Jack Gore was just 10 when he became smitten with Victoria. He explains how he turned a neglected Jeanneau Sun 2000 trailer-sailer into his dream boat

Ever since I was eight or nine years old I’ve always wanted a Jeanneau Sun 2000, writes Jack Gore

I don’t know what it was about this pretty trailer-sailer that made me dream of owning one; maybe it was her sleek lines or the example which appeared unloved, sat at Fambridge Yacht Haven.

This is where we keep our family boat, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40. I was determined, one day, to rescue this boat, Victoria.

I created a log book about Jeanneau Sun 2000s, recording every time I saw one and what modifications I would do, as well as my planned adventures.

The first time I saw one for sale first-hand, I begged my parents to go into the broker and ask for a viewing; very kindly, the broker let us look around Jackhannah after realising my enthusiasm for them.

I excitedly recorded my thoughts in my log book, and even showed my Year 5 teacher my extended writing about it.

A Jeanneau Sun 2000 boat on a trailer

Victoria ready for launch. Jack takes every opportunity to sail his Jeanneau Sun 2000 trailer-sailer. Credit: Jack Gore

However, my dreams about them stayed firmly as dreams; I certainly was not in the position to buy a cruiser, at least not soon… or so I thought.

Every time I went with my parents to the boat during the off-season, I’d explore and imagine what I would do to rescue Victoria.

One time, around 2017, I discovered that the washboards were not locked down fully, and managed to gaze into her sad interior.

My eyes were met with mouldy headliner, floorboards under an inch of water, and my nose smelt the classic mould stench that repulsed 10-year-old me!

Furthermore, where she’d been incorrectly put on the trailer the last time she’d been hauled out, her hull had buckled and dented under the pressure of the roller.

But this didn’t dampen my spirits, and indeed seemed to fuel my passion; I had, inadvertently, been hit with the ‘project boat blinkers’, that have captured the minds of many sailors.

The inside of a boat

The cabin of Victoria the day Jack bought the Jeanneau Sun 2000; you can see how grimy it is. Credit: Jack Gore

Despite this, I still didn’t act upon my interest. It would take a few more years.

On the 2022 shakedown cruise to Burnham-on-Crouch from our club further upriver, aptly called Up River Yacht Club, my sister and I sailed with my aunt Penny down to Fambridge.

Over dinner later that night, with friend Andy Dale, they urged me to get in contact with Victoria’s owner. This was all the encouragement I needed.

I wrote an email with my parents, stating my love for the Jeanneau Sun 2000, and after it was double, triple and quadruple checked, we sent it to the marina staff at Fambridge, requesting they pass it on to the owner.

They very kindly did, and I waited, with bated breath, for a reply.

After weeks of waiting, nothing had appeared in my inbox, despite my earnest checking every day.

A boat on a trailer with its mast down

Victoria on her trailer ready to be moved to her new home; note the temporary light board! Credit: Jack Gore

My naivety was on show here; it turned out the owner, Simon, had replied soon after the email was forwarded, but it had gone to my spam folder and I hadn’t thought to check there.

Luckily, after a couple of weeks, my Dad asked if I’d checked the spam folder and to my excitement I found the email there.

On reading, however, my mood became more sombre.

Simon explained the sad reason for Victoria’s seeming abandonment. Simon had sailed her with his brother on the river Crouch after buying her in 2007.

However, sadly, his brother passed away due to cancer in the early 2010s.

Understandably, Simon couldn’t bring himself to sell her or to sail her, so she sat, slowly lapsing into a worse and worse state.

Headling on a boat being cleaned

Now the work begins on restoring the Jeanneau Sun 2000. The headlining was mouldy but a good clean soon had it back to an acceptable condition. Credit: Jack Gore

Simon had then been diagnosed with cancer himself, which meant he was now looking to sell the boat.

After this initial digital contact, we emailed backwards and forwards, and eventually arranged to meet Simon.

The rest of my family was busy so my Grampa came with me to view the boat.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep due to my excitement.

The last words my mum said to me before I went to bed were: “Remember, you aren’t buying her, just looking at her, just remember that!”

The morning finally arrived and although we’d agreed to meet at 11am, we left at 9:30am because I could not bear to wait any longer!

A dirty locker on a yacht

The filthy locker on Victoria before……

We got to the boatyard an hour early and I took the time to have a good look around the boat, refamiliarising myself with Victoria.

Simon arrived, and after handshakes and a friendly chat, we walked over to the boat.

He asked me about my dreams for the future with her, and he told many stories of his sailing on the Crouch, as well as chartering boats in the Mediterranean.

We discussed Victoria’s condition and went through her inventory; in essence, she was actually ready to go with all her spars, sails, anchor and other essential boating gear.

Before the meeting, Simon and I had discussed the asking price for Victoria via email.

I would pay £1,000 (all my birthday and Christmas savings, plus a £200 loan from my parents), and raise a further £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support by the time I was 18.

A lock on a Jeanneau Sun 2000 boat

…and after. Credit: Jack Gore

After inspecting her, Simon and I shook on the deal; Victoria was mine!

Simon had brought some of Victoria’s equipment, things like the inflatable and sails.

They’d been dry stored and were in good condition, especially the asymmetric which had only been used a couple of times.

We unloaded all of the gear into my Grampa’s trusty Volvo, smiling from ear to ear; I was 14 and I now owned the Jeanneau Sun 2000, Victoria!

After a very thankful goodbye, Simon left and my Grampa and I went for a celebratory tea in the boatyard’s café.

I then called my parents, who shared my excitement.

A Jeanneau Sun 2000 boat on a hoist in a boatyard

Victoria had to be moved to the hoist so Jack could access the keel for antifouling. Credit: Jack Gore

We organised to collect the rest of her gear the following Thursday and had until the end of September to get her home.

The next challenge was to get Victoria to the Up River Yacht Club, just a few miles from Fambridge.

We had been given the trailer board, and the trailer she sat on had built-in lights.

This all seemed fine until we went to plug it into the car; someone over the last 10 years had chopped off the car-end of the cable, probably assuming it had been abandoned.

Fortunately, my uncle Tim had a Phantom trailer board with a cable just about long enough to reach the stern.

The tyres were luckily in good enough nick for the short drive back to Hullbridge. However, on the way back we thought it had all gone wrong.

A teenager pouring Champagne on the bow of a boat

Jack pouring some Champagne onto Victoria’s bow as she inched down the slipway. Credit: Jack Gore

A ratchet strap tail holding her down had fallen under the wheel and had started smoking – we assumed the tyre had blown out.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case. The real work begins A couple of weeks later, using the club hoist, we repositioned her on the trailer and put the mast up.

This was a struggle as we couldn’t work out how to use the mast raising kit (it turned out we were missing a vital gin pole), so we used the next best alternative: not a crane, but lots of help and more importantly muscle from family – uncle Tim and cousins Sam and Harry.

We managed to get the mast up but couldn’t work out how the rigging worked: the lowers on one side were loose, and incredibly tight on the other side, making the mast bend into a slight banana shape.

We left them for the time being as the mast needed to come back down to fit the proper bolts for the spreaders.

As I suspected, a jet wash soon revealed a much better-looking boat, making the hull, and most notably deck and cockpit white again as opposed to an unattractive yellow.

Cleaning was the order for the rest of 2022, where hot soapy water revealed a usable cabin.

Up River Yacht Club’s status as a ‘member’s club’ made jobs using the tractor and dumper truck much easier, and more importantly, free.

Further inspection of Victoria revealed the wooden boards of the saloon berths were rotten, caused by rainwater leaking into the cabin via the drain hose from the anchor locker.

Two people sailing a Jeanneau Sun 2000 on a river

Blasting along towards Bradwell on my first trip out of the river Crouch on my Jeanneau Sun 2000. Credit: Jack Gore

These were far beyond repair, so I had to bear the cost of marine plywood to cut some new ones.

Family friend and boating legend Gerry Ledger cut them to the outline of the old ones, and I spent a week varnishing each side to protect them against the damp environment of a boat on a swinging mooring with minimal ventilation.

My Dad and I spent far too long fitting them; as with all boat jobs, it wasn’t easy, as the new boards were slightly thicker than before.

The boards could only hinge up 90°, and due to the walls of the cabin being angled at more than 90°, the hinges would pull out of the plywood should they get pushed against the cabin wall.

We eventually managed to bypass this problem by raising the hinges, which meant they could rotate more than the original 90°.

Victoria also came with a 4hp 4-stroke Suzuki outboard, which Simon had stored properly in his garage.

This meant the engine only needed a quick service to run well. VHF radio was not fitted on board, so I began the search for a DSC handheld VHF radio.

People on a boat moored against a pontoon

Jack’s first trip away on Victoria, tied up at Fambridge – from left: friend Liv, cousin Harry, sister Rosie and Jack. Credit: Jack Gore

This coincided with some correspondence between myself and Timothy Long, who sailed solo around Britain at age 15 in 2020.

It turned out he was selling lots of his equipment from this trip, so I purchased a Standard Horizon HX870e, and a 105A lead acid battery, using profits from selling my old sailing equipment.

While I was working on the boat, Simon’s struggle with his terminal cancer continued.

His limited time simply encouraged me to get on with the fundraising, so he could see it completed before he passed away.

My parents helped me to organise a charity quiz night at our sailing club (which kindly waived the hire fee) with friends and family.

Around 70 attended, and overall we raised almost £900. With huge kindness, family friends Sue and Julio Pelling donated around £130 to get the number up to £1,000.

Another family friend, Jackie Honour, makes chutney for charity; she put 2022’s profits towards my fund.

Another £500 was gratefully received from friends who could not make the quiz, and I donated the final £100 from money I had received for my birthday and Christmas.

A teenager standing on the back of a Jeanneau Sun 2000 boat

Jack Gore, 15, has crossed the English Channel 28 times on his family’s yachts. A dinghy sailor since age 5, he often competes in open meetings in his Streaker, as well as at his local sailing club on the River Crouch, Essex. Jack plans to sail Victoria further afield and would like to circumnavigate Britain. Follow Victoria’s progress on Instagram and Facebook @victoriatheboat. Credit: Jack Gore

Incredibly, we had raised the £2,000 target just after Christmas and I told Simon of our donation to Macmillan.

Sadly, he passed away as we moved into the start of 2023. I’m glad Simon knew we’d managed to fundraise the money, and I hope he is proud, wherever he is, of what I have done with Victoria.

Victoria was progressing slowly as spring and summer emerged. I’d originally hoped to get her into the water before the May half-term, but school and exams got in the way.

I had her ready to go in mid-July, but progress was to be thwarted once again; when we went to mount the rudder, we discovered the rudder pin was missing.

Although we could have fabricated one ourselves, I decided to do it properly and purchase the part from a Jeanneau dealer.

The £150 price tag for what is probably the most expensive stainless steel pin in existence made me cringe.

Five weeks after ordering, it arrived and I fitted it immediately as that night, with the tides working in our favour, we planned to launch Victoria.

Grampa agreed to drive the tractor, and I invited Simon’s partner, Dawn, as well as a few other friends who had contributed to the fundraising.

Ten years after her last sail, Victoria slipped into the water to the sound of clapping!

As she touched the water once again, we all celebrated with a cheeky mouthful of Champagne, and my Dad and I took her for a quick sail up the river to see my Nanna, who’d been unwell.

We sailed back under jib, waving at everyone on the slipway!

Since Victoria has been launched I’ve taken as many opportunities as possible to sail her.

My boat insurance cover meant I had to sail with a competent adult on board, but luckily one of our dinghy sailing friends had turned 18 and we did our first trip aboard Victoria, exploring the river over three days, with lots of anchoring and swimming, as well as a walk around Burnham-on-Crouch with an ice cream.

I’ve also sailed Victoria in my first Up River Yacht Club club cruise to Bradwell in the river Blackwater, with some challenging 25-knot conditions.

Andy Dale, who convinced me initially to email Simon, was fantastic crew for this trip. Who knows where Victoria and I will sail to next – maybe a hop across the Channel?

Continues below…

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