The Bangor S-Class Archive

Salna in 1990, Michael Rambaut helming

Tim and Mary Howes bought Salna from Michael Rambaut in 1991 and owned her for 13 years.


Tim maintained Salna meticulously, and made a host of  improvements to the boat.  He updated the electronics, installing an electronic log and GPS system (although the beautifully-made original Hecta radio direction finder is still in Salna’s  equipment locker). The gas cooker was replaced with the much safer and more economical Taylors paraffin stove, and the hopelessly unreliable Stuart Turner petrol engine was replaced with a sturdy Nannidiesel. Tim also put in a Sailspar furling headsail, making Salna much more sailable single-handed. 

What is more he did most of the heavy work himself - he even manufactured his own keel-bolts in his home workshop, and still managed to find time to hold down a job as a consultant at Colchester Hospital.
















Tim writes that of his many escapades on Salna, two in particular seem to stick in his mind.

‘The first was the delivery trip. I sailed Salna with a sailmaker, Cindy and a chandler, Ron, from Wicor Marine in Portsmouth Harbour to Conyer in Kent that was to be Salna’s home port. There was little time to do it. The plan was one hop. A continuous sail, no break...

‘We came down on the train to Portsmouth and visited the pub the night before setting off. Probably had more beer than was ideal. We set off at 5.30 am. With a southeasterly wind we made made good progress until the tide turned and the wind died. At that time Salna had a Stuart Turner 8 hp engine (I still have the beast
under the bench in my workshop). Whether it was the effects of last year’s petrol or sheer bloody-mindedness, the plugs kept oiling up - or at least one did. The engine then produced some power from the only firing cylinder but not much. I spent three hours with a hangover changing the spark plugs with the engine running using rubber gloves. The extracted spark plugs were cleaned and but by the time this process was complete oiling up had occurred and the process had to be repeated. After three hours the rubber gloves had a hole and the hangover, the smell of petrol and the regular electric shocks were becoming like torture.


‘Luckily some wind appeared and we were able to sail. Ron spent the rest of the trip trying to sell me “a nice little Dolphin petrol engine” that he had had in stock in his chandlers since sometime before the Crimean war.

‘Eventually I read the detailed instructions that Michael Rambaut had given me on the maintenance of the Stuart Turner engine. It turned out that one cylinder tends to run hot and the other tends to run cool so each cylinder needed different spark plugs to function properly. I had put the spark plugs in the wrong cylinder....’

Tim and Mary eventually moved to Essex, taking Salna to a new swinging mooring at West Mersea. But not before a little cruising to unfamiliar ports had been undertaken. Tim writes: 


‘Our longest trip was up to St Katharine’s Dock at
Tower Bridge. This requires a reliable and powerful engine. To be fair to the Stuart it was capable of pushing Salna along surprisingly effectively. I had learnt by trial and error how to keep it going. Michael Rambaut had fitted coil ignition from a VW golf to replace the magneto and I became quite fond of its sewing machine-like sound.


‘The trip up to St Katharine’s was a joy. We made such good time that the tide was still rising when we arrived at Tower Bridge. It was when we turned to pick up the waiting buoys at the entrance to the Dock that I realised exactly how fast it was rising. It was all the Stuart could do to bring Salna round and on to the buoys. I then realised that they had no ropes on them -  just a big metal ring. Mary took the helm and I grabbed the buoy. At that moment the Stuart died. I was left holding the metal ring with both hands with my legs holding one of the stanchion bases. The only thing that kept me hanging on was the thought of ending up jammed under Tower Bridge.

‘Exactly how we got a rope through the eye I don’t know, but we did. It wasn’t really helped by the fascinated group of people watching from the Bridge.

‘It was following this incident that we fitted the diesel ...’









 


 

Tim sold Salna to Andrew Hollis in 2004, but the boat didn’t suit Andrew and she was sold again in 2006 to Richard Walker, who sailed her from West Mersea up the coast to Felixstowe Ferry in Suffolk, moving to Southwold in 2012. 

 

Tim Howes & Salna