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The uncomfortable 1960's layout allowed for a 'blank sheet' approach to refitting.


Witch was surveyed in 2006 when Alistair Randall took her over. The surveyor (Hugh Lamb) reported:-
"This vessel appears to have been well looked after over the years, and she was obviously well built initially, of first class materials, for her to have lasted this length of time".

The only serious issue was part of the stem had gone soft and was damaged when she was lifted. This was all made good and a stem band was fitted.

Externally, Witch was in good condition but many aspects of her construction had got tired. Internally, she suffered from the radical changes that were made in 1963 and almost nothing remained of the layout or furnishings of her original conversion in 1918. The vast storage lockers contained much unusable space and her roomy interior was more cramped and less comfortable than is possible.

The refit of the saloon could only be done once it was certain that the underlying hull was in perfect condition. The initial work was to check the hull inside and out and to rectify any problems found.

On investigation, it was found that all the floor bolts had gone weak and the nuts just sheared off when undone. This meant they all had to be replaced, including the ones under the engine. Once the engine was removed, two keel bolts were also replaced. The floors were sent away to be re-galvanized.

The diesel tank had no inspection hatch or drain tap. When it was removed to have these fitted it was found that the fuel was contaminated with the diesel bug. The system was cleaned through and an inhibitor will be used when it is refilled.

The problem of where to put the gas bottles was resolved with a lazarette on the stern deck. A stainless steel box was specially made and fitted with a drain to the outside of the hull.

The cracking deckaplex was stripped and the underlying wood is so attractive that Coelan was used to allow it to be seen. There is a nice patina of age and wear that can be seen through the new finish.

All deck fittings have been re-galvanised. The feet of the pulpit had to be repaired before this could be done.

The pitch change mechanism on the propellor was so worn that much engine power must have been lost and a propellor blade was in danger of falling off. The propellor could not be salvaged and a new one was found.

The saloon design is intended to reflect the small elements of the 1918 interior that remained, with mouldings on the joinery. Cupboard fronts will have rattan centres to give a period feel and to allow ventilation. Modern necessities such as a navigation desk and instruments have been added. A laptop shelf allows paper charts to be used at the same time as the chartplotter software from Maptech.

A renovation such as this always uncovers more than you expect, so the finishing in a period style had to wait for a year. In the meantime, the difference to the seaworthiness and comfort was already marked. There is much peace of mind to be had from knowing that every nut, bolt and piece of timber has been inspected and replaced as necessary.

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