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Sailfish 25

Below is an article by Sailfish 25 owner John Goodluck






Sailfish 25/016 SHEARWATER  - Work in progress


In my years as a Yacht Broker on the rivers Orwell and Deben, I was always aware that the only thing wrong with most boats was the interfering owners who constantly tried to ‘improve’ on the original.  So in my retirement years, on buying Shearwater for pleasurable sailing, I vowed to keep her uncomplicated, with minimal trinkets.

This suited the lazy side of me that loves laying at anchor and watching the world go by. Things haven’t gone entirely to plan as the first year of ownership was marred by an engine which was hard to start and just didn’t sound right to my old experienced ears.

Discussing this with an engineer we removed the top part of the engine and discovered a hairline crack in the cylinder sleeve. Three strong men removed the engine and it was taken away to be completely stripped.

This showed the wear and tear expected on a 1979 Japanese Kabota 12 hp twin cylinder engine and after visiting every single Marina on this coast I was given the same story ‘ Parts can’t be obtained for an engine of this age, best to throw it away and fit a nice new one cylinder job’. After all, the Kabota was designed as cement-mixer engine and the Hydro marine DM 12 ones were sent over for a handful of boats, of which the Sailfish 25 was one.

But driving past a local racing engineer yard, a professional, clean place producing Racing Car engine parts I cheekily called in to ask if they knew what the engine was in my van and could parts be made for it. Instant recognition plus an order for new interior parts was the outcome. These new shiny metallic objects were then taken to a Fred Dibnah look-alike in an old shed up a long track amongst local woods…… with seasoned fingers the entire engine was reassembled and after a test run on his bench, was hoisted aloft and re-sprayed to look and sound like a spanking new twin cylinder expensive engine.

Mike at the Martlesham Boat Yard was able to lower this back onto the engine blocks, using his on -site machinery and fitting perfectly back in it now runs like a new engine at the cost of around £800 all told.  

We are very proud of this as it would have been so simple to throw this away and replace it by a smaller, less effective modern engine and I would miss the beautiful deep-throated sound of the original.


One year on…. I couldn’t understand why Shearwater persisted in laying over in her berth, after all she is in soft mud and draws only 1ft1in with the keel up. I have never been able to insert the keel rods which hold the keel in place when raised due to the cable being too long -  so decided to remove the ‘table – top’ and discovered that the extremely thick  keel-raising cable had snapped leaving the keel permanently down and no amount of my efforts on the hydraulic pump made any difference. She was now drawing 3ft 7in – too deep for her berth. This has been caused by the rusting up of pulley wheels on which the cable runs and my lack of knowledge and judgment has meant that it has not been maintained or greased, which may have saved the situation (the other Sailfish 25 September Time, that lays in our Marina, has checked the same pulley wheels on his boat, which are seized and is now able to save his cable from snapping).

Once again Mike (Yard Owner) to the rescue as he arrived with a series of jacks, welding equipment and steel cables and set to task holding the extremely heavy keel up in place as Shearwater grounded on each tide. 

Several snapped cables later we managed to secure the keel and insert the rods. The wonderful thing about laying in Martlesham Creek is that, despite it looking like a back-water, it is a hive of knowledgeable old salts and as I write I am awaiting a brand new cable from one such Sea-dog.

Having survived an exploding motor-boat close by this Winter, when 15 foot high flames were dowsed by five fire engines, and having a toasted horse-shoe lifebuoy as my only damage sustained, could I now be in for a quiet time on anchor, glass in hand, once again watching the world and the tides go by ? I hope so.

Yours Aye, John G.

Sailfish 25/016 Shearwater