3 Tonner 





Senior 'Bethem'

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'Looking through some old photos found the one's regarding the first Senior I had, named 'Halfpenny Breeze'.

 She was found in the usual unloved state at Burgh Castle Marina in Norfolk and a I persuaded a friend to take her on. After a rapid paint job she was launched and sailed a couple of times, then, without my knowledge appeared at a local auction, which I attended. Didn't reach her reserve so I put in a bid and found myself towing her the couple of miles home.

 From memory a new cabin front, roof and cockpit locker lids were the only structural things to do, then strip all paint off and re-apply.

 She seemed stable with her three keels and bermudan rig and sailed ok on the broads except when beating, she just did not have enough grip on the water and whatever I tried she would not point particularly well. However for short tacking on the broads I've been spoilt with Broads yachts so I was perhaps expecting too much from the Senior.

 She was eventually sold to a chap who, I believe, got together a small fleet of Seniors and hired them out on the broads.

I continued chopping and changing boats, often restoring them from complete wrecks, and built a couple of dinghies.

 Now with a wife and two lovely daughters we were looking at cheap family holidays and after suggesting a complete change from the broads we went camping, and re-discovered all those nice Suffolk and Essex rivers. The family took to it  well and enjoyed the change of scenery and last year we took a trailer sailer with us on a trip to Tollesbury. Although we only managed a couple of outings on the boat, being back on the River Blackwater bought back happy memories, so I started looking into the possibilities of buying something bigger to keep down there during the season.

 Back to reality and concluded mooring fees, leaving the boat unattended far from home and restricting where we could reasonably expect to go during a weekend, settled on a compromise by keeping the camping gear and finding a suitable, easy to trail, launch and day sail trailer sailer.

 Life turns full circle, and it just so happens that I had purchased, during many mood swings, plans for the YM Senior, 3 Tonner and Eventide back in the 1980s, so I dug out the Senior plans and started doing some rough costings. 

 Whilst sourcing materials on the internet I came across an advert for a part complete Senior, and after making contact with the owner, he sent me photos of the work to date. She is a credit to the builder David, he has used iroko for the stringers, marine plywood for the skin, and solid teak for the transom. The hull was complete with main cabin bulkhead, cabin front, some deck beams and cockpit seat sides all present.

 With the assistance of my work colleague, along with the firms vehicle and heavy duty trailer we drove the 340 miles to collect her and she now sits waiting for completion, back at our yard in Norfolk.

 As with most of my boats from the past I like to keep a diary of work along with many photographs and with John's encouragement am making this one more public by having a builders page. I shall do my best to keep it updated.


Mat Gravener'


 March 2017.

Good progress made on the Senior to date.

The plans specify the rudder to be aluminium plate, but I had a very nice piece of teak which I profiled to form the blade and 12mm marine ply for the cheeks. As the blade is lowered it touches the bottom edge of the cheeks so I let in a piece of teak here to protect the end grain of the plywood. A stainless steel pivot bolt completed the basic assembly.

The interior of the boat is being sanded to remove any epoxy glue runs and to further protect the ply I've started coating it with a two part solvent epoxy. Its very easy to apply by brush or roller and can be worked into all those awkward places. Its an ideal product on bare timber as it soaks right into the grain. Its worth mentioning that the area needs to be well ventilated as its fairly potent stuff!

Because we will be towing the boat a lot I've decided to go for the centreplate version, with the addition of removable internal lead ballast. This will be cast in small ply boxes and secured either side of the centre case and can be removed if necessary.

I have received prices for the centreplate, in both galvanised mild steel and stainless and was pleasantly surprised. This will be made exactly as specified on the plans, with the curved slot to allow a stop bolt in the casing and the lifting lugs.

The casing has been drawn out onto a sheet of 12mm Robbins Elite plywood and spacers and logs are utile (mahogany substitute). Once assembled I shall evaluate the strength and if necessary can clad the casing in additional strips of hardwood.

I have managed to get hold of another trailer, which is much more suitable and will make launching and recovering the boat easier.

I have also added up the weight of lead which I've been collecting over the years, mainly old mast weights from Broads Yachts and I have enough to cast 160lbs of internal ballast for the Senior if need be.


Mat Gravener

The extra internal ballast will be a great idea, they do need it.