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HEATHER returns for a Birthday

March 28, 2014

HEATHER is a 12 ton Gauntlet built in 1935 for HW Goodwin; she was build number 467 and was the 3rd 12 ton Gauntlet to be built of the 16 by Berthon between 1934 and 1939.


She was purchased late in 2013 by her new owner, and with the survey showing a number of areas that needed attention she is back to Berthon for a bit of tender loving care to make her ready for the 2014 season.

Gauntlet HEATHER - Covered to keep moisture in

Above shows HEATHER in camping mode at Berthon; the reason for this is to retain moisture in the structure, water is sprayed onto the hull regularly.

With the Structural Survey being the starting point of the jobs list we started work on the Hood Ends. The owner wanting to retain as much originality in the yacht as possible, this is well illustrated in the work being carried out on the Hood Ends; rather than removing the whole plank the Shipwright is removing the rotten pieces, then scarfing the joint (using a router tool and jig to chamfer the good end of the plank ready for a new piece to be fitted). Yes this is more time consuming than replacing a full plank, but it retains the originality of the yacht and has been agreed with the surveyor as a light touch approach.

We have glued the scarf joint joining the existing plank to the new ‘end’, maintaining the original caulked seam on the plank edges and at the stem rebate, the plank/stem seam has been primed with paint and then caulked with boat cotton as original: This method preserves as much of the original material as possible, if Berthon had used butt straps or butt blocks in replacing the hood ends, longer sections of perfectly good planking would have been removed that could disturb the structure of the vessel. Also there are no linings fitted to the boat in this area meaning the butt straps or blocks would have been visible.


Moving inside HEATHER we are paying attention to wooden frames, steel floors and metal fastenings. The frames are being repaired by scarfing new sections of iroko. Note that the frames are sistered (ie overlapping) using grown oak originally because laminating was either very expensive or the resins not long lasting enough. Also it allowed separate sections of grown oak to be used for the reverse turn of the bilge. As part of the survey it was suggested that some fastenings from the floor/frames connections were removed for inspection, because the condition of the steel fastenings appeared poor. The surveyor was correct and the majority of fastenings were replaced with bronze. Classic example of the need to use proper yellow metal materials all the time. Cheaper versions used in the 1994 refit have not lasted very long. In the aft end the original yellow metal fastenings appear in good condition.

HEATHER replaced frames

The centre metal floors of HEATHER have all been removed, inspected, sandblasted onsite, repairs made where possible or new floors are produced onsite by our own fabricators.

HEATHER - Work on the floors

HEATHER has had 3 new sections of planking on her Starboard side; this was necessary due to the extent of wasting found on her inboard face of the original planking. The garboard replaced is 2.6m long with the 2nd and 3rd planks being 1.5m and 1.6m respectively. Traditionally, it is always the garboard (closest to the keel) that springs first, causing weeping or seawater ingress, especially under pressure on a long tack in blustery weather.

HEATHER - Garboard and hull planks being replacedNew hull planks on the starboard side, looking aft from the bow.

The original teak deck planks are still in place from 1935, with some 17mm remaining showing the quality of the initial build material. Modern teak has wider grain from being grown at lower altitude – i.e. the rings are further apart having grown more quickly. If Berthon were to replace the teak it would be with an inferior quality and normally with a less thick 10mm wood. Since the planks are substantially in good order and some are quite long, Berthon have only re-cut the seams to a uniform depth and width across the whole deck, graving pieces into the deck where damaged, and are replacing the caulking. Some of the dowels over screws have worn through and therefore have been drilled out, replaced with brass screws and re-doweled, meaning the deck will look as good as new.

HEATHER Deck repairs

Along with the above Berthon are also producing a new rudder blade for HEATHER, fitting a new freshwater and a blackwater tank, completely refurbishing the original Baby Blake WC and Taylors cooker, replacing the fuel lines, tank vents and pipe work throughout.

HEATHER will then be ready for launching next month, where she will be spending time in the UK on sea trials before heading to Italy to her new permanent home on the beautiful northern coast of Sicily.

The History of the Gauntlet

The Gauntlet was designed by HG May for a potential client as a boat suitable for cruising but mostly racing to the new RORC offshore rating rules, but after inspecting the finished designs the client apparently had second thoughts, choosing a boat from the Phillip Yard in Dartmouth, a competitor of Berthon. HG May was somewhat annoyed due to the considerable effort used to produce the design and decided to “throw down the gauntlet” and have his Berthon yard build the boat and challenge the client racing at the beginning of the new season.

May’s belief in his design was vindicated when GAUNTLET won convincingly, establishing the Gauntlet legend.

There were 4 more Gauntlets built the following year including HEATHER, with 5 more in 1936. Over the following years the class evolved into larger and smaller sizes, ranging from 8 tons to 26 tons and totalling around 40 vessels – 16 of these being to the original 12 ton Gauntlet design.

View all vessels made by Berthon on the Berthon Yacht Register

Find out more about Berthon’s Yacht Refit Services

See details of 8-ton Gauntlet MITTEN refit at Berthon in 2011

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