Page updated 30 April 2008
I had been discussing what boat to buy with others on a Norfolk Broads mail list. I remembered my father's old SeaHawk with great affection. However, I fancied something offering a little more excitement. Nevertheless, several of those with experience of a variety of boats, including SeaHawks, persuaded me that the trouble with newer or faster designs was that they tended to be designed or coastal use. they all had over-sized genoas and small main sails. These don't suit the constant tacking inevitably required on rivers. Their masts tended to be awkward to lower and raise, especially single-handed as well, or require additional fittings to allow it to happen. In short, for the kind of sailing I expected to do, there was almost nothing better than a SeaHawk.
© 2006 Sean White
"Imagination" as she appeared in one of the images on eBay
Eventually, one of the subscribers alerted me to a SeaHawk that was for sale on eBay. I don't do auctions and I wouldn't buy anything unseen with such a potential for being a hugely expensive mistake. However, I did express an interest and when the boat didn't sell and the seller contacted me and others inviting us to see the boat at Rutland Water, the following week. So it was that on Easter Sunday 2004, Liz and I travelled to the Whitwell Sailing Centre to have a look. We were the only ones to turn up.
© 2006 Sean White
"Imagination" at Rutland Water, her home for seven years before Easter 2004
The boat was out of the water on its near new trailer, ready to be towed away. The owner was there with his ten year old son. It became clear that he was desperate to sell. He lived in Yorkshire and the annual berthing dues were due within the week. He really didn't want to take it home. I was desperately unsure. The boat was scruffy. I was inexperienced, not entirely sure what to look for in a second hand boat. However, one of the advantages of a SeaHawk is that they are very crude boats and it is difficult to hide serious problems. After a long period of great uncertainty on my part we settled on a price. The deal included having the boat towed to Norfolk, then and there, by the seller. He really was that keen to get the boat off its berth.
So, after an interesting journey, in convoy from Rutland Water to East Walton, "Imagination" arrived home. In celebration of her arrival I took my first photograph of her.
"Imagination" arrives at the Chapman abode, after a tow from Rutland Water
This first thing you notice about her is the funny idea of a water line that the anti-fouling follows. There's also a mass of blue anti-slip paint on the foredeck, cabin roof and cockpit sole and benches. Inside the cabin was in need of some work too.
The next morning I took some further pictures of the inside. There was a peculiar arrangement of shelves forward of the bunks. These were poorly constructed and finished. With varnish to one side of the plywood only, they were beginning to de-laminate. Propped on a block of wood was a precariously mounted and ancient cooker. This didn't look safe to use. to me.
The original cabin shelving, netting, and cooker.
The cable trailing from the solar panel on the fore deck can also be seen.
Giant loudspeakers were wired into the charge control unit
The authorities at Rutland Water prohibit the use of fossil fuelled engines, so Imagination came with an electric outboard, leisure battery and solar panel. The solar panel was mounted on the foredeck and a cable flopped loosely around the cabin. It passed through a small charge control unit on its way to the battery. This was held in place by a rope, wrapped several times around the keel housing.
There were huge speakers mounted on the cabin walls either side of the doorway. I couldn't make out to what it was they might, originally, have been connected.
Large rectangular cushions, that looked as if they had come from an old caravan, were propped up against the cabin sides. These had some loose covers on them that matched curtains that hung from wires. Incredibly, these were suspended from bolts which passed right through the cabin walls.
To port a fluorescent lighting unit, mounted on a strip of wood, hung loosely from the ceiling of the cabin. The end of it's cable hung uselessly in space, not connected to anything. Strangely, there were remains of old cable passing under some poorly resined patches of glass fibre matting in this area of the cabin, but it was not clear if they ever were part of this installation.
A disconnected light fiting, netting, and a strange shelf with a hole - all was ripped out
I set to work in tidying things up. Basically that meant ripping out everything at the front. The cabin also got a lick of paint. The bathroom-grade silk finish emulsion has stood up remarkably well. I'd recommend it as a suitable finish for the cabin.
The cabin devoid of the clutter that was there when Imagination was purchased.
The remnants of the netting anchorage points are still there.
In the main part of the cabin the speakers went as did the bracket for the fire extinguisher. With no cooker on board there seemed little point in in keeping the bracket. The extinguisher itself looked rusty, had a five year old expiry date, and so that was thrown away too.
The state of the varnish on the bulkheads left much to be desired and the battery strapped to the keel housing wasn't ideal
When I bought Imagination I was not entirely clear what colour she was, There was both white and blue paint around, in abundance. The blue paint was matt and of the non-slip variety. The seller had said that he had added that, intending it to help keep the children on board, rather than overboard!
To avoid the motor cable having to be passed through the cabin door and trail across the cockpit the starboard locker was removed so a hole could be drilled in it. The motor cable could then be passed directly from the battery in the cabin into the locker, from where it could emerge to reach straight up to the motor mounted on the ransom. By this stage it was clear that Imagination was not an all white boat, like my father's, but one with the light blue superstructure moulding.
The starboard cockpit locker was removed to enable the a hole to be drilled at the back. This allowed the motor cable to be passed through it.
The small wooden blocks on which the jib cleats were mounted showed signs of rot. I found a one man wood-turning business in a nearby village who was able to supply a couple of small off-cuts that were perfect replacements.,
The rotten mounting block for the port jib cleat is removed.
It looks as if Imagination is really a blue boat!
The other bits of cockpit clutter were removed. Some, of the fittings, like the light to the right of the cabin door, had an obvious function. Others I was not sure about. All the holes produced by removing the various bolts were filled with "Plastic Padding" resin paste.
The cockpit light is one of several fittings that were removed in the initial tidy-up of Imagination
With the tidy-up complete I was ready to take Imagination to her new home on the Norfolk Broads.
In these very early days with the boat, I struggled to find information about the SeaHawk and how it had progressed from the days when my father had one. Accordingly I did what I always seem to in such circumstances - I started my own web site. This can be found at https://www.seahawk17.org.uk