Ali Wood embarks on a brand new adventure with the acquisition of a Maxi 84 cruising boat

I never thought I’d own a boat. I’ve grown-up around yachts; cruised them, raced them, occasionally skippered them, but now, thanks to Practical Boat Owner, I’m the proud custodian of a 28ft cruiser, Maximus.

Maximus is a Maxi 84. She was designed by Pelle Peterson and built by Swedish company Maxi Yachts, one of the oldest shipyards in Europe. One of 1,350 GRP boats built between 1977 and 1983, she happens to be exactly the same age as me. Is this fate? 

A very kind offer

It all started with an incredibly generous offer from PBO reader, Daniel Kirtley. 

I have a 28ft cruiser and wondered if you have any interest in taking her on as a PBO project?” he asked. “I’ve compiled the list of projects needed to bring her up and it is just too long for me: I don’t have the time!”

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Daniel, who runs corporate finance business Westgate Advisers, became a dad for the second time during lockdown. After eight years spent sailing Maximus around the South West coast, he decided it was time to give her up. When his children are older he plans to buy a day-sailer such as a Hawk 20. 

Maximus has been out of the water for over two years. She’s a great boat that has kept me safe in most conditions and of course I would love to ‘do right’ by her,” he said. 

Could I do that? With the help of PBO’s experts could I restore her to her former glory?


There were many considerations before we could accept such a kind offer. Where would we keep her? How much would it cost to get her on the water?  Did we have even have time, being a small team with increasing content demands, not to mention a magazine to get out 13 times a year? Then there was the issue of going back to sailing school. My husband will be starting from scratch and my RYA Coastal Skipper qualification is at least a decade old. Since having three kids I’ve only managed to sail dinghies and mess around on SUPs

But when PBO editor Rob Melotti sent me Daniel’s video of Maximus, I was smitten. She’s a beautiful boat, and reminded me of the GRP boats I used to sail with my dad. Only at 28ft, this boat is much bigger than the GK24 of my childhood. With five berths and standing headroom there would be plenty of space for my family, Rob’s family, or for the entire PBO editorial team to get out on the water and test gear. 

Past PBO Project boats

We’ve had a few PBO Project Boats before. In recent years, former editor David Pugh led the restoration of  23ft Snapdragon Hantu Biru, which he’d found in a Dorset field, growing nettles. Then there was the Secret 20, Harvey, donated to Oarsome Chance and let’s not forget the PBO Western Skiff, led by contributor Nic Compton, with free plans available for download

PBO team past and present at the unveiling of Project Boat Harvey, 2019. R to L: Rob Melotti, David Pugh, Roz Jones, Marco Rossi, Julian Peckham, Dick Everitt, David Harding, Laura Hodgetts, Dave Selby. Front: Ali Wood (l) and Sarah Norbury

Do I have the skills?

My predecessors were expert DIY-ers. Sadly, I claim no such skills. I’m a journalist who loves sailing on other people’s boats and editing reader restorations. An ‘armchair DIY-er’. But now, I’m a first-time boat owner, and with the help of PBO’s enthusiastic team of experts, will be seeking knowledge where I can find it to help us get Maximus back on the water. 

Under no false impressions

Having spent years writing about everything that can go wrong with a boat, I’m under no illusion that this will be easy. Boat ownership is something I’ve dreaded, but secretly longed for, and – despite many discussions ruling it out – I’ve always known it would happen.

Ali and dad Graham on their first visit to Maximus

I bought my first copy of PBO for my dad on Father’s Day when I was 3 years old, so you could say boat DIY has always been a part of my life – even if vicariously. I blame my dad. But now it’s for real!

Below are the jobs outlined by Daniel, and of course, the pre-purchase survey by PBO expert Ben Sutcliffe-Davies will no doubt reveal a few more. I can’t wait to discover the eccentric reefing system… watch this space!

Maximus job-list

  • New bow roller
  • Nav lights – bulbs gone and should be replaced with LEDs really (also replace cabin lights with LED as the existing old bulbs must be a drain on batteries).
  • Old ‘Sailor’ Radio with telephone receiver! Needs replacing with a safer / modern DSC radio
  • Throttle cable needs tightening (and the shift button been seized for years – so possibly a new throttle lever)
  • Carpentry on companionway and wood trim – need care and repair.
  • Clutches –all hold fine but main uphaul clutch not as tight as I’d like (first few inches can slip, when winched really tight).
  • Genoa furling line still okay but will need new spliced furl / unfurl line soon. Plus cars are old / will need replacing at some point.
  • Rubbing strake to be re-attached on starboard bow section (where an old repair snapped). This is a tricky one due to the ‘unique’ cross-section of the original rubbing strake (can’t find it to buy, anywhere).
  • Depth sounder and log aren’t working (haven’t for years). Tried replacing transducers – think it is wiring that needs fixing and could be a partial or full re-wiring of the boat.
  • Sails are fine but tired / will want to replace at some point
  • The ‘bellows’ (rubber seal between saildrive leg to hull) are out of manufacture recommendations (recommend replacement every 10 years I think – they are 15 years old). 
  • The boat has had an eccentric reefing system on boom since I bought her. Could definitely use updating!
  • The hull has come up nicely with a rub-down and antifoul each year (done professionally), but it could be time to rub down to gelcoat.
  • Propeller is okay but does have some pitting.
  • Needs a good clean of course!

Thanks to our Project Boat Supporters

Dell Quay MarineOsculatiRaymarineShakespeare MarineTruDesignScrewfixColeman Marine InsuranceMDL MarinasPremier Marinasseajet,, Clean to GleamWest SystemFaréclaNavigators MarineRYAAqua MarineEcobatVictron EnergyScanstrutT Sails and XP Rigging.

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