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Part II – Swan Song’s Reconstruction

Part I was the purchase of Swan Song as our Christmas present in 1998 after finding her high and dry in the mud and tall grass at Virgin Gorda Boat Yard.  Kevin Rowlette towed our new home to Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, where the celebrations began.  Dave and I both have January birthdays so following these festivities the serious work started.  Because Dave had a full time job, this reconstruction turned out to be a seven year project. 

Swan Song has a narrow house, 8’ inside, with covered side decks…nice for docking but we lose 4′ of beam in the saloon for the walk-around.  Swan Song originally had mast steps with all rigging attachment points, so we expect it was rigged as a motor-sailer.   The masts were placed without regard to the compression load they would carry so the decks became swimming pools.  We hauled her for six months.  Dave replaced all of the decking; he removed 17 thru hulls and fibreglassed the holes.  We added a full teak & stainless swim platform and extended the cockpit roof another five feet, thus fully covering it.

Dave barrier-coated the bottom, filled, faired and AWL gripped the hull, raising the water line 6” in anticipation of our “cruising load”, and dropped the rudder – putting in all new bushings, bearings and rudder shelf. Our windlass is a Lofrans 3500 lbs dead lift with dual 1/2" chain wildcats and a vertical rope drum. I think that it is so gorgeous, it belongs in the design section of MOMA.  We have 400′ 1/2" HT ACCO chain with an 88 lb. Delta anchor.  Our second anchor is a Fortress FX-85. We installed a 15 HP 12" Wesmar electric bow thruster with four G31 batteries in the bow to power it and the windlass.

Dave completely replaced the dry stack. He moved the muffler into the funnel on the boat deck and turned the exhaust manifold around on our single Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine so that it exits from the front. This eliminated 12′ of hot pipe & muffler from the engine room which cut the back pressure in half, better for two cycle engines, thus improving our fuel consumption.  We replaced all windows with custom Diamond SeaGlaze, 1/2" tempered/laminated glass units.  He then installed 16 GC batteries for the house and two 4 KW Trace sinewave inverters as well as a 10-kw generator. 

Another big project was switching to a “Fly-by-Wire” system that controls the engine, rudder, bow thruster and auto pilot – all via redundant data busses.  Swan Song has six  control stations – port /stbd in the pilothouse, boat deck, engine room, foredeck and stern. Also installed were four new bollards – two mid-ship and two on the foredeck.  The mid-ship bollard is at the pivot point allowing the boat to be sprung either fore or aft, depending on rudder & gear direction.

The interior was a three-cabin, three head layout with the galley “up” in the house.  We now have master and guest staterooms with heads.  The galley is “down” located in the old port bunk cabin.  This switch made a huge difference as I like having a galley separate from the living area.  We removed the wall and built a bar/pass-over.  We installed a 12 cu ft fridge with 2" extra insulation, dishwasher, trash compactor, micro/convection/broiler/toaster oven, three-burner LPG cook-top, double sinks with a water purifier and full Corian countertops – it is a dream.

In the master stateroom, he replaced the rotten bulkhead with a new one two feet further forward; this allowed a walk-around platform queen sized bed with lots of storage space underneath. He then added cabinets, two cedar closets and built bookshelves for my vast collection.  Using as much of the old cabinets, drawers, molding, etc. as possible we kept the original look while modernizing.  The master stateroom has a separate air-conditioning system, soft dimmer overhead lighting, individual reading lights, carpet, sound-proof insulation and is painted a lovely soft yellow.  All headliners were changed to a foam backed white vinyl on plywood panels, held with Velcro for easily removable service needs. They also deaden the sound of the engine. 

We lived aboard during most of this restoration but not without adversity.  Part III will include finishing up, sea trials and cruising to Venezuela.

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