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Probably like so many of these viewings some emotional decisions had already been made just from looking at the pictures. We liked the shape, the thing was floating it appeared to have all the necessary bits, everything looked ok and the price was affordable. We knew we were going to lift it out and strip the hull to bare metal, we knew we were going to strip all the paint off the deck so none of that was a concern. To be honest there would have had to be something horrific for us not to purchase.
Du Bleiz was being sold by Tim Parker of Channel Yacht Sales in Bristol, they gave us a good history of the yacht, a comprehensive tour and an honest view of what we might be letting ourselves in for. We lifted up the boards and checked the bilges, we looked at the sails and rigging and we checked the engine and electronic equipment. There were obvious signs that this was a well-loved yacht and some money had been spent kitting her out for ocean cruising. However, more recently general maintenance had been neglected and there was a lot of work to be done to get her looking and operating at her best again. Channel Yacht Sales recommended a survey and said there may be some room for negotiation on the asking price.
At this point we did something we would not recommend to any of our customers! Somewhat buoyed by the emotional decisions made earlier and having not been convinced (albeit with our lack of any knowledge in the area) of anything majorly wrong with Du Bleiz we made an offer without a survey. Our offer was accepted and SML Paints and Coatings now had a yacht - and a project.
Where are we going to do this?
Prior the viewing we had made enquiries about moving Du Bleiz to a barn opposite our offices in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Here we could work on the boat at our leisure, be protected from the elements and not be restricted by any marina rules – such as shot blasting. This involved de-masting, putting on a truck, transporting the 50 or so miles and placing on a cradle in the barn. Our first major lessons were ones in boat weights, crane clearance requirements and the costs of building or purchasing a movable yacht cradle. Unfortunately in the end it all proved too expensive. We also concluded that these facilities were probably not what the majority of our customers could expect. We ended up lifting the boat out and putting it on hard standing in Bristol Marina.
We knew from motoring to the yard that the engine, prop and rudder/steering were all working well. Once lifted, and after a jet wash, we were able to see the hull clearly. There were no indications of any damage or corrosion and we were pleasantly surprised to find a new Kiwi Prop installed.
We enlisted the services of a well-respected surveyor who went to work tapping away at Du Bleiz’s hull with a hammer. It was also ultra-sounded in over fifty random areas including near the water line and in the localities of the keel plate with an electronic steel thickness meter. The whole process took about an hour.
The surveyors comments
“The underwater hull plating as viewed was considered in good condition for her age. From ultra-sounding and hammer testing no significant wastage of her original plating found. There were a few areas where the antifouling had detached from the tar type epoxy coating. From my hammer testing of the hull on all returns and her underwater areas, no areas of concern were found”
All good – so far!