Rebuild of Vanessa

Gentleman’s Classic Motor Yacht, Built by Graham Bunn (Wroxham) Ltd 1953

Original photos from 1953

The Purchase.

After searching for two years and looking at various Classic yachts I found the “Vanessa” she was moored in Hayling Island at The Hayling Yacht Co.Ltd. She was being used as a live aboard. I fell in love with her immediately. With first appearances she looked good, or as the agent so nicely said “the varnish is tired but with a bit of TLC she will look like new again”   So I ordered a survey. Unfortunately the surveyors remarks were not very encouraging. He actually broke of the survey, telling me on the telephone due to what he had found, that both the main longitudinal outermost frames were rotten where the stabilizer keel bolts came through. Bluntly he said, there was no point in continuing the survey and strongly recommended me, not to take the boat, even if it was offered to me as a present, so that was really a bitter disappointment.

Link to View Survey Report

Original plans from 1953

Read the article in Motor Boat and Yachting from the November 2010 issue regarding my further search for a Classic Motor Yacht. View Article

What was very interesting to find out was that the Motor Boat and Yachting magazine, actually did an article on the Vanessa, then originally called “Traümerei II” when she was first launched in 1953. View Article and the Yachting World Annual also did an article. View Article

Original photo from 1963 taken by Ron Harrison. Donated from Broadland Memories Blog

It was the Shipwright Edward Dridge ( Ego) at the yard where the Vanessa was that persuaded me to change my mind, and to go against the recommendation of the surveyor. Ego was certain the rotten wood could be removed and new wood blended in from the inside without having to remove all the Teak double diagonal planking on the outer hull. So on his recommendation I purchased the “Vanessa” in July 2010

The Refit.

I decided The Hayling Yacht Company would do most of the Refit and Ego was also in the same yard with his own work shop.

First job was to get her on dry land and take the engines out. The original engines were still in her and by using half a tin of easystart they could be started although it looked as if black smoke bomb had gone off. The engines really had had there time. I know people say you should keep the original engines for the classic image, but, I believe in safety first and reliability is an important ingredient.


So I decided to put two new Perkins M92B in her, which obviously meant fitting new gearboxes, shafts, props, seals, bearings and while were on the job, new filter system, fuel pipes, diesel tanks opened and cleaned etc. This work was undertaken by A. D. Marine & Son Marine Engineers. Alan & Dale. two very competent engineers both situated at the Hayling Yacht Co. yard.

Generator new:

My choice was the Whisper M- Super Compact 6 5kw – 230 V 50 Hz Technical info. also fitted by A.D.Marine.

Hull and woodwork:

First job was to clean and strip the whole hull so we could have a good look at the condition and quality of the Teak. We were all amazed at just how pristine she was.

With just a few scratches and a little filling here and there the outside Teak was in near perfect condition.See photo gallery “Vanessa

Now we had to look inside at the main oak longitudinal outermost frames, port and starboard side to asses the rot. Ego suggested we remove the two keels first and take it from there. After the keels had been removed we had a clear picture of the damage.

Its amazing but even experienced surveys can make drastic mistakes, and this mistake was clearly to our advantage. The stabilizing keels that had been fitted at a later date were bolted on. These bolts had probably been intended to go through the oak longitudinal frames but in actual fact the were just beside them. They had then used normal soft wood to act as a backing support, this had then rotted completely and the surveyor had mistaken this rotten wood as being part of the main longitudinal frame.

But we did find that the rudder boxes both needed renewing, and there was a lot more rot on the decks house then we had expected. Photos from all the wood work are in the photo gallery.

The Teak deck: 

Here also was a lot of hidden work, on first inspection it was agreed the old screws would be withdrawn and, the holes made deeper, then new screws and plugs the deck sanded and recorked. The original thickness of the teak deck was 1 1/2 inches, now even now after 58 years we still have 1 1/4 inches, so plenty to work with. Craig had a lot of problems removing the old screws. (see photos) But to our horror that was not the worst of it, the rear deck had to be completely removed as we found excessive rot at the end of the beams supporting the deck, seven beams had to be replaced and we had to get new teak for the deck, reason being they had apoxied the teak deck to the ply underneath, making it impossible to remove the deck with out damaging the Teak. (see photos)


A complete rewire was necessary AC as DC. We installed a new switch panel and rewired completely.

Painting & Varnishing:

Richard Blakes workers at the yard were responsible for this part. See photo gallery.


I found a firm in Norwich who did all the windows. See photo gallery.

The Mast and galvanising:

At some time in the Vanessa past her original stepable mast had been removed and a new mast fitted on top of the decks house. this mast was obviously to high for her to pass under some of the bridges on the River Thames. The solution was, we altered the mast so it could easily folded and tilted in two places then laid nearly flat on the decks house roof. (see photos)

2012 New photos and the Re-launch:

A new survey 06.May 2012 (Read here) for the insurance means we still had have things to do.

All items listed on the survey report have now been completed. Painting the hull will be completed as Trevor the painter suggests, she will not be sprayed but painted by brush-roller and then the brush marks removed with a foam.

2013/14/15 Now moored at Galions Point Marina London