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County Down Restoration of Swan 36 Yacht, Lofna

17th November 2021
Lofna with sign saying 'This boat is uninsured'
Lofna with sign saying 'This boat is uninsured'

In 2018 Co Down sailor Del Fairley made a wish list of boats to buy from which he would choose his favourite design, and top of the list was a Swan 36. His wife Gill knew nothing about this! But when Del discovered an unfortunate looking Swan 36 on the hard at East Down Yacht Club on the east coast of Strangford Lough, he jumped at the chance and had a look.

He was undeterred by the sorry state of the boat, which had the name 'Icon' on the transom. Del said, "Sitting on an old trailer in the yard was indeed a Swan 36. It was in a terrible state of repair, with torn covers revealing a white boat stained green by years of dirt. Closer inspection revealed the white paint on the hull had blistered, and a large sign had been taped onto the boat stating, "THIS BOAT IS UNINSURED" - a warning to keep away in case the rusting trailer collapsed. The nameplate on the transom said "Icon", although I was told she had been renamed, Seamróg which is Irish for shamrock. Not the lucky variety".

Lofna's aft deckLofna's aft deck (anobe and below her cockpit

In his view, the S&S Swan 36 offers a near-perfect combination of beautiful lines from the great Olin Stephens - sailing performance and quality fibreglass built by the now legendary Nautors yard while still retaining the looks of classic yachts of an earlier era. The most miniature S&S Swan is convenient for both sailing and yard facilities, but practicality aside, it also ticks the very important box marked "emotion".

 Inside Lofna's forward cabin Inside Lofna's forward cabin

A borrowed ladder gave access to the cockpit, which contained a dirty brown pond as leaves and moss blocked the drains. Over the years, soil had started to form on the deck and cockpit seats. Even grass had begun to grow. After the water drained from the cockpit, and as Del walked around the teak deck, he found it in surprisingly good condition. Despite the dirt, the quality of the deck fittings - which included six stainless steel Andersen Self Tailing winches was good. But unfortunately, she had lain in the boatyard for six years.

Lofna's interior as found(Above and below) Lofna's interior as found

Down below, conditions were much worse. The filthy water inside had been drained to the level of an open through-hull. Del continued, "I later learned the yardman had pulled out a transducer to reduce the weight of the water inside in case the trailer collapsed. Below this level, the boat was still filled with a toxic soup of rainwater, used engine oil, battery acid and dissolved flares. The Volvo Penta engine had been completely submerged, and six litres of dirty oil had floated out, forming an oily black internal waterline almost halfway up the saloon door. Even the air inside the boat was acrid and difficult to breathe, but despite everything, the potential of this boat was obvious (to me anyway)".

He continued, "I was prepared to take on a boat in "project" condition, and this one would need a complete refit, but the first and most crucial challenge was, of course, Gill herself! Fortunately, she was also able to see past the condition, and negotiations with the owner were quickly concluded. They bought the Swan in September 2018 – she had been launched in July 1968 as Lofna - a name they promptly decided to return to.

Lofna was the 21st boat built by the Nautor yard in Pietarsaari, Finland, which was started in 1966 by Finnish entrepreneur Pekka Koskenkylä. In 1996, Lofna was in French ownership and located in Mallorca when she was sold to a new English owner who renamed her Icon of Hamble. After 15 years in the same ownership and a major refit in England, she was sold to an Irish owner in April 2011 who called the boat Seamróig, although she was still badged as Icon.

So Lofna was relaunched in October 2018, and Del and Gill thought she would surely float, given how well the hull had kept water in and she was towed to the pontoon at Down Sailing Club at Ballydorn near Whiterock on Strangford Lough. Winter 2018/2019 was spent keeping the rain out while the inside was cleaned and stripped, and the following Spring, they used a borrowed trailer work to take her to the nearby Cadoo Boatyard.

By Autumn 2019, a new trailer had been built, and they set about moving Lofna 50 miles by road from Strangford Lough to the workshop run by Bryan Willis Marine in Larne. After an anxious October journey, Lofna arrived in Larne for the work to continue in the luxury of an indoor heated workshop. The plan is to relaunch Lofna in spring 2022.

Del had thought, "With the investment in time, effort and money so far, we could, of course, have bought a French production boat and just gone sailing, but for us, that would leave the "emotion" box sitting empty. We're still not sure if we found our next yacht or if she found us. Either way, we can't wait to set sail on Lofna and are very much looking forward to meeting other S&S Swan owners on the water in the years ahead".

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

Email The Author

Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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