Friday 22 September 2023


After a very long time Helen II finally went for her first trial  with Trustees Ron ,Dave ,Garonwy,Wednesday Phil and Wally.

First we practised hoisting sails in the safety of the marina.

Then we eased her out into the Conwy river under engine power  and as we had chosen a calm day, we hoisted sail and cut the engine.


We found a few snags which need attending to.

We had no way to know how much fuel is on board as there is no guage .

The boom ropes keep catching on the gas box.

When docking, the engine kept cutting out when moved to neutral and thus the tickover needs adjustment

Once docked back on the quay by the Liverpool Arms we were all proud of our achievements !

Thursday 15 June 2023


In April of this year, HelenII was moved from Conwy quay to make room for the longer stay of Island Reach, the YWAM boat.

She was taken down the river to Conwy  marina under her own engine and she steered beautifully ! At one point we had to turn a sharp 90 degree turn and in a strong easterly wind she handled it impeccably. 

For safety sake the harbour launch came as escort and marina staff helped berthing in the strong wind.

She now sits proudly on a pontoon and many sailors come to chat when Wednesday Phil is working or checking her out .

Since mooring her, work has continued  slowly. 

Ron purchased a second hand manual capstan  which Wally eagerly took home and completely cleaned and rebuilt using Wally's favourite addition - lots of white grease .

Wednesday Phil built and secured a seat for the capstan ( anchor yanker ) bolted through Helen's main beams and then fitted it with Wally.

Francis from YWAM came over and fitted the radio that had been donated previously but the connections were awkward and we later made permanent soldered joins. 

The GPS position was agreed and Phil made a bracket to give better line of vision from the chart table. 

This has yet to be tried as the 4 pin power connector is missing.

Then it all went quiet as Ron went on an extended holiday to France/Portugal.

Wednesday Phil then bought a turning lathe and continues to make spikes to hold the ropes and tension them.




 For a month or so no one has come to visit Helen II except Wednesday Phil who continues to check her regularly.

She was beginning to look tired so Phil embarked on a bit of TLC and for a week or so sanded her woodwork and revarnished her to her old self.

She is now once again causing interest and is just waiting to be sailed .



Monday 20 March 2023


Since the last update things seemed to have moved slowly. Having  fitted the gaff we had great difficulty in raising it as the ropes kept jamming in the top block so Francis from YWAM  climbed the mast and added an extra shackle to the top block to turn it through 90 degrees.

Still the gaff could not be raised so Wally created an extension bar to hold the pulley away from the mast and a week later Francis was was back up the mast installing it.

Still the gaff would not rise .

Wednesday Phil was convinced the problem was with the pulleys he had made and so it was decided to BUY two metal ones.

Francis once again volunteered to head for the heights and replaced the suspect pulleys while grinning continuously !

AND finally this did the trick.

The gaff can now be raised with little effort .Using strong students.

The main sail has now been brought from the compound and with student help fastened (bent) on to the gaff. 

Ron  nervously measured the full  sail to check that his  design  would fit correctly and all was well. He's a happy man !

Due to an increasing easterly wind this  morning it was decided not to raise the sail as the boat would have keeled over on the shoreline.
And we didn't want that !

So the sail was lashed down to be raised another day.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Update January 20023, We Are Nearly There !

Having filled the bilges with chain, further weight was added with cement .Jeremy's van brought the raw materials and Garonwy ,Dave, and our students mixed and handballed it to he bilges.

Ron and Jack poured and levelled it .This then serves to hold the chain in place and create extra stability.

Wednesday Phil lowered the gas holder as it was catching on the ropes. As he was almost upside down he asked the students to tell him when it was level for fixing.
Unfortunately the boat was tilted as the tide was out and it was levelled to the horizon not the deck.
Oh what fun !

While waiting for the boom fitting it was decided to hoist the gaff.
With help from "Youth With A Mission" helpers it was hauled aloft but jammed on the block at the top of the mast .
The block twisted and jammed the rope against the mast.

So Francis from YWAM volunteered to go up the mast to fix an extra shackle to the block to stop it twisting.

Great relief was had when Francis descended still beaming with enjoyment !
BUT it did not fix the problem and plan B was necessary.

Meanwhile Walley , having finally received the milled  metal bits, began welding the gooseneck to hold the boom to the mast.

This has now been fitted and looks a real work of art to Wednesday Phil.

Now the boom could finally be fitted.

With obvious curiosity from visitors, the boom was ceremoniously brought along the quay from the shed by Walley ,Jeremy and press ganged YWAM muscle men for final fitting.


There is great satisfaction that this has finally been achieved !

Friday 12 August 2022


Wednesday Phil made a waterproof seal for the base of the mast to stop ingress of water at home and first fitted it.

Ron showed our three keen students how to tighten the rigging using a pulley device called a Handy Billy. The lads then tightened all the rigging on their own and Ron and Phil sat back !
They certainly are learning a lot about the boat ,as is Phil.

We finally brought the GAFF to the boat and fastened it on the mast .

Then Ron showed us how to haul it into position up the mast. We lifted it half way and were satisfied it was a success but then it stuck as the pulley at the top was facing the mast and the rope jammed between the mast and the pulley.
It has been decided that an extra shackle is needed up top to turn the pulley away from the mast.

To do this we needed a bosun's chair which Phil was to make but upon reflection bottled out and decided to buy one for safety sake.

All we now need is a volunteer .
Our students were interested in the device so we let them have a go each . Trust you can see where this is leading ?

Wally has been busying himself creating a jointed ring to go round the mast to hold the boom . Due to his creative nature he devised a gismo to bend the ring to the required  roundness .He always delivers !
All now rests on the awaited "goose neck" which is holding up the progress. Hopefully it will arrive soon !

Tuesday 5 July 2022


The three students from Llandrillo College ,Aled, Mike and Leo have continued coming to help on a regular basis.

They have now loaded the chain to be used as ballast under the floors. A very dirty job.

This has improved the trim .

The sail were finally unboxed and checked for the first time.
The mainsail took up the whole width of the quay to spread out.

The jib was hoisted and fits beautifully !
Ron then instructed Aled,Mike and Leo on how to tighten the rigging using a Handy Billy and then left them to it. We were impressed with their results.

Further work on the gaff and mainsail were halted as Phil could not find suitable leather to line the gaff jaws 
But, with advice from Darren Naggs ,Phil finally purchased a large piece on stiffened belly flap from J &FJ Baker and Company of Colyton. This has been prepared for fitting but a wait of two weeks ensued waiting for brass tacks to arrive from China as any other type, apparently , will rot the leather.
The brass tacks finally arrived last week just as Phil caught the dreaded Covid. Job stopped again !

Work on the boom holding the mainsail is still on hold as we continue to wait for one of the YWAM team to make the  "goose neck" which allows the boom to swing and rise against the mast.
Once this is, made the sails can be fully fitted and sailing time approaches !

Whilst off with the Covid ,Phil has spent time making  parrel beads from scratch. These go round the mast to help the sail rise up the mast unhindered.


Saturday 21 May 2022


Helen II is now berthed next to the Liverpool arms on the quay.

Wednesday Phil and Wally have been busy creating the rigging parts

These were then fixed in position on the boat and connected to the rigging wires. This proved difficult and a two person task.


Aled ,Mike  and Leo came from Llandrillo College to help load the anchor ropes and chain into the boat with Ron guiding the coiling.

This was followed by half a ton of chain ballast to trim out the boat.

Since the launch ,Helen II's planks have started to swell in the sea water and as they expand ,the vessel becomes more water tight . At first when the pumps were turned on each day by Phil , a continuous run of water lasted 15 seconds. Two weeks later the flow lasts about 8 seconds .Those in the know think this is very good

Two of students returned the following week and swabbed the decks of seagull pooh , tweaked the skylight closing fittings and reorganised the ballast chain. and they were still smiling !