In order to have a boat on the Thames one needs a licence and in order to obtain the licence one needs a boat safety certificate.

I have now had the inspector come out to take a look and generally everything is up to standard. However in order to fully comply and gain the certificate I need to rearrange or replace the fuel tank so the it can be filled externally to the boat. Currently it is in the port cockpit locker so there is a risk petrol could spill into the hull when filing which is a big no-no.

Fuel tank in port cockpit locker

In the scheme of things reconfiguring it shouldn’t be to arduous, but after this week the examiner won’t be around for a month to sign off and without the certificate and licence I am not officially allowed to use the boat and will not be able to get past the lock keepers.

The solution he suggested is to decommission the engine by removing the fuel tank, electrics and carburettor and then use an outboard in the meantime. This is  a bit of a relief as it has had a domino effect forcing my hand on a few issues I have been debating.

Having the internal engine is great, but it’s just not reliable enough yet to provide the freedom of just being able to jump in the boat and head off at on a whim. As such I had been considering getting and outboard anyway and have now picked up a little Marina 7.5 on eBay.

The second issue was the boat’s name. For some reason I just don’t like it and have a much better one in mind which I feel is more apt. However, I have been slightly wary of the superstitions of changing a boat’s name and intend to do it with the requisite ceremonies which require pouring away a lot of champagne which I am not so happy about! This is also the reason I have never mentioned the current name here. Old superstitions do not allow for the Internet where nothing can be deleted permanently.

Anyway, having got the outboard I was waiting to spot a reasonably priced bracket, but then poking around in one of the lockers I found the original with its attachements! I really have a massive appreciation for the previous owners who in addition to keeping all the original parts also documented every penny spent over the last 30 years with receipts and brochures.

Original outboard bracket

However, the bracket fits to the transom exactly where the current name is displayed. As such, I will need to remove it and so have the perfect excuse for a renaming ceremony. The timing will also work well as I can get my certificate and licence with the new name and effectively start afresh.

Internal engine layout

It seems having an internal engine on a Vivacity 20 is very unusual. As such a number of people on the excellent Yahoo forum  have shown an interest in the layout.  I have tried to document in this post.

Engine Housed beneath hatch

Positioned beneath the entry hatch the engine does not intrude into the cabin too much but allows sufficient access for maintenance. This is balanced by lead ballast in bows for balance.

Engine in situ with cover removed

Arrangement of fuel line, exhaust & propeller shaft behind engine under cockpit

Batteries charged by engine

Fuel tank in port cockpit locker

All of this is then counterweighted with a load of old lead piping packed in the bows.

Stuart Turner Engine – part II


After advice from friends and forums it was time to head back and give everything a go. So armed with a new spark plug, a tin of 3-in-1 and a can of gypsy breath (easy start) I headed over to the boat yard to try getting the engine going again.

First off was a good glug of oil straight into the cylinder in case the seals had shrunk. After giving it a few cranks to give everything a nice coating I fitted the new spark plug.  Then it was back to cranking away. There was definitely some improvement. It was a lot easier and after a while a nice “shhh-ti-cop” noise began to come from the carb with each turn but it still wasn’t firing.

Next I tried adding a couple of drops of fuel straight into the cylinder.  After a few cranks there was a spark of life and the fly wheel turned a couple of times before dying. Enthused I tried again but nothing. Then took the spark plug out, dried it and replaced it. A few cranks and bingo. Another brief sign of life. I repeated the cycle a number of times, then the yard owner had a go. Strangely, the old spark plug seemed to work better. By now where getting three spins. Scratching our heads we checked everything to find the exhaust valve was not open. Remedying this and there was  a cough a splutter and then a shuddering build up as the engine kicked into life. Once up an running and it seemed hard to conceive of a more satisfying sound!

Since this time there have been a few breakdowns due to a variety of faults including the need to clean the carburettor and not having enough fuel in the tank. It was by no means empty, but being gravity fed needs the tank to be more than half-full to operate properly.