Given Gael Force’s position in the leisure marine industry, when a colleague mentioned that he had recently bought a small yacht and planned to restore it, I jumped at the opportunity to follow his progress and see the result of all his hard work!
Seb, originally from Portsmouth in Hampshire, is the Sales Supervisor for the Gael Force Marine Megastore here in Inverness.
He has been with us for almost three years and has kindly agreed to write a series of posts following him and the restoration of his boat.
So without further ado, let’s hear from Seb!
BLOG POST #1: The Boat and I: An Introduction
On the 5th of February 2018, I purchased a 26 foot, 54-year-old fibreglass yacht in need of some serious TLC. My plans are to spend the next year or so (probably more like 2!) restoring the yacht and documenting its restoration in this blog post.
I have some experience working on boats, but I’m not a professional, so this blog will be from a DIYers point of view with lots of product testing and learning on the go.
In this first post, I’ll talk a little bit about my own sailing/boat repair experience and also introduce the yacht, giving a brief outline of the work that will eventually be completed.
I grew up sailing with my dad on the south coast of England on various boats, all mono-hull sloops from 18-36ft. We competed in club races in the Solent and took the occasional trip to France, the Scilly Isles and the Channel Islands. These multi-day sailing holidays are what inspired me to get my own boat and sail off into the distance.
My first boat, Maya, was a 25 foot GRP Folkboat variant – a Folksong 25.She was purchased for just £1000 but needed a lot of work and investment: a new mast (new to her at least); wind vane self-steering gear; a complete interior refit; push-pit; spray hood; new companionway hatch…the list could go on…
After 18 months of blood, sweat and tears she was ready to go. My first single-handed voyage was about to commence!
Over a period of 4 months, I took her from Portsmouth to Ibiza, which included knockdowns in the Bay of Biscay, trade wind sailing down the Portuguese coast and seemingly endless, scorching hot days of calms off the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.
She was a great boat – heavily canvassed so she was great in light airs, but she wasn’t set up for the still heat of the Mediterranean. No central hatch or wind-scoop meant that she turned into an oven on hot days and with no real shade outside, I was getting either baked or fried! She was eventually sold and last sighted in Malta:
My second boat was a much more comfortable affair. I inherited a High Tension 36, a 1980’s high volume cruiser racer. I had to collect her at short notice from a small island off of Rhodes and sail to a marina in Crete, where she was paid up for the winter.
My wife and I then took time out of work and spent 18 months sailing her around the Med and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, where we had an amazing time sailing around the Lesser Antilles. The voyage was finished off with me sailing her back to England single-handed – an experience that I will never forget!
Compared to Maya she was a luxurious boat, equipped with a fridge, a shower, hot water, solar and wind power, etc. Having to maintain those relatively complex and diverse systems for 18 months of continuous sailing taught me a lot about boat maintenance.
Things tend to fail at the most inopportune moments and without the knowledge, tools and spares to fix them your dream voyage can easily become a nightmare.
Once safely back in the UK, the boat was sold and several years of landlubbing (plus baby) followed.
This leads us on to the next project – Sunfire – an Invicta 26.
She’s been on the hard for two years and is certainly showing it. I plan to strip her back and start again – inside and out – with the aim of taking her across the North Sea to Norway, up to Shetland and beyond.
She was designed by Van De Stadt in 1964 and was one of the early production boats built in GRP. Designed as a Folkboat variant, she has a long encapsulated keel, narrow lines and carries quite a lot of canvas. She’s actually very similar to Maya (the Folksong 25)…just a little longer, heavier and quite a bit older.
The list of work to be done will inevitably grow arms and legs, but this initial list will give an idea of the contents of future blog posts:
- Gut the boat down below.
- Recommission and service the inboard diesel engine.
- Get the mast down.
- Remove the engine.
- Remove and restore the rudder.
- Strip back and repaint the deck.
- Strip back and repaint the hull.
- Replace all ageing exterior wood, including washboards and toe rail.
- Design, build and fit the new interior.
- A full re-wire.
On top of this, I’m also seriously (and controversially) considering converting the rig to a junk rig. I’ve always been drawn to the simplicity of junk rigs and given that the current mast on Sunfire is of a dubious condition anyway, she could be the perfect guinea pig.
Till next time!
COMING UP NEXT TIME: Getting up close and personal with the inboard engine, a Yanmar 1GM10, for a service and to get it up and running!
If you have any questions for Seb regarding this post, please feel free to comment below.