Credit: SailingScenes.com

PBO Sail Clinic: How to reef

How do you ensure an efficient reef with a roller-reefing headsail and slab-reefing mainsail? David Harding explains

Here’s a full list of the September 2017 issue’s contents

PBO Tested – Solar panels: Which technology will work best for your boat?

Instrument add-ons: Do more with your data

Fitting a furler: DIY installation, step-by-step

WIN an Eberspächer Airtronic heating kit worth up to £2500!

How to safely refit a heater: How and where a diesel-fired air heater is installed can prove vital

Reducing drag with a smaller prop: View from the boatyard

Aluminium and its alloys: Varied uses in a marine capacity

PBO Project Boat 2 – Chine and bottom panels: The first fit!

How to tack a reluctant ketch: If your ketch-rigged long-keeler is unwilling to go about, what can you do to help matters?

Club cruiser-racers: Swift sailing with a social spin

Wells-next-the-Sea: Sailing the north Norfolk coast

PBO Boat Tests – Minorchino 34 and 42: Stylish semi-displacement motorcruisers made in Menorca

An old stick-in-the-mud: A reader’s boat runs aground in Newton Creek on the Isle of Wight

Dinghy Rings: Convenient dinghy stowage while your boat is under way

Essex to the Netherlands: Leisurely cruise in a Macwester sloop

A day in the Garbhellachs: One of Scotland’s best-kept secrets

How to re-seat outboard recoil springs: PLUS more reader projects and tips

Building a skiff: A reader constructs a 12ft Anglo-American skiff, refining a design from 30 years earlier

Washboard stowage ideas: Tips from the PBO Sketchbook

PLUS…

Waiting for the tide: The editor’s welcome to this month’s PBO – sign up for PBO’s free monthly e-newsletter at: http://emails.timeincuk.co.uk/YBW_webcross

‘Mad about the Boat’ columnist Dave Selby: Dave finds that helping out on a Thames barge is an education… and a revelation.

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: Advice for those who dread locks

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: The view astern

PBO products and services: Books and plans from the PBO shop

New regular chandlery offers

News: Jury discharged after failing to reach verdicts on Cheeki Rafiki death charges… plus more

Regional news: Tribute flotilla attracts more than 100 yachts and motorboats… and more

New regular chandlery offers

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: Your questions answered

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products