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#1 2017-04-23 16:35:41

From: Dublin Bay
Registered: 2011-02-24
Posts: 333

Frances 34 Pilot House WREN

Dear Fellow Members,

My name is Keith Walker, last May I took ownership of Wren a Frances 34 Pilot House yacht.


I have a history with Victoria Yachts and the association. Shortly after visiting the yard in Warsash sometime around 1999 I purchased Liberdade (now Libby) a wonderful Victoria 800 and joined the VSA. After a few years and a growing family we needed a bigger boat, it’s taken me 15 years to move over to Wren!

After getting Wren from Falmouth to Rhu on the upper Clyde we set about getting to know each other, with many trips around the Clyde visiting some of my favourite places from old, Bute, Colintraive, Burnt Islands, Caladh, Tighnabruaich to name a few. My longest singlehanded trip last summer was over to Northern Ireland with a stop in Bangor marina to visit friends.


With winter layup approaching and a few sea miles completed it was time to think about any modifications and upgrades. A new Chart Plotter was on the list to enable IAS to be fitted. Replacing the old Raymarine RL70C was top of the list based on the cost of C-MAP memory chips, but I soon discovered any new chart plotter would need the radar replacing which would effectively doubled the price. Taking the view “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” I fitted the ICOM MA-500 TR a great little unit and the benefit of being standalone allows other displays to be switched off to save power when not required. It can also in due course be networked into any new system. To complement the AIS a DSC radio was required, to keep it simple and save space the Icom M400BB was selected. … essel:WREN

Thinking towards extended cruising, power is always on my mind so solar panels were required. Scotland leans towards wind generators but so many friends have mentioned the noise I was not keen. Three solar panels on the pilot house roof provides 200watts, in laboratory conditions, in real life I anticipate slightly less than half being so far north. Running the boat with fridge and auto pilot averages around 4 amps per hour, if the panels can keep up with that during the day I will be very happy, time and this summer will tell.


Wabasto Thermo Top heater replaced, Pilot House window cover replaced, new anchor, every boat should have two, countless items a new boat owner requires, acquired, the Copper Coat touched up and with money fast running out it was time to float my boat and start enjoying her again.


Does anyone else have the shallow draft option? Note the new slightly oversized 18kg Knox anchor.

I was the first to launch from Rhu on March 10th, after a few days faffing around with rigging sails and the like it was time for the off. I had limited time having to be back by Easter to support my daughter as he completes her advanced Highers prior to University late this year.

First Cruise of 2017.

Duration 12 days,
Distance 300 miles.

8 days on anchor, 2 day in a marina and 2 days on a mooring buoy.

I had been planning to go up to Stornoway to see friends but the wonderful Scottish weather had me motoring in light airs with no forecast let-up so I gave up and cruised slowly back home. Did I mention that I paid £150 for the C-Map of the Western Isles and that three days in to the journey having decided that if it isn’t broken don’t change it, the RL70 packed up!!

I think 300 solo miles and two rounding of the Mull of Kintyre before Easter is a good result. Wren is now back in Rhu waiting for or next trip, which due to family commitments will probably be in July.

If any fellow members of the VSA are planning to visit the West of Scotland do get in touch.

Regards, safe sailing,


Sunrise off Davaar Island (Campbeltown) early start to catch the tide to round the Mull of Kintyre.

Paps of Jura from the Sound of Islay.

Wren resting in Craobh Haven marina for a few days.

A beautiful Frances 26 almost ready to launch in Craobh


#2 2017-04-28 08:40:46

Registered: 2003-11-23
Posts: 162

Re: Frances 34 Pilot House WREN

Thank you for your early season report and stunning pictures over glassy seas.  My Frances 34 ALBERTINE is still on the hard until next week and I have spent most of the last two weeks doing my best to get the blue hull back into a respectable condition.  The southern sun really does bake on the oxidisation, which is always a challenge to remove and reinstate some limited shine.  Our major trip this year will be to London for the Limehouse Rally, returning to Warsash via the North French coast.  Back in the water next week followed by engine service and then a number of Club and Association Rallies.
I look forward to reading you Summer Log which I hope you will enter into the Best Log Cup competition at the end of the year.
fair winds,
Jon Spencer.


#3 2017-05-02 16:19:33

Registered: 2016-10-21
Posts: 10

Re: Frances 34 Pilot House WREN

Hi Jon,
Thank you for your kind comments, I will try to post something later in the year; as for Blog/Log entries I’m more a photo man than word smith so that's all TBC.
In my haste to get launched I had a local craftsman polish the hull for me, she was looking a bit weathered at 18 years old, he did a great job which I undid on my second approach to the berth.
My next trip apart from the odd weekend and day trips is now looking like the Isle of Man, Strangford Lock and the NI Coast back to the Clyde in July. Hopefully in September I will try again for Stornoway with an extended cruise back via the west coast and the Crinan Canal. The RL70 is back with Raymarine, I’m determined to get some use out of the C-map chart of the Western Ils, before an electronics upgrade for 2018.
Sorry I cannot make the club rallies but if you hold one on the Clyde I'll be the first one there.


#4 2018-09-22 11:07:52

Registered: 2014-07-20
Posts: 4

Re: Frances 34 Pilot House WREN

Hi Keith, Just picked up your message above- We are proud owners of Hummingbird, another blue Frances 34, who lives in Plymouth. We are just looking at adding solar panels to the pilot house roof and would love any tips- especially your brand and how pleased you are with them now a season on? We had a lovely three months in Hummingbird around the west coast of Scotland in 2016, but have been more restricted since- Just back from the Scillies, which prompted further renewables research as no marinas- Just beautiful anchorages and mooring buoys-Hope you continue to  enjoy Wren- Amanda And Victor


#5 2018-09-23 14:57:20

Registered: 2016-10-21
Posts: 10

Re: Frances 34 Pilot House WREN

Hello Victor, you've found me doing weekend emails!!
The panals I have are from Sunware
2x75 and a 50. Up in Scotland in the overcast frozen summer, they averages about 30 amps per 24 hour period. Not great and not as much as I would have expected, moving the boom to reduce shading works well, the fit is a compromise on the PH roof as one of the panals is alwasy slightly tilted away from the sun. I only take shore power in marinas when its included in the price! All I get form SP is the use of my electric kettle and a small heater should it be needed. I tend to keep the SP battery charger swiched off, unless its really overcast.
Wren uses about 4amps per/hour with the fridge, auto pilot, chart plotter radio all buzzing away, so for a 10 hour sailing day a consumption of about 40 - 50 amps per day (the Ap is the main variable) of which half comes from the solar, vastly reducing the net loss which can be easily made up the next day swinging on the hook with most of those things swithed off. To much telly and leaving the chartplotter on overnight for the anchor drag functions messes up the calculations somewhat. Over a three month summer cruise I only ran the engine for battery charging on two occassions. I do of course run the engine getting in and out of marinas/anchorages etc, which gives a "free" boost to the system.
Feel free to contact me directly if I can help further I maybe able to send a few attachments and photos about the system.
07711 388652.

Last edited by Keith_Walker (2018-09-24 15:36:23)


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