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I have been keen to see A89 Colchide in the flesh for some time now. (Check out her history at https://a89colchide.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/fairey-atalanta-a89-colchide). I met up with Richard James and Martin Bennett at Suffolk Yacht Harbour on 1st December to watch her being lifted out of the water. Before the list I had the opportunity to get a good look around Colchide’s interior and was impressed with the smooth and gleaming paintwork and space – she has very little in the form of lockers and shelving above the berths. The anchor is stored inside the forepeak and moved to the deck when required – Richard and I mused on the suitability of this arrangement for the East Coast. For the last thirty years or more prior to Richard’s ownership Colchide had been day-sailed on Lake Geneva.
Perhaps partly because of he previous fresh water life and also down to meticulous maintenance, everything in the bilge was very clean and tidy. The keel metalwork all looked to be in fine shape although a sticking port keel is going to be investigated this winter.
In the journey from Colchide’s berth to the (rather oversized 75 ton) hoist I got to play with the rather vague hydraulic gear and throttle levers. The 1972 Farymann engine is mounted backwards and bolted to a massive hydraulic drive that turns a rather small two bladed folding prop. See Richard’s separate post about this – Martin Bennett referred to it as an ‘egg-whisk’. Getting more drive is one of the top job’s on Richard’s list for the winter with the help of a new 3 bladed fixed prop provided by Martin. Martin also had some colourful comments about the water-trap / silencer in the wet exhaust system – it is an Eberspacher heater silencer in stainless steel. Richard is considering adding the missing swan (goose?) neck to the exhaust system and replacing the Eberspacher unit at the same time.
Whilst Richard winterised the engine I had a good look around underneath the hull. The gleaming insides of the keel cases were remarkable. The weave of the Marglas sheathing could be seen at the bottom edge of the cases. The Marglas has been a major success – protecting the insides of the keel cases and hull and providing topsides which are still as smooth and fair as a fibreglass hull.
After helping fit her winter covers we left. Colchide is a remarkable Atalanta in amazing condition for her age thanks to Bernard’s care and attention to detail in her original build and the care lavished on her since.
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