The Eventider's News




Issue Nine, Autumn 2007


Page No 5

The restoration of 'Athaena'


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This page is devoted to the painstaking restoration story of John Snodgrass and his 'Athaena'.

John has sent in a couple of CD's full of pictures from the day his boat went into the dry dock till the day the dock was once more flooded to let her out.  The transformation is remarkable!

John at the end of 2007 was afloat and on board deciding to turn left or right at the mouth of the Humber!  we wait with interest to read his logs!






The Golden Hind range of offshore cruising sailing boats was designed by Maurice Griffiths. It was believed until recently, that the hull of Athaena started life as the plug for the moulding for the glass fibre hull for the Golden Hind 26.

We have recently discovered that 'Athaena' was designed for and built in 1978 by Allan Solly of Marlborough Wilts, a professional cabinet maker and amateur boat builder.  She was the first (and only???) of the Athaena class.  However, because of the cooperation between MG, Allan Solly and Terry Erskine, she was effectively the "pre production prototype" for the Golden Hind 26. 

The deck and most of the cockpit were made of teak, the cabin sides in mahogany and the interior in mahogany or mahogany faced marine ply. The majority of the shipwright and joinery work was good and much of it is comparable with the best professional standards. She has the more attractive stepped coach roof. She has tiller steering but the rudder is "inboard" rather than being transom hung as is usual on the Golden Hinds. She has a long keel with cast iron ballast keel and with the addition of substantial steel bilge keels to damp rolling and to allow her to dry out upright. Athaena is rigged as a cutter sloop with a mast taller than the standard for her class and a 3 foot fixed plank bowsprit. LOD is 26 feet and LOA with the bowsprit is approximately 30 feet. She has been weighed on a weighbridge at approximately 4.5 tonnes.

With her traditional tan sails and extensive woodwork she is admired as an attractive boat by all who see her.

During her last ownership she was cruised extensively including to the Med on two occasions and in current ownership has been cruised to France and the Channel Islands.

Athaena has had a total overhaul at T Trevithick Boat Builder in Nottingham. The more difficult boat building was undertaken principally by Mr Colin Rawson, now aged 70, the erstwhile proprietor of the yard and the father of the current proprietor. He is a shipwright with a long life time of work on wooden vessels. Other less critical repair work has latterly been undertaken by another carpenter/electrician, employed by the owners but well known to and approved by the yard, with Mr Rawson maintaining a watching brief. As a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, the current owner has been closely involved wherever possible and generally also undertaken the more cosmetic work.

After launching in August 2008, Athaena was motored down the Trent and Humber to Hull marina where she was rigged for sailing. She is currently at Hull and in commission.

The works have included (not exhaustively) the following:

All external paint removed, to allow complete external inspection.

Replacement of all rotted wood on both the hull and coachroof as noted on the 1999 survey and found subsequently.

Hull topsides painted International base coats and Toplac "Donegal" dark green.

Removal of three forward keel bolts securing the cast iron ballast keel. Two were found to be unmarked and refitted. One which had suffered only minor corrosion was renewed. The original has been retained for inspection if necessary.

At the stern of the keel, aft of the cast iron ballast keel, where it is constructed from thick wooden planks, substantial external bracing has been added on both sides joined to a very substantial new rib added under the cockpit. This is supplemented by a new steel shoe on the wooden keel which is welded to the new bracing. Thus the aft keel bolts, which may or may not be sound, but which are certainly more difficult to access and remove, have been bypassed by external fastenings which can be easily inspected and maintained.

Replacement of cockpit drains, hoses, skin fittings and seacocks with new and larger.

All other seacocks stripped, inspected and serviced.

Replacement of rudder stock with new stainless steel stock plus new bearings, glands etc

Substantial reinforcement of the hull deck join with hard wood covering boards in the gunwale. This has also provided much more solid seating for the pulpit, pushpit and stanchions.

Bobstay overhauled and renewed as necessary.

Replacement of the forward hatch with a new aluminium hatch.

Coachroof reinforced with grp cloth mat and epoxy and then covered with Coelan (white).

Cabin sides reglued and the covered with Coelan (clear).

All windows overhauled by Eagle Boat Windows of Skipton (approved repairers to the RNLI) and reseated as per their instructions.

Teak decks rebuilt and covered with Coelan (clear).

All deck fittings including pulpit, pushpit, stanchions etc bedded on Sikaflex and strongly through bolted onto new backing pads as necessary.

Taylors paraffin cooker overhauled by Taylors. NB No gas on board.

Taylors diesel/paraffin cabin heater installed (second hand but unused).

Engine sterngear including shaft seal and cutlass bearing all stripped, inspected and replaced with new.

New "Spurs" rope cutter ("as endorsed by the RNLI") installed.

Bukh diesel engine totally stripped, overhauled and rebuilt.

Exhaust manifold and silencer box renewed.

Engine mounts renewed.

Diesel system renewed to current best practice including the following all new: fuel lines, tank breather, primary fuel filter and water separator, fuel level gauge.

Engine hours and engine temperature gauges added.

Electrical wiring largely renewed and mains connection added.

New waterproof glands added for all through deck electrical connections.

Compass light renewed.

Mast head tri colour light stripped, cleaned and reinstated.

Port, Starboard and Stern navigation lights and Steaming light renewed.

Both batteries replaced, 105 amp hour each, one starting, one deep cylcle.

New Icom DSC VHF radio installed.

New chart plotter installed with charts of all UK.

Original roller reefing boom replaced with slab reefing boom.

All Sails overhauled by Alverbank Sails Ltd of Derby. Slab reefing points added to main.

Mast and standing rigging inspected prior to rerigging by Richard Robinson, professional rigger and proprietor of Kildale Marine, Hull.

Guard rails totally renewed in stainless steel by Richard Robinson, Kildale Marine.

Cutter stay sail self tacking boom lengthened and tack repositioned to inner forestay.

Whale bilge pump overhauled with kit from Whale.

Heads totally overhauled with manufacturer’s overhaul kits.

New purpose made lee cloths added to port and starboard saloon berths.

Mainsail cover added (second hand but new condition).

3 x coats Marclear antifouling, workboat red, sourced via Eventide Owners Group.

Hydrovane self steering (second hand but previously unused, ie still boxed) fitted. Transom reinforced as necessary.



Some minor cosmetic work is still required. However Athaena is now as seaworthy as it would be reasonably possible for a boat of her age and type to be. All the above work has been been undertaken "up to the necessary quality" rather than "down to a price". Photographs of all the significant work are available.

As is the way of these things, much more money has been spent than the boat is probably worth on the open market!

  Here 'Athaena', the prototype Golden hind 26, is pulled into the dry dock.  It was believed 'Athaena' was the timber built plug, from which the mould was made for the double chined GRP GH26.  However she was in fact  simply a Athaena  design by  Maurice Griffiths , from which the GH26 developed...  Terry asked MG for a 26 foot boat and this is what he got.  See the fuller explanation and brochures on the GH pages.  Certainly the GH had a double chine and transom hung rudder, that the Athaena class and 'Athaena' her self did not have. 
  The water is being pumped in in this pic and the boat looks to be completed, so maybe these pictures are not all in number order...?  either way you get the general impression of her, and the proud owner!
  A slightly battered prop..
  This and a few more pics must be out of sequence, as clearly 'Athaena' looks nearly complete here..
  Here she is out in the yard with her hooped cover in place.
  nearing the end of the refit.
  In the dry dock being tidied up prior to refloating.
  It seems you cannot have too many ladders!
  In the drydock. 
  Engine removal
  Out in daylight to be accessed.
  Off to be overhauled.
  Working under cover.  Made from plastic pipe secured into the stanchion bases by the looks of it.
  Looks as if she is now hauled ashore.
  The cover hoops.
  Working under the tent.
  Epoxy goes on.
  Cabin top epoxied...
  You can see the bases of the hoops clearly here.
  Masking up to varnish and paint.
  Very careful masking saves a lot of work later.
  Nice grain, be a shame to paint that!
  Teak laid deck...
  all the joints being filled.
  The rudder.  Looks identical to an E26!  The inboard rudder version.
  Heavy weights to hold down the planks whilst gluing
  removing the masking tape as the epoxy gels..
  Attention to detail!
  re fastening the deck, a section being fitted.
  Fairing off.
  Now that looks better.
  Note the two levels on the cabin top..  makes her less 'boxy' looking.
  Replacing the teak decking.
  Sanding off the Epoxy with an orbital sander.  Great tools.
  Wet Epoxy.
  Routing out the seams for filler.
  Prepared ready for cloth.
  She is single chine, whereas the GH26 was double,  this is in fact simply the 'Athaena' design....   The MG Athaena was an E26 with a dual height cabin top.  Single chine and inboard rudder...
  You can clearly see the construction of the hooped frame here.


  Note the masking tape to stop the epoxy dribbling down onto the superstructures varnish work...
  Plenty of headroom..
  Room to work.
  Laying glass cloth on top before squegeeing epoxy on top.  This permeates through the cloth to seal and fill the weave as well.
  Nice pic showing how to join ply.  not you will note, on a beam, but the joint is halfway between beams.  the stopped screw holes show there is a butt joint under the deck.   sign of good woodworking.  Too many restorations fail because the owners try to join ply on beams or frames...
  Now here is the motor, fully reconditioned by the looks of it, sporting a new gearbox as well?
  The gearbox looks new anyway..
  The delicate operation to hoist it back aboard.
  Nearly back, lots of padding and care needed!
  Renovated prop and rope cutter.
  The bobstay going back on, and the bowsprit looks freshly varnished..
  The shipwright, Nick, waiting for the dry dock to be flooded.
  back in her element
  Gleaming !!
  Cameras ready!
  Gently coaxing her out.
  Lots of fenders....
  A libation for the bow!
  And one for all the workers
  Just waiting for the mast to be stepped.
  A river trip first...   the sailing comes later. 

John wrote to tell me he brought her down the Trent and stopped in hull.  longer than he really planned to, but there were all the facilities he needed there.  New slab reefing boom fitted, still lots to be sorted before the sea trials. hope to be able to report how that went in a later edition.  'Athaena' was in Hull for the 'Festival of the Sea' John says she was considered by many to be the prettiest boat there!