Mr Simone Mancini is Head of the Conservation Department in the National Gallery of Ireland and a couple of years ago turned his hand to restoring a boat!
As you can see he has done a splendid job and the boat is now in Dun Laoghaire Marina and he is restoring topsides. Images are of hull before, during and after restoration.
Joshua Slocum, in his book Sailing Alone Around the World, first published in 1900, describes the restoration of his sloop ‘the Spray’ and writes: ‘The Spray changed his being so gradually that it was hard to say at what point the old died or the new took birth’.
Conserving a vintage boat meant, first of all, a full immersion on readings about sailing accounts as much as restoration projects; in these kinds of boats, technique, stile and quality of working are truly and deeply integrated. They are the product of nowadays rare craftsmanship; it cannot be very different from conserving works of art. A specific approach is required: the need to make the boat seaworthy should mean not just re-building but rather conserving.
The theoretical approach of modern conservation while directed into the physical care of the object, is comprehensive of evidence of its history and deterioration processes; often competing aspects of the same project.
Conserving is always aimed on retaining the ‘originality’ and ‘integrity’ and at the same time trying to accomplish principles of ‘minimum intervention’. The less is the most.
It has been a long enduring and rewarding process which required specific knowledge (here in big trouble),as much as passion (I was fine with it). Talking to people who know a lot about this matter, necessarily becomes part of the process. Always told: it is a true labour of love; isn’t it?
Chats, suggestions, contrasting opinions and sometimes perplexed looks of neighbour boat owners; from the Harbour Master, Capt. Coate, who has been very supportive from ‘day one’: he says:
‘…this is what a boatyard should look like…’ ,
to fellow sailor friends, Frank – Paul – Hugh – Kevin – Colombo – Sean, just to mention few of many.
It is said: vintage boats are ‘kept’, not ‘owned’; it must be true. Kara Third, work still in progress.
Head of Conservation Department
National Gallery of Ireland