Restoration of a 1973 Hunter 701 sloop, “Apache”
By: Kathleen J Kilbey I.Eng MRINA – Naval Architect and Marine Surveyor.
Having specialised in surveying Timber Yachts for almost 30 years and having owned an Alan Buchanan 38ft timber ocean racer “Sinbad of Abersoch” for quite a number of years, I decided in 2007 that it was time to see how the “other half ” of the sailing fraternity live – in their GRP world, of resin, woven rovings, chopped-strand matting, polyester and plastic widgets.
K6054 “Apache” is the first “plastic” yacht I have actually owned, although I have surveyed hundreds of GRP yachts and sailed regularly on quite a few of them. Having spent a huge amount of my time varnishing and painting timber yachts ever since I first started sailing in the 1950’s, I decided it was time to get something small, fast and seaworthy but most of all easy and economical to maintain and also which could be parked on beaches and drying harbours in the Bristol Channel. Oh, and suitable for solo long-distance cruising.
My criteria basically meant GRP, less than 26ft loa, bilge or lifting keel. The Hunter 701 hydraulic keel version ticks most of the boxes. A suitable boat was purchased (from E-bay as it happened) towards the end of 2007. The boat was collected from Beaumaris, on Anglesey and it was decided to move it by road rather than make the trip to Lydney by sea, with winter coming on apace. The yacht was in any case very much in “end of season ” condition and was missing quite a number of items of useful /essential equipment (most notably,the engine and galley!!)
Ready for loading onto the trailer … Half ton bulb on the keel – care needed! Are you sitting comfortably? then I’ll begin….
Why a Hunter 701?
Designed as a blown up “Squib with a Lid” by the late Oliver Lee at the Request of Michael Poland around 1970, the first (19ft ) boat was simply called “Hunter”; thus the 23 ft 701 can justly claim to be one of the originals of the now well known brand of Hunter-Boats. Designed to be a true minature offshore racer to RORC rules, the 701 was soon overtaken by the new IOR rules which then dictated that racing yachts should have wide flat bottoms and hard bilges This design constraint led to fast but relatively unseaworthy boats and ultimately contributed to the Fastnet tragedy of 1979. Download the pdf of the full story here ; Apache Project
The Hunter 701 is probably one of the fastest, most seaworthy and stiff 23 footers around irrespective of age or construction material. The hull form is very pretty and easy on the eye and hence very easily driven. I suppose from my point of view, going from a 38ft timber ocean racer to a Hunter 701 is a bit like going from a 1920’s vintage Bentley to a 1970 Lotus 7 and the transition has required a certain mental (and physical) flexibility.
My intention is to restore Apache to her original 1973 condition and in this respect I am fortunate in having been able to contact several previous owners and obtain a very comprehensive file including her original RORC rating certificate, sail plans and architects drawings. The hull was moulded during the period when boat builders and designers really had no idea what they were doing with this wonderful new plastic stuff – so they just continued as if they were working in wood. The result is that early GRP boats like Apache were built like the proverbial brick…….! After almost 40 years of use Apache is 100% sound and with no signs of the dreaded “pox”.
A blow-by-blow account of the restoration is on this site CLICK HERE
Two versions of the Hunter 701 were built, fin keel and a hydraulic lifting keel – Apache is a 1973/74 example of the latter. She is hull number 64 out of a total of about 85, built by both Oliver Lee in his own workshops and by the Poland family at the newly formed “Hunter Boats”. I have yet to uncover her first few years of history but the bits that came with the boat and various fitments lead one to believe that she was a seriously competitive boat in the early 1970’s. If anybody has any information about Hunter 701 “Apache” RORC sail number K6054 please get in touch.
Interestingly there is an identical Hunter 701 based at Weston on the Bristol Channel and I am looking forward to a competitive bash down the channel around Lundy and back, sometime. Any more early Hunter 19’s, 701’s Europa’s, Medina’s etc please get in touch and perhaps we can form a Bristol Channel branch of the Hunter Association. I also feel a regular Lydney-Lundy mini Fastnet Race coming on for under 25ft cruiser racers!! Could be quite fun, lots of tidal gates etc. contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Sailing update, Jan 2012; it looks as if the Lydney round Lundy race idea might be on the move….. watch the LYC site, link below..
Lydney Yacht Club offers a warm welcome to visiting yachts most weekends, after a challenging and interesting sail 8 miles upstream of the Severn Bridges (turn left just before Sharpness). Lydney Harbour is the most Northerly “Proper” Harbour on the Severn Estuary and can only be entered (by arrangement with the Harbourmaster, David Penfold on 07768 861282) a few minutes on either side of H W Sharpness. (If you can get that far under sail, you definately deserve to be let in and given a drink!!)
The original APACHE theme tune by Hank Marvin!!
to be continued……..
Kathleen J. Kilbey I.Eng MRINA & Associates
Naval Architects, Marine Surveyors and Consultants
Based United Kingdom South Coast (Solent) and Midlands (Gloucester)
Telephone: +44 (0) 845 680 1989 Cellphone: +44 (0) 7799 686 979
Fax: +44 (0) 700 580 1821 skype: kathleenkilbey
email us; email@example.com