The Eventider's News


Issue Twelve Spring/Summer 09 


Page 7

Iolaire and the Tale of the Stuart Turner



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Don Street the round the World Sailor is also a Seagull customer of mine, he thought you might like to hear this hitherto untold tale of his association with Stuart Turner engine. 



IOLAIRE and the Stuart Turner

When I arrived in the Caribbean I discovered all the small double ended fishing launches in the southern end of the Caribbean had small Stuart Turner gasoline engines.

All the larger British boats had Stuart Turner twelve volt gasoline generators.

Stuart Turners were very erratic.. One mechanic, in Antigua, a young Frenchman Yeve, said he loved Stuart Turners. Reason he said "Stuart Turners never run quite right, so anyone that has a Stuart Turner generator is regularly asking me to work on their generator..

In Antigua in the early years everyone was broke little money was around. Yeve would work on an engine, then say that was an easy job it will only cost the skipper a dinner, and skipper would feed Yeve a dinner.

Sometimes it would be a difficult job and the skipper would have to feed Yeve three meals a day for a couple of days.

It is said that the Stuart Turner was designed by a few of the top marine engineers of England about 1910 when there was a conference of all the leading marine engineers of England. At the end of the conference there was a grand Banquet, with numerous toasts before dinner, two or three type of wine with dinner ,brandy and cigars after dinner.

Four of the top engineers over brandy and cigars decided as a joke they would design what would appear be the perfect marine engine. It would always run, but they designed some oddities into it so that it would always run, but never run quite right.

They had much fun designing it.

Party broke up in the wee small hours of the morning .With great laughter they went their various ways leaving the drawings of the engine that would always run but never run quite right on the table.

Cleaning up one waiter found the drawings, wondered what they were. He showed them to a fellow waiter who examined them.

The second waiter said" this is a marine engine. It has been designed by the top marine engineers in the world. It must be the perfect engine. Let us form a company to build this engine"

The names of the waiters ? Stuart and Turner!!!!!!!

When I bought Iolaire she did not have an engine but she did have a Stuart Turner generator.

It was an accident waiting to happen. It had a standard Stuart Turner gas tank that was vented thru the filling cap. It was in the same compartment as the Stuart Turner, so compartment was always full of gas fumes.

The carburettor was a tickle carburettor that you flooded putting more gas fumes in the compartment, plus the carburettor had no flame arrestor.

I finally got rid of it dropping it into Christianstead harbour as I felt that starting it was like playing Russian roulette with three shells in the chamber .

Subsequently Jocasta a 54’ Robert Clark designed ????? I will chase down the builder one day via Lloyds register, had her generator blow up and she burned to the waters edge, as did Electra (ex Yeoman designed and built by Camper and Nicholsons).

Boekaneer‘s Stuart Turner generator blew up, lifted the steel deck a full inch .

West Indians are indestructible, crew was starting it when it blew, he survived but became an instant white man loosing all the pigment in his skin.

But before Iolaire’s Stuart Turner was tossed into the harbour it did do one days good service.

We were on a day charter St.Thomas to Caneel bay and return. On the way back the wind was light, charter party was worried about getting back to the hotel for evening drinks before dinner. A couple of them suggested that I start the engine to speed up up.

They did not realize that Iolaire had no engine, so being a resourceful con man I went below started the Stuart Turner generator, returned on deck and said "engine is running but British boats have such small engines we will motor sail to help the engine"

Needless to say I trimmed sails carefully.

As we rounded the end of West Indian company dock, we came hard on the wind, which tough light it was enough to enable to sail quite nicely.

So I said "lets be sporting, I’ll shut the engine down and we will sail alongside the dock" which we did.

As the charter party left they all thanked me, all saying "it was great skipper but thank god you had an engine or we never would have made evening drinks before dinner"

Needless to say the other charter skippers were surprised, but said nothing until everyone left. Then the skippers piled on board, pointing out they had said nothing, they had not let the cat out of the bag. They demanded beer in payment and an explanation as to how I had conned the charter party.

Don Street

Nice Story Don!  Thanks for sharing it with us!  I was shipmates with a Stuart Turner 8 on board 'Bluenose' and also a 10 in 'Fiddler's Green' when we first launched.  They do have their moments,  and like, Marmite, you either love or hate them.


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