Monday, July 23, 2001

Romany Boats

The Romany was built in England in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mine was a lumbering 6 - 8 knot tub, but unbelievably good looking.

These two photos aren't publicity shots. They were taken by friend John Lindholm ca. 1972 on our trip from Norwalk to Block Island

A few of these were imported by McMichaels - a large yacht dealer in New York. My in-laws were associated with McMichaels Yacht Brokerage in Connecticut, where I bought mine new in 1971. The fourth owner completely refitted the boat to better-than-new condition.

Here's a shot from the original Romany Works in Poole, Dorset. England. They made quite a few of these beauties. The site still exists with that name, although now it's an industrial park.

In mid-December 2007. I got an eMail from the fourth owner. After 7 years of being owned by the Romany, and completely rebuilding her, she's been sold to owner #5, in Albany. I wish him (or her) good fortune with the old girl, now pushing 37 years of age. I'm sure he'll love her as much as all us former owners did.

As good looking as the Romany was, she had some issues.
The rope was attached to the hull with copper wires running through pairs of vertical holes and then twisted together inside. On mine, they didn't seal these holes before gluing the vinyl-on-foam liner to the cabin's interior. Water on the rope followed the copper wires in and came out behind the liner, which absorbed it like a sponge. This made a mess, eventually resulting in all the liner having to be removed.

The original steering mechanism was a sprocket and chain and cable arrangement ("chain-and-wire"). Unfortunately, the sprocket was lightly attached to the steering wheel shaft with only a single set screw that loosened at very inopportune times. After being towed in by the police, I had a keyway machined in the shaft and sprocket and the problem was solved. A better arrangement would be hydraulic or Teleflex steering. The chain/cable assembly was good inasmuch as the boat came with a tiller as originally outfitted, and could be steered from the stern with the tiller. Of course, you couldn't reach the engine controls from back there. Anyone looking at one of these boats should look at the steering that's on it, and avoid the sprocket/chain arrangement if no keyway has been installed.

The 21 is NOT self bailing, either. One or two electric pumps are needed, especially if the boat has no cockpit cover. The boat came equipped with a Henderson diaphragm pump that was excellent! The boat also had an old-fashioned (and now illegal in the U.S.) through-hull overboard discharge head up forward, just aft of the chain locker. But... it was situated in such a place that your legs had to stick straight out and across a bulkhead to sit on it! So a woman couldn't sit on it, nor a man kneel in front of it! The 2 holes for the head should have been glassed up somewhere along the line. We ripped it out and simply put a Porta-Potty between the bunks; we moved it to the wheelhouse when we slept aboard. THAT worked!

We also had a 3-panel drop curtain made for the back of the wheelhouse. This is absolutely necessary if one intends to sleep aboard. Originally, the Romany came with a large cockpit cover (see the photo below).

There was a teak step on each side glassed to the inside just aft of the pilot house. The steps were small and glassed in poorly. I removed both of them and designed and made two very nice battery boxes out of 1/2" teak plywood with 1" solid teak tops. These were excellent additions, although they took up a couple of square feet of cockpit space. But the battery shelf under the engine box made a nice place for a more permanent box for tools and spare parts. I still have one of the original steps here (just the step, not the mounting block that was below it), so if you need it, make me an offer. It's 10" X 3 7/8" X 7/8" solid teak.

The original fuel tank was a 20 gallon terne-plated steel tank (lead plating over steel) across the stern. This tank has a limited life and should be replaced if still in place. There was also a nice folding teak slatted seat across the stern (in front of the tank and under the stern top deck) that folded down to give more cockpit space for fishing.

The bow rail was vinyl coated steel. This had to be replaced once it was nicked and rust started to form (Take a look at the POPEYE, below).

The cabin needs ventilation! I installed a Vent-O-Mate, but it wasn't adequate to keep the mildew down. Originally, there was a small round butterfly vent in the door -- too small for the space. We kept a spray pump filled with Clorox aboard and used it regularly. Water accumulated in the bilge below the cabin sole, and there was no limber hole in the bilge bulkhead for the water to drain aft. I put a hole in there, and also a round threaded 6" access hatch in the cabin sole between the berths so I could get to it and pump it dry with a hand bilge pump. Deck water always got under the teak between the cockpit and the cabin. Caulk-Tex was the only thing I ever found to seal the joint, but I don't believe the product is available any more. I bolted two teak rails to the bunks and cut a plywood bunk filler to fit, and had three 4" cushions made. There was plenty of sleeping room once the bunk filer was in place.

Here's a scan of the 1971 brochure, a bit worse for wear.

And here's the builder's certificate that came with my Romany. I think all of these boats had the same hull number, though...

They also made a 26 footer.
I never saw one, except in a print ad. I thought the boat below (on a mooring, with the cockpit cover) for sale in England was a 26, but Mrs. Parsley (see the comments) stumbled on this blog and has informed us that TEMPEST was their old boat and it's indeed a 21. The original 21 RBI has 2 round ports forward, as shown in a photo (but not the drawing) in the brochure. I wondered about this here, but then learned that the Parsleys added the third portlight during their restoration (see the comments below). My thanks to Mrs. Parsley for this information.

This is the Parsley's Tempest.

And here's the POPEYE, In San Francisco

And here's one in Rhode Island, for sale 1/2010. Looks pristine!
P.S. I knew a guy named Ev Dunn who bought a Romany and moved down East. He had repowered it with a 65 hp Perkins back them. I wonder if this was HIS boat.

Sundance for sale in Dover...

and Colette
for sale in Cowes...

and one with an I/O and trim tabs.

This was advertised as a Romany 30. Really?? They made a 30? It does indeed have Romany lines -- look at the bow and how the deck is angled back, and there's the groove where the rope is supposed to go, so I guess, yes. Looks like mid-1960's design.

THIS is a real Romany 31 (built 1975, and refitted/restored 1985 on.). The builder's plate calls it a 30, but it measures out to 31, I'm told. Chris LeBrocq was kind enough to send me these photos, and I'm delighted he did so. Please read his comments below. Great restoration, and the loving care really shows. Note 7/14/10... I noted that it was up for sale, and on 7/19 I got a note from Keith Hardy that he bought it -- the day after it was first listed. Keith promised to send us pics as he refits her.

And here's a real 26 for sale in June 2010:
At least the advert says Romany, but I'm not really sure. Could be, of course. Maybe the owner will find this site and email me with more information.

Here's a boat that LOOKS like a Romany but isn't. It was built of plywood by a guy who loves teak as well as Romanys!

You came here because you're interested in the Romany 21. Drop me a line and tell me WHY. Do you have one? Are you thinking of buying one?? C'mon. share.

Leave us a comment or share your Romany experiences here.