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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Swan Song - A Real Tribute

This weekend, during the lunch break for the Race Training Session, saw the launch of Swan Song – Heron 10309.

Originally named Kittiwake and built in 1957, the Heron was acquired by Donald Acklam over 20 years ago as a near wreck . It was an ongoing restoration project which continuously got delayed for Donald to carry out more urgent repairs and renovation projects for the boats of other Club Members.

He did, however, somehow find time to carry out a complete rebuild of the hull, replacing all the timbers with the exception of two stringers and a small section of the stem.

He incorporated a double-floor in the cockpit for additional buoyancy, (similar to the latest Butler FRP Heron), as well as a half-height built-in buoyancy tank in the bow and three-quarter length tank/seats port and starboard instead of traditional benches and buoyancy bags.

Rather than fit transom flaps, the hull floor was recessed to accommodate two self-bailers to facilitate drainage.

Work was halted in 2004 and no further activity undertaken until his death in December 2006, although he had said that he thought that finishing his Heron would be his last project.

Howard Chadwick and Donald’s son Richard asked Tim Gatti if he would complete the renovation of the Heron as a fitting tribute to Donald and the work he had put in on so many Club members’ boats over the years.

After many months of hard work repairing, sanding down, expoxying, painting, varnishing, and fitting-out and to many admiring glances as the work progressed, Kittiwake turned into Swan Song, which was felt to be, now, a more fitting name for it.

Following discussions with the Heron Association, in November 2007, on the extent of the rebuild undertaken - virtually the whole fabric of the dinghy has been replaced with new timbers and the structure changed to a modern ply/epoxy design, they agreed to register the hull as a new boat under its new name and to issue it with a new sail number.

When it arrived on Saturday it certainly looked magnificent, Tim had done Donald proud !!

With Richard Acklam in attendance, and Club members gathered around, it was launched with Donald’s traditional blessing of Newcastle Brown ( rather than champagne ), and then Tim and Tace sailed it in the brisk north easterly to show everybody what it could do.

Thank you Tim for all your hard work and efforts !

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