The Rhode Island REFIT – 2010-2017

DEFENDER was purchased from the estate of the late owner in an “as is-where is” deal.  She was still on a mooring with 2 ‘ of water in her bilge and tons of growth on her bottom.  She was towed to Cracker Boy, hauled, cleaned and then loaded on a truck for the trip North to join her new stablemate, VICTORY’83.

The first step was a thorough assessment of her condition.  She was generally sound but she had some problem areas associated with the engine installation and keel fairing.  High pressure water was used to remove areas of bad fairing.

The engine installation was more problematic and so the decision was made to remove the engine and restore her to her race boat roots.  The bottom in way of the engine mounts and shaft log was cut out and replaced with new plating and framing.  Tankage, thru-hulls and other engine related systems were also removed.  The inside of the boat was soda blasted to remove the dirt and scum that had accumulated in the hot Florida sun.

Once she was cleaned, the real work of bringing her back could begin!  Work proceeded on many fronts.  The bottom was faired and epoxy painted.  Bad paint on the topsides were repaired.  The keel was re-faired to templates.  Prior to fairing, lead was poured into the various voids including the hole near the bottom that held the wings.  (yes, DEFENDER was once fitted with Wings!)  The trim tab was removed and a splined joint fabricated to allow for easier reinstallation.  All systems were serviced or replaced.  The Barient Winch package was fully serviced and overhauled by the former head of the Barient Winch Custom Division.  Major work on the deck included plating over the pit hatches and creating a new hatch in the back wall of the cockpit.

Along the way, a Sail Spars triple spreader rig, carbon boom and custom square section carbon pole were purchased.

In the spring of 2014, USA 61 was acquired by the Victory program.  She brought the missing pieces and some sails that would allow the refit to be finished.  The hydraulic pumps, panels and cylinders were moved over to DEFENDER.  These were complemented with a custom mast ram cylinder required for the new rig.  The basic electronics package and instrumentation was also moved over at this time.  The final piece of the puzzle was to utilize the newer Barient winch gearing and drive systems from USA and so the two Barient systems were swapped.

The refit was wrapped up in late spring of 2017.  DEFENDER was launched in late May and was promptly measured as a 12M!  She was now ready for action!