Lemster Zeekruiser 28
Steel Sloop build in Holland in 1964
Displacement: 4400 Kg
Lead Ballast: 1500 Kg
Sail area: 36m2
The first project : 2003 – 2006
Time has now come to talk a little about the “Troll project”. Years have passed since the first boat refit. Much inexperienced in boat matters, I had no idea what a huge undertaking was to refit an old boat. My readings of Bernard Moitessier had convinced me that I had to find a steel boat with a long keel. I was then based in Corfu Island and the boatyards were full of GRP boats. Most of them were much over my budget and I didn’t fancy at all the “plastic fantastic” modern style cruisers. After a few months of search, I finally found the “rare pearl”. It was love at first sight ! She was lying at the back end of a boat yard and seemed abandoned. The main hatch was left open and inside, the floorboards were floating in a filthy bath of water and diesel. Actually, the boat was not for sale at all. She was certainly going to be cut off and given away as scrap metal ! It took me a while to found out the owner. When we finally met, this man didn’t want to sell the boat. He said she was too old and couldn’t be refitted. But I insisted and finally got her for a few thousand euros.
Her lines were beautiful and she was strongly build. In other words, a real classic from another age (1964). I was convinced I could do the refit myself and sail her again. Nevertheless, I had some “expert” advises. But most of the people who came to examine her told me to abandoned this mad project. Very few people were going to support me in this adventure.
I cracked on the project convincing my partner at the time that we could do it in a year or two and then go sailing around the world. But things didn’t went exactly the way I was planning. I found that some parts of the hull were totally corroded and we had to replace big sheets of metal. I asked some local welders to help me cutting off the rotten parts with an oxygen acetylene torch.
The interior accommodation was so rotten that I ended up using a crowbar to take off everything. It was the only way to have an overall view of the hull.
The bilges were largely rusted due to the rainwater which was dripping into the boat.
The engine situated under the companionway was an old Mercedes coming from a taxi. It was a total mess ! I gave it for free to some Gypsies who were very grateful.
After clearing up everything, I discovered the fine structure of the hull. She was indeed from another age. A time when shipbuilders were real masters. Of course it was a bit rusty but mainly in the bilges. The rest of the hull was looking in perfect condition. This was certainly due to the high quality of the steel used in the 60’s in Holland. It is well known that Dutch yards have the best reputation for building steel hulls. And in 1964, steel was not “made in China”!
I did some research on the subject and understood that the steel had been completely galvanised ! I don’t think any yard use this process anymore. It consist mainly of hot zinc sprayed all over the hull. Consequently, sandblasting was not an option. The only logical approach was to start sanding the old painted areas and prime them with a good marine alkyd paint.
The sheets which had been replaced were ground to bare metal and painted temporary with rust primer. On the picture below you can see the holes for the log and depth sounder.
In the bilge area, I used the same rust primer (Owatrol C.I.P.) Later, those areas were painted with two parts epoxy paint.
At the front deck, a stainless steel tube was welded to allow the anchor chain to slide into a locker below.
The amateur welder’s accessories. A lot of fire works and some burns were part of the game !
All the inside of the hull was finally painted. It was the last step before rebuilding the accommodation. I must admit that my ex-partner did helped me a lot with those inside jobs.
Before insulating the whole boat, bulkheads of 15 mm marine plywood were bolded to the frames. The interior was then insulated with 3 to 4 cm high density foam. Each sheet was pushed in between the frames. Those sheets were not glued in order to keep an easy access to any part of the hull.
Insulating a metal boat is an absolute necessity in order to avoid any condensation. It also gives a very cosy and dry interior. The secret is to insulate just 20cm under the water line and keep the bilges at water temperature. This helps to regulate the inside temperature. In winter the sea water is often warmer than the outside air and in summer it is the opposite.
Most plywood sheets used for the benches were drilled with a hole saw to permit ventilation under the mattresses.
The Jabsco marine toilet was only fitted the second year after launching. At first I didn’t want to have two more holes under the waterline, but it ended up been an important upgrade ! Especially for the ladies who joined me on my further trips.
The front bed was nice and comfortable.
The saloon area, with a little folding table on the main bulkhead and plenty of storage lockers.
The galley was equipped with a deep stainless sink and two gas burners on gimbals.
Two compasses were installed inside: one to be watched when lying on the starboard bench and another at the chart table. The fan is also a “must have accessory” when sailing under hot climates !
A large folding chart table for those who still like to use paper charts !
The electrical panels and electrical wiring on “Troll” was very basic and simple.
Two 90 Amps batteries were enough for the engine and domestic consumptions. An extra 55 Amps battery was fitted just for the VHF.
Concerning the engine issues, I could write a whole chapter but I will make it short. At first the boat came with this old rusty Mercedes which was obviously out of service. After that, a second hand Volvo Penta MD11D was fitted. But those very tough machines have a weak point: a direct cooling system with sea water. When they get old, they tend to overheat. The engine was dismantled partly and the main block cleaned.
After a few years of service, it was over heating again. I had to find another engine. What is on the picture below is a brand new 3 cylinder Solé Diesel. The basic block is Mitsubishi and one of the marine conversions is made by Solé in Barcelona. Much lighter than the Volvo, the boat lost 150kg which was a great improvement !
On deck, an anti-slip paint was used. I found Interdeck just perfect for the job. It is a single part alkyd paint which permits to be recoated at any time. On a very old steel boat, some areas like the deck must continuously be maintained. Therefore, it is wise to use a single part paint.
The mast step on this old Dutch design is fitted with a tabernacle. This system permits to lower the mast at any time and to pass under bridges in the canals. Needless to say that the stainless steel of this device is extremely robust.
The magnificent wooden mast was made out of Sitka Spruce and laminated with West System epoxy. An aluminium mast was about to be installed but I finally choose to keep the classic spirit of the boat. The truth is that the wooden mast was much more flexible than aluminium. And nearly 15 years later, the mast is still standing up proudly and carrying up the sails !
More than 10 coats of varnish were applied with love.
New sail were ordered from Quantum Greece. And a spray hood was made in Corfu by Giatras Boat Covers.
The standing rigging was fixed with Norseman endings and over dimensioned Blue Wave chromed bronze bottle screws. Those were provided by Meltemi Yacht Rigging in Athens.
The cockpit wasn’t very large but well protected.
A small Navik wind vane was later added on the stern. A great piece of gear which was a very reliable friend when singlehanded.
After 3 years of hard work: I launched Troll in the summer 2006.
The rebirth of a bullet proof classic yacht.
Bless her !