Last year I purchased a Norman 23, "Milpen" from the "Nationwide boat sales" and I am refurbishing her fully inside. I have the craft levelled on chocks in my driveway. I can send any pics you wish, as I have a digital camera, I have copies of the original Ad by Nationwide and various piccys as work is progressing. My good lady wife said that she would not go sailing on any waterboat without a shower and proper loo, hence the refurbishment. As you saw, the craft I got from Nationwide was originally called "Milpen" and the asking price was 2,750.

Before I saw the craft, I offered them 2,000 and they contacted the owner, and he agreed my price within ten minutes. I thought that was fishy, I then spoke to Nationwide and they implied that the previous owner just wanted rid of the craft. So I offered 1,800 and that was agreed, I was amazed and I gave 50 deposit over the phone. Don't forget all this was without actually seeing the craft.

My wife and I drove up a few days later. When I saw the craft I wished that I had offered less, but that is life. We paid the rest of the money, and they agreed to have their trailer-man check out the trailer and to deliver "Milpen" to me in a few days, it turned out that the trailer was US, brakes no good, chassis bent, tow ball seized, jockey wheel fell off and the tyres were shot. The engine was steered by a thin hook, inserted in a hole which had been drilled into the engine cover! The steering wheel was connected by a large Bowden cable to this hook. This was described as Hydraulic remote steering. The engine controls were just pushed into a remote control unit and none of the cables or control were of any use or suitable for their purpose. The stainless steel sing ? sink was connected to a foot pump (broken) the suction pipe was left dangling in a plastic jerry can which stank. The boat hook was a broom handle with a steel screw set into one end on the side. The electronic bilge pump was held down by car filler, the stuff you mix with a hardener to fill in dents in a car (which completely blocked all the suction holes) the outlet hose was soft plastic and was taped to the pump with PVC tape, the hose itself was kinked and was made up of four pieces of assorted hoses, and the wires were only twisted together and taped together. The life-ring is a huge red and white ring which had been near a fire and was blistered and bent from heat, if you were able to throw it at someone you might injure them. The anchor was a single hook type only suitable for jamming into a bank, (if it was used as an anchor and thrown overboard no way would it hold on the bottom) it was connected to four feet of B & Q type garden chain and then a length of clothes line.

I have had a look at the Chrysler 150 (lbs thrust) Sailor engine that came supplied with the craft, it is rusted from neglect, internally and under the cover. I have decided that I am going to fit another outboard engine to my boat, and I was wondering what HP I should chose, the Chrysler was about 10 HP.

I thought about a diesel Outboard and enquired on the net and after a some time I found that Selva made one www.selva-uk.demon.co.uk/outboardindex.htm then run down the page and the first blue square shows the diesel outboard and I then phoned the company they said the ad was two years old and that the diesel was not made any more (that's up to date technology for you).

Yanmar also make one, if you wanted to look at the outboard the website is .http://www.yanmar.co.uk it looks lovely but it costs more than 9,000 plus vat. prop not included. Like you I fancied diesel. It looks like I will have to buy a 4 stroke about 15 HP that seems to be the ideal choice left for me. What ideas do you have please? 

Oh by the way I have retired a bit early (that gives an idea as to my age) and have a fine house overlooking the sea at Shoreham. My wife will NOT go to sea with me because she does not like the movement from the waves, our son had a MacGregor 26 (Power/Sail) and she was terrified when we had a quick trip for lunch to the new Sovereign Harbour at Eastbourne, but she has agreed to allow me to have a River boat, with the proviso that she had a proper loo and proper shower. I purchased "Milpen" with the intention of completely restoring her for perhaps next Summer. The main reason was to get a sound Hull to work on at a reasonable price. "Milpen" had originally been built with an inboard engine, perhaps a 1600cc ford and a zed drive but that has been long gone, The back end had been badly chopped apart, with a wobbly jigsaw and the transom had been cut at about 35" up from the keel line and the outboard dropped on the cut timbers without any thought about resealing the timber, or the fact that the prop was above the keel line!!!

I completely built this little craft from scratch last year and fancied a larger challenge. I drew up my own plans and made it with Marine Ply and bits of driftwood found on the beach (hence the name) the sails and mast came from a windsurf board.


I think I will call "Milpen" the same "Driftwood" again because the rubbing strakes and all the hard wood I use on board is all driftwood. and it sounds a nice and suitable name for a river boat.

Where the D shaped bunk was up in the bows I carefully removed all the timber tops and risers and stowed them away for use later if possible, I had previously contacted Tek tanks http://www.tek-tanks.com near Alton in Hampshire and ordered three tanks for Sweet water and a holding tank for black (loo water/mess). The tank for the bows was shaped to suit the D shape of the bows and holds about 45 Gallons or 200 litres of water. I used the old timber sheets where ever I could and rebuilt the bunk area around the tank. I supported the tank from rubbing the hull by injecting building foam all around and under the tank after ensuring that the tank was level and secure I cut a sight gauge in the form of a rectangular hole in the timber sheet against the tank, as the tank was translucent and I used the quick-fit plastic pipe work and ran a pipe from the tank to aft end below the worktops on the port side having added a vent for the tank.

Our last communications were about a trailer, and since we last wrote I have had one built by my local blacksmith, This is my plan.


 I remember asking you for your ideas and you were not too sure, I enclose a picture of the trailer, as it is nearly finished, Oh yes, whilst filling in your register I saw that a man in Northampton wanted the use of a trailer, I have Emailed him. In the end my local blacksmith made a new trailer copying the old one with much stronger steel and then had it galvanised and finally transferred the useable parts over from the old trailer, I am still setting things up and the trailer will be useable in about a week. I found on Ebay an electric winch for 35.00 and have a plate mounted on the front of the trailer for it.

I have also wanted a cover to allow me to work on "Driftwood" in this English climate, I found on the internet a site www.kingcanopy.com who have canopies but they are over in the USA and they are reasonably priced, after several Emails to them they said that their English agent was www.norfolkleisure.sagesite.co.uk , when I contacted them about a canopy with sides and ends which was 27' long by 10' wide and up to 10' height in the centre they said that they had 5 left and that if I wanted one it would cost me 500.00 plus Shipping plus VAT from Norwich, I was a bit shaken as they were $500 in USA. but after chatting I was able to get it here for 350 all in.

I enclose a piccy of the frame over my boat.