There are times when renovating an old boat can be a lonely business. Too few take on the challenge andtoo few succeed. So to cheer myself up I spent some time with Davy and Natalie on their boat recently.
They live on the Island of Jersey but frequently visit my home port in France to stock up on wine, calvados etc – and also to gain a respite from the hustle of an Island only 45 square miles (at high tide) with 90,000+ inhabitants.
A few years ago Davy wanted to purchase a boat and spent a good deal of time looking at vessels he simply couldn't afford. A Channel Islands 22 would be ideal. Designed by Alan Buchannan specifically for these waters, she is a safe semi-displacement motor vessel, capable of some speed, with enough cabin and cockpit accommodation to make two people very comfortable. With, her cockpit tent she becomes almost luxurious.
Davy visited several but even the oldest were beyond his price – until he was invited to see one that had been for sale for several years. Problem with her, according to the broker, was that she was ridiculously slow. Normally a CI22 will lift onto a plane at 7 knots but no-one had been able to get her to that speed so there had to be something seriously wrong.
Davy looked her over. She was dirty but sound. He also though he had discovered why she wouldn't lift and fly so he took a chance and made a very low offer – which was accepted.
First thing Davy did was to cut away two bilge keels that had been molded onto her hull by a previous owner. They were not part of the original design and Davy estimated that the drag they caused was the reason for the poor performance. He was right. Without those additional keels she flew!
Next job was to attend to her cosmetically. Davy estimates that he spent 1000 hours sanding, polishing,painting and varnishing. Natalie also contributed most of her out- of- work hours to the project. The boat is now in better condition that when she was new. There are hot and cold domestic water systems. The heads is now a ‘wet-room’ and the cabin is lined in thin exterior ply, routed, filled and varnished to look like individual planks. There is a 24 volt circuits for use in port where hook-ups are available and a 12Volt system for other times. Floors are carpeted and every window has an individual blind (bought from Mothercare rather than expensive Chandleries). At sea there is stowage for two folding bicycles and on the river, they sit on the cabin top ready for use. This isn't sailing as I know it – this is luxury.
Davy and Nat married last year and spent their honeymoon cruising Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and Herm islands. Initially they had a slight problem getting up to speed. Some guests had tied lines of cans to the stern of the boat (as is the custom in the UK with the bride and groom’s car ) – never seen it done on a boat before though).