history

Scrumpy used to be called 'Pod'. I heard of a family called Peas who had a boat called Pod, and that was pleasing. For a while I called the boat 'pod' as that made it an ambigram (a word that reads the same upside down). I imagined that if ever there was a rescue boat looking for a boat named pod, they'd see the name the same even if the boat was capsized. I decided that circumstance being so unlikely, I'd prefer a name associated with the area the boat comes from. Scrumpy cider is made in Devon, and it's a drink I rather like.

I bought the boat at Millbrook in 2008. The builder had sailed it as far as Majorca, and then sold it in southern Spain to a fellow from Plymouth, and with a delivery skipper, he sailed it back to Millbrook and took it out of the water. It had been sitting in the yard for a few years when I found it it and was in a pretty poor state.

Pod after launching at Millbrook

There had been a hot water boiler - the chimney had rusted away allowing rainwater into a hull. The whole boat was musty and some bulkheads were soft. The engines were in poor condition, but they just about worth fixing up I thought (I was wrong about that). The cockpit and its lockers were made of plywood and laminated using polyester resin (bad combination!). The wood was rotten in places, and it was dangerous to stand in some parts. In short, it was a decent pair of hulls and beams, a fairly unused set of sails and that was about it. The toilet pipes and the black water tank stunk too. The worktops and stove were ruined in the galley, so it was perfect for my intention at that time - to experiment with a commercial sail-only fishing boat.

This short-lived enterprise had one benefit over some previous enterprises. When this one failed, I was left with something good - a sea-worthy boat - as opposed to nothing at all, which was the result of my previous commercial effort.

I replaced the cockpit entirely (in the boatyard in Totnes, I parked my trailer under the cockpit and went at it with an axe, a circular saw and a grinder and dropped the whole mess into a trailer), built engine mounting pods, added an aft platform (after discussing this with Richard Woods - he met me at Millbrook and we sat in the rotting cockpit discussing the design of the aft platform, amongst other things).

Cockpit removed

The boat had been lined with foam backed vinyl, which I hate at the best of times, but this was peeling and hanging off the roof and the cabin walls and it stunk. I regard this foam, in this condition (and it all ends up that way sooner or later) to be dangerous, peeled it all off, ground way the glue and the gack (with an excellent powered face mask bringing fresh air in from outside). I painted the inside of the boat with standard domestic kitchen/bathroom paint, which is washable, mould resistant, seemingly impervious to damp, comes in any colour you like and is cheap. (Very satisfying decision that was).

I also replaced the bulkheads and tabbed them in with epoxy/glass - something I was pleased I'd done when we hit the rocks in the Azores. The bulkheads stayed put and the boat was only slightly damaged, unlike a Catana I heard about that hit the rocks in the Scillies, causing many of its polyester tabbed bulkheads to pop loose, requiring extensive repairs.

But it still wasn't ready for serious cruising, so I took it out of the water into Totnes boatyard for almost another year of full time work while I made adjustments to make it ready for cruising. My choices were informed by Scrumpy being my 6th cruising boat - so I knew what I wanted and how to do it. (I know even more about boats and boat-building now, and if I ever get another, it won't be a fixer-upper. It's just too much work to get it right, and not that satisfying fixing other people's bodges. If I buy another boat one day, it will be one equipped for the trip in mind and located where I want to start sailing, and then I'll sail it and resell it in a similar condition.)

I started my blog to document the preparation of the boat for cruising, so the rest of Scrumpy's history is available in as much, or probably more detail than you'll ever need.

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