Cautionary Tale No. 3 – By Mike Lucas

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Posted 5 August 2021

CAUTIONARY TALE No. 3 – By Mike Lucas
Article from Sadler Owner’s Magazine, January 2001

One of the commonest causes of the furling system jamming is a halyard wrap around the partly
furled genoa at the top. This will not arise if there is a halyard deflector lead fitted just beneath the
halyard sheaves. If you look aloft, you will easily see whether there is one fitted or not. Sometimes
I find the lead has been fitted, but the halyard does not go through it. Sometimes the halyard being
used for the furling genoa is the no.2, which does not pass through the bullseye.
This all sounds a bit complicated but once you look at your rig it will be crystal clear. There should
be a bullseye fairlead fitted about two to three inches below the bottom of the sheaves. The halyard
is then fed through this fairlead before being attached to the top swivel. This deflector is missing on
many boats and can be fitted by a rigger at very small cost. In fact it is part of the kit with every
new Furlex and should have been fitted by the supplier, when new. The Kemp diagram below shows
the arrangement.
If required you will be able to purchase this deflector component from a rigger (with appropriate
self tappers) and fit it yourself. However the halyard will have to be completely unthreaded, leaving
a messenger behind and then rethreaded up through the fairlead, over the sheaves and back down
the mast.
Do be careful and first check if your furling genoa is full hoist (maximum luff length) and if there is
only one genoa halyard, the halyard deflector must not be fitted, because it would prevent the
genoa being fully tensioned. Where the genoa is full length luff, such a sail should ideally be hoisted
on a second genoa halyard. This will leave the first halyard for the furling genoa and other small
headsails, with shorter luffs.
Useful tip
To facilitate removal of halyards for winter washing or changing, sew a small loop in the end of the
rope tail to which you can attach the messenger. Make this loop with sailmaker’s twine and using a
needle. After passing the needle through five or six times, bind the six loops together with frapping
turns. Reference to our technical articles “Decorative Ropework” (click “Articles” button), gives a
detailed explanation of how to do this.
Good sailing.

1 July 2021

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Rig Advice

For many years we have been advising Sadler and Starlight owners on rig and spar matters.
For my part, I have found the Seldén booklet “Hints and Advice on rigging and tuning
of your Seldén mast” to be a constant and reliable source of information.
The updated version (November 2020) is available on the Seldén website via the link below –

22 June 2021

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Propeller Design & Selection – notes from Mike Lucas


Much has been written about propellers and how to select the optimum propeller for boat and engine. One of the most informative books is the Propeller Handbook by Dave Gerr and it is probably one of the best reference books on the subject.

Prop manufacturers, engine suppliers and boat builders will all have their methods for calculating the correct prop to put on the boat. In practice, there are so many variables, that the decision taken in this way is rarely right first time and a degree of experimenting has always been found to be necessary. I can certainly concur with this view, when thinking of my time at Marine Projects building Moodys and Sigmas, and also later with Sadlers.

Having said all this, there is a huge fund of knowledge on the subject and I have acquired a fair amount of historical data as regards props fitted to the various Sadler boats. I should stress at this stage, that none of the data appearing in this document should be taken as absolutely reliable and should be treated only as a helpful indication. Before taking a decision on a prop change, it is always worthwhile seeking a second opinion, which is reassuring if nothing else!


  1. Diameter. It is broadly accepted that the largest diameter of propeller that can be used will be the most efficient, although this is of course limited by the proximity of prop shaft to the bottom of the hull. In calculating maximum diameter, allowance should be made for sufficient tip clearance between the top of the blade and the bottom of the hull and this should ideally be 15% of diameter and certainly not less than 10%. Should there be insufficient tip clearance, this will result in undue turbulence and a rhythmic “knocking”, as the water is powered upwards against the bottom of the hull.
  2. Pitch. The second variable is the pitch of the propeller, this can be best understood as the length through which the propeller would turn in one revolution and thus the extent to which the boat would move forward were it acting as a screw in a solid material. The limits of pitch are determined by achievement of designed maximum engine revs and optimising boat speed. If the pitch is too great, then the engine will not be able to achieve the maximum revs under load. This is of the order of 2,800 r.p.m with a Bukh engine and 3,200 r.p.m with a Volvo. Precise figures need to be determined from the engine manufacturers specification. Should the pitch of the propeller be more than required, then the engine will be unable to achieve the revs it should and will be “labouring” and producing black smoke to demonstrate its disapproval. If this is the case, then the pitch should be finer.

At the other end of the scale, if the pitch is too fine, then the engine will acquire peak revs too soon and before such time as the maximum hull speed achievable is attained. This of course is determined by waterline length and speed/length ratio from the well-known formula V = SL ratio x square route L.

The SL ratio depends upon a number of variables (mainly relating to power and displacement) and will vary between about 1.25 for a Sadler 26 to 1.45 for a Starlight 39.

If in doubt, it is probably better to err on the side of having a propeller that is slightly over-pitched, rather than under-pitched. The reason for this, is that with a cruising yacht you will seek optimum driving conditions at comfortable engine revs, which would be perhaps 2,200 to 2,500 r.p.m. Should there be no real intention to use peak revs, then it would not matter greatly if the boat is slightly over-pitched. The converse is most unsatisfactory, because there will be insufficient drive from the propeller and at modest revs, you will not achieve the required waterline speed.

As mentioned, this is a very brief and superficial summary, which is written to interest Sadler owners in some of the issues relating to propeller design and is certainly not intended to be a treatise on the subject. However, much has been learned about engines and propellers in Sadlers over the past decade and I have noted some propeller data and performance criteria during the period. The following notes refer briefly to the various sizes of Sadler, engines selected and propellers used.

We have supplied a number of propellers over the years, and these have generally come from either Teignbridge Propellers, Hamble Propellers, or Lake Engineering, all of whom are familiar with the various props supplied to Sadlers, but needless to say I have found differences of opinion on many of the issues, even amongst the trade suppliers. Propellers from different manufacturers do produce different performances for given diameter and pitch, which makes it even more confusing!

  1. Right-hand and left-hand. Almost all props supplied to Sadlers were right-hand, but this matter is worth checking when ordering a new propeller. When afloat, you can check this for yourself, because the prop-wash emerging from a right-hand propeller will push the stern to starboard when going in ahead and pull the stern into port when going astern. With a Sadler, it is better to berth portside to, for this reason. When departing from the berth in astern, give the stern a little push outward, which compensates for the initial thrust of the prop pulling the stern to port. When manoeuvring in ahead, a tighter turn is possible to port, than to starboard, if you have the standard right-hand prop. This is the “prop-wash” effect.

It is possible that you may have a left-hand propeller with a Volvo engine, but the linkages would then have been reversed. Certainly, with the Volvo engine, it is possible to change the linkages, so that the final output shaft can be reversed. I am advised by Volvo that the reduction ratio is the same in ahead, when driving clockwise or counterclockwise.

  1. Folding or fixed. There is no doubt that performance under power is better with a fixed propeller, and it is certainly more responsive in astern. There is of course more drag when sailing and many Sadler owners now appear to opt for a folding propeller to reduce drag, accepting less efficiency under power. It is highly desirable to have some form of rope-cutter if a fixed prop is installed, being either Ambassador or Spurs.


  1. Sadler 25. This boat has had several engine selections, with the Petter Mini 6 being the most commonly found on earlier boats. This was followed by the BMW 7hp and new installations now seem generally to be the Yanmar 1GM 10hp. The propeller most commonly found on the Yanmar engine (with 2.21 reduction ratio) is the 12″ diameter x 9″ pitch. Prop shaft is ¾” diameter.
  1. Sadler 26. Initially, the 26 had the Bukh DV10ME 10hp engine with a 2.5 reduction ratio and was supplied with a 14″ x 11″ propeller. 14″ diameter was the maximum diameter to give reasonable clearance and the pitch at 11″ was about right for the gearbox reduction ratio, giving 5.5 knots at about 2,800 r.p.m.

About 1986, Sadlers moved over to Volvo engines (as did most of the UK boat builders) and this brought with it a changed reduction ratio to 2.37, thus giving a faster rotation of the prop in relation to the engine. Clearly, this required a finer pitch, which was subsequently found to be 9″. Sadly, this new prop of 14″ x 9″ was not fitted for some time to the 26 and therefore a fair number of boats were delivered with Volvo engines, which were over-propped. I am still discovering these boats now, where the owner complains he can only get 4 knots maximum speed, when in fact it should be over 5 knots.

Prop shaft diameter is always 1″, taper 1:12 and keyway 0.25″. These dimensions hold good for all the 1″ prop shafts in the Sadler range, which are also used for the 29, 32 and 34.

  1. Sadler 29. During the time the 29 had the Bukh DV20ME 20hp engine, the prop fitted was a 16″ x 12″. When the change came about in 1986 to the Volvo 2002, the reduction ratio reduced to 2.37 (as for the 26) and the propeller then became a 16 x 10.5. This would give maximum speed of about 6.3 knots, smooth water, clean bottom and maximum revs about 3,000 r.p.m
  1. Sadler 32. I am less than clear on the correct propeller for the Sadler 32 and have found a number of variations fitted during the period of the Watermota Seapanther installation. However, once the boat had the Bukh DV20ME 20hp, then the propeller became the 16 x 12. In due course, the engine was changed to the Volvo 2002 and the propeller was changed to a 16 x 10.5.
  1. Sadler 34. Initially, this boat had the Bukh DV20ME 20hp and the 34 was certainly under powered with this engine. At that stage, it had a 16 x 12, being the same propeller (surprisingly) as the 29. There was a brief period in about 1985/6 when the engine installed was the Bukh 24hp (max revs about 3,200 r.p.m) and then the change was made to Volvo 2003. At this stage, the prop moved to a 16 x 13, which happens to be the same propeller as used for the Starlight 35 (see below).


  1. Starlight 35. The initial engine installed was the Volvo 2003, with the 16 x 13 prop, maximum revs about 3,000 r.p.m. This was used up to boat number 18. From boat 19 to number 34, the Perkins M30 was installed with a reduction ratio 2.05, with higher revs at 3,600 and a 16 x 9 or 16 x 10 propeller.

Interestingly, a 25mm prop shaft was used with the 35 (rather than 1″) and this is of interest for shaft anode and Volvo shaft seal. A subsequent change to the Volvo 2030 from boat number 36 onwards, used the 16 x 10 propeller, as I recall.

Maximum revs for the 2030 engine were about 3,200 r.p.m and for the Perkins engine, this was more like 3,600. Maximum speed 7.5 knots.

  1. Starlight 39. Initially this yacht had the Mermaid Meteor 2, which with only one or two exceptions, went into all the 39s up to and including boat number 28. This had an 18 x 14 prop generally, although choice of propeller did depend upon gearbox selected and resulting reduction ratio and the 18 x 12 was fitted in some cases.

In due course, this engine was changed to the Watermota Seapanther with effect from boat 29 onwards and this had the 18 x 12 prop. Prop shaft 1¼” for anode and rope cutter. Maximum speed in calm water 8.4 knots with max revs about 3,700.


The above notes are written as a general guide and to provide some helpful comments, which will enable owners to discuss this matter with their local engineer, or engine installer. The notes should be interpreted as an aid to discussion, rather than a definitive guide to prop selection.

This whole business is complicated and worthy of deeper investigation. Any further detail should be obtained direct from the prop suppliers. We are in touch with several of the prop experts and are in a position to supply what you require.

It would be interesting if owners with further contributions to make would care to enter this up on our Discussion Forum on the MLY website. This is now attracting considerable debate on technical matters, relating to the whole range of Sadler and Starlight yachts. There is so much knowledge available amongst owners, it would be interesting to contribute further. We shall post this article on our website within the Technical Articles section.

Mike Lucas

10 June 2021

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Thinking of Selling your boat?

By Mike Lucas



Ø Boat preparation and valet

Ø Deciding how much inventory to retain

Ø Assembling the documentation

Ø Establishing history of ownership

Ø Dealing with existing mortgages and loans

Ø Setting the asking price




I have found that the well prepared boat is not only a pleasure to sell, but a favourable reaction by the customer on stepping aboard is instantaneous and we are then well on the way to making a sale. Conversely, it has surprised me how some owners will climb off their boats at the end of the season and expect some ‘fairy godmother’ to find an enthusiastic customer who will pay the going rate for a boat that is badly presented. So the key points on preparation are:


  • Sails. Carry all the sails off the boat and get them washed, laundered, folded and put back on board. Any visible tears or damage should be repaired.
  • Rig. Check all terminals at deck level, tidy split pins and replace if necessary. Clean up shroud rollers which sometimes go sticky and are difficult to clean. Jif and warm water is effective. In this case, cut them off and replace with rollers that split up the side, or alternatively leave the rigging with no shroud rollers at all. Check and lubricate backstay adjuster. Remove old insulating tape and replace with new. Clean guard wires and check fastenings.
  • Winches and clutches. Clean and lubricate.
  • Halyards and sheets. Wash all sheets and exposed parts of halyard tails in warm water and washing powder then rinse and allow to dry.
  • External teak. Put on your sailing boots; get a hose pipe and start by thoroughly wetting the cockpit. Then apply one of the proprietary brands of teak cleaner (usually powder form, try Teakbrite) and scrub this in thoroughly, then leave ten to fifteen minutes and vigorously scrub this out with just a little extra water and finally hose off and clean. The dirt will be lifted out dramatically and you will be left with a good clean teak surface. Really dirty teak may need two or even three applications. The same technique should be used for rubbing bands, toe rail and coach roof handrails. A plastic kitchen scorer works well, using a circular motion.
  • Topsides, deck and cockpit. Thoroughly clean and polish with one of the excellent cleaner/polishes – Fareca is good. Give instruments a wipe with silicone grease – this will bring back the colour into an otherwise weathered surface. This works well on companionway hatch slides and external hardware.
  • Stainless steel. Use one of the stainless steel or chrome polishes (Autosol is good), to clean and polish pulpit, push pit, stanchions, cleats and all the hardware you can lay your hands on. Do not forget snap shackles and other fittings around the mast.
  • Tiller. Remove and take home for a few coats of varnish. This creates the right first impression.
  • Hull bottom. If your yacht is out of the water, put some time into buffing up the topsides, clean up and put a coat of paint on if necessary on boot topping. Be sure it is straight and has crisp edges. Scrub clean the bottom, apply primer to bare patches. Check keel for rust. Wire brush and paint, with appropriate preparation and primer. Apply one coat antifouling.
  • Cabin interior. Clear out all personal possessions and food/drink from the galley and lockers. All tableware should be washed, stains removed and repacked into galley stowage. Clean right through stem to stern, including lockers and bilge areas.
  • Upholstery. Be sure it is dry and smells good. If necessary, use upholstery cleaner.
  • Heads and seacocks. Give the toilet a ‘Birthday’! Pump plenty of water through, leaving disinfectant throughout the system, if possible before she comes out of the water. Clean toilet thoroughly and surrounding area. Once out of the water, service all seacocks, grease and reassemble.
  • Engine. Carry out winterizing attentions and give everything a good wipe with an oily rag.
  • Cooker and fridge. Give a thorough clean and leave fridge door open.




If you are purchasing another boat after selling your present one, it will clearly make sense to retain some of the equipment. However, there is a contrary argument that a well-found seagoing yacht, should have a comprehensive inventory. Reduce the inventory too much and it will affect the price – overdo it and you would not get enough to replace inventory as required for the new boat. Most buyers will have a top limit on their price. They will go for the best boat they can for this price but will always do their sums relating to additional equipment that needs to be bought to get them going in the new season.


Provide a reasonable level of equipment in the inventory, even though some of it may be past its prime (like out-of-date flares, elderly inflatable or four tired lifejackets). At least these are items that do not have to be bought by the new owner in the next month or two. Conversely, if you have retained too many of these essential items, the boat will be short of vital equipment. This is a difficult area and only you can judge whether to enhance the value of the boat by leaving equipment behind or reduce your cost for buying the new boat. There are often very personal decisions to make as regards inventory, but as a general guide, a well-equipped 29 or 34 would be expected to have a minimum inventory as follows:


  • Sails: mainsail, furling genoa, storm jib and cruising chute
  • Instruments: log, echosounder, wind (optional), GPS, autopilot, clock and barometer and
  • stereo/radio.
  • Safety: fire extinguishers, set of flares, lifebuoys, four lifejackets and harnesses (optional), jackstays,
  • torch/searchlight
  • Ground tackle and mooring: bow anchor, chain and warp (or all chain), four mooring warps, four fenders and boat hook, kedge anchor plus ground tackle.
  • Equipment: dinghy, life-raft (optional), spinnaker gear.



With very few exceptions, I have found it difficult to gather together all the essential documentation because the vendor has either mislaid essential documents, or never had them in the first place. If you are contemplating selling your boat, do spend a little time gathering together the following:


  • Bill of Sale. The Bill of Sale issued by the person who sold you the boat is an essential document. If possible, you should also secure the Bill of Sale for the previous change of ownership and indeed any changes prior to that, right back to the original owner.
  • The original (or good copy) Vat receipted invoice is essential for boats built after 31st December 1984 and should change hands with the boat. If this is not available, you should try to make contact with the original owner.
  • Registration documents. Should your yacht have full Part ‘1’ Registration, you will have the registration document in your file and this will hve details of any ownership changes, mortgages taken out etc. If by chance you have lost track of the Certificate of Registry, then apply for a replacement now.
  • Engine maintenance. All work carried out on the engine including servicing, replacements and/or overhauls, should be listed and each item referred to on a receipted invoice from the marine engineers concerned. If you have done work yourself, then it is even more important to have logged this systematically on a schedule.
  • Ideally, you should have the purchase document for the liferaft and evidence of the latest
  • test certificate.
  • New equipment/replacements. Gather together receipts for equipment purchased overhauled or
  • List all items on a cover sheet.
  • List all the sails with maker and supplier date. Also, note maintenance attention, winter overhaul, valeting detail. If possible, ask the sail maker for a ‘condition report’.




Once the history of ownership has been clarified from new, then this should be noted on a document with each owner’s name and date of change.


My experience has been that there is some confusion between date of build and date of launch, as regards what is quoted when the boat is offered for sale. Some Sadlers have been ‘home completed’ and it has not been unusual for a yacht to have taken two, three or even four years to build from date of moulding. This information should all be clarified so that if there is more than one year difference, then ‘date of build’ should be stated as well as ‘launch date’.


The requirements noted for yacht history and documentation are fundamental for a successful sale to take place. Any surprises emerging at an advanced stage of the sale does cause confusion and in some cases lack of faith in earlier information put forward. By addressing the various requirements at an early stage, a successful sale should be achieved with complete satisfaction between the parties.




Details of any mortgages on the yacht or loans taken out against security of the yacht, will of course be noted in the registration documents where the boat has a Certificate of British Registry. This is not the case where Small Ships Registry (SSR) is taken out, because there is no obligation to advise the DVLC of any changes. In this latter case, it would be necessary to have all the documents available for interested parties to check legality and a commitment must be given to repay any loans from the sale proceeds (dealt with by the Broker).


  1. PRICE


Setting the asking price is such an important issue that it is worth doing some research on this. My experience has been that owners who have boats that are inadequately prepared for sale, generally have an elevated notion as regards the market value of their boat. On the other hand, yachts that are well equipped and carefully maintained by the owner, tend to be offered at prices below that which can be achieved. For every boat that is priced too high and I need to persuade the owner to come down, I have generally found another, where the price is too low and I encourage the owner to put it up.


My suggestion is that you initially do your own research going through Yachting Monthly and Practical Boat Owner classified advertisements and log the selling price against year of build and inventory as described and plot this on a graph for your type of boat. Then go through all the brokers’ advertisements and do the same thing. This will give you a rough guide to asking price for your age of boat, assuming average inventory. The achieved sale price is of course another matter!


Having done your own investigation on asking price, then give me a call to discuss current market trends and demand for your particular Sadler and this will influence to some extent, the final sale price. Another important factor is whether you wish to sell your boat in the next month or two, so as to proceed with a new one, or alternatively whether you are not concerned about timing and therefore will wait until the right customer comes along.




I hope the above will be helpful to the owner preparing his boat for sale and that the check lists will provide useful reminders. ‘Mike Lucas Yachting’ is dealing exclusively with Sadler and Starlight yachts and has many customers seeking all types of Sadlers at various prices and with all keel configurations. Most customers we talk to have generally decided they wish to buy a Sadler and now only need help in finding the right one.


Please call us with your requirements and I shall be pleased to give advice or practical help in selling your boat or finding a new one.



8 June 2021

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Starlight styling stripes

We have been running for some time the Blue/Grey styling stripes for Starlights built from 1991 up to about 1994. This comprises the Blue/Grey cavita tape and the wider Blue/Grey band for the coach roof. Also available are the shaped fore and aft logos.

In addition we stock the Navy/Gold tape as fitted by Bowman from about 1995 onwards – the most recent boats.

All the above tape is sold in 10m rolls (sufficient to do one side of the 35) and both coloured tapes are secured in position by a backing tape which maintains a constant gap. We also supply comprehensive instructions on how to remove the old tape and fit the new and how to do patching as a result of fender rub.

It is worth mentioning that from about 1989, Sadler International discontinued the Red/Blue styling stripe and fitted the Blue/Grey stripe on all Sadlers as well.

We have now fitted several Starlights using the Blue/Grey tape and of course can also fit the coach roof tape which certainly looks very stylish and reduces apparent height of the coach roof.

Please refer to the Articles section ‘Smarten up your Topsides’, posted on this News page last week, for detail and general advice on how to do the job.

As far as price is concerned, the Navy/Gold cavita stripes are sold in 10m rolls at £39.60. The end logos come as a set of 4 totalling £48.00. The Blue/Grey stripes also come in 10m rolls at £39.00 each.  The end pieces coming as a set of 4 totalling £43.20.

Additional metres required for the Starlight 39 cavita will be supplied per meter on a pro-rata basis.

Sadler styling stripes

We keep in stock 10m rolls of Red/Blue cavita tape for the older Sadlers plus the Blue/Grey for the later models. In addition, we can supply the fore and aft ‘endcaps’.

Both of these options are available at £39 per 10m roll plus the set of 4 endcaps at £30. On the smaller Sadlers you will be left with some excess tape which is ideal for patching when fender rub occurs.

26 May 2021

Posted on


1.     Introduction

The majority of cruising yachts receive inadequate attention to topsides and as the years pass by, there are several phases of breakdown in condition and appearance.

The first phase is loss of shine and gloss with progressive fading. This takes place through natural wear and tear and a degree of UV degradation. Inevitably, there are minor scuffs from fenders, the occasional scratch and a number of chips from hard edges, such as at the stem and transom.

As the surface becomes progressively worse, so impurities in the water penetrate the gelcoat. This happens particularly where the water is used by commercial traffic or has effluent of various types. This results in a staining around the water line, which progressively leads up the topsides and is often worse at the bow.  The original styling stripe or cavita line has almost certainly suffered damage from fenders or other abrasion and may even have had a replacement line fitted, which is neither level nor straight!

This article covers the various steps that you can take to improve topsides appearance without recourse to boatyard fees. All the work can be done by the average boat owner, having a degree of enthusiasm and energy for grappling with this winter task.

2.     Preparation of topsides

The first step is to thoroughly wash the topsides with fresh water and a mild detergent. This is ideally done by the yard when the boat comes out of the water, since they generally have pressure wash facilities.

The next step is to clean the topsides with a proprietary brand of GRP cleaner.  Either do this by hand, or better still with a mechanical circular-motion buffer. There are a number of boat cleaning compounds on the market and I recommend one with a mild abrasive. Having cleaned off the topsides, the remaining stains will be more evident and these should be tackled, initially using a mild process and getting increasingly severe with the surface, until the problems have been resolved. It is advisable to work at two or three feet at a time, so that you can judge the effect of your efforts.

The first step in dealing with stains is to use acetone, which is very effective and will take out stains which have not penetrated into the gelcoat. Please note that acetone is harmful to the skin and rubber gloves should be worn when using it. In the absence of acetone being available, then try Jif or some other domestic cleaning compound.

The remaining stains that are difficult to remove, will be because they have penetrated the gelcoat. The thickness of gelcoat is between 20 and 28 thousandths of an inch (0.5 to 0.7 mm), which does provide considerable scope for taking the top surface off the gelcoat. This will certainly be necessary when staining has occurred around the water line and at the bow. For this purpose, use a heavier grade cutting paste, or alternatively use a fine grade wet or dry paper (say 2000 grit or finer) and use this with plenty of water. We use Farécla products for cutting pastes and polishing.

All but the worst stains will be removed using the above process and if necessary, you should take a coarser grit glass paper and penetrate the gelcoat further. In this case however, I would suggest consulting a surveyor or GRP repair specialist, who will take measurements of gelcoat thickness and advise you how far to go.

3.     Dealing with the boottop

Presuming you are happy with the position of the boottop in relation to the water line and the width of the boottop stripe, then give it a good rubbing down to prepare for new paint. Because the boottop merges into the gelcoat, you need to be careful not to scratch the gelcoat surface with the wet or dry paper. A precaution in this respect would be to apply masking tape over the gelcoat and then you can rub down the boottop paint with rather more effectiveness at the edges.

Should the boottop require adjustment, now is the time to measure this up on the boat and apply masking tape to provide the limits of the new lines.

Boottop paint is supplied by International or Hempels and is in effect, a hard scrubbable antifouling.

4.     Gelcoat repairs

These repairs fall into the category of either star cracks or stress cracks, or alternatively, chips out of the gelcoat. The solution here is to subcontract this work to the local yard. In fact, instructions for doing gelcoat repairs would occupy a whole article and therefore details are not included here. Should you wish to do this work yourself, then acquire directions from a local tradesman or a GRP material supplier.

5.     Attending to cavita line

This is likely to have suffered some damage around maximum beam position as a result of fenders rubbing, coming alongside and so on. Providing the damaged area does not exceed say 2m on each side, then it is a reasonable decision to do a repair. However, if the damage extends further than this and a degree of fading has taken place, then it is worth considering removing the whole cavita line on both sides and replace with new. In practice, a certain amount of fading may well have taken place and it will be difficult to match old with new and maintain a reasonable colour match.

In this report, I will tackle the job of replacing a section of cavita tape and secondly replacing the tape along the whole length of the boat and the end logos.

  • Repair cavita line. Having cleaned off the hull and recovered the colour and gloss of the gelcoat, the next job is to remove the damaged cavita line. This is quite simple to do and the only equipment required is a hot air blower (or hair dryer) and a ‘soft’ straight edge, preferably made in plastic. This is so as not to damage the gelcoat surface

Begin at one end of the damaged cavita line and carefully warm it up over a length of about 20 cms and you will find you can peel off the old cavita line. Should you apply too much heat, the film will soften and be difficult to peel, too little heat and you will not be able to get it off. With a bit of practice, you will find how much heat to apply and be able to peel off the cavita tape in long strips. As you get going, you will find that by keeping pressure on the piece you have lifted and maintaining the heat just ahead of where it is stuck on, you can progressively move along the length of the cavita line.

Having removed all the damaged vinyl tape, clean up the ends with a sharp blade such as a ‘Stanley’ knife. Be careful not to penetrate the gelcoat. The next step is to clean the surface underneath the old tape with methylated spirits, so as to provide a clinically clean surface for the new tape to adhere to.

Now lay on masking tape to bridge the gap that has to be covered with the new tape. The upper edge of the masking tape provides a guide for the lower edge of the new cavita tape.

Next prepare a length of cavita tape, slightly longer than you require. Then put a mixture of water with a small amount of Fairy Liquid, in a small container like a rose spray.  Thoroughly wet the surface onto which the cavita tape is to be laid.  Now as you remove the backing tape, gently position the new cavita tape in the space it has to fill, ‘floating’ it down on to the masking tape. Next press it into position using an applicator (like a plastic spatula) and cut off both ends slightly over length. Settle the tape into position, and begin to ‘stroke’ out all the air bubbles using the applicator. The joint at each end should be an overlap joint of about 10mm. Do not attempt a butt joint!

Once the tape is properly in position, remove the top plastic coating which has hitherto maintained the upper and lower band at the correct distance apart. Now finally stroke out any further bubbles. Really obstinate ones can be removed by pricking the bubble with a needle and allowing the air to escape.

The above procedure sounds more complicated than it is. With a little patient practice, you will become quite expert.  It is helpful if weather conditions are moderately warm with preferably no wind!

  • Replacing complete cavita line. Adopt the same procedure as for a repair, in that all the old tape must be removed including logos and be fully cleaned with methylated spirits. Then set up the required line with masking tape. Next prepare the new tape, determine where it is going to start at the bow (or stern), fully wet with spray and steadily work along the whole length of the boat, unrolling the tape as you go. Follow the same procedure as for repair work. Fitting the logo end pieces is relatively straight forward and these should likewise be settled down onto carefully positioned masking tape. You may wish to trim the aft end of the stern logo to match up with the angle of the transom.

6.     Final wax polish

Having dealt with the cavita line and logos if required, the final step is to give the hull a complete wax polish and buff with a polishing mop. There are several proprietary brands of wax polish available and I would use the same make as you used for the initial cleaning compound

7.     Conclusions

Attending to the various jobs as described in this article, will produce a dramatic change to the boat out of all proportion to the time, effort and expenditure involved.

Should you require any of the Sadler cavita tape (red/blue up to 1988 and grey/blue thereafter) or Starlight tape (grey/blue to 1994 and dark blue/gold thereafter), I have now been able to secure a supply at attractive prices. It is also possible to obtain replacement fore and aft logos incorporating the SY emblem.

Whether your intention is to smarten up the boat to sell her, or to keep her for the next few years, the job is well worth doing.

Best of luck and good sailing next season!

Mike Lucas

13th May 2021

Posted on

Mike Lucas on Keel Choice

Mike Lucas discusses the various options built into Sadlers over the years. These notes are intended to clarify choice of keel by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of various configurations:


  1. Introduction. Over the years since 1974, when the first 25 was developed by David and Martin Sadler, many different keel configurations have been built into Sadlers to suit the changing market requirements and sailing area conditions.


The choice has been wide, with conventional deep fin keel and skeg hung rudder being available on the 25, with the option of a shallow fin keel for reduced draft. Demand for even shallower draft resulted in Sadler Yachts producing a 25 with twin keels (or bilge keels to use the traditional terminology). Interest on the East Coast for centre plate boats resulted in a centre plate version of the Sadler 25 being developed with the lifting keel housed inside the ballast keel, thus obviating any need for keel housing within the boat cabin.


A sufficient number of Sadler 25s were built with all variations of keel to give Sadler Yachts confidence to offer the same range of choice for the emerging Sadler 32 in 1979. Later in this article, I have covered performance considerations of the various keel options, some of the facts being drawn from a comprehensive keel comparison test carried out by Yachting Monthly in the early eighties on several Sadler 32s.


With the advent of the 26 and 29 in 1981, the twin keel was by then a popular choice. In fact, most 26s were built with twin keels and a high proportion of the 29s. In due course, the Sadler 34 emerged in 1984 and this was also offered with all four choices. In practice, most of the 34s were built with either deep fin or shallow fin keels, but a number were completed with the twin keel option and a few with centre plate.


The Starlight range of boats emerged in 1989 with wing keels with the advantage that the concept had been well tried and largely accepted by that stage. Following the success of wing keels in America Cup racing, much development work was done by many of the notable naval architects. Stephen Jones designed a sophisticated all lead keel for the Starlight and this was felt to be a major contributory factor to the exceptional sea keeping capability, directional stability and windward performance. In fact, a number of Sadler 34s had earlier been fitted with wing keels designed by Warwick Collins, this being a tandem keel of unusual design. However, it failed to catch on, but was successfully applied to the few boats that were built with it.


  1. Draft considerations. The most efficient keel is without a doubt the deep fin, this giving best windward performance with least frictional resistance. The case for considering other options is essentially to reduce draft and this is achieved progressively, with the various options available.


Twin keels have the advantage of enabling the yacht to stay upright when dried out and also enabling storage ashore to be safer and more convenient.


A centre plate gives substantially reduced draft with the plate in the high position and a pretty good windward performance with it fully down. However, the mechanics of lifting the centre plate dissuade most people from opting for this system, although you will find those who have used it are very enthusiastic about the arrangement, particularly on the East Coast.


To clarify draft considerations, the following table provides some interesting statistics:


Draft 25 26 29 32 34 35 39
Deep Fin 4’8” 4’8” 5’0” 5’6” 5’8” 5’11” 6’9”
Shallow Fin 3’10” 3’10” 4’0” 4’6” 4’8” N/a N/a
Bilge/Wing 3’6” 3’6” 3’8” 4’0” 4’0” 4’9” 5’3”
Lifting 2’3” – 4’6” N/a N/a 3’6” – 6’6” 3’8” – 6’8” N/a N/a



  1. Deep fin keel. This keel has always been available on all Sadler boats and providing one could accommodate the draft, this is without doubt the best option, if one takes sailing performance as the most important consideration.


From about 1990, there was a variation of the deep fin keel available for the Sadler 34. The keel was designed by Stephen Jones and effectively put the centre of gravity some 4″ lower and draft was increased to 5′ 10″. This was achieved by making the keel narrower near the top and wider at the bottom. In fact, Andrew Bray had the first of these keels fitted and he expressed enthusiasm for the improved stiffness and windward performance of his Sadler 34 “Dash”.


Although lead wing keels have been fitted to most Starlights, a few have had deep fin keels, either because draft was not a problem (one boat went to Scotland), or it was necessary to optimise rating and light weather performance for racing purposes. The few Starlights built with fin keels did achieve the objectives required, although the remarkable directional stability down wind, with a wing keel, was adversely affected once a fin keel was fitted.


  1. Shallow fin keel. This arrangement is a logical solution for those wanting a fin keel, but requiring reduced draft. It can be seen from the table that saving in draft is between 12″ and 16″ dependent upon the type of boat.


Although, there is perceptible loss of windward performance, nevertheless there are certain advantages to be gained. A shallow fin keel has the length of keel increased by about one third and this does give improved directional stability down wind and steadier steering, which is of interest to the cruising yacht. Also, when drying alongside a wall, (or sitting in a cradle ashore), the longer keel does give improved fore and aft stability. This is indeed a significant factor when lying alongside and reduces the dangers of tilting forwards or backwards once the water has left the boat.


  1. Lifting keel. Most small yachts with lifting keels have either a pivoted arrangement or a dagger plate (moving vertically through a trunking). Either way, the arrangement seriously encroaches into the accommodation in the main cabin. David Sadler developed an ingenious arrangement to house the steel centre plate wholly within the ballast keel. The ballast keel itself was bolted to the bottom of the Sadler 25 in the same way as a conventional fin keel, with stainless steel machine screwed studs and nuts for security.


The 25 arrangement for lifting the keel, was via a tube that came up through the centre of the boat near the mast post and emerged on deck. Then block and tackle arrangements provides the necessary purchase or the use of a winch, enabling the keel to be lifted and lowered with precision and ease from the cockpit. I have spoken to owners who have had this system and they have been delighted. It appears that should the tackle arrangement become unserviceable for some reason, then the keel simply rests in the lowered position. The most obvious disadvantage is difficulty of antifouling, but owners tell me that providing they lift the boat high enough (in either sling or cradle), painting the lifting keel is no problem.


A centre plate arrangement was fitted to several Sadler 32s and here the lifting mechanism was via a deck winch or through a hydraulic ram.


Draft of a centre plate version is of course attractively low at 27″ for a 25 and less than 42″ for a 32, when lifted to its highest position.


  1. Twin keels. Over the years, there have been a whole range of production cruising yachts with what are commonly termed bilge keels. Performance has often left much to be desired, and many bilge keel boats were equipped with draft that was too small and hence the keels were not deep enough. This meant that windward performance suffered substantially and many smaller boats with bilge keels heeled excessively through tenderness and “flew” the weather keel. This resulted in pounding and unpleasant noise down below.


David and Martin Sadler were aware of these problems and designed the Sadler range of yachts to have keels that were rather deeper than were customarily being used and a very reasonable windward performance was achieved. Many Sadler owners preferred to call the configuration twin keel and I do believe that to distinguish between the old-fashioned bilge keels and the modern twin keel, with improved performance, the term is helpful.


There is no doubt that windward performance is not as good as a fin keel, but entirely adequate for general cruising purposes. Certainly, sea keeping capability is more than adequate and there are the undoubted advantages of shallower draft, with the ability to dry out on a mooring or for antifouling purposes. Certainly, they can be wintered ashore sitting on the keels, with no need for a cradle.


The market readily perceived the advantages of twin keels, with the result that the vast majority of 26s were built with this arrangement. Probably two thirds of the Sadler 29s were built with twin keels and some 10% of the 34s. Very few of the 32s had twin keels.


  1. Wing keels. As a result of the success of “Australia” in the America’s Cup racing, the concept of wing keels became more widely accepted and progressively developed by yacht designers. Stephen Jones in developing the Starlight 39, opted for a wing keel and as discussed earlier, this was an essential ingredient for the overall performance of the yacht.


Sailing the Starlight 39 to windward, once 15 degrees angle of heel is achieved there is real lift imparted from the wing keel and the “wake angle” is noticeably reduced. Downwind the directional stability is impressive (compared with fin keel) and the wing keel does provide a degree of damping in a sea way.


Perhaps the main problem is the fact that significant fouling takes place on the underside of the keel and the only way to clear this, is to be lifted out of the water by travel hoist or crane and to clean the keel whilst it is held in the lift. It also has to be painted in this way of course. Alternatively, scrubbing can be done by a diver.


The yacht is remarkably stable when sitting on the keel on hard ground, although props/cradle need to be provided for complete safety. Care must be taken however regarding going aground, in that if the yacht were to dry out on a soft bottom and she were to fall over, the angle of heel would be extreme.


  1. Performance comparisons. Comments have already been made regarding performance for the various keel configurations in relation to each type of boat. However, an interesting exercise was conducted by Yachting Monthly in 1981 to compare the four main keel options fitted to a Sadler 32 and I have drawn from this article a few conclusions which are relevant, and I am sure you will find interesting.


Sadler 32 Deep Fin Shallow Fin Bilge Keel Lifting Keel
Under Power turning circle (x length) In ahead 1.3 1.5 1.0 1.3 Plate up

1.5 Plate down

Under Power turning circle (x length) In astern 2.5 2.5 1.7 2.5
Under sail (wind 22 knots, close haul) Weather helm, tiller angle 10° 12° 20° 14°
Under sail (wind 22 knots, close haul) Angle of heel 20° 20°-25° 25°-30° 25°
Under sail (wind 22 knots, close haul) Effective tacking angle 73° 75° 80° 75°



  1. Summary. Not surprisingly, the 32 tests show that deep fin keel gives the best performance and “stiffness”. However, the shallow fin pays only a small penalty in this respect, with the advantage of 12″ less draft.


Choice of twin keel does sacrifice a fair amount of performance but has the advantage of shallow draft and stability aground. However, manoeuvrability under power is significantly better with twin keel.


In practice, a shallow fin and twin keel yacht is likely to reef earlier than the deep fin keel yacht and would thence display less heel angle and weather helm than shown, at 22 knots of wind. Only broad conclusions can be drawn from these tests, insofar as the other Sadlers are concerned, but the indications are interesting. It is likely that performance differences would be less evident with the 29 and 26, where twin keels are more popular.

11th May 2021

Posted on

CAUTIONARY TALE No. 2 – By Mike Lucas
Article from Sadler Owner’s Magazine, January 2001


There is a tendency for most owners to assume that self-draining cockpits will look after

themselves, because operation is automatic. The reality is that any malfunction of the drains does

severely endanger the safety of the craft. This will arise either through a drain blockage or the hose

detaching from the spigot or seacock.

Take care during the winter (when the boat is ashore) that leaves do not fill the cockpit and block

the drain hose. We have learned only this month of a Sadler 29 which experienced this problem.

The water flowed into the cockpit stowage trough, through into the engine bilge and then

overflowed into the cabin, where it proceeded to fill up the boat to the level of the sole boards.

Each of the Sadler and Starlight models has a different cockpit layout and I now make a few

comments for each boat.


Both the 39 and 35 drain in a similar manner, from spigots glassed in to the drains at aft end of

cockpit, proceeding downwards to skin fittings fitted to the underside of the quarter of the boat.

Clearly these fittings are above the water line at rest, but underway they will be underwater. The

outlet spigots are joined with good quality reinforced hose which after ten years is still likely to be

in reasonable condition. However, do check the jubilee clips (which should be two at the top and

two at the bottom) for security. After ten years there is probably a case for replacing the hose since

it will by now have aged and hardened. When replacing, do take the opportunity to route the hose

so that it is clear of gear and equipment stowed in the lazarette lockers.

Sadler 34

These are done in a similar manner to the Starlight, but upto 1989 the hose fitted by Sadler Yachts

was not reinforced. The hose certainly needs replacing with reinforced or ribbed hose and at the

same time, check jubilee clip fastenings. Also check that lazarette contents do not apply pressure

on the vulnerable hose and hence the fastenings.

Sadler 32

Access to the self-drainers can be obtained by lifting the cockpit floor and the stowage trough out of

position. In the case of the 32 the cockpit drains go outwards to seacocks fitted in the sail locker

(port side) and under the quarter berth (starboard side). These seacocks must be serviced annually

with the other seacocks and hull openings in the boat, but in practice I find they are rarely

examined. As previously, replace the old hose and double clip all joints.

Sadler 29

Like the 32 the self-drain hose can be accessed through the cockpit sole lid and by lifting the

stowage trough. However the drain hose with the 29 goes aft and out through transom skin fittings.

Because these are difficult to get at (particularly the transom fittings) it is vital to service these

components when ashore for the winter.

Sadler 26

This is an almost impossible situation in that you need to be extremely small and agile to get

access to where the hose is attached to the cockpit spigots and then to the skin fittings through the

transom. The problem with the 26 is that there is no removable cockpit sole panel.

Access to the starboard side is just about possible by climbing into the sail locker and working

headfirst through to the transom. There is no doubt that the hose will then need replacing and

securely fixing with double jubilee clips. The port side is impossible to access and I suggest that

you crawl down into the far end of the quarter berth and cut out a suitable rectangular aperture to

enable access to the spigot and skin fitting to be obtained. Having cut the panel out, tidy up the

saw cuts and make up a teak frame to go around the removable panel which can then be screwed

into position with self tappers.

Sadler 25

The self-drainers are situated similar to the 26. However access is much easier through the lifting

aft locker lid, where the necessary work can be done.

Regular maintenance

I recommend that a check be carried out on the self-drain hoses every winter, because any

malfunction when afloat would be difficult to rectify. Should any owners have a further contribution

to make on this matter then why not post it on the Discussion Forum?


Cautionary Tale No.3 to follow soon….




4 May 2021

Posted on

CAUTIONARY TALE No. 1 – By Mike Lucas
Article from Sadler Owner’s Magazine, January 2001

Stern Glands – Pre-launch Preparation
There are a number of different types of shaft glands fitted to Sadlers and Starlights and some of
the later types do give cause for concern, if the right preparatory action is not taken prior to
First of all, let me say that the traditional style shaft gland with packing and provision for injection
of grease does not pose a problem and this is the way all the early Sadlers were done until about
1982. From about that time, Sadlers were fitted with a “no maintenance” type of shaft gland using
an oil reservoir and neither do these pose a threat at launching.
The problem arises with the Deep Sea Seal which holds back the water as a result of finely
machined and adjusted contact faces and also with the Volvo seal which uses a rubber boot with
integral neoprene rings. A fundamental requirement with both the last two types of seal described,
is to allow the water to dribble through the gland when first launching. If you look at the instruction
leaflet, you will find that with a Deep Sea Seal, you should ease the two surfaces apart until the
water dribbles through and then allow them to go back again through natural pressure of the
rubber boot. Once lubricated, the seal is satisfactory for the rest of the time the boat is afloat and
requires no maintenance at all. The same procedure should be applied to the Volvo seal, except this
is achieved by squeezing firmly the rubber boot, thus distorting slightly the neoprene ring seals and
allowing the water to dribble through. Once this job has been done, the seal is entirely maintenance
These maintenance-free seals were fitted to all Sadlers from about 1989 and most of the Starlight
35s. The Starlight 39 was fitted with a traditional stuffing box type of shaft gland, which requires
normal maintenance, but no necessity to allow the water to flow before launch.
We are bringing this to your notice because we have become aware of two local Sadlers with Deep
Sea Seals, which were launched by owners who were unaware of the correct procedure. The result
in both cases was for the rubber boot to disintegrate, thus allowing water to flow in, which if
undetected would have swamped the boat. Most owners are aware of the launch procedure, but do
check which seal you have and refer to the maintenance instructions.
Cutlass bearing useful tip
It is worth mentioning that the prop shaft should be drawn out periodically and cleaned up in the
area of the cutlass bearing. This section of the prop shaft contained within the cutlass bearing will
invariably have built up a “crust”, which accelerates wear in the cutlass bearing and also on the
shaft itself. Once the shaft is drawn out from the cutlass bearing, this can be thoroughly cleaned
and then re-assembled. This also gives the opportunity to check the coupling with its fastening
bolts, to clean off surplus rust and ideally paint over with a rust preventative paint, such as
Hammerite. We plan to write a technical article about cutlass bearings and ‘P’ brackets in due

CAUTIONARY TALE No.2 to follow soon…..
Self-Draining Cockpits – Check out the hose and fastenings