Classic Kiwi Offshore Boats

by admin


Taking a 46-year-old classic runabout, that was severely decaying and ready for the tip and bringing new life and style into it, was a labour of love for over two years and more than 2000 hours for Hawkes Bay boating enthusiast, David Grace. The result is an outstanding craft that is way beyond what designer Frank Pelin every envisaged.

David Grace bought the boat from a young guy in Upper Hutt who was in the process of restoration but due to family commitments decided to sell it early on in the resto.

There was a lot of work to be done, especially as she had rotten gunwales and the deck was a mess”, said David

Towing the boat back to his place in the Hawkes Bay was an anxious time as he commented that he wasn’t sure if the trailer would fall apart on the way.

” My idea was not just to restore the boat but turn it into a “Riva” style runabout, the same as was used by famous people around the Med. I always liked the look of the boats, and with the Pelin, I had the basis to start with”, says David.

First, he cut the topsides off at 30cm above the chine. With the hull on the floor of the workshop, the trailer went for a rebuild and the Volvo engine and outdrive were removed. After a significant clean up he then set about replacing the frames, stringers and floor beams.

“The ring frames were a fun challenge as I had to use long cedar strips to get a rough shape before cutting the frames to fit. No plans to follow made it quite hard to get perfectly accurate”, added David.

After trying each frame at least a dozen times, he changed from timber to high-density foam so that he could get a fairer shape and then used that as a pattern for a timber ring frame.

Next were the clear cedar strips from JCS timber at Riverhead. He put each piece through the router twice, to get a convex and concave top and bottom so they would fit tight even around the curves of the hull.

David pointed out that there is no gunwale until right near the bow and although he hasn’t counted the strips, it took two years to lay one strip per night!

The ring frames were made so the deck could be removed when all the strips were in place. The deck was then turned over, and then glassed inside with 450gm glass and epoxy. Next, the deck was turned upright, glued back on the hull and then sanded till smooth.

“My workshop has disappeared under a thick layer of dust even after two big bins went out with the rubbish”.

Two layers of 87gm glass cloth were laid from chine to chine, with two layers of just resin after that, then more sanding down to 400 grit random orbital paper. After hours of hard work to get it pristine perfect to finish, the boat was sent to Freeman Decorators for six coats of polyurethane.

With the hull and deck completed David’s attention went to the cockpit and engine cover. The local Volvo man was called on to service and reinstall the 1973  engine and outdrive. Firing up the engine on the hose for the first time they found the engine to have great oil pressure but no lift in the hydraulic trim and tilt. After a call to a local engineer at The Welding Shop, the problem was sorted, and the boat was put in the water for a sneaky test before the official launching.

The first showing of the boat was the Wooden Boat Parade at Lake Rotoiti in early Feb, and then it was onto the Vintage Boat Regatta at Nelson Lakes in March.

David says he is pleased how the boat runs, and the fact it is much lighter than the original, it hardly wets the chines even at the transom. Plans are to sell the boat and start another project.

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