Saving Floss – a lesson in how to repair a shipwreck

Fixing Floss, a story in photos…

On 5th October, 2019 we bought Floss from a private seller in San Antonio bay, Ibiza. She’s a Catalac 9m, small fibreglass catamaran, built in 1983 in Christchurch, UK. She lived in Poole harbour for many years before being sailed to Greece, where the previous owners bought her and moved her to Ibiza.

Floss was Dom’s dream boat… just about. A catamaran slightly larger than the Diamond 24 we co-own with some friends in Scotland, with just enough space for a family of 4 to live on in relative comfort, and fitting within our ‘non luxury boat owner’ price-range.

As a 36 year old boat, she was in need of some renovations, which the previous owners were part-way through. However, after she was torn from her mooring and wrecked on the beach during a week of storms in Ibiza just four weeks after we bought her, she was in need of a whole lot more.

A story that would break our hearts, break our bank accounts, and almost break our family apart…

 

OCTOBER 2019

Floss’s first sail… San Antonio to Cala Salada, at sunset. October 2019
Sunset over Conejera island
Finn Learning to row the dingy with Lily helping him and Ben photo-bombing! San Antonio Bay. Even in the first week of owning Floss she was already enriching our lives.

NOVEMBER 2019

I (Alex) leave for the UK for two weeks to look after my mother as she had a knee operation. Dom stayed in Ibiza to look after the kids, dog and boat… Strong winds were forecast and as I shut the garden gate behind me I suggested getting Floss into a marina for the week just in case. Dom said he’d think about it but it would be hard on his own and with the kids in tow, and in the end decided against it as the mooring block she was on was sound. A decision that we almost immediately came to regret.

The wind blew strong from the West tearing right through San Antonio bay for 7 days, whipping up 4m waves and Floss bounced around on her mooring with the other boats in the bay. Dom managed to get out to her to secure some extra mooring lines in the dinghy of a neighbour’s boat, braving the storm, but the day after she was found washed up on the beach along with several other boats from the bay. The constant movement of the waves had ripped three cleats from the deck, and she dragged anchor onto the beach, unfortunately via some rocks…

Floss on the beach, a scuba team attempting (and failing) to float her into the marina, 8th November 2019
High and dry. Phase one of boat salvage complete – Floss is moved up the beach out of the water…

In the end Dom found a ‘grua’ company who could move Floss to a boatyard. It was no easy feat as being a catamaran she was wider than the tow-truck and would require a police escort.

The kids enjoy watching the crane moving the boat
Planning how to lift her
Is it a bird…? Is it a plane…??
One hull gutted like a giant fish, entrails hanging out… 🙁
Once she was on the trailer we could really assess the damage. Unfortunately the process of moving her had enlarged the hole.
Arriving at the boat yard…
Removing a tonne of sand from the hull, and one large stone…

JANUARY-JULY 2020

We began the repair work ourselves, however the boat-yard stipulated that we must have an experienced fibreglass expert repair the hull and all their team were fully booked til Spring. So we asked around found a fibreglass engineer on the island who could work with us, fitting us in in his spare time as he loved that we were repairing an old boat to live on as our home. And then the work began in earnest…

Both hulls, the good and the bad, were cleaned back and prepared.
The jagged edges were cut away to prepare for a new fibreglass hull to be layered up from the inside out
A cast was taken of the good hull and the applied over the hole, and a new layer of fibreglass created

Building up layers of fibre to create a mould of the good side
Fibreglass
Marking up the mould
Cleaning up the holy side ready for the mould

Cutting away the floor inside to access the area needing fibreglassing
Putting the mould on wheels to move it over
The mould is bolted on
The fibreglass was layered up from the inside to create a new hull, and then the mould was removed
No more hole!

Cleaning inside
Repairing the cut-away floors

 

An old boat that has been wrecked doesn’t just need the hole repairing, there were also electrics and many other jobs to do.

 

Repairing the old rudders
Cleaning and sanding the hulls to prepare for copper-coat anti-fouling
Testing the batteries
Replacing the broken cleats
Cleaning the water tanks
Re-installing the solar panels after their frame was broken by the crane, and one panel was stolen whilst the boat was stuck on the beach.
The plastic work tent used to contain the fibreglass dust comes down.
More work on the electrics – the boat was completely rewired
The boat was also completely re-plumbed
More work on the inside of the new hull
Smoothing of the new hull and preparation for copper-coat
Waste pipes go in.
The copper-coat is applied
Ain’t she pretty!
Ready for launch… 🙂

JULY 2020

On the 7th of July Floss was relaunched from Ibiza town harbour, and we sailed all night in light winds, and by the light of the full moon, round to San Antonio bay to pick up a mooring not so far away from the one she’d been torn from the Autumn before. Only this time we would not be taking any more chances with storms…

Floss, San Antonio bay, July 2020