Happy Birthday, Fidelis!
Question: How do you remove and replace 650 metres of caulking in the laid teak deck of a famous classic yacht?
Answer: Very carefully.
That’s just one of the tasks that has confronted the team at Noakes North Sydney as they continue with a substantial “birthday” re-fit of Fidelis, the elegant 61-foot sloop that won line honours in the 1966 Sydney-Hobart race and is still being strongly campaigned by owner Nigel Stoke.
Two of the Noakes specialist shipwrights, Gary Ferres and Rick Wood, have been painstakingly restoring the deck in one of the yard’s four custom-designed sheds. Placing Fidelis in the shed’s 1.5m keel pit has meant that the yacht can be kept at a safe working height without the need for expensive and time-consuming scaffolding.
In addition to the deck refurbishment, the Noakes team will undertake a full re-paint and varnish of the yacht’s classic interior and re-do the topside paint. The Noakes rigging department will also manufacture and fit a complete new set of rod rigging.
Noakes completed the previous re-fit of Fidelis in 2005 and owner, Nigel Stoke, appreciates the benefits of their integrated service approach. “One of the great advantages is having all the required skills together on site”, he says. “They are all on staff at Noakes, and that saves the hassle of having to co-ordinate outside contractors. It’s a more efficient way of working, and it delivers a better quality result.
“What’s important with maintaining a yacht like Fidelis is to have continuity. You want good people working on the boat who’ve been looking after her for years. The team at Noakes know my boat inside out, and how best to keep her in top condition.”
Fidelis will emerge from her “birthday” in time for the annual Lord Howe Island BBQ Cruise in mid-November. This will be her 20th round trip to the Island.