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Clontarf Yacht Restoration to Feature on this Week's Big DIY Challenge on RTE 1  

31st May 2021
Ten day wonder – the brightly-restored Westerly Centaur Erisky is lifted out of her refit berth in Clontarf Y & BC's crowded boatyard after fulfilling a project within the RTE Ronseal Big DIY Challenge
Ten day wonder – the brightly-restored Westerly Centaur Erisky is lifted out of her refit berth in Clontarf Y & BC's crowded boatyard after fulfilling a project within the RTE Ronseal Big DIY Challenge

When you see the projects which have been featuring on the Big DIY Challenge sponsored by Ronseal and hosted by comedian and Dun Laoghaire lifeboat crewman P J Gallagher on RTE 1 every Thursday at 8.30 pm, you'll have marvelled at how much the competitors can achieve within the pressures imposed by the crazy contest's ten days time limit. But it's unlikely you'll have thought that anything but the smallest boat modification could have been fitted into the Challenge's strict time restrictions and other rules.

Erisky up against it. Though she looked relatively unscathed after breaking her moorings and coming ashore at Contarf Baths in the Autumn of 2019, Erisky had broken off one of her twin keels, and she was a complete mess inside.Erisky up against it. Though she looked relatively unscathed after breaking her moorings and coming ashore at Contarf Baths in the Autumn of 2019, Erisky had broken off one of her twin keels, and she was a complete mess inside.

The Sailing Family Smyth – Trevor and Krissi Smyth and their kids with his mother Bridget and the vintage IDRA 14 ChloeThe Sailing Family Smyth – Trevor and Krissi Smyth and their kids with his mother Bridget and the vintage IDRA 14 Chloe

Yet the Smyth sailing family of Clontarf – well known for their successes in dinghies and cruiser-racers – thought otherwise. For they'd already brought the very tired IDRA 14, Chloe of 1969 vintage, back to life as a lockdown project, which taught them how much could be achieved with a focused approach. And now Trevor and Krissi Smyth and their friend Orla Doogue were looking thoughtfully at the 50-year-old 26ft Westerly Centaur Erisky (named for the Scottish Hebridean island which had inspired the film Whisky Galore), for Erisky was a formidable yet fascinating restoration project.

Before the saloon could be restored, it had to be completely cleared and cleaned, and the smell of diesel eliminated   Before the saloon could be restored, it had to be completely cleared and cleaned, and the smell of diesel eliminated  

It's getting late, it's getting dark, and it's getting cold, but the core team of Trev, Orla and Krissi have just completed a massive evening's workIt's getting late, it's getting dark, and it's getting cold, but the core team of Trev, Orla and Krissi have just completed a massive evening's work.   

The classic twin-keeler had come ashore at Clontarf Baths after breaking her moorings in a late season south-easterly storm, and though she looked superficially okay with her hull largely intact, one of her twin keels had been broken off, and the mess within the hull was everywhere, with the suffocating smell of diesel in every nook and cranny.

When they started, the forecabin was a smelly hellhole, but this is how it was after the ten day DIY ChallengeWhen they started, the forecabin was a smelly hellhole, but this is how it was after the ten day DIY Challenge  

Before the project, Erisky's 50-year-old cockpit was looking distinctly tired, but it too was brought back to lifeBefore the project, Erisky's 50-year-old cockpit was looking distinctly tired, but it too was brought back to life

It was a job that could have gone on for an entire winter, but who wants to spend every winter weekend reeking of diesel and dirt? It was then that the Ronseal Challenge was publicized, and this was both the spur to action and the framework for some very concentrated pre-planning and definition of daily objectives, not least of the problems being that everyone was so keen on getting it completed that "labour optimisation" – preventing people getting in each other's way as the work rapidly progressed – was a continuous necessity.

The dream fulfilled - Erisky on her first sail in 2021The dream fulfilled - Erisky on her first sail in 2021

Well, they did it – Erisky is looking better than ever, and this past sunny weekend, she was out and about family cruising. But if you still wonder at just how it could all be done in only ten days flat, the Ronseal Big DIY Challenge will show you on RTE 1 this Thursday (June 3rd at 8.30 pm).

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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