YM Senior 591
Many members will be familiar with this Senior and will have known her previous owner, Martin Lewis, and enjoyed reading his many articles in past Bulletins. Certainly he was a terrific enthusiast for the Senior design and had been quite inventive and innovative as well as an adventurous sailor. I have the article from YM which is his account of his single handed voyage in Pau Amma from Harwich to Ostende, then to Flushing and back to Harwich.
I acquired the boat in August 2001 after Martins death and she stood for some months in my barn looking a bit sad whilst I investigated her soundness and how I would rebuild her. She was built in 1965 by Harry King & Sons at Pin Mill on the river Deben and apart from some rot around the bilge plate fastenings, the bottom of the main bulkhead and the transom corners the hull and topsides were found to be remarkably sound. The quality of the mahogany ply and the workmanship were clearly of the highest standard when built.
Martin had a deeper than standard centre ballast keel, i.e. with a 6″ spacer fitted, and had very large steel bilge keels to match. When I weighed the latter together they came to the same weight as the standard keel and so she was clearly over ballasted. As the original Senior design was for a centreboard layout I decided I would convert her so that we could do some serious ditch crawling. It took some time to pluck up the courage to saw the slot in the keel, then the case was laminated from oak strips and a 12mm centreplate made. I also made a keel band from some 3″x1″ mild steel to give a bit more ballast and it extends some way either side of the centreplate slot with oak fairing pieces fore and aft.
The next job was to sheath the hull below the waterline with glass cloth and epoxy resin and give the topsides and decks a coat or two of epoxy. Interestingly she was built with the decks and coach-roof covered with glass cloth and epoxy paint and I remember using this technique years ago on our old Dauntless as that was how the Finesse boats were built by Alan Platt. I had also by this time decided that the large perspex windows in the cabin sides did not look as pretty as the standard round port-holes with brass rings and so that bit now looks like a proper Senior!
To go with the lifting centreplate, of course I needed a lifting rudder and so a complete new assembly was made together with the stainless steel pintles and rudder fittings, dinghy ones didnt look strong enough! Another bit of stainless steel fabrication was a stem head fitting to allow a Bruce anchor to park happily and also to securely fix the bowsprit.
I still have the Gunter mast, boom and gaff and the original sails will serve for a while, but I managed to buy a very nearly new Bermudian mainsail and together with a secondhand GP14 alloy mast I hope to be able to swap between the two Bermudian for windward performance and Gunter for participating in OGA events!
Pau Amma was re-launched on 26th April 2005 onto The Staffs and Worcester canal at the headquarters of the Stafford Boat Club (narrow-boaters). The original plan was to cruise down the canal system and then back to her original home port at Pin Mill. However circumstances at the time caused us to shelve that plan for a future date.
The launching coincided with the “Bring and Share” super, the final winter series meeting of the year of the Stafford Coastal Cruising Club, and a fine break in the showery weather allowed members to celebrate the re-launch with the necessary champagne.
The launch was a bit experimental as the “Break Back” trailer had been copied from a slightly longer commercially made one and modified to suit the design of the Senior. It was pleasing to find that the trailer worked perfectly and as the bow lifted I was able to unwind the winch and the boat gently rolled back into the water.
The Seagull outboard proved a little temperamental (a damaged fuel line) so this first little trip consisted of simply rowing up and down the canal. She was later recovered onto the trailer with the same ease with which she was launched. The great benefit of the break back system being that the trailer wheels do not need to be immersed in the water.
The next day, amid a torrential downpour, Pau Amma was prepared for the short journey home again having been afloat, albeit briefly, for the first time in about four years. Since then, of course, she has re-tasted salt water down at Bradwell on the river Blackwater in Essex.
YM Senior 591 “Pau Amma”