Join Date: Feb 2005
I've been following your posts and thought you might be interested in hearing my story about my 1961 62ft Van lent Feadship ...
I live in London where I work as a music publisher. After many years owning and restoring wooden sailing yachts of various types and sizes (ranging from a 12ft American catboat built in 1900, a 25ft 1930 estuary motor-cruiser, a 1950's BB11, a 34ft 1959 sloop, a 26ft 1938 ChrisCraft and, latterly, Amokura a 51ft yawl built in 1938) I decided that my next project would bea small classic motor-yacht that my family could enjoy and use without a full-time crew .
Eventually, I settled on Alto Volante pka as "Tiky", a 62ft Feadship, built in 1961 by van Lent, and which I found lying in very poor condition in
Pollenca, in north Majorca. Tiky is an interesting boat - she was built with
a typical Northern European displacement hull with a flared bow and a
distinctive cruiser stern, but with a superstructure based on 1950's
planing ChrisCraft design - presumably with a view to selling her to the
USA, which was the reason for the formation of the Feadship federation of
Van Lent and de Vries yards, in the early '50s.
When I first saw the boat she was advertised at over $300,000 and was
looking very nice with topsides freshly painted and her brightwork
glistening in the Spanish spring sunshine. I had a hull survey done and
went on sea trials, both of which revealed a number of issues - most
obviously that she had had virtually no maintenance for many years, was in
a very poor condition and would need a lot of work , so I put in an offer
of $80K which, to my surprise was accepted. I thought I had done a very good deal but how little did I know.....
It was obvious that some work would be needed on the 1961 V8 MAN engines and Renk gearboxes but it was only after I had spent over $15,000 on parts that the engineer told me one engine was in a very poor condition and that the Renk box on the other engine was totally seized. The estimate for rebuilding the engines and boxes was at least another $60K. I decided to replace both engines and settled on rebuilt low-revving Gardner 6LXB engines (a snip at $18,000 each!) and which I figured were more in keeping with the age of the boat than more modern designs such as, say, Caterpillars, ...Although the Gardners more or less dropped in place, because of alignment problems, we had to fit massively heavy flexible drives mounted on thrust assembly blocks, bolted to the engine beds - this meant major surgery and new s/s shafts! . While we were about it we stripped out all the engine-room insulation, plumbing and wiring, together with tons of redundant and rusty equipment .
We then started on the hull which had a number of "doublers" - we left some
of them them in situ, replaced others and fitted a couple more, rebuilt the shaft swells and replaced a 6ft section of rusted bow, below the w/l in the way of the
chain locker. We de-rusted , treated and painted the interior, and replaced
all the ER insulation with heavy duty silverfoil faced sound insulation
I was then informed that the new teak deck had been laid on the original
teak deck, (without attending to the rusted structure beneath) and was
separating from the old teak. Accordingly, it all had to be removed. In
fact, the new teak was adhering so badly to the old teak that it came off
easily in sheets. The old teak, which was very badly worn, had brass screws
every thorough every frame, which all had to be removed - a very long and
tedious job - revealing a totally rusted-through steel sub-deck. The deck
structure only had steel plate laid on top of the beams around the outer
edges of the side-decks and on the center line, so once we attended to
the steel, replacing much of it and treating/painting the entire structure,
we then laid 12mm marine ply sheets on to the steel, using a mastic with
only a few fastenings in strategic points, fitted from underneath through
the steel beams into the ply. We then epoxied the ply, which over-lapped
the steel side-plates (forming a "waterway" scupper of about 6" x 3/4" all
around the deck with drains going below the W/L), and a teak edging. We
then applied more mastic on to the ply, then laid 15mm teak with as few
fastenings as possible, covering both the ply and the teak edging so as to
protect the ply edges and hide them from view. We then recaulked the seams
We stripped out literally dozens of old rusted pumps, heaters and aircon
plants, together with miles of old wiring and steel water and heating
piping. We fitted new s/s hatches on the foredeck, completely rebuilt the
18KVA generator, serviced the windlass and fitted new stabilizers and
controls, anchor chain, bowthruster and installed some basic engine-room
wiring and engine-start batteries. We then rebuilt the saloon roof which had
been very lightly built and was sagging at the center. While doing so, so we
fitted a "soft hatch" in the saloon roof so the engines come out of the
ship, without major surgery, should the need ever arise. I was then told that the preparation for the the relatively recent paint job had not been properly done and that sections of fairing had to be removed, so off it all came.
I then took a deep breath and removed the ugly chicken-coop of a pilothouse
that had been added in the 1980's. (Tiky would look lovely with the original
open helm but I'm not sure that is the best/most practical solution for a
61ft displacement yacht to be used as a family boat in the Med, or even if
it is the most aesthetically pleasing, so I am currently trying to figure
out what design of PH to fit). In any event removing this inapproriate and
ugly structure totally transformed the look of the ship, confirming my
original view that all the work and expense involved in her restoration
would be worthwhile.
However, getting the work done in Majorca - using a combination of the
local yard staff and a variety of itinerant and, in the main, incompetent
and in some cases di s honest local labour - was a very slow, frustrating
and expensive process. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that doing the
refit in Spain by remote control was an impossible task. Accordingly, as
soon as she was ready to move under her own power, she went to La Ciotat nr Marseilles, where we had the hull sand-blasted and primed, but the costs at la Ciotat were eye-wateringly high so I took another deep breath and hired a delivery crew to take her through the French canals and across the Channel to Ipswich. From there, she went by road to Wroxham in Norfolk , where she is now lying ashore, at "Landamores", a well-known family owned & operated boatyard, which builds Oyster Yachts and is known for the quality of its workmanship. Other than the engine room, her interior is now completely gutted and waiting for work to begin later this month (at a price that will be approx 50% of the rates quoted in France & Spain).
work remaining to be done
* rebuild entire interior in light oak (I am enlarging and changing
the layout of owners cabin (from 2 single V berths to a centrally-fitted
double bed in an enlarged cabin, at the expense of the single cabin on
stbd side , which was in any event a rather useless single cabin) so we'll
now have 2 decent sized double cabins instead of 3 mediocre ones + 2 heads
aft, with 2 crew/guest berth + heads up forward
* rewire & re-plumbing throughout
* refurb exterior woodwork
* build new Pilot-house
* some more hull plating
* much else.....!
So, just to reassure you, you're not the only "nutter" restoring an old metal boat - having replaced just about everything, I realize that what I bought was basically a name plate and a piece of history but I'm certain that all the work, time, expense and frustration will be justified in the end.