Category Archives: Restoration and repair

Stirling & Son repair and restoration of 72ft motor yacht Aquatic Life

Here’s a galllery (in no particular order) of an amazing large and thorough repair and restoration job by Stirling & Son. It’s one of those ‘how the other half boats’ moments, but impressive with it, and looking at the photos you can just smell the wood and other materials…

Will Stirling writes:

‘In May this year the 72ft Silver’s motor yacht Life Aquatic was re-launched after an 18-month restoration at Stirling and Son’s No. 1 Covered Slip at Plymouth.

‘To give you an idea of the extent of the work, every bolt was driven out and replaced and I’ve calculated that if all the seams were laid end to end the caulking gang would have raked out and re-caulked a continuous line from the yard to Plymouth city centre.

‘The Gardner 6LXB engines were restored to zero hours by Mike Harrison of Gardner Marine Diesels.

‘Following sea trials in the south west during June, we delivered her from Plymouth, via the Pillars of Hercules, to Monte Carlo where she will be based for the forseeable future.

‘I thought on a personal note you might be interested in a slide show of the job – it is something of a change from the building of the Alert that you followed a few years ago! Hope all is well, Will’

Thanks Will! I trust you’re having a great summer.

A heartfelt plea for someone to look after the sailing barge Beric?

The current owners have sent out the following email appealing for someone to take over the care of Beric, a well known sailing barge.

‘We are the owners of Beric, a traditional Thames Sailing Barge built in 1896 in Harwich, which we have owned since 2009. She is one of the last remaining all-wood Thames Sailing barges, built originally to carry grain, but at different times in her life she has moved all sorts of cargoes, and been everything from a houseboat to a nightclub. She is registered on the National Historic Ships Register.

‘We would like to ensure that Beric is preserved as a living part of Britain’s maritime heritage but we are forced to face the fact that she is now in need of more work to keep her afloat than we will ever be able to afford. Tim Goldsack has been looking after her at his shipyard in Faversham but she needs a complete rebuild to prevent her from disintegrating. We are not in a position to manage that, so so with enormous regret we are forced to contemplate the break up and destruction of this piece of Britain’s history. We don’t want to do that.

‘Rather than have her broken up, we would prefer to donate her to a charity, trust or individual who has the time and capacity to restore and revive her as a long-term project. This might be a company which has a history of having Thames barges as a part of its own heritage, an individual or family who has a love of or connection with these vessels, or a trust or foundation interested in preserving our maritime heritage. It might be a collection of interested people; there is no reason why ownership could not pass to a group of people with a shared interest. We would remain committed to supporting the new owner or owners in any way we could to ensure that Beric’s legacy continues.

‘Are you that organisation or individual, or do you know of anyone who might be interested? Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who might have an interest, or advertise this opportunity in places where people might see it. We are happy to answer any questions. We are open to any ideas or offers that would give Beric a fighting chance of survival.

‘Our contacting details are as follows: and 07772 342724.

‘Alistair and Jo’

Timber-orientated boat builder and restorer Ian Baird fixes up a plastic boat shock!

Portland boat builder and repairer, freelance writer and environmentalist Ian Baird (contact him here or here) has just fixed up an old plastic boat and brought it back to life. How did that happen?

It began with a neglected wreck on the shore. I’ll let Ian tell his story.

‘A pile of broken boats, uncared for and abandoned on the beach is never a happy sight for those of us that enjoy taking to the water, but then, when one is in the right frame of mind, it does present an opportunity…

‘My friend Dean needed a new fishing boat. At 6ft5in tall, the aluminium saucer that he was taking out to sea was, to say the least, a bit risky, especially when bins full of nets were involved. He told me that he was looking for a new boat, something longer with a lot more freeboard but his search had been fruitless, basically because of budgetary restrictions.

‘So when a pile of three boats presented themselves on Castletown slipway awaiting removal by the council to go to landfill the opportunity had to be taken.

‘The largest was an 11ft purpose-built harbour fishing boat built by Clarkes of Castletown, probably in the 1970/80s. The keel was smashed at the stern end and the woodwork was completely shot, but the hull was salvageable.

‘Dean is an incredibly generous person. He feeds the street with the excess fish he catches, freely giving away the fruits of his labour but fishing is his hobby, not his income, so I restored the boat for free in return for past and future suppers.

‘Because it wasn’t a paid job it was an as and when and was done over the course of a year. If it had been done in a clear workshop and hit in one go it would have taken a few days. Also, a lot of the job was done on the beach and all of it outside which slows things down.

‘GRP isn’t my favourite material to work with but I would rather breathe life into an old GRP boat than consign it to landfill, for ecological reasons every bit as much as practical reasons.

‘Dean reckons the bill for materials and bits was about £800 – but £800 isn’t bad for what is now effectively a new boat that will last many years.

‘This was a belt and braces job. We used American white oak for all the woodwork and everything was ‘over-engineered’ to produce a very solid boat that will see out his fishing days.

‘I would definitely recommend taking this approach.  It does mean that you can own a decent boat at reduced cost and help the environment by not sending it to landfill.

‘It is a perfectly reasonable job for someone with some woodworking skills, although if you don’t have a good knowledge of fibreglass boats I would recommend an inspection by a surveyor before it is used.

‘You’re going to put your life in this vessel so you have to make sure that it is safe. If the hull is badly damaged – holes, fractured – it may not be a good idea without good laminating skills to try to restore it – you don’t want the thing breaking up on you with 150’ of the deep blue underneath you! Having said that, one can argue that nothing is irreparable. It may even be worth repairing a damaged hull and fairing it to use as a plug for a mould to lay up new boats.

‘Another time on a GRP boat like this I think I would prefer to laminate the gunwales and inwales. We used much chunkier material than the originals, and laminating would have made it easier and quicker to fit.’

So what are Dean and Ian doing with the little boat? ‘We fish from it and have adventures, of course!’