To rescue a fine lady
Having lived in Malta for the last couple of years, I might have become affected by some sort of romantic knighthood when I suddenly felt a call for saving a lady? The Dame in question is a Hallberg-Rassy 46 from 1997. I do believe she has been loved by her owners – hence her name: Laska means “Love” in Czech. When we saw her last week-end, the owners also proclaimed: “Laska is a happy boat!”
We could tell Laska wasn’t very happy in her current situation, however. Not that she had been mistreated, but she remained unseen and neglected where she had been standing on the hard for the last two years on the Italian shore-side by Bocca di Magra, wistful dreaming about being launched in order to feel the freedom of sailing towards the horizon.
I’m sure Laska had felt that her owners had not taken much notice of her lately, while she herself still felt so young and had so much more to give – especially love. I’m sure she was thinking this way!
I know that I can’t save every neglected boat in the world, but this one was different. Laska was still so sound in her structure and, for instance, totally dry. Under the floorboards I could still see the wooden sawdust that originated from the days when Hallberg-Rassy built Laska in Sweden twelve years earlier indicating no water had been there.
We could not find any scratches on the hull, while she really needed a profound polishing of her sides. There was a worrying stream of rust coming out between the lead keel and the hull, but experts I have been speaking with say it originates from a void between the two materials and could easily be fixed. I hope they are right!
Laska has not sailed too extensively: Her first owner did hardly sail her at all until she was sold in 2004. The current owners sailed her in the Mediterranean and to the Caribbean via Brazil and back in 2006-08. The last two years she has remained untouched ashore. In the cupboards we found an open mustard jar, a half drunken bottle of wine and in the bilges, there were bottles of Coca Cola that were to be consumed before November 2010.
All cushions were covered and since the last owner is an engineer, he has looked after the essentials from a technical standpoint. The main engine, for instance, had undergone a major overhaul in 2006 where everything that was possible to be exchanged was replaced, while the original parts are now found onboard as spare parts. The total engine hours are no more than 2,500. When I took apart the winches they were nicely greased and I could not see any major rust or oxidation on deck.
That said, this would become a major project for us in order to get her into an “as-new” state as possible and in a way we feel a boat should look like (Please compare photos of Regina, interior and exterior).
Jessica looked at our old photos of Regina, our beloved HR40 and what the children consider as their real home. With Regina, it would be a simple issue to let go the mooring lines and to sail off into the sunset. No preparations are needed. Regina is always ready to go and as beautiful as she has ever been. She is readily equipped, everything is in order and exactly stowed the way we want it. So why change? Why not being satisfied with what one has? Why making it so complicated starting all over again from scratch?
We have been looking for a bigger boat for quite some time in order to get a third cabin and two heads, but had always had a fairly new and well-treated boat in mind.
Before we even wish to launch Laska into the water, we will truck her to Ellös on the small island of Orust in Sweden, where she once was built by the Hallberg-Rassy yard. Orust is a very special place on earth where everything circles around boat-building. It is believed that boats have been built in the area for ten thousand years. The woodwork has always been outstanding, leading to Sparkman&Stephans having many of their beautiful designs built on Orust, primarily at the Br Martinsson yard. Other fine yachts, such as Najad, Malö Yachts, Vindö, Regina av Vindön, Nordwest, Sweden Yachts, CR Yachts, Fantasi, Farr Pilot House Yachts and – not least – Hallberg-Rassy have all been built on, or adjacent to the small island of Orust. But there are many more small yards, which still build wooden traditional boats as well as there are experts in winter storing, overhauling and refurbishing fine yachts. Sailors come from all over the world in order to get the best available quality in boatbuilding and boat repair.