Iain Christie from Draycote has been hard at work restoring FF 797.
Although I enjoy slow relaxed cruising in the Sabre, my dinghy sailing tends to be a bit faster…the 49er or foiling Moth being the weapon of choice these days. At my inland club we also have a lot of Flying Fifteens…(prepare for tongue in cheek sweeping generalisation) usually sailed by gentlemen of a certain age, around the course, and into other boats. Granted they are quite pretty, but they’ve never really been my thing. Until a few years ago, when we saw one blasting out of Cowes in a F6, absolutey fantastic sight.
Sadly, like a puppy on new years day, some boats do get abandoned by their owners. People lose interest, repair bills get out of hand, and boats end up in the car park, where anything useful tends to go walkies, and the either a skip, or the bonfire beckons. I’ve seen some right **** get burnt (some of it so rotten it needs a LOT of petrol), but such a fate seemed just not right for this lovely shape, so I bought her very cheaply from the club, and towed her home….
A few hours with the pressure washer and I found this rather lovely old wooden girl under all the slime. She was built in 1965 by Souters of Cowes, where ironically she last sailed quite a few years ago now in a regatta where something went “bang” around the mast gate and I understand that the owners at that time could not justify the repair bill and did not have the skills to fix her themselves. After a few years of abandonment down to the bonfire pile she went…
The rather beautiful cold moulded hull is in exceptionally good condition, and just a thing of great beauty…
The deck ain’t bad, all the wood is good and looks loads better now it’s stripped. The biggest issue is that a lot of the old glue has given up on the joints and there’s a lot of movement around the mast gate area. This will be sorted out with a lot of epoxy fillets. I think the bulkhead has been changed at some point to some low grade marine ply that has blackened and needs a good going over with oxalic acid, and some tidying up with additional “finishing” trim. I’ve almost stripped off all that horrible tread master and she looks lots better for it with a big expanse of wooden deck…although I might need to deal with a difference in colour where it’s been covered for many years.
As you can see nearly every fitting is still there which is great…just need some sails! You can also see the gunwales…they look to have been replaced fairly recently, with totally unvarnished softwood, held in place with steel nails! The results are predictable, but fortunatly the rot has not spread to the boat herself. These are now off and will be replaced with new hardwood ones, scarfed and epoxied in place.
I’ve never been remotely interested in Flying Fifteens, and prefer my dinghies to do 20 knots plus and have a high carbon content, but I have totally fallen in love with this lovely old wooden classic. I’ll update with pics as I progress, but she is already looking a lot better with stripped decks, and a big consignment of epoxy and materials has arrived ready to start the rebuilding, rather than dismantling, process in the next few weeks.
I’ll get her back on the water inland first to make sure all is OK, and then I plan to take her to my coastal club, and sail her back to over to Cowes where she was built nearly half a century ago.