Tom Thumb 24 for Junk Conversion

  • 28 Dec 2019 20:32
    Reply # 8408066 on 8383473

    Hi Don,

     a few thoughts.

    Steel boats need any sign of rust to be immediately dealt with. If it is left it will spread and become a real problem that will take a lot of work to eradicate. Stay on top of the maintenance and the amount of work is not too bad, especially in a dry climate such as Israel.

    The Tom Thumb design is a representation in steel of the old working boats of southern England, such as the Itchen Ferry and the Falmouth Quay Punt. She is a heavy displacement design and as such will be comfortable to live on and moderate in her performance. Based on the old designs as she is, she will also be very seaworthy and look after you in heavy weather.

    You have to decide on what your priorities are. If it is performance, then the Tom Thumb is probably not a good choice. If it is for a comfortable live aboard that will look after you at sea and get you there safely and comfortably, then the Tom Thumb is a sensible choice.

    All the best, David.

  • 28 Dec 2019 13:39
    Reply # 8405635 on 8383473
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Keeping the inside dry

    Here is an armchair idea, without any guarantee, but also perfectly free:
    What about installing a little air dehumidifier in the cabin?

    Dry air inside will prevent mouldy surfaces, rot-spots and even rust.

    I used one on board Johanna for a couple of winters, and the boat has never been dryer inside. Unluckily, I didn’t have an hour-counter, so I don’t know how often or for how long it ran, but it always seemed to have stopped when I came on board, and the RH was below 50%.

    I also know that air dehumidifiers have been used in a large Danish bridge (enclosed  square steel tube main section) instead of painting against rust. With the air humidity below 50% ( ? I don’t know), steel simply will not rust.

    The idea is that when leaving the boat, the hatches and ventilators should be firmly closed to minimise ingress of new air. Then the dehumidifier would be making a short job of drying out the boat, and doing so without draining much of the battery.

    Worth thinking of?



    Last modified: 28 Dec 2019 13:52 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 27 Dec 2019 23:19
    Reply # 8403172 on 8383473

    To give the Tom Thumb design its due, it is a brilliant boat in the open sea once you crack off onto a close reach, all the way through to running square.  It is very fast running, you can drive it as hard as you like and it never rounds up, and it does not roll a lot.  I often averaged 5.5 knots for passages with the wind aft of the beam.  On a reach the speed is 4-5 knots usually.  Given that I have no desire to sail closer than 70 degrees in the open sea, I do not see the sedate windward performance (2.5-3 knots) a problem for ocean passages.  It becomes more of a pain when coastal cruising.  During the 10 years I sailed Arion without an engine, I learned a lot of patience and developed the skills of a square-rigger captain.  Once I fitted the diesel I motorsailed to windward on the coast, and in light airs in general.  At sea you would just bake a cake.

    I regret selling Arion and my new boat feels like a plastic toy.  I know I can break this boat, something i never gave a thought to with Arion.  But most of the boats out there are plastic these days, (I keep reminding myself), and they don't break that often!

  • 27 Dec 2019 10:33
    Reply # 8400830 on 8383473

    Thanks, David...perhaps I needed someone remind me that there are many boats out there, waiting to be loved.  No, I'm not a welder, but I can scrape and gring and paint with the best of them...but since I'm not going to play amongst the icebergs, maybe the steel hull just isn't the best option for me.  I'll do as you say and widen the parameters, and see what comes up.  Happy new year!

  • 26 Dec 2019 08:58
    Reply # 8392540 on 8383473

    Hello Don,

    That looks to be a comfortable cruiser in good condition. But are you comfortable with maintaining steel on a regular basis? Can you weld, and do you really love painting  spots of rust?

    Graham has told us how the Tom Thumb is a less than sparkling performer to windward. Unsurprising, as it's only 24ft long with more than three tons of displacement. That weight really ought to be spread over a longer LOA. Using the Appollo Duck search facility, and putting in a price band of £8000 - £9000, and a length of 24ft - 26ft, located in the UK, I see that one could buy a Nicholson 26, or a Sadler 25 or 26; or widening the parameters a little, a Contessa 26 - all with a better sailing pedigree. Or a Cutlass 27, also a good cruiser. Or several others.

    I suppose it depends on the length of cruises you plan to undertake. In my Hunter Duette 23, I manage with a displacement of about 1.2 tonnes for my summer cruises of four months and well over 1000 miles - but I will admit that it's rather minimalist cruising, and 2 - 3 tonnes of displacement would allow for more creature comfort.

    Last modified: 26 Dec 2019 12:22 | Anonymous member
  • 25 Dec 2019 08:54
    Message # 8383473

    Happy Christmas from Israel, all!

    I am looking for a modest-sized junk-rigged yacht, or one that might be a candidate for conversion to junk rig, on this side of the world.  There isn't much available right now.  I looked at the Newbridge Virgo Voyager for sale in Kent, had a great conversation with the seller, but came away thinking it was just too small for my purposes.  Chu-Fa, a junk-rigged Vertue II of fairly recent construction in Germany, is priced beyond my reach (even if it seems worth it).  There are a couple of others in the UK on the market, also a bit small for me.

    That brings me to a Tom Thumb for sale in Lancashire (  I like the TT 24, and I know that there are several around the world that have been built with, or converted to junk rig, successfully.  I had a correspondence with Graham Cox, who owned one of those junk'd TT 24's for a long time.  I came away not feeling too secure about buying a steel boat with significant timber (cabin top and lots of trim) which can hide rust, and not knowing the builder or previous owners.

    The mission brief for the boat would be to move her down here and make periodic passages, most likely single-handed, Israel-Cyprus-south western Turkey-Greece to enjoy those cruising grounds.  Any thoughts from the collective wisdom of this group?  I would love to hear them!

     Thanks in advance,


       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
                                                               - the Chinese Water Rat

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