3 Tonner 





Senior 'Bethem'

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'Looking through some old photos found the one's regarding the first Senior I had, named 'Halfpenny Breeze'.

 She was found in the usual unloved state at Burgh Castle Marina in Norfolk and a I persuaded a friend to take her on. After a rapid paint job she was launched and sailed a couple of times, then, without my knowledge appeared at a local auction, which I attended. Didn't reach her reserve so I put in a bid and found myself towing her the couple of miles home.

 From memory a new cabin front, roof and cockpit locker lids were the only structural things to do, then strip all paint off and re-apply.

 She seemed stable with her three keels and bermudan rig and sailed ok on the broads except when beating, she just did not have enough grip on the water and whatever I tried she would not point particularly well. However for short tacking on the broads I've been spoilt with Broads yachts so I was perhaps expecting too much from the Senior.

 She was eventually sold to a chap who, I believe, got together a small fleet of Seniors and hired them out on the broads.

I continued chopping and changing boats, often restoring them from complete wrecks, and built a couple of dinghies.

 Now with a wife and two lovely daughters we were looking at cheap family holidays and after suggesting a complete change from the broads we went camping, and re-discovered all those nice Suffolk and Essex rivers. The family took to it  well and enjoyed the change of scenery and last year we took a trailer sailer with us on a trip to Tollesbury. Although we only managed a couple of outings on the boat, being back on the River Blackwater bought back happy memories, so I started looking into the possibilities of buying something bigger to keep down there during the season.

 Back to reality and concluded mooring fees, leaving the boat unattended far from home and restricting where we could reasonably expect to go during a weekend, settled on a compromise by keeping the camping gear and finding a suitable, easy to trail, launch and day sail trailer sailer.

 Life turns full circle, and it just so happens that I had purchased, during many mood swings, plans for the YM Senior, 3 Tonner and Eventide back in the 1980s, so I dug out the Senior plans and started doing some rough costings. 

 Whilst sourcing materials on the internet I came across an advert for a part complete Senior, and after making contact with the owner, he sent me photos of the work to date. She is a credit to the builder David, he has used iroko for the stringers, marine plywood for the skin, and solid teak for the transom. The hull was complete with main cabin bulkhead, cabin front, some deck beams and cockpit seat sides all present.

 With the assistance of my work colleague, along with the firms vehicle and heavy duty trailer we drove the 340 miles to collect her and she now sits waiting for completion, back at our yard in Norfolk.

 As with most of my boats from the past I like to keep a diary of work along with many photographs and with John's encouragement am making this one more public by having a builders page. I shall do my best to keep it updated.


Mat Gravener'


 March 2017.

Good progress made on the Senior to date.

The plans specify the rudder to be aluminium plate, but I had a very nice piece of teak which I profiled to form the blade and 12mm marine ply for the cheeks. As the blade is lowered it touches the bottom edge of the cheeks so I let in a piece of teak here to protect the end grain of the plywood. A stainless steel pivot bolt completed the basic assembly.

The interior of the boat is being sanded to remove any epoxy glue runs and to further protect the ply I've started coating it with a two part solvent epoxy. Its very easy to apply by brush or roller and can be worked into all those awkward places. Its an ideal product on bare timber as it soaks right into the grain. Its worth mentioning that the area needs to be well ventilated as its fairly potent stuff!

Because we will be towing the boat a lot I've decided to go for the centreplate version, with the addition of removable internal lead ballast. This will be cast in small ply boxes and secured either side of the centre case and can be removed if necessary.

I have received prices for the centreplate, in both galvanised mild steel and stainless and was pleasantly surprised. This will be made exactly as specified on the plans, with the curved slot to allow a stop bolt in the casing and the lifting lugs.

The casing has been drawn out onto a sheet of 12mm Robbins Elite plywood and spacers and logs are utile (mahogany substitute). Once assembled I shall evaluate the strength and if necessary can clad the casing in additional strips of hardwood.

I have managed to get hold of another trailer, which is much more suitable and will make launching and recovering the boat easier.

I have also added up the weight of lead which I've been collecting over the years, mainly old mast weights from Broads Yachts and I have enough to cast 160lbs of internal ballast for the Senior if need be.


Mat Gravener


The extra internal ballast will be a great idea, they do need it.





Sorry for lack of recent communications!

Been busy replacing decks and marking out new mahogany cabin sides on my 1919 30 foot broads river cruiser, which is going to be my very last restoration!

Bethem, the Senior is nicely wrapped up in a heavy tarpaulin, on her new trailer waiting patiently for a space in the workshop.

I have some very nice, long lengths of mahogany and have sliced some up for various bits for the Senior, these include trunk logs, cappings, mast supports, foredeck rails and cockpit floor bearers. 

These are stored flat in my workshop at home. Apart from a few sheets of Elite marine plywood I think I now have all the timber to finish the boat.

Eventually I would like to rig her as a gunter cutter with short bowsprit, but recently picked up a good set of heavy dinghy sails, Bermudan, for the princely sum of ten pounds! So, along with the aluminium mast I had kicking about, and some brand new shrouds, I now have a complete (temporary) rig.

Will update with photos of the made up teak rudder and brand new galvanised centreplate soon,


Mat Gravener



'26th August 2017, decided it would be a good idea to get Bethem moved to our drive so I could actually start working seriously on her.

Made sure she was well strapped down on the trailer and made the 10 mile journey back to our house.

Making use of the good weather sanded the remaining parts of the cockpit and transom, then applied two pack solvent epoxy to the ply and teak transom. Areas inside cockpit lockers and under floor were given a coat of grey easy-primer, a marine product which we use extensively at the yard. Very easy to apply by brush or roller and can be used on most surfaces.

My newly made rudder has had a number of coats of varnish.

A rather sad looking Senior, which was broken up recently, provided a mast, gaff and boom in good quality timber and this has been stripped and given a couple of 50/50 varnish coats. The mast carries a full length track as per the original gunter sail plan. I have numerous sails to try out on the boat, and looks as though to start with it will be gaff rigged, although that is a long way off.

Mat Gravener


17th September  2017

Couldn't keep putting it off, so Sunday 17th September 2017 drilled out a series of holes through the hog and keel and cut out the centreplate slot! It worked out really well, just a bit of cleaning up with a sharp chisel where the jigsaw blade had wandered a little.

Used a couple of long sash clamps and positioned the case over the slot, marked all round, then drilled out for 3inch 12 stainless screws, these go up through the keel, hog and case logs. Another trail fit was done and all seems well, so the next job was routing a shallow slot all round the bottom of the centre case, so when I do the final fit with Sikaflex this will expand into this slot and hopefully provide a seal to keep things watertight! Fingers crossed.

Other jobs today included stripping the second hand boom back to bare wood, and this has come up lovely.

Mat Gravener