Restoration of ‘Windchat’ 40 years after my dad built her

My father bought (in kit form) and built Windchat with two of his friends in 1973 three years before I was born. They took her to Guernsey on the first maiden voyage proper and some 40 years later I embarked on her restoration.

Family holiday c.1975 on Windchat in Ostend (L-R mum, my sister, family friend)

I enjoy childhood memories of summer holidays sailing her with my family. Over the last 20 years, for reasons too complicated to share, we lost contact and she fell into disrepair.

Then one day in 2014 the co-owner proposed to scrap Windchat but needed the signature of my father as he was still on the title deeds. Dad’s quick thinking lead to a phone call to me and, as a result, I was £10 poorer and a yacht owner for the first time.

Upon some reflection, I did in fact change my mind once, and paid her one last visit at Deacons Boatyard in Swanwick to say goodbye. A sobering ‘last pop below decks’, with its flood of memories, soon made me realise that I couldn’t be the person to send her to scrap.

Windchat after many years of neglect
Windchat after many years of neglect

After lengthy chats with the good folk at Deacons – particularly Nick – I managed to convince myself this undertaking was in fact doable, and so began the restoration. It would be carried out by the same boatyard where she was originally built over 40 years ago.

photo 4
Windchat on the hard stand at Deacons

During the winter of 2014 her hull was shot blasted, 2 pack fibre filler used to fill in crazed gaps and two pack paint applied. The following spring replaced the cushions, instruments, top side wood work, standing and running rigging.

Well, technically she floats!
Windchat re-enters the water at Swanwick
Windchat re-enters the water at Swanwick

On our test sail in the Solent in summer 2015 we discovered a twisted rudder stock and put that right during winter 2015 and then replaced the woodwork below, added spinnaker tweakers and improved instruments.

Windchat berthing in the marina
Windchat berthing in the marina
Yours truly during her first test sail after refurbishment
Yours truly as we set off for her first test sail after restoration

Her first real test was 9 months later during the 2016 Round the Island Race.

20 thoughts on “Restoration of ‘Windchat’ 40 years after my dad built her”

  1. The Cutlass 27 is a boat I’ve always admired. A proper little yacht. It breaks me up to see lovely boats like Windchat that have brought people so much pleasure heading for the knackers.

    So well done, Pete. What an inspiration. I’ll bet a few tears were shed when she heeled to the breeze once more.

    All the best Lads,

    1. You are so right Tom.

      I took the helm for the first time for over twenty years and as she swept her way across the Solent so the tears started to flow, I just could not help it! With Peter’s enthusiasm and dedication I am thrilled that Windchat will have an assured, and happy, future.


    2. Thank you for your kind words Tom … she certainly does have some nice lines… and sails a dream.
      Looking forward to a full test around the island this July – including filling the 40 year old spinnaker! : }
      All the best,

  2. Hello from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

    You have done a beautiful job, I also bought an abandoned Cutlass 27 in 1997, she was abandoned in Club Náutico El Arenal for more than 15 years.

    If you go to youtube : Cutlass 27 you will see some videos of her.

    This year she got a new Max Prop 3 blade classic and she goes like a rocket.

    I would love to see some photos of inside.

    All the best

    Jason Hill

  3. Congratulations about taking the challenge to rebuild your Cutlass. I found your page today while reading the web about Cutlass 27.

    Some 20 years ago I started the challenge as well in Kiel, Germany. And still it’s a continuous improvement 🙂 – Every new built-in feature increases my happiness with sailing SY ‘Iskender’.

    It’s still well balanced and beautiful sailing in strong conditions.

    Good luck for your Round the Island trip!

    Best regards

    1. Hi there I am proud to be the new “Captain oh captain” of a beautiful Cutlass 27 by now. Still at work refurbishing it I plan trying it on sail in a month or two in MONTPELLIER South of France. Would you know the number of which magazine is talking of this brilliant vessel? Thanks in advance. I would also appreciate to get information about a dog house or Sprayhood that would fit
      The Cutlass at a fair price. So long fellow Captains! One love

      1. Pierrr.
        Great to hear another Cutlass is being enjoyed … wish I was taking mine to the South of France imminently!!- the Solent isn’t to appealing this time of year, even in such a fine vessel.
        Alas, sorry to say I can be of no use regarding a magazine article nor a sprayhood!- I tend to use a tarp when moored. If you have any joy in your search please do share … likewise I would love to see any pictures you have of her (including interior- fascinated with the different layouts!).
        Happy safe sailing.

        1. Hello Peter ! Good to hear from you.
          I thought my message didn’t go through! I’ll send you some pictures alright asap. I’m so happy your blog exists. I thank all of you since every comment, Volker Jason Pal they all helped my décision making of continueing a 50 year old sailboat story . Thanks! I believe your blog could be the center of information for all Cutlass 27 owners. Until such time… more time! Good wind to all of you. Pierre

        2. Hello Peter and to all Cutlass owners. The sailboat is finally back to its element still under control but I discovered a leak in the back that worries me. I noticed it at first but it was neglected. Can I send pictures to Cutlass owners to try to know if someone has the experience of what it might be and the solution would be. It’s kind of urgent since the professional is about to finish the upgrading work (at his expense fortunately yet). If I let go I might find myself in big trouble. Thanks in advance. Pierre

          1. Pierre.
            Alas, I don’t think all Cutlass owners (or people who have posted here) see these messages- I think it only goes to the person you actually reply to… I could be wrong).
            Thus I think only I got this message … and sorry to say, I can be of no help here whatsoever … I have never encoutered such an issue.
            On a positive note, I have registered – and thus plan/hope to create some sort of centralised hub for us lucky owners of a Cutlass!
            In the mean time, best of luck is all I can offer you, sorry! … I woud lask my Dad (original builder of Windhat), but sadly his sails are no longer full.
            All the best,

        3. Hello Peter May
          I wonder why there is no possibility of sharing one another informations about our Cutlass 27 since we have been connected through the beautiful story and blog of Windchat restoration. I wish we would share pictures of inside and outside and hundreds of interesting solutions. But it seems this is not the idea, and we can still watch the brilliant blog silently. I wish though we could communicate easier. Has any cutlass 27 site been opened yet ? I know one Sabre 27 site but this can’t be it?My email address is [edited out] in case you read it. Peace out !

      2. I also have bought a cutlass, last summer, here in Norway. It might seem unbelievable, but I’m 6’8″ (204cm) and I use it as a live-aboard during this winter. Dreaming of taking her ocean crossing some day.

        I believe the boat you are asking about is for sale right now:

        The ad states that it was featured in a Motorboat and Yachting article in November 2006. And the boat have had some interesting alterations and changes done.

        (We should make a site/registry for Cutlass owners)

        1. Pal Andre.
          First and foremost- 6’8″!?!?! …. and you live aboard a Cutlass- wow!! … thats one good osteopath you must have!! ; )…
          Good news- I have registered Site coming soon … hopefully!! ; )… we can all get our beloved added!: )

          1. Very nice I can’t wait to share the web site. What a nice initiative Peter. I thank you for your quick answer. Hope it’s going to work soon. Until such time… more time

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