Beautement Books logo
Restorations - eg ship Ilen

The Restoration of Boats and Ships - such as the Heritage Trading Ketch A. K. Ilen


2018 June

     Lastly, in case you missed it, the ship ‘A K ILEN’ was launched in June and is now being fitted out, ready for its return to the City of Limerick in September 2018. A fantastic achievement - I have been proud to assist in a small way. She certainly looks very special (photo credit: Kevin O’Farrell). More on the story here on X twitter, and at the Ilen Boat School here.


Click the image to see a video of the A. K. Ilen’s first voyage down to Baltimore, Ireland in 2018 - wonderful ;-)

Credits: (C) 2018 Paul Fuller, Photographer and Film-maker


2016 September

     As the opportunity came along to help finish decking out the ‘Ilen’, a 56-foot wooden boat I have mentioned before - I went off to Hegarty’s Boatyard in south-west Ireland with my small sailing boat in tow. It’s always worth visiting there as there is much of interest to see every time (such as small wooden boat renovations, trawler refits and so on). But the main focus is the Ilen renovation. Here are a couple of photos showing the deck before and after decking. The deck planks are of Douglas Fir, about 2 inches (5cm) thick and about 3 inches (7.5cm) wide fixed with ‘cut’ galvanised nails. The three photos below show the nearly finished result; the deck beams readied for planking and a view of the ‘joggling’ where the nose of the planks meet the larch cover boards at the sides; and lastly a close up of the tip of the plank and of the gaps left between the planks for caulking and where the nail hole plugs will go. The deck is going to be painted.


The decking complete and the bowsprit and port side stanchions in place.



Views of the Ilen’s deck beams and the decking underway.



Details of the butt joints and ‘joggling’ at the ends of the planks.


2017 August and September

     My ‘Tideway’ 12-foot sailing dinghy needed a bit of TLC (I purchased the boat second-hand in 2014 to sail on my local rivers, the Avon and the Severn in the UK). Last year, see below, she was part of the Douarnenez ‘Temps-Fete’ boat Festival in Brittany, western France. And in 2015 she was sailing off the coast of Ireland. In all cases the boat leaked more than I though appropriate. So I decided this year to turn the boat over and investigate.


The Tideway-style sailing dinghy ‘Swan’ in Douarnenez’s harbour, France, in 2016.

     The reason for the leak turned out to be a faulty plank lap in the turn of the bilge - plus some of the laps on the other planks had not been correctly bevelled. Somewhat reluctantly, on such a classic little ‘Swallows and Amazons’ boat, I decided that some careful epoxy filleting was required.


The underside of Swan after adding epoxy fillets (2017).

     I started by removing loose putty filler at the laps with a triangular scraper and then the various layers of paint with a heat gun. I found that some of the copper fixings needed attention too before I filleted with epoxy. I then sanded, sealed, undercoated and applied a top coat in blue. The white edging is yet to be painted, but the end result is good. The boat is now stronger and I’m sure it won’t leak (! ... it didn’t). This is not a class-compliant Tideway so I have been tinkering with the rigging (mainly so there is a little more room under the boom). I have also added some weight to the centreboard and dealt with a leak where the centreboard case meets the keel. Now that it’s all done I hope to squeeze in a quick sail on one of the English lakes before the winter sets in to find out how much the adjustments change the boat’s behaviour.


[As at 07 Nov 2023]