Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I think back to when I first bought Lady Jane and remember she didn't have running water and that I only had vague instructions on how to start the engine. Sometimes I need these memories when, on a particular day, things don't go well and it feels like I've not achieved anything.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, I'm trying to concentrate on the living spaces first, making it more comfortable to be on Lady Jane in the longer term. After getting hot and cold running water sorted out, my first real task on Lady Jane was to give the shower room a much needed coat of paint. An easy job you would think - not so.

The shower room was basically a rusty steel box with a rusty door, a rusted through vent on the roof, some rusty pipes leading to the shower and a slightly worse for wear hand basin. The first job involved rubbing down, in preparation for painting. Rubbing down, I quickly learnt, needs power tools - an angle grinder in fact. Power tools need power.

I tried using an inverter to run the angle grider, but constantly worried about the batteries, so had to go out and buy a generator. A nice small quiet one would be good for the job I thought. After speaking with people it became apparent I needed to get rid of the rust using a needle gun. Needle guns need compressed air.

Now the generator I bought was not powerful enough to drive any compressor I might buy, or hire, so I had to get stuck in in the engine room and sort out the compressor and compressed air system on board. The compressor needed replacement drive belts and one of the compressed air bottles needed a regulator and air hoses fitted. Now with the donkey engine driving the 110v dc generator I have compressed air and a working needle gun. The setup is not ideal, but works.

Months later, after lots of trips backwards and forwards in Baby Jane and plenty of new bits and pieces, the shower room is rubbed down, primed and painted. Sadly though, that's not yet the end of the story.

I need to weld sections of the shower room that have rusted through to the engine room and galley, to do this I need to remove the existing pipework so I can get in there. Still, at least I can get a nice shower at the moment. Oh and I still need to replace that rusty vent.

I'll probably replace the basin with a nice one which has the taps built in and put in some kind of cupboard, or shelves, and finish the job with a shiny new mirror which I already have on board.

Monday, December 27, 2004


I would just like to write a quick word of thanks to all those people who have given me such positive feedback about this blog, either directly or via e-mail.

You know who you all are, but I'd particularly like to thank Eddie and Carol, Lee, Reno, Lever, Karen, John and last, but not least, Kate.

It is the positive comments I've had that help motivate me to write more. They also affirm the idea that producing the blog was a good idea in the first place. In the beginning I had my doubts about it I can tell you.

Friday, December 24, 2004

The fridge story

I'm learning that almost nothing goes to plan in the marine world, and that things always take longer than you'd expect. The fridge story is a perfect example of this.

As part of my plan for us to be able to live comfortably aboard, I'm installing a fridge and separate freezer. There was a fridge on board, but I wanted to install a new, energy efficient, version. The idea being that the wind turbine I have on order will keep the batteries topped up so I can run my domestic appliances through an invertor. An invertor simply converts battery power into regular mains voltage. The more energy efficient the better for running my fridge /freezer on wind power I'm thinking.

Anyway, I carefully measured the space I wanted the fridge and freezer to go, and then set about finding the perfect pair. In the event I decided to 'borrow' the fridge and freezer from my house. I'm not living there anyway, and I'm sure that whoever rents the place won't mind the old fridge from the boat:) It has been quite a hassle getting stuff on and off the boat on account of it being moored in the middle of the rive, and I did not have the space in the truck, so opted to take only the fridge and do the freezer later.

One of my new boat friends is Jan, who owns a tug which he uses mainly for hauling a big old barge about the place. I arranged for Jan to help take the fridge, some oxyacetylene bottles, my new gas cooker and the fridge (told you the truck was full) from the aggregate yard adjacent out to Lady Jane.

As it happened, Jan was in a bit of a hurry so unloaded everything and set off back down the river on the tide fairly quickly. If it was not for the tide I'm sure the visit would have involved cups of tea/coffee and plenty of chat. Picture the scene, there I am all alone on deck, with a cold wind howling and surrounded by all this stuff to get inside.

The oxyacetylene bottles were no problem, just heavy. The new cooker fitted into it's allotted space perfectly but then my problems started...The fridge was too big to get into the galley through the watertight door. Doh!!!

Jan is gone, putting the fridge into Baby Jane was not an option as the sea water would undoubtedly get to it and, obviously, I could not leave it on deck.

Over an hour later, in what seemed like a howling gale, I had mostly dismantled the fridge and finally got it into the space where I wanted it to go. It took another twenty minutes or so to re-assemble it, as the space is quite a tight fit. Needless to say, the fridge is not leaving the boat for quite a while.

Next I've got installing the freezer to look forward to, but at least I know what the issues are and I have the luxury of being alongside a quay.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I have a plan

The main purpose behind buying Lady Jane was the concept of a house by the sea which could go places, except places like say Zimbabwe which have the distinct disadvantage of being landlocked. It is this concept which defines my plan for Lady Jane both now and for the longer term.

Lady Jane is a solid boat and I have no concerns over the state of her hull and the machinery on board, although they do, of course, need work. My immediate plan is to start with fixing up the accommodation and living space within the boat. My thinking with starting on the living areas of Lady Jane is simply to make her as pleasant a place to be as is reasonably possible. This way I get to enjoy being on board Lady Jane right from the beginning.

It's all about enjoyment and safety

Don't get me wrong here, I've absolutely loved all the time I've spent on board, either hanging out with Kate, or other mates who have been on board from time to time, or working on some aspect of the boat. It's just that the lack of some of the creature comforts, like a flushing toilet, starts to wear a guy down after a while.

As soon as the creature comforts have been taken care of I will rub down, prime and paint Lady Jane. Curiously enough some of this is quite closely intertwined with getting the living accommodation sorted out. For example the wheelhouse roof leaks, so as part of making the wheelhouse a much nicer place to hang out in I need to rub down, cut and weld plates and then repaint the roof anyway.

Once she has had a lick of paint and is looking good I plan to sort out the various issues with Lady Jane's machinery, such as a blowing number 4 cylinder head, so I am a lot more sure of her reliability when we take her to sea. I will also install an anchor and winch which, along with a suitable tender, will make it safer when we take her out to sea.

Last, but not least, I plan to install modern navigation equipment. It would also be nice to have some of the more critical guages, such as temperature and oil pressure guages, also displayed in the wheelhouse.

The plan described above is the short term plan, which will have the effect of stopping the rot and making Lady Jane a pleasure to live on, and fit to go places.

The long term plan includes moving the wheelhouse forward, making more living and deck space and generally fitting Lady Jane out for cruising in places like the Med so we can invite friends and family to come and stay aboard.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

From the engine room

For the interested, the technically minded, and those with nothing better to do, here is a list of the main stuff used to operate Lady Jane.

There is a lot to Lady Jane's machinery, so this is just a summary. No doubt there will be more detail in subsequent blogs as I work on her.

The main engine, a 6 cylinder, 550hp 6D6 Industrie turbo diesel
A Kuypers hydraulic gearbox, a massive affair with neutral, 1 forward and 1 reverse gear.
This drives a Lima-bronze LIPS 4 bladed propeller with a diameter of 1,90 m (6.2 ft)
4 main diesel tanks, with a combined capacity of 25000 litres (6,604US/5,500UK Gallons)
A lubricating oil storage tank of 600 litres (158US/132UK Gallons)
A 110v dc compressor with 2 large compressed air bottles
A 24v battery bank, comprised of 12x2v submarine batteries, each of 960 amp hours
A 25hp air cooled, hand crank, 2 cylinder, noisy, smokey, dirty Lister donkey engine
A 12kw 110v dc dynamo, driven by the main engine
A 7.5kw 110v dc dynamo, driven by the donkey engine
2 2kw 24v dc dynamos, one each being driven by the main and donkey engines
1 110v bilge pump, this is the main bilge pump
1 Bilge pump, driven by the donkey engine through a clutch
The steering gear is an hydraulic HYDROSTAR type H S 80 R with two parallel pistons
The steering can be operated manually or electronically

The heart of Lady Jane, the main engine to the right of the picture, stands taller than me. Yup, those are the rocker arms you can see at the top of the engine. Starting the beast is a little more complex than just turning a key. To give you an idea, here is the checklist to start the engine I was given by the previous owner:

Open Chimney
Open sweet water header tank valve
Check sweet water level
If level low, open valve to water supply
Close when level sufficient
Position 110 & 24V breakers for charging
Fill and adjust bottom air tank
Turn oil filter wiper
Open raw water sea cocks
Check gear in neutral
Prime engine oil
Prime crankshaft
Oil valves & pillar bearings
Open day tank valve
Open fuel filter
Check fuel supply
Set throttle half turn
Check governer in run position
Start with air

Note the 'start with air' - You can't see them in the picture, but there are two compressed air bottles in the engine room. The bottom one is used primarily for starting the engine, the top one I use to drive air tools on board. After everything is set up you pull a lever which opens compressed air to the engine, giving it the initial 'kick' to get it started.

To help people understand what is what, particularly in the mass of piping below the deck plates in the engine room, the pipes are all colour coded:

Red = Diesel
Green = Sea water
Blue = Fresh Water
Yellow = Oil
The orange pipes are simply guard rails.

The jumble you see on the left of the picture is the main electrics board, with the pressurised water tank below it. I looked behind the electrics board and nearly fell over - it's a big birds nest of wires.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Big excitement...

Finally, I'm taking Lady Jane out for a spin. All I need now is for the weather to co-operate and we will be good to go.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to Robin, who will do some of the much needed welding on board. Because of issues with compatibility of power on the boat versus Robin's welding gear Robin has arranged a berth for Lady Jane round at Fareham, so we can use the mains supply there.

As a result of Robin's visit I managed to get the last impediment to Lady Jane sailing, the steering, working. There had been some discussion about a crew, but nothing concrete had materialized. Such is the marine world. No way, even though I apparently legally can, will I skipper Lady Jane for myself at this stage and for a first voyage I really want a ships engineer, just in case.

When last on board Lady Jane I heard the distinctive sound of the harbour masters boat, so naturally went out to check it out as I think it's a very cool boat. I was getting a bit nervous when the harbour master spotted me on deck and came zooming straight over. I was thinking 'am I in trouble for Lady Jane dropping rust into the river or something?' As it happens John, the harbour master, is very enthusiastic about Lady Jane and was dropping by for a chat.

I invited John and two other gentlemen he had with him on board, and set about showing off the boat. Standing there in the engine room, with the main engine ticking over, John offered to skipper Lady Jane for the fun of it. Well, coincidences like this cannot be ignored, I immediately accepted and after consultation of diaries and tide tables arranged for him to skipper for me on Sunday.

Last night I spoke to Robin to finalize arrangements. The plan now is on Sunday John will skipper Lady Jane, Robin will be ships engineer while Kate and I will crew. We will take her out into the Solent for a bit and aim to be tied up alongside at Lady Jane's temporary berth in Fareham on high tide, which is about 4.00pm.

Lots to organize. I need to get a 12v battery for the ships radio and a pump to lose the water I've been collecting in the fish hold through an inconvenient hole in the deck (the first welding job to be done). I need to find some anchor chain, and stash my anchor so it can be deployed in an emergency. I also need to go round securing all the bits and pieces scattered around the boat so nothing gets broken if the sea turns out to be a bit rough. Finally I need to clean Lady Jane up, ready to receive visitors.

It's taken close on five months to finally get Lady Jane moving. I'm so excited, and nervous!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A room with a view.

The view up the river Itchen from high up on Lady Jane's mast - her wheelhouse roof and stern are visible in the foreground

I am reminded, while sitting on deck with a hot cup of tea, of the warm glow of satisfaction which is the result of progress made after a good days work. I knew Lady Jane was going to be a big challenge when I bought her, and it's fair to say that I have not been disappointed so far.

The prospect of a good, long term project was part of the reason for buying Lady Jane, but not the main reason. I, like many people judging by house prices, have always wanted to live by the sea. Lady Jane gives me that opportunity, along with a big toy and the opportunity to travel. If I don't like my neighbors I can always move, hey Donna! Although she is a boat, many aspects of Lady Jane are more like a regular house in that there is plenty of space and, with work, it is possible to live extremely comfortably on her. So now I get to take my house, complete with laundry and washing up, on holiday with me.

The house with a sea view has really not disappointed. Being moored in the middle of a busy river provides a continual distraction to anything productive being done on board. It is now not unusual to have some of my new boat friends drop by for a visit which, although very welcome, is probably the biggest distraction. I recall an evening late in summer when Kate and I were just settling into a barbecue and a glass of wine on deck when, a neighbor, dropped in. That visit was maybe not so welcome just at that particular time.

In the short time I've been a boat owner I have met plenty of boating people who, without exception, have been extremely pleasant and helpful. I have been very surprised, and touched, by the offers of help on Lady Jane, from friends locally as well as from the boating friends I have made in the last few months.

Although now it's winter and the river is much quieter, there is still a diversity of boats up and down past Lady Jane, from crews practicing rowing along with their attendant, and often vociferous, trainers in inflatable power boats to huge ships and barges carrying fuel and aggregates, all mixed in with all manner of private power boats and yachts oh and of course the odd fishing boat. Sometimes a particular yacht, or the sound of an engine commands attention. There are some beautiful $$$$ boats around, hope they don't get in Lady Jane's way. A favorite is an old WWII British MTB which puts in an appearance once in a while - oddly enough she is apparently now powered by German Mann diesels.

Although Lady Jane is moored in a river, the river is tidal so the constant ebb and flow of the tide has it's own fascination as the water constantly hides and shows parts of the river to the delight of the flocks of birds always in attendance.

I simply love being on board Lady Jane.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Supermodel Molly

Here we see Molly showing off the latest in must have dog accessories - the life jacket.

In truth, the jacket is more for ease of getting Molly back into Baby Jane in case she jumps or falls in. Despite everyone telling us flat coat retrievers love water and swimming, my experience with Molly is that she loves to paddle but will not swim or jump into deep water.

It's unlikely Molly will jump or fall from Lady Jane because the sides are a little high for that. Still, a game of fetch with her favorite toy could go horribly wrong, so we will need to take care.

I'm thinking the jacket will be handy for taking Molly shopping or something, as she looks a little like a guide dog. Pity she can't act like one!

Friday, December 10, 2004

From the deck of Lady Jane

For those that are interested, here is a little more detail on the construction and layout of Lady Jane.

Lady Jane is a single engine, steel hull trawler. She is entirely welded (as opposed to riveted which is apparently not as strong) and divided by 5 watertight bulkheads into 6 classic trawler compartments which comprise of; steering room, galley with crew quarters, engine room with battery room and wheelhouse, fish hold, forward locker and the net locker. The stern is of the cruiser stern type, rounded to take heavy seas.

To give you an idea of the size of the boat, these are the approximate sizes of the various parts of Lady Jane. This picture was taken by the previous owners when she was out of the water last year.

Forward locker - 16ft wide, narrowing to bow and 7ft high
Net locker - 16ft wide, narrowing to bow and 12ft high
Fish hold - 20ft wide at widest, narrowing below, 38ft long, 14ft high
Engine room - similar size to fish hold
Crew quarters - 18ft wide, 20ft long, 12ft high
Steering room - 16ft wide, 5ft long, 8ft high
Galley - 14ft wide, 12ft long, 7ft high
Battery room - 14ft wide, 12ft long, 6ft high
Wheelhouse - 14ft wide, narrowing to 8ft wide, 10ft long, 7ft high

If you noticed their absence, and are curious, the heads (toilet) are next to the galley and the shower room is next to the battery room.

In terms of accommodation, Lady Jane was built to sleep 7 in total. There is generous crew space within the crew quarters, complete with 6 'coffin' bunks, so called because they have a restricted entry to the bunk, providing the occupant with a cozy, personal space, each with their own light and storage area. The coffin bunks are presumably built so as to prevent crew members falling out of bed in heavy seas! There is also a bunk in the wheelhouse for the skipper.

Lady Jane was built simple, but tough, for an extreme working environment in the North Sea. Because of her inherent strength, I have no concerns about taking her on any kind of voyage. In some ways I think she is the marine equivalent of the old style Land Rovers which seem to last forever.

This is a big project for me - at an overall length of 27 meters (90 odd feet), that is twice the length of my house, and at 6.2 meters (20 odd feet) wide about the same width as my house. With the wheelhouse, Lady Jane has 3 decks, which equates to three floors on a house. It should therefore be no surprise to the reader that driving the thing worries me a bit.

A final note, she draws approximately 9ft - in other words needs water at least 9ft (3metres) deep to stay afloat.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Lady Jane - her history as I know it today

Lady Jane was launched in Ostend, Belgium on 27 April 1963. Since she has been around for forty odd years she, like her owner, has had an interesting and diverse life.

Many thanks to Urbain Ureel for the pictures and additional information on Lady Jane.

Lady Jane was originally known as Z.431 Judith, after St Jude - a statue of whom remains on board to this day, and was built to fish in the difficult conditions of the North sea.

Judith's launching at Chantier et Armement Seghers Slipway in Ostend was attended by several officials. The Mayor of Brugge at the time, Mr.Van Damme, should have acted as 'godparent', but was ill and was replaced by Mrs.Vanderhaeghe who cut the ribbon. Judith apparently worked as one of a 'triple pair' of trawlers based in Zebugge.

Her first owners were H.Cattoor of Zeebrugge. In 1988 her owners were Vantorre J.P.-Brouckaert from Knokke-Heist. On 6 April 1988 they changed the owner's name into NV.Mattanja. On 29 SEP 1988 she was sold to Bvba Alfrijhofra and renamed O.431 JUDITH (Ostend). On 3 February 1993 she was sold to Bvba Caroline.

On 7 September 1994 the Humber coastguard sent a lifeboat out to Judith in response to a 'tricky situation' at posn.53.41.7N/01.31.5E about 50 miles east of Spurn Head. Her nets had fouled and she was at risk of capsizing. She managed to free herself without incident.

Once Judith had finished her fishing career, she was used as a stand off for the oil rigs, she was then left unused in Ireland for a few years. While in Ireland she had various items 'removed', including her portholes.

Judith was bought some four years ago, for use as a survey vessel, and was brought to England. At that stage she was re-named Lady Jane. She was sold and left unused for a few years before being bought by her previous owners, Joe and Charlotte Mearns.

Joe and Charlotte began the work of converting her from a fishing vessel to a live aboard. When Lady Jane was lifted out of the water she weighed in at 182 tonnes. After removal of the fishing gear and stripping out the fish hold etc. she weighed just 155 tonnes.

Note that there are differences between the information from the previous owners and that sent to me by Urbain Ureel, so I have made a 'best fit' with the combined set.

Monday, December 06, 2004

How it all came about.

I love to dive, the picture you see is me just before a dive at Vobster Quay, an inland diving site in the UK. My dive buddy is just visible behind me, hi Dave.

Anyway, like so many other activities, diving entails a lot of discussion between divers about diving. I tend to follow the internet chat from Yorkshire divers. One day in June someone posted a link to a trawler for sale on e-bay, I was intrigued.

I contacted the owners, went out to see her and after a lot of questions and deliberation she was mine.

So there you are, I bought Lady Jane on e-bay

Friday, December 03, 2004

A big mistake? Some people seem to think so.

Lady Jane
Originally uploaded by Tim Zim.
I didn't mean to but .... I bought a boat - Lady Jane.

Some would say that is a pretty cool thing to do when they hear about it whereas others nod wisely then try to slip away from the raving loony as quickly as possible.

The thing is until I bought the boat I have never actually driven any kind of boat at all, which is fine except that my boat is a 27 metre (90 ft) steel ex fishing trawler, built tough for fishing in the North Sea.

Now I have gone from never having driven a boat to suddenly owning three. That is the trawler, a canoe which came with the trawler and a small inflatable boat which I had to buy as a tender to the big boat as it is currently moored in the middle of the river Itchen, in Southampton, England.

Slightly crazy?
I do have a plan though.