Classic restoration

Stuart Sawyer’s classic powerboat, a Fairey Swordsman 40 ‘Freebird’, was placed in the hands of Mylor Yacht Harbour’s for transformation from neglected and broken to prime condition.

Talking about his 1960s marine icon, Stuart said: “I love that Fairey represents the best of British classic design, for both sailing and motor craft. Their commitment to performance and seakeeping remains timeless even today, with Sir Richard Fairey founding the firm around his passion for aviation and boats in the 1940s and his son producing the first motor cruisers in the 1960s as a fan of offshore racing.”

Mylor’s owner, Roger Graffy, said it was exactly the kind of project they wanted to be involved in: “As a child of the ‘60s I have always loved these boats and it was daunting, but also a welcome challenge, to have one coming for such major works.”

A survey confirmed the vessel was suffering from lack of use, care and maintenance, but sea trials exposed major issues with the engines and the dawning that they would need to be replaced.

Over four months Mylor’s engineering manager, Nathan Percival, worked closely alongside Stuart, while lead engineer Chris Powell headed up all the engineering works which included sourcing the new Caterpillar C7.1 engines and the difficult task of fitting them into the vessel.

“The biggest challenge was fitting a modern version of the original Caterpillar engines into a slim classic design,” said Chris.
Attention to detail and authenticity was key. With the main dashboard and cockpit control panels rusted and missing buttons, Mylor managed to find the original supplier and arranged for new panels to be cut and powder coated to maintain the original look and feel.

While the Mylor Marine Team focused on the engines and electrics, Stuart asked local tradesmen Tim Seaman from Formation Marine and carpenter Rob Holdroff to work on the exterior repairs and interior fit-out respectively, completely restoring the external lockers, teak decks, topsides, structure and mast and fitting out all interior lockers, berths, galley, hull fittings and heads.

Stuart said: “The restoration of Freebird was great to watch unfold: it was a real bonus having such a connected Cornish team who genuinely wanted to work on her.”

On her re-launch Roger declared her boathandling to be an “absolute dream”.

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