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  • Writer's pictureRhu Strand

The First Weekend

We were lucky that the first weekend we could get aboard and start was Easter, giving us four full days to start renovations

This image is a fair idea of how Fortuna had been modernised as a live aboard when we took ownership of her. This is actually how the previous owner had inherited her, but he had repainted and done a few other alterations. On the surface and as a live aboard you could see the appeal, but as a functioning boat, not practical, and as you go through this post you will see just how impractical all this actual is.

If you join us as a non-seafarer you may wonder why we have an issue with this, but what lies under the surface is more the issue.

Laminate flooring and pine cladding are not suitable materials for a life afloat, in fact any structural material needs to be hard wood and or non-absorbent, and like a house she needs to be able to breath, you need access to all area's and in case of an emergency, you need access to all area's pretty swiftly.

And so we begin .....

.... and it took a good six days of clearing to get her back to bare bones, so to say, to get to a point where we can start giving her the tlc she needs and deserves.

We removed everything that shouldn't be on a boat, ripping off the pine cladding to find polystyrene, 150mm polyester wadding, expanding foam or fibreglass being used as insulation and along with that moisture trapped in the cavities which of course resulted in mould.

The first two pictures show where I removed a plug socket and the water dripping down behind it.

These two show how sodden the hardboard had become and the mould growing on the back of the ply base to the bunks.

And the pile of rubbish grew ......

The black bin bags in the background are full of polyester wadding. We had originally thought we would start in the aft cabin and work forward, but on discovering so much moisture absorbing materials, decided to completely empty her. Sole plates had been screwed down, and in the aft cabin a double bed frame had also been screwed in place, once removed it revealed a pond of bilge water. Luckily we also discovered the bungs that could be removed to allow it to run out, but it still took buckets and buckets of emptying to get her dry.

We think years of cover up jobs had just added layers and layers of inappropriate materials creating a huge floating mouldy sponge - not the environment anyone would want to live in, let alone take out to sea !!

The great thing about stripping her back was that we started to reveal the original build, the colours and materials used back in 1960 when she was first built.

Before discovering some of the original interior, I had thought her interior should be more in line with a yachts, however, I've begun to realise that motor cruiser interiors are quite different to a yachts, and that when she was designed and built, she was quite cutting edge and her interior contemporary of the time with pastel colour scheme and formica finishes. I'm not sure I want everything formica, but I am more inclined to be sympathetic to her original design. I've discovered that you can still get formica, not the original pattern used, but similar colourway, so we are looking at that as a material for the bathroom.

Also removed were the trim tabs as they are not a part of the original build.

Now we have stripped everything out she looks more like this and starting to reveal the area's that need attention, which naturally are more than anticipated, but not a complete disaster.

We made enquiries about getting the interior soda blasted to remove the old paint, sadly we were informed that not only would be very costly, - (I didn't get as far as finding out what 'costly' meant, but I could tell he didn't want that particular job, so that would likely have an impact on the 'cost' too) - but also that soda blasting interiors was incredibly messy. The next option is to remove all flaky loose paint with a scrapper and palm sander. However that seems like a pointless job if some of the exterior ply has to be replaced, so we are considering getting the exterior soda blasted (that was always the plan for the hull) sooner rather than later, and we will be able to assess which area's internally need paint stripping.

Unnecessary wiring is being cut out so that we can start again with that and more updated electronic equipment - we don't need a fish finder !!

I know she looks pretty daunting at the moment, but this is where we need her to be in order to move forward, it gives us a clear picture of where work is needed, where wood is rotten and where it is sound.

Note a lot of the black is actually dirt and mould, so I will be getting to grips with that and clean that off.

The next job is to remove the aft cabin roof and wheelhouse.

Rhu and Joe x

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