Front Street Shipyard: Sprucing up Abide
Photos courtesy Front Street Shipyard
Asked in an email to describe the work that’s gone into the refit of the 136' sailing ketch Abide, Front Street Shipyard’s JB Turner was quick to reply, writing, “I can walk you through the scope of work, but it’s pretty easy—by the time she leaves, we will have touched almost everything.”
Indeed, what started as a one-year project at the Belfast shipyard in April 2022, took on a trajectory of its own as the team went to work and discovered that more and more of the steel-hulled vessel needed attention. Anyone who’s ever dug into an old boat to fix things up can relate: who knows what demons lurk below those decks!
Built and launched by the Jongert Shipyard in the Netherlands in 2002 as Islandia, the once elegant yacht appeared to have suffered from a lack of maintenance after the original owner passed away, Turner said. Her new owner, looking for a long-range cruising vessel, purchased her in February of 2022, rechristened the boat Abide, and then approached a handful of East Coast boatyards before settling on Front Street to carry out needed repairs and alterations.
The first order of business, said Turner, was to open up what he called a “soft patch,” by cutting holes in the housetop and main saloon’s sole to pull everything out of the engine room. The diesel power plant was sent off to Billings Marine in Stonington to be rebuilt, while the Front Street crew began digging into Abide’s other systems and started renovations in the interior. And that’s when things began to get interesting.
“It was going to be a refit at some level, it just wasn’t going to involve what it turned into,” said Turner. “Everything we hoped we could just plug back in didn’t work.”
Along with modifications to the pilothouse, owner’s cabin and the saloon, generators needed to be replaced along with the yacht’s firefighting and fresh water systems. Refrigeration that worked when Abide arrived in Belfast, failed when it was reinstalled, so all new compressors were needed.
An inspection of Abide’s exterior revealed that some of the steel plating was suspect. Once that was removed, problems with the fresh, gray, and black water tanks and the fuel tank were discovered, and they were dropped to the shop floor for repairs. Once mended, they were lifted back into the boat, in a redesigned configuration, and new steel was welded in place on the hull.
The list goes on. When I spoke with Turner in early November, Abide’s work order—the list of tasks needing to be done—stretched to 32 pages. It included extensive design work and new upholstery and soft goods from Tack Studios of Yarmouth. Workers from Teak Decking Services of Union took measurements and created a template that was sent to Teak Decking Systems of Florida, which sent back new wood—Turner joked that it was an acre’s worth of teak—for the local craftsmen to install. It was up to the Front Street crew, meanwhile, to remove and replace all the deck hardware involved in the job.
Abide’s once white hull was painted blue. Masts and booms were painted as well, and the latter were fitted out with new mandrels for in-boom furling.
The boat moved out of the yard and was relaunched this past summer, but still the work continued. Most recently, the Front Street crew discovered the hydraulics that run many of the ship’s systems—the windlass, thrusters, winches—no longer worked properly. Eventually, it was determined that hoses had gone bad. That meant the entire system had to be disassembled, blocks and valves had to be flushed and 120 hoses had to be replaced. This was done with the help of Motion Industries of Portland.
As of early November, Turner said the finish line may finally be in sight. Barring further surprises, he estimated testing could be completed by Thanksgiving. After that, sails would be put on, and by the second or third week of December, Abide was to be ready to sail south, bound at last for the Caribbean, with a new lease on life.
Mark Pillsbury is editor of this magazine.
Beam: 25' 10"
Draft: 22' 4"
Front Street Shipyard
101 Front St.