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Finding Fortuna

The road to finding Fortuna was a quite a story in itself, for quite a few years Joe would treat me to tales of second world war motor gun boats and their attributes, how sad it was that so many lay rotting and unforgotten in the harbours around the UK, how big a part they played in our history and how great it would be to restore and bring one back to life .... in fact he had just the perfect one he'd spotted on google maps at Hoo on the Medway.  My constant reaction was one of dismissal and a definite NO to restoring and owning a 60+ foot motor gun boat. 

 

That was until the summer of 2020 mid lockdowns and a changing world. We had been over to Hayling Island in search of another motor gun boat or torpedo boat, I don't quite remember, and after mooching around a number of boat yards, found her on her permanent mooring, the couple that owned it kindly allowed us to have a look around - OK I was impressed, more than impressed and somehow found myself agreeing to 'just a visit' to have a look at the one in Hoo. 

A few weeks later, accommodation booked in Chatham historic dockyard, waders purchased and dinghy at the ready off we went on a typical Rhu and Joe adventure, searching for motor gun boats via google maps !!!

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Look carefully and you'll see Joe all waddered up and investigating her - this is where boats are laid to rest, so to say, a boat graveyard, left to rot and fade away, I still think it is so sad to see boats that have had such a history look so sad and sorry. 

Sandwiched between a bigger fishing boat she was sadly no longer in a salvageable condition (Rhu breaths a secret sigh of relief, but still feels sorry for Joe) holed all down one side she would prove just too much of a project for us to undertake.

But by now I'm bitten, I'm excited about getting back on the water and having some fun and sharing it with our family and friends, so back in Chatham I'm on the case to see what else is in the area and found something, I think a bit more manageable, a 36ft motor cruiser in need of restoration in Sandwich, a few calls later and we have an appointment to have a look at her, no name and no history, another forlorn and forgotten vessel, but this one wasn't quite right, she didn't tick the boxes, we were looking for something that we could possibly live on for a few months at a time if we wanted, and she was only 9ft wide, we really wanted something slightly beamier. (I think because I was now onboard with getting another boat, and because curiosity had been satisfied with the motor gun boat, Joe was happier to downsize to a more manageable size).

 

However we will return to her later.

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Anyway, whilst in Sandwich, you got to have a sandwich wouldn't you, I mean it would be rude not too, so there we are sitting on the Strand, having a sandwich in Sandwich when we realised we were also sat outside the brokers that had arranged the viewing on the boat with no name, so we popped in to give some feedback and relay the story of how and why we were here.  To which they then sent us in the direction of an RAF Seaplane Tender sitting in their boatyard, maybe we would be interested in that? 

Joe is obviously very excited by this and off we trot to the boatyard, to discover the bare shell of an old RAF Seaplane Tender, also in need of a lot of work (understatement) but according to Joe she is in the perfect condition to start restorations !! 

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Long story short, we very nearly went with this boat, but on reflection and research it started to become clear that she wasn't the right boat for us and we decided not to proceed with her. 

 

Undaunted the search started in earnest for a boat to renovate, we set ourselves a wish list of  what we wanted, over 35ft, good beam, engines still in situ, and maybe not quite as much work as those we'd previously looked at. 

That is when we found a 36ft x 12ft William Osborne in fairly good condition and 'just' needing the interior putting back together - she was and is a lovely boat and again we were on the verge of buying her but lockdown hit again, and as we started to look at the logistics of moving her, we soon realised that her position was going to create a logistical nightmare - she was sitting right on the main south circular around London, the A308, we were needing to hire in a crane to lift her onto the lorry, there was the possibility of having to close roads and pay for traffic management, which meant costs were spiralling beyond the price of the actual boat, eating into our budget to restore her and could end up taking months and mounds of red tape to organise.

 

Too many obstacles and something that Joe and I have learnt along the way is to listen to take note of what is happening, we can overcome most things, but sometimes you need to take heed and walk away, we have learnt the hard way there is generally a reason. 

I've not included her name or other details and pictures as currently she is still for sale, I hope that she finds the right owners to bring her back to life.

And those obstacles were for a very good reason - step in Fortuna 

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Joe had seen her on Apolloduck while we were searching for our boat, but I have to say the 'bread bin' extension on the back really wasn't doing it for me, even with Joe telling me he'd take it off.  Her interior had also been 'modernised' as a liveaboard, and as a bit of a traditionalist I just wasn't seeing it at all.  The back had been an addition by an owner previous to the guy that was now selling her, and I understand that the comments he was getting about the 'bread bin' extension and decided to remove it and replace it with something more boat like ...... In his own admission, he honestly said that he really didn't have a clue with boats.

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But I could start seeing the potential and we arranged to go and see her that weekend, Monaco Fortuna - we both fell for her there and then, but a Morgan Giles Monaco Fast Cruiser was hiding under all that superstructure, and as we were soon to discover so much history and provenance.  The Bill of Sale and payment took place the following weekend, haulage was straight forward with her sitting in a boatyard in Shoreham by Sea - the gods were smiling on us, Fortuna was meant to be and was. She was going for a song, which we were happy to sing are incredibly happy that we could and did.

So here we are very proud owners of Monaco Fortuna and ready to start renovations...... once lockdown allows us - boat maintenance is a non-essential activity. 

Find out about her history 

FOOT NOTE: 

Making the most of lockdown we did a lot of research on Fortuna, her build and in particular the engines.  She is fitted with two Routes Lister TS3 engines or more commonly known as Commer Knockers - turns out they are as rare as hen's teeth or rocking horse poo !!!  Of course the mechanic in Joe is undefeated and did a lot of research and by coincidence the boat with no name just happened to have the same engines and still for sale at a reduced price, we put in a bid which was accepted and we soon became the owners of two boats !!!  She was hauled down to another boatyard and the engines removed - and then we had the headache of disposing of her, it seemed such a shame, and a huge task, to destroy a boat perfectly suited to being a live aboard, so for a chance we put her on Ebay for the princely sum of £1  -  imagine our surprise when she sold and is now off to live again with a delighted new owner. 

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