Model : Norman 27
Cockpit : Centre
Year : 1983
Engine & Fuel : Honda four stroke outboard petrol
Capacity : 15 hp
Gas water heater : Yes
Toilet : Portapotti
“Hunky ‘B’” (HB for quickness) was acquired during September 2011 as our first boat. Although we had our honeymoon a long time ago on the Oxford and have also cruised the Llangollen, the Caledonian and the Trent and Mersey, all that was over thirty years ago!
Before purchase, HB was craned out for survey, and some fresh antifouling applied and the gunwales coachline repainted. I’m not sure whether the (damaged) hardwood rubbing plates at the sides of the rear hull were original or not but they came off, the fixing holes reglassed inside and filled and the area primed, undercoated and painted to match the new coachline. Some corner fenders top and bottom on both sides completed the job.
Despite this our new acquisition was in need of some serious TLC which struck my wife forcibly on our third trip out when we locked down the Buckby flight at Stoke Bruerne with a beautiful 70 footer – embarrassing or what? The wooden port side windscreen window, fitted by a previous owner to replace that lost in an accident, fell off into the marina on our return and needed to be fished out with the boathook – time for some serious effort.
The two poly water tanks were loose in the centre hold, held in place only by about 2 dozen empty one gallon water bottles. The latter went into the skip and a framework made and fitted so that Screwfix’s finest poly straps could be fitted to hold the two tanks securely in place.
The cockpit and cabins were fitted with some rather manky carpet so that also went in the skip and the flooring was replaced by “sticky planks” in a light oak colour from Homebase – these are designed for Kitchens/Bathrooms and are non-slip, self-adhesive, look smart and easy to keep clean. Vertical carpeted surfaces on the bunk and bench support panels were recovered with Carpetright’s finest (i.e. cheapest) felt-backed carpet and the dinette area recarpetted with heavy-duty floor tiles.
The filler panels in the cockpit were covered in the original beige leatherette vinyl, unpleasantly sticky to the touch so these were recovered in new white leatherette vinyl from Dunelm Mill – the biggest problem was finding 4mm staples but B&Q Depot fortunately keep these. One of the filler panels was more hole than panel – a result of the various throttle systems fitted down the years, so a replacement plywood panel was cut using the old one as a template.
The 12 volt wiring in the console was a disaster with, for example, two wires three inches apart joined with a 6 foot coil of excess cable! Stripping out all the past additions, I ended up with a large bag of unwanted cable and chocolate blocks. The original 6-way switch panel had been augmented by numerous switches fitted to the side of the console moulding and these also came out. Two new panels including a battery meter and cigarette lighter (most essential) smartened everything up – I still have to fill in those redundant side holes though!
The toilet compartment was also a disaster zone with a wobbly floor and a missing back panel. I believe that a shower had been fitted at some stage (how did anyone fit inside to use it?) but this had been removed leaving a cutout in the floor with hardwood planks laid loose on top. The “Portapotti” flush bellows had a split on top so everytime the loo was used, nice blue liquid squirted out and added to the general ambience! A new 18mm ply floor was fitted and covered with those ubiqitious “sticky planks”, the missing rear panel (which I found in the rear cabin and which followed the hardwood planks into the skip) was replaced by timber cladding painted silk white. A new bellows was ordered and fitted to the “Portapotti” (the half hour which the instructions lead you to believe the job should take actually lasting for around two hours) and, one thorough clean later, a loo which, whilst not a place to entertain guests, was at least fairly pleasant to use.
I have referred to HB’s “tarts boudoir interior” and that red velour with “hairy” white piping had to go. We ordered new cushions for the front and rear cabins from an upholsterer in Kettering and, whilst not cheap, these were superbly made. If anyone is in need of something similar and is within reach of Kettering, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll forward details of the company concerned. It is a small family business run by a most helpful and knowledgeable individual. The supplier also made up one long and one short vinyl cushions to replace the existing orange monstrosities.
That wooden windscreen side panel, apparently roughly hewn from wafer board using a blunt axe, had to go and a supplier I contacted who claimed to be able to make replacement Norman windscreens (not mentioned in the forum), initially quoted about £500 for an aluminium/acrylic replacement but then cried off upon learning that the windscreen was hinged. Why this should make a difference is a mystery but an alternative was needed. A mull over a lemonade or two in Lanzarote provided a notion that a ply core, faced with anodised aluminium strips bolted through with stainless steel “interbolts” to form a channel and into which was fitted laminated glass in a rubber channel might just work. It did and two new shiny side windscreen panels were the result. The ply core has innumerable coats of sealer and the aluminium strips (all mitred at the corners) sit on a bed of marine sealant – heavy but ought to last a long time. The accident which did for the portside side panel also damaged the bottom left corner of the front windscreen panel so the redundant original starboard side panel was robbed of a copper corner bracket which was then used to repair the damaged corner. The original hinge between the two front panels was rusted away for 80% of its length and was replaced with an aluminium hinge ordered off the internet. New “Brighton Latches” and hood attachment pins completed the job at a total cost of around £140.
A few other jobs were also undertaken including the replacement of the separate hot and cold water taps with a nice new mixer tap, the respraying of the discoloured plastic grilles in the cabin doors in “Appliance White” (from Halfords), the repolishing of the various brass bolts and the replacing of the wooden cupboard handles (the “bruisers”) with flush brass lifting ring handles. Oh and, revarnishing most of the edging timbers in the cockpit/cabins plus the cockpit side rubbing strips and rear “modesty panel” boards (the latter carry a vinyl panel which covers the rectangular cutout in the hull where the outboard is mounted).
Next year will see the fitting of a 240 volt shore hookup (with consumer unit), Propex Gas/Electric heater, and the replacement of the grubby lining carpet in both cabins. I also intend to replace the gunwales fender strip and do something about the timber rubbing strakes along the hull. The rear sections of these are somewhat the worse for wear and I have found a timber supplier nearby who I believe will be able to machine some matching hardwood for replacements. Oh, and the deck surface on the port side needs repainting to that I’ve already carried out on the starboard side.
It does seem that, size for size, a boat needs far more attention than a house, or indeed a wife! Still, it’s all good fun and the notion of taking your accommodation with you whilst enjoying beautiful countryside, experiencing the varied wildlife (you should see some of the fisherman!), and imbibing the odd tonic water is indeed a fine one.