Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

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Tryweryn
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Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

Post by Tryweryn » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:43 pm

Hi ...I live in Wales and this will be my first boat for me, my wife, 2 girls aged 6 and 8.
I am going to look at two Berwicks Sunday so a few questions.

One has a wheel and one doesn't. Which do people prefer? Is there a good autopilot system for a tiller?

One is perfect but one says,"The lower hull shows signs of osmotic blistering". Is this something you can fix or is it a dead boat? One broker says you just burst them and fill?

I want to use it for long distance to the outer hebs and back. Is this a good choice?

mikebuggy
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Re: Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

Post by mikebuggy » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:32 pm

Firstly, wheel steering.
Its a matter of choice. Wheel steering can certainly be more comfortable and is easier for newcomers to use and understand. It is usually more complicated than tiller steering and needs more maintenance and setting up. It may be less easy to set up emergency steering arrangements for wheel steered boats. Wind vane steering systems are available for both, but some servo type systems require more control lines and sheaves etc in order to adapt to wheel systems.
Electronic autohelms are readily available for both wheel and tiller, and electronic 'Tillerpilots' and their equivalents are very good indeed.....and much cheaper than the inboard mounted ram systems used below decks on many wheel steered boats. Raymarine also produce a version of their Tillerpilot adapted for use with a wheel.....a kind of motorised doughnut is attached to the wheel, and it uses the same technology and software as their Tillerpilot.
Racing people and sailing purists and traditionalists prefer tiller steering because you are then much more closely connected to the wind and sea. You feel every wave and every puff of wind and you learn to react instinctively. They also reckon that the speed of response of the boat is much better and that without cables and pulleys or hydraulics between you and the rudder they can feel if the boats sailplan is perfectly balanced. It is all too easy with wheel steering, particularly when using autopilots, to fail to understand how finely a boat should be balanced and how to get the best out of the rig....it also uses less power and you cover the ground quicker if you balance the rig correctly.
Tiller steering can be tiring for watchkeepers, particularly children, on long trips. Surprisingly tiller steering on some boats can take up more room in the cockpit especially when there is a lot going on...eg tacking or turning, or mooring up.
Wheel steering tends to become more practical the bigger the boat....and conversely more unneccessary the smaller the boat. Break-even size is subjective and depends on the boat....I used to have a tiller steered 45 ft 20 ton gaffer which was very heavy hard work, but I've also had 32 and 33 footers with tillers....including a W.Storm. Rustler's 36 footer is tiller steered, but Victoria Yacht's original 34, a similar boat, was wheel steered. Also depends on where the cockpit is, if very far forward, such as a centre cockpit boat , then wheel steering may often be the only sensible option. Some modern production boats in an effort to make their smaller boats look attractive and sophisticated put wheels on, even when the cockpit goes right to the stern so that the helmsman's bum is almost hanging over the stern.....very exposed and not particularly safe.
If the boat is a reasonable size and you need to cover long distances, and you have a family that needs more comfort in bad weather, then wheel would be my option. If you want to feel every bit of spray and every wave and want to race and throw the boat around a bit then go for tiller (I think I know what your answer might be!)

Secondly,
As far as the osmosis is concerned, its not the big scary thing its made out to be. Its like any other defect in an older boat. ALL boats take up moisture eventually and some will show symptoms sooner or later. The timescales are quite slow. No one has sunk from it. Its a great horror phrase to throw around if you are in the business, or trying to squeeze someone for a bargain. I've done several 'osmosis recoveries' on my own boats and been involved in others....and its no big deal. If you really really want to you CAN pay Thousands and go for a fully heated vacuum process in a controlled environment.....but you don't need to, especially if you plan ahead and decide which season or year you want to do the job in. The general principle is that you light abrasive blast the hull, let it dry naturally, rinsing it a LOT regularly with FW, regularly monitor the readings, and let nature do the rest of the work. You may have to fill, fix, and fair any damage before putting on coats of high-build epoxy then fairing and binding coats. Not sure about where you are but hereabouts these sort of jobs work out around £900 to £1800 depending on the boat and how much of it you do yourself. Compare that to the price of a new engine, say a Beta 35...perhaps £6K or £7K!! Or the cost of all new rigging....or furling forestay and genoa etc.
Depending on how bad it is, you can still sail the boat before you fix the hull, you CAN get by just on filling the blisters every season. Some in the trade now say, if you cant afford it now, just leave it until it really needs to be done....although obviously not too long as it doesnt get any better on its own! Also helps a lot to reduce the threat if you haul the boat out every winter.

Thirdly,
If choosing between boats....dont underestimate the huge cost of new stuff on board. A pretty hull with nice varnish and cushions but an old engine and rig and sails is probably not as good a deal as a slightly dull boat with a new engine, mast, sails, winches, or rig! Elbow grease, polish, and paint doesnt cost much, but equipment does!
As for the outer Hebrides..its always you and the crew....not the boat. If the boat is well maintained it will get you anywhere whatever size it is. Its a challenging sailing area and you need to be pretty adept at pilotage, tide-work, and met and relatively self sufficient. Good mooring and ground tackle arrangements are essential. A good reliable engine is essential....its very often an upwind uptide flog between those islands! Good VHF and domestic broadcast radio essential for forecasts as well.

Sorry about all that. Reads a bit like 'War and Peace'!

Jolly Roger
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Re: Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

Post by Jolly Roger » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:44 pm

Sorry I am a bit late posting, but how did you get on today?

For a first boat and having 2 young girls, I would like to proffer a little advice about your dreams. You have not mentioned your sailing experience and whether your wife and girls have tried sailing. I am assuming you are all novices and will not suffer from sea sickness.

Until you can sail the Berwick and your family enjoy the experience, you will be restricted to local short trips. The Berwick will certainly reach and return to the west coast of Scotland, but I would worry about those distances with a young family. The attention span of young children is not great and they certainly will need to be kept entertained. That might mean lengthy periods down below in a warm stuffy cabin in rough weather, certainly not fun for them or you on deck.

I agree with everything mikebuggy has said. On choosing which is the better boat, I would not worry so much about wheel or steering, but condition of all major bits. How old is the engine? What is the condition and quality of the sails? When were the electronics fitted and which brand is fitted? When was the standing rigging changed? Doe the cabin suffer from drooping headlining? How good is the fabric and foam of the bunk cushions? How up to date is the gas and electic system? Is there any osmosis? What is the condition of the gel coat? Has the hull been painted? etc. etc. etc. Do get your favoured boat surveyed as the advice you will get will probably save you more money than the cost or possibly save you making a big mistake.
Roger
Concerto Fulmar FR38
Photos at http://s1294.photobucket.com/user/Conce ... 2/library/

Tryweryn
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Re: Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

Post by Tryweryn » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:35 pm

Many thanks for the replies. It was really good of you to take the time and effort to reply.
http://www.nybconwy.co.uk/boats_for_sal ... 3295.html/
This is the Berwick. Looked okay a good hull etc but I think I leaning towards a wheel.
http://www.nybconwy.co.uk/boats_for_sal ... 3298.html/
This was the second one. Outside was amazing and has a wheel. Tired inside but a cheap price to fit it. I think for two girls and two adults Centaurs are a bit small.
https://www.theyachtmarket.com/boats_fo ... 424&page=1
This has cropped up and looks good but I really wanted a Westerly...something about them. Like the landrover of boats lol

http://www.networkyachtbrokers.co.uk/bo ... 0922.html/
Nice Pentland here but sooo far away.
So at present...I'm a bit lost and still looking. I do want a wheel as it seems more appropriate for me. At present I'm all theory negligible practical. No one as yet gets seasick...yet lol. I think it will be a case of traveling further afield. But learning a lot. I think for the family it has to be something about 31ft. I'm googling like mad trying to find one.

Jolly Roger
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Re: Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

Post by Jolly Roger » Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:41 pm

Your best bet is to look at as many boats as possible, when you see the right one you will know it. Have you looked at the WOS Craft for Sale at http://www.westerly-owners.co.uk/craftforsale.php? This would be a very good place to start.

Even if the boat is in the wrong place it may pay to road it to where you want to be based or get some help to sail it there to get some experience under your belt.

Try joining a local club to meet others who might be able to help you improve your knowledge and skills.

Even consider waiting a year and crewing on other people's yachts to get some experience, it is certainly the cheapest way to get sailing as there are plenty of boats looking for crew. This will give you confidence, so when you do buy a yacht and take your family along, they will respect your decisions as you know what to do (it is a tough learning curve, but very worthwhile).

I only quickly looked at your links, but internet searches do not give you a feel for what a yacht is really like. Being there is definitely the way to choose a boat, the online searches just are an aid to finding suitable boats to look at. I have just returned to sailing after a 21 year break, but I knew what type of yacht I wanted and finally bought the third one I saw after being pipped on the first one I saw. In fact the one I bought was tatty in lots of areas, but had most of the major things done. My own skills from nearly 30 years of sailing and mucking about in boats means I knew what needed to be done to bring it up to scratch. You can check my progress in this thread http://www.westerly-owners.co.uk/woafor ... f=1&t=2748 and see photos using the link in my signature.

Hope you find these comments helpful, but keep asking questions.
Roger
Concerto Fulmar FR38
Photos at http://s1294.photobucket.com/user/Conce ... 2/library/

Waka Tiki
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Re: Berwick wheel or not to wheel? (buying)

Post by Waka Tiki » Mon May 12, 2014 12:14 am

Hi there,
I am a recent and inexperienced owner of a tiller steered Berwick... I'll add my penny worth and random thoughts to what others have said.

One of the jobs on my to do list is the headlining with its "Westerly Droop". It can, I understand be a messy job. Some of the later Westerlys , including mine which is 1979, had their head lining on removable plywood panels and I understand this make the headlining much easier.

I echo what has previously been said about equipment. My boat is on a mid channel mooring... a tender is essential and given the currents around Porthmadog an outboard is not really a luxury.

I too have a young family (8, 5 and 3). one of the first items I bought was a life raft.... I got a second hand one off ebay and had it serviced.

One of the first bits of kit I had fitted was an eberspacher heater... expensive but again with young children not really a luxury.

The fitting of the auto helm with tiller steering is simplicity itself: there is a "pin" on the body of the unit which fits into ma socket (mine is drilled into one of the "planks" of the seating in the cockpit" while the arm fits onto a stud on the tiller. I would have thought that a boat which has been used will have an appropriate auto helm.

One of my considerations was safety: the boom on the Berwick is high enough up to avoid injury in the case of an accidental gybe; the main-sheet traveller is behind the tiller and out of the way of little hands. on my previous boat, a 26 foot Kingfisher the main-sheet track was across the companion way. Maybe this is more efficient re sailing but not good for small children.

Running rigging: what state is this in... people are rightly concerned with standing but have a look at the eye watering cost of new, decent rope!

Do you intend to anchor? What state is the chain in and is there enough? I need more on my boat... the previous owner didn't seem to anchor much... I,m not that fond of marinas!

At the risk of repeating my comments on previous posts I was very keen on a Pentland with its stern cabin. One concern I had is that would I be happen with young children sleeping in a separate cabin. I know many will disagree but I prefer to have the kids up front with myself on a saloon berth... they've got to get past me to reach the cockpit.

Have a think about where the galley is. Some say its better to have it by the companion way where there is better ventilation (mine is here). Other Berwicks have them at the forward end of the saloon... more stable here?

Osmosis: my Berwick has it... I'm more concerned about the minuscule leak I have from one of my keel bolts.

DISCLAIMER: No offense is intended to those with wheel steering / stern cabins/ forward galley.

Cheers john

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