Back in 2006/2007, newly arrived in Hartlepool, a wander around the marina always entailed a lingering, longing look at a beautiful aluminium yacht.
Our own 27ft Jeanneau Fantasia, Poppy, was berthed at Hartlepool and on one occasion Steve struck up conversation with the owner of the previously mentioned yacht, his throwaway comment of “would you sell it?” met with an emphatic “NO”. After a while we noticed it advertised for sale – the price tag somewhere in the region of £270-290k! As our 5 bed detached house had cost £290k I knew with certainty that Steve’s dream yacht could never be ours. As the years passed the price started dropping and with the price at £160k we thought we should at least take a look (to get it out of Steve’s system). On viewing she was not the perfect yacht he had envisaged and she wasn’t for us – headroom for Steve wasn’t great – amongst other issues. Great, now he wouldn’t dream about it anymore! Mind you he did say if it went down to £120k he would have to buy it – he could always lower the floor!
More time passed and we were quite happy with our 40ft Hunter Legend, Pandora’s Legend – having sailed from Newcastle to Portishead via Scotland and Ireland. We were now berthed in Glasson Dock with the idea of Steve quitting work at 50 and taking off wherever the winds would take us.
Alex, our youngest son, living in Hartlepool, overlooking the marina was due to turn 21 in May 2013 and I don’t know the ins and outs but Steve decided to look online again at the Laurent Giles Aluminium Ketch. Guess what – the price was now offers around £99k. That was it – he had to have the boat. After lots of discussions and me not being able to find reasonable excuses not to go for it, Steve phoned the broker with an offer. Even though a German couple were viewing it at the time the response came back that they would accept the offer. We arranged to view it again and he was still smitten!
This was arranged for 20th June; Steve could not be in attendance due to work commitments so I caught the train across and stayed with Alex (who was able to provide me with back up if required!) Everyone was most concerned about the hull as the boat had been sitting in the marina for at least 6/7 years. After all the growth was cleaned off the surveyor pronounced she was very good/sound – no major problems. She was a bit tired and starting to show her age but some tlc would sort her out.
We were away on Pandora’s Legend when the time came to pay the balance owed. As I had already paid the deposit by telephone banking I thought it would be simple to go into Nat West and make a second payment. I couldn’t use internet or telephone banking as there was a £20,000 limit to daily transactions. Unfortunately Nat West branch systems don’t “communicate” with the telephone banking system so we spent at least 30 minutes searching through my phone for the email with the broker’s account details! Anyway eventually payment was made and she would definitely be ours!
I have always concluded that Shearmyste is too big for us. At 55ft and 30 tonnes she is one hell of a boat. Everyone keeps reminding me that I said the same about Pandora’s Legend after the size of Poppy and effectively the jump in size is similar. I am yet to be convinced.
Our initial thoughts were to have the boat put on hardstanding at Hartlepool and I would spend time across there doing what works I could whilst Steve was busy with work and sail her round once we were happy with her condition. As it turns out Hartlepool were unable to accommodate, not having a big enough cradle for her so thoughts changed to road transport. Barry the broker said that he knew of a transport company who were very reliable and had delivered into Glasson previously so knew the situation regarding the canal bridges, we were given a quote for Hartlepool to Glasson and agreed to go ahead with them. All booked (boat hoist, crane for masts, lorry) for 16th July load, 17th July delivery.
Alex took a couple of days off to assist me as Steve was still tied up with work. It was quite traumatic watching the loading and I am really pleased that I didn’t see, only heard, the crash when the strops on the mast weren’t even and it tilted and bashed the ground! Apparently it sounded far worse than it actually was although a connection was broken.
The lorry driver and escort vehicle driver were really great although they seemed to think they might not actually be able to get into Glasson.
Eventually with the masts and boat loaded they tried to leave Hartlepool Marina – the trailer bottoming out whilst leaving (even though they had raised it as far as it would go). By this time I knew (in my head) that there was no way the lorry would be able to negotiate the canal bridges into Glasson but felt (in my heart) that the company wouldn’t have accepted the job if they couldn’t deliver. Our first wishes of following the lorry were dashed when due to the time finishing loading the guys decided to park up for the night and leave early next morning. Alex and I left and drove to Glasson so we would be ready and waiting for their arrival.
The next day I got a call from Shaun (lorry driver) saying that they were at Forton Services on the M6, they would leave her there and come into Glasson in the escort vehicle for a final ‘recce’. As the guys got out of the vehicle I walked up with a cheery “good morning” which elicited a response of “well it’s not good”. They had decided there was no way they could risk trying to bring her in to get stuck on a bridge. Alastair (from Glasson Marine Services) had a chat with them then phoned Fleetwood Marina.
The only option the lorry driver had available was to take her to Fleetwood, put her in the water and then for us to motor her around ourselves. Fortunately I managed to get Steve at work and he spoke to Shaun and requested that the masts be delivered to Glasson.
As our original (well second choice) plan was to have her on the hardstanding at Glasson, we didn’t want the masts putting on at Fleetwood (as it is they wouldn’t have been able to do it anyway) so it was agreed to deliver the boat to Fleetwood, put her in the water and bring the masts back to Glasson – the trailer could be shortened without the yacht on and they should be able to deliver them back to Glasson.
The driver was now waiting to hear back as to whether Fleetwood could/would accommodate us but they set off back to Forton Services to make their way to Fleetwood whilst waiting for that confirmation call. Fortunately it came then it was over to me to fill out a service order and provide proof of insurance. Funnily enough my iPhone doesn’t have a printer so I had to email it to Steve and get him to print it off. Oh, and all our insurance documentation mentioned Glasson!!! Simon and Helen at Fleetwood Haven Marina and Oliver and Lorraine at Nautical Insurance Services were great and we got everything sorted! All required documentation was emailed to Fleetwood so they would be able to lift at about 7am on 18th July (so another overnight stay for the drivers). I advised that I would get there in the morning but probably wouldn’t make it by 7 as I had had a couple of de-stressing vodkas!
Being a one-car family now I had to go with Steve to work so I could have the car – a Peugeot 3008 automatic Hybrid that I had only ever driven about two miles in before! I arrived in Fleetwood just about 8am having missed the lift off and there she was in the water – at least on the right side of the country if not quite the right place. Shaun asked me if I knew how much she weighed and I said someone had told me 35 tonnes. He said I was close and advised that when they were lifting her one of the operatives said “That’s 15 tonnes …” To which Shaun thought “oh not bad”, until the operative continued “on the front sling” – so she weighs 30 tonnes!
I then met Peter Smith, the berthing master at Fleetwood. His first comment to me was “but you look normal”. To my confused look he continued, “you have to be mad to have a boat and you look so normal”. Shaun added “you don’t know the half of it, she’s already got another one”. Peter was great as I explained what we were hoping to do. We thought we would get down at the weekend (20/21 July) to check her out with the idea that the following weekend we would motor her round. There is a very short window to make the trip from Fleetwood to Glasson but we hoped to make it – otherwise it would mean sitting at anchor waiting for the next tide.
I drove back from Fleetwood happy with all the plans and to top things off the masts arrived, were removed and stored with no issues!
Steve’s parents arrived that afternoon to stay for a few days. I didn’t like to ask when they were leaving as soon as they arrived! Once Steve’s dad heard about our plans to motor round he fancied coming too, which meant their visit would last 9/10 days.
Saturday arrived and we went down to Fleetwood to have a poke around our boat for the very first time. Steve wasn’t happy about a couple of things with the engine including a disconnected sender unit and we couldn’t find the windlass power supply. After much humming and hahing we made the decision not to motor it round until we were happy with the motor (as it was our only means of propulsion) and we could work the windlass in case we weren’t quick enough and had to anchor.
So yet another change of plan and we decided that it would be best to have a three month berth at Fleetwood, get familiar with the boat and then once Steve’s busy period at work was over motor her round.
So Friday 26th July Steve gets home from work, we load the car and head to the boat for the weekend! We sleep aboard Friday no problems.
Saturday morning we are advised where our berth is to be so we set off – Steve enjoying the bow thrusters, me nervous about catching a cleat with rope much thicker than I’m used to. As we approach the pontoon a couple on another yacht accuse us of cheating (using the bow thrusters!) and the guy comes across to help on our second attempt! It’s not pretty and we take up most of the space whilst sorting ourselves out but we didn’t hit anything! The only raised voice was Steve’s when the young lad from the next boat (in his desire to be helpful) went to touch the rope on the cleat. All Steve thought was trapped fingers or worse – better to shout and risk offending the parents. (As it happens they weren’t offended – Steve felt that he had to go and apologise once we were secured!)
The rest of the day involved a half-hearted attempt by me to wash some of the grime off – until Steve pointed out that I must be spraying the water in such a way that it was getting under the hatch and creating a puddle on the floor inside.
Steve’s first task was to clear out the sump in the engine room. We removed nearly 40 litres of oil/diesel/water/sludge, Steve working the pump and me making sure the hose stayed in the container. Then there was the stuff that wouldn’t be sucked up – some nappies left by the previous owner and sheets and sheets of Regina Blitz helped with that. Steve only occasionally (!!) getting cramp from all his contortions.
A good Chinese takeaway from Sweet and Sour, a final chat with Steve’s parents and they set off home, preferring to drive overnight rather than in the heat of the day. (Even though our plans had changed they still stayed the 9/10 days).
Decided to have an earlier night than of late, as we were quite exhausted from all the excitement/effort of the day. It started raining just as we went to bed and at about 12.30 I was woken by a splash on my arm – there was a leak above which was dripping onto the shelf next to me and splashing up. I decided that I would get up to get some kitchen roll to absorb the water. This disturbed Steve so whilst making my way to get said kitchen roll I explained about the drip. As I got to the saloon area I stood in a rather large puddle – WE HAVE QUITE A LEAKY BOAT. I must admit I found this quite disheartening but as Steve pointed out it was better to discover it now rather than after spending time and effort titivating and then having to redo everything. We put towels down to soak up the water and went back to bed. Received a text at 2.30am from Steve’s dad – they were home.
Woke up to yet more rain and puddles but shortly after I got up the rain stopped. Steve topped up the water in the engine and tried the sender unit but it alarmed – faulty unit? We managed eventually to find the sea cocks for the heads, still have no clear idea which filler caps are which, some are scratched with W – is that water or waste? Looks like L or V on another couple – no idea! Hopefully we’ll get all the paperwork through soon and we’ll be able to see!
Steve emptied out the back locker – loads and loads of sails, a disconnected Eberspacher heating system and a few ropes then put it all back in!
We put the sprayhood and covers back on – hoping that this might help with keeping the rain out as there didn’t appear to be major leaking previously. FINGERS CROSSED that it’s the area under the cover that’s causing the problem, that area should be easy to deal with!! I spent a few minutes with my cream cleaner to see if the grime that appears ingrained will come off – the small area I did looked promising!!
Steve had been busy at work for an awful lot longer than originally planned so we only had a few weekends on board and didn’t seem to be getting anywhere fast! We have removed the headlining in the saloon and discovered several bolts that had been cut – hence the water ingress.
Steve has also dismantled the broken generator into easier to handle pieces and we will make use of Alex when he comes across!
Our three month contract was about to run out so we decided to have her lifted and stored on the hard over the winter months. This obviously meant a lift out and all was arranged for 10am on 16th October. Surprisingly Steve was actually able to be present, even though he did make a few work phone calls!
My nerves kicked in as usual, we were only moving the boat a short distance (back to where we moved her from when we first got there) but I was feeling as sick as a pig! We managed to get secured with absolutely no problems I even managed to catch the cleat on the pontoon and Pete and the young lad (I think his name is Daryl or Darren – sorry) got her onto the strops and lifted her out. Steve had wanted me to stay on board whilst she was being positioned on the strops which meant a very ungraceful dismount from the pulpit.
The guys washed her off and positioned her in the yard. The only way to get aboard is by a surveyor’s ladder padlocked to the rear steps – but is it ever high! I have a panic attack each time I climb it and spend about five minutes saying “I’ve made it, I’ve made it” whenever I make a successful ascent or descent!
Steve bought me an orbital sander and associated safety gear so that I could deal with the anti-fouling. This means that I can do something on the boat without having to actually get on board! Trouble is it is incredibly hard to deal with as the anti-foul just “clogs” on the sanding discs and it doesn’t look as though you have done anything. At the moment I have given up with that. I did manage to remove all the anodes, including the prop anode so I am not as completely useless as I could be. Also decided I should polish up the prop.
In the saloon there are two table areas – one of them quite low with a small cupboard as its base. We decided that it wasn’t going to work for us so we would remove it and reuse the table top with a different base.
We also removed the microwave – we just don’t have the need for one but it does leave us with a space and the chances of getting a matching door are slim – thinking caps on for what to put in its place!
A quick run-down of what else we did whilst at Fleetwood:
In the master cabin the cupboard doors had stained glass inserts – this was a bit too fancy for our taste so we removed them and ordered some Perspex for the inserts. It was my job to rub down and varnish the frames.
We replaced all the anodes, fitted a rope cutter and dealt with the anti-fouling.
We also removed the cleats and winches from the coach roof so that we (or should I say I) could sand down and re-varnish that area as it had suffered from some water damage.
At the end of March it was time to say goodbye to Fleetwood and, hopefully, hello to Glasson. Alex came across to help us motor her round to Glasson although he was suffering from a bout of flu-like illness. I was suffering from severe toothache as well so we weren’t in the best of health! It was quite a cold day although it wasn’t raining and fortunately we made it round safely and in good enough time to be able to get into the lock. Steve’s parents were there as our welcoming committee!
Then it was time for the hard work to start.
We are not really keen on the silver teak finish so it was down to me to sand the rear seats and other bits of wood. The toe rail was a bit of a worry as it was going to be a mammoth job to rub down and varnish so thinking that some sort of protection was better than nothing I didn’t bother to rub it down, just gave it a good clean and then varnished it. Five coats of le tonkinois later and it looked really good.
The side deck was wearing through in places (and causing leaks inside) so we decided that the best thing to do was to remove it. We were undecided whether to replace with teak, fake teak or just paint it. On stripping back it appeared as though she had originally had a painted deck with, possibly Treadmaster or something similar. There, our decision was made we would paint it. It took the best part of a week to remove all the teak on ply which had been riveted and glued on. We (well Steve, if I’m honest) managed to break three utility bars during this process.
Once all the deck was up we had to fill all the rivet holes. Steve tapped each hole with me following along fitting grub screws. Nearly 1000 in total! Then came the paint preparation and finally the painting itself.
The other parts of teak decking weren’t in too bad a condition so these were given a good clean and then oiled. She was starting to look loved again.
When the weather wasn’t conducive to working outside, we were also replacing the headlining in the saloon. We had decided on cedar and with me being a bit of a freak I wanted full length strips of wood, cutting out the windows. I think this probably made things more expensive – but even Steve had to admit that the end result looked pretty darned good!
We also sent our saloon cushions off for re-upholstery. I absolutely loved the colour and really think that Shearmyste was starting to look lovely again!
Next item on the plan was to refit the cockpit floor area. We had already made one attempt at this by using black HDPE – however this was not a good move, it was incredibly slippery – absolutely nothing would stick to it! After some thinking and research, we decided on Red Balau decking as we were only covering a small area and the fact that it had been used as marine decking in the past was the deciding factor.
When we first pulled up the original teak underneath was a very messy area, this was all cleaned before we put down the black HDPE so once we got that back up there wasn’t a lot of cleaning to do. We were very pleased with the result.
We were still experiencing leaks in the bedroom ceiling so decided that that had to come down. As we were extremely pleased with how the saloon ceiling looked we decided to do the same in the bedroom. However this was going to be a much trickier job, as the ceiling was anything but straight. We got all the headlining down and discovered where the leaks were coming from, fixed them, built frames around the porthole windows and ordered more insulation and cedar. It took a bit longer to do than the saloon and there was one particular area that was going to be an absolute pain to clad so we decided that as we were covering all the aluminium with wood, the small area of wood would get a coat of aluminium Hammerite! Once again we were very pleased with the end result.
On 25th September 2014 we finally got the masts put back up. She was finally looking like she should. Steve had a bit of fun and went up in a bosun’s chair to sort out the rigging – only to remember that there were some additional pieces he had stashed away safely!
We still had some cedar left over and weren’t sure what to use it for but decided that it might go quite nicely in the en suite head to the master cabin. We didn’t like the original layout which included a ceramic shower tray and a strange configuration where you had to reach over the shower tray or the toilet to reach the hand basin.
We have a shower area in the other head so decided we wouldn’t need another one, so out came the shower tray and the hand basin, we would replace the toilet with a regular size rather than the compact already there and have a corner basin where the shower tray had been. There was an open shelved cupboard which we thought we could alter and make a laundry bin area whilst keeping a shelf for spare towels. So work began again. We decided this time that we would varnish the wood here (we had only waxed it elsewhere) so of course that was my domain! Then we just had the floor to redo. We decided that we would go for vinyl and even though I say it myself – it looks really good.
Another job Steve decided he wanted to do was move the gas locker from the front of the boat to the rear. He thought that he could then probably use the front locker as a sail locker. There is a very large rear locker – we call it the man-cave – so Steve ordered an aluminium storage box (often used on the backs of pick-ups) and designed his gas locker. This was the last major project undertaken at Glasson before we up and moved across to Hull.
By this time it was quite apparent that my ‘protect the toe rail’ attempt was looking really rather shoddy! It was time to strip off the varnish and there was no way that I was going to do another five coats of varnish so decided that I would just oil it so any bumps and rubs from the fender lines etc wouldn’t have a major effect on her appearance. The thing is though I do really like doing mind-numbing, time consuming jobs so I didn’t mind!
And I think that it about everything major that we have done so far!