Refurbishing a Classic Sailing Boat

Refurbishing a sailing boat – My Experience

Why did I end up refurbishing a sailing boat? Well, it all started in 2006 when a friend introduced my to sailing whilst I was studying at university.  I began racing off the coast of Brighton and ultimately became keen to purchase a yacht of my own.  As a result, I would be able to explore further afield. In late 2014 I began researching different boats available.

Something drew me to the beauty, simplicity and above all durability of GRP sailing boats from the 1970s.  GRP was a material still very much in its infancy and as such, boats tended to be over engineered. This over-engineering resulted in particularly strong, albeit heavy Hull designs.  The reduced quantities of wood onboard would also mean less long term maintenance!

The Macwester

After further research of 1970s boats, I further narrowed my search to the Macwester.

Whilst not the fastest boats, Macwesters are known for being well built and extremely strong.  They also have a lot of internal room which was important to me as I intended to spend a considerable amount of time on board exploring.  After viewing a number of examples, I finally purchased a good example of a Macwester in mid-2015. Excited about my new purchase, I immediately began restoring her.

My Boat!

My Macwester sailing boat was in good condition, and had clearly been looked after by her previous owner Alan. However, she was 45 years old and therefore needed some work doing to her! My experience of refurbishing a sailing boat was about to begin!

Since 2015, I have spent considerable time refurbishing my Macwester to a high standard and am now rather proud of her.  In summer 2017 I was finally able to enjoy being out on the water and have undertaken a number of trips around the Solent and across to the Isle of Wight.  I am continuing to teach myself the theory and practice of sailing and am looking forward to taking her further afield in the years to come.

This website has been created in order for me to share my experiences throughout the project. I will continue to update it and record the work that I continue to carry out on my boat.  Hopefully this information will be beneficial to others carrying out maintenance on their own boat.  In addition, if you are considering refurbishing a boat, it should act as a guide to the type of work involved.

Refurbishing a sailing boat: Work Carried out

The work carried out on my Macwester has been extremely varied.  I have been able to put my materials knowledge to good use and self-taught myself the principles of GRP. This has enabled me to carry out the necessary hull repairs and improvements confidently and safely.

One recent task has been to replace the wooden hand rails with Stainless steel.  Whilst relatively costly, I figured that the reduced maintenance will make it a worthwhile investment.  Considerable time has been spend sanding and varnishing the remaining wood to ensure its longevity.

I was also able to put my love of electronics to good use and completely re-wired her.  Features include modern colour changing LED lighting to allow safe night time navigation.  In addition, the LEDs give bright lighting when required.  Planning electrical installations is one of my favourite tasks.  Indeed, my boats distribution board is a talking point amongst my friends due to the extraordinary number of switches I have managed to deploy!

Perhaps the most frustrating task was stripping the old cabin vinyl covering.  It was however worth the effort as I now have a clean, bright and durable interior.

Clearly some task are recurring, the most obvious one being painting decks and applying the antifouling.

Read about my first main project, repainting the antifouling here.

Photo Diary

Throughout the refurbishment, I have taken many photographs to enable me to create this website.  The photographs are also invaluable for future maintenance work.  Below are a selection of photographs showing the variety of work carried out on my boat.

removing window Macwester bilge keel sailing boat during refurbishment
Removing old rotten window
Replacement window in a bilge keel sailing yacht
New window fitted
preparing for antifouling on a bilge keel sail boat
Repairing keels
lewmar hatch fitted to macwester sailing boat
Smart new Hatch fitted
custom fuse board installed in sailing boat
New switchboard fabricated and installed
Relaunching Macwester 26 bilge keel sailing boat
Antifouling Completed

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to find out about my self build motorhome!

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