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GJW Direct 2020

Restoring a 1979 wooden Europe dinghy

by Clare Giles 28 Mar 09:00 GMT

Clare Giles of Gunfleet Sailing Club, Clacton-on-Sea, tells the story of a long-distance dinghy renovation on K95, a wooden Europe dinghy built by Ron Beasley in 1979.

Last year, it was time to sell my Vareo and free up my parent's driveway, but I happened to notice a Europe dinghy for sale locally - only £100, in need of cosmetic attention but structurally sound - and before 48 hours had elapsed, the driveway was being used again! With me living in Suffolk, and my parents in Wales, it turned out to be a long distance project. I gave advice on the phone, and my father, Neil Williams, did the hard work.

My father is an engineer, trained with aircraft but enjoying woodwork in his spare time. He made sure the renovation was done really properly, stripping everything off the hull and getting back to the bare wood. The original varnish looked intact for the most part, but had signs of blotchy damage, and some areas showed the beginnings of black staining. He has scraped, sanded, and revarnished her to a furniture-quality finish. The underside of the hull looks as smooth as any modern dinghy, and the decks gleam, showing the beauty of the wood used.

We relaunched her at Coppet Week 2019 - at Saunsdersfoot, Wales - where by chance we met the builder's son, Lyndon, who was able to give more details on the boat's history. It seemed Ron Beasley did not build many Europes, having had a run of orders for Cadets, and so still remembered building this particular boat.

I then competed in the 2019 Europe UK Nationals and really enjoyed the racing. I was the only wooden boat there, and one of only two using aluminium masts. Despite the rest of the fleet using carbon fibre, I was not left in last place.

More recently, 'More Cheese Gromit?' has been snugly tucked in a conservatory to protect dad's handywork from the frost. We look forward to getting her back on the water in 2020. She will turn heads wherever she goes.

Maybe dad needs another project, as he plans to retire within a few years... we want him to have plenty to keep him occupied!

There are several other great photos - use the 'next' button underneath the first image to scroll through them.

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