Flying Dutchman Restoration

By Douglas Heckrotte

Surcease is a late ’50s International Flying Dutchman Class sailboat. The Mahogany hull was cold-molded in Holland and imported by Paul Rimoldi of Miami Florida. Mr Rimoldi made everything else, including many pieces of hardware. He raced the boat on Biscayne Bay into the ’60s and sailed it for many years. He rebuilt the boat in the late ’80s but died before he finished. We bought the boat in August 1992 from his widow and sailed it for almost a season before we discovered that the hull was in very poor condition; the Urea-resin glue between the veneers had begun to turn to dust. We stored the boat and bought another Flying Dutchman. 

I began restoring the boat in 2001, working summer evenings when it was not too beastly hot. I built a rollover cradle which would carry the hull at any angle for ease of working. I stripped off the outer layer of veneer. I removed all of the screws, most of which had corroded to dust, and replaced them with mahogany dowels set in WEST SYSTEM epoxy. I cut out all delaminated areas in as many as three of the remaining four thicknesses of veneer and epoxied in new mahogany veneer. I steam-bent and installed a new White Oak stem. I re-veneered the hull with 1/16” flat-cut mahogany and coated it in epoxy.

Next, I rolled the boat right-side up and stripped the deck, all later repairs to the hull, and the finish. I added new mahogany stringers matching the originals. I laminated new frames in place. I also laminated and installed a new thwart and any small pieces of plywood required for the boat. I also replaced the centerboard trunk cap, all the deck supports, and repaired the original deck frame.

After varnishing the entire interior I installed a new deck of 1/4? Khaya marine plywood. I reinstalled the original spray shield and coamings, and made new rubrails of wood from a 1963 Hinckley B40 mast.

After varnishing the topsides, I reinstalled most of the original hardware and made new stainless steel hardware in ’50s style where I felt it appropriate. I rolled the boat upside down and made new rubbing strips from fiberglass rod; the Flying Dutchman class requires the shape of the old-style bronze strips on the hull but I did not want screw holes. The new strips are painted gold and were varnished along with the rest of the hull. I made three new kick-up rudders and centerboards using some old parts, but laminated new mahogany plywood cheeks and made new stainless steel hardware. I replaced the running rigging.

We sailed Surcease for the first time in 19 years in August 2012.

We showed and sailed the boat at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s annual Mid-Atlantic Small Boat Festival in October of 2013. They awarded her a First Place ribbon in her class for the race. Of about 70 boats, only a wooden Thistle was really in her class; we were first by a very large margin. They also awarded Surcease a First Place ribbon for her restoration.

There are several of us Flying Dutchman sailors in the mid-Atlantic area who refer to ourselves as “Gouge Brothers” (as contrasted with the Blues Brothers)

I have coated several wooden countertops and one antique heart pine bathroom floor in WEST SYSTEM Epoxy and urethane. The shower door and frame are made of cedar coated in epoxy and painted.

We also own a 1970 LeComte North East 38 and much of the work I have done to her over the last decade involves WEST SYSTEM Epoxy as well.