On our first visit to the yard since owning our Maxi 84 Project Boat we discover the 43-year-old cruiser is leaking all over the place

I couldn’t wait for my dad to meet Maximus. It was Dad who introduced me to sailing as a kid on Compstall lake in Cheshire. My earliest memory is watching him and my mum hike out as far as they could on a Mirror dinghy, yelling at me to get on the high side, whilst I ignored them, trailing my arm through the murky water.

Ali’s dad Graham Panes meets Maximus for the first time

My mum gave up soon after that, but dad and I carried on sailing, in everything from GRP cruiser-racers to a trimaran and wooden gaffer. Dad bought me an RYA Dayskipper course as a graduation present, and watched me head off to Australia to work on charter yachts, before getting a job at his favourite magazine, Practical Boat Owner

Dad finally gave up owning a boat last year, so he was thrilled to hear that we’d acquired Maximus, a Maxi 84, and would be restoring her and writing a series of articles for PBO. What’s more, I promised him he wouldn’t have to do any DIY. My husband James and I would be taking on the challenge ourselves. 

Day 1 at Dell Quay

All was looking good the day we drove to Dell Quay in Chichester. The sun was shining, and Maximus looked decidedly better after we gave her a pressure wash.

Ali pressure washes the hull

As we emptied the boat, however, we found the lockers 6 to 12in deep in standing water. I didn’t hesitate to hand Dad a bucket and sponge – promise broken already! 

This was only a small amount of water we gathered from the pilot berth locker

As we bailed out the forward locker and pilot berth locker, the heavens opened, and we were treated to a demonstration of just how all that brown water had gotten there. There were obvious leaks through the portholes and companionway and a huge amount of water pouring in from an old heating vent on the port side.

Not one to miss an opportunity, I decided to test a new piece of kit – the Liberty Lifesaver water filtration bottle – and drink the water. Yes, I drank that disgusting water… and lived to tell the tale! It tasted good.

James, Dad and I spent our entire first day at the boatyard emptying lockers first of belongings and then of water. Bucket after bucket of brown water was removed, and we took away all the cushions, which were damp and mouldy underneath. 

James pulls the spinnaker out of the forward locker

We taped up the deck plugs with some Gorilla tape we had lying around in the car, and covered the decks with a tarpaulin. Reluctant though I was to leave Maximus, James reminded me that she’d been like that for two years so another week of rain wasn’t going to make a huge difference.

The kids weren’t impressed when a spinnaker took over their football pitch

The spinnaker has now taken over our garden, and to my kids’ dismay, their football goal. It won’t take long to dry, and next time we visit the boat, we’ll get to work fixing those leaks properly!


Thanks to our Project Boat Supporters

Dell Quay Marine, Osculati, Raymarine, Shakespeare Marine, TruDesign, Screwfix, Coleman Marine Insurance, MDL Marinas, Premier Marinas, seajet, Marine & Industrial, Cleam to Gleam, Dometic, West System, Farécla, Navigators Marine, Lewmar, RYA


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