Sunday, 1 December 2013

Classic Boats

Take a look at this beautiful classic sailing boat that turned up in my home port last week. I love her
traditional long deep keel, beautiful overhangs and wooden top- sides. She probably quite fast, an excellent take-you-anywhere sea boat – a cruiser for serious cruising, and she seems to be in remarkably good condition. Apparently a lot has been spent on her. Just look at that gleaming hull.

Now, you can’t do this, but what if you took a much closer look? What if, like me you could put your nose right up against her and look along the length of the hull? Then you would see countless hairline cracks in the gel-coat, visible only along the hull. Look straight at it and you won’t spot a thing. Truth is, there is something awfully and expensively wrong – the gel coat is crazed like a piece of Raku pottery and the only cure seems to be to take it all off and re-coat.

So here she is today partially stripped. Stripping is the easy bit – re-coating fairing and painting is going to take time and expertise. Good luck to her owner and his bank balance.

And, for those of you busy sanding and renovating a GRP hull, well here’s what she will look like if you sand too far. Interestingly, the gel-coat on this boat seems to be remarkably thin. The older boats like the one I’m working on have much greater depth.

Meanwhile here is another boat that turned up at about the same time. She’s a Westerly 22, a slightly older cousin of the vessel I am currently trying to renovate. She’s a funny looking old tub designed by Commander  Rayner  who went on to set up the Westerly Boat Company which produced one of the most popular sailing yachts of all time – the Westerly Centaur, there are plenty of these here.

As for this Westerly 22, believe it or not, examples of this diminutive sloop have crossed the Atlantic. Some say that with her turned-up nose she looked like a banana. Rayner preferred to describe them as ‘Whalebacks’. They were built like tanks and some say they sail like tanks also.

I hope she’ll stick around. As these boats age there are less of them to be found in the UK and they certainly are a rarity in France. It would be good to think that when I launch next year, my Nomad will be part of a larger fleet of classic Westerlies.

PS: If you want to read more about my neck of the woods and life here please visit: Frugal Living in France