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The Work


We bought Kokachin as an abandoned project in France. The hull, cabin and decks were completed, along with some rudimentary accommodation and part finished mast and rudder. 


Over optimistically, I thought we could finish her in about a year, it took us three years with the two of us working full time (weekends included). 


Very soon, as we started working on her, we realised that  Le Forestiere’s Jonque de Plaisance are complicated boats! Also if she was to meet our needs and wants many things would have to be altered and finished differently. All of this was going to take time.  It was not  a quick job any more, as it looked at the time of infatuation, read – decision to buy her. Both of us wanted to spend time sailing instead of boat building. But does one ever learn.


The main requirement was to protect the exterior as much as possible to minimise maintenance and cost in the future.  Below is a short summary on some highlights. For a detailed overview with pictures check the website. 


  • The boat had been painted (inside and out) but that was a few years before. So we needed to put several coats of epoxy primer and then the top coats. 

  • The cabin sides were made of edge glued planks of maritime pine wood which we covered with 6mm marine plywood and then epoxied. 

  • The bottom was given a DIY copper coat with 5 layers of epoxy and copper. 

  • Plans called for a steel shoe on the bottom of the keel. Quite apart from having someone to fabricate this long piece of steel, we felt it would be a corrosion problem in future and instead scarfed together 1 inch plywood that was heavily fiberglassed. If nothing else this would form a sacrificial piece at the bottom of the keel.  

  • As a finishing touch we laid a douglas fir deck in the cockpit and on the cockpit seats, using 5 mm veneers and the Gougeon system. 

  • The side decks and foredeck were covered in fibreglass / epoxy and the cabin top was epoxied. We used Kiwi Grip for the non slip coating


Centreboard was made with three layers of plywood. The middle layer had cut outs for steel plates to be inserted to give negative buoyancy. The whole thing is covered with glass epoxy and copper coated. 


Rudder came with the boat but it was not finished. It needed fibreglassing etc as well as adding the rudder head for the tiller and making the trim tab. The trim tab was hinged on the trailing edge of the rudder. Subsequently it had to be changed to work properly as the wind-vane was not powerful enough. We subcontracted the stainless steel rudder fittings. 


Self-Steering A wind-vane to control the trim-tab was made of plywood to Bill Belcher’s OTG II plans (modified). 


Masts - The masts were made according to the drawings but they seemed to be a little on the light side. We fibreglass them with several layers of heavy unidirectional glass fibre and a layer of fibreglass cloth on the top. It also required constructing the masthead fittings.


Mast Steps - Two mast steps had to be constructed. The forward one was extremely complicated to accommodate the 11 degree rake of the mast, as was cutting the hole through the 3 inch thick deck at an angle. The main mast one was not much simpler either. 


Mast Collar - When the masts were installed a thick fibreglass collar was constructed which is held by 12 10mm bolts screwed into sockets glued into the deck. This was instead of having wedges and their accompanied squeak. 


Cuddy - A plywood sliding cuddy was built over the entrance hatch. 


Sails - One Christmas we rented a Scout hut to make the two sails. It took us only a week to make the sails and then another week later on to finish off the details.



The hole through the deadwood for the engine shaft was drilled for us by our shipwright friend with a special long cutting bar. Once this was done the engine beds could be made and eventually the engine was lowered in through the hatch (only just fitted) and bolted down. Bronze stern tube and shaft was made for us which we installed, everything lined up. Fuel lines, electrical wiring and engine controls were also installed


Ballast & Bilges

Ballast was 18 kg cast iron ingots (we even had to recover a ton of those that were stolen from us!) All (3300 kg) had to be carried up on board and fitted into the bilges on top of a layer of rubber. Gaps were then filled with steel punchings before the floorboards were securely fastened on top. 



We needed a comfortable and warm boat that met our liveaboard cruising needs. With the exception of the main bulkheads, the two bunks, and the spiral staircase, which came with the boat, everything else was built new.



Cabin, decks & hull (down to the stringers) was insulated. It was like building another hull inside the outer one. Patterns between the frames and the deck beams had to be taken for insulation cutting. Framing around the insulation for the finished layer plus the pattern for those had to be made.  The insulation was covered with either tang & groove, thin plywood or cork / carpet. 



Installing heaters, cooker, wiring, lighting was all extremely complicated which is not easy to explain in a few words - best forgotten!


Carpentry - At times doing the carpentry felt like three dimensional chess, just mind boggling complexities. As well as the job of constructing and fitting all the furniture (which Pete did) , insulating, finishing and painting everything was an equally mammoth task (done by Linda). 


Time & Space

It took three years from the boat arriving in Southdown until launch day, working 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, two of us for over two years. On the last year we allowed ourselves Sundays off. For the original build Mr Fabrice took 7 years, but part time.  

Our workshop was a shed constructed over the cockpit, and to everyone’s amazement, not least ours, it survived for three winters of gales. The materials were stored under the boat,  inside it or in the shed. 

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