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J-Bird III Restoration Series: Part 5 - Stripping the boat out

by Ocean Crusaders 24 Aug 08:55 BST

In parts 1 - 4 we have explored the purchase, haul out and delivery from Sydney to Brisbane of the World's First TP52, a vessel we rescued from becoming scrap. When we last left the boat, it had settled into her new home in Brisbane.

When we initially purchased J-Bird, it had been sitting for a very long time on a mooring. It had taken in water at some stage with the engine having been partly submerged and none of the batteries were connected or operational. The smell, well you can imagine. Wet rot through all sorts of materials was something to behold.

Our plans with the vessel were to strip it out entirely, leaving nothing but the hull. Then we were to remove the deck in front of the companionway, right to the bow as it was completely rotten. The cockpit would remain similar and hence we would strip it down later and just replace the core, not a complete new deck like the front.

So once the vessel was settled in her new home and with a 20ft container sitting alongside waiting for anything salvageable, we set about emptying it out of everything, and I mean everything. This included stripping the deck of every fitting, including winches and stanchions.

We started inside as we needed to get the smelly items out before the stench impregnated everything at our yard. The galley was extra special. Our pet hate on yachts is single use water bottles and the amount we pulled out could've cured the thirst in a small village, had they not been contaminated that is. Yes, every single bottle was past its 'Best Before' date. The very thought of this makes me cringe. If you think bottled water is good for you, why does it need a 'Best Before Date?' The truth of the matter is that we take this perfectly good drinking water and bottle it in a container that will actually contaminate it. That best before date is the date that it is still deemed safe for human consumption without the BPA leeching into the water too much it is unhealthy. And here we had lot of water that had gone to waste, let alone the fact that every bottle takes three times the amount of water that's in the bottle to create and you can quarter fill the bottle with oil and that is the amount of oil used to produce, freight and refrigerate that bottle.

Then the funny thing was finding toilet paper packets in abundance. At the time Australia's was dealing with the great 'Toilet Paper Crisis' and here we were with an abundance of the stuff. I reckon we should've put it on eBay and sold it to pay for the refit!!!

Pulling a fridge compressor unit out that has been under water, a toilet that hasn't been used in years, bilge pumps that fall apart in your hands, it was all 'Good Fun'. Well what else do you call it. We actually enjoyed it as it was moving towards the future goal. The greatest surprise was still yet to come though.

Now let's put you in the picture. We have bought what is an elite racing yacht, would've cost millions when new. It's carbon fibre as weight is critical. So imagine our surprise when we removed 47kg of wiring, of which 37kg went straight to recycling. They were using household electrical cable to power lights and the majority of it ran through the bilge of the engine bay where it was absolutely filthy, wet and rotting. How anything worked on this boat I really question.

With all the internals pulled out, we started on the deck fittings. This was really entertaining in itself. First we mapped out the entire deck so we know where to put everything back. This involved creating markings across the deck every 500mm and then taking a series of photos for record of where every fitting was. Everything was measured back to one of these markers. Finding that the deck fitting on the bow for a spinnaker staysail was off center by at least 30mm was staggering. Guess they really did set the original Transpacific boats for a starboard gybe.

Pretty much every single fitting had the same issue, they had not been sealed correctly and hence the balsa was rotten. Most had rust coming down through them and this meant cutting bolts often. We managed to get all of the Harken Winches and Pedestal off without any issue which was a major success. We are extremely fortunate that the team at Harken Australia are supporting our cause and we have since shipped the winches down to them and they are servicing them for us free of charge. We are so grateful for this as the cost of this program would be right up there and for them to do it for us, what an amazing gesture of support for our charity. They have been supporting us for several years now as they also supply all of our workboats with Spinlock PFD's and we raced to Hobart with the new Vito Deckvest and they are simply amazing. When we get the winches back, all we will need to do is give them a new clear coat and they will look like new, but more importantly, work like they are new.

Slowly but steadily the boat deck became clearer and clearer of gear. The container soon became crowded with all sorts of gear. We had rigging, pipe cots, winches, electrical equipment, tools we were able to salvage and we even had three sails. Yes we managed to get three sails with this. The first is a dacron main which is not from a TP52, the headsail is not even good enough for Stacey Jackson to turn into Nauti Bags and the only real recovery was an A4 spinnaker, which whilst it is not pretty with rust stains on several parts, it looks in reasonable condition and will be used as a delivery/training sail.

I mention Stacey Jackson and her Nauti Bags program as she is a great supporter of Ocean Crusaders and is listed as one of our Ambassadors. When Stacey set up the whole Ocean Respect Racing team that came 2nd on Handicap in the 2018 Sydney to Hobart, we ended up with a grant from 11th Hour Racing to continue what we do. The fact that Stacey turns sails into the coolest bags is really fitting as it is a great way of recycling your sails. Check her range out at

So as the boat started feeling lighter and the smell was starting to get better, we started to see exactly what we had purchased and the ideas of what we could do were coming thick and fast. The layout was the biggest thing on our mind as we wanted to give it a very small 'cruising' aspect. This will be the ultimate Racer/cruiser and it is written that way for a reason.

The final stage of this process was to give the entire inside a wash down to kill off all the mould. We use a product that is made from safe products for the environment from Simply Clean. We also aired out the spinnaker to get rid of the smell on that. Seeing it rolled out on the lawn is something else. It was huge.

So now for the exciting part - destruction mode. Well not now, that will be next time. Stay tuned.

Ocean Crusaders is a charity dedicated to cleaning our oceans. We go places others don't want to, remove rubbish others don't even know is there and we do it for one reason, for our marine life. J-Bird III was destined to be scrapped if we hadn't bought her. Now she is being recycled and given a new life. Our motto for this boat will be 'Zero Emissions, Zero Compromise' as we turn her electric. That doesn't mean we have to compromise on anything in the way of performance!!! We are seeking sponsors for a race program so if you are interested or know someone who is interested in supporting this campaign, please contact us through our website.

To follow more regular updates of our project visit and to follow the efforts of our charity visit

Clean Oceans Make Us ALL winners!!!

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