Yes we have fallen heir to Sealeg and whilst probably a bit more worn than when you last saw her, she is still in good condition.
How did we come to own her here in Scotland you may well ask? About 5 or 6 years ago we were visiting a friend in Gibraltar and to cut a long story short ended up having a beer on Sealeg. At that time we had a Twister which is of a similar design but not as beamy and had no real intention of changing boats. Anyway the Twister was eventually sold and we were without a boat for a while.
During this time Jim Hayes who had been living on Sealeg had moved her back up to Scotland and his home port in Edinburgh. Trawling through the internet one night at work! I came across Sealeg for sale and on making enquiries found that it was the same boat we had been on in Gibraltar.
Jim was selling her due to making little use of her over the previous 2 years having diverted his attentions to sailing the East Coast of Greenland with a friend and his 34′ steel hulled boat. The deal was concluded and we became the proud owners of Sealeg. Jim gave me a hand to bring her through the Forth and Clyde canal to our home port of Troon on the river Clyde south of Glasgow.
Sadly Jim went off to Greenland that summer and despite a very good trip going round Milne Land in Scoresbysund they suffered a knockdown on the return journey across the Denmark Straits. Jim was washed overboard in big seas, his companion got a mayday off and was eventually lifted, but Jim was never found.
Anyway back to Sealeg, nothing much has probably changed since John built her. The decks have been repainted as the non slip effect was totally non existent. The mast is still the same wooden one described in Johns magazine articles. The steel work has been replaced around the bow and stern and last summer we replaced the stanchion bases and stanchions. She still has the same twin forestay arrangement going to the masthead.
We haven’t sailed her much so can’t vouch for her sailing qualities under a not quite cutter rig. But interestingly you now see on the internet ‘Scutter rigs’. In fact John mentions what he refers to as his ‘slutter rig’ in another article and it will be interesting to ask of Yachting monthly if this was the prototype of such a rig. Inside the paraffin stove and tilley lamp are gone but the paraffin lamps on the bulkhead are still there.
The sea toilet has been replaced by a lavac, again by ourselves. Upholstery may have been original but we’ve replaced it! The sails are still the tan original Yankee etc. as is the roachless and battenless mainsail.
Very much a cruising mans wardrobe! The engine has been replaced with a 2 cylinder Yanmar prior to us buying her.
The gunwale and rubbing strake on the starboard side were in poor condition and last winter I replaced them. Inside she is still unlined and it’s going to be interesting to see how much condensation affects the living conditions. I believe that using a roughened paint goes some way to preventing condensation build up. Not quite sure how John got on with it, but he obviously coped for many years.
What do we know of her travels? Jim Hayes picked her up in Portugal where I believe she had been abandoned after John’s death. He then moved her down to Gibraltar where he was working on rope access at the time. The details are a bit sketchy but I think he went down the Moroccan coast and out to the Azores and back.
Another trip saw him across Biscay to England then back down to Gib. Eventually he came home across Biscay and up the Irish Coast transiting the Forth Clyde Canal to Edinburgh where he had hoped to spend some time doing her up.
Our plans for Sealeg are to make good some of the ravages of time on her and cruise in our home waters on the West Coast of Scotland. Maybe Norway or higher latitudes one day.
Anyway with the Western seaboard on our back doorstep, there’s more than a lifetimes sailing to be enjoyed.
Jim Thomson – ‘Sealeg”