Speedonthewater.com has published perhaps the most romantic boat restoration story we've ever seen. Read it in our translation.
Right now, Rafaella Cuscitty is smiling. And that's why: she reads about her wedding gift, a vintage 20-foot Cigarette, built in 1974 and restored to an even better condition than the original. Yes, yes, the old 20-foot candy named Sugar, which had been dusting for years in a barn in the north of the New York City Shat, which Rafaella once fell in love with, rose from the ashes of bliss thanks to the efforts of her fiancé, Mark Frederico.
The restoration of the Sugar began a few months ago when Frederico asked Potter Performance Engines' Ron Potter to take over the project. Potter, who was familiar with Frederico in his work to rebuild the MerCruiser engine for the 38-foot Scarab, agreed.
«I don't usually do that, but I was ready to take part in the project for someone who I was sure would make sure everything was done right," says Potter. - This Cigarette, like all the old boats in the brand, had a history: we found out that the shipyard founder, Don Aronov, built it for one of his girlfriends, who was called "Sugar", and gave the boat the same name».
Potter and Frederico have decided that they will not only restore the Sugar, but also modernize it. The Volvo powertrain, the outdated steering system, the plastic fuel tank and much more had to be replaced. But first the boat had to be cleaned, leaving the bare hull and deck. Potter's team removed the stringers, removed the bulkheads, re-coated the transom with fibreglass, removing the holes from the previously installed equipment. After sanding the inside of the hull, they covered it with white paint and installed an aluminum fuel tank.
«The entire hull and deck were aligned, sanded, epoxy-coated and sanded again until it was straight and smooth as an arrow," Potter said. - We then completely repainted the hull and deck and coated them with PPG acrylic-urethane paint in the boat»'s original colours.
Potter chose the MerCruiser 383 Fireball with Bravo drive as the power unit. The Cigarette 20 was originally designed for a small power unit, so it made sense to go along the same path. On top of that, the 383 is a carburetor engine, which added some «nostalgia»to the project. As a concession to modernity, Potter specifically made powder-coated engine mounts.
The brand new rigging equipment included fuel lines, shut-off valves, battery cables and wires.
The original Morse steering and throttle control panel has been replaced with U-Flex equipment, which has not changed the look of the boat much, but still guarantees better handling. Gaffrig Performance's instruments were custom-made to match the shape and size of the original.
«The original instruments were black with white numbers on them. Given the black frame colour, there was too much black on them. Gaffrig made pressure gauges with stainless steel bezels, white dials and black numerals that not only look stylish, but are also easy to read»," comments Potter.
It may have been fashionable in the 70's, but nowadays the all-blue interior of the boat clearly needed to be updated. Premier Performance Interiors replaced the upholstery with white with a blue stitching to match the colour of the hull. For more «vintage, the» designers embroidered the old Cigarette logo on the bulwark.
The deck, hatch and dashboard were re-ticked with teak, using the services of a local teak coating supplier and a local finishing contractor. All teak parts were handmade, then installed, sanded, coated with 12 layers of varnish and sealed with urethane.
The original light blue Lexan windscreen was replaced with blue acrylic. According to Potter, the original glass was a low-functioning concession to the style:
«The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that there should be blue acrylic. I got in touch with Chuck McTavish from Waterway Systems. He said I'd have to buy a 10-foot sheet of this material that I couldn't use anywhere else. But he worked so hard with it, repeating all the angles and curves, that a couple of fishermen who saw his work were shocked. He sold all the rest of the material»very quickly.
Potter and his crew were able to save most of the boat's original equipment, including boots, hinges and brackets, which they cleaned and covered with three layers of chrome. The protectors, however, could not be left behind. They were replaced by new ones from Taco Marine made of stainless steel. The old carpet was also replaced by a new, custom-made one with a red stripe and the Cigarette logo. To give the passengers something to hold on to, Potter put on some handrails. When the project was almost complete, up to replacement of each screw and washer with the same stainless steel one, Potter ordered a trailer from MYCO for the boat. They assembled it from the original drawings. The colour of the trailer was adapted to the colour of the boat.
But the most difficult part of the project was to keep it a secret from the future owner. At breakfast, Rafaella Curietti's fiancé and restorer Mark Frederico planned to show her this article on his tablet. That's why Rafaella Curietti's smiling now.