courtesy of Mylor Ycht Harbour.
She is a classic speed boat, not a Dunkirk ‘Little Ship’, but the Sealine 255 Magatha is emerging from a major restoration and modification by the experts at Mylor Yacht Harbour to take her owner on the 80th anniversary ‘Return to Dunkirk’ convoy in May.
John Dann plans to take the 90-mile return journey in memory of his father, Jack, whose Navy destroyer HMS Sabre evacuated almost 5,800 Allied soldiers off the beaches at Dunkirk and beyond as part of Operation Dynamo. Sabre was amongst the armada of destroyers and Little Ships – 850 private boats that joined the convoy from Ramsgate – which rescued more than 336,000 British, French and other Allied troops between 26 May and 4 June 1940.
With the current average age of the original Little Ships at 85 years, Magatha is a relative youngster at 30. Still, to be fit for the Dunkirk ‘pilgrimage’ John put her in the hands of Mylor’s Marine Team of experts, with a long list of tasks including the removal of her original Volvo twin engine installation and replacing them with a more powerful single Volvo engine. No mean feat.
John acquired Magatha in spring 2018, naming her in memory of his late wife Maggie, and brought her to Cornwall from Wargrave on The Thames in much need of updating.
courtesy of Mylor Ycht Harbour.
“I chose Mylor as they responded quickly and efficiently and they have a record for really high standard of work with all the skill-sets needed to pull the job together,” he says. “They are also very nice people to deal with and it’s been a pleasure seeing this restoration in progress.”
Magatha was originally powered by two Volvo Penta AQ51 petrol engines of 146 horsepower each. These were replaced with one Volvo Penta V8-300-C/DPS, a naturally aspirated petrol engine with direct fuel injection, producing 300 horsepower at 5800 RPM.
The conversion from a twin engine to a single engine output included some extensive GRP workmanship in the blanking off and re-lamination of the original out-leg apertures and the creation of a new single out-leg aperture. The transom had to be rigorously strengthened in order for the new engine to be installed to match Volvo Penta’s quality and reliability specification.
It was an interesting project for the Marine Team as it was far from being a standard engine replacement. “As we were removing twin engines and installing a single unit in their place, a lot had to be taken into consideration including the power to weight ratios, positioning of the single out-drive within the transom and the stability of the vessel,” says Marine Team Engineering Manager Nathan Percival. “To install the Volvo Penta engine and drive took the combined expertise of the engineering and GRP teams and I was delighted with the outcome and the performance of the vessel.”
Alongside the modification of Magatha’s engines, the Marine Team created and fitted new engine hatches, fitted new anodes and strengthened the stainless-steel bathing platform. The hull was antifouled and gel-coated and the superstructure polished and waxed. Magatha’s electrics were checked and repaired as were her seacocks and all internal parts. A new cabin heater and fresh-water tank were installed along with some state-of-the-art Raymarine electronics equipment, completing the work and leaving her better than new.
John is loving the look and performance of his newly modified and restored vessel – and, importantly, is confident that he can run her by himself, although friends and family are queueing up to join him aboard.
For next year’s Return to Dunkirk 80th anniversary he hopes to be joined by family members to pay homage to the father who was killed in action at the age of 25 – just a few months before John was born.
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