Restoration of classic motor yacht Havengore
Fox’s was delighted to welcome Havengore back to the yard this year for her ongoing restoration work and annual MCA survey. This was the fourth year in succession that the classic, ex Port of London survey vessel, best known for her role in transporting the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill at his funeral in 1965, has returned to Fox’s from her berth at St Katharine Docks, where she continues to offer corporate hospitality and is often called upon to take part in ceremonial duties on the River Thames.
Havengore’s first visit to Fox’s was in January 2014 and since then she has returned to the yard each winter, with her experienced and enthusiastic owner, Chris Ryland, gaining trust and reassurance in the range of services and skills available at Fox’s.
In December 2015 it was identified that a section of the beam shelf was in need of repair and having removed the relevant sections of 1” thick solid, teak deck it was quickly established that much of the original beam shelf, carlin and deck beams were in need of attention. With various deck fittings, including the heavily worked fairleads and mooring bollards allowing water ingress, the original oak structure was suffering with significant softening and decay.
That season it was agreed to limit the extent of repairs to the portside midships only, allowing Havengore to return to commission and complete various essential duties on the Thames. However, with a significant amount of work identified, a second more extensive period of restoration was inevitable and in conjunction with annual refit requirements and the required MCA survey work, it was agreed this would start in January 2017 and run on for much of this year.
Having made the day passage from St Katharine Docks to Fox’s Marina, Havengore was hauled – a complex operation that involves a 60’ long and 2’ deep custom made steel lifting beam and a team of five divers to ensure the 85’ hull is well supported along her length and any point loading avoided. With the Fox’s marina team working in conjunction with tide, dive team and the 70 tonne hoist, Havengore was carefully lifted ashore and laid up undercover in one of the yard’s workshops.
With staging in place, the teak decking and covering boards were removed to allow complete access to the beam shelf and associated structure – with many of the beautiful 1” x 3.5” teak deck planks lifting intact, a plan was drawn up and each and every plank labelled to allow correct refitting and/or replacement as required.
The original beam shelf, running around the vessel’s shear, was a substantial 6” x 8” oak section, originally made up in either a single or two halves and steamed into the tighter sections. With water ingress and a mix of old rubbing strake fastenings the original steamed oak shelf and beam-ends were all suffering and the decision made to completely replace all affected timber.
Hull shell planking is a relatively light 5/8” double diagonal teak on steamed oak frames that relies on the substantial shelf, stringers and other structure for support. With the deck beam ends also having to be removed, a system of temporary laminated formers, braces, jacks and tension straps were designed and set up to ensure that the original dimensions of hull and deck form were neither lost or disturbed. With a significant amount of new oak and teak ordered, the process began in stages, alternating port and starboard/forward and aft ensuring adequate structure was maintained throughout. All new timber sections were laminated as required, with the tighter sections aft requiring up to 20 laminates to create the necessary form.
Having re established a sound shelf around the entire sheer line, new deck beams/part beams ends were fitted, copying the original half dovetail joint outboard, with glued and bolted scarph joints into sound deck beams as required. The original tie rods had also suffered, particularly outboard where they passed through the beam shelf, so these were also replaced allowing the new structure to be securely clamped together. Combined with all new fabricated stainless backing plates, knees and brackets in way of loaded deck fittings and other equipment, this all new deck structure was faired off for the next stage and teak decking to be re-laid and fastened.