Kirribilli – historic 5.5 metre yacht starts restoration.

Duckflat have started work on Kirribilli for a consortium of owners.

Keel is off – boat is upside down – hull is half stripped and half splined – starboard side. I’m assisting with the technical side. If the end result is as nice as the work Duck Flat and I did on our last keelboat restoration – “the orange boat” – that would be a happy outcome.

We had a talk today – she’s built of beautiful WR Cedar planking and glued with resorcinol glue. Tween planks is splined with almost like a veneer of cedar – no more than 1.5mm wide at the hull surface.and no variation in width. Not surprising of a Bill Barnett built boat!

She was painted with an acrylic paint but the hull had been given a coat of varnish first – so the acrylic is peeling off beautifully. Unfortunately the cedar is quite stained with small scale dark patches spread all over the surface of the boat. It won’t be possible to clear finish her. If she had been planked in honduras mahogany though …

On the tech side the floors seem to have been too narrow – they were kept that way so the sole could be deep and the crew down low for more righting moment – but they were wrong there – the crew has a much bigger effect sitting on the side deck or on the windward side under the deck. All the hull splits were immediately above where the floors terminated – so we will raise the floors (and the sole) to spread the load from the keel a lot further.

Also the keel entry and hull entry is way too sharp – would have hurt her upwind performance a great deal – particularly in rough water. So we will optimise the keel without changing the side profile view.

Also she has a little skeg fitted behind the rudder/keel which seems to indicate they were trying to tame her downwind steering – the boats of this era were touchy in a blow downwind with lots of rolling. We will probably enlarge the rudder for better control and cut it down toward the original if the control is fine.

We want her to go and want her to behave so will do some minor mods of this type – it actually isn’t much at all. We also have to be careful not to increase the weight – otherwise she will become a 5.55 metre yacht rather than a 5.5

Decks are shot – so they will be replaced with a new one – that’s probably the biggest avenue for reducing weight.

Link to the thread on woodwork forums with description of what is happening, how and why. You can also look above the post that you land on to fill in a few more details.

3 thoughts on “Kirribilli – historic 5.5 metre yacht starts restoration.

  1. Hello,
    I have just came across your info on kirribilli. You might be interested to know that my father, Rex Godfrey, bought her in sydney in the early 60 and took her to adelaide then. he owned her for some 30 plus years, always racing and drysailing her at the RSAYS. He is the one who fitted the skeg, teak decks and cast all the custom fittings. He is still living in adelaide and has many old spars, fittings and sails that im sure he would be happy to pass on. He knows every possible detail about the history of the yacht if you are interested. please contact me on for further info. i have dozens of old photos.

  2. Hi,
    I am sure the people doing the restoration would like to hear the story. They have already found out a lot about her by speaking to Gordon Ingate who owned her for quite a few years in the 60s (I think). This includes having copies of the original plans and the launch photos as well as some of the original invoices for sails by Ratsey and the fitting package from the UK.

    And to think they bought Kirribilli just before she was scrapped for the lead!

    • Rex Godfrey came up to Duckflat last year and gave the new owner/s a run down on the history of the boat. It was really great because I was able to listen in too.

      Big thanks to Rex for making the effort. The boat is probably going to be sailed in the State Titles in NSW, where she is now located.

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