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Tom Thumb Tiller Pilot Install Guide is here.

I bought Tom Thumb with the expectation that I would do some coastal and bay cruising in my retirement but that is not the way it has worked out. I keep the boat in a small club (Wynnum Manly Yacht Club) in Moreton Bay near Brisbane and have become enthusiastically engaged in weekly racing in the club’s non spinnaker Sunday SAGS races - Sunday Around Green (Island) Series. Our fleet averages around 15 boats with the races having a staggered start, based on previous performance, and Tom Thumb is currently leading the 2012 series by a slim margin.

Around 12 months ago I spent 6 weeks varnishing her cabin and coamings. This involved scraping her back and to bare timber and applying 10 – 15 coats of finish. Lots of decisions had to be made and there were a gazillion opinions on the best way to proceed. In the end I applied 5-7 coats of traditional marine varnish (Werdol from Epifanes) followed by 5-7 coats of 2 pack brushable polyurethane from Bristol Finish. The theory is that the 2 pack can be more easily removed with the traditional varnish underneath and that I will only need a single annual top coat of the 2 pack to cope with our harsh tropical climate. I keep the boat under covers and she looks good 12 months later. The first top coat is now due. I hope to report on this in the future.

Changes made so far include:

  1. Adding a Raymarine A70D chart plotter, depth sounder – very useful for the thin waters of Moreton Bay.
  2. Fitting a tiller pilot inboard in the cockpit which works great (see separate entry).
  3. Roller reefing (love this) o Bow and stern rails and lifelines
  4. 2 small solar panels on the stern rails to keep the batteries charged.
  5. An Airhead composting toilet (why do other sailors mess about with holding tanks?)

I am currently building a double ended nesting peapod to use as a dinghy. I hope to provide further details/photos when I have more progress to report.

During my discussions with Chuck Paine he commented that club racing is an excellent way of improving both the boat’s performance and our own sailing skills and that he enjoyed the camaraderie of other sailors at the club house. I heartily endorse his comments – they are certainly true for me!


I have raced Tom Thumb quite a bit this year and our results have been very satisfying:

  • 1st Equinox Rally for Classic Yachts (Queensland Cruising Yacht Club)
  • 1st Deanbilla Bay Race (Classic Yacht Assoc of Australia) Photo with Trophy attached
  • 2nd SAGS Our Club’s Sunday Series (Wynnum Manly Yacht Club)
  • 2nd in Div Vintage Yacht Regatta (Queensland Cruising Yacht Club)
  • 4th Lady Skippers Race (Wynnum Manly Yacht Club)