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This is the story of the restoration of a 1965  Herbert woods cruiser, one of the golden light class. 

My wife and I  decided that we needed another boat, it would have to be a classic  wooden cruiser , it would need to be in a usable condition.

We found this one at Wayford Marine in February 2016,she was not as good as the pictures suggested but she was afloat which was a good sign and after taking  her for a quick spin down the river we made our offer.

Saturday the 5th March  we collected her from Wayford. At this point sensible boaters would probably make a few short trips to get the feel of a new vessel and build up confidence in  the engine and drive train. We however needed to be back in Lowestoft for teatime as it was our grandsons birthday. we cast off at 10am and headed off down the Ant, stopping briefly at  at Ludham bridge for quick photo opportunity. then down the Bure to Yarmouth straight over Braydon water along the Waveney arriving at Oulton broad yacht station by 5pm





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Next on the hit list is the hull, we have painted it a couple of times and although we have found no rot the joints between the planks do show signs of cracking which would indicate the caulking is ge

With the decks now repaired our attention turned to the cabin sides, we had already decided the dark brown Sadolin finish had to go but what is it hiding? we sanded the entire superst

The furniture gets sanded back to bare wood and varnished, everything we varnish gets sanded back with 80 grit sandpaper  to start, followed by 100, 180, and finally 240. After sanding we hoover the p

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Sunday the 6th March 2016

Our next step was to get her through the lock and lifted out so we could see what we have really bought and what needed to be done to get her usable for the summer.

We already new she needed new decks.  The aft cabin sides leaked so bad some one had fitted a gutter on the inside to direct water away from the bunks. the batteries were shot, and she  needed painting all over.


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Having only weekends to work on our new acquisition and just about 10 weeks to get her back in the water for the summer, I started in earnest on removing the old Trackmark and ply decks, the plan was to remove the decks completely, repair any deck timbers, install new 18mm marine grade ply cover that with three layers of 2oz glass fiber matt , form none slip panels in kiln dried sand painted over with international interdec paint.  plus make and install new rubbing strakes and toe rails.

At this point I will  mention I consider myself a  very lucky man, not only does my wife love varnishing and painting she is very good at it 

My wife would start sanding and prepping the hull, Antifouling below the waterline and varnish the transom.

 We hate the chocolate color Sadolin finish on the cabin sides  with a passion so it was going to have to go! We would sand it back to bare wood and see what we end up with?







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Hello Robin and welcome to the forum 

Now I may be mistaken here but iam pretty sure she used to be called September Dawn .I moored next door but one to her on broadsedge at stalham. I even had the pleasure in taking her down the Ant one day . Not a ripple in the wake and she was a dream to handle with the 2.2 BMC on tickover 

She was a lovely boat then and iam she will soon be back up there- thanks for sharing 


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Hi Finny

You are correct, she was  called September Dawn at one point , when we took over her ownership she was named Wood Nymph we didn't really like the name so we have called her Kingfisher. 

 I have had the pleasure a couple of times  of meeting the  owner from when she was called September Dawn.

You are not wrong about her being easy to handle, Herbert woods new a thing or two about wooden boat design, and if i could chose any setup of  engine/gearbox combination for a Woodie it would be the Bmc 2.2 with a Borg Warner gearbox, and with the wright prop the low end torque   is to die for.


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13 hours ago, Robin said:


Maurice Mynah will no doubt notice the "snore hole"!


52 minutes ago, Robin said:

Herbert woods new a thing or two about wooden boat design,

And you can see why she doesn't make a wash.  A lovely entry at the bow and we can see how the chine (and the bottom) rises right up to the waterline at the transom. This means the water flows cleanly away from the bottom and does not curl up around the stern.  Most Broads cruisers make more wash from the stern than they do from the bow. 

I think one of your photos shows she has a yacht type "balanced" rudder.  Another typical Herbert Woods feature which makes for very good handling.

A lovely boat and it is great to see her in good hands.

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Hi Vaughan

Yes she has a Broads Yacht type rudder and in addition the termination of the keel with its cutaway sections make her a dream going astern on tickover.

DSCF2809 (2).JPG

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This is from Blakes catalogue of 1968.

She is shown as Herbert Woods, but the alterations to the prices were done by my father, when he was setting the prices for the 1969 catalogue.  This means that some or all of the class were transferred to Thorpe in 1969, when the Jenners operation was bought by Woods.  She would have been transferred back to Potter when Jenners closed in 1971 - I think it was.

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Interesting to know she may have been in the Jenners fleet for a time,and based at Thorpe.my wife and i have a soft spot for Thorpe but that tale is for another day.

One of the reasons we bought the boat was its originality, we have kept the layout as per the catalogue with just a couple of minor tweaks,


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We were now in a position to get her inside the workshop which will allow us to work in the evenings as well.
Generally the deck beams were in good condition with the exception of an aft section up against the cabin sides.



We were lucky that there was an original  scarf joint about a meter from the transom which I could join to. 

(A scarf joint needs to be at least six times the length of  the thickness of the timber being jointed for maximum strength.)

We were now ready to install the 18mm marine grade ply BS1088.  I use one called Robbins Elite 

The stuff you can buy in your local builders merchant may be stamped BS1088 however there is no guarantee it will not delaminate in damp conditions.

genuine marine grade plywood sheets for boat use are 2500mm long as apposed to the builders ply at 2440mm long.  Not a lot of people know that! ( Michael Cain)



The ply was cut to size, painted on the underside and screwed down on a bed of Butyl rubber mastic which doesn't set and forms a flexible watertight joint however it is very messy to work with if you are not careful.

The more observant will have noticed the hull has been filled and undercoated.

Next the deck covering.  I wanted a fully waterproof covering with no joints which when painted had a traditional painted look.

I opted for fiberglass a setup i have used in the past which worked well.




Having first rounded the edge of the deck, filled in the screw heads we applied a coat of Polyester resin and let it set, this was then covered with 3 x layers of 2oz chop strand matt consolidated with resin all topped off with polyester flow coat. note this finish wraps over the edge of the deck which in turn will be covered by the rubbing strake.

The deck is sanded flat. Then we mask off any areas we don't want covering with the none slip covering. IE under the toe rails, the cant rails and any deck fittings.

The deck is now painted with interdec and kiln dried sand is heavily applied before the paint has had a chance to dry. It doesn't matter how thick you put the sand on  as the paint will only soak up evenly. When dry just brush off the sand and the deck  is ready to paint.




The whole thing is now painted with the desired finish.




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With the decks now repaired our attention turned to the cabin sides, we had already decided the dark brown Sadolin finish had to go but what is it hiding?



we sanded the entire superstructure back to bare wood and was pleasantly surprised she was in better nick than expected, four quick coats of Epifanes varnish and she was looking presentable. while  my wife had the varnish brush out it would have been a shame not to attack the transom.


With the transom looking good we added her name. 

You can see on the aft bulkhead a brass number 5 from her hire days, this will be retained.


Getting ready for the summer we put in new batteries, finished fitting the deck fittings, fitted the rubbing strakes and antifouled her bottom, inside we had a quick spring clean and we were ready to go.

DSCF2454.thumb.JPG.2877d585aef87f362945dc869ce5b4e3.JPG DSCF2455.thumb.JPG.03fcdc319f9c40ee3400692d05460c21.JPG



It was now May 2016 and we were determined  to enjoy the broads in all her glory, and visit as many  river side hostelries as possible.


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I think that was just an appetiser. .. only 850 photos to go :default_biggrin:

I am in the very lucky position of knowing what's coming next and I am still really excited to see this thread put together. 



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Janet Anne, your not wrong.

You cant get rid of me that easy. If I may quote Magnus Magnusson " that was your starter for ten"

Just a bit about our summer afloat aboard  our new boat, we managed to use her every weekend from when we launched her In  May through to November including two separate week long holidays with our children and their families.

We were very  lucky to get an invite to our first Beccles Wooden boat rally, what a brilliant  weekend that was! I must just say you will not find a more friendly and welcoming group of people anywhere on this  planet. 

This event seems to be expanding every year. I cant remember who suggested it first, but the meet at Oulton Broad yacht station  on a Thursday with a cruise in company on the Friday to Beccles has proved to be a fantastic addition, there is even a rumor the northern river attendee's  are planning a barbeque meet  on the Wednesday evening at the Stracey Arms this year, and a cruise in company to Oulton on the Thursday, This would be another brilliant addition.

We only need two more venues for the Monday and Tuesday (suggestions on a postcard) and we could have an entire week  afloat.

What a spectacular sight that would be! 

I mentioned earlier a soft spot for Thorpe so whenever we get the opportunity we head that way for a meal in the Rushcutters. The explanation  for this I will need  to take you back to August 1975, I was working as an apprentice boatbuilder in Lowestoft, and on a Friday I attended college along with other apprentice boatbuilders from around the area all trying to gain our City & Guilds qualifications, one lad in particular Danny from Hearts cruisers would invite  us over for a night out in the big city. One night in question we were in the "Boat and Bottle" now called The Rushcutters. I got chatting to  a very nice young lady from Yorkshire and as it turned out she was on holiday with her family who had hired a boat from Hearts cruisers and were due to return it in the morning.

That night this girl stole my heart and has kept it safe ever since. We married in 1977 and as they say the rest is history.


 Now back to our plans for Kingfisher.

 When we bought her she was showing signs of her age, Being built in 1965 she would have been  one of the last  all wooden boats destined  for the hire industry, and as such would  probably only had  a life expectancy of 25 years.

All the work to date  with the exception of the decks was really just a quick tart up while we decided which way to proceed.

Now some 50 years old she is going to need a complete refit sooner rather than later, so over the summer we had got to know our boat pretty well inside and out,  I came up with an estimate for the work needed of 4000 hours give or take.

Option 1, remove her from the water and completely restore her in one hit over several years However the biggest risk is loosing interest halfway through because of the enormity of the task in hand.

Option 2,   divide the work into five phases, effectively taking her out of the water in November complete as much work as possible (weekends only) and return her to the water in May, and enjoy our summers afloat. repeat for five years, (simple) This option is a lot more tricky trying to keep her useable through out. however you do get a big  boost of enthusiasm every summer with  time to take stock and  plan the next phase.

Optoin 2 IT IS.

November 2016 Phase 1

We are going to start in the main cockpit area, engine and gearbox out and assess, remove all the furniture, and restore, floor bearers removed, remove the water tank, fuel tank, hot tank,  bulkheads, shower Toilet, forward toilet, floor bearers, strip out all pluming pipework and electrical cables.

I will start with the engine but a lot of the other work will be going ahead at the same time.

We knew she ran well and didn't smoke at all which is a good sign.







I mentioned earlier I love the BMC 2.2 and Borg Warner setup, and as far as I could tell it was the original engine which had had some interesting upgrades over the years, It has a 2.5 starter motor and a more modern injector pump which I am reliably informed is far superior compared to the old type.

We did however discover a issue during the summer, we had extremely high oil pressure 50psi on tick over and 80 to 100psi at 1200revs, she also had two oil leaks one from the front of the crank and one from the rear behind the flywheel. to get to the rear felt seal the crank would need to be removed.

The strip down






Once stripped we found the internals to be in extremely good condition, she had at some point been bored out to + 40thou that is the max so a re-bore is out of the question however I could still see the honing marks on the bores, The crank journals were at +40 as well  but not a mark on them.

I decided she would live on and be rebuilt. the only thing I couldn't get my head round was the high oil pressure? the oil pressure switch wasn't sticking. The oil pump on the bmc  is a gear type so if it wears you loose pressure not gain it. 


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2 hours ago, Robin said:


We only need two more venues for the Monday and Tuesday (suggestions on a postcard) and we could have an entire week  afloat.

What a spectacular sight that would be! 


I love it when people volunteer :default_biggrin:

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With the engine removed and striped we can now start the strip out of the center cockpit or if you prefer the saloon. 

Under the floor currently is a large stainless steel water tank which will be turned into a waste tank. I will explain why later. 




With the tank removed and off for modification we press on with the removal of all the floor bearers and associated timbers, we use sawdust to soak up any oily bilge residue, not the best of jobs.

The entire hull will be scraped back and  any bare wood will be primed then two coats of Danboline bilge paint will be applied. Grey below the chine and white above.

Next to go are the electrics the best description i can give is basic.


A lot of early boats were wired with a positive earth, our Golden light was one of them, I  will be going for a more modern negative earth setup.  I would not class myself as an electrical expert my any stretch of the imagination. over the years I have seen many horror stories so when I can I  completely rewire, My batteries are under the helm and the main panel will be  in same location as before.

I'm not really keen on inverters so to keep it simple I intend to install a shore supply straight to a small consumer unit which will feed a ring main for normal sockets, an  inline battery charger and an immersion heater. everything else  will be 12volt.

A  dash panel with all new gauges is my starting point.


To keep things tidy and keep cables out of the bilge area I generally fit cable trays and use cable ties to hold the cables in place. its easy to add cables at a later date when needed, this is probably a throwback from my shipbuilding days.




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Next item on the strip out list are the Bulkheads, eventually they will all have to go but for now we will concentrate on the aft of the center cockpit along with the aft shower/heads (toilets).

The bulkheads in our boat are made from chipboard clad on both sides with a type of Formica, if I remember correctly this product was called Bounty board it was introduced as the boatbuilding industry was quickly turning to fiberglass built boats. The Golden lights are the only wooden boats I have come across to date  which have this type of bulkhead, probably as they were the last of the woodies produced in any numbers, at a time when all were going for fiberglass and looking for quicker build methods.

These boards had a predicted shelf life of about 25 plus years, so with ours making it through to 50 years must be seen as a result. not for us though as ours disintegrate in your hand with only the Formica faces holding them up.





The main bulkheads will be put back in exactly the same location however the shower will be moved slightly and we will sacrifice a small cupboard in the interest of a improved layout.



Earlier in the post I mentioned the large water tank which will be modified and used as a big waste tank. you will see from the pictures the old style toilet that sits straight on top of a small tank. The forward heads has the same set up. You can imaging how often you need to have a small tank pumped out and when you have two they obviously  charge you double. hence the rational of one large tank. Also   when used the toilets themselves don't seal  particularly  well  so you often get an unpleasant odor throughout  the boat. 

We intend to install two Temac all singing all dancing electric macerator types.

The selection of the new bulkhead material is a bit of a quandary, we are not that keen on Formica for this style of boat so a varnished ply is the preferred option, now I would love to put in a marine grade Rotary cut Sapele from Robbins but at over £350 per sheet, and if we stick with the same throughout the refit we would need 18 sheets. we opt for the Robbins Elite range which is nearer the £150 price range, Still eye watering These sheets are  made from a member of the  Mahogany family called Gaboon and  when fitted these will get 3 coats of Epifanes classic mahogany stain followed by 4 coats of Epifanes hi gloss varnish. 


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I see you had/have the standard Herbert Woods bright orange hull finish :default_biggrin:

They must have bought it by the tanker load.. here's mine sporting the same hue


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