The other boat……

Whilst one boat, “Vaega tolu”, is listed for sale we have now turned our attention to the other boat – “Shell de Mer”.   For the past two years she has been sitting at a dock in a waterside suburban canal.  A global pandemic, appropriate weather windows and family issues limited the number of opportunities to make the best use of her.  

Shell” is a Nicholson 39 ketch built in Southampton in 1979 – hull number 56, by the Camper and Nicholsons yard.  Camper and Nicholson was a yacht design and manufacturing company based in Gosport, England, for over two hundred years.  During that time they constructed many significant vessels, such as Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV and Prince Philip’s yacht ‘Bloodhound’.  Some of their other customers included Thomas Sopwith, William Kissam Vanderbilt and the 6th Duke of Marlborough, George Spencer-Churchill.    Its yachts have competed in the America’s Cup, The Fastnet Race, the Olympics, the Whitbread Round the World Race and many other yacht races. 

“Shell de Mer” Builders plate

It was a shame to see a boat of such a pedigree lie deteriorating over time.  The two years sitting alone has left its mark.  Inside, mould and dust had accumulated and outside algae, dust, dirt and grime lay everywhere.  A few days on the hardstand for a fresh bottom paint and new anchor chain and we then motor sailed out across the bay and put her on a swing mooring in the channel between the islands nearer to where we live.    She now lies less than 2km from our back door.  If it wasn’t for a few mangroves on the point of the island we would see “Shell” at her mooring from our kitchen window.  Because we live so close to the water we leave our tender chained to a tree so it is easy to then head out to her and start to look after and ‘refurbish’/ ‘restore’ her. 

On the hardstand On the mooring

The first task was to take almost everything off and start the big clean up.  We wish we were able to do a lot of that whilst on the hardstand but because we live on an island with no bridges, the backwards and forwards of transporting so much stuff on the ferry or expensive vehicle barges was out of the question. Therefore, it was a shuffle to and fro in the tender to home. Lots of old bits and pieces were thrown out or sorted out ready to go back on board.  All lockers were emptied and cleaned thoroughly with detergent and bleach.  Michelle did a mammoth job of cleaning the boat’s insides whilst I attended to sorting out tools, spares and start some of the minor repairs.   

Some of those minor repairs included servicing the winches, taking the boom bag off for new zippers and replacing the lazy jacks, replacing sheet ropes on the headsail, main and mizzen.  All of the running rigging is in need of replacement but that will happen over time.  I replaced a small hatch in the anchor locker – so that’s one leak stopped but a few more to go.  I’ve taken measurements and drawn plans for more jobs to do once I get a chance to go to a chandlery and pick up some necessities.  Online ordering and delivery would be preferred except for the island living consideration of high delivery charges or no delivery at all.

Apart from replacing all the running rigging there are more leaks to stem, some hoses to replace, a wind instrument display to re-wire, teak decks to replace, replace the safety lines, install the D400 wind generator (removed from VT)  and clean and polish whatever we can.  Of course there is always routine maintenance along the way as well.

On a recent trip out to work on board we discovered that swallows have taken a liking to rest overnight on the safety rails.  Consequently the day was spent washing down an accumulation of bird shit form the sides, ropes and teak decks.  Shell’ ordered some ‘Shuubirds’ as an attempt to scare them away from roosting.  They are a bird shaped type thing that flutters freely in any breeze that are designed to deter birds.  Time will tell if they work or not.  I’ve seen all sorts of attempts to scare off birds from roosting – I’m not sure I’ve seen any that really work.  Unless maybe you have a cat on board willing to hunt all night long.

‘Shuubirds’ – will they work? ‘Shuubird’ and new main sheet

Now that most of the initial clean up is near complete we will start taking back on board the necessary things we’ll use for local sailing.   We seem to have amassed so much stuff with what we’ve removed from “Shell” and brought home off “Vaega tolu”.  “Shell” is a smaller boat than VT so there is going to be some critical sorting of what is really needed on board.

The Summer holidays are now over and week day crowds will disappear from anchorages so that means it’s a good time for us to start day and overnight sailing around Moreton Bay and coming home for the weekends. 


  1. Diluted Clove oil was used on the mould which has been very successful. Cleaning the upholstery in forward and aft cabins has certainly made a big difference. Hopefully we can get away soon!


  2. Yep, lots of work just shifting boats, but a little more than we expected after she sat for so long. But we are looking forward to being back on the water again soon.


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