In the last two weeks I have been exchanging emails with Shaun Lithgo who is planning to start manufacturing the SeaHawk again. Last night we had an hour long telephone conversation about the project.
He confirmed that all the original moulds have been destroyed. (It was already known that the superstructure mould tool was burned.) He said the tools that had found their way north from Colchester have also been destroyed after the factory where they were being stored went into receivership and its yard cleared of everything there.
Shaun went on to tell me that he has many years experience building GRP boats. He now has a new factory, currently being fitted out where, together with his son, he will have the capacity to build the SeaHawk in addition to the other craft he already builds.
At this point he is looking for a suitable craft from which to create new mould tools. He is happy to buy something from eBay but boats that come up for sale there are relatively rare. Another option is to recondition a "project boat" that has proved too much for the owner to complete unaided. He tells me that is that the hull to be used need not be in perfect condition, but should not have suffered any major damage.
As I understand it, he would take the boat to his works, strip it completely, separate the three main units, hull, superstructure and cabin sole/berths, fix any surface blemishes and paint them in order to form a perfect finish. He would then be able to create the mould tools he needs from these parts. The original boat would then be reassembled and returned to the owner.
If anyone has a boat that they think might be suitable for this project which they could either sell or loan to Shaun so it could be used as described above then please be in touch. I didn't ask Shaun but I dare say that an arrangement where you use your existing boat as a part exchange for one of his first production boats, might be possible as well.
Shaun told me that his costings suggest that he should be able to produce a fully finished boat with a trailer at a price between £6,950 and £7,500. Compared with the cost of Mistral Craft boats, built some fifteen years ago, this seems remarkable!
I failed to ask exactly where Shaun is based, but I understand it is north of the Tees, though he did refer to one of his suppliers being based in Whitby. If you are from "oop north" then please be in touch as Shaun tells me has has yet to see a SeaHawk in the flesh, although he has been involved in building other John Bennett designs. I said that I would do what I could to find someone close to him who would give him a chance to take a look over a SeaHawk.
I'd be keen to get in touch with Shaun. I'm not sure whether I would be happy giving up my boat, unless there was something in place that meant if his business just went under half way through, I at least got the value back, but its a conversation worth having.
I bought piccolo a year ago, and just started working out what I wanted to do, stripped the mast and some internal fittings, and then my wife became pregnant, and to be honest I think it will be a good couple of years before I really get the time and space to carry on (eg properly start) the renovation.
The boat is in good order with all bits present, so might be of interest....one thing I don't want is to be left without a seahawk at all, once I have time to work on it (or sail it!)
I've also spent a lot of time (as I suppose you could guess) looking at how to refit the interior to cope with a third, child berth, that can convert into a mini kitchen. That may also be of interest to Shaun.
Please can you put us in touch, with the provisio that my spelling and response times are just what you'd expect from a brand new sleep deprived first time dad!