Twinkle – A Twinkle 12

One of the jobs keeping me busy this summer (2009) has been repairing a Twinkle 12.  This one, in the same family since the early 1960’s,  now needs quite a bit of work to return her to active service.

Once the garboards and first broads came off it was apparent that a length of keel, one side of the hog and the stem knee needed replacement so off I went – here is the photo log.

Looking a bit fragile…

A new length of keel goes in.

One of the new garboards starts to fit.

But squeezing in a new first broad takes a while

Once planked up Twinkle is turned back over, the nails (all 450 of them for the three new and one re-conditioned plank) are roved and peened (thanks for helping Ben) and I get on with scarfing in a dozen or so timbers.

A new centreboard case, a bit of cleanup and she is ready (very late in the season I’m afraid) to go back in the water.

I get down to RFYC and help Lorne check that she is taking up OK. She is not perfect but much better than she was (water intake wise) and infinitely stiffer in the backbone!

Lessons to learn from this one?

  • Well, these projects always take longer than you expect (of course).
  • The 5/16″ planking was so frail it would have been easier (and faster and cheaper) to replace the (basically OK) first broad that I re-conditioned. Filling all the nail holes and cleaning up the plank is much more work than cutting a new plank.
  • I was glad that I chose to scarf in new lower sections to timbers rather than replace whole timbers. Again, the existing planks are so delicate removing nails all the way up timbers to be replaced would inevitably have damaged a few planks.
  • I took the chance, while the boat was upside down, to laminate up a keel support batten.  This, when attached to the launching trolley, provides a firm base for the boat to rest on while ashore.  I think that this sort of arrangement is essential for any lightly built traditional boat to prevent pressure points at the bilge (and broken timbers and cracked planking).


  1. Your photos could almost be those of my Family 14 – the bigger sister of the Twinkle 12 – on which I am undertaking a minor restoration ( I don’t have the skills for anything major). I have had to remove the centreboard case, which is almost exactey the same as Twinkle’s, and rebuild it. I am unsure what I should use to re-bed the case to the hog. The advice I have received ranges from Arbocol 1000, to Sikaflex 291, or epoxy. Would the latter be too brittle for a clinker boat? I am concerned that Arbocol would lose its elasticity over the years, and thus Sikaflex – or LifeCaulk – would be the answer. Any advice would be most welcome!

  2. Hello Andrew – I’ve just revisited Charlie Hussey’s website after a long gap, and saw your comment/question above. I’m sure Charlie would be well placed to answer, if he has not already done so.

    Where do you keep your Family 14 when in use?

    My Twinkle 12 was not in use last year but I am getting close to being able to launch the boat this year!

  3. Hi Lorne,

    Charlie did reply with helpful comments. I had found it necessary to remake the centreboard case and needed advice on the best product for rebedding it. In the end I opted for Arbokol 1000. I had stripped the entire interior of the boat, and it is taking some time to rebuild and re varnish her. Still not finished! Not helped by having another boat that I am recaulking, so 14 having to play second fiddle.
    I keep her at Ardfern Yacht Centre on Loch Craignish in mid Argyll, where I also work part time, although I am well past retirement age. I bought her for my grandchildren from a work mate who had found her in a barn somewhere in Yorkshire. He didn’t have time to work on her and had kept her afloat largely due to her buoyancy bags. Whoever had her in the past had filled parts with car body filler and used several mild steel fittings and screws, which has added to the work. Hoping to get her on the water before the end of the season, if only to check whether or not my work has cured the leaks. My ambition is to return her as near as possible to original.

    Good to hear from you


  4. Hello Andrew – interesting to read, thanks. My Twinkle 12 was based in W. Loch Tarbert, Kintyre, and then after my father bought her c.1964, just north of there. Right now she’s afloat (I hope) at Granton, Firth of Forth: first time in the water since Oct 2013.

    My home e-mail address is , if you’d like to use that. I expect to be at Ardfern in early August and it would be good to meet you then if possible.


  5. It’s great to here of these boats soldiering on almost from one end of the country to another. I have Family 14 here in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex which I bought from the Burnham Overy Staithe (Norfolk) fleet some years ago, As far as I know they’re still racing them there and hold a clinker weekend each summer,

    My interest in these craft is a family one – Gary Wright was my Grandfather and his sons, Jack & Eric were my Father and Uncle respectively, all now passed away, which is no surprise as I’m a pensioner. The Boatworks at Cullingham Road was closed down in the late 60’s when my Uncle Eric became chairman of the newly formed Suffolk Yacht Harbour Ltd. transferring some of the staff and machinery to that business which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary:

    Sadly we don’t build boats at SYH, but do have a good reputation for repair and restoration of classic yachts, employing a number of skilled shipwrights. It’s not so easy to find these skills nowadays, so we have a policy of taking on apprentices to keep the skills alive.

    While quite a few seem to know of Twinkle 10’s, Twinkle 12’s and Family 14’s, I never hear tese days of the W class 15 footers which was the big sister of the range, serving much the same purpose as Wayfarers did later. If any of you posting here know of the whereabouts of a W15, I would be fascinated to here of her.

  6. Good to hear of other Family 14s still on the go, and to get info about Wright’s yard from the horse’s mouth! After purchasing my 14, which had languished in a barn in Perthshire – previous history unknown, I undertook the restoration referred to in my previous contributions. I was keen to get some background about her builders, but it is sad that firms such as Wrights disappear without any apparent archive of the vessels they built. After corresponding with Lorne Byatt I managed to ascertain that the 4641 hull number could be interpreted as the first boat completed in April 1964.

    My 14 is now back in commission after stripping out and replacing the centreboard case. She came painted, and I have re-painted her cream, which may offend the clinker purists. At some point in the past she has been beefed up with double planking either side of the keel and also at the turn of the bilge. I wonder if she had perhaps been kept on a drying mooring and the additional planking was to give added protection on taking the ground. It looks professionally added rather than an amateur botch up, which she suffered from thereafter – I had to remove numerous mild steel screws during the restoration!

    Happy sailing!

  7. I have a Twinkle 14 or Family 14 too, in very good shape – a lively sail down here in Suffolk! The makers plate is there but I have no idea where to find the hull number, so if anyone out there knows….. Also, I sort of inherited this boat and the previous owner had converted it to sail solo, with a line to move for the centre board toward the rear of the boat via a sort of flywheel at the front end of the centreboard – very difficult to use in a hurry due to cam cleat!! And not much use for the crew.
    I’d love to see a photo of an original set up so I can revert it. There are a couple of pulley wheels below the mast seat block which I presume had something to do with it. All help appreciated. Otherwise, it’s a trip up to Burnham Overy Staithe sailing club which has a fleet I hear. Thanks folks

  8. Hi Will
    I’m the owner of the Twinkle 12 that Charlie Hussey saved in 2009 from what probably would otherwise have been an ignominious end. She’s going strong and is frequently admired for her good looks and speed.
    There is an Andrew Dodd (contactable via Ardfern yacht Centre?) who restored a Family 14. He may be able to fill in the gaps about your boat’s centreboard history. Sounds like the centreboard is metal – does it need to be? I believe early Twinkle 12s had no foredeck and a galvanised centreboard – my boat, built 1961, has a foredeck and a timber centreboard. This is much lighter, does not overstress the hull and is equally good as a hydrofoil. Also no need for pulley arrangements.
    I think you may find the hull number for your Family 14 on the timber knee at the centre of the transom inside the hull. There may be four digits stamped/carved in: the sequence being [Month] [build order] [Year]. My boat has number 4161 – thus (I think) the first boat out of Wrights of Ipswich in April 1961. I got this explanation from Burnham Overy Staithe several years ago.
    Good Luck with your Family 14.

  9. Hi everyone,

    I still have my Family 14, but due to lockdown she has not been on the water this year. Lorne told me how to date my vessel, and I shall take a photo when I can of the centreboard arrangement that I inherited, and guess is original. I had to make a new centreboard case, and yes, the centreboard is galvanised steel. I think I may have mentioned earlier that my boat appears to have had additional planking affixed on either side of the keel and at the turn of the bilge. Guess she may have been kept on a tidal mooring at some age in her life, and the planking was to provide protection on taking the ground?? Probably added to her weight, but no bad thing in the west of Scotland coast. I have finally retired from Ardfern, but still have my Victoria 30 at Crinan harbour, and out of the water at Ardfern for the winter.

    Watch this space for some pics of Serendipity!

  10. Hi Will,

    Interesting, a Family Fourteen at home in Suffolk – I don’t think I’ve ever heard them called a Twinkle Fourteen before. If you have the original mainsail, you will see the two red overlapping F’s logo, attesting to their original name and the original sailmaker, Jeckells of Wroxham, still supply the sails complete with logo.

    Whereabouts in Suffolk do you sail your FF? Jenny II, our FF is currently at Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington having a couple of cracked frames repaired and a few modern refinements (toestraps, self bailers and cam cleats for the jib sheets) fitted, so she has not been afloat so far this year. If you’re anywhere nearby, it might be good to get the two old dears together.

    The standard arrangement on the Family 14 centreplate was a twin drum arrangement attached to the front of the case with a 3/4″ circ rope (~6mm in modern terms) on the large drum and a galvanised steel wire on the small drum. The rope ran aft to a tube cleat at the rear starboard side of the centreplate box and was usually operated by the helmsman and the wire ran to the plate so giving a mechanical advantage equal to the ratio of the drum diameters. On our FF we have replaced the wire with the core out of a piece of Kevlar – the wire was getting rusty and hairy.

    Any blocks below the mast step are likely to be for the kicking strap – the boom should have an alloy Holt Allen fitting about 2 foot aft of the gooseneck to take the top end of it.

  11. Thanks Lorne. I’ve just heard from Peter Wright as well so info pouring in.

  12. My first reply seemed have gone astray so I’ll try again..
    Hi Peter. Lovely to hear from a relative of the makers and thanks for all the info! Our boat, Friendship Rose, is currently kept at the Waverney Sailing Club at Weybread. There is a large old gravel pit there with plenty of room. We did a lot of restoration – mainly varnishing and replacing the mast seat as she had been outside on the broads for some years. I’d say she is in pretty good shape for her age. Although not on the water we keep damp towels inside which seems to keep her watertight. The mark on the sail (white) is TF which I just presumed meant Twinkle Fourteen. The centre plate mechanism is as you described so no worries there. It’s a little stiff to get fully down so I’ve just stuck some waterproof grease along it and hope that helps. I can send pics of the boat if you like. She is quite a heavy boat for us but much admired by the other members who are keen to help put her up the slipway, thankfully!

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